George was thrilled! His family was returning to the States, to the ancestral farm located in the heartland. He jumped around and danced in excitement while Elliana wandered around the toys strewn around, amidst the packing boxes.
After they landed in the US, they found themselves bundled into a truck making the long trek through rolling hills, along an endless ribbon of a road until they arrived at the old stonework and cedar homestead. There were pastures all around and cows in the fields nearby. They were home!
They settled into their new life, venturing into town for supplies, rambling through Main Street and stopping for cotton candy at the antique shop. They also acquired two rather large dogs – a German Shepherd and a Great Dane. They would do well to keep the coyotes and cougars at bay!
George loved helping on the farm. He loved to help fetch eggs from the chicken coop on the hill, plant seeds in the vegetable patch, feed the barn cats (they needed plenty on the farm to keep critters at bay) and play and roam with the dogs. Lady was a beautiful blue harlequin Great Dane and loved to play fetch with George. She and Athena, the German Shepherd, would wander off into the pasture but always return to George. Harvest was in full swing and the cows needed to be moved to a different pasture. George would jump into the back of the truck with the farm hand and Athena and they would go bouncing along the dirt road to herd the cattle into the right field. It was home on the range.
One day, the hired hand came rushing to the home, red-faced and out of breath. One of the prized angus was missing! Everyone rushed into action. They all scrambled into pick-up trucks and hurried to the pasture where the cow had last been seen. George wanted to join in the melee, but was instructed to say home near the ranch. He was disappointed. He wandered outside and sat on the swing. Lady and Athena came bounding up. They nosed him to play fetch with them. Elliana came outside. She wanted to join in too! Soon, the children and pets were playing ball!
That evening at dinner, George’s parents looked concerned. The cow that had disappeared had a calf. She was a prized cow and her calves were valuable. They hadn’t been able to locate her or her calf. George sat and listened.
That night, as he sat up in bed in his pajamas and looked at Old Man moon outside his window, he heard a rustle in the long grass. In the sliver of moonlight, he saw Lady and Athena tramping towards the back pasture. He decided to follow. He quietly went outside. Lady and Athena looked back and came ambling towards him. They circled him in greeting and then took off up the pasture. George followed. They led him through the tall grass, along moonlit paths he didn’t know existed and past a winding bubbling brook. Then in the distance he heard a sound.
As he peered into the darkness he thought he saw a shape move. George ventured closer. The dogs bounded towards a shape lying in the grass. As George drew near he realized it was the carcass of the cow. The half-eaten carcass lay in the grass by the creek. It must have been a cougar!