The Elusive Highland Cows of Canary Road

The cycle has been repeating for many years. Once or twice a year, my mom emails me photos of curiously banged bovine, claiming she took them on Canary Road. Within the week, my husband and I head to the region indicated, travel all lengths of Canary, and see no such animal.

For close to a decade, I was convinced my mom snagged the photos from the Internet, pulling one over on us in a prolonged joke (there is precedent for this in my family!). It’s clear she has a particular fascination with these cartoonish cows, her artistic nature attracted to their fluffy forelocks and curly horns. The fact that they belong in the sweeping green landscapes of Scotland rather than tree-filled Florence adds to their allure.

My mom recently showed us fresh pictures on her camera – a new level of deception I thought, requiring extra effort to upload the latest batch of filched photos to her device. Even so, this sent my husband and me off on yet another journey to find these mythical mammals.

Once again cruising Canary, on this occasion we eventually spied two grazing longhorns. From our angle we could not confirm shaggy hides, but we pulled into a small turnout opposite the field to investigate. My husband gave a few sharp whistles hoping to raise a horned head. This failed; we could neither confirm nor deny abundant furriness.

I started to talk to the grass-crunching cows as I do our two precious pups. Although quite a distance away, apparently their hearing is acute. We were rewarded not only by the gaze of one in the grazing pair – two babies came trotting from an area previously out of sight. Colored cream and cinnamon with thick curly coats and round black eyes, reminiscent of hoofed teddy bears, these little fellas were huggably cute. By then we could see the adult via binoculars. A flop of wavy fringe covered her eyes, thick fuzz coated her ears, and her body was carpeted in a dense twisty shag.   Yep, highland cattle in coastal Oregon – it’s true!

All in all, by the end of our short stop we counted six adults plus the two young’uns. They were not difficult to find. Why we spotted them this time, yet they remained hidden on our many prior attempts, we’ll never know. There was a thin fog rolling over the dunes and across Woahink Lake when we stopped before returning home. Perhaps the mists hanging over the highland cows of Canary Road had parted on a magical early autumn day, as with the Isle of Avalon in Arthurian Camelot, allowing us a rare glimpse of these illusory beasts.

Will they be there if we return? I have my doubts, but I now know they are undeniably real.

Finding Oregon Coast Highland Cows

This is not a walking location; these pilose cows reside on private property. But I suspect the owners are used to some (hopefully considerate) looky-loos due to their livestock’s uniqueness. I know my parents have visited many times. While not a walking destination, it’s a great excuse to get out of the house!

Off Highway 101 just south of Florence, head east on Canary Road. Continue past Clear Lake Road on the right, and the smaller Marilyn Way on the left. The field housing the cattle is on the left. If you get to where South Slough Road Ts into Canary, you’ve passed it.

Succeed or fail in your mission to see highland cattle on the Oregon Coast, I encourage you to stop by Woahink Lake on your way back to Highway 101. You can utilize one of its walking trails, head out to the dock, or just stick to the flat parking lot. All offer lakeside air, a great view, and of course movement.

Related Reading

It turns out there are several highland cattle herds in Oregon. See the list of Oregon Highland Cattle Breeders or check out some other Highland Cattle Photos.

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