In honor of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (and maybe a little bit for Darwin, too), I went hiking today with Zachary at Sky Meadows State Park in Virginia. It was nice -- a fairly vigorous 7-mile or so hike up a forested ridge, along part of the Appalachian Trail, and down through some high meadows.
We saw this perplexing tree...not sure what happened to its branches.
Chatting with the ranger manning the gift shop (which would certainly be my least favorite task if I were a ranger), we learned that the meadows are maintained by a fleet of cows deployed strategically to keep things trim. The cows are not owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, they're owned by the Department of Corrections. Apparently they're used for some sort of work program. (The herd also includes cows sentenced through the Virginia criminal justice system. Most of them are in the pen for attempted car theft. This seems surprising because you so infrequently hear about cows stealing cars, but it's because they're almost always caught -- they break the window, but are usually still trying in futility to hotwire the car when the police arrive.)