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Wow, the little negative cow army had a balmy sun war.
The forty richest blameless homesteaders await the answers.

Who did the cow army fight in the war?

Hint #1:

arMy

Hint #2:

I wouldn't mess with 2,3,7, or 8. They seem pretty tough.

Hint #3:

You may get some help from Sherry, my nurse.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It feels like there's at least one tag missing here ... $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Apr 8, 2019 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ Added a couple of tags. $\endgroup$
    – MetaZen
    Apr 8, 2019 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Rubio $\diamondsuit$ when I first looked at the puzzle, I totally agreed; but believing that adding such tags would give away clues, I left the riddle alone... I couldn't solve it xD $\endgroup$
    – Mr Pie
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ That was my initial concern - I planned on adding tags as "clues" as needed. The tags I added are probably enough, I think. Additional hint added as well. $\endgroup$
    – MetaZen
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:55

2 Answers 2

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The whole mysterious text

is an anagram of
MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB
ITS FLEECE WAS WHITE AS SNOW
AND EVERYWHERE THAT MARY WENT
THE LAMB WAS SURE TO GO
OSTRICHES

so I'm guessing the cows were fighting the

ostriches.

(All credit to @Alconja for doing the hard work. If you like this answer, go and upvote Alconja's. Opinions eagerly solicited on whether I should delete this so that Alconja can get all the credit.)

Incidentally, the hints

led me completely up the wrong garden path, because the numbers 2,3,7,8 happen to have something in common -- they are exactly the digits that can't come at the end of a square number -- and then "Sherry my nurse" has word-lengths 6,2,5 and 625 is 5 squared squared ... so I was sure there were some mathematical shenanigans afoot :-).

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  • $\begingroup$ Ha! I usually stick to word-play in my riddles, but enjoy solving the math ones so maybe you've inspired my next riddle here :) $\endgroup$
    – MetaZen
    Apr 9, 2019 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, ostriches is correct. Nice work to both. I appreciate asking about credit,but since he explicitly stated his answer could be a starting point for someone else, I'll give you the check. $\endgroup$
    – MetaZen
    Apr 9, 2019 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ This is an outrage! I demand that you delete this immediately and step down as moderator! (warning: comment may contain traces of sarcasm) $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Apr 10, 2019 at 0:02
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Partial, possible solution... (or at least theory...)

From hint #1:

arMy is an anagram of Mary

From hint #2:

the (word number 2), little (3), had (7), and a (8) are going to be difficult to anagram, so not all words are...

From hint #3:

Sherry, my nurse => Nurse Sherry => Nursery (rhyme)

Given these, it seems we're dealing with:

A jumbled, cryptically described, homophoned, and partially anagrammed nursery rhyme, possibly Mary Had a Little Lamb(?).

In detail, we have:

Wow, the little negative cow army had a balmy sun war.

army had a => Mary had a
little => little
balmy => lamb(y)
...whose?
sun war => run was => flee was => fleece was
...white as snow?
(unused bits: Wow, the negative cow)

Not really sure where to go from there. I'm obviously still missing something, but thought this might at least be a starting place for someone else...

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  • $\begingroup$ Very much on the right track. Basically, just continue on and you're sure to get there $\endgroup$
    – MetaZen
    Apr 9, 2019 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ Also, you got hint 3 in an interesting different way than intended, but same result! $\endgroup$
    – MetaZen
    Apr 9, 2019 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ Overall, it's not too jumbled, cryptic, homophoned or partial. Hopefully that will help. $\endgroup$
    – MetaZen
    Apr 9, 2019 at 6:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is this the cow that jumped over the moon? $\endgroup$
    – Brandon_J
    Apr 9, 2019 at 15:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ha. The hints had me on completely the wrong track. Allow me to remark that rot13(N ONYZL FHA JNE vf na nantenz bs EHANJNL YNZOF.) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Apr 9, 2019 at 16:36

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