Saturday, October 15, 2011

Two Days in the Fall

After a somewhat challenging week, I found myself in a fit of good health and was able to resume least for a couple of days. The horses were wrangled up into the corral and Wimpy didn’t even bother to run from me. He is so convinced he is retired that he saw no reason to exert any effort, so I haltered him and lugged him over to the milk room where my saddle is. He was fairly astonished. I got him ready then stuffed him in the barn to wait on everyone else. We loaded up in the trailer and drove a few miles down to the corrals where we gathered up about 400 head of dry cows. We were moving them to another pasture a few more miles up the road. 
We split up and I rode up the fence line to kick up some cows we could easily see and start them toward the road, as well as find whoever might be hiding. There were 14 sneaky cows in the willows that traveled all the way to the top of the pasture where the sage is heavy and there is a dry creek that runs pretty deep. We trailed them thru there, and they jumped down into a new holding pond which is dry, but has a cement spillway and I wasn’t about to ride down it with a shod horse. I turned Wimpy and we trotted thru shoulder high sagebrush and greasewood. It caught me up and tore my pants, so I am now down to one good pair. With nothing but straight 7 foot banks, we wound our way around until we found a passable entrance to the creek bed and after running across the rocks a bit, we popped up on the other side to see my errant cows just ahead of me.

We pushed them up on the road and over the next couple of hours had few mishaps except for when they went thru a hole in the fence and had to be turned back. As usual, with our heavy traffic, there was one vehicle that passed during the hours we were moving the cows. We got them all across the big field they were going to stay in and drove them all the way to the water tank back by the mountain.

 It was hot and we were a little weary, so we pulled our saddles and gave ourselves and the horses a bit of a rest. Wimpy was grateful. We’d begun at around 8 in the morning and we got back at 3. It felt good to be bone tired.

The next morning, the ranch kids were home, so 6 of us went out to move some more cows. The new cowboss has a just turned 7 year old girl with a great little horse, so she came along too. 
We rode out and crossed a few creeks and boggy spots before splitting up and cleaning out the field.
The ‘fields’ or pastures here are enormous. It takes a good long while to ride from one corner to another, and you cannot see the fences from the middle as they are so far away. The grass has turned and there are just hints of green at the bottom of the wheat and golden colored stalks that rise up from the boggy ground. There are rust colored specimens that resemble a marshweed that stand like sentinels in contrast to the tawny grasses around them. Riding along, we pass sun bleached bones in the deep grass and see an occasional coyote skulking away. The sounds of the cattle lowing relaxes me and I realize that I can still hear crickets, or locusts around me, along with an occasional bird call. We pass through a gate and after riding a ways, I remain to turn the cattle thru the next fence while the cowboy I was with long trotted out of sight to help bring the herd from the far corner.

I piddle around with Wimpy while we wait, flexing his head, backing up some, trotting in some circles and winding them down to pivots. He perks up out of his apathy and it helps relieve my boredom while I wait alone. About 5-600 head of cows show up and drift through the desired gate. A few errant cows try to head down the swath of golden grass towards the open gate behind me so we sidle over to block their advance. They are still a good way off, but they see us and choose to turn and follow their compatriots to the next field. The boys have been trailing a weak calf along, but he finally fails and sinks down into the mud. They pull him out and we wait while someone rides to the truck and trailer to get a syringe and antibiotics for him. It won’t likely help as he is probably too sick to recover, but we want to try.

We leave him until someone can go back with a 4-wheeler to get him and bring him in. We trailer on out in the direction of the desert to push yesterdays cows back to water.
We drop 3 people and their horses at the first corner of the field then drive a little past midway. We unload and I ride down the center with our littlest rider while her dad heads to the far corner to kick the cows up from there.

A couple of cows wander off a bit and lag behind, she so kicks her horse up and gallops up to push them back.

After we get all the cows to water, everyone takes a breather. The boys think up some mischief, such as tying a piece of ribbon to a cows’ tail. They take off swinging their ropes, but this time it was cows-1, cowboys-0.

We get back home 6 hours after we started and once again I am happily tired. I realize I must be contagious, as Cletus is too tired to sit up and clean plates. He does it laying down. We’ll all sleep well tonite.


  1. What a beautiful place to live! And that 7 y/o is something! There is nothing like a good, wring-you-out, long-time-in-the-saddle tired at the end of the day. It sounds wonderful.

  2. Oh, how I love to see your pictures! I would love to live where you do. Well, except I'm not any good at riding horses. Thanks for taking us along on your day.