Just as we (4 of us) were saddled up and ready to go, the cows busted out of the holding pen. Apparently, they were unsatisfied with the accomodations. Grass too short? Water too cold? Too shallow?
It was unclear, but Penny must have had the same thoughts, because she escaped in the middle of the night, driving the 2 horses near the tack room where I was “sleeping” to stomp around and call to her. Did I get out of my sleeping bag? No. I could tell those 2 were stll in. My sleep deprived brain didn’t quite make the leap to “something might be amiss”. Penny woke up David, and Peter kindly brought my wayward filly and his mare (to keep Penny company) to the trailer at some wee hour. I didn’t register that either…
But back to the cows. Since they were out, we might as well get them moving. Easier said than done. Mooove? As a group, with a purpose? Nope. Meander meander meander. We had to push them from behind and from the side. These cows had been moseying around all summer, eating lots of luscious grass, so they were not into the whole concept of Forced March. A purposeless herd is kind of like a big blobby ameba, and pieces (cows) kept oozing off.
Not only that, but calf 17 was bloated and really couldn’t be expected to walk the 18 miles out. It took a bit of time to for David to push her back to the trailers and load her up. We held the herd at the eastern gate until he returned. That sounds dramatic, huh? But really the cows just ate and we hung around on our horses.
We got them off the ranch and started downhill. The cows picked up speed. David’s horse was still feeling pretty fresh and Penny panicked when the energy levels went up and Alameda (Peter’s horse) disappeared from sight. Bucking (on a down hill slope with cows streaming by) ensued. Truthfully, Penny is a lame bronc, so staying on is not an issue. She recovered quickly, too.
The morning was warming up and our Not Into It cows were heating up. They started going for shade and water whenever possible. Keeping them on track is doable, if one is preemptive enough.
We weren’t. Thus, we spent a bit of time rousting cows out of dense spruce thickets (the needles collect in your saddle pads; glad Penny isn’t super tall!), pasting the herd back together (all 45 of ’em) and coercing forward movement. Calf 21 should’ve joined 17. He was not feeling well, and spent the entire day at the back of the pack, where we all took turns making him keep up.
After the river, we rested the cows (and some people) at several more areas with water.
Mostly it was just Git Along Little Dogies. Unlike the old westerns, there was zero danger of stampede. Our bunch was just Hot and Tired. The horses had to double back and forth at a trot to convince the cattle to move along at a paceabove an amble. Except when we came to other herds.
Our path to the pens crossed other ranches, with cows. So, one rider had to scout ahead to make sure any new cows were well away from our line of travel. When any strange cattle were anywhere close to path, our cows (and especially the bull!) perked up and wanted to join the new group.
Penny had no trouble leaving her horsie buds at this point, and riding off the front of the herd to scout the terrain ahead WAS as romantic as it sounds.
It was open and undulating grassland with a stream down the center of a wide valley. Aspens (my favorite!) and spruce formed dense stands along the distant edges. The wind was under my hat (but it stayed on) and on my cheeks; my horse was smooth under me as we loped out. The best!
I had to take a “break”, so we loped up a hillside into some aspens. There was a ridge of gray rock (perfect cover), and I wondered what it would be like to have to worry about who might be lurking there to swoop down and steal our herd!
The last stretch was LONG and hot and dusty and down the road lined by that fence. Close to the end, three cows and a calf piled on to the fence and Penny and I attempted to peel them off. A calf put his head through the wire…and his body followed…drat. (That was the second calf I put through…but I wasn’t fired.) It was a pretty decent fence, too, so there was no good spot to push him back over. He followed along. Sam (Peter’s son) had walked up from the pens and at last, he found a place that could be opened up, and he got the little wanderer back into the herd.
We watered them one last time in the creek near the corrals (where upon 3 strayed up stream under the fence and 2 went downstream). Gathered those up penned them all, and fed the horses. Ahhh. Job well done!
Sunday morning, Penny and I worked in the pens to sort cows (everyone else was on foot).
The guys loaded the cows into trailers. Ernie and his wife Ruth came with an extra trailer, and I took all 4 horses in my 3 horse trailer (just didn’t use the dividers), but even still, all the cows did not fit!
Calls were made, cows were unloaded. Three loads (2 of cows and me with the horses) and one smaller empty trailer left. About 45 mnutes down the road, we met a new trailer. Muscial Trucks. Three way switcheroo! The cows and horses headed south and the empty (bigger) trailer went back to the pens.
I made it home with Penny about 7 pm but Peter and David didn’t get the last cow moved down and unloaded until nearly 11.
Never a dull moment!
I’d go back in a heart beat!
Wow! What great pics and your writing always makes me smile and feel kinda like I’m right there with you. I’m so happy you are thoroughly enjoying your summer! Ride on, sistah!
Patty: I do enjoy reading about your horse adventures!!! Pam
Hi Linda and Pam–It has been an adventurous summer for sure! I am glad you are enjoying reading about it! Thanks!