By Patty Wilber
I love cows.
I guess I should really say that I love working cows from horseback.
If I get a chance, I will drop most everything to load and go. Or I am happy to plan ahead as well!
This one was planned (There was even a cook! Luxury!) and Jim and I helped gather and brand last weekend at the Red Cliff Ranch.
Gathering is pretty straight forward. You split up your crew, sweep the pasture (of oh say 1500 acres) to find the cows, group them, and push them to where ever you want to go, which in this case included a railroad trestle. Bonus points for going under while the train is going over.
And then on to the big low-lying green pasture just below the pens we’d use for branding.
I hauled both Lacey and LT to the ranch , but I rode Lacey to gather. She is not as cowy as LT and I doubt she would be up for winning bucks at a reined cow horse event this year like LT has, but for ranch work, Lacey has way more focus and is not such a busy bee.
Lacey had some jiggy jags as we searched for cows (and it did not help that Cometa was yelling “Lacey! Where are You? Lacey!” from a quarter mile away, continuously). Or that she kept trying to snack on the tall grass. “It’s RIGHT THERE,” she said. Somewhere between a tap and a whack went my rein on her withers. “Head UP!”
Once we got to moving the herd, though, she was with me. Intent on her job, really light in my hands and off my legs. This is always a joy.
A good horse, wide open spaces and people you like to work with…there is not much better.
There were 109 cows, 95 calves, (seven or eight cows still have to pop one out) and one “herding bull”.
A herding bull is a bull that wants to direct the cows himself rather than just coming along like a normal bovine.
When cattle are grouped and moo-ving well, things flow.
This herding bull was worse than a big rock in a river. First off, he moved. Secondly, he was aggressive toward the cows, so he not only split the herd, but he caused some to turn back and others to make a break for it. He slowed the gather by at least an hour.
Finally he found a “hot” cow and that kept his hormone addled brain occupied.
Herding bulls are not that common. Bill and Bill had only encountered a few. Two Herefords, (a white-faced red breed) a red Angus and a Black Angus. None were young like this one.
Young HB got his own pen early in the pre-branding sort. I hope his herding instinct was a one day thing and we don’t get to deal with him in the fall when the calves are weaned!
Next Week: Part II: Branding!
This is so damned much fun. Can’t wait till next week!
It is SO much fun–and a new twist every time–herding bulls? Who knew?
Definitely not me!
Well, learned something new. I’d never heard of a herding bull before!
Well, glad to have something new to share! I thought it was kind of interesting too. I will be curious to see if it was a one time thing or part of this bull’s normal behavior.
Enjoyed hearing about the gathering trip, and especially liked the first and last photos–very artistic!
Thanks mom! I took a lot of pictures with my little box camera–amazing what you can get if you just keep snapping! See you soon!
I love it as much as you do, my husband and I participate whenever and wherever we can. We both share a love of horses working the cows, and the cowboy way of life in general. Thanks for writing about and posting pictures of our favorite work on horseback.
You are welcome!