Tuesday, July 26, 2011

driving cattle


today my girls got to do something I hope they'll remember for a long time and that few people ever get to do - help in a small cattle drive.

Caleb's ranch got a chance to use some free pasture several miles away so that required moving about 60 momma cows and their babies down the road to their new temporary home.

I had to hang back in the safety of a big truck with baby Vesper but Janie and Anna rode a four-wheeler with Caleb.

It took two guys (Mike Krantz and Josh Senecal) on horseback, two on four-wheelers (Caleb and his brother Josh) and two fast heeler dogs - took them about an hour to travel a few miles to some new green grass.

Nothing happened that wasn't supposed to but I had to laugh at one point - the cows all bunched up so I hung back a little further in case they turned - wanted to give the horses and dogs room to work. When I got to where the "cattle-jam" occured, it was a smal bridge with a weight limit sign "3,000 pounds maximum." I couldn't tell you at any given moment how many cows were on the bridge, but at an average of 1,000 - 1,200 each, I think they busted the limit!

In addition to riding along, every time they passed a road or a driveway, both girls got "road-blocking" duty. They'd stand in the gap with arms spread as the cows passed by.

If you watched Lonesome Dove, I'd say they got the sounds about right - above the diesel drone of Sarah's truck (Aside - my daughter has a much nicer and bigger truck then me!) you could hear the bellowing of the 120 or so cows.

Heeler dogs do exactly that - nip at the heels of slow or unruly cows to keep them moving. Once one of the dogs got caught under neath a calf and went rolling only to hop right back up and resume nipping and pushing. I almost said chasing but they really just cross back-and-forth at the rear to keep things moving. Pretty much the same for the horsemen - crossing back and forth to keep the stragglers from getting too far behind.

Sorry but no stampedes or runaway cattle. I guess when you know what you are doing and my son-in-law and crew obviously do, it looks easy.

Vesper slept through most of it but I would guess at only 2+ months old, this was probably her first cattle drive too. Glad we got to share it!

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