I have been helping my husband move cows around to different meadows, the past few weeks. Mainly, because our oldest daughter was gone for a few weeks. 😉 She is usually the one to help her dad. But I told Cliff that “she may have lost her spot!” I love riding with him, especially in this beautiful weather.
We’ve been beating the sun, most mornings, watching it rise over the eastern rim as we start the cows to moving. The cool morning gives way to warm sunshine, and the birds calling, the scent of sage crushed underfoot, brings a relaxing atmosphere to the day’s work.
We trot our horses out across the prairie, horseshoes ringing when they hit a rock, slowly picking their way down dusty hillsides. Splashing through creeks, tails swishing at the clouds of mosquitoes, snorting at something unfamiliar – this is quickly becoming my favorite way to begin the day.
When you are moving just cows or yearlings, they go pretty easy. But when there are young calves in the herd, things can go pretty slow. We find that taking it slow is usually best – let the cows and calves mother up and go together if possible. But inevitably, some calves will straggle along behind, and soon you have a bunch of calves bawling and poking along at the back of the herd. They can be sooo slow, they balk at crossing even the smallest creek, and they try to turn back.
Last week we were moving some pairs and we had probably 20 calves trailing along in the back. One made a break for it and dashed back the way we’d come, and soon we had 10 calves all tearing pell-mell after him! I ran after them, but finally gave up and left them. We’d be back the next day to gather the strays.
When the mama cows saw calves running back, they flat stopped, and refused to go further. Sometimes cattle work doesn’t go as planned, and you just do the best you can. So we left that bunch and rode over to the other bunch of cattle and helped the cowboys finish getting them into the correct pasture.
The next day, we went out again and gathered the rest of the cows and calves that we’d left behind. They went pretty good that day – only a little struggle around some bogs, where the calves could run, but the horses couldn’t follow. Dogs are great for that scenario. Travis sent his dogs in and they chased those calves right out!