We made it to the range with the cows. Seth and Anna have been helping and Anita brought lunch every day. It’s an “all hands on deck” event.
We had two herds on the Trail at once. It took five days to go 30 miles with the baby calves, and four days with the older ones. Smaller bunches mean the cows and calves stay paired so they don't go back. If they can't find one another they'll return to where they last nursed. This trait is so strong that tending the back end of the herd requires much due diligence. Doing that job is Anna’s strong suit. She calls it quality assurance. Yes, the lead guys are important. They watch for obstacles up ahead like gates left open or stray animals and keep the lead cows from jogging away from the slower travelers. But don’t stick your most tenacious help up there; she (or he) is needed on the drag. Home grown help is irreplaceable. My prayer is that wherever the kids are in life’s adventuring, they make it home for the cattle drive.
Memorial Day festivities are in full swing on the range we share with the recreationists. We dumped the herd in the Brush Creek field which is adjacent to a popular camping area. As we pulled out on Friday evening, the campers pulled in.
The trail drive is the most love-hate event I can think of on the ranch. The first ride of the morning is sublime. Your horse is eager, the cattle walk out, the only sounds are sage sparrows and meadowlarks and the occasional beller as the cows pick up their calves. As the day wears on everyone gets more sluggish, water sources are scarce, it's dusty, and by mid-afternoon I’m sore and ready to call it a day.
It's a mini life-lesson in five days:
Be alert - well tended details create successful outcomes. Having to go back for a calf that was lost because of not paying attention is a make-work project.
Be respectful – of vehicle traffic, of other people’s property as you “graze” by, and of your help-mate animals, the horses and dogs who give so much.
Do your part – everyone has a role. If yours is guarding a gate, making lunch, saddling the horses, or riding flank, you play a vital role in the whole.
And finally, get up early – cattle travel better in the coolness of early morning, you’ll get to your destination that much quicker. And as Gary will tell you, "people die in bed."
|Anna on drag|