The idea of OOPEs is that the photographs are taken as my camera sits in the pocket of my Carhartt coat. Yesterday’s photos especially proved this point… this shot more than the others. There’s the cuff of my coat on the upper left… and the edge of my pocket on the bottom. In between is sandwiched Johnny and the baby calf. I love the look on Little Rooster’s face as he sees the calf… ears pricked and neck arched. I don’t think I could have posed this better if I’d tried to do something like this on purpose. Give a chimp a typewriter and sooner or later he’ll spell a word!
I did it! I actually took photos while sorting cattle! Yes, I waited until most of it was done and yes, most of the pics are definitely OOPEs but considering I didn’t drop my camera and Tart and I didn’t lose any cows and Tart and I didn’t fall down on the *)(&*&^% ice – I consider this a success.
Today was gorgeous… blue sky and SUNSHINE… I even removed one of my hats because I got too warm! Last year when we did this, we started off with a warm day, left all our warm clothes in the pickup then got hit with a BLIZZARD. It was pretty miserable!
We share this BLM allotment with neighbors… so we each send our crews out to ride and sort our cattle out. Many people have wondered why we brand our cattle…this is the main reason! There’s a lot of country out here and with 6 different brands we can tell which way the hundreds of cattle need to go…
Our brand is a-bar-a and then we have some leased y8 cows as well.
Nudging the cattle to a sorting grounds took most of the day. When we reach the sorting grounds – which basically is just a nice flat area with no prairie dog or badger holes – we set up a loose formation. Usually it falls to kids, lesser experienced riders, relatives, and non-owners to hold the herd. If a cow tries to escape the bunch, it is their job to turn her back.
Here Vernon looks over the bunch while the outriders hold the herd.
Don’t mind my cuff and the edge of my pocket blocking this view… these really are OOPEs!
Owners usually cut out their own cattle. Vernon has ridden Winchester slowly into the bunch. Which looks easier than it is. It takes knowledge of cattle to do this right. The position of your choices’ head and feet and the body language of her neighbors will tell you a lot. How you handle your horse affects the situation as well. E-ffects… A-ffects… both! Many people that try to do this are “noisy” riders. The riders are thumping the sides of their horses or waving their arms or just go in bold instead of quietly. Most don’t realize their actions move the cattle as well as their horse. The cows don’t like it and try to hide in the middle of their compatriots. It can get difficult to dig a cow out of hundreds of others if she doesn’t want to go!
Here a neighbor rides quietly. The cows are barely looking at him. That’s good. Notice the little baby calf by the red cow. Only a week or so old, he belonged to an unknown cow… no one recognized or really could read the smudge of a brand or the eartag. Our neighbor will trail him to his place and call out the brand inspector to figure out the mystery.
When you have this much help, you can sort off cows faster… and if you don’t understand the process or are an idiot at “reading” the body language of horseback riders and cows, you would see this as mass chaos. Some riders cut out cattle, some turn back the ones that shouldn’t leave, some hold the main bunch. It can get pretty hairy sometimes! Today was done in slow motion for the most part as ice was under the snow… and it is simply stupid to go too fast!
Our cattle are kicked this direction. Cows know which way is home, and they’ve all done this before, and they just meander on down the fence line. If they were REALLY ready to go home, we’d have had to put a rider on the far side to keep them from leaving the country, but these are happy cows and once they are out of the bunch they went to grazing and didn’t wander too far. Just look at the Big Horn Mountains today… you can see them! They were hiding under snow clouds in my pics from yesterday.
Lucas was left at home…too big of a ride for his body. Elsa and Dally are coming into heat, so they were at home too. It was awfully noisy when I left this morning… Lucas howling and the girls barking their disappointments! The dog, Spike, that Lucas fought with yesterday was left at home since he was lame. I don’t know if Lucas did it or George who Spike also fought with.
We began gathering our cows off the BLM today with our neighbors that share the allotment. I am sore from hunching up against the snow even though it was very light and a fairly nice day. I took my hot shower and I’m ready for bed, but, of course, have to post these OOPE photos first!
Four pickups and horse trailers and 11 people and horses. The neighbor’s dog, Spike, and Lucas start the day with a big fight. It continues 2 or 3 more times throughout the day… each time Lucas holds his own, even though I figure he’s the weaker dog. Blood spatters are on both dogs. That’s the problem with having a stud dog!
I like this photo for some reason… the snow on Tart’s ear… the cows waiting for me to get out of the way… another neighbor (who’s always late) drives by… the snow blocking the scenery…
Vernon and Johnny approach my little bunch with one of their own. This was a good time to let Lucas rest. He did OK today… it wasn’t hot! the snow wasn’t deep, the cows traveled well, he had snow to “drink”.
The cows trail across Bruner Draw with little encouragement. We are “duding” it… traveling single file because the road – though covered with an inch of new snow – are really ice rinks and the footing is better alongside the edge of the road. Tart kept wanting to walk on the road, but the way the cows were sliding I was definitely NOT going there!
We ride again tomorrow, to hopefully gather the rest… we ended up with 99 today, so we have many more to gather!
I’m headed for bed… I’ll try for more OOPEs next time!
The boys returned to Laramie on Sunday to start their spring semester. We’re always so proud that they’ve grown up to be hard-working men.
Then Daniel emails these pictures to me.
What is that quote you like, Toria? “The greater the mind, the greater the need for play?” Or some such Spock-ism like that…
Well, my boys have Great Minds!
And strong backs!!! Ha ha.
Daniel with the thumbs up… not so bad… are you really stuck???
Their friend, M. Uh… there’s a tree in your way, M. Good thing it’s a small one!
Brandon, for a tall guy… I’d say the snow is DEEP! Were you sweating yet??
Daniel, you’ve GOTTA be kidding me! That’s only the handlebars showing! This pic just cracks me up! It reminds me of that Jeep commercial from a few years back where you just see the bump of snow as the Jeep drives underneath. Oh, this is FUNNY!
Push, Daniel, push!
Oh, my goodness! I just had to share these… they made me laugh! I’m glad we grew hard-working men, so they could dig themselves out!