Spring trail

It is time FINALLY to turn the cows out to graze…and we’ve been doing exactly that the past three days.  It is a time-consuming process.  Step One is gathering the pasture they are in and often keeping them in a corner to work them where Step Two takes place. Pairing the cows and baby calves.  If a cow or calf loses the other, they will return to the last place they saw each other.  If that is 2 miles or 10 miles away, they’ll go there.  So, we take the time after we gather them to pair them off out of the herd together.  We also can count them as they go, as we need to keep track of how many pairs are where.   Then the trail begins… that is Step Three.  Older cows know where they are going and if they can keep their calves with them, progress can be made.  However, if the cows decide to stop and eat green grass, then it is a struggle.  Day one was a short drive, about 2 miles uphill.  They did well with no major wrecks.   A wreck is when things fall apart… like having calves all at once decide their moms are back behind somewhere and they have to find them NOW!  There is nothing like the chaos of chasing numerous calves.  They don’t respect a horse and don’t turn away from them.  Sometimes it is just pure panic and they run flat out not caring which direction they are going.  I hate wrecks.  When we reach the destination, Step Four is again pairing the cows and calves.  It lets us know if we were horrible cowboys and lost something along the way, and makes sure the pairs will stay in their new pasture and not return to their previous one.  Today was a big drive… and my body knows it!  We spent 6.5 hours today moving our steers and some pairs to our far pasture.  The sun shone this morning for about an hour, and thank goodness that was before we left!  I ran back and grabbed my chaps and a heavier coat and I am so glad I did.  I froze for the 6.5 hours!  I could have used heavier gloves and long johns too!  The sky clouded up, and settled in, and then the wind had to howl.  The first 3 miles were tolerable, the last 5 miserable.  We fought for every foot of progress.  The dogs quit.  The horses were tired.  The cows and calves would take 3 steps and stop.  When the snow started it was a little too much… Lunch was half a bag of Hot Tamales left from the other day… I still say the coldest times are either duck hunting or cowboying.  And I don’t duck hunt anymore.  When the cattle were all settled in their new pasture, I was very glad the horsetrailer was partway out and the last part of the ride was in the pickup with heater on, gorp at hand, and a bottle of water.  The good news is it is a short trail tomorrow of just a mile, before we repeat the big drive again on Wednesday.  And the weather on Wednesday looks much warmer!

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