We had to move cows today… the 99 pair we trailed here…
Somehow my disorganized self couldn’t remember to recharge the batteries in my little OOPE camera… and there was NO WAY I would pack my big camera on a day like today! So…Your imagination will have to work today.
This pasture doesn’t belong to us… we leased the grazing for these few weeks…It is typical in its flora…Sagebrush…Limber pine…Cedars…Aspens…It has the typical springs that bubble their way up from the depths to create shockingly mossy green spaces surrounded by Wyoming’s gray/green essence. Most of these instigate bogs as well… never a favorite place of mine to ride my horse. That’s why I have dogs.
The ground is rocky. “Moss” (really lichen) covered and plentiful, the rocks often appear in waves, giving a hint of their origins. In between stones, the soil lays sandy, but hardly wide enough for a horse to place his hoof, so we scrabble on cobbles and search for sandy openings between the waves.
Meadowlarks and sparrows dart in the underbrush. Mule deer fawns spring silently away avoiding detection by my dogs.
The sky is blue and cloudless, heat radiates, encircles, and hangs over my cap… reminding me of my plan to buy one of those netted fishing caps… will it allow more air to flow around my sweaty forehead, but still give me the bill of a baseball cap??? All weather stations and websites predicted highs of 97 today. What a great day to move black cows.
I ride amongst my bovine audience. We are leaving the partnership cows behind, and are just searching for ours… Yellow eartags, perhaps green, should hang in their right ears… an A-A on their left ribs… a square underbite earmark in their left ear. Ignore the ones with white eartags.
A low “leave ’em” to my dogs keeps their attention on me… and we ride five feet away, and my dogs leave them alone. I haven’t trained them to read eartags yet, but they do exceptionally well, and only rarely does the “leave ’em” grow in intensity and volume when their concentration starts to center on the wrong cow. A chipmunk’s squeak sends them out and away from me, but I call “With me!” and the girls return to follow along.
Atop the knob that is central to this square pasture I find the remnants of an old dilapidated fence. Barbwire laying on the ground here… still attached to the posts there. A dangerous trap for a horse who will panic when caught in wire… a safe haven for old cows who can tromp through rusty old barbwire and calmly and simply shake a hind leg free should it become entangled. I search for a safe opening… I must ride by those old cows to make sure none are ours.
Above the aspens I find a pair, number 717 and her calf. A sharp reprimand forces Dally and Boomer to abandon the extra cow they want to bring along and we trail the pair along the timber’s edge. I soon meet Brandon and Daniel and we weave our way around bogs and through the aging aspen grove. I smile when I see the multitude of 3′ high aspens… the patch is renewing itself.
We move as dancers… this way and that… covering the country in an unrehearsed but familiar waltz… checking this hollow and behind those trees… knowing our partners have their areas covered and trusting their steps.
Daniel breaks to the main herd where they are sorting off partnership cows… and Brandon and I continue on searching for more of our pairs. We find 19 and hold them by the upper gate waiting in the heat for the rest to make their appearance. Only then can we begin the real trek to our mountain pasture hours away.Find me here!