They had overnighted in the holding pen. Bawling for their mothers, calling to their calves, until through sound, sight, and smell, they reunited themselves and lay down… content. Their early morning peace was disturbed by the pickup and horse trailer that arrived and discharged its cargo of three ponies and five horses. Each gathered by its human rider… halters were removed, eyes rubbed, coffee swigged, bits inserted into mouths and throat latches buckled. Yawns were abundant with the shorter cowboys… and the older ones checked cinches, grabbed water bottles, and double checked stirrup length and reins.
Finally ready, the cows were urged from the pen and started to the Mesa Pasture. A gorgeous, smoky sunrise kicked off our morning.
As the lane widened, I went alongside and up towards the lead. Encouraging cows to walk on is easy from the side. They see you and that’s often all it takes. Following directly behind cows, you are in their blind spot and they spend lots of time turning their head, walking side to side, in order to keep you in sight. By their side, and out twenty to thirty feet is prime. Not close enough to stop them, but close enough to let them see you is the sweet spot.
Even though our cows are familiar with the way, you can’t leave them alone at the front and expect them to stay on the proper trail. They’ll find a spot and bail off… searching for green grass, or their “lost” calf, or just BECAUSE. Keeping the front moving is key to having space and incentive for the ones in the middle and back to move. You can ball them up like a band of sheep and move them that way, but it’s much more fun to watch them walk out.
Brandon counts them through the gate and I soon interrupt him to swoosh the ones up the hill and keep some movement going. We did very well… up at the pasture and paired by 10:15. Nothing like starting at daylight to get your work done!Find me here!