My cheeks tingled with the cold. A bead of snot repeatedly gathered at the tip of my nose, the cold air making it leak like a vintage faucet. I was bundled in long johns, jeans, and my leather chinks. T-shirt, long sleeved shirt, hoodie, and wind proof jacket. Gloves. Hat. I followed the guys as their horses’ hooves made trails in the frosted grass.
Panama whoofed into a reluctant jog, his slow walk incapable of keeping pace with the long legged horses in front. As his breath rose in the air, I tested my own, blowing an experimental puff. What is it? Technically? It’s not steam. It’s not smoke. Is is classified as fog? Condensate?
We rode through the heifers happily munching in the field and headed towards the pasture where we had put the cows. The crisp blue of the morning sky seemed to intensify the cold.
Bravo, of course, was unfazed. He sat in my shade on the icy grass as we waited for the guys to bring the cows from the far side of Buffalo Creek. Slowly, the sun began to melt the frost and seep into my many clothing layers.
The cows were gathered and soon we were on BLM ground. We could have said, “We’re done. That’s it.” But that’s not our way. The young cows don’t know where the water tanks are and would sooner turn for home and find familiar water. We’ll trail them farther. We won’t stop at the first tank either, since many cows are already there. We’ll push them farther, saving the grass and water by spreading the cattle out. Cows that are happy with feed and water don’t need to move much and they’re content. We like happy cows.
The creek bottom is wide. It grows fantastic sagebrush. Old timers always said tall sagebrush meant good soil… so I wonder what the grass would look like if the sage wasn’t there.
The day began to warm.
A steep draw lay in front of us, with Daniel in the lead and me slightly behind. I jogged Panama downhill to block the escape route and the cows poured down the hill. I sat in awe. Thundering. Rolling. Ground shaking. All of those classic phrases to describe stampedes came flying into my mind. I grabbed my camera and videoed what I could, then I raced up the other side, turning a few head back up into the black mass now slowed by their uphill climb.
It was epic for about 30 seconds.
Up and over another hill and we’ve completed our task.
Big country. Water. Grass. Happy cows.Find me here!