Sunday, October 26, 2008
Cowpokes R Us
Sunday October 26 2008
We've had 3 cows of Rancher Rohl's on our upper 200 acres for a couple of weeks now. Rohl was going to send 2 of his cowboys a while back to fetch them, but, either they got busy or they forgot about it. (I think it's really because his cowboys are afraid we somewhat incompetent cowgirls will come along to 'help.')
Anyway, the cows are well-fed and happy where they are - plenty of grass, and they've picked a spot where the creek is running - but we thought we'd just do Rohl a favor and round them up and drive them off our property, and either along the fenceline till Blond Cow Wash, or up and over 2 ridges and into Blond Cow Wash, where they'll make their own way home into Oreana with the rest of the cows drifting down that way from the mountains. Couldn't take more than half an hour.
John saddled up Mac the Cowhorse (who was very excitable last time I tried this with him), I took Quickie (John said 'Oh she's good at it' - that should have made me think twice), and Connie took Finneas (who's all about looking good). The other four geldings, who'd been excited about seeing the cows up the canyon, thought they'd come join us, and trotted right behind us up to the gate, where we had to shoo them away.
Connie had seen the cows next to her property; first we rode up our outer fenceline and opened a gate we thought we'd push them through. We then rode in and around to where they were supposed to be, and yes, they were still there, and we had a fairly easy time of getting them moving, across the creek, up the fenceline toward the open gate, and on out, patting ourselves on the back.
Only thing was, we'd only moved the two mama cows - the baby was missing. Before we'd started moving the mamas, I wondered, should we try to find the baby first? But who knew where he was, or if he was alive anymore. And the ladies sure hadn't bawled for him at all.
The other thing was, once out the gate, the mamas turned up-creek along the fenceline, and we hadn't had a plan for that. It took us cowpokes a while to decide if it was better to let them go up the fence a mile or so till we came to the end of the canyon, and a trail up and out, or to turn them and send them back down-creek, where the fence would guide them all the way.
Three indecisive people on a cattle drive you don't particularly want. We did finally decide to turn them, and we used a jog in the fence to do it, so that was easy. The girls were quite cooperative too - not like the last bull Rohl had come to round up, the one that went through a couple of fences before Rohl caught him.
Well - now that we got the mamas on the correct side of the fence, and they were headed in the right direction, toward home, we looked back and saw, across the creek on our property, the calf. Dang. Well, John and Connie would go fetch the calf and drive him this way and on out the gate, and Quickie and I would wait above the gate to make sure the calf turned down the fence when he came out, after the mamas.
I forgot to mention that by now, Quickie was becoming pretty durned excited. She was starting to throw her head up and in a circle (her boy Dudley does the same thing), paw, and dance, instead of stand still. Or do anything else I asked her to do. Finny was getting pretty excited, and so was Mac, although I think Mac knew just what to do. He was in his sagebrush-leaping mode, and once I heard a yelp, and saw John up on his neck. Mac, smart cowhorse that he is, stopped and waited for John to shove himself back in the saddle and retrieve the stirrup that his foot had lost. ("That was the only time I got scared!")
Connie and John got around the calf, got him across the creek and moved him toward the gate, a ways back from which Quickie and I were waiting.
Everything's going smoothly, cow nearing the open gate, walking along... then he stops and faces Mac and Finny. Calf makes a break for it. One horse turns him back. Calf makes a break for the other side... and gets through. Mac takes off after him. Finny moves off to get around him and they disappear from view. Quickie gets really excited and starts prancing and head throwing and snorting. I wonder if I will remain in the saddle.
It happened again, they chased the calf back to this side of the creek, drove him slowly but steadily to the gate, and again he turned and made a break for it and got through. Naughty calf!
This time I joined them in the pasture (Quickie REALLY excited now, bouncing like a dressage horse and snorting like an elephant) - John got the calf turned around, we spread out and got behind him and slowly and steadily moved him toward the gate... if he'd gone just a little further, he'd have seen his mama and auntie slowly meandering back along the fence towards us. But instead he turned back and broke between Connie and me, down a little cliff that for sure neither of us were going to dive down. Man From Snowy River we ain't.
Finny found a path down and galloped after the calf and just reached the creek crossing before the calf did, and turned him back up the fenceline. No problem - they slowly moved the calf up the fenceline, where Quickie and Mac would be able to join in again to push him toward the gate... when suddenly the calf just went right through the fence, up-creek.
"OK, time for a Dr Pepper!" About two hours after we started, we called it a day and headed in.
We might want to give Rohl another call and remind him to come round up and pick up his 3 cows. I don't think we'll tell him we tried to round them up and failed.
Indeed, Cowpokes Are Us... but you probably wouldn't want to hire us to round up anything.