May 2, 2016
Following the excitement of the muster with the horses and the chopper comes the corral aspect of the cattlework called Drafting. Here at Gregory the cattle are sorted several different ways and the layout of the pens is such to make it as efficient as possible. From the holding yards the cattle progress through two smaller yards before going through “the Pound” which is an octagon shaped round pen with gates to sort seven different ways. One gate leads to …
April 18, 2016
In Australia gathering a pasture is called Mustering and is orchestrated a little differently than what we do on Chico. The biggest difference is the utilization of mustering helicopters to find and move the cows to water points so that they can be moved as a group by the individuals horseback. The helicopter also saves the horses some running when cows or calves try to run from the herd by getting ahead of them and turning them back. Bikes are …
April 13, 2016
Last week the MZ took on 103 new soon-to-be mother cows. They’d spent the fall & winter at the Chico and had started dropping babies in March. Twenty-five calves took the ride outside of mom here on the semi. They also sent us another 56 yearling heifers.
Forty-five cows arrived on two trucks first. Kate & Andrea helped me unload them into a holding pen as I counted them off. Soon truck three arrived with the pairs & yearlings. The yearlings …
April 7, 2016
This is the lead
A string at the first bead
Now they follow
And later they will wallow
While I’m drinking mead.
April 6, 2016
Saddling up my horse before the first light of dawn I wonder what things I will have learned by the end of the day. Even as I come to begin my second year as an apprentice I know that what I have learned in the past year is just the first line in the series of what ranching will teach me.
Sometimes in life you are gifted with opportunities that drive you to push your own limits and accomplish more than …
March 7, 2016
It seemed like we spent the whole month of February in the corrals. From pregnancy testing to shipping steers, every animal on the ranch was brought through, as the late summer snows turned to mud.
March 4, 2016
Honestly I didn’t think it would be so tough,
They make it look so easy in the movies.
She’s gaited so she shouldn’t be too rough,
But I just make it look real goofy.
The challenge is fun learning something new,
I’m not sure she shares the same view.
Another greenhorn spurring like a fool,
But she’s no amateur and keeps her cool.
It makes for a fun day,
Trying to get the cows to go our way.
Like a traffic jam of cars on the highway,
We get em lined …
March 2, 2016
The rising almost-full moon was still bright despite a thin shroud of clouds, illuminating the high desert prairie just enough so I could make out the faint shapes of the other horses trotting through the twilight. The wind had mercifully died down with the setting of the sun and I gave Honey Baby her head so she could maneuver us through the shadows of cholla. I swiveled in my saddle to look at the first sprinkling of stars as a …
February 29, 2016
It’s something of a paradox that one of the most potentially disastrous things about herding cattle can also be one of the most fun. I’m talking about when the herd scatters running in every direction, when you risk having animals take off to the north end of the pasture, jeopardizing your plan to put them through a gate on the south end, and you have to go loping off after them to try and keep the herd together. Running on …
February 11, 2016
Yesterday when we were riding home, Tom said to me, “I will be happy when things get back to normal”. This is our third week of working cattle, and he was expressing what all of us are feeling. It isn’t that Tom and the rest of us do not like doing this work, quite the opposite, we love it. But, its controlled chaos. Things happening at perhaps not a fast pace, but for sure a much higher level of activity …