Hard work. Big Rewards. Bigger blessings. Life on a South Dakota ranch.
It was a simple task— run out west, find the four cows that had bull calves, and bring them through the home place and into the southeast pasture so they could get shipped out the next day to summer pasture. There were only about 270 pairs out there so finding the four should be easy peasy.
I found the first pair about 30 minutes into my day, trailed them back to a sorting lot between the pasture I was in and the next pasture over, shut the gate behind me, and headed out to find pair #2. During my quest I discovered a neighbor’s yearling in our next pasture to the south, and one of our pairs in the neighbor’s pasture. Ugh!! I put everything back where it was supposed to be, looked for fence damage (just one wire a little stretched–YAY!!), and headed in search of pair #2. Bingo– picked her up and trailed her lickety split to the sorting lot. At this point, I decided to call Cass and the Wild Child. I told them to saddle up and head out to help. It was obvious that the other two pairs were at the complete opposite end of the pasture. They could trail one pair back while I found the other one and save me some time.
Pair #3 and pair #4 were amazingly found only about 50 yards apart. Divine intervention, I’m sure. I gathered them up, pushed them up to the fence, and started heading for the opposite end of the pasture. By this time, as I topped a hill I saw that Cass and the WC were heading my way so I just kept the pairs headed down the fence. They met me and we continued our trek.
We rounded the fence corner and headed towards the other side of the pasture and the sorting lot. We were just about there when all heck broke loose. Cow #830 decided to make a run for things, and then her calf took off on a dead run going the other way. I was racing out around to try to circle the cow back when the WC came blowing up beside me. “PULL UP!!!” I yelled. “PULL UP!” Disgusted she did just that.
“Sweets. You were going so fast that you scared me!”
“MOM,” she said disgustedly. “I have gone that fast lots of times.”
I just shook my head and told her to go see if Cass needed help. I found the pair that hadn’t cut and run, and took them to the sorting lot. Then I went back after #830 and her calf. Cass and the WC had her stopped and were waiting for me. I had already pushed her calf towards the sorting lot with some other pairs headed that way so all we would have to do is take #830 up there as well. It worked perfect. In fact, the girls were even able to hold them while I raced and got the gate open. We shoved them in the lot and shazam… “just like that” (that might be an understatement) we had all four pairs.
The other side of the sorting lot has an alley that runs east/west and leads into the pasture just west of our house. We were just going to head the pairs down the alley, and then diagonally across the hay-field to our house, across the house pasture, and then to the southeast pasture where they needed to go. I went and opened the gates at both ends of the alley when I heard a commotion behind me. Cow #830 had hit the road again heading for the other side of the sorting lot. The WC was right behind her trying to stop her, only with her 5-year-old experience, she was in fact chasing her. I took off to try to get out and around them when #830 went blasting through the gate. Aargh!!! I got around her and headed her back to the lot when she decided to take a jump into North Dakota. She kind of hung up on the now hanging fence, and fortunately thought better of her decision and jumped backwards into the right pasture. Tragedy averted. We got her back with the rest of the pairs and started across the hay-field.
This didn’t last long as she spotted the yearling bulls over the fence and headed that direction. Cass couldn’t shake her away from the fence so she just kept her moving down the fence line while I got the rest of the pairs headed towards a water tank and wind break telling the Wild Child to “just hold them here while I go help Cass.” By this point, Cass was headed towards us with no cow. Looking behind her I saw that dang ole #830 had waded out into the dam and had no intention of leaving it.
I think the sight of me with a rope, yelling, and heading down towards the shore fully intending to bail in after her scared her enough to head towards the opposite shore. I went around to get her going and back into the water she went. Two more times to the shore and back into the water and FINALLY she headed towards the other pairs and her calf. The rest of the trip to the southeast pasture was pretty uneventful. Thank heavens! Just another day in the life…
Oh– and a little friendly ranch wife advice (and I apologize in advance for my incredible bout of over-sharing), when nature calls and you cop a squat in the great outdoors– beware!!! The ticks are out!!