This Week on the Ranch | No. 3
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“This Week on the Ranch” is a weekly series sharing snippets and stories from life on the range.
This week we went on one of the longest cattle drives of the year. Nearly every man on the ranch saddled up to help out on this one: 12 men, 1 girl , and 14 horses.
Even though we had so many men, and the job took so long, we only actually moved roughly 80 head. Typically it would only take 2 people to move that number of cattle, but this ride required us to push the animals straight up a mountain, through a wooded forest, and down into a valley.
We started off at the heart of the ranch in Jess Valley and headed towards Eagle Peak where our rangeland is located. We split up about half way to the mountain to gather cattle from various fields. It was a big mix of cows and bulls, the stragglers that didn’t make it with the rest.
We met back up right around the time of the eclipse! We were expecting it to get fairly dark because we are located near one of the totality points; however, I think we were all disappointed when it only seemed as if the lights had been dimmed for a few minutes.
We reached a steep hill leading toward the mountain and we pushed the cattle up-hill. Julius, my horse, was not interested in climbing the hill or helping push the cattle, but we had no other choice so slowly but surely we made our way to the top.
We continued on the long trail towards our final destination called “White Horse”. We traveled to a large valley which was about halfway to White Horse and let the cattle take a breather, our horses get a drink, and us have a snack. When we were ready to finish the push, a blind calf ran under one of the horses which caused a bit of a rodeo and sent one man flying. He’s okay, but the horse is now in our sale bunch.
We began the final push through heavy trees and downed timber. Whenever you run into a forest situation with lots of downed pine trees or overgrown willows you’ll be very thankful for as many cowboys as possible. Dogs are also especially helpful on rides like this because they can push the animals through places that horses can’t easily get to. As we passed elderberry bushes we reached for branches and enjoyed a snack on the ride.
About 5 hours in, I was really looking forward to reaching White Horse and eating lunch. One of the ranch kids and I led the herd up the crest and down into the valley, and when we finally got there we were all excited for our sack lunches and a nice long nap on our saddle pads.
Rodney filled me in as to why the name of the valley is White Horse…supposedly a long time ago, a man was left stranded because his horse had broken free and left him. The horse was white, and so the valley was named White Horse. As you might know, my horse is white, so I told Rodney that I hope we wouldn’t have a repeat in history.
The ride home seemed a lot shorter than the ride there, and luckily there weren’t any more unplanned dismounts. The guys whistled and sang songs, and once we reached the barn at about 4:30 in the afternoon, we were all tired, sore, and happy.
The rest of the week was pretty mellow – I stayed home and worked for most of it, and Greg fixed fence and cut thistles. It’s the time of year where we do lots of house keeping and not a lot of cowboy work. I am looking forward to winter and feeding again, but I think I am the only one! I hope you had a wonderful week, and as always, thank you for taking the time to visit with me here!