Rule Number One:
If the gate's closed, close it behind you; if the gate's open, leave it open.
Don't ya think that's a pretty simple rule?!?
You'd be surprised how many people don't get it...and it's not the ranchers...it's the recreationists. I guess their thought process is "Well, we'll be right back through this gate, so we'll close it when we come back." Then they totally forget about it or leave the area on another road...leaving the gate open...and all the cows that are supposed to be in that field are left to wander...for miles!
The plan for Sunday was to brand a few more calves for Rancher Dan...but when the gate was left open and his other herd of cows spread all over three fields, the priority was to get them gathered back up and into the field they were supposed to be in.
It's a gorgeous area, and the sun was shining. We rode out from the ranch at about 10:00AM; three of us, My Man, Rancher Dan's son and me. Climbing out of McCoy Creek Canyon is a good warm up for you and your horse...it's so steep that you have to lead your horse up the last half of the climb. But look at the view!!
|On the top of McCoy Creek Canyon|
There are dirt roads that criss-cross the desert, so Rancher Dan knew where the cow/calf pairs were in general. We just had to gather every field and push them to the gate and trail them to the right field.
Oh yes...then there was the neighbor's bull that had been missing all winter...he found Rancher Dan's cows too...that won't bode well next winter when the cows he impregnates calve in the dead of winter. So, we gathered him up too and eventually got him down to the ranch.
|Across the desert in search of cow/calf pairs|
As we gather the first field, we found a calf with no mother, and it was a young one...just a day old, and too young to travel. We were going to carry it out on horseback, but it took off running before we could get it caught...fast lil' buggers even when they're young! When it stopped, I was getting my rope ready to catch it, Rancher Dan's son turned his head to see how far I was from him, and when he turned back the calf had disappeared...yes, totally disappeared!!
We spend the next 45 minutes zig-zagging across the area with no luck in finding the lil' guy. It had hidden itself under a sagebrush or a rock...which of course is just what his mother had told him to do! At that point, all we could do was leave it and hope the mother would show herself in the gathered herd. Sure enough, there was one cow that wanted to go back...so we pushed her up to the rim in the area where the calf should be. The cow should start bawling for it's calf, and the calf will come out of hiding.
On to find more pairs...as I came down around a rim rock face, I spotted this...
|Indian pictograph? Probably not this time, but I like to imagine...|
There are quite a few pictographs in the area from the Paiute tribes who lived here. Many get warn away by weather, and some get warn by the cows rubbing on them. This caught my eye, but the more I look at it, I think it's just natural coloring on the rock.
We finally got the biggest field gathered. As we drove the herd through the second field, those pairs just started moving toward the herd, so that was an easy gather.
|Found this bunch at Mistake Lake|
There were pairs down here too...where they weren't supposed to be...so we spread out again and gathered this field along the top side and pushed the pairs that were in the canyon back up to the top and through the gate into the right field.
Finally done. By the time we got back to the ranch (with the bull), it was 5:30 PM...7 1/2 hours of gathering and moving because someone left a gate open...enough to just chap your hide huh?
Hopefully this Saturday they'll all still be in the right field because Rancher Dan plans on branding the calves that day!!
Linking in today with Nancy at A Rural Journal and Lisa at Two Bears Farm...