Wednesday, May 29, 2013

the excitement of roundup season!

There are about ten cows that permanently live on the ranch where I live.  In the fall, another rancher brings more cows to this land and the surrounding parcels, and a lot more cows live here over winter.  They have their babies between January in May.  In April the bulls arrive.  In May the cows, babies, and bulls are all hauled to summer pasture at higher elevation, since the grass here dries up.  In the fall, they will return.

I spent the last almost-year looking forward to cattle roundups.  My horse Shylah and I tagged along on the very last one of the season shortly after I moved up here last summer.  We were only looking for strays, I think we found maybe three cows.  Poor Shylah had spent her whole life in the flat land and was totally out of shape for mountain riding, so she didn't hold up to well for a long hard day or riding last year.

So I worked real hard to get her in shape, especially in the last few months.  I rode as much as I could, went up and down as many hills as I could, went out and checked cows a lot, and so on and so forth.  We were ready this year!

And it was so much fun!!!  It makes for long tiring days, but I had a blast and Shylah did SO well.  She gets pretty worked up when she sees the cows, and the first day she tended to be TOO fast, too pushy, I really had to hold her back a lot.  She was much better the second weekend.  I helped with sorting too, in the corral, and that horse is definitely NOT a cutting horse!  Moving quickly in that situation doesn't seem to come too naturally.  ;-)

Now, amazingly, everything got done in two weekends.  I guess it usually takes about four weekends.  The weather was great, that definitely helped and allowed us to go out and round up multiple parcels on the same day.  I guess we'll go out one more time in a few weeks and look for strays, but other than that it's all done!  That's great!  And yet, I'd kinda hoped for a few more weekends of that.  ;-)

I took as many pics as I could, but it was hard to have a spare hand for picture-takin' sometimes!

Waiting for the boss to show up on the first morning...

This was the first bunch of cows on the first day, which were relatively calm and went right where they were supposed to go. I wish I could show you more actual pics of the roundup action, but it tends to be fast and furious and "two hands on the wheel" so to speak. My pokey slow horse turns into a freight train when the herd gets to runnin'. She really did well, I'm proud of her, and all those conditioning rides paid off, she just wanted to go go go!

Going out in search of more cows. The bunch we were looking for is a wild bunch. We didn't find them.

Shylah and Blackie.  Shylah really seems drawn to Blackie, she will follow him anywhere, and she really seems to like his rider, Linda.  Shylah will sidle up to her any chance she gets for to get her face petted!

Last part of the day after lunch, had to sort a bunch of "strays" (came over/under/through the fence from the neighbor's place) out of the herd. Having no "cutting" experience at all, I wanted to give it a shot. She did okay. Not great (not quick and responsive enough yet), but okay.

Gotta get them in the pen!

Waiting for the next one to come down the fence line!

The second morning began with sorting cows that we caught the previous days. Those cows shall not pass! Okay, they did, a few times, but we're still learning... and those cows were nuts!

After sorting, out in search of more cows. Where ARE those cows? Most of the time on these roundup rides it's just a nice long trail ride, scouting for cows. And then you find cows. And then the cows start to run. And all hell breaks loose and you have to chase them. And at that point I don't dare try to get my camera out of the case. That day we brought in teh rest of the crazy Limousin cattle on the neighboring parcels. It actually went easier than expected, but still... Because we are all so awesome? ;-)

Shylah, Bigger, and Blackie

Freckles and Spot by the corrals at the end of the day.

Bigger at the end of the day.

Blackie at the end of the day.

Here comes the big trailer to haul the cows to their summer pastures!

Long day in the saddle that day! We rounded up something like 75 cows on two different parcels, including taking the worst possible path up the ravine (dang cows). Had to dismount and walk the horses for part of it!  

This is from the second weekend, out gathering a sane bunch of cows on the neighboring parcel. They didn't run like the wild beasts on the previous weekend!

Cough cough, some dust may have been ingested that day!

Git along, little one! Lots of Itty bitty babies in the first bunch today, we had to take it really slow and easy so they could keep up.


Heading for the corrals.

I walked out to the corrals that night to say goodbye to the cows. I've been out a LOT since these cows arrived in the fall, riding or hiking, and some of these cows have become pretty familiar faces out on the trail and I've given a lot of them silly names. Some may be back next year, but there's no way to predict which will end up on which parcel. Goodbye to Unicorn (on the left) and the Old Cow (on the right). This is surely the Old Cow's last roundup...

The Escape Artist (the gold colored little bull) who has a real knack for getting through fences.

Droopy Ears (with the white face).

Bye Bye to Jock, the big beautiful beast.

Funny Face.

Twisty Horn

Triple Wide (I learned today that her owners call her Pig Eye!) and her baby.

I decided to call him Ned. The little Hereford bull. Ned is staying for a little while longer to make sure the small resident herd (the year-round residents) are all adequately pregnant. He's just not quite as magnificent as the big black bull.

So that's it! Another year wrapped up! So much fun!!  I can't wait to do it again!  :-D


Anonymous said...

Very interesting! Thanks, cuz Jann

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