Thursday Reality Check: Working Cattle and Riding Colts

Well, I thought that I was done with the jackets and vests till next year until about half way through feeding this morning. It was 57 degress.

What!?!

That’s cold.

It was humid.

There was a heavy fog.

Fine I hate the cold. Or cool, or whatever. Anyway, I got my vest, everybody got fed and I started loading the youngsters: One ‘four’ I can rope on that I call Bugsy, one ‘three’ I just started calling Luke and three two-year-olds, or ‘twos’. Only one has earned a name. We call him Mellow Yellow. After a quick stop through the house to kiss my lovely bride and grab a fresh taco, I headed south. Like a freight train through it’s tunnel of fog we rolled through the towns barely able to see the blurry greens and yellows till we were through ’em or the reds till we were to ’em. It was slow goin the whole way.

I pulled into the house a little after eight. Morgan had already headed over to the pens so I went to meet him. Just as I pulled up I could see a little brehmer heifer get sorted through a gate inside the pens and head into the fog. Then I saw Mick. Crap I’m late. About that time I heard the fire start up. These lady’s were gonna get some hot iron on there butts today. I wasn’t too late ’cause Doc Williams wasn’t there yet and nobody had saddled up just yet either. They must have been sorting them just to get ready to start moving them through the pens.

Dad picked out a little Poco Bueno bred grullo mare and asked me to ride Mr. Koehler’s bay mare, Lilly. She is in the it’s-time-to-grow-up part of her life so she gets used pretty regular. Mick was on a little sorrel mare he just started team roping on and Dick was on Tommy Boy, a younger sorrel gelding that he has riding around pretty nice.

Just then it hit me. We’re not going to get to rope today.

Oh well. It was a fine run of Thursday’s for sure. So Jesse, Felix and Tony were ready and waiting. Kelley had his grease and pour-on de-wormer like Doc Freakin Holiday. Just say when baby. Mick looked like he was at the bar chillin even though he was about to have to get the heads of every heifer that came through there so Dick could get them steady for the tattoos and bangs vaccination tags. Oh, and there is no head gate. One big squeeze shoot. Old school. That’s the way we do it down here. For all it’s glory…and faults, that’s just the way we do it. Anyway, Doc was ready so I started sending them through.

It’s really something to see I bet. From a distance. The group, like a machine, just works. Everybody has a job. They execute and the machine keeps running. Anybody faulters and the thing comes to a screeching hault. Or somebody gets hooked. That’s the thing about these first crosses. They make good cows in this rough country, but lets just say I’m a hell-of-a-lot more sore this time than I was when we ran all those blacks and black baldies through a couple of weeks ago. Those tiger-stripes can get kind of rough with the personell. 😉 But when everybody’s percolating, it goes pretty smooth. We’re united in a way.

Something else that makes me feel tied to every rancher that’s ever tried to make a living with horses or cattle is that smell. To stand in that crowd pen somewhere between Beeville and Refugio with hot branding irons sending smoke to join that heavy fog laying on us really takes me back. I don’t know where, but I’m there often. It’s a lonely place, but it’s where I belong.

We wound up things around lunch time, but not after needing to rope one that slipped through the cracks. Mick pushed them out of the corner and I peeled them off the fence. As they headed toward the center of the large pens, Morgan eased into the herd and one swing later it was over. She never saw it coming. He steered her out into the open and Dick immediately had another rope on her feet. I went to her and down she went. Doc and his vet tech took care of her right there. The hands brought the fire and one O-B and one 8 later, she was off with the rest of the bunch.

After lunch we delivered some cattle to the auction barn and I wrapped up the day riding colts. Between the trip to the barn and my riding, we moved some round bales for cattle over at the Murphy and fed alfalfa to the broodmares. What a site. Babies have been hitting the ground for a couple of weeks now. The mares are pulled down a little bit since we haven’t been getting any rain, but the foals are still looking great. As soon as I get a new camera I’ll post pics. Today would have been a good picture day. Sorry about that. I’m going to wind this up since it’s getting a little long-winded, but I wanted to be sure to mention the foals.

Everything is just starting to green up a little. The babies are coming and the replacements are getting branded and turned out. It’s new beginnings everywhere. It’s never to late to start over. It’s never to early to start over. If you think you’re headed the wrong way, start fresh. Now’s the time.

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