Moving Cows to Summer Range

by Amy on June 2, 2009

Sunday was a long day at our place. The whole family saddled up to move cows onto summer range. My husband and son rode off in one direction and my daughter and I headed in another to get cows gathered up and we all met with everything we gathered up at the pasture’s water tanks near the railroad bridge we’d go through first.

The day started out to be mostly sunny and was an enjoyable ride. We didn’t have any disasters with the cows the whole trip which made for a great family day. Once the cows were lined out, the kids rode ahead of my husband and I and visited, joked, and laughed with each other. My husband and I talked about our upcoming plans for summer chores and getting the heifers moved to their summer range in the next couple of days.

Since it was an all day ride, we packed a light lunch. Once we drove the cows straight to the summer range tanks, everybody took a break to stretch their legs, eat a bite and make their nature calls while we waited for cows to settle down and pair up. Once it got quiet we knew everything was mostly paired up so we could make the long ride back home.

By late afternoon, clouds rolled in and cooled the air. We could see rain off to the south east toward Buffalo Gap, SD and made a dramatic view against the deep green pine trees and pastures. The whole ride back was nonstop silliness between the kids, interspersed with giggles and hand gestures or whole family discussions and laughs over past cow moving days that didn’t go so smooth. My husband’s temper during those cow moving wrecks is always the butt of our family jokes. Our kids love to mimic his past “episodes.”

About a mile from home, we were forced to put on our rain slickers and jackets when rain started to pelt us head on. By the time we got everything unsaddled, the rain stopped, but it was nice to see something in the rain gauge.

Afterwards, we still had tanks to move for the heifers and water on the big trailer to unload, so our daughter stayed in the house (she was so tired she crashed on her bedroom floor) while my husband, son and I loaded, hauled, and unloaded the tanks to their new location and dumped the water that was left on the trailer.

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Earlier in the week when school was about out, I had an enlightening conversation with my daughter about a girl in her class who wanted to live on a ranch but didn’t know the difference between a farm and a ranch. I asked my daughter if her classmate was tough enough to handle ranch life. As in, was she tough enough to see the dead pile down by the junk yard, harvest and skin overpopulated rabbits, or watch a branding? My daughter didn’t think her classmate could handle any of it, especially at a branding listening to bawling calves, the branding smoke and watching a castration. And these are the kinds of conversations we have.
Have a good week.

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