Moving Cows to Callon Spring 2012

Thursday we moved our cows to the other unit that we lease from the Forest Service. It turned out to be the perfect day to do it. It was overcast and the temperatures were in the low 70’s, unlike the steady sunny 90 degree days we’ve had most of the summer.

We had a great day since there were no problems finding our cows and bulls and they all trailed to Callon Spring cooperatively and we didn’t have any troubles with calves getting hung up at the gate or trying to turn back on us.

At one point, my husband split up from the kids and I to make a big circle.

The kids and I started gathering and trailing the biggest bunch and separated occasionally to sweep up smaller bunches. Eventually we all met up at the stock tanks according to plan. This time our plan worked out perfectly.


My son is riding Scooter, our youngest horse who’s just recently been able to go along on our cow moving trips. We’re real proud of how he’s turned out. He seems to have figured out his job around cows rather quickly. My husband and I have worked with him some but my son’s done most of the work training Scooter. He was a freebee as a yearling and has done real well.


Our daughter is riding Birde; a longtime family favorite horse. Seems hard to believe but he’s helped raise both of our kids on the ranch.

Shortly after we got to the tanks, my husband showed up with one of the bulls so we didn’t have to hold the cows long.

From here, we eased them through a gate where my husband was able to get a good headcount and we began trailing the cows onto a gravel road.


It’s not easy trying to do my job horesback and take pictures on a moving, anxious horse! LOL.

We share a lease with another ranch, so at one point, they caught up with us while driving cows west and helped us push cows part of the way before going after more of their own cows. Some of theirs were mixed in with our bunch (each ranch’s cows usually separate themselves naturally). It’s one of the few times during the year we actually get to see them, so there’s usually lots of face-to-face catching up and hashing over the summer and fall plans when to move off the permit. 

All our calves get fly tags to help alleviate annoying flies for the calf and it helps the cow some too but especially when it’s hot out and flies are bad, cows try to get a reprieve. Ranching in the Black Hills during the summer means you spend a lot of time trailing cows through trees because the trees brush the flies off of them.

Black Hills cattle are especially fond of going through a stand of jack pines, which can be a pain trailing them when riding horseback but you can’t blame them for wanting to get away from bothersome flies.

I don’t know why, but seeing cows in the forefront of this sign struck me as funny. Cows don’t read signs but they always know to “turn here,” as the sign indicates.

Once we get over the hill, they’re trailed downhill through some trees.

This is our destination so the cows know where water is when we move them to Callon Spring unit (mostly for the young cows’ sake who’ve been turned out with the big herd for their first summer on the range).


We try to keep them close to the tank for a bit until they settle down and have a chance to pair up again. Once they’ve quieted down we make the journey back to the pickup and horse trailer for a late lunch.

The ride back always seems longer, but that’s when we have some of our best family conversations. There’s just something meaningful to me about having all of us riding together moving cows. I revel in the conversations we have. There’s always lots of joking, story telling, teasing, and rehashing of cow moving mayhems from the past as well as any that happened that day.

Although they hold great significance for me, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter aren’t my most beloved days of the year spent with my family. The days I get excited about with anticipation are the ones when our family all saddles up to help move cows to summer range, to a different unit within our grazing permit, or back home in the fall. These are truly the days of my life.

One response to “Moving Cows to Callon Spring 2012”

  1. Robyn Avatar

    The short lived cool down was a blessing. It’s so nice to open all the windows and air out the house or do cattle work.

    I have to agree with your last thoughts, Amy. For me, while growing up, it was driving home from the cattle or sheep show.

    Thanks for sharing your perfect day!

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