A Good Trail?

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Thursday was an early morning for us.  Wake up at 3:30, eat breakfast, grab some water and snacks, then in the truck and headed toward the barn.  Megan loaded the kids in the car to take them to their aunt's as they groggily looked at the darkness and tried to go back to sleep.  We were trailing the cows to the mountain and we all knew that a big day lay ahead.

Before my wife had gotten very far (a few hundred yards) her right rear tire was leaking.  We didn't have time to change it or fix it so it was a quick switch to the Dakota and they were back on their way.  My sister came to help with the big trail so I picked her up from my mother's house and pulled onto the highway.  The flat tire was out of the way and hopefully things would go better.  Less than a mile down the highway a young coyote ran across the road.  I started to slow down, but he was headed toward the ditch on the left side of the road so I didn't think too much of it when he suddenly turned around and ran in front of my truck and trailer.  Bam.  With those two things out of the way, we journeyed on toward the barn.

Saddled the horses, loaded, and drove to the bottom of our "Mesa" pasture.  A couple of our friends were coming to help and one was running late.  He showed before too long and we found out that he was late because he had hit a deer!  Oh, man.  This seems like a trend is starting.  There's no turning back and with the growing daylight we need to get the cows gathered and on the trail.  The further we make it before the heat, the better.

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We spread out and covered the bottom part of the pasture: no cows.  That's to be expected.  The only water tanks we had turned on were at the top and most of the cows know that we will be headed up.  So Megan and I were riding along looking for cows when Jekyll started yelping in pain.  Lots of yelping.  I love that dog, but he doesn't always pay attention and had walked in front of Megan's horse.  The horse was surprised and tried to get off of him, but moved every hoof except that the one that was on his leg before he finally figured it out.  Once free, Jekyll seemed to be okay.  Phew... not good, but could have been worse.

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We gathered the cows and turned them out the gate.  We had probably gone half a mile when my sister's horse suddenly fell down with my sister.  I didn't see it at all, only her on the ground checking her horse.  What was that about?  Not sure, but they both seemed to be okay so away we went.  

A bit later a calf ran back as they sometimes do.  They lose their mother in the herd and especially when the cows are eager to go through a gate and calves can't push through the excited mothers to stick with their own.  My horse, Peanut, has done this plenty of times so we got around him easy enough, but the calf didn't want to join back up with the herd quite so readily.  It didn't take a lot of convincing, but between hiding behind the junipers and just trying to circle around me, Peanut had to do a little bit of running to get him back.  While we were doing this, I heard more yelping.  Jekyll sticks pretty close to me so I knew he was okay and this yelping kept on going.  Turns out, my brother's dog Tuff had walked up beside a calf surprising him.  The calf planted his back feet, turned on them and jumped a sagebrush that he was beside to get away from his sudden companion.  One of those back hooves planted on Tuff's foot.  The turning and jumping tore a wide hole in Tuff's skin.

 Taking a break.  While we stopped to rest a cow found its mother and got a quick snack.

Taking a break.  While we stopped to rest a cow found its mother and got a quick snack.

Luckily, that was the last of the unfortunate events for our journey.  The cows trailed up to the mountain pasture pretty well.  We arrived about 3:30 in the afternoon.  After waiting a while to make sure the cows were settled down, we rode our horses to the truck on the county road and got home about six o'clock.  We watched the lightening strike on our way down and hoped we wouldn't have to go fight fire, which fortunately came true.

 The cows "strung out" headed for the mountain.

The cows "strung out" headed for the mountain.

My brother and I returned to the mountain pasture the next day and put together a few calves that still hadn't found their mothers.  Tuff was all stitched up and I hear he is now stuck in a "cone of shame" (for all of you Up fans).  You know, as far as the trailing goes, it was a really good day and we made it in good time.  There were times during the day that I wondered what was going to happen next, though.  A good reminder that sometimes we have to take the bad with the good.  I hope you all have had a good week.

by Brandon Greet