The calves are set to ship Thursday, and we brought the cows down off the mountain this morning to begin shaping up the herd. We have the next two days to gather the stragglers and to sort off the yearling heifers and the heifer calves we will save for herd replacements.
It was brisk this morning, but the ground was bare – there have been years when we accomplished this gather in a snowstorm. In fact we’ve had a foot of snow in October each of the last two years. Last year I plowed snow from the county road to the corrals twice before we got the calves out.
We wore chaps and necks-carves this morning, and not for decoration. Our legs needed protection from the cold and from the brush, and those silk scarves make a big difference on a frosty morning. The sun was shining, but the wind was biting.
It was really a quick ride – only a few hours. The cows were all grazing out in the open, and they all threw up their heads and lined out when they saw the horses – they knew it was time to head for their winter home on the river bottom. The lead cow was far ahead of us, and waiting impatiently for someone to open the gates toward home. We were all a little disappointed – the dogs, the riders, and the horses – that we didn’t really get an excuse to do serious cow-work.
It was still a steep climb up into the summer range, and we were grateful to hear the sound of the horseshoes that buffered our horse’s feet from the rocks. Then that glorious view from the top of the mountain. But the real fun will come in the sorting that is yet to be done.