I made the outside circle today, and came home tired. It would be fun to have a pedometer on my horse to see how much ground we really covered.
We had used the pickup to take salt out to the cows in the far north field earlier this week, but couldn’t see several important features: what the grass is like over on Mendenhall Creek, and how much water is in Elges Creek. You can’t get there on wheels – only on a horse.
During that salting trip I spotted red cattle in neighboring fields both to the west and to the east. Probably 75% of the cattle in our area are Black Angus. Ours are Red Angus, which stick out in a neighboring bunch. So it was time to saddle up.
Of course I took the “Kentucky Colt”. Out of a Quarter Horse mare, by my daughter’s running Thoroughbred stud, and raised here on the West Boulder, this horse can cover more country than most any other horse. He had lost a shoe out in pasture, so I had to reset his front feet – this time adding snow-ball rim pads to keep him from balling up in the snow that is soon to come.
With a pair of new shoes, we left right after lunch and headed straight west up Elges Creek to check on the water. There is still a little flow, but not enough for 250 head of cattle to each get a 10-15 gallon drink every day.
Then we headed on up to the head of the creek, where we spotted a couple of bull elk in the timber, and on out a gate into neighbor’s field. We’d only covered a mile and a half by that time, but we’d gained a thousand feet in elevation.
We rode north along the ridge in the neighbor’s field, looking for red cattle – but we saw none. After another mile and a half we dropped back through into our north pasture, and traveled another mile to hit the head of “Bull Coulee”. The grass was getting short on the high side of the field, but there was enough feed for the cattle as we dropped down to Mendenhall Creek.
We rode a mile or so up Mendenhall Creek, then on up over the divide and into the neighboring field to the east. There we saw a few mule deer bucks as we made our way across the field and back down toward the river. Near the bottom we found three of our pairs, which gave us a bit of play before we were able to turn them out the gate and back into our hayfield.
It was a long afternoon. I don’t know how many miles we traveled - but it was an easy fifteen. Thunder goes some 6 MPH at a walk, and can stretch out to 11MPH at a trot. We had to zig a little and zag a little to see most of the neighboring fields, and we had to angle across the side-hills and pick our way through the sage. Max – whose legs are only 1/6 of Thunder’s – went even further, as he was casting about on both sides of the horse to smell smells and see sights that only have an interest to dogs.
By the end of the afternoon I’d had all the fun I wanted. Even my horse was a little less eager. In bygone years I have ridden from before daylight until after dark for weeks at a time, and took it all as part of the job. But as we say now: our small herd of cows is too big for a hobby and too small for a living.