The truck was set to arrive at 9:00 on Monday – but we were still a few head short. Eric had spotted a missing bull and a wayward yearling heifer in the far north pasture while he was salting the cows earlier in the week. We left early on Saturday to bring them down.
It was a couple of miles up and over the top and across the next field to reach these two head. We usually rode our horses up, as it was faster, smoother, and easier than driving. And we had just trailed down from there with the main bunch of yearlings.
But this bull had already evaded us in the last two gathers, hiding in the brush at our approach. He would be hard to control without the draw of other cattle. And the yearling that was with him would keep one man busy holding her together with a slow-moving bull. It would be far easier to trailer them.
And there were the two cow/calf pairs that had come over the rim and down into the hayfield. We wanted them back up with herd over on Sick’Em Creek.
It didn’t take long to bring in those two pairs to the bottom corrals and throw them in the trailer. Eric jumped his horse in behind them.
We would need to ride through the cows in the Sick’Em Creek field to look for any yearlings we had missed. It was a big field – some 650 acres cleft into three parts by the two steep forks of the creek. Eric would drop those two pairs on top and begin riding there, while I headed out from the lower corral, through the hayfield, across “The Desert” pasture, and rode up from the bottom of Sick’Em Creek.
That was a lot of ground for two of us to cover, and neither of us could know where we might find what cattle. We each took a radio.
It was nearly a half-hour jog for me to get to the bottom of Sick’Em Creek – and even longer for Eric to drive to the head of the creek. I worked through the steep and heavy timber, and picked my way up the creek – switching back to ride through all the cows in that part of the field.
I was almost up to the stock tank when the radio crackled.
“How about you Boss? I’ve got the bull and the heifer over by the middle gate into Mendenhall.”
“I’m almost to the tank,” I replied. “I’ll come up that middle coulee and join you.”
By the time I dropped down, crossed the creek, and climbed up the gulch into the big meadow at the center of the field I could see Eric circling around the heifer on the other side of the gate. I arrived just in time to close the gate behind him, the bull, and the heifer. It took both of us to trail the two head the last 3/4 mile back up to the corral, where we loaded them into the trailer, closed the divider gate, and jumped our horses in behind.
The morning was still cool when we dropped our horses at the barn, on our way to throwing the bull in the corral, and dumping the yearling out in the field next to the shipping corral.
In just over 3 ½ hours we had picked up two pairs, dropped them back with the main herd, ridden through some 300 head a couple of miles from headquarters, and returned with a bull and a yearling.
We were satisfied with our morning’s work.