When you take the word ‘cowboy’ literally, it refers to one who works with cows. Historically, horses have been used as the tool for working with cows, though many of us would more accurately be called horseboys than cowboys. However, we had the opportunity to be REAL cowboys for a day!
We arrived at the Moorman Ranch, worked by Jack and Cathy Neil, as one of our planned stops just for the night. Then Richard had a dream…… that we stayed there and helped them round up cattle. You see, Richard absolutely loves working cows on horseback and he hasn’t had the opportunity to do that for a couple years. Over breakfast, he shared this dream with Jack and Cathy and they were happy to let us stay and help them. There were tears of emotion and excitement in Richard’s eyes, so I was more than happy to take a spontaneous ‘vacation day’ to experience life on a cattle ranch.
So we saddled up Satchmo and Apache and we headed out to the forest service grazing area they leased where they needed to round up cows to move them to another pasture so the land would not be overgrazed. These pastures are more like vast areas that the cows can roam in- I don’t even think they are fenced on all sides. We had a blast trotting around ridges, up gullies, and through trees looking for the cows. I nearly passed by a group of four that were hidden about 20 feet- just over the bump from me! The four of us (mainly Jack and Cathy!) rounded up about 25 head, which is really 50 cows because they count a mama cow and her calf as one.
We then proceeded to herd these cattle through the pasture, out the fence, through a gully, down the highway, and into another gate! We even ended up in a few photo albums from people driving the highway as we were doing our cattle drive right down the road! It was pretty cool. Once we got in the new pasture, we gathered the cows they had found the day before (it usually takes a few days of this to find all the cows and get them all moved) and added them to our herd so we could push them quite a ways to show the cows where the water was. I must admit, it did get dusty, hot, and occasionally frustrating because when we went through some trees, the cows wanted to stop and stay in the shade and they were a little challenging to keep moving. It is a pretty fun chore, but one that would definitely get a bit like work if one had to do it every day (like anything I suppose!) However, it was a fantastic experience and a great opportunity for us to ask many questions- as Richard wants to have a large herd of cattle on our ranch one day.