From Pipi’s Pasture: Moving the cows home
Each October, usually the first weekend, we move the cows, calves, and bulls home from summer pasture. We gather them using 4-wheeler vehicles, walk them down the road to my brother Duane’s corrals, pair them up, and haul them back to Pipi’s Pasture by trailers. The cattle have grazed the same pasture area for about twenty years — Unbelievable! — and even though we are always consistent in the move process, that doesn’t mean the years haven’t been different.
For example, a few years ago it snowed in September — Remember? — and the snow was up to the tops of my boots. Lyle and I hauled hay up to the pasture, my brother Duane helped us, and we fed the cattle so they could get by until the coming weekend. Then we moved them home.
Other years it rained or snowed on us, several years there was light snow on the ground, and one year it was so muddy that the pickup trucks left deep ruts as the men backed up to the loading area at the corral. Other years, like this one, have been sunny and warm.
There was a recent year when we had trouble gathering two bulls. They just would not follow the cows down the county road. In fact, they got away and ran into the pasture across the road, the first pasture the cattle grazed that summer. They ran up on top of the hill, and there was no getting them out of the brush. There was still water in the pasture so we left them there until the first snow, and by that time they were standing down along the county road, underneath some of the snow-heavy trees. They looked pretty sad, and when we opened the gate they ran down the county road.
There was one memorable year when the trailer gate flew open down close to Hamilton. Before my husband Lyle realized it was open, a heifer calf had fallen out. We didn’t know it until the calf’s mama started bawling that night. We did everything to find the calf, including taking the cow back to summer pasture and then leaving her with Duane’s cattle so if the calf was around she would find her mom. It turned out that brand inspector Brad Ocker found her with a herd of cattle near Hamilton.
This year the cattle had more pasture to roam than usual, they spent hot days shaded up in the brush, and sometimes we couldn’t see them. I worried that they had found a hole and gotten into neighboring pasture. I worried, I called neighbors. I probably drove everyone crazy. So when it came time to gather cattle last weekend, I made sure we had lots of help.
Guess what? The cattle were all down near the county road, they gathered easily, and headed down the county road. They didn’t even take off for the creek at their favorite “detour to drive everyone crazy” place in the road.
Once in the corral we counted animals. They were all there — nobody crawled out during the summer. Besides that, they are fat, the fattest I have ever seen them. We crossed our fingers and the rest of the day went like the first. Lucky!
The cattle unloaded, looked around, and bedded down in a bunch for a nap in the sun here at Pipi’s Pasture. They were totally content. You never know from year to year.