From Pipi’s Pasture: Missing Move Day
For the Craig Press
The past year and a half has been one of changes here at Pipi’s Pasture. With Lyle’s passing and our children and grandchildren living away from Craig, my lifestyle is “different,” indeed — and then some. For one thing we have had to cut down on the cows, changing our twenty-some-year routine that included calving, branding, turning cows out on summer pasture and bringing them back again, and winter feeding by tractor and trailer — all that goes along with ranching. One thing I miss right now is turning the cows out on summer pasture. (I think the cows miss it, too.)
For some 20 years the cows, calves, and bulls spent the summer on high country pasture at Morapos, sublet from my brother, Duane Osborn. Most of the cows here at Pipi’s Pasture right now have spent summers there. The cattle loved the grass, water, and shelter and shade provided by the thickets of chokecherry, serviceberry, and oak trees. There was plenty of room to roam, too, including up and down hills. I’m remembering those summers.
Cows are actually pretty smart (although I must admit there are times that make one wonder). So, in the spring, when the grass was getting green and turnout time wasn’t far away, we could find the older cows at the fence by the county road. Their noses were in the air, perhaps smelling wild green onions growing in adjoining pastures, or maybe just thinking of summer days to come. They were fidgety, too, starting to bawl whenever the pickup truck was started — or heaven forbid that the stock trailer was moved a little way. They knew that they would be going to pasture soon.
There was a lot of work to be done once the grass on summer pasture was ready for the cattle. The fence had to be checked and repaired and salt was put out. Finally the day arrived. The cows and calves were paired up. Some older cows actually loaded themselves, but others… that’s another story. Finally, however, all the animals were loaded into stock trailers for the ride to Morapos.
Once up at pasture the animals were unloaded, and we made sure cows and calves were together before we opened the pasture gate. Some animals started nibbling grass and dandelions while others took off for the pond up the draw. The bull usually rubbed his head in the dirt. Calves jumped around the big rocks in the pasture, probably wondering what they were. Eventually the whole herd took off to check out the pasture.
Since turning out the cows was a family event, we always packed a picnic lunch and settled down under the trees to celebrate having the cattle on good pasture. After that day, weekly checks were made on the cows, and a month later the cattle were turned across the road — another family day with a picnic when the work was done.
I’m missing the move, and so are the cows.
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