Moving Cattle from the Summer Pasture

With the end of the summer, time has come for the half-wild living cattle to move from the summer pasture back home.

If a ranch is situated right next to the prairie they are grazing on, moving the cattle home is a lot of work but not too complex. If the ranch is about thirty to forty kilometres away from the pasture and the fasted way there is the highway, then the whole thing gets complicated very fast.

Because besides people herding the cattle together you need a driver for the cattle transport and a (temporary) corral to collect the cattle in before transporting them away. And you have to keep an eye on the traffic, too, of course.

Ranch folk supports each other, wherever they can, and thus we got our hands on iron fences for a temporary corral - which we put up with a tractor on a muddy hillside in pouring rain. Despite the weather, everything went surprisingly smooth. Leah and Amber were herding the cattle on horse- and ponyback, the rest of us stopped traffic on the highway and made a line on both sides of the part they had to cross, so the cattle would go to the other side and into the corral without trying to escape.

And then we started channelling the cattle in small groups of max. 15 animals into the transport and sent them on their trip home. Including loading and unloading one trip took a bit more than an hour, and I was part of the group staying with the herd in the corral to make sure none of the cows would start looking for a loophole to escape through.

For the whole herd we took seven tours - and it gets dark earlier and earlier. Daylight was already dwindling after about half of the animals had gone home. We knew we would not be able to go home and cook in time, with the amounts of tours left and the cleanup that would follow later (not taking down the corral, that would happen on the next day), so we simply ordered some chinese take-out for everyone and ate it with view of the herd in the warm truck.

Us helpers staying with the herd did not have a lot to do in between loading, so we used the time playing games together and managed to have a good time despite the weather and everything else. It still felt good, coming home after finishing work and just falling into bed, tired but satisfied.

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