Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bringing Home the Strays

Last Thursday we got a call that some black cows sporting yellow piercings were spotted trespassing. "They aren't causing any problems", the neighbor said, "Just cruisin the waist high deep prairies eating the grass."

Saturday was the first day that we didn't have something already scheduled, so we headed out early ( well, eight o'clock is early for us gentleman ranchers) on the quads. We had previously called and gotten permission to cut across neighbors property, but it is still a good hour ride to get where our cows were last spotted. It was hot. Steamy hot. Unusually hot. Hard to breathe hot. We should have left at 'real' rancher hours.

We passed a pond with a great blue heron,

and it flew away.

At this point we are looking for our cows across the canyon. I hollered my, "Come On, Ladies", hoping that the cows would answer and hurry across the creek. Unfortunately silence.

We headed cross country and passed by a place we would just as soon forget.

That pointy rock is the one that cracked Mark's head last year when he made a hasty dismount. Mark rode across the rocky dry creek confidently on the quad, but I started thinking that I might fall. I'm not too good on a quad.

But I made it and away we went.

Another creek crossing. Again, I hesitated, due to my poor quad riding and I got stalled in the middle and Mark had to come rescue me. Laughable when I look at this photo and how easy this crossing became by Monday.

Up and up we rode, past some houses and chickens and dogs. Said hi to neighbors who directed us in the direction of last seen suspects. That is our ranch in the far distance.

Zoomed in a bit in this shot. Our cows sure go a long way. It's the grass that calls them.

We were told that they were last seen by the runway. Yes folks, this is a airplane runway. But I wouldn't want to use it.
Here is the another view from which to stand and holler and call in the cows. But all we heard was nothing. Not even a gentle 'whish' from the wind. Remember it was hot. We rode on and on. Every little road, every little hollow. Nothing. Saw some old signs that the cows had been there, but nothing really fresh. Visiting with some more nice people and got really hot in the sun. Perhaps our cows had gone home? Wishful thinking. We were hungry and hot, so we rode home. The creek crossing was easier.

Saturday evening we got a call. The cows are back. Ugh. I was off at a roller derby bout, so Mark decided to not go over because the cows don't love him as much. Ha.

Sunday we got up and were in for a surprise. It was cold. Really cold. I should have worn a coat cold. This is so Humboldt. If you don't like the weather wait a moment because it will change.

We rode past where the buffalo roam. Took a little shortcut.

Another view from the far side of the canyon.

Note the clouds and fog. Still cold. I hollered. I hiked the prairies. Back and forth, back and forth down the hillside I went until I got to the creek. I called, I begged, I bribed. No answer. Apparently someone was hiding. Eventually we gave up and went home. Creek crossing was even faster. I began to understand barn sour horses.

Monday morning was just right. Not too hot and not too cold and we had just received a phone call from the neighbors that the cows were spotted and he would trail them on foot until we got there.

I was irritated at all the days these strays were wasting. I didn't take any scenic shots. We rode fast. Didn't even notice the creek crossing. No stopping to say hi to the neighbors. We were on a mission. When we got to the cows I called and they didn't answer, but they took one look at us and headed home. Immediately. They knew they were busted. So we followed on foot. And walked,
and walked,
and walked. This was when I missed a horse. But it takes so long to ride across the creek and riding in unknown terrain hasn't always worked for us.
So we walked.
Finally we are on our property. We can see our barn from here. One of us heads up the hill directly and the other follows the cows. They apparently have a scenic route. Crossing a dry gully they take off at a run bucking and kicking. Ground bees attack and the cows get away, but not without getting stung I am sure. I know a human got stung and had to streak up the hill at a run waving their clothes like a banner trying to get the bees out. Good times...not. Funny though.

Eventually though the cows came home all sweet and gentle and begged for a little hay in the manger. We gave it to them and then loaded them up and traded them for a young, papered Angus bull.

Because, everyone knows that bulls stay home...

I do miss my cows though. Bye Dora, Emma and Peaches. Enjoy your new ranch. May you live long and fruitful.


  1. I loved this story of your cow search. But what I really want to know is who has the buffalo. Salmon Creek still has the capacity to surprise me.

  2. Those were smart cows - definitely smarter than a bull.

    Thanks for sharing the adventure. 80 degrees and sunny in Kona today.


  3. I love the shot of the 3 of you on the 4 wheeler.

    I've been stung by bees twice in my life. Eleven times the first time and nine times the second time. Those mountain ground bees are THE WORST!


  4. Amazing how far cows can go in a short time. I'm watching some of ours do that, they go for miles! I was tracking them probably at the same time you were tracking yours :) I love how they're busted and they know it, lol.

  5. Loved the cow chasing story; we've done that drill through the woods and it was not fun. We either butchered or sold all of those adventurers too ;)

    Pictures of the new bull to come?



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