On a Ranch Working Cattle


Today Martina, my exchange student from Milano, Italy, and I went with my students of the Wildorado Cattle Company to work cattle on a ranch west of Amarillo.   When I posted this on Facebook, a city friend asked what does working cattle mean.  These were calves of various sizes, both male and female, all Angus.

First, a person on horseback heels a calf (ropes it by its hind feet) and drags it to the branding area.  Then, depending on the size of the calf, a few persons flank it (hold it down) while a person gives it shots, e.g. vaccines, vitamins, another brands it with a hot iron, and someone else ear tags it.  If it is a male, its testicles are cut off. Having raised cattle, this was not new to me.  However, for a girl from Milano, it was the definitive Texas ranching experience.

I think we worked over a hundred calves during the morning which started at a chilly 47 with a strong West Texas wind.  Later, in the afternoon it warmed up about 30 degrees.  The wind just now finally quit; it is 8:54.  Here are a couple of photos of the day’s activities.

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Three people from the National Angus Association headquartered in St. Joesph, Missouri, were there making a documentary.  Although currently I live in the country in the Panhandle of Texas, I grew up on a farm about 30 miles from St. Joesph.  Small world.

 

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The Farrier


He looks like the typical cowboy

with no cowboy hat.

A cowboy hat would get in the way

up against a horse.

Pale blue eyes,

grey, handlebar mustache,

pack of Camels

he chain smokes,

Australian shepherd, Chili, by his side.

After the trimming

he sits and talks to me

for two hours.

He tells me a story

he told me the last time.

I listen as if it were the first time.

People call him from Oklahoma City.

They want a shoer.

He tells them,

“Too far unless

there’s ten head at 85 a head.”

They agree.

He gets there with Chili,

a pup then.

He starts to tie her up.

“No need;

let her play with our puppy.”

He does.

They invite him out.

It is New Year’s Eve.

“The dive they took me to

was real rough, real rough,

so rough I’d worry about

my safety even with two 45s.

They had a friend singing there

somewhere in Southeast Oklahoma City.

Real rough.

Next morning I’m ready

for the other six horses.

There’s none.”

He packs up,

comes home.

Chili won’t eat,

won’t play.

He sits and waits at the vet.

It’s parvo.

She’s had the vaccine

but not enough time.

“The people in Oklahoma City

lied about the horses

about the parvo.

Chili stayed on IVs for five days.”

Today, Chili’s a dog dynamo,

no longer a puppy but

with puppy energy.

She and Isabella play

constantly for the two hours.

He says,

“You must be rich to build this place.”

I laugh.

“Rich, I’m not rick.

Lucky maybe,

no, not lucky.

I don’t believe in luck.”

A person makes her own luck.

Smart helps, sometimes.