Well Broke Cows and a Homegrown Cowboy
- November 10, 2023
- Jan Swan Wood
The cows were needing moved to a fresh pasture on the place I was leasing grass from. Our cows handled really well and were very broke, so I knew that my seven year old and I could handle it, but, there was a problem on the route we needed to move them. There were two creeks to cross once we left the pasture they were in, which wasn’t a huge challenge, though one was steep and not very nice to cross. The bigger problem was that the pasture we had to cross had a bunch of cows and calves in it, scattered from one end to the other. We had to go through the middle of that pasture to reach the pasture we were going to. Having a mixup was a pretty big concern with just the two of us.
Now some folks would think that a seven year old wouldn’t be much help, but they would be wrong. He’d been helping work cattle and day working with us since he was three, plus his horse, Snickers, had more experience than many cowboys ever get. I was also very well mounted on Lily. We had discussed our strategy on the way to gather the cows.
We gathered our cows in the first pasture and paired them out at the gate, then I got out in front of them and called them. They each grabbed their calf and lined out behind me. Colin brought up the drags, such as they were, and we headed across the pasture to the first creek crossing. They crossed well and I held them up on the far side while Colin got across, then we started off again. As we got to the first cows that were in the pasture, I kept talking to ours and they closed rank behind me. The outside cows watched us go through, some of them moving off away from us, and some just standing. Thankfully, our cows were pretty clannish and didn’t like fraternizing with strange cows, so they weren’t interested in the other cows in the least. We kept moving at a good walk and passed through probably 60 pairs on our trek across that pasture. I kept talking to my cows and Colin kept the old cows on the drag tucked into the bunch.
After crossing the second creek, it was smooth sailing from there to the gate into the new pasture. I opened the gate horseback and tucked it into the fence without losing a step and our cows marched through, everyone with their calf at side. We settled them onto a nearby dam to water, and watched them for a bit, visiting about how it had worked, I’m sure, before riding back the way we’d come and closing gates.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Well broke cows and a homegrown cowboy, even at seven, beat a loud, wild crew any day. There’s still absolutely no one else I’d rather work cows with or cows I’d rather work.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....