How to make your day a lot shorter and easier
There are times when I don’t get to work my dogs much because I own Marvin’s Fencing and build a lot of fence for a living.
But any time I get a chance, I go help people gather cattle. This past week I was asked by a neighbor to help haul 4 loads of cows and calves and one bull – a total of 5 loads. I figured it’d be some good work for my dogs and I had it all set up for a smooth and easy day.
First problem: I didn’t take a horse with me and being on foot with this many cattle isn’t always good! Second problem: not all of the corrals had been opened up so there was some fighting to get the young calves in those corrals! There must have been about 50 head of cattle, some of them Charolais crosses which love to put up a fight! Good thing I had Hangin’ Tree Tyson and Hangin’ Tree Trap with me – it only took about 10 minutes with those dogs to get the cattle all penned up and then only a short amount of time to sort out the cows and calves we didn’t want hauled.
We loaded the trailer and left about 6 big calves for the next load. As we were leaving I saw that the main gate out to the fields had one of those cheap chain and latch combos. Well I know we had enough bailing twine laying around to reach to the moon but for whatever reason I decided not to worry about it. We dropped that first load of cattle off, picked up another load and delivered them somewhere else, then picked up a calf on the way back. When we were driving into the barn lot a few hours later I turned to my neighbor and asked him if all those calves in the fields were supposed to be there!
Well of course they weren’t! Right then I knew what happened. They pushed open a poorly secured gate! The only ones happy to see those calves loose were Hangin’ Tree Tyson and Hangin’ Tree Trap. Fortunately it only took those dogs about 5 minutes to get the calves back through the open gate and penned.
So remember to secure your gates, or else have some really good cow dogs with you!
During this same busy week I got a call asking if I wanted to go pen about 60 head of roping steers and of course I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to work my dogs!
So I loaded up a couple of horses and my dogs, picked up Nathan (link) along the way to videotape the whole event and had Stacey there at the other end for help and to ride my other horse
We drove for about an hour to reach the place only to find out the steers weren’t dog broke. Fortunately I brought along Hangin’ Tree Tyson and Hangin’ Tree Trap who are seasoned cow dogs. I also brought Dottie who is by Hangin’ Tree Sport and out of Cattle Master Chick. She’s only two years old and has never been on a cattle gathering like this so it was an education for her. Surprisingly, it only took about 30 minutes to get the roping steers out of the brush and into the barn even with Dottie along.
I’m feeling pretty good and thinking this all went easily enough and that we were all done with a short day of work, Stacy and I tied our horses back at the trailer, I put Dottie in the dog box and told Tyson and Trap to stay under the truck.
We were starting back to the barn on foot to help load the steers when I heard someone holler that the steers were busting out and heading for the hills! Well being that I know I was the last one through the barn lot gate I also knew it was left open. So I hollered at Tyson and Trap to come. I ran into the lot and see a lot of steers going through the gate.
I tell Tyson and Trap to “get ahead”. They get to the head steer but he won’t stop. They hit him again and again. By this time they’re a couple hundred yards out of the lot so I go back for my horse and Dottie. I’m yelling at Stacy to get the other horse as I take off after the herd on mine. It’s not looking like the dogs are going to get the steers stopped before they get to the brush and hills. This is not a good thing. I’m going at a pretty good clip on my horse after them when I get out about 400 yards and see the steers coming back around the corner straight at me with the dogs behind them! The steers see me coming and start turning on my dogs. I know if my dogs could of talked I would have got a good cussing. It took a few minutes before we got them headed the right way again but skill was on our side!
My dogs were hot and tired after that fiasco so when we got the steers in the corral I let my dogs drink water and cool off for awhile. We didn’t have the best set up with the corrals so it took us about another 2 hours to get all those steers in the barn again. Once again, time and effort could have been saved if there was a secure gate – and a shut one!
You can make a short day (or week) into a really long and hard day if you’re not careful with your gates. When you pen cattle make sure your gate is tied good and won’t come open. Bailing twine is cheap! And if you’re gates aren’t secure, make sure you’ve got good cow dogs!
Hope you enjoy reading this.