Anyone can imagine that three days of preg checking 1514 cows would be kinda crazy. This year certainly didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure! But even as crazy as it gets, it is such a fun weekend. Getting this crew of Curlew cowboys together always means a good time. They can’t go more than just a few minutes without giving somebody a hard time about something- teasing them with the hot shot, giving some sage marital advice, or telling them to pick up the slack. They try to share WAY too much candy to my kids but only because they love them. My favorite cowboy always searches out The Ranch Princess to say hello and give her a kiss. They are a hard working bunch, never forgetting that they have a job to do but never letting the work stop them from keeping things fun.
We preg check these cows out to Black Pine- WAY out on the desert in the middle of nowhere on some corrals built there permanently for days like these. Keeping the cows in the corrals for the long three days means that they get hot and raunchy and make any tough cowboy ready to crawl up the fence. In fact we had a few intense moments that will go down in the books.
Let me set the stage…
Imagine, if you will, some old (but well built) corrals- big enough to hold 500 cows. There are two or three cowboys on horses pushing cows through to the back of the ally. There is a guy or two at the ally keeping the ally full of cows and running the back gate to keep from losing any. The ally is lined with a few guys on each side with hot shots ready to zap (responsibly, I promise) any cow into gear. (And when they’re not busy getting the cows, they pretend to shock each other… or steal their chair or something else to give some grief.)
Staying with me? Good- there’s more!
At the chute we have the vet up to his shoulder in cow- obviously… he’s like the man of the hour. There is also a man running the chute, one marking the cows with hair bleach according to their gestation, and one replacing any tags that have been lost over the last year. Next to the chute is a flatbed truck where we have ranchers taking numbers, doing shots, taking pictures (actually, that’s just me!) and my awesome kids. When the cows are done being tested, they are sorted one of three ways- to go home now, to go to Locomotive, or to come home in a week. What makes our sorting work despite the fact that there are no fences is the row of trucks and trailers that make a big ally to the field for the Locomotive cows.
Are you thoroughly confused?
That’s ok. Just understand lots of cowboys and lots of cows. Now let me take you to the afternoon of day two. Work is going along nicely, nothing out of the ordinary. That means we’ve had some great lunch, the chute has been cleaned out of a good sox inches of poop and at least one cow has attempted to jump over the fence. I make the kids play close to the truck in the event some crazy manages to get over- something that really hasn’t happened in a while. Until this day. I’m not sure if the girl was nervous about her time in the chute or just ready to be free (I’m going with the latter) but whatever her reason, she was ready to get out.
I was standing next to the flatbed, looking over the shoulder of my rancher’s wife double (we share the exact same name!) as she was teaching me about her record keeping program when all of the sudden we hear, “She’s coming over! She’s coming over!” And then “Get the kids!” I don’t even remember actually seeing the cow as she started teetering over ally just behind the chute, but I understood enough that we needed to move- FAST! I swung The Rancher’s Sidekick up on to the truck quickly, but just as fast I realized there wasn’t enough time to get The Ranch Princess and climb up behind everyone else. There wasn’t really even enough time to grab my girl and run. I scooped up my baby and pressed up to the truck, turning her out of the way as best I could. Just as we got there, one of those tough cowboys came to stand between us and that crazy, ornery cow. He figured better a guy with a hot shot than a cowgirl with a kid if there were to be any type of face off.
Are you on the edge of your seat? Not really, I’m sure, but for us in the moment it was slightly intense because we were standing exactly in front of that cow and could surely have taken the brunt of her nasty attitude. However… she went a different way. We must have made enough commotion or looked like such a crazy site that in her tantrum she wasn’t willing to put up with us. She just kicked up her heels and took off for the desert (a good place for her for the next five months).
Oh, the crazy days of preg checking. We love them and are happy to be done with them for the year. The cows are bred up, pregged up, and turned out for the winter. We’re all alive and well and have decided to put up a few more poles on the ally next year!