Ah, those Indian Cows!

Upper Noonan

You are likely quite sick of hearing about our green grass, but as a final comment on it, let me just say that we had the summer round up a whole month later than we should have had it because of the muddy corrals, and, because of the delay and the rains, the late calves we branded were probably 100 lbs heavier than we had expected. Not a bad problem to have, of course, except that the little bulls were far too developed to be castrated, and so will have to be sold, when the brands dry up, in October, as bulls instead of steers – so generating a lower price. There is always a drawback, it seems! But even as I sit here writing this, the ones we sent off this week are probably being loaded onto the buyers’ trucks in Willcox, and on Tuesday we will get the check and see just exactly what they brought. Danny’s dad went to the same sale last Thursday and, while he didn’t wait around to see the calf sale, he said that bred cows and pairs were selling for up to $1,000 a head – unheard of! Everybody has oceans of green grass, it seems!

This reminded me of another time we’d had lots of rain and foolishly thought we needed to buy more cows. Gerry went to the sale and came back with 25 head of Hereford cows – but there was a hitch. They were obviously, by the brand and the breeding, Indian cows off the reservation, and their only ambition was to get back to their home range. They were as wild as hornets and as fleet as deer – any time they saw anyone on horseback, they would throw up their horned, wild-eyed heads and book it across the pasture, tearing up everything in their way. We spent a busy summer mending fences and chasing cows across our northern boundary as they headed home. Never again!

RJ and Cows

The out of season round up has had other unexpected results. Because the calves were so big, the roper, RJ, had to heel them instead of heading, which is quite a trick in a corral full of milling, bawling cows and calves ducking out of reach just as the rope snakes around their ankles. RJ did very well, though – he brought them in at a steady clip, and kept the ground crew busy.

RJ Roping

I was quite worn out by the end of the round up – the first day’s gather brought me a stampede of young heifers who evidently decided that this was a fine morning for a sprint across the pasture. About twelve of them broke away from our part of the herd and headed for the south fence, whence Megan and I had just come. Finally I managed to outrun them and turned them in the right direction – and then off they went again! This time Megan took off after them, and quite a while later managed to wheel them back and brought them back into the herd I was gathering around Bones Tank. It was a long day – the final touch was provided by a huge bull who had come with us most unwillingly all the way from Bones, grumbling as only bulls can grumble, and then, in view of High Tank, where the rest of the herd was being held, decided that he’d had all the fun he could stand and took off at a high lope back where he’d come from. This time it was RJ and Sarah who joined me in a wild bull chase – finally we brought him back to the herd, but he is a cunning bit! When we finally got everyone rounded up and set off on the drive to the corrals, he struck out in front, confidently leading the herd at a steady pace, as good as gold …. but gradually getting further and further ahead ….. until he quietly blended into some brush and disappeared from view. It did him no good in the long run, though. After the herd was all penned, the riders went back out and it took four of them to bring him in. He grumbled his way back up the trail, bellowing and rooting, throwing up dirt, turning back and ducking off at the slightest opportunity, until he was finally stuffed into the corral. Bulls always provide the most unexpected behavior of the whole round up. When we did the final count, we were one bull short. And guess where he was? By the front gate, the next morning, asking to be let in to join his buddies!


The economy is producing some unexpected results, too. It has been by far the quietest July we have had, and, I suppose not unexpectedly, a lot of the guests came from Tucson and Phoenix. And why not – drive a short little way and enter an entirely new world! Arizona is so varied in its landscape and climate, each part so different from the others that you may as well be in another country, and here these stay-at-home vacations make a lot of sense. My step daughter and her husband from Australia are coming to visit me again in October, and we decided to do much the same thing – we are going to spend a few days in New Mexico, visiting the cliff dwellings and enjoying the early days of the fall colors on the Gila Wilderness. The main reason for this is, I must confess, that there is a motel there where they allow dogs, and this means that I can take my Tuffy along with us. She is the main reason I don’t spend a night away from home, you see – those reproachful doggy eyes are just too much for me. Being a rescue dog, I guess that the awful possibility of another betrayal is always at the back of her mind, and I just can’t do that to her. So – she will come with us and I know that I will enjoy the outing all the more for that. Now if I could just take Comanche along as well……

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