You may have guessed from the title of this blog post that I have some issues with cows. I curse them frequently, scream at them only slightly less often, and proudly eat beef out of a strong sense of spite.
But really, I truly don’t deeply hate them. They just have the power to make my life a nightmare on occasion, so I think a little animosity is justified. I am certain that they do it on purpose, too. Some people might say that hundreds and hundred of generations of breeding for specific physical traits have left cows maybe just a little lacking in the smarts department. Those people are wrong and have no idea what they are talking about.
The cows will try to fool you. They know when you are looking at them and will just stand there chewing and chewing and chewing and pooping and pooping and pooping. They do this intentionally to reinforce the stereotype that you have in your head. You may see chewing and pooping, but I know better and I see them plotting chaos and mayhem.
Every Saturday at Black Mountain Ranch, we all pitch in for the cattle drive to try to bring all the cows in. We do this out of necessity, to check on and doctor the calves if need be, and to to a head count to see if we have lost any of the calves. We also have to make sure that all the calves are branded.
This would seem like a pretty simple process. Go out. Find cows. Bring cows in.
Frequently on Fridays, especially later in the sumer, the cows will be hanging out on the sage-covered hillside up behind the lodge and in the grassy meadow right out the upper gate. They will be right there in plain sight.
But I tell you what. They KNOW when it is Saturday. They know, I tell you.
Our Longhorns are a tough breed. Given grass and water, they can mosey along at three to four miles an hour in the mountains for days on end. I have never seen it, but I believe that most Saturday mornings, usually around five, the cows wake up and have a quick meeting to plan out their day. One of them takes charge and designates which group will go where, and discuss tactics to yet again attempt to foil our attempts to bring them in.
I have no proof of this, but I know it happens.
They have all kinds of different methods to disrupt the cattle drive. My favorite, and one of their most effective tactics is the old “just stand there and play dumb”. They will pick one of the herd to, as soon as we start moving the herd back down to the ranch, just stop, and stand there.
This one little move of passive resistance can totally derail a cattle drive. Usually, the “just stand there and look dumb” is followed up by a “wander off into the trees” on the other side of the herd. At this point, chaos reigns.
But as much as they drive me crazy, I am more than a little proud to share a little of the frustration that the cowboys of the late 1800′s must have felt when on the great cattle drives of the time. I can’t imagine the hard life they had in the heat of summer and cold of winter. The wind, the dust. The constant frustration of trying to handle the cows and get them to market.
So on the outside, I may rant and rave about hating the cows, but deep down on the inside, I am a little proud to join the struggle in my hat and boots, and even give those hoofed nightmares a little tip of the hat by calling my self a cowboy.