After I mowed the lawn, I opened the gate for the cows and their Wagyu X calves to the horse pasture to eat the grass and weeds horses don’t like to lessen the fire danger and make it easier to spot a rattlesnake at a distance. A treat for the cattle as we wait to process their calves on Tuesday and a treat for us to see them in the evenings.
We let our big dog Buster, a Great Pyrenees/German Shepard X that was part of the litter dumped on Dry Creek Road several years ago, loose to work at night keeping the coyotes, feral pigs, raccoons, skunks, etc. out of the yard. We don’t want him to make a mistake while we’re sleeping, so we move the cattle out before dark.
Last night, Robbin walked and worked our Border Collie Tessa on commands to gently ease them toward and out the open gate—a great exercise and confidence builder for them both. Tessa has been with us enough around the cows to know how we work them (old people slow) and plenty of herd in her breeding. I’m guessing they’ll do it again tonight, it’s been good watching.
With the help of mostly the same neighbors every year, our branding at the Paregien Ranch is special. The year it snowed, or the year we couldn’t see across the branding pen in the fog, or Kenny and Virginia McKee eating a hamburger afterwards under their ponchos as the rain came down so hard we weren’t sure we would get off the mountain.
Adding to the branding’s uniqueness, two Blue Oaks grow in the middle of the branding pen—good shade, but potentially dangerous obstacles that require control of your horse and the calf on a short rope. Of all the oaks that have died during our prolonged drought, these two thrive. Every year we discuss removing one or both, but plans to improve these corrals will incorporate one of them within a new panel fence.
Also, our brandings are fairly tame, and small, with less calves than usual this year with our reduced number of cows. And we go slowly, one calf down at a time with most of us up in years enough to draw Social Security. “Old people slow,” I apologized to Doug Thomason after his first day helping us five or six years ago.