Fall is my favorite time of year. I know I say that all the time, and you probably all get tired of hearing about it, but as we round the corner from summer to fall, I can’t help but smile a little bigger and get giddier as the days get cooler. The fact that there’s less sunlight, well I could skip this part of the earth going into “resting” mode altogether, but it does force me inside earlier, so maybe my house might stay a little cleaner. Or not.
What begins to signify fall for me, in addition to the days getting cooler and shorter, is going to gather the bulls. For the past several years it’s been my job to bring them home when their “work” is done. It’s always a good job for the horses, and I don’t mind the solitude that comes with being alone while riding through the pasture looking for them.
Sometimes I’ll find them, three or four in a group, gathered at a water tank, and that makes my job easy – I just trail them all home at once and in three or four trips they’re home. This year I’m on four trips already and I’ve still go to track down three more. They’re “spread from hell to breakfast”, as the late Wayne Ducheneaux used to say, and in this instance, they’re in a pasture that’s got a couple big creeks – that cut right through the middle of it.
They like to get down in that watery, sticky mess of gumbo and hide. I’m never too keen to make my horses trudge through it either, so that’s added some additional to fun to the mix. I’ve had one try to take my horse a couple times, and I ended up having to throw my rope smack in the middle of his forehead which did line him out. If I were a handy Australian, maybe I’d just carry a bull-whip – I know why you need one now – so you can smack that sucker in the forehead and line him out!
Sunday this week, I headed out to find a couple more bulls. I rode up on one, and he looked at me, headed across one creek and started for home. And then we came upon another creek crossing. Only this time, he stopped to get a drink, then climbed out the other side. Call me a chicken if you want, but there was no way I was going to go down where he did! I rode up the creek fifty yards, to cross where I didn’t have to dive off a cutbank, and there was slightly less sticky, wet, gumbo. And of course, as soon as I rode up to where I could cross, he dove back down into the creek.
I got to where he had been, and found him drinking in the creek. After he finished, I’ll be darned if he didn’t come right back up where he’d gone down and let me continue trailing him home. We made it to the flat part of the pasture, half a mile from the corrals, where I hoped to take him. When we arrived, I found another bull already there, hanging with a pair. I thought to myself, “this is perfect, I’ll take both these bulls, and the pair, then I’ll only have to hunt up two more bulls!”
By now, I’m sure many of you are laughing to yourselves, because you know how these things go. That cow wanted nothing to do with either bull, but they were certain they needed something to do with her. I managed to get them to travel about a hundred yards before the whole thing went to hell in a hand-basket. I lost the cow and the bulls ran off in hot pursuit. I got them all regrouped, and started again. This happened several times, but the progress was in the wrong direction. They took off at a run to the dam, so I let them all go, and headed over the hill to where I knew one bull had been staying for the past two weeks. Sure enough, he was there, and traveled the three-quarters of a mile to the corral with no shenanigans, making my trip less-than a total loss.
I’ll have to head out this week to finish the job. I’ll get ‘er done, but I’m thinking it may not be the smooth sailing it’s been in the past! No complaints from me, however. I get to be horseback in this beautiful weather, chasing cows. I’m not sure my life could get better!