Day one started around six a.m. The weather was balmy as I loaded our horse trailer with the items we needed for the day. A quick cup of coffee and it was time to catch the horses. In the span of an hour the wind picked up to a fever pitch and the temperature dropped twenty degrees. This was not the kind of weather conducive to catching horses in a thirty acre field. Sudden drops in barometric pressure make horses crazy, ours were running and bucking like madmen. My horse isn't easy to catch under perfect conditions so this wasn't going to be a good start to a long weekend. We caught all of the horses except mine, he was last and having none of it. Mike is a great horseman, he can catch just about anything because he has the patience of a saint, I don't. No matter how long it might take he won't stop until he gets the job done because if you quit you are just going to reinforce the negative behavior in the horse, i.e. if I am difficult enough they will go away and leave me alone. This morning was different, we had limited time and an hour and a half later my horse was still running away making it impossible to get near him. For the first time since I've known him Mike had to give up, we had to go, we were meeting other riders and if we didn't leave right away we were going to be late. Quitting did not make my husband happy because he knew it was just going to reinforce the bad behavior but we had no other choice, I would have to ride my other horse. Moss is a great working horse but he is big and powerful and can be a handful when he's asked to do something he doesn't want to do, this was going to be an interesting day.
A month prior we sold a large group of calves so the numbers we were rounding up today totaled about 150 cows and calves. There were only three of us on horseback which would be a challenge because we normally have five or six riders. As luck would have it our first sweep was successful, we were able to move most of the herd into the working pens and I was still alive! My horse was exceptional, he had his crazy moments but I managed to ride through it and get the job done. The second sweep revealed a few stragglers, finally the fields were cleared, it was four o'clock. We had to work fast to load before dark. We had three trailers to load with the rest staying behind until tomorrow. Day one ended with dinner cooking on the stove at nine p.m.
Day two started early with coffee, breakfast and our first two hour drive to meet the rest of our haulers. The first problem came with a phone call. Our two large haulers couldn't make it until tomorrow, one wrecked his truck and the other was tied up with another haul. This was not good news but that's life, we were just going to have to make do with the number of trailers we had.
Loading went quick, six trailers pulled out headed back to Lexington with the first group of cows. My brother's trailer had a flat before we even pulled out of the field in Scottsville so we were running a load of cows on the only spare tire we had. Fourteen miles from Lexington we blew the tread off the spare tire and had to pull over at a large truck stop. My husband had the original tire in his truck so we didn't have anything that could be fixed. BJ and I had no choice but to hang around with a load of cattle until the rest of the trailers unloaded at our ranch and someone could rescue us with the tire. When all was said and done we spent three hours sitting around but eventually got back on the road in time to unload just before dark. The rest of the trailers had to go back again for the final loads. Eight hours of driving later for the rest of our group and our cows were home!
I welcomed everyone after the final load with a warm fire, drinks and food. A long weekend, several flat tires and a lot of driving, we were finally finished. As we stood around the fire with our family and friends I felt blessed, we couldn't have done this without their help, that is the best part of ranching...the people!