Monday, February 23, 2009

Thought for the day

Just read this in an e-mail...... 

We often try to fix problems with WD-40 and duct tape.

God did it with nails.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Movies of note

Other bloggers I read mention favorite movies they've seen recently or in the past. Today, one was talking of dialogue sequences that she finds extremely romantic. 

An interesting piece (I won't go so far as to call it my fav) that I have in my small little library of VCRs, is an old old Richard Gere & Sam Shepard movie called Days of Heaven. Can't even remember how I got onto it, know I had to order it special order someplace, but I was not disappointed. And its not for the romance, or the characters or the plot. Its because of the setting. An old time harvest crew on the prairies supposed to be  the 1916 Texas panhandle, I think it was filmed in Alberta if I remember correctly. There are rolling fields of ripe wheat which are thrashed by hand using large crews of migrant European immigrant types that come in by train. Having been raised in the era of combines, I only heard about thrashing from the old folks of my time and found this portrayal of the actual practice, especially with crews that were not made up of only neighbors to be very interesting.  The plot is sort of disgusting but if you can get past that, you can learn a lot from it. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Workin' Cattle

My office mate is taking off a few hours next week to help work cattle. Believe it or not, I'm a little envious! Working cattle was something I took pride in once upon a time.  But we didn't do it cowboy style. It was a quieter get-er-done style.

First was the gathering and bringing in.  For the most part it wasn't done on horseback. It was more apt to be done with a pickup load of feed for bait and a few strategically placed people on foot or horseback (this was pre-four-wheelers) to block escape routes. The truck driver needed a strong voice to  call 'em in; every caller I ever knew had his or her own style but the trick is that the cattle have to know it means feed.  

Then once they were in the lot, you relied on gates and fences, plus a little more voice work and some instinct for thinking like a cow. Some of the voice work was calling, but more of it was encouraging the herd to move ahead of you. Stockmen I have seen vary on whether they use voice or not. Some don't like the voice cause it riles up the herd. But I always figured a little use at the appropriate time helped, just so you didn't over do it. And if the herd knew the voice was a plus. Some talking to 'em seemed to get them a little familiar with you and somewhat accepting.

Working cattle on foot works if the herd is used to seeing men on foot. I've seen cattle shipped in from the open range that had never seen a man off a horse, and they went plumb loco at the sight.  Kind of like sending a country boy to the big city - its a scary experience.

Styles of sorting cattle vary but I always preferred to work with one other person that was used to working with me. The two of us with an easy going dog (not a specially trained one) could do more with a little patience and some good body English than a whole raft of cowboys on horseback. Not that we didn't have use for those cowboys on occasion. For instance if a wily critter went to a neighbor's pasture, especially if it was a young bull, hiring a good cowboy on a good horse was worth it. But for the most part, our horses were more for our pleasure than for stirring up the herd. Course, that couldn't have anything to do with our cowboyin' abilities, could it?

Might change for the next generation: my 9-yr-old grandson has taken up roping in junior rodeo. Now when his dad has a sick calf in the pen that he can't catch, he goes and finds son to come rope it for him.  Way to go, Brody!

Even so, one of my favorite stock paper cartoons was of 2 fellas watching a pot-bellied old codger with a bag of feed on his shoulder leading some cattle across the pens. The caption: Joe can do more with a 50 pound bag of feed than 6 cowboys on horseback.  

Yes, there's more than one way to work cattle and I suppose whatever fits your situation is the right way. Right?