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11/8/2004

A Little Excitement

Spent the weekend Cowboyin’ gatherin’ a few more calves and ridin’ pastures with Michael. Lucky for us we were around. We just pulled in the yard with a trailer full of calves, backed up to the pens and suddenly I felt my skin go cold. “Where are the calves?” The pen was nearly empty with maybe three calves standing at the hay feeder. As I rounded the barn near the windmill tank my worst fears were confirmed.  
 
Something had evidently frightened the calves causing them to stampede. About 12 feet of fence between the barn and the water tank was flat on the ground. When animals stampede in a group the combined force is unbelievable! I once was caught in a stampede of calves about the same age but out in a pasture instead of locked in weaning pens.  
 
A group of hunters had stopped maybe a couple hundred yards away from the pasture fence and as they slammed their pickup doors shut they calves spooked. I was fixing fence nearly a quarter of a mile beyond the calves when I heard the sound of hooves. I looked up to see the whole herd bearing down on me. Being inexperienced with this particular kind of adventure I thought I could just yell and wave may hat in the air to slow them up or at least turn them. Boy, was I wrong!  
 
Those wild-eyed calves didn’t even act like I mattered at all. The thundering sound of their stampede seemed to feed more panic into them the farther they went. The cattle did notice me enough to split around me as they charged in their terror of the unknown. That fence I was fixing popped like string. Fence posts cracked like the sound of a shotgun. The calves hurtled on not caring where, only wanting to get away. Another fence 300 yards to the southeast also fell to their onslaught but they were tiring a bit by then and finally slowed to a stop just beyond the mangled barb wire.  
 
As I stared at the 12 foot stretch of steel fence that this recent set of calves had laid low my heart jumped at the sight of the calves just a few hundred yards beyond. They had stopped short of running through any more fences and were lazily grazing the fresh green cheat grass that had come up with the Fall rain a couple of weeks earlier.  
 
Well, it took a while to gather up the cattle. Michael and I had to play a few games with them while they made a little sashay around the pasture, but we out Cowboyed ‘em on our little cow hosses. We tried to move ‘em slow, but sometimes they just want to get in a little run. The afternoon was warm and by the time we got them settled back in the pen a few of them were panting and showing signs of overheating. Probably didn’t hurt ‘em all that much. Just scared the daylights out of me fer a bit. By late afternoon they were as quiet as though nothing had ever happened.  
 
A little excitement on the ranch helps the day go quicker.  
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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