Gathering Time….Cattle Drives….Heading For Home

During the fall months, mainly in September and October…old memories flood back to my mind when I first wake up…I want to grab my long johns…(under armour with the nice slick material had not been invented yet)…instead we had the thick long johns which were never long enough for me…next I put on my heavy socks, then my wrangler jeans that I had to struggle with to get on over the heavy long johns…without the long john legs riding up my leg…which added to my mood of grrrr. I added a layer or two of tee-shirts on top with either a flannel shirt or sweatshirt or both with the finishing touch of one of my brightly colored wild rags to keep my neck warm and mouth/nose if needed…shoved my boots on with the heavy socks, grabbed my chaps, heavy coat and gloves and I was good to go…all depending on the weather as you never knew if you were going out in an early snow storm or rain or frigid temperatures. My knee jerk reaction in the fall is to be gathering cows on the mountain…after living it and doing it for over 40 years…old memories remain. I should be horseback in the mountains looking for cows…gathering and herding them towards camp…where we sorted and organized them for the long 90 mile cattle drive home to the winter grounds.

After gathering a large bunch of cattle, we pushed them back to the headquarters at Beaver Creek…somehow they seemed to know it was time to leave their summer home and go home to lower winter pastures where they had better grass and open lands. It is amazing to me how animals can sense the seasons changing…or an approaching storm…they have a sixth sense of life around them as well as what we are feeling with the sense of our emotions that they pick up from us.

It took many long days and several weeks to find and gather 1860 head off 25,000 mountainous acres…lots of ground to cover and many miles…and as Dad always told me “Now push them slow Marcy, we want to keep the weight on them and not work them too hard.” I can still hear him telling me this in my dreams…I already knew this fact from years of riding with him, as keeping the weight on them was what we wanted…but he would diplomatically tell me this in front of town friends who did not know. I would get the lecture of sorts…privately I had to roll my eyes and often I was embarrassed as everyone would look at me…”Dad, I know”..and no I never said that to him…I knew I was the fall guy.

We began to ride various pastures from the middle of August on to push herds closer to our headquarters at the main ranch on Beaver Creek where we had corrals and the set up to sort cattle and load them out into cattle trucks. We had 800 Black Angus mama cows to gather along with their calves…200 head of replacement heifers and 60 head of bulls…so that was 1860 head of cattle to round-up and account for…and every year we would find that we were short 20 to 30 head…thanks to the work of cattle rustlers.

One of our cowboys taking a bath in the Grande Ronde River…it took time to find each and every cow…and sometimes the cows would get confused and try to run away from you as their natural instinct was fear or flight…they did not understand what to do…especially if one got separated like this one.

The first two years Dad tried to run both Herefords and Angus…and then went to 100% Black Angus  and Black Bawly Cross as they surpassed the Herefords in weight gain, endurance and did much better overall in the high country.

Dad on horse Bucky with dog Blue…holding herd. One of my favorite pictures of my Dad as I can see his life and humanity…he loved what he did…cattle…horses…mountains…family. It was his life. When he was so very ill I often whispered the good old memories and times riding with him gathering cattle in the high country…and how God rides in the high country too and He is with us and with you Dad…and so am I…and someday I will ride with you again in the high country of God’s mountains:)

Another of my favorite pictures as this picture truly shows my Mom and Dad…you can see their committment and love. Mom grew up in the city with a cook and cleaning lady….then she fell in love with a cowboy and here she is with a smile on her face…she learned how to cook and run a ranch beside her man.  I learned about love and true committment from my parents…I was so very blessed to have them as examples:)  You can see why I called my parents “John Wayne and His Lady”. One of  my favorite John Wayne movies is McClintock with Maureen O’Hara.

Working cows in the corrals, sorting off the calves etc…in the background you can see the cattle trucks waiting for their loads. In the fall we sold the calves at the sale in Baker…the bulls were trucked down to the winter ranch and the mama cows would make the cattle drive to the winter pastures. In the spring we trucked the entire herd up, mama cows and their babies and the bulls…we tried to drive them up a few time in the early years but it was not do-able as the cows wanted to turn back and after several stampedes it was decided to truck them up June 1st.

The Juniper T cattle drive historically began October 15th and would last 10-14 days depending on weather and also how well the cattle moved. I have the cattle drive pictures matted and framed…this is early morning on October 15, the cows are leaving Beaver Creek heading for the low lands…they are crossing the Grande Ronde River at Starkey.

Heading out the second day from Four Corners…towards Indian Lake…two days ahead of us…cold with snow. In the early years the cattle did not know the way but in later years the older ones knew and would lead out pretty well.

Cows milling around close to Indian Lake…we are about half way through the drive.

From the air the herd is stretched out…

Cattle reaching the stock driveway…smelling home getting closer.

Taking a coffee break at the chuck wagon bus (WB wants to restore the bus as it is a Diamond Reo). Dad on the far left with the dark cowboy hat on and his brothers…and hired man “Big John”.

I am sure this was our friend and cattle buyer’s plane’s shadow, doing a fly over to see where the herd was at. He taught me how to play Gin Rummy and dang…I was good at it…I loved playing it with him and miss him. When we lived in Wyoming we called it Wyoming Rummy and when Oregon friends and family visited we challenged them to Wyoming Rummy verses Oregon Rummy:)

This in the Birch Creek crossing in Pilot Rock…we have about 2 to 3 days left before we hit winter pastures…as you see it is quite a bunch of cows! Going through Pilot Rock at daybreak was always interesting to me as I saw so many women out with hair curlers in their bathrobes ready to attack any dang cow who wondered into their yard to grab a bite or two of flowers or grass or shrubs…they had brooms ready to swat any wayward cow! We tried hard to not let that happen but it was tough to keep every cow out of yards….once we got over Birch creek we got on a road that became a stock driveway all the way to Butter Creek and the winter ground and headquarters for the Juniper T.

Today WB and his HRCG are celebrating our 36th Anniversary…can you believe we got married on October 15th…the first day of the cattle drive!!!! Long story for another time….

Stay tuned the story will be continued:) and I have some new photos to upload towards the end of the week hopefully if the weather co-operates with me:)

40 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sagescenery
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 10:31:30

    Love this post…and maybe your future book!! Ha!! I’m a NJ suburban-girl, but we later moved up to Sussex County, NJ…where we could see beautiful cows, horses…and country life…so I find your life fascinating!!

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Sep 23, 2013 @ 21:54:46

      🙂 Thank you much:) Growing up I figured everyone would live that life with cows and horses…now with wisdom, I know I was blessed with a very unique situation…in high school I felt isolated but was happy too as it was the only life I knew…and now looking back I long for it…the world has changed so much that living where you do not have power, telephone, DSL and computers, cell coverage etc. sounds perfect! I love life but I remember a much simpler time of life and it was way good:) I do hope that God has a book planned:)

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      • sagescenery
        Sep 24, 2013 @ 03:41:47

        I think we all feel that way as kids…that the way we were brought up is the only way…but God is a BIG God and He shows us so much of His beauty as we grow up…and even more important, His compassion for all of us around the world!! As a Home Ec. teacher, I’ve always loved learning about other places, other cultures…their foods, their clothes, and their families!! I definitely see a book about your family-life and memories!! God Bless!!

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      • Hot Rod Cowgirl
        Sep 24, 2013 @ 09:37:54

        Thank you for your support and Godly encouragement:) Yes God is bigger and I am blessed He allowed me to grow up in His outdoor world…and that He blessed me with the parents I had.I also love history and learning about people.

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      • sagescenery
        Sep 24, 2013 @ 20:09:46

        So keep writing…and I’ll keep enjoying…and we’ll see what God has planned for your life stories!!!!

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      • Hot Rod Cowgirl
        Sep 24, 2013 @ 20:16:41

        Amen:) I know God has always things planned for us…it keeps our life here interesting:):):) Hugs:)

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  2. tbnranch
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 17:15:19

    Great story, thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 25, 2012 @ 22:26:07

      Thank you so much…not so much a story but my life…one of these days it will be a chapter in a book….I hope:) Hope all is well with you…have not heard how things are in AZ? I hope to meet you someday:)

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  3. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 07:47:39

    Beautiful photographs and memories. We just brought the cattle home and weaned here in Western ND, but the size of our spread pales in comparison to what you’ve showed us. What a life. What a life!

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 19, 2012 @ 11:09:56

      Thank you much…If I was closer I would have come helped out with your cattle round up too. It took us a good two months of gathering and sometimes we would be back up to the mountains in December as someone spotted one of our cows when it was dang cold and snowy. I bet you have many good memories of old times with your family gathering cattle…we both are blessed that we got to grow up in the life of a cattle ranch and live the life that we still have. I was happy and excited to read that you are moved into your house:) I love your photos of your home and landscapes of your ranch:) There is nothing like living where you grew up and taking care of cattle and horses…..carrying on the heritage and traditions:) Wishing you a blessed and peaceful weekend!

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  4. bobmielke
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 01:35:24

    Very nice use of monochrome on your set of photos included in the post. They add a timeless sense to your story that spans decades. Well done and written. – Bob

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  5. singleworkingmomswm
    Oct 17, 2012 @ 17:15:59

    Happy Anniversary HRCG! I just love your stories! That is so amazing…cattle driving…and the pictures you have showing us the history. I see that photography ran in your family from the get-go. Can’t wait for more, and I hope that WB is recovering nicely and you had a happy celebration Monday. Hugs from the Cali Central Coast. XOXO-SWM

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 17, 2012 @ 22:30:34

      Thank you so very much for the good wishes:) We celebrated with dinner out and out again tonight:) Yes I miss the cattle drive…it was my Dad’s heart to drive the cattle…I was so very blessed to be part of an old time tradition…cattle drives, you do not hear much of them anymore.

      WB is doing about normal but he is frustrated…yah know he thinks he is to have neck surgery and the next day we are to be back to normal…geez…I follow him around saying yes dear it is ok and soon you will be ok and I love you and need you so please be good and here let me do that and no sit down and be quiet:)

      Being on the Oregon Coast is a blessing that is huge…my Mom and I used to come twice a year to just hang out…Dad was never able to feel comfortable to come with us…he felt he could not leave the ranch…I understand as I often feel we can not leave our shop with the employees we have…it is a huge worry. And yet Dad told me before he passed away that he regretted not doing more with Mom and I…so it is is a very tricky thing to take time off and go connect with your family…yet so very important:)

      Hugs and Prayers to you Cali and lots of good wishes and thoughts:)
      HRCG:)

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      • singleworkingmomswm
        Oct 18, 2012 @ 12:26:18

        All sounds wonderful, and I’m happy that WB is getting better little by little. Good for you staying on top of his recovery, as like you said, you need him around, so he best be paying attention to what you tell him. 🙂 I loved visiting the Oregon coast…I planned to move there to attend college and then couldn’t afford the out of state tuition so opted for Humboldt State, which was as close as I could get! However, I did miss the warmer weather being raised in Southern Cali, but now, here on the Central Coast I feel like I have the best of both worlds: cooler but still warm enough climate, slower paced community, and a nice blend of the coast and the lower mountains. And, yes, it is so important to take time to be with those we love spending quality time away from our work and home. I try to stay conscious of that with my daughter, since I am a single parent. It’s very easy to feel like I can NEVER take a break, for her sake and for mine, I must. I never regret it, either. Take care! XOXO-SWM (Kasey)

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      • Hot Rod Cowgirl
        Oct 18, 2012 @ 16:04:53

        Your name is Kasey? My Mom’s name was CAtherine or Kay but most called her Casey….she was good in baseball so in grade school way back when they called her Casey at the bat:) Dad always called her that…you must be around Redding? I do love parts of CA. have not traveled there as much as hope to someday. I plan to post some pictures of our trip once we get home…we have a timeshare at various places but they over sold so I can never get in when we decide to go….irritating…so we lucked out with the place we found this time…VRBO is a great place to find places to rent…we found a townhouse right on the beach with winter rates….top floor is the living and kitchen so right now I am looking out at the waves rolling in on the sand in front of the townhouse….nice view and perfect as we are close enough to hear the ocean which I love as it puts me to sleep and I instantly say ahhhhh. There is something spiritual about the ocean and the mountains as I always feel closer to God at both:) It has been good for Wb to be away from customers, phone calls, employees etc. so that he can rest. He still has quite a bit of pain yet. Yes even though you are a single Mom you still need time with your daughter for the two of you to make memories of fun times…and I do know how hard it is to get away…our kids are gone now but with the ranch, our animals and the business besides it is very tough to leave…we have had to cancel trips at the last minute lots of times due to a work or employee issue. This is the firs time we have been gone a week and to the beach since 2005…pretty bad I know. I will be praying that you can take a break soon for you both:) Thank you for stopping in as always…I enjoy your blog and visiting with you:) Have a blessed weekend:)

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      • singleworkingmomswm
        Oct 19, 2012 @ 13:35:11

        Ahhhh, thanks HRCG! Your vacation sounds wonderful. The ocean does the exact same thing for me. I can’t imagine living away from it after living within 10 miles of it my whole life. I’m very grateful I found the place I have that allows me to experience the best of both worlds. Yes, my name is actually Kasey. 🙂 I was supposed to be born a boy, and my mom picked out the name “Casey”. When I arrived and surprised her, she decided to keep the name and change the “C” to a “K”. I’ve been called Casey at the Bat many a times myself-although not because I was any good at baseball, LOL. I used to dislike my name because of the references as such, or because kids thought it was spelled K.C. and stood for another name. As I got older I grew fond of it, though, as I knew it was somewhat unique. Anyways, I’m so glad you enjoy my blog, too. I really love the blogging community and how it brings all of our smaller worlds closer together. Rest up and enjoy your time away! XOXO

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      • Hot Rod Cowgirl
        Oct 19, 2012 @ 14:51:00

        Thank you much….we are trying hard to just rest and veg out:) Not hard to do with the ocean and today it is raining but I am sitting looking out the bedroom balcony and it makes me feel so relaxed:) I love the blogging community too and you are so right as it does connect us and we can see each others lives and worlds:) Have a great weekend Kasey:) Huggies and prayers:)

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  6. godspoetbychoice
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 23:13:08

    Loved your post on the day after my husband and I got married we went on our first cattle drive it was so awesome ! In Ontario Canada we don`t have the wide open spaces that you and it only takes a day to move cattle from one pasture to another but it was fun just the same. Hopefully one day in heaven we will both be able to herd cows together. P.S. I am lucky enough to be married to a man that looks at me just the way your dad looked at your mother. Happy Aniversary and God Bless

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 17, 2012 @ 11:07:47

      Thank you so very much:) We have rolling hills at our home place but it is wide open spaces…if I get on top of the hills during the summer and fall months I can see Mt. Hood which is 200 miles from where we live! With the cattle we summered them up in the Blue Mountains and they were full of trees and pretty rugged in some places….the winter cattle ranch was more wide open and not as lush pastures as what we have at our home place where WB and I live. I always loved herding cattle with my hubby too and I grew up doing it with my Dad…truly it becomes a part of your identity. My hubby and I ran/managed a huge cattle ranch in Wyoming and I often rode to gather cattle behind Yellowstone at around 9500’…beautiful country and I loved the Rockies:) I am lucky enough too that I married a man who loved me like my Dad did my Mom:) And we are both believers in God and strive to walk with Him everyday:) I love your blog and just subscribed….beautiful words:)

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  7. Lissa Rabon
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 18:06:03

    Sounds like the beginning of a wonderful, historical story…ever thought about writing one? Or have you done that already?

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 16, 2012 @ 20:05:10

      I have known someday I am to write…a few books…just have not taken the step yet…I know how to write it but not how to market it…and thank you so much for your encouragement and support:) I am not that old but for some reason I have lived a lot of life and good stuff to share…adventures and history….heritage and various interesting moments…thank you and if you have any insights on how to do this I am open to hearing about how as I am truly not sure how or where to start.

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  8. philosophermouseofthehedge
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 10:28:09

    Cool!
    I remember a couple of times people hurried out to round up cows/horses out of pastures if the rains got really really bad – didn’t want them to literally get stuck in the mud and not be able to get out – perhaps break a leg.

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  9. catfromhell
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 07:24:51

    What great memories! And it brought back a few for me too!
    Thanks
    Nellie’s Mommy

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 16, 2012 @ 11:50:23

      I am glad it brought back good memories and feelings for you:) I love hearing that as truly when we write and share photos the best part is to know that it spoke to another’s heart and mind with good times and feelings:) Have a wonderful day and week:) Kitty loves to Nellie:)

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  10. lambskinny
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 05:33:21

    Very nice! Thanks for following Grace Partakers, too! Carley

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  11. bentehaarstad
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 04:03:36

    Such a great story, with great pictures. And I am sure a great life. Love history like this, from a place and life I only knows from the movies. Congratulations, Cowgirl! 🙂

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 16, 2012 @ 11:47:43

      Thank you:) Growing up on a ranch was incredible and mainly because of all the history and the family heritage…I loved riding in the mountains and being part of the cowboy life:)

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  12. lenwilliamscarver
    Oct 15, 2012 @ 22:38:36

    What a beautiful life and story. Congratulations on 36 years together! God Bless and keep you and yours.

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  13. bulldogsturf
    Oct 15, 2012 @ 22:23:50

    What a wonderful story of remembrance, how I would have loved to do a cattle drive like that… I can picture the whole thing in my mind… specially after now reading your post… love it and congratulations on the 36 years of marriage… the wife and I have just gone through our 39th… I love this story.. it conjures up memories of the films of old I use to love, the cowboy films, John Wayne and all… Thank you for this share…

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 16, 2012 @ 11:33:47

      Thank you thank you:) I love hearing that you can picture it in your mind and yes you would have loved riding along on the drive…it was always special to me and never boring:) Congratulations to your 39 years of marriage too:) I like John Wayne movies too as they are the best:)

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  14. Where God Takes Me
    Oct 15, 2012 @ 22:10:33

    Many blessings on your anniversary and thank you for another classically beautiful HRCG post! Love the photos of your parents and ranching and your wedding. How is WB doing? You should write a book, you have such a rich family history and it would be especially great with all these photos! Love and hugs, Viv

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Oct 16, 2012 @ 11:31:03

      Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. I know I am way blessed to have such great pictures of Mom and Dad and growing up in the mountains with the cattle and horses:) I loved every second of it:) WB is doing much better as he is finally getting more rest and not going out to work or lift something he should not! Today is one of his better days:) I would love to write a book…and God willing one of these days soon I plan on it:) Wishing you a blessed day:)

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