Moving cattle around is part of ranch life. Sometimes it’s just from pasture to pasture so the grass doesn’t get eaten too short. Other times it’s to get cattle out of hot summer weather so they are moved to higher ground.
No matter the reason, it is a fun day when you see the herd moving along with riders on horseback behind.
There is usually a dog too – in these parts is is probably a blue heeler. Heelers have a short and stubby appearance but they can move like they have endless energy.
We were in the Adel mountain range near Cascade, Montana to move cattle. They were going from one landowner’s pasture to a neighbor’s ranch so it wasn’t far.
As I headed from Great Falls to the Cascade exit on I-15 it wasn’t raining but clouds overhead told me it could be a strong possibility that we’d have rain before we were done. I actually had to turn the windshield wipers on before I got there.
I decided to look on the positive side – the spring grass growth was green all around me, the wildflowers were beginning to bloom, there was no wind and the landscape was beautiful.
When I got to the ranch the riders were in the corrals making sure their horses and gear were ready for the day.
It seemed like a long time before they started moving the cows. I couldn’t figure out why they just didn’t get started – I was excited and also worried that the rain might get worse.
I kept myself busy by taking photos of the landscape and was glad when I spotted the deer in the trees and arrowleaf balsamroot in the foreground.
Finally, I saw a group of five riders moving up the hillside. The plan was to move the cattle away from where I was at first to get around a fence, then come back my way.
We decided to change our position so we wouldn’t spook the cows and calves. I wanted to get some good photos but didn’t want to be in the way.
We moved up a hill, then waited until an advance rider came to open the gate. The first leg of the cattle drive was completed – there were a couple more gates to go through in order to get to the right pasture.
I was able to get some closeup photos while we waited for the herd to gather – chaps, horses, boots…you name it, I was taking pictures and having fun!
The cowboys were working hard and I told them I was too. Rain was coming at a pretty steady pace now and it didn’t bother anyone but me. Note to self – bring a hat that can get wet and still keep the water off my head.
Stay tuned – we’ll finish this cattle drive!