“Be in my yard with your saddle and bridle Friday morning at 4:30.”
Ranch manager ordered the old wannabe who’d shyly requested to help gather a couple double stocked pastures.
It’s Flint Hills “shipping time” and a typical assignment for cowboys rounding up short season grazing cattle.
Actually the younger family-member cowboy had 19 straight days gathering pastures including those he manages and assisting neighbor grass operators.
Two personal mounts, obviously dipping deep into the feed bucket, are “show horses” and don’t take much to “real work.” Of course that brings snide smirks from “real cowboys” including the one loaning a “safe horse” from his half-dozen remuda.
Fortunately and prejudicially satisfying that big gray gelding had been started personally and used for stallion services a time. He didn’t “cut the mustard” as a breeder, nor as a “top cow horse,” yet fine for routinely checking cattle.
“Ruger” also works especially well when checking fence and waiting patiently for flood gap repair. “Just perfect” as the old wannabe’s loaner-mount who the owner had ridden hard for three previous days getting pasture counts.
A couple trailers with horses and cowboys were already at the pasture gate with another handful arriving in short order. “There’s nothing like riding your horse over the hill in the morning as the sun’s coming up,” Puncher Cooper always contended.
Somewhat rough skinny steers of widely varied shapes and colors from Mexico had been turned out about three months earlier. Blue skyline with occasional puffy cloud backgrounding green native grassland was picturesque sufficient for a rich man’s office painting.
Cool, calm, collected the herd with a dozen riders tailing plus the pasture owner’s mechanical cart meandered into the corral. Three shiny double decker semi-tractor trailers from Texas backed up to the portable chute for easy loading feedlot-bound bovine.
Count was one head shy but fortunately cart driver found that missing critter with a hitch in his-get-along. Anxious to be with herd mates “dogie” drove readily to the pen for his travel with next day’s shipment.
Gains weren’t strong as sometimes but still likely made considerable profit for steer owners-speculators.
“Interesting how cattle know exactly what to do” brought another cowboy’s response: “It sure is fun too.”
Reminded of Ecclesiastes 5:18: “Good thing to find enjoyment for hard work during one’s lot in life.”