Chasing Cattle After Dark

Ranching in Oklahoma

I sat in a feed truck on the side of a highway with my Dad. The vehicle’s emergency flashers pulsed in the fading daylight. We were watching the thick trees along the fence line for cows and calves that might dart toward the road.

My dad raises bucking bulls and his cows are not your run-of-the-mill docile, milk cow type of cows.  These girls have high horns and salty attitudes. You better not come between them and their calves.  It takes experienced cowboys to manage this breed of cattle and my dad has always managed them well.

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Dad has had some heart issues lately. He will have surgery next week (just a month shy of his 77th birthday) He wants to be on his horse riding through the brush, rounding up the cows but right now he can’t and waits in the feed truck as dusk falls heavy. My older brother, my nephew and a friend are horseback attempting to push 3 cows and 2 calves back into one of Dad’s pastures. In between cars passing on the highway, I strain to listen for the cow dogs to announce the cows’ location and for cowboys calling to each other through the trees and darkness.

This group of cows has been a difficult situation all week.  My brother and other cowboys have worked several days trying to round up the herd of 25 mamas and babies in groups of two to five at a time.  Using well-trained dogs, good horses and even a rope or two, they have successfully returned most of the herd. You may be asking, “Why are they scattered?”   The problem is a neighbor living next to the cows’ pasture decided to make sport of chasing the cows and calves on his four-wheeler.  The cows ran with their babies to get away from the machine and eventually jumped the fence for safety.  Now they have learned to jump fences and, for the cowboys, are the equivalent of trying to gather wild deer.

The cowboys I know are up for the challenge.  Dad and I soon received a phone call to meet my brother; the cattle are back in a pasture with other “settled” cattle where they will stay for the night.  Thankfully none of them ran toward the highway.  My dad and I returned home and my mom was sitting on the front porch.  I told my dad, “I bet she’s been sitting there praying since we left.”

A knowing smile crosses Dad’s face as he considers his bride of 55 years and he said, “I bet you’re right.”

So blessed these are my parents.


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