Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cattle Drive (A Smallish Version)

Yesterday we moved the cattle from one pasture to another--a total move that had to be close to half a mile.

It was a hot day, one of many hot days this summer all strung together in a row. If you've ever picked a field of green beans, or hoed a field of pickles, or followed a potato digger, lobbing the freshly-unearthed taters into a nearby receptacle, you'll know what this summer feels like.

You look up from what you're doing and think, "Didn't I make any progress at all? The end is still so far off..." And then you realize that once you reach the end of your row, you will turn around and start back across the field to where you started.

That's what this summer feels like. Are we there yet? We watch the weather, hoping for a break in the heat, or the relief and refreshment brought by rain. People comment to us: "This is what we wished for in February!" And they drive off to their cottage or the beach, while we move our animals and pray for a break in the heat.

Every single day, the sheep and cattle are moved to fresh pasture. Several times a day, fresh water is brought out to them. For much of the summer, both groups have been beyond the length of our hoses. So we load up water tanks and make the trek out to fill up water tubs. Rinse and repeat. First thing in the morning and last thing at night--the animals must have water.

Yesterday it was time to move the cattle to a new corner of the farm. The Farmer spent a good part of the morning setting up fences to guide them. We don't need them in the neighbor's garden. We can't have them stomping holes in someone's lawn. And we don't want them to get a wild idea about heading for far-off places. With some well-positioned fences and several people and a little prayer, we hoped to move them where we wanted them next.

They were slow to start moving. It was hot, and I can't blame them. Once they did start, they traveled a long grassy strip between a fence and a deep ditch filled with cattails that are taller than I am. We hoped that the cattails and the ditch would prevent escape attempts, and except for one short foray into the muddy bottom by a youngster, we were right.

The cattle then were herded onto the gravel road for the last half of the journey. No, we don't want our road paved. It gets enough traffic as it is, and if it were paved, the traffic levels and speed would increase. That makes cattle and sheep drives a bit harder. No cars while we're moving animals suits us just fine.

Once the cattle were on the road, they picked up the pace. We trotted along behind, as well as the heat and our conditioning (or lack of conditioning) allowed. Only a rope fence, held by two people, prevented them from continuing down the road to who-knows-where? That, and the nice green grass that beckoned them. Success! Another 20 minutes of picking up fences, running electricity out to the new pasture, and bringing fresh water, and we could retreat to the shade or the air conditioning.

We could use some rain. If you are the praying type, would you join us in praying for rain?


  1. To put up extra fencing and have extra people around to drive cattle makes this a very labor intense hobby. One good stockman could easily handle this by himself

  2. Every step does seem to go so much slower in the summer, especially when there has been such intense heat. Rain would be welcomed.


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