Cattle drive time

Ron Walker

Ron Walker

 

Three things happen at this time of year; chickens molt, clocks go back an hour and the Hunewill cattle drive comes down Hudson Aurora. My longtime friend, Jan Hunewill says 600 cows are heading our way from Bridgeport and they will be here come Friday-if the creek don’t rise.

It’s Friday and I’ve got my folding chair scrunched up against a wire fence on Hudson Aurora. To my left, a half mile away, the cows just spent Thursday night foraging on Dean Heller’s pasture. Maranne Theime, a good friend of Orllyene’s and mine, lives right across the street from Heller’s land and the wranglers’ horses hunker down on her Touching Sky Ranch for the night. The wranglers spend the night back at the guest ranch, enjoying a delicious dinner and a soft bed in a cozy cabin.

The morning is calm, the sky blue as a sapphire and you can hear the grass grow, if you have a mind to. There is nothing for me to do but sit here. I am not the entertainer this time, the entertainment will be clambering and mooing this way any minute. You can’t buy an opportunity like this. A dial tone on the phone and channel changes on the television may be honing in on me, but I shun them all. If this is the bliss, I have heard so much about, I’ll take another dose...

The calm is broken. I hear the vanguard trotting this way. It’s their job to remove the temporary plastic strips strung across driveways or gates that have been left open so the cows don’t meander where they shouldn’t. I recognize the lead rider, a very dignified gentlemen riding my way. He returns year after year. He looks mildly perplexed. “I read your book and I was going to ride up and say hi Ron, but I forgot your name.” I feign disappointment and we exchange warm salutations. He asks someone to take our picture and says he will send it to Jan.

Ted Holloway rides up driving a chuckwagon. Ted is so old he remembers the “Big Bang” astronomers are always talking about. Ted is a lifelong cowboy. I admire his two new draft horses that pull his wagon. They are massive and gorgeous at the same time. “One is named Molly and the other Mable, but if I say their names together, they’ll start walking,” Ted tells me with grumpy disdain. He also promises a slab of fresh liver for Orllyene (her favorite) when he butchers his next doomed steer.

Next come the stars of the show; the 600 cows. I snap to attention. I want to see if there is a difference in the first cows and those at the tail end. I discover there sure is. The first few want to get to where they are going and at the end of the herd, the cows have to be coaxed by the wranglers.

While the herd is in motion, several wranglers came over for a quick hello. Several remark that the Hunewill Cattle Drive is official now because I am sitting there. We all need to feel important once in a while, and they sure “ring my bell.”

Ron Walker can be reached at walkover@gmx.com

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