Getting all the bull into the trailer
November 16, 2016
Having worked cattle for over 35 years people make the mistake of assuming you know what to do. I didn't. Had to ask.
I'm from a small town in the Midwest, which was developed by an agricultural community I knew where baby calves came from, knew how to grow corn. But had no idea how to put a bull in a trailer without a corral from an open field.
If you are an experienced cowboy you don't need to read this next part. It just shows how little I know about working cattle even after 35 years.
My cows got out of a small field into an adjoining 100-plus acre field. How to gather those cattle when I am horseless at the moment? I have no quad, no ATV. The motorcycle isn't running. My jeep cannot jump large wide ditches nor can I.
I do the most humiliating thing a rancher can do. I ask for help to gather my cows from someone else's field admitting I will be limited help. Lately I am worse than a blind, three legged, one eared dog when it comes to moving animals without hauling them in a trailer more than half a mile
Helpful as a fence post, I can stand still, putting my arms out like six feet of barbed wire on a stump post, redirecting cows heading my way. But gathering my small herd, with calves, calmly, on foot, out from another larger herd of cattle, well lets just say the cowboys who agreed to gather my cattle did not tell me the exact day they would be bringing my cows home. But they did it just fine.
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My bull however, had ventured even further afield to meet the ladies way over there. Probably the reason the fences in my pasture got pushed down in the first place. He had to be collected by himself on a separate attempt.
So how do you get one animal that weights one and a half times as much as a horse home. Cattle are herd animals. They get spooked being separated out. They can turn snorty when agitated. If you rope a bull one horse cannot hold him. Two, three horses maybe, but then you have all kinds of ropes attached to all kinds of animals going in all kinds of directions. Makes for a trip to the emergency room for somebody.
So when I was told the bull came home safe and sound in a trailer I had to ask how? Two men, two horses, one trailer, one suspicious bull?
An old cowboy trick I was told by the near my age cowboy next door. Done often where there are limited fences, where cattle range over hundreds of thousands of acres.
You find a fence and back your trailer with the gate shut, trailer gate close to the fence. You run the bull through the hole in the fence next to your trailer. As the bull runs through a rider gets off his horse, opens the trailer gate wiring it to the fence. Another rider who kept the bull moving turns the bull back to the fence not giving the bull much time to think.
The bull remembers there is a safe hole in the fence to run through next to the trailer runs back to it. He sees an opening, which is now the open trailer, and runs into it. The cowboy on the ground quickly shuts the gate. And tada, you got yourself a bull. Now I need to get a horse.
Marie Johnson is a Carson Valley rancher.