A Good Start

Post by Grant

Well, I got my cattle. Twenty pairs; that is twenty mama cows and their calves. That is the first step in a long process of becoming a cattleman. It started a few years ago with some volunteering, then a couple internships, and two weeks ago I found myself picking out twenty pairs.

Brooks* and I took the two-hour drive from Las Vegas to Corona Friday morning and met at Melvin’s** house, ate some lunch, and drove down a dirt road for 45 minutes to get to the pens holding the cattle. After the introductions to the seller, Brooks and I started walking through the cattle, finding the ones that we wanted to start my herd, and writing down their tag numbers. It ended up being almost an even split; we’d chosen 9 cows with a heifer calf, and 11 cows with a bull calf. Not too bad…

Getting the cattle into the semi-truck proved interesting; I’ve never loaded cattle up a semi’s ramp. They don’t really want to go smoothly; way too many new things to stop and consider. Nobody got hurt, and all the cattle made it out in good shape. Except for number 68. When we got back to Melvin’s and let the cattle into his pens and counted them, we were missing one cow and no calves. Oops. So instead of celebrating by cracking open a nice cold beer, Marcus (the seller) and I got a horse trailer and drove back out to see if we could find ol’ 68; Marcus had let all of his cows back out of the pens, and there was no telling where they could have got to by then. Long story short, she had stuck around hoping to find her calf, so it was no big deal getting her back and loaded. An hour and a half, back at Melvin’s house, and it was finally time for the universal signal that the day’s work is completed: a cold beer. We stayed up til midnight listening to Melvin tell us stories and experiences that he’s racked up over the last 30+ years working cattle and managing ranches. Very interesting, but 6AM came pretty quick.

The next morning we were meeting the truckers who would haul the cattle to Las Vegas, and we were adding a bull to the load. We sorted the calves off the cows, split them in two groups of 10, and loaded them up. This time they knew what they were doing, so it was a total cakewalk. We put the cows in next; also a cakewalk for the same reason. Then the bull, who also was an easy load.

Two hours back to Las Vegas, an easy unload into the pens at the Charles R Ranch, and the cattle are mine.  20 mama cows, 20 calves, and one bull.

* My neighbor on the Charles R Ranch.

** The ranch manager I worked under for my internship at the Ranney Ranch last summer.

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10 thoughts on “A Good Start

    • Thank you Colin! We’re not really blog people either, which means our blog is either going to be really boring or really creative. Ha! Also, we want you guys to come out and visit us! Our neighbor leads really successful elk hunts every year…..

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    • I chose them by looks: Coat smoothness; how flat their back is; how filled out their frame (body) is; if they don’t look fine-boned.

      And personality: I don’t want ones that are wild and freak out when I’m walking through the herd; no loners.

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  1. Pingback: A Good Start (in pictures) | Spanish Pipedream

  2. I’d always get nervous before starting a new job. I cannot imagine if that job was running a ranch. How nervous were you to be the man in charge? Did you feel adequately prepared?

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    • Megan, I was extremely nervous. Partially because it is a big responsibility, but also because it is a brand new field of work for me. I’ve worked construction for well over a decade, and without bragging I can say that I am good at it; my need to ask questions was almost nil, my opinions and views were legitimate and carried weight. In ranching I am starting out on the bottom rung even though I have a weighty title; my opinions and views mean nothing, and nobody really can take me seriously. I have to make a living of proving myself. Yes, I am still nervous. (But the way I will be running this place is going to be so different from anyone else around here that I don’t think people will ever really consider me “in”.)
      As for being adequately prepared, for as much time as I have put into this, yes. I only have about 1 1/2 years of experience with anything to do with livestock and ranching, but I don’t think that I could have used them any better. I will be learning this trade for the rest of my life, and that is pretty exciting.

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  3. Pingback: Let them eat cake. | Spanish Pipedream

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