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April 11, 1982 - Image 17

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-04-11
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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Page 14-Sunday, April 11, 1982-The Michigon Daily

6

AL Alb

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V U

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Al

Summer job becomes
home on the range

(Continued from Page 5)
realizing how important this operation
was to his preparation for the summer
4-H fair.
The bed of the truck was enclosed
with a stock rack which prevented him
from jumping out. However, the win-
dow in back of the cab which was sup-,
posed to separate me and the front seat
from Albert was gone. By the time I
reached town, my neck no longer
glistened with salty perspiration.
Albert had taken advantage of the op-
portunity to consume his daily salt
quantity-off my neck.
THE REST OF the cattle acquired
salt in a rather different manner.
Every third day, I would load salt onto
the back of a packhorse and side all
morning from pasture to pasture
refilling the ole truck-tire salt troughs.
During this time, I counted each herd,
G watched for signs of illness and
lameness, and checked the antique
barbed wire fencing for any breaks. Of-
ten I would set off at dawn and would
not return until after dusk, having spent
my day repairing and rewiring the fen-
cing, and driving any neighboring
strays back onto the neighbor's proper-
ty.,
When I wasn't out checking cattle, I
Was working the horses. The ranch had
just purchased two quarter horses
brood mares, both with foals at their
sides. In addition to working with the
foals, I broke two- and three-year-olds
to saddle and introduced the four-year-
old horses to roping and cattle work.
The term "to break a horse" may
bring to mind a Remington-like portrait
of a wild-eyes mustang plunging and
rearing in a frantic attempt to dislodge
a furiously spurring cowboy. In reality,
the procedure is much less dramatic.
Today's process of teaching, a young
horse to accept a saddle and rider is no
longer a ten-minute, knock-down
dragout fight, but a slower, less painful
method that allows the horse to accept
and trust the rider. Breaking the horses
can take from a couple of weeks to two
months.
THE TIME invested in training is
well spent, for-the horse is still one of
theymost effective tools a rancher has,
particularly during spring branding.
Branding day begins shortly before
dawn with the early morning silence
broken by muttered "Mornin's," pun-
ctuated with the splat of tobacco juce
striking the dirt.
As .soon as the neighbors arrive on
horse back, a huge breakfast of
blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs,
bacon, elk sausage, biscuits, and hot

coffee is served. After eating three
groups of five riders head out to the
winter ranges. All morning they
methodically comb the sagebrush,
coulies, and mountain 'timber, slowly
gathering the cows with their now
calves.
By noon, all three groups have retur-
ned, driving over 200 head of cattle into
the stock pens. Following a huge
meat and potato lunch, the actual bran-
ding begins. First, the swiftest horses
and the best cow dogs are used to
separate the cows from their calves.
When the calves are isolated, another
cowboy rides into the pen, loops the
rope around the heels of the calf, throws
a half hitch around his saddle horn, and
slowly turns his horse dragging the
frantically bawling calf out into the
larger corral.
IN THE SPACE of a minute, the calf
is thrown; branded with glowing bran-
ding iron, castrated, eartagged for
identification, and released. The dirty
air is filled with squeals of calves, the
restless mooing of the concerned
mothers, grunts and curses of the calf
handlers, and the distinctive orod of
burnt skin and sweat. Despite the ap-
parent choas the branding proceeds
smoothly and the last calf is done shor-
tly before six p.m.
Wih the work done, the horses are un-
saddled and the keg tapped. We are
soon refreshed by the cooler evening air
and revived by the cold beer, stories of
past brandings, great rodeos, and well-
done steaks being passed around. The
story telling, dancing, and drinking of-
ten last well into the next morning.
With branding over, the ranch lapsed
into a peaceful lull that was supposed to
last until haying time. However, Fat
Albert had other plans. He chose to
develop a nasty habit of bloating during
the two week period when the ranch
owners went on vacation leaving me in
charge.
THE CONDITION is similar to'
human's bloating except a cow can't
regurgitate from the second stomach.
In severe cases the cow can die within
an hour if not alleviated. Albert looked
so bloated that if you'd tied a string to
one hoof and threw him up in the air,
he'd have made a fine helium balloon
cow.
Armed with an old wine bottle full of
de-bloating medicine, I tramped down
to the 1)arn. After several minutes of
pushing and profanity, I secured him in
the stanchion. For the next 20 minutes, -
all 1000 lbs. of Albert and I would wrestle
See CATTLE, Page 18

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Co
You spend much of your time on the
go. That's why Bass, made Tackers.
Slip-on styles on a comfy sole designed.
G toay's active lving.
Go Bass or go barefoot.

/

Clockwise from left: Interior of S
,Countryside, northwest of Londor
don Transport bus.

q

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Photos by Deborah Lewis

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