|Day 4 at Deadrock Ranch|
Cattle Drive and the Big Dance
Awaiting the Drive
Calm Before the Storm
We spent our last full day at Deadrock Ranch on an all-day cattle drive. The ranch raises about 1,000 cows. Each cow requires 2 acres of grass every two weeks. The ranch has 18,000 acres, so every two weeks, the cows have to be rounded up and moved from pasture to pasture (about two miles...) This is wooded rough country, so you can't use motorized vehicles. Hence, everything is done on horseback.
This photo shows the horses in the corral having their breakfast waiting to go to work.
Movin' Them Dogies
Well, we walked behind the cows...
My partner rode Junior, the spirited horse, and I went out on Nick --- "The Most Cynical Horse in the World". The wranglers and the border collies did most of the work. She got involved in the roundup while Nick and I did a stately walk behind the cows. I can say with good conscience that no cows got away from us, mainly because they were moving ahead of us at a MUCH faster rate. When one of the yearlings would stray, a border collie would run up and give him a good bite on the leg. The older cows have learned to listen to the dogs' barking.
The Chuck Wagon
Gabby Hayes was not there...
We stopped for lunch at a real honest to goodness Chuck Wagon while another crew moved a herd of sheep into the pasture we had just vacated. The cows eat the grass and the sheep eat the weeds that the cows won't eat. Thus, the grass grows again and doesn't get choked out by weeds. The shepherds worked on foot with bigger dogs. One of the sheep dogs was a Great Pyrenees who would actually jump on the back of a reluctant animal to keep it going.
A great bunch...
During lunch, the wranglers did rope tricks. (One of the lady wranglers is from Munich where she specialized in Dressage before she got into ranching...)
Then they asked us about "those fancy dance steps" that they had been hearing about. So, we did a couple of flips and a lockup for them. Every interest activity has its performance aspects. We switched and I made a fool of myself with a rope.
Most of us spent the afternoon rounding up more cows --- Nick "The Lounge Horse" spent a large part of the afternoon complaining. On the other hand, I got back to the corral in one piece although Nick prefers to leap over streams rather than get his feet wet. That part was a bit disorienting.
At the Corral..
After the cattle drive, we got a short break and then it was time for the "Guest Rodeo". Having pushed my luck to extremes, I declined --- but my partner got into things in a big way! Here she stands, ready to go into the arena
With the Cow
Move Them Dogies...
The first event was the "Team Roundup". Briefly, a team of three riders had three minutes to herd three yearlings into a small pen. This was not as easy as it seems. First, it is nearly impossible to separate a cow from the herd. Next, the things are shiftier than an NBA point guard --- they can really move when they want to. Finally, this is new to the guests, but the cows have done it several times before --- and they got branded when they were put in the pen! Accordingly, the cows don't want to do this.
Andy, the wrangler, gave us a short lesson on how a horse is trained for work with cattle. In order to make the short turns that are necessary to outmaneuver the cow, the Horse must be taught to bend in the middle --- and this is done by teaching the horse to cross his back legs, one over the other. As Andy demonstrated this, I was amazed by how much the exercise looked like a Lindy Hop "Scissor Step"
My partner's team was successful in getting one cow into the pen and I was very proud of her as she bravely faced up to the herd and the individual cows.
The Water Relay
Try not to spill any!
The second event was the Water Relay. In this, teams of four riders had to carry a glass of water the length of the corral (about 40 yards) at full gallop and then pour what was left into a cup held by the next member of the team. The event was judged on both total elapsed time and the quantity of water that remained in the glass at the end of the event. My partner's team did not win.
A great band!
At the end of the day, We hit the hot tub again to ward off the effects of riding. It was a good thing because our finale party had a very hot band named Cold Smoke. I wore my zoot suit to the party. Strangely, with all the colorful Western dress wear, it didn't stand out that much. Having finally adapted to the altitude, we were able to dance well into the night. Of all things, the dance floor was nearly perfect.
The Security Staff
This is a photo of the Security Staff from the ranch. Most of them are ex FBI men and they did a great job. One of them was from Philadelphia and we exchanged memories of Bandstand. Another was from Pittsburgh, and almost all of them had spent some time in DC.
A really Fun Bunch
This is the Ranch staff --- they went out of their way to make sure that we had a good time. They are really a great bunch and we miss them already!
A fine bunch of Americans
Here is a group photo of all our fellow guests who hail from all parts of the country. As best we remember, they are:
We are sure that our friends will write to correct any mis- identifications that we have made!
As we said, before, we took quite a few photos, so we have divided the story into parts to minimize download time:
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