In the previous blog (Part-I) we talked about the cowboys gathering up and preparing their horses for the roundup. Part-2 will highlight the biggest part of the day, rounding up and herding the cows and calves to the branding pens. The morning starts with all the cowboys fanning out across the pastures to designated areas to find and move the cows and their new calves to the pen. This is a slow, methodical process that takes up a good two hours of the morning. It just takes two or three cowboys per area to patiently coax and guide the small groups along. Trying to rush them is usually counterproductive. NOTE: In some of these photos you can see the McDonald's Observatory up high in the Davis Mountains on the horizon.
CULLING OUT THE UNWANTED
The Kokernot o6 Ranch covers over 150,000 acres of open, un-fenced range land that's often shared with nearby ranchers. Sometimes the neighbors' cows and bulls wander away from their home areas and intermingle with the o6 cattle. Culling out these cattle and transporting them back to their own pastures is a big part of the day's work!
In the sequence above, two cowboys chase down and rope a neighbor's bull. After they have the bull subdued on the ground, the fun begins trying to load him up into the trailer. This was a particularly stubborn guy, and it took almost 30 minutes to finally prod and drag him into the trailer.
The cowboys above (left) have located a stray that needs to be relocated. The first two on the scene rope and ground the cow, while a third rides in to help out with loading it onto the trailer that's heading their way.
WORKING THE HERD!
Once the cattle have been moved near the branding pen, the final preparations before branding commence. All the cowboys surround the herd to keep them contained while a few designated riders begin a process that's known as "Working the Herd." Some of the cows in the herd do not have calves and are not wanted in the branding pen. They get in the way, and take up limited space in the pen. In addition to the "dry" cows, there are a few others that do not belong to the o6 and need to be separated from the herd as well. Finally, there are a few bulls and steers that made their way to the area, and they also need to be separated from the herd.
FINAL SEPARATIONS ARE COMPLETE
The circled area shows the small group of cattle that have been separated from the main herd. They'll be driven away from the area so the remaining cows and calves can be herded into the branding pen.