Moving cows at Double M is a pretty common occurence.
The ranch utilizes irrigated native grass pastures that are intensively managed. Cows are then grouped based on age, when they calved, what kind of calves they have (AI, embryo calves, natural sired calves, etc.) and are managed as a smaller herd within the herd. To make the most of the grass, and keep the cows happy and calves growing, the groups of pairs are rotated to a new pasture weekly, if not more often. Because the ranch is contiguous, it's been fenced so that cows can easily be moved down the road.
The cows here are pretty smart.....they know when people on horses, an ATV, or a pickup shows up in their pasture, there's a good chance that they're probably getting to go to new feed.
They usually all come running, and besides rounding up a straggler or two, getting the cows to move isn't the part of the whole ordeal.
Stopping traffic and slowing down drivers is the hardest part.
But more on that in a bit.
Before we begin the process, we usually needs to get horses from the bull barns. Ty was helping this day, so he got his horse, and then Wyatt loaded the Rhino so he could help too.
Once we get to the pasture, the guys unload, put bridles on the horses, and get ready to go.
The day these pictures were taken, the group of cows that was being moved had to be trailed through a big pasture to a gate where they could get out onto the road.
The pasture they were in sits on a corner at a T in the road, and we didn't want the cows to have to navigate the T in the road so the guys pushed them to the opposite end of the pasture to a corner where they could just turn out the gate and head straight down the road.
While the cows were being trailed across the field, my trusty co-pilot Austin and I headed to the gate where we'd let them out onto the road.
There were heifers on the other side of the road all shaded up in an old barn, but as soon as they saw Austin and I pull over in the pickup and trailer to wait, they did what any heifers will do....
They got curious and came over to check things out.
I snapped a few pictures of them, but before long I could see the trail of dust coming from the pairs that the guys were bringing. Clint's been trying to teach most of the groups to follow him (usually he's on a horse or the Rhino, and the dogs are bringing the cattle from behind, when he moves them by himself) so Wyatt was in front "leading" the pairs while Clint & Ty brought up the rear.
Once we had the cows turned out on the corner, I went ahead in the trailer to block traffic coming towards the cows (we make people stop and wait so that cows don't get hit, and cars don't get damaged) while Ty went ahead on his horse to block off a side road.
Once the cows had turned the first blind corner, I kept on going ahead to stop traffic at the gate where we were going to turn them in.
Since there is so much traffic on the road these pastures border, we try to stop traffic in sections so that people don't have to wait as long. Some people still get mad (especially those that are already late for work) but most are pretty friendly. The best people are the ones who are involved in ag (like the tractor sales people, etc.) because they usually help bring the cows when they're stuck in the rear, or will span the road in both lanes to stop oncoming traffic from trying to pass.
You can see in the picture below where I'd staged a couple of cars to wait, and then went ahead to turn cows into the gate.
By this time the cows were on the home stretch and could see the gate ahead. These ladies know that when there is an open gate, they need to turn into it.
And they did their job well!
The guys try to let the cattle go at their own pace, especially when it's hot or they have to walk a long ways. On this day, the cattle were driven about two miles, and sometimes that's tough on calves. That's when it's nice to have extra help, because one person can stay behind the cows that are trotting along (Clint on this day) and the others can gently push the stragglers from behind (Ty & Wyatt).
Eventually all of the pairs got moved through the gate at the white corrals where we held the cattle for a bit, and let them pair up while Ty & Clint headed out to make sure all of the gates were closed in the pasture they were going to be turned out in.
I don't know why this pasture cracks me up, but it does!
I took it while Clint and Ty were checking the gates, and the pairs just hung out under the empty hay barn in the shade.
It's like everyone is staring at me saying "This is where you brought us?"...but soon enough they were turned out to green grass.
And so goes another day of moving cows at the ranch!