THIS IS OUR HERD
Our cows are born here in Northern Arizona on the Colorado Plateau on this ranch. We don’t name them, or we would find ourselves keeping them forever. Many of our cows live out their lives here. For example, let’s just call one “Rose” and take her through the yearly cycle at the Bar T Bar Ranch. From Rose’s eyes, this might be how it goes:
I was born near Canyon Diablo on a cold, windy, March morning before sunrise. My mother seemed pleased with her feat, and licked me off until I was warm. Warm enough to struggle to my feet and drink of her warm milk. I had not even a chance to try my new legs before a cowboy arrived on a 4-wheeler. My mother looked pretty warry, but I was too naïve to know what was about to happen. He knelt down beside me and gave me an ear tag--yikes! Guess it had my mother’s number on it, so they can keep us together in case I start to explore the country. Then he picked me up with something he called a “scale” to see how much I weighed! I heard him mumble something about 75 lbs. He scratched me, called me “Rose”, and told me I was cute…
Within several hours I was able to join the other new babies and learn what my role was in the herd. Mostly I learned that if I didn’t answer my mother’s bawl I was in trouble and she would come find me. I spent a few months totally enjoying my friends and the country around Diablo Canyon before I suddenly had to experience “branding”. My mother told me it happens to all of us and to “put on my big girl panties”, as it would soon be over.
It consisted of 2 minutes of “OMG, what are they doing to me??” The cowboys put me in this apparatus called a calf table. It flipped me on my side, whereby they put a little notch in my ear, a hot iron on my hide, and gave me my vaccinations—youser!!! I heard that it’s a bit worse on my friends: the bulls, because they can become steers during this process…. Well, it was over soon and Mom was there to greet me as I ran out of the chute. Whew…
I spent the summer on the open range between Flagstaff and Happy Jack. The cowboys and cowgirls guided us up the 20 mile trail to get there. Seemed to me like my mom and her friends already knew the way since they do it every year, and they just appeased the people since they appeared to enjoy this activity. Summer brought a lot of warm, lazy days and I got acquainted with all the other calves. When it became Fall, we had to head back down to the lower country where it was warmer. We trailed down the same way we came and ended up at this place called Melbourne. Little did I know that this was my last day with Mama…
They called it “weaning”, and it was the worst day of my life—well, so far. Those cowboys and cowgirls from Bar T Bar took us away from all our mothers….and don’t think our mothers didn’t let them know how unhappy they were….the noise was deafening!! Once again, they put us kids through a chute and gave us another vaccination—geez! They sorted the boys from the girls, put us in separate pastures, and drove our mothers away, not without protest! The first few days were pretty sad and I was hungry. Then I realized, not unlike my friends did, that we were UNSUPERVISED by adults! Wow….the opportunities were endless!
We spent the winter here on the native range before they decided which ones of us they would keep to be Bar T Bar Cows. Luckily I got to stay because someone thought I was pretty and I had eaten a lot and gained weight. I guess in the World of Cow, it is cool to be chubby. Some of my friends got on a truck and I heard they went to a pasture somewhere else before they became Country Natural Beef girls. I, Rose, however, got to join the prestigious “Bar T Bar Cowherd”.
I even see my mother occasionally. She told me that as long as she has a baby every year, she can stay here. If she doesn’t she has to be reinvented as Diablo Beef, whatever that means.
The cowboys and girls seem to like us. They do insist that once a year we go through that stupid chute and get tested for being pregnant and get another SHOT! But the rest of the time, I love being here….