Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Cow Pony

Daddy at 6 on Peggy.
Another good cow pony.

A good cow pony is more than just transportation in the ranching world.

It is partner, confidante, shelter, and yes, even protector.
Dad's horse had been superbly trained.
By him.
Calving season is a rather exciting time of the year. For at least a couple of reasons.
Because new babies are appearing in the fields. And new baby calves are cute.
But also because you are getting up close and personal with warm, furry creatures who outweigh you by several hundreds of pounds.
See? Exciting. In an unpredictable/ohmygoodness sort of way.
Most cows on the Stringam ranch calved between January and March.
Without ceremony or fanfare.
In the field.
Calves were tagged and given their newborn shots within a few feet of where they were born.
I should mention here that Hereford cows are docile and easily managed.
Except when they have a newborn calf nearby.
You've heard the stories about getting between she-bears and their babies?
Well, Hereford cows would kill to have that reputation.
Hmm . . . Actually, they would have to kill to get that reputation.
Just thought I'd point that out.
Because it really has nothing to do with this story.
Moving on . . .
Hereford cows may not be the black-leather-clad, chain-toting members of the bovine family, but they can still be rather aggressive when their babies are in danger.
Or when they think their babies may be in danger.
As when people are around.
My Dad found this out the exciting way.
He had come across a newborn calf, lying 'hidden' in the tall grass.
Dismounting, he straddled the calf and prepared to vaccinate.
And that's when Mama noticed him.
Suddenly, a thousand pounds of red and white indignation were breathing down his neck.
And I do mean down his neck.
I know this will sound funny, but when a cow is threatening, the best place to be in the wide-open prairie is 'under' one's well-trained horse.
Really.
You crawl under your horse and no cow will come near.
Hastily, Dad pulled himself and his captive under his horse and continued with his work.
The cow snorted and fidgeted, circling around, trying to find the flaw in this scenario.
The horse kept one eye on her. All the while turning to keep his hind quarters directed towards the irate bundle of hair and aggression.
This worked for a few moments.
But finally, even the presence of a larger, stronger, and infinitely smarter creature didn't deter.
She charged.
Remember where I mentioned that the horse kept his hind quarters towards the cow?
That's because that is a horse's 'dangerous' end.
Always loaded.
And ready to fire.
He let fly.
With both barrels.
He caught the cow in the head.
In mid-charge.
Now a cow's head is composed mostly of bone.
They can be hurt.
But it takes a lot.
This kick merely stopped the cow for a moment.
She shook her head, confused.
Then looked around.
What had she been doing?
About that time, Dad finished with the calf and let it go.
It trotted over to its mother and the two of them hurried towards the nearest far-away place.
Dad stood up and gave his horse a pat.
“Good boy.”
Then mounted up and continued his ride.
Another rather mundane day in the life of a good cow-pony.
What would we do without them?

21 comments:

  1. For some reason I'm relating this to some people I know. LOL

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  2. Your dad...the master of the under statement.

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    Replies
    1. The cowboy way. Say it as few words as possible! :)

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  3. I loved that.

    All in a day's work on a ranch, huh? As the kids say: Mad props to you.

    Pearl

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. Haven't been online in a while because of work, it's been very, very, very busy! BUT, I just love your life and your posts, it's so different than my way of living. I had no idea that cows would "bow" to horses this way, and stay away if you go underneath the horse. Your dad sounds so interesting, how did he figure this out? It's such a different world from mine, I love these life lessons. If I ever find myself in a field, with a cow, I will hope there is a friendly horse nearby so that I can hide under him! LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, these old rancher's tricks. Who was the first to figure them out? I'm so glad you visit, Claudia! I do hope life settles down.
      You know how they tell us not to hide under a tree during a storm? I wonder if that applies to hiding under a horse . . .

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  6. "...the two of them hurried towards the nearest far-away place"... I love this line, Diane - I feel it is a great example of your signature style of humour that I enjoy so much.

    Wonderful story. Your dad would need to be fast with those shots, I think!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Jenny!
      Yeah. Dad. Fastest (syringe) gun in the west!

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  7. Good boy indeed!
    I once rode a horse who tried to bolt when it spotted a cow - never having seen one before. It was a thoroughbred - inferior (in my opinion) to a cow pony in many ways!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah. Thoroughbreds. I used to exercise them on the track. There is only so much room in that head. The speed gene had to go somewhere. It replaced the smart gene! :) Having said that, you should have seen my good cow pony the first time he saw a pig . . .

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  8. We're trying to convince our son to become a large animal vet instead of small animal - maybe I won't share this story with him :)!

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    Replies
    1. Dilemma! Bitten or trampled. Maybe we'd better keep him away from this whole blog! :)

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  9. I had no idea that going under the horse like that would work for safety reasons. I stayed on a ranch many summers of my youth and never knew that, LOL!

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    Replies
    1. Tadaaa! Who says we can't learn at our age! :)

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  10. You learn something new everday around here! You might want to check out my blog tomorrow since it's partly about you!

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  11. I didn't know the horse would circle around to keep his hindquarters to the cow. Great story.
    The best line? "...the nearest far-away place", I love that.

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    Replies
    1. Definitely a smart horse! Brings a whole new meaning to a horse's . . . never mind. I like that phrase, too. It says so much! :)

      Delete

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