A More Traditional Idaho Cattle Drive

Walking this morning with my dogs along a country road in the valley below our home, we witnessed a more traditional Idaho cattle drive using riders on horses and herding dogs to move the cattle from their pastures toward a pen where they would be loaded onto a truck for transport.

Consider this an update (and some sort of an apology) to my most recent post mocking a non-tradition drive of cattle along a nearby country road that I noted lacked any sense of cattle drive romance.

It’s a noisy activity, moving cattle, with occasional whoops from the riders and the cattle mooing their concern at being pushed along faster than they would choose. In the first video, one of the cows has quite a distinctive moo – a high-pitched honk, almost like a goose – vocalizing its displeasure!

I’m talking to Finn and Conall with one glove in my mouth so I can take the video – it’s cold! – making me sound a bit harsh. Late in the video you can hear the one cow with an odd voice.

Not wanting to cause a distraction, the boys and I turned back from the scene of the main action. Soon after, though, Conall noticed the cattle-herding dogs at work and became very interested in their job. He woo wooed his interest, wanting to put in an application. I told him he likely wouldn’t be selected.

Conall wants to help!

Finn, meanwhile, was more interested in digging for imaginary voles.

You can also hear, in the second video, the exhaust of one of the big trucks coming to haul the cattle away. I don’t like to think about where they’re going.

So much for dog breed determining interest and vocation.

Sadly, on this same walk, Conall showed me a dead calf, just inside its pasture fence. Conall was cautious yet eager to get close to one the creatures he’s had a love-hate relationship all his life, to be able to inhale its scent without fear of injury. Finn – the herding dog who only notices things in motion – wouldn’t have noticed but for Conall’s interest.

First Conall, then Finn investigate a dead calf, the sounds of herded cattle a couple of pastures away in the background.

I wasn’t sure at first that the calf was dead. There was no obvious trauma or injury, no blood or gore, no disturbed ground around it. I hoped it was breathing, that it would move, but it didn’t, and it’s position was unnatural. There was no mama cow nearby in distress. It was beginning to bloat. Who knows what happened, but it won’t surprise me if local ranchers blame wolves or coyotes, despite no evidence of them that I could see. No predator had feasted on it yet, not even birds. It’s so much easier to blame predators than natural causes or one’s own neglect, especially if there’s some compensation in claiming loss to a predator.

Whatever. Thanks to Conall’s alert, I’m confident it was a natural death, as happens.

2 thoughts on “A More Traditional Idaho Cattle Drive”

  1. The sound of that one cow was piercing. That country is so beautiful. We drove through Idaho from Driggs back to Bozeman towards the end of our vacation in September. Breathtaking!


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