Cowboy Lunch  ~Steve McClure (Reno)

A whole lot of the “West” is considered desert. The area I was in was classified as semi-arid in the climatology books but all I knew was that the air was really dry. You can tell by how your skin, especially your lips feel. We were at about four thousand feet with a deep blue sky and you could see clearly for miles. I was one of six riders trailing the herd of 300 pairs (black angus) north. We were carrying water in our saddlebags which was periodically being replenished by the accompanying trailers. The cattle and horses had no problem drinking since the area had an uncharacteristic major rain event the week before and there was plenty of standing water.

It was to be a two day drive, moving the herd from the south ranch to the north ranch. The trailers were used to transport the horses and to supply our food and water. The first day was great. Our lunch was spread out on a truck bed. There were sandwiches, chips, all kinds of bakery and a cooler full of various drinks. Heck, I don’t eat that well at home. The problem for tomorrow was that, due to flooding, the bridge was out so the trailers would no longer be able to supply us.

We set the herd in a huge pasture that first night, loaded the horses (they were rode down) and returned to the main ranch. Pastures out there were often hundreds of acres. Several times in the course of my time on this ranch I was asked if I could see the gate so I could help steer the herd in the right direction. I couldn't even see the fence much less the gate! You just nod your head knowingly and hope for the best.


Crossing Small Creek

Of course when we arrived the next morning we found the herd as far away from the gate as possible. They were tired, mothered up, feeding on good grass and didn't understand why we would want them to move again. After unloading the horses we stocked up with water and began the final push. We spread out for the gather, got them to head up, put some motion in them, steered them out of the gate and started heading north. The sky was clear and a stiff cool wind blew. When we got to the washed out bridge the trucks and trailers were left behind and we had to pick out the next best route across the river. We only had about four or five miles to get them to home pasture but the pace was slow since the herd was tired. We stopped frequently to let the herd “mother up” and eventually we pretty much used up our water supply. Now I’m not one of those folks who needs to have a bottle of water everywhere I go but I was getting plenty thirsty and hungry to boot. Some time during the late morning the ranch owner, Craig, turned back and rode south. I had no idea where he was going and it sure wasn’t my business to know and besides, I got Craig's job of cutting out parts of the middle of the herd and driving them forward, to string them out. It was good practice and it sure beat riding drag


Cowboy Lunch

Later, at one of our stops in the early afternoon, we finally spotted a lone rider coming up from the south. As he got closer I realized it was Craig. He was carrying something using his coat as a bag and had a large container hanging off his saddle horn. When he was close enough I relieved him of his “bag” and he got off his horse. As it turned out he had gone back to the trailers and grabbed as much grub as he could pack using his coat and slung a large thermos of water over his saddle. We all sat down and had a quick lunch. When you are really hungry everything tastes good and this was no exception. He even managed to bring mayo and mustard for the sandwiches. The water was shared by all using the communal thermos and was quickly gone. It was a lunch I will not soon forget.

The stock were tired and the last mile of the drive was a long one. It was on the road bordering north ranch property but this was the "west" and properties could go on for miles. I didn’t know the area or how far we had to go yet and I sure wasn’t going to ask. We finally got to the gate and set them all in new pasture. After we had unsaddled our horses and turned them out we walked back to to the main house and there was cold watermelon waiting for us on a picnic table. Now I love watermelon but I don’t remember ever eating so much. I didn’t realize how thirsty I had been. It was great.

Craig had to jump start an old pickup truck (never saw a spread with so many vehicles) and we all rode back to the washed out bridge, forded the remainder of it by foot, got in the trucks we had left and went back to town. We headed straight to Dairy Queen (a staple out west), for supper, and tromped in with muddy boots and spurs. Heck, we were in Belle Fourche and this has always been a cattle town. It does not get any better.

~Steve McClure (Reno)

To read more by Steve McClure (Reno)--see below.

Insights by Steve -- Light at the End of the Tunnel

Insights By Steve -- Stoved Up

Insights by Steve -- Forever A Cowboy

Insights by Steve -- Horse Do

Insights by Steve -- McCarty

Insights by Steve -- Horse Geology?

Insights by Steve -- Working Together

Insights by Steve -- The Circle

Insights by Steve -- Natural Horseman

Insights by Steve -- I Can't

Insights by Steve -- Saddle Tracks

Insights by Steve -- Harmony and Horsemanship

Insights by Steve -- Sherwin

Insights by Steve -- Hobbling

Insights By Steve -- Roping Practice

Insights By Steve -- Support

Insights By Steve -- Sensei

Insights by Steve - Harmony

Insights by Steve-Centered in the Now