Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Open Range

Cattle on the road.

If you see an open range sign expect to see cattle near or on the road. Most often you will see an open range sign and no cattle at all. Or on your way somewhere there will be no cattle as far as the eye can see and when you return, cattle near the road. Cattle are not road savvy. If they are near the road as you are approaching, just assume they will be in the road by the time you get there.

Cowboys are not a thing of the past. The summer ranges are scattered over miles of open range and cowboys gather the herds together to go to market or winter pasture. We did see a cowboy and his two cattle dogs in action near Flaming Gorge, herding the cattle toward some pens that were setup to hold them until they could be loaded into a cattle truck. There are pens of this type all over.

Round 'em up.

There are fences but they seem to divide ranges and do not keep the cattle out of the road like they do back home. When there is a road there is a cattle guard (a metal rumble strip that the cattle cannot cross) that keeps the cattle in their own range. The ranges are so vast out west because the food the cattle graze is sparse. At home you may need an acre to support one head of cattle, out west you may need 25, 50 or 100. Of course water is an issue. No matter how many acres of land you have to graze, the cattle must have a source of water. I read the figures somewhere and will need to look them up, but I thought it said the cattle had to have a water source within two miles.

Who presses the button?

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