1979 – 1982 Uncha Lake Road farm, Burns Lake.
Highlander cattle are very independent. You can not tell them where to graze, where to go, or rather, where not to go. The lead cow was “Blackie”. She did not need a bell. All the others just followed her, anywhere. The pictures are with summer coat, in the winter, the hair is up to 14″ long, almost reaching the ground, and they look much heavier.
“Browney” was no. 2 in command. They had their own rules they followed, not always to my liking. Whenever I wanted anything done, I had to address the leaders, the herd always followed them. The only way to get them in a direction you wanted, or to follow you, was a bucket of grain. Yelling, screaming, hitting with a stick, and other cowboy means; to no avail, it amused them, but otherways no effect.
This one day, one neighbor a mile or two away, contacted me and asked me to get my cows out of his barley fields. It was a good ride, and several barbed wire fences to cross. I had no idea how they could have made it to his fields. I needed help, the only one that could help, was my stepson Tim.
Tim was the about 8-9 years old, but a capable horse rider. He rode “Tika”, and I saddled “Strawberry”. Both good for cattle drives, and much more experienced than me. Strawberry had only one eye, but that did not bother me, or her to go at full trot. The price I paid for her, however, had something to do with it.
We rode as fast as we could, my neighbor was not happy about my cowes eating his grain. Following trails as well as we could, until we had to cross some barbed wire fences. That ment, cut the wire, get the horses through, mend the fences after. The tool to do this, is a large wire cutter, with a special design, and a hammer at one side of the head. A must, to have in the saddle-bag when out on any ride.
Barb wire is one of man’s worst inventions. The last 50 years almost exclusively made in Brazil, it has done a lot of damage all over this world, and will for a long time forward. Barb wire from the 1st. and 2nd. w.wars are still doing damage. Get a New Zealand type electric fence, works for miles, more effective, does not hurt and kill the animals. It is not always the cuts that kills, but the bleeding, the infections from insects does it.
No to barbed wire, forever !
We found the cows, happy in a large field of grain. The job was not only to get them out of there, and home, it was to make sure they newer wanted to go back there. The chasing started, the horses knew how to do that, they moved like hockey-players, constantly crossing behind the flock, mowing a few step forward every time, until the cows started running. Then we were on the way, until the first barbed wire stopped them. Some were into it before they stopped. I had to stitch some later at home.
Cut the fence, get them cows and the horses through, mend the fence. They knew the shortest way home. And that was not by following the trails. We had good speed at times. Very good speed. Tim and me had to ride on the sides to try to manoeuvre them in the general direction. You can not believe, how a big lazy cow can move, if she wants to. In the bushes, fallen logs everywhere, no open trail, just bush.
This is where it happened. Strawberry was blind on one eye, but that did not slow her down. One could sence that this was what she liked to do, chase cows, all day. The trail rides I thought was great, was probably boring to her. A fallen log, that she could easily have jumped, if she had seen it; stopped her dead. I was not prepared, and even if I was, I would have had my flight. I virtually flew 5 – 10 yards, in the bushes, I have no idea, no memory from the landing, but the flight was a strange feeling. I feel the the landing still, all over my body.
At the kitchen counter at home, I overheard Tim telling his mother about the trip. I was in the washing-room, a large most important room, between the entrance and the kitchen. Lots of room for washing, laundry, drying clothes, and brewing som fine local wines. Trying to get the booths off, and new, dry clothes on to my sore body, I was dead beat. I did not feel like any superman.
“Papi flew like Superman!, Tim explained. “Strawberry stopped; and Papi flew, just like Superman, you should have seen it !”.