I had a job day herding some cows on alfalfa. We rode the cows 24 hours a day. And luckily I got the day shift. It was a new experience for me and I learned a lot about cows. It was a good set of cows that were cross bred English and Brahma. Big fertile, very active cows , no bulls. When it rained or there was a heavy dew we could move the cows to some adjacent native country. This was supposed to reduced the chance of bloat while pasturing on the green alfalfa.
My shift started about 7am and one morning I was late and the night shift left a little early. When I got to the alfalfa field which was about 500 acres, there were no cows to be seen, I rode around the perimeter looking for sign of where they went, and I found a trail a foot wide and nearly that deep, sandy country and easy trailing. They were headed west to Salt Flat and open country all the way to El Paso. It was maybe a long mile to Salt Flat and they turned north in the middle of the flat dry lake and crossed the El Paso-Carlsbad highway 62-180 still going north. Very little traffic back then. They hit a heavy mesquite thicket and went right through it. The trail went straight through the thicket and opened up to a beautiful alfalfa field and there were my cows scattered all over this beautiful lush alfalfa. I had no idea this alfalfa farm was here or who it belonged to. But I was sure I needed to get my cows off this farm and headed home as soon as possible. I wasn’t sure how to get to the cows as there was a huge marsh full of cattails and water between me and the alfalfa. But the cow trail bailed off a big dirt bluff, crossed the marsh and onto the alfalfa. It didn’t look easy, but I thought if a cow could make it, I could……???? Off I went and it was steeper than I thought, but we hit the water and reeds with much thrashing and plunging. As we were plunging through the water and cattails we startled a bunch of hogs and they set up a squealing stampede. This made my horse try to get in high gear reverse, but he couldn’t get back up the steep bluff as he missed the trail and was trapped in the water, cattails and hogs. This made ole “Champ” mad and he started chasing the hogs, ears back and baring his teeth. I had never seen a horse get so stirred up over another critter. We finally busted out of the cattails onto the alfalfa and our cows. The other side of the alfalfa was the farm house and I could see Mr. Farmer and his family and hired hands on the porch in total amazement standing there with their mouths wide open and arms stretched out. Here in their beautiful Alfalfa were 500 cows and a man coming across the field chasing their hogs. I thought this is going to be hard to explain. I finally got “Champ” settled down and headed to the farm house. It was a long ride and I was sure trying to come up with an explanation. When I got there I introduced myself and did a good look for any weapons. Everyone was very civil and nobody had any weapons showing. I explained my story and where I worked. They were very interested as they were new to the neighbor also. We had a very good little visit considering their alfalfa was full of my cows. I told them I had better get busy taking these cows home before they got to liking their alfalfa more than ours. They agreed and said they would help but didn’t know much about cows or how to work them with a tractor. We became great neighbors and friends, and they watched with great interest and were a big help showing me a better way out of the alfalfa than back through the water, reeds and hogs. Also the steep bluff……………Certainly an interesting trip back then, I can only imagine now-a-days. Crossing the highway singlehanded with 500 cows.