Sorting Cows

Sorting Cows


                                                         Ed Ashurst 

On one occasion we had three or four hundred head of cows plus calves and bulls in the shipping corrals at Keseha on the Diamond A Ranch, and I was trying to sort them. I wanted to cut some cows through a gate that was being watched by a buckaroo who was not a good hand, even though he was very opinionated and constantly making comments about how good or bad a job everyone else was doing. Actually, he was the worst person on earth to try and cut cattle by, and he had a very caustic personality. Everett and Clay were close by as well as several other cowboys who were trying to hold a line on the herd of cattle. Things weren’t going well. The buckaroo was supposed to be positioned in the gate, and when I got a cow cut through the gate and into a different corral, he was supposed to keep them from escaping and coming back through the gate and into the herd that they had just been cut out of; but every time I would head toward the gate with a new cow, the buckaroo would abandon his post and ride into the herd to help me, and the cattle that I had already cut would escape and return to the herd they had just been cut out of. We were not making any headway. The buckaroo was making lots of critical comments.

While all of this was going on, Jim Fancher and Cody Cochran rode up and were watching from the outside of the corral. I had sent them off to do something else, and having finished what they had been told to do, they rode up and were watching the wreck that was taking place.

After about the fourth time the buckaroo let the cattle I had cut out get back into where they had been cut out of, I sort of short circuited, or more correctly said, I got mad. I looked at Everett and Clay and in a heated voice said, “You guys are going to have to help me!” My tone of voice insinuated that they hadn’t been helping me, but, actually, nothing bad that had happened was their fault; so when I realized that my angry comment toward them was unwarranted, I got madder. The buckaroo started to make a sarcastic comment, and I told him, “If you would get your fat butt in gear and watch that gate instead of running into the herd where you don’t belong we would all be better off.” Then I looked down on the far side of Clay at a gunsel kid who had no idea anything was amiss, and I hollered at him and said, “And if you turn your horses butt to a cow one more time today I’m going to make you wrangle horses afoot for a month. Do you understand?” The kid didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. Then I looked at Cody Cochran and Jim Fancher, who were both top hands but out of the corral and therefore unable to help me. Cody was laughing, but Jim, when I looked at him, turned his horse and rode off a hundred yards and stepped off behind a cedar tree and dropped his pants in an obvious attempt to do some private business.

I went back to cutting cattle, and we eventually got something accomplished. The next day, Everett, who was 16 years old, said to Jim Fancher, “Boy, you were lucky to have to go to the bathroom yesterday when we were having all that trouble sorting those cows. That was good timing.”

“I didn’t have to go; I just rode away and dropped my drawers because I was afraid your dad was going to have me help sort those cows.”

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