A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 101: When the Cows Come Home
Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran
Cattle don’t travel quietly. It’s not that they mind the herd moving long distances, that’s actually part of their nature. But they like to take it easy and eat along the way. It’s not just a cattle thing, either. It’s just that they can complain louder than most other livestock. Other than that, they herd easy, unlike pigs. There is nothing really good to say about trying to move a herd of pigs across distance.
We heard them coming from a couple of miles away. They came up from the prairie on the same game trail I’d used to head north. I’d sent the Pawnee runner down there to guide them, once they came into view. As soon as we heard them at the camp, our riders saddled up to help guide them into the pasture. There were four of us who we trusted to sit a horse well. Mouse was allowed to join, so Michelle could evaluate her skill.
We had prepared our corral by adding the spare fencing section to the gate mouth. When the gate was open, we had a funnel to drive the herd through, directly into the pasture. Sonya and Esther were to man the gates, each with a boy to help them. Michelle, Holder, and Amos rode out with me as designated cowherds. Mouse trailed along silently, simply listening as we discussed the plan.
We needed to keep the herd out of the corn fields; that would be our primary focus. We also wanted to avoid the camp and get them directly into the pasture. Aggressive riding was to be avoided because we couldn’t afford to incite a stampede. That wouldn’t be a problem in the future, when the cattle knew where to go, but, for now, we had to take extra care. They would spend a lot of time grazing down on the prairie, and the herd would get used to the short trip back and forth. Our pasture simply wouldn’t support that many cattle for very long. It was best to save it for the dairy herd.
We could hear them coming through the trees, so we positioned ourselves to keep them strung out and moving. They were forced into a narrow column coming up the trail and we tried to hold them in that shape. Of course, their instinct was telling them to bunch up again for protection. We managed to keep them moving.
Mouse surprised us all by dismounting and walking to the lead cow, making a strange “kitch, kitch’ing” sound. She got the leader to walk with her. They calmly made their way into the pasture, and that was that for the cattle. The pigs, thankfully, just followed the cows. With the exception of a few stalks, our corn had survived.
Behind the herd came the riders and the rest of the entourage. The horses and goats were all strung with leads and were uneventfully led into the pasture, as well. Holder assumed the first pasture shift and that part of the migration was complete. Now we only awaited the return of the riverboat.
First, it was time for families to re-unify and introductions to be made. Petalesharo was here with his family and I needed to see him.
Pete’s brother-in-law, with his family, had joined him; he also brought along a nephew with his pregnant wife. At least they had their own tipis. Nice folk over all, but they didn’t speak a lick of English, so the going would be rough, at first.
As we sat and watched the tipis and tents go up, Pete explained that they usually sent scouts down this time of year, to watch for the buffalo as they moved north. The buffalo really didn’t like the hotter climes, so they would head north during the spring and early summer if they could. The Pawnee would follow the herds and poach off them in preparation for the winter ahead. Mass kills didn’t work. It took too long to process each buffalo. I basically knew about what any modern history buff would know, but it seemed that I was about to learn more. We were going to have our own buffalo hunt!