September 2, 2014

Cattle Rustlers

Part way through the summer I noticed a couple extra cows that didn't belong to us in the canyon pasture we are leasing. I'd been calling and asking around and thought I knew who they belonged to. That pasture is pretty thick and can be steep, so we figured we'd get those two cows out when we left the pasture in the fall. We'd fixed fence quite a bit and thought we'd covered our bases. Early last week I got a phone call from a man saying we had a fence down in some pasture we lease. He said there were a couple cows and calves out but he didn't know if they were ours. I gave him the description of our brand and ear tags, sure enough they were ours. He was very kind and said he'd put them back in for me and do up the fence. Then the next day I'm down there checking cows and fence and I run into a man and his hired hand. I discover he's the man that was kind enough to put my cows in the day before and button up the fence. The strange thing was that he had some cattle panels for loading cattle set up in an ally next to my pasture. He said they'd taken some cattle out of a pasture bordering ours earlier and that he'd gotten his cattle out of my pasture. I'm not one to grill people and ask tons of questions, but maybe I should be. Questions like: How did you know your cattle were in my pasture? How did you get IN my pasture since I have a key to the gate lock? I didn't ask questions, but pointed out the similarity in our trucks and said now I know why some neighbors came to my house asking if I'd lost a gas can- it must be his. He confirmed it was. I told him where he could get it. I went off and checked my cows not even thinking twice. Later that day I got word that there were some people in our neck of the woods that were known for stealing cattle. After talking with the Ranch Hand we decided we'd get a good count on them the next day. I'd been fighting allergies and decided I should just take a rest, but couldn't keep from worrying about my girls in the canyon, and if one of them were missing. I loaded up the three year old and we went over to count. We didn't count many, about 20 of the 50. So the next day we took the horses out and got a better count. Still fighting allergies I'M the one that looks like a rustler! I was trying to keep from breathing in the pollen and dust, and from getting it in my eyes!

 Here was part of my investigation that first day. All three wires cut and fixed in the SAME spot. You can tell if a wire broke or was cut, this looked cut to me, but not too recently.

 We did discover a fair deer shed.
 We decided to split up, he'd take the creek bottom, while I took the thick brush. I've come to love this pasture because it reminds me so much of riding my horse in the mountains where I grew up. Except trade the pine trees for cedar trees.

 My husband and I both kept track of numbers of cows and calves, then compared our lists. With all that intense looking and searching for numbers, can you believe I didn't get a single picture of our cows? You'd think from this post they were all rustled! No, they were there, well most of them. I know my cows. I know their numbers, their looks, and their temperments. I would know who it was that was missing. In the end we were missing cow 065, calf 068, and the pair 341. The little boy got tuckered out and we had to get the other kids from school, so we had to throw in the towel without accounting for them all. THAT was hard to do!
The next couple days was spent moving some more cattle to another canyon pasture lease. After that we decided to just drive the truck down the canyon to see if we could find our missing cattle. Sure enough we did. I can't tell you the relief it was to know that at this point in the year, two months before we bring cows home for the winter, they are all there. Maybe this man has a reputation, but maybe he's trying to change it. Either way, we are spending more time in those pastures, so everyone knows we are over there on a consistent basis. 

No cattle got rustled, there was no gun fight like the old days. But cattle rustling is still very real today. People have gone to jail recently for stealing cattle. With prices of cattle skyrocketing these days you can't be too safe. Count your cattle, one by one.

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