Celebrating Spring Chores

Short Grass Philosophy, Floyd Beard, Kim. Colo.

Howdy folks, here we are half way through 2023. June is here. Summer will officially begin in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21 at  8:57 a.m. MDT. Most folks have long forgotten their New Years Resolutions or at the least have given up on them as either “Accomplished” or “Naw, I am tired of this running my life”. The focus is now on summer activities, sports camps, fishing and camping trips, vacation travel, and what shall I cook up on the ole’ barbecue? Meanwhile back at the ranch, spring branding time is winding down and attention has turned to getting the bulls turned in and getting the herd out on pasture. In the mountains the snow is retreating and the push is on to get cattle moved up to those high country pastures. 

Out on the High Plains, the same focus is in place with the variation being that retreating snow is not usually the factor. But instead, which pasture has the rancher or manager planned for a particular bunch of cattle depending on what makes the most sense for that particular portion of the operation? Which pasture got enough winter or spring moisture to green the grass and hold a promise of adequate feed supply?

Regardless, in each scenario adequate moisture applied to the equation with the correct timing can and does create one of the most beautiful times of the year to be out riding and doing the cowboy life. Everyone in cattle country gets to enjoy gathering up cattle from winter pastures and feeding grounds, sorting them and then moving them to summer pastures while dealing with protective mamas and recalcitrant bulls. Plus be careful about applying aggressive shots of steel to the sides of a mount that has been on easy street all winter and now has been filling their bellies’ on green grass regardless of how well broke they are thought to be.

 This month come riding with me through the canyons in early summertime.

Early Summer Time

When you’re riding in the canyons,

In early summer time,

It is just breaking daylight,

And the world seems sublime.

You hear canyon wrens a trilling,

And the horned owl’s haunting hoot,

When the buds are on the cholla,

And the grass is in the boot.

Cottonwoods along the bottom,

Shimmer in the morning breeze.

They glitter and they, sparkle,

As new sunrays kiss their leaves.

The morning air is cool and soothing,

 But  it will soon get hot,

As you ride beneath wild grapevines,

Tangled in a woody knot.

You see clusters of baby grapes,

Paltry marbles, that is all.

But they predict a tasty harvest,

Jams and jellies come next fall.

Morning beauty from the Maker,

You give quick thanks to Him,

See dawn’s early rays glow rosy,

On a dim and distant rim.

Then you spot the strays you’re hunting,

Hear roll rocks roll up above,

As they race to get around you.

It’s a game you’ve come to love.

Your pony’s ears prick forward,

You know he is ready for the chore.

He is looking for their trail now,

For he’s played this game before.

They don’t want no fenced in pastures,

Nor under sheds and fed mowed hay,

Though you feel the same ’bout it,

You light out after ’em  anyway.

The leader turns and shakes her rack,

Then she begins to paw.

But you see the other riders,

Closing in from down the draw.

You soon have them bunched and trailing,

‘Cross the valley to the ranch.

You race out and turn a quitter,

Dodging round a cedar branch.

Yes!  This is the life you’ve chosen,

A life of work and love,

Running cattle in the canyons,

‘Neath the blue sky up above.

And no time is more inviting,

Pushing strays to the chute,

Than when the buds are on the cholla,

An’ the grass is in the boot.

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