Sorting Cows

There are two ways to sort cows. You can “gate” sort them. I usually run the gate and the cows either run by into the alley or go into the pen. Newt yells “BYE” or “IN” and I move the gate back and forth.

Sometimes the sorter (Newt in this case), gets a wild one and the command is “BYE the first calf, IN the red calf, BYE the last calf”. In which case, I jump in front of them and chase them back to Newt. I’ve learned this does not end well for the person on the gate.

Newt is pretty good about shouting out the command. Even when he is flustered he is better than Dad who used to yell “GATE! GATE!” Resulting in me standing with the gate wondering where the cow should go- in the pen or down the alley? And I usually guessed wrong.

The better way to sort is on horseback. You may think the only perk is you are on a horse (and how could life get any better), but you are also out of the dirt and have a better advantage overcoming a charging cow.

First, get the herd in the corner for easier containment.

Newt and Pally lope out ahead to turn the herd back.

Newt and Pally lope out ahead to turn the herd back.

Or in this case, turn the herd back so they go into the corner.

Now you have to find a pair (mother and her calf) that are easy to “peel” off the herd.

Newt scans the herd for the next pair.

Newt scans the herd for the next pair.

Once the pair is sorted, you take them out of the bunch and over the hill. Otherwise the other cows want to be with that cow, and you just defeated the whole purpose of sorting.

Pally and Newt have a pair sorted off.

Pally and Newt have a pair sorted off.

And then you have to start all over again.

Working the back of the herd, pushing them back into the corner for easier sorting.

Working the back of the herd, pushing them back into the corner for easier sorting.

Watch out for trouble makers like cow 336- they always make a run for it!

Cow 336- yes, you with the white spot on your head.  I'm watching you.  You ran out of the bunch twice already. And notice, she is watching me...

Cow 336- yes, you with the white spot on your head. I’m watching you. You ran out of the bunch twice already.
And notice, she is watching me…

I’m watching you, Cow 336. Always watching you…

Sometimes the dogs come to help chase cows (or here they are chasing in the roping steers).

Porkchop and Buster trail the steers.  Buster has a little more go than Porky.  Porkchop is more laid back.

Porkchop and Buster trail the steers. Buster has a little more go than Porky. Porkchop is more laid back.

Sometimes the dogs get a little TOO excited. Then Newt has to tell them to SIT DOWN! PORKCHOP SIT DOWN!

PORKCHOPSITDOWN!! Good boy!

PORKCHOPSITDOWN!!
Good boy!

But when I’m not there to help Newt, the dogs are better than a hired man. Heck- they’re probably better help than me!

Categories: Ranching in the Sandhills | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Sorting Cows

  1. Becky

    Cow dogs are so awesome. Thanks for the update

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