Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
Having only seen Hideout Guest Ranch in the winter, it was a very pleasant surprise to pull into the ranch drive and see that much of the ground was now covered in bright yellow flowers. It is a place where I can’t wait to get horseback or to pull out my camera. To satisfy both desires, I carry a camera with me always. Clouds gathered in a holding pattern above the Chiracahuas after sunrise and I was out with my camera before breakfast looking for new ways to capture the surprise blanket of cheerful flowers and the rugged mountains. If you ever see a photographer lying on the ground wearing a cowboy hat and a smile, do say hello. It’s probably me.
My second day there, I helped with the gathering of their cattle so they could be given vaccinations, an ear tag, and for a few, a brand. The Hideout has a really sharp looking brand. I should have photographed one, but at that time I was working and it’s no time to play photographer. We got the 50 mostly Angus cows into the big corral without much trouble. In fact, that part went so well with all the riders we had, that you could easily carry on a conversation with those around you. We all got acquainted a little better as we kept the cows moving and even got the bulls to almost keep up. You can’t hurry a bull, and patience goes a long way in handling them. You will note that the flowers were also present in the cow pasture, and since the drive was going so well I did pull up now and then to take a few photos.
Moving the animals into the smaller alley and up into the catch chute was a continuing problem. We yelled at the cows, at the horses, and at each other as we needed a generator to make the electric branding iron work and it made a lot of noise. These animals had not been worked much and had no fear of us or any understanding what we wanted them to do. I’ve never seen cows push through horses like they did rather than move into the alley. We tried different things and each new idea allowed us to rest the cows a bit as we re-organized.
The whole thing was a good reminder of how clever ranchers are and how much of what they know was passed down to them from their fathers, uncles and grandfathers. There is a lot to know in handling cows so that everyone is safe and the cows do what you want them to do. What you see in movies does not begin to show you what a good stock person knows. I have no doubt Craig is already working on some ideas to make things go better next time. I have a few ideas of my own. I have a rancher I used to work for to thank for those ideas and I’m eager to see if we can make them work at Hideout.
And hey, no one got hurt; we learned some things, and we got some real cowboy work done in awful pretty country. Despite the frustration and the yelling, I think our friendships grew stronger and I’m betting we’ll all remember the day we moved some cows when the flowers whose name we won’t remember were something special on a day we will never forget.