Friday, May 14, 2010

Open Range

Our road crosses through BLM land, and its just about this time of year when the native grasses are coming in, that they lease this area to free- range cattle. This herd had just been released within the hour from a huge hauler parked on the south side of the road. In case you're not familiar with the agency, Bureau of Land Management owns over half of Nevada. If it's not privately owned, it belongs to BLM, and we don't always like each other.

BLM is a federal agency that owns the grazing rights to its lands. Ranchers and cowboys, or buckaroos as they're called here, can rent the grass for their cattle during the growing season.
The cattle are milling around, content to chew their way north, but traffic will pick up after 5:00 and these guys need to be away from the road. Every year, one or two are hit and killed by tired drivers going too fast.

This one cowboy and his three working dogs are going to drive the herd north, up into the Sand Hills range, which is also an antelope and mule deer refuge.

I wish you could hear him giving his dogs instruc-
tions with the oddest of wordless melodic calls. The dogs get it and have moved all the cattle to the north side of the road. Cattle aren’t romantic, even though I can’t help but get swept away when I see a buckaroo and his dogs in action. They are nothing short of magnificent, and then for the moment I forget how destructive herds of cattle are to the native habitat
Just that quick, he has organized the drive. You can see them moving in a stream over the rise and into the next valley. Our drive is home with the groceries. Lucky us for good timing.


Benita said...

Get along little doggies!

Nevada is an...err... interesting state. So does the ranchers rent the open range to pasture the cattle or does the cattle belong to the state, too?

Evelyn said...

I have tried to comment a couple of times and they aren't going through. Maybe getting lost in the spam folder? Beautiful photos.

Sharon said...

I've changed the original text to answer Benita's questions. I guess what seems normal to us, isn't obvious elsewhere.

marion said...

What a world you live in. Here every cow is 'in its place' so to say. We are a tiny country and o so well organised. I don't know wether to like it or not when I read your story.

beadlizard said...

Herding cattle who've just been let out on grass can be a lesson in frustration! "Moove? No!" A good trio of dogs is worth the earth. I've ridden a few gems of horses who could move ANYTHING, too, real "Don't mess with me" artists where I felt as if I was just there for show.

Don't get me started on what grazing has done to the woods up by my place in Montana. Can you say Spotted Knapweed?

bspinner said...

Lovely photos!! I agree with Benita Nevada sure is an interesting state and so different from every where I've lived.

charlotte said...

What an interesting post! I didn't know cowboys still existed. Are there any predator animals attacking the cattle by night?

Leigh said...

Great photos. The "real" west is still alive and well!

Robin said...

Cattle was herded out west and ducks were herded this weekend in my parts! A fellow comes to the local fiber fests and brings his duck herding Border Collies. Fun to watch!