Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When Kids Gather Cows

 This weekend, we moved a small group of steers and heifers from one pasture to another one that was 45 minutes away.  When time permits, we try to give our kids as many learning opportunities as possible, and since we had the time, we decided to let our son gather and load the steers into the trailer all by himself.

 There is definitely an art to gathering cattle and understanding their behavior.  The younger that my children get a firm grasp of this, and can predict a cow's actions by her body language, the more effective they will be while helping us work cattle.

Long before I ever sorted cattle on horseback, I was comfortable pushing, sorting, and moving cattle on foot.
(Although, being in the saddle on a cow savvy cutting horse can give a kid an education too!)

 Often times, I keep a child right next to me in the alleyway when I'm sorting out cows so that they can understand the subtle dance that's necessary to get cows to move where I want them, whether that be moving past me or turning back into the bunch. The kids are learning that moving in relation to the point of the cow's shoulder and her flight zone will enable them to get the cows where they need to be.

It sounds complicated, but it's not.  My kids are pretty natural at it because they've been around cattle their whole lives. The older they get, the more it becomes second nature to them.

My son was calm and quiet as he gathered the bunch.  With the encouragement of his dad, he loaded them up safely and efficiently.

He did a fine job of standing his ground, and the bunch loaded nicely.  He's becoming quite a hand!

The next step will be to teach him how to back the trailer up to the corrals.  But maybe we should wait a few years until he can reach the gas pedal a little better. :) In the blink of an eye the boy will be old enough to drive. SCARY thought!
His little sister watched him work from the fence. Her turn will come in a few years, but for now, she's still content to be carried through the corrals by her dad.

His other little sister helped hook up the goose-neck trailer.  She was Dad's lovely assistant last week while her brother was playing in a baseball tournament.

Training up our children takes lots of time and energy, but we are starting to see the fruits of our labor, and we're excited to watch them grow in their confidence and ability.

It's well worth the effort!


  1. I love watching children enjoying work alongside their parents!

  2. Great memories you are making....
    Love your blog!