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The Shepherd

During the elk capture, the ranch hand from the Dude Ranch down the road offered his meadow for us to watch from.  He’s a real character with some funny stories.  I asked if those were his cattle grazing on forest service land in the summer way down towards the end of the valley.  He told me they were.

“The hunters come with their weed-free high quality expensive hay for their horses.  They leave it out in the backcountry and our cattle eat it.  Then they get angry, so I just give them some of our hay, grown here.  Not such good quality you know.  Its a good deal for me.  Then the Ranger comes and says ‘Hey, is that certified?”  And when they say it is, the ranger says ” Where’s your tags?'”  I laughed just thinking about that.

My valley runs from the main highway about 35 miles west and butts up against Yellowstone which is just over the Absaroka Mountains.  Problem grizzlies get dropped off there in the summer.  I’d seen his cattle way far back.  I asked if he’d had much cattle predation.

“Don’t have any.  Never have lost one cow.  The Fish & Game guys always ask ‘What are you doing? How come you have no losses?’ and I tell them “I don’t know why.  I don’t do anything.  Maybe it’s because the cattle are in the trees back there.”

Last summer several calves were killed on the other ranch towards the head of the Valley.  That rancher keeps his cattle mostly enclosed in one area, which is where they were predated on.  I suggested maybe it was a lot easier when you knew exactly where the cattle would be every day, like going to the refrigerator.

C___, the ranch hand, has 17 cows about to give birth and has been coming out every 2 hours in the night to keep the wolves away.  He’s shepherding them.  We asked if we could help birth the calves.  He said its easy.  He’d call us to help.  I hope he does as it sounds fun.

Ranch where cattle were predated upon

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