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June 24, 2019: Encampment Cows

It was quite the day, even though we didn’t ride, and instead focused on getting from point A to Point B and doing administrativa. There is just no escaping the latter, even on trips, mundane matters must take precedence. It’s just differing kinds of mundane matters. Here and there, getting water, hay, food – all are important.

I woke up to the sound of cows bellowing. I looked at my watch. It was 6 a.m. Pete pretended to be asleep and Ryder was sitting up, on the alert. It was like surround sound. I unzipped the tent fly, and checked out the horses. Ears up, wide eyed, they were all on alert. I dressed and climbed out of the tent.

Riding into Encampment Campground
Riding into Encampment Campground

The scene before me was surreal. There were 30 or so cows and calves on all sides of our camping area. They were on the nearby hill, on the road, standing in the sage.

I called to Ryder who leapt out of the tent, grabbed her by the collar, and fastened her leash to her collar. I would have liked to have left her off leash, but she isn’t trained to commands. So instead, we went to up road and systematically moved the cows forward. The others joined them as we headed in the direction of the BLM gate. I felt like Jesus, heading to the temple. And like him, I chanted – my refrain was “move along little doggies, move along, move along little doggies.”

Together, Ryder and I clustered the cows together, and herded them in the direction of the gate, which I had latched yesterday; after, we re-entered the camping area. I had to wade through the crowd, which was a bit disconcerting – but, well, I didn’t see any bulls so I figured I was okay. I hit one cow with a closed fist because I feared she was going to knock me over. She leapt to the side as did a handful of others. Ryder (as she often does) then looked at me, a worried expression on her face. I told her this was cow punching.

I opened the gate and Ryder and I stepped to the side. The cows streamed in and trotted in the direction of those on the hill, who were standing and patiently waiting.

I presumed my job was done and went to close the gate. I then heard it, a lowing sound down by the river. I looked to the source of the sound and saw a half-dozen more cows.

I was now in the throes of a dilemma. If I closed the gate, the river side cows would not be able to join their buddies. But if I left it open, the hillside cows would again spill into the camping area. I decided to close it, figuring that the cows that were AWOL would find their way back to the others. There was obviously a fence opening somewhere – this was how they got into the campground in the first place.

Ryder and I walked back to the campsite. “Cows,” I said to Pete. “Cows,” he replied. No more needed to be said. But more was said. A few hours later the campground host appeared in his vehicle. I flagged him down and told him about the cows by the river and the open gate. Hearing this, he just shrugged.

“Happens all the time,” he said. He then explained that in Wyoming, the land owners are the ones responsible for straying cattle. So if, say, cows appear on your property, you must return them to their proper place, that is the cattleman’s land or BLM land. I then remarked this sounded like reverse logic to me.

“It is what it is,” he said.

“And those cows, down by the river, who is going to put them back?”

“Dunno” he said, adding that he had to go and clean the bathrooms.

Next: 174. 6/26/19: Administrativa

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