Eery Fog Gather, amid poachers.
Well our day started out extremely early this morning and I had a few things that set me back before I even got going. I forgot to connect my trailer yesterday in the light, so had to hook up in the dark. Someone had switched my hitch to a different size ball so I had to find my other one and because it does not have a drop hitch on it I had to reconnect it find an extra board to put under the stand so I could raise it high enough to get on the ball after I got the correct ball size on my truck. Minor details that I usually attend to the day before while it is daylight and just forgot. I also noticed that while going back and forth with this episode that my power steering was rather tough so I had to fill it with power steering fluid while I was at it. I also, just because I was not thinking the day before, did not make sure my saddle and bridle was in the trailer had to get that put in. Fortunately I did remember late the night before that I needed to do these things so I set my alarm earlier. However, I did not think about fog and the pictures here do not even show how dense it was. These pictures all come from later in the morning after it had lifted and we could see things.
My drive out there took about 25 min longer than usual as I could only do 30mph in most places. I got out there and seemed to be the first through the gates that morning. I got into the ranch yard and the other cowboys are saddling up. I get out and good thing I have saddled many times before as I saddle up in complete dark. I never remember to buy a head lamp until I am there, like the others have and work so well to free up hands and you can see what your doing. We get saddled and realize that with the fog the others are going to be later than planned. We head out and with the fog and dark it is eery and you can barely see the horse and rider in front of you. It seems to take longer than normal to get to each expected landmark and we often guess wrong what is coming up. I even heard one other person tell someone they could see the fence just up ahead we were coming to, yet it still took us a bit to get to the fence.
Our actual gather went fairly good and uneventful, outside of one calf getting through the fence line but an open gate soon fixed that, and a pair of wild hogs that were generous enough to wait for us to pass, unlike the attack hog story they told of a few months ago. They did note that a utility service gate had a link cut in a manner that would let someone come and go as they pleased and there were fresh tire tracks going through. The tracks were fresh enough that you could tell they had passed that morning after the dew set. They suspect that some strangers a few days prior that came out with an excuse of looking for trees to cut were actually scouting for calves. Catching a couple of small calves could be profitable and not sure if this is not them returning. With the calves not being branded there would be no way to track them down. There was nothing to be done at this point as we were pushing up 100+ cows and calves and couldn't do anything except call the game warden. We get all the cows up into the the pens and separate them from the calves to brand. They are treating all the cows with tick repellent as they have lost a few that seem to be due to a recent tick infestation. This makes for a longer day and once the branding starts we get into a rythme and move through them in a rather timely fashion.
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