Cattle Drive

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota.

Husband and I travelled to Newell, SD a couple of weeks ago to pick up some lambs we ordered from the Tri-county Meat Locker. It was a beautiful day for a drive, through some pretty isolated and rugged terrain, past the Slim Buttes, Custer National Forest, and Castle Rock, past Hoover, ( a former stage-coach stop that now is a ranch with a convenience store), with Bear Butte (sacred to the Lakota people) in the far distance near Sturgis.

We were about 20 miles into SD near a very small “town” named Reva, when we had to stop for about 15 minutes to allow the last of  about 200 head of Angus cattle cross the road to their winter pasture closer to their rancher’s home place. They appeared to be cows with almost full-grown calves. We arrived at the very end of the parade, and we could see the cattle that had already crossed the road winding their way far ahead.


The cattle were pretty placid and calm, mooing quietly, trudging resolutely, herded by two teenage girls and a much younger girl about eight years old, all on horseback. The little girl didn’t look too happy about it. There was a mom-type with two preschool-age girls bringing up the rear on an ATV.

As we continued on our way we noticed fresh cowpies on the highway for about 10 miles, and we could trace where the cattle had started out in a pasture just below the Slim Buttes. Husband and I were so happy we got to see this, which we found out was pretty common this time of year. It is a lot less expensive to drive them to winter pasture than to truck them. I thought about the teens and younger children involved in the drive and I hoped they understood just how fortunate they are to experience this.

The cattle were not visible from the road on our return trip later that afternoon. I like to think they were munching away on  good grass on the other side of the hills. I suppose they will travel back to their summer pasture in  the spring, this time accompanied by new calves.

It was a really good day.

What unexpected sight stopped your road trip?


44 thoughts on “Cattle Drive”

  1. the sight of a cattle drive makes me remember 1969 when on a similar occasion i declared myself s vegetarian for reasons of personal difficulty with the idea of taking those big moon eyes and making lunch out of them
    the news that meat is bad for you is music to my ears
    less organized carnage in the name of lunch is a good thing
    the other morning on fog blog day i recalled getting up one sleepy morning in yellowstone while my family slept and going for a sightseeing drive.about 6am as the sun came up. the fog was clearing and the roads through the park were full of slowly mesndering buffalo in the fog moving so slowly snd methodically in an 80% fog the dreamlike quality was memorable,
    its funny when i see buffalo or squirrels or dogs i never think death
    when i see cows pigs sheep chickens even wild turkeys i do. my deal i guess. people ask me to explain my aversion seeing as lettuce has feelings too. i decline.
    saw a sign in front of a church the other day …living by example is a language everyone can understand…
    i am afraid i dont get to pick and choose which ones count.
    Ireland had sheep all over the road when i visited and i loved it.
    kids doing chores should be required in all corners if the world. its lack of chores thsts screwing up the world im convinced

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    This summer on our way to Iowa to visit my mother, we encountered a big accident in the north part of Iowa on 35W S. Traffic was stopped miles back, prompting us to head off the main road at the first exit. It took us through Dows, Iowa, home of a favorite uncle who was a real character.

    In the middle of acres of cornfields, this little town is a dumpy, worn out little place with a couple bars, some dying churches and the requisite water tower and grain elevator perched over it all. The most interesting building was apparently a human dwelling, once a free standing garage or chicken house or store or little warehouse. Who knows what it was. It was long and narrow with a rusty metal roof, a garage door on the back end, and a colorful American flag painted over and around the front, including the door.

    The town prompted many wonderful memories of Uncle Burnell Hagen who made me laugh!. We expected a little town. I did not expect to encounter the fun memories of this man.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. A “Welcome to Iowa” sign. Was down in the southern part of the state, tooling around on the county roads and went south when we should have gone north to get to the road we wanted. Huge corn fields on either side of the road were our first clue that maybe these were not the sights we wanted to see. The welcome sign was the next. Found a wide spot and turned around.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. i camped out in that area on my way form california back to minneapolis . it was so nice that i thought id just stop ther and hit the rushmore scene the next day. i was disappointed in the tourisim but sure enjoyed the beauty of this area

          Liked by 1 person

  4. If I’m driving solo, I’ll stop to photograph a cool old barn or farmhouse. When I was driving down to central Iowa monthly, I’d stop just to watch pheasants, ducks, geese, sheep, turkeys, hawks… almost anything that moves, if I had the time. Not long after my dad died, there was a cloud that looked just like an angel, but I didn’t have my camera.

    On road trips I like to get photos of unusual road signs (a personal favorite is the Tractor Crossing one.) Grain elevators at sunset, wind turbines with a nice background, water hand-pump…
    Let’s see, what was the question?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. When we toured England, Scotland and Wales we saw sheep drives much like the cattle drive Renee describes. Sometimes a sizable flock of sheep was pushed through some little town, which makes for a memorable sight. Such moments are even more fun to witness if they include working sheep dogs nipping around behind the sheep to keep them trotting the right way.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. When traveling east on I-64 into Virginia, you’ll begin a decent from the Blue Ridge mountains into the valleys. Being a Civil War enthusiast, it is a view that always stirs my historical imagination. On one occasion, the view included a plume of black smoke going straight up. We decided to check it out and found a very hot fire consuming what we later learned was a pre-Civil War barn. The attending fire departments were unable to save the structure. It was quite a loss considering how few barns survived the war much less the decades of continuous use. We explored the area for a while, including old graveyards and a pub. I really enjoyed being sidetracked despite the circumstances.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. I have conducted one cattle drive. It was even less successful than most things I have attempted in life. I used to live with a farming/ranching family in extreme northern Montana. In fact, I was there every year at just this time of year, living in the basement of a ranch house. Once I saw that a cow with two calves had broken out of a corral. My host, Larry, was away. I decided to prove a city guy could do some useful cowboying, so I jumped on a four-wheeler and began harassing the cattle, pushing them back toward the corral. An hour later it became clear I could annoy them but not get them moving in the right direction. As a cowboy I was a total flop.

    Larry found this funny when he got home. The solution was easy, or easy for him. He turned all the cattle in the corral loose. They joined the jailbreak trio. Then he herded all 30-something of them back to the corral, and they obediently went where he pushed them to go.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We went down the Enchanted Highway as a side trip on our way west a few years ago. Ir was a high light of our trip. Those sculptures are a very good example of what some people might call Outsider Art.


  8. There is only one road from the heart of Maui, near the airport out to the Ka’anapali coast. It winds around the coast, taking your breath away with every corner you come around. Unfortunately since there is only one road, when there is an accident, it becomes everybody’s problem. About 15 years ago, I was on my way to the hotel when the traffic just stopped. An accident up ahead had closed the road while they waited for an emergency airlift (road is too narrow to try to get emergency vehicles through. Luckily it was the usual perfect beautiful day on Maui. People turned their radios up (I had a convertible), got out of their cars, chatted and pretty much partied. We were there for two hours!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Twice coming back from Rhame to visit our daughter we took the best roads working down on steps (only NS and EW roads) to Pierre. Now, that is a lot of desolate land. My b-i-l worked in SD schools. He knows how they struggle to have schools in that area that meet state mandates. Students are only supposed to have to ride a certain distance to school.

    Once Sandy and I, daughter and her husband walked around Slim Buttes. Seemed all a bit eerie, considering the carnage that took place in such a peculiar landscape. We are so glad we did that. We drove up into the buttes west of there. Space feels different in the buttes and in the big spreading basins ou ton the prairie.

    I said I had Reva tales. I think it is Meadow tales. Meadow is east of Reva.Somewhere in there is a bar/restaurant on a crossroads. I think by Meadow. Story 1: Sandy, Son, and I stopped there at around 1:30 or so. No customers. One 50ish woman working. We came in, she sized us up. She announced they were out of business, which obviously they were not. When we left, She locked the door behind us from the outside. She stood and watched us leave. Sotry 2: When we told my b-i-l that story he had a story to tell. My b-i-l used to ride BMW motorcycles. They had a “gang” out of Brookings. 7 of the 8 members had doctorate of various sorts. They were riding up to Medora through that country. It was raining. South of Meadow they broke into the sun. He rode ahead to Meadow while the others took off their rain gear at the side of the road. He walked into that bar and started taking off his now dry rain gear, clearly rain gear over leathers. He heard an ominous click. He turned around and a woman, we presume the same woman, was pointing a double barrel shotgun at him. She said he wasn’t going to rape her. My b-i-l looks about as far from a rapist as you can look, like a pudgy pussy cat. She ordered him out of the bar. He tried to explain. About then the other riders pulled in. She drove my b-i-l out the door and ordered them all to leave. She pointed the gun at them as they left.You would think she was used to riders coming through there, such as going to Sturgis.
    So, what are the odds that our family has stories about a ditchwater bar in the middle very rural SD.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I stop to watch birds. I also like back roads and little out-of-the-way stops (can you call them towns?). On a trip west a friend and I were almost out gas on a long stretch between towns in central Montana. The closest we could find on the map was Portman in the Little Rockies. We stopped for gas and stayed the night. One restaurant in town, excellent dinner but the breakfast was most memorable as we sat with the school bus driver and cook before they went off to pick up kids for school. Thought I might like to retire there….Zortman is a census-designated place and unincorporated community in Phillips County, Montana, United States. Its population was 69 as of the 2010 census.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. This post actually made me think of driving in West Texas- around Big Bend- and seeing tumble weeds blowing across the roads and desert landscape. It`s a place I have on my list to go back to. Look for the Marfa Lights (The Northern lights of Texas), take pics of trains in the landscape that is so flat you can see the entire length of the train—- and any other things that look interesting along the road.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Consider Guadaloupe National Park, a very overlooked park. Very striking. Not very car from Carlsbad. Now I have told you everything I know of west Texas.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Places I came upon without knowing I was there or that made me stop:
    Once stumbled upon the Robert Frost farm in Vermont
    Ben and Jerry’s headquarters
    Guadaloupe National Park
    Beaches of western LA
    The Casa Grande
    Many in North Central NM
    Many in Canada around Kenora and on Superior Circle tour
    Steinbock Canada, at which we shook the hand of the Canadian Prime Minister
    Mankato and Minneapolis KS (nothing there, but had to stop for the names)
    Blue Bunny Ice Cream
    Places mentioned in Tony Hillerman books, like Tuba City AZ
    Once found myself driving through a James Taylor song
    Fall colors in Alleghanies south central NY

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Several years ago we took a side road parallel to the Gunflint Trail in Northern Minnesota and were pleasantly surprised when we saw a wolf and a moose. The wolf was on the move so we weren’t able to stop to get a closer look at him before he disappeared. We were able to pull over and watch the moose who was moving around in a pond in water nearly level with his back.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t know how to create a link, but there is a story about Hoover,SD by a writer named Paul Vigna, where the author had a very different experience than the experiences Clyde mentions in Meadows. Just go to Hoover,SD-Anderbo and you will see it.


  14. Back when I was living in Wyoming, we went on a camping trip in Bridger National Forest. Bridger is an immense wilderness area, we camped there for a week and literally never saw another human.

    One day we drove our VW Beetle on a narrow road in the woods looking for adventure. The road got progressively narrower until it finally petered out in the middle of nowhere. While we sat there trying to figure out what to do next, a mountain lion casually s past the car – maybe twenty feet or so in front of us. What a thrill to see that big, wild cat in its natural habitat.

    On another camping trip in the Grand Tetons we went on a day hike in the mountains. We were a group of 8-10 people walking along single file because the trail was so narrow; I was in the lead. Just as we came around a sharp bend in the trail, I stood face to face with a mountain goat with two kids. They were just grazing, minding their own business, but I wasn’t about to push my luck. I knew she was much more surefooted and agile than I, and besides she had two offspring to protect. We waited patiently until it suited her to move on up the mountain with her kids in tow. I was sure glad she didn’t go on the offensive as there was only one way for me to go, and that was abruptly down a very steep slope.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. OT – Hope you don’t mind me giving you an update on our new pooch. No official name yet, he just doesn’t seem like a Ringo (the name he came with) or George (the name husband had decided on before ever laying eyes on him). We need to name him quick, though, because he doesn’t respond to anything. Doesn’t come when called is a biggie, and he’s actively searching for weak spots in the backyard fence so he can take off. He’s small enough that there are lots of opportunities there.

    He is, however, very sweet, gentle and curious. I’m thinking he’d make an excellent therapy dog. Will have to research what all is involved for making that happen. Very, very pleased that this little guy has joined our family.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Some places are more spectacular than others in terms of scenic beauty, but I’ve loved the wide open spaces since first I saw them. I recall being almost numb by the time I arrived in Cheyenne – after driving there from New York to via I-80. You have to really live in a place to begin to appreciate some of the more subtle features of the landscapes and the people who inhabit it. Once your heart connects with the unique beauty that is the spirit of a place, it’s hard to leave it.

      Liked by 2 people

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