Whenever we are working livestock, and we are working hard, we are doing something very wrong — or somebody is. It’s usually somebody else.

— Bud Williams

Another Benefit of Using Good Stockmanship

As mentioned in our previous blog post, a wildfire swept to the east of our property and the flankfire moved into our farm. Richard and I were in town, but rushed home as soon as a neighbor called telling us of the fire. When we arrived, the fire was just at the edge of our property, so Richard headed out to gather our cows and calves and bring them to the barn lot, which is about the farthest from the fire. We knew that, from there, we could open a gate and drive them into our neighbor’s property. He had just disked a pasture, so we figured, if necessary, his and our cattle would be safe there.

The gather went great, and Richard brought the cattle through four gates and through the yard and past about 5 neighbors and their vehicles, 2 of whom were watering down our yard around the house while I was carrying valuables into the car in case we needed to make a fast getaway. He put them into the barn lot, which is about 1/3 of an acre. Through the course of the afternoon, people came and went, drove through the barn lot in a wide variety of types of vehicles (as this was the way to get to the fire from our lane), and some people just stood by the barn lot and visited. All the while, the cattle just quietly stood, happy to be where Richard put them.

We knew all this and didn’t really feel it was remarkable enough for a blog post. However, today Richard learned something else. He visited with one of our neighbors who worked the fireline (we can’t even begin to thank all our friends and neighbors who helped out!). She said that, when she left the fireline and drove back out through the barn lot to leave (because the fire was pretty well contained), she found that someone had left one of the gates open, and the cattle were still happily standing in the barn lot! And, no, they weren’t there because there was any feed, because there wasn’t hardly any feed at all, though there was water. There was a little grass in the yard, but they didn’t step a foot out of the barn lot to get to it.

They stayed in the barn lot with all sorts of strange people and vehicles driving in and out because they knew that, where Richard or I put them is where they should stay.

How can you put a value on being able to drive your cattle away from a fire quickly and easily and them staying where you put them?

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