A Cowboy’s Faith: Flint Hills summer roundup – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Flint Hills summer roundup

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Be ready to go at 4:45 in the morning.”

That was the call from the pasture manager about gathering short-season yearlings for shipment to a feedlot.

Sure enough a half-dozen pickups and trailers were waiting at the pasture gate right on time. It was still pitch dark as two handfuls of cowboys and cowgirls unloaded horses and mounted up.

Across the highway dayworkers rode through three gates to another pasture with a catch pen.

Barely light enough to identify fellow riders, brief orders were given about the roundup. “Now spread out and go to the north, south and west. I’ll be in the timber to keep any strays out of there. We don’t want any trainwrecks.”

Sun peaking above the east horizon, cowboys and cowgirls single and in pairs searched for cattle. Small groups of predominately black heifers could be seen from every direction in the still-lush-green Flint Hills.

Unlike television roundups, riders moved quietly at a slow pace as cattle were gathered into a substantial herd. When all were accounted for, the calm heifers, which were used to horses, moved toward the corral.

Occasionally, one heifer would put her head down to graze as easy-cowboy prodding moved her forward with mates. Always a couple troublemakers, one took off from the herd at a trot only to be guided back by three cowboys. Another such attempt was halted in even shorter order.

Along the south and up the east fences the herd walked with riders behind on into the catch pen. Cattle owners were waiting as call was made for the first of six double-decker semi-tractor trailers to load out.

Three dozen or so lighter heifers, including a couple short-ears, another foot-rot, two watery-eyes, were sorted from the herd. They were likely going to the sale barn.

Truck drivers ordered certain numbers for each trailer compartment as dayworkers efficiently sorted out the correct amount.

Cow horse and rider abilities at work were an amazing sight to see, as not a heifer got back from where she was directed. Cutting horse contests are exciting fun but doing the true work when the need arises is really what it’s all about.

Wasn’t even mid-morning, still cool when the last loaded semi-tractor pulled onto Highway 4, headed to Nebraska.

Reminded of Isaiah 60:6: “Yes, a great roundup of the herd.”

Sorting yearling heifers from Flint Hills pastures; loading out to the feedlot.


Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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