And the cattle did come home this morning, but not in a way I had ever before witnessed.
Let me set the stage. Our new ranch (Hidden Falls) is less than a mile from our main ranch (Medicine Spirit). Our herd of cattle has been on Hidden Falls just three times but based on today’s performance clearly the cattle know their way home.
Today I opened the gate at the new ranch and witnessed the cattle RUNNING, yes RUNNING through it. I had to speed by them in the pickup even to catch up with them and act like I was leading them. Fortunately I had opened the gates at Medicine Spirit leading to my preferred pastures.
The question in my mind is why the cattle were so anxious to return. They had water and salt at the new ranch. The grass was running out but they were getting enough to eat there. While I had a bag of ranch cubes in the bed of the pickup, they have never before run to hasten a feeding. In fact you rarely will see a mature cow run at all unless a dog is chasing her. I am unaware of any predators such as coyotes or feral hogs on the new place.
My theory is this: I think the cattle were homesick! Yes, maybe I am anthropomorphizing a bit, but what else explains their unusual behavior. The cattle drive proved so easy that the Border collies never even got out of the pickup. My ranch hand, Francisco, followed along but did not have to push the cattle. His job was limited to closing the gates.
When last seen, the cattle grazed contently at Medicine Spirit Ranch and, dare I say it, seemed over their homesickness. Life is good on the ranch.