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This is the second in a three-part series Sweet Talkin’s Over Part 1 is the first article and Sweet Talkin’s Over Part 3 is the third.


Looking for my run away cow, where did she go? I left the house expecting to run into the black motley-faced cow not too far from where I last saw her. I hadn’t chased her or caused her to be alarmed in any way. All I did was unload my horse and get on him.

I figured she would still be in her home stomping grounds. I rode all day with the dogs right beside me seeing no cattle of any kind. Two more days of riding bigger circles and still no cattle. I decided to go farther east into the rim country the next day. I could have made a bigger circle in the pick-up but that just didn’t seem necessary.

I was enjoying checking out some new country and it seemed a lot more efficient in case I found her as I would already be mounted and hopefully would spot her before she spotted me. That way I could let the dogs go to her and work on her little bunch before I made my move.

I rode the rim country for a week and still no black-motley faced cow or her bunch. I did find some cattle and managed to get them gathered and shipped. Things were working out pretty good except no sign of Mrs. Motley and her tribe. I knew there was still lots of country on top of the rim but I couldn’t imagine her leaving this part of the ranch with what I thought so small a provocation.

I continued to clean out all the lower land but the rim country was a third of the ranch. The dogs got stronger and things were working out well. I was able to keep a nice set of cows in this portion of the ranch and they were content to stay. They always honored me and my dogs and were a good set of cows all with calves and good masculine bulls with them.

After working all the lower and rim country, I still had never seen the black motley-faced cow again, nor any of the cattle I had seen with her. I hadn’t forgotten her or given up because two-thirds of the ranch was on top of the rim. I had made a few trips in the pick-up and knew there were lots of cattle on top.

Some acted more reasonable than others from what little I could tell in the pick-up but I knew that would all change when I got horseback. Very little of the country could be seen from the road, so all my sight seeing was just a waste of time. I was anxious to move up on top.

As soon as I was sure that all was clean and in good shape on the lower country, I packed up and moved my outfit to the higher country. It was like a vacation to be on top. Three thousand feet higher made the temperature drop 10 degrees. The rainfall doubled and the grama grass was the best in Texas.

I was futher from civilization but it was plenty cozy for me. There was a good camp with a trap for horses and plenty of fire wood. Water was a precious item but it was running in the camp house so I didn’t need to haul any. I could always bathe in the stock tanks when the weather suited me. I had all the necessities of life so I was off to hunt cows in paradise.

There were two good sets of pens on the fifty thousand acres and a good road to one of them with no easy way out. It was rough country and not a good place to break in a new truck. All of that country was hard on machinery and no one ever got a woman to stay up there for long.

The weather was beautiful when it wanted to be but when it was harsh, it turned ugly. Wind and cold were the hardest of the elements to withstand. This was the place where they invented wind-chill charts.

Working the cattle was much the same as the ones below the rim. They all had very strong instincts to run, no respect for any fence and would scatter as soon as the pressure was applied. Not easy to handle with any crew or dog pack. Their escape in the past had been to keep running and scatter as soon as possible. They’d run to and through the nearest fence.

Consequently many ended up on the neighbor’s country and would stay until the neighbors gathered them or put on enough pressure to drive them home. Needless to say it was a little tricky keeping up with them. The neighbors were understanding and pleasant to do business with.

I always tried new approaches and never felt like I was cheating when I used the feed sack to call them into a portable corral and then loaded them into a trailer and hauled to the next place for shipping and working. The wind and cold always helped me dream up ways to use the pick-up and feed sack.

I worked the rim country in sections and tried to get one part clean before I moved to another section. Unfortunately, this wasn’t working since the cattle were using the whole piece of the ranch that was on top and all the surrounding neighbor’s land as well.

All the neighbors were glad to see me come as I was able to get our cattle off their land which saved them the time to go do it themselves. One neighbor was an absentee owner who only hunted the property and ran no cattle. He maintained no permanent waters but had a bundle of grass and my cattle loved to go visit for as long as they could get by with having little or no water.

I was amazed how much of this man’s country they utilized with no water on it other than what the rain provided which was little because the rain water ran off immediately. I would check out the hunter’s property when nothing else was happening. It was always vacant except during hunting season.

I saw some mighty big bucks on the property and figured it was because nobody ever went up there except during hunting season. It sure was a cow haven but five miles to water; five rough miles of rock and hills.

I had a trap right in the middle of the high country and had managed to pen a nice set of cows with calves and a couple of the native bulls in the trap. I had shipped several loads of non-productive livestock but never had I seen the black motley-faced cow or any of her offspring.

I hadn’t covered every nook and cranny of the country on top but I was comfortable getting around and was beginning to feel like I had knocked a pretty good sized dent in the project. It was taking me longer to find cattle on our country and I was sure there were still quite a few more on the neighbor’s.

I was driving around in the pick-up one day on the south end of the ranch which was the highest, roughest, brushiest and the farthest from camp. I had given the dogs a day off and was out checking waterings. The dogs were content to ride in the back as they weren’t even close to being fresh and ready to go to work.

I was enjoying the fall breeze, bumping around looking at some of the prettiest country on earth always watching for cow sign. As I turned a corner coming out of the canyon where Brushy Tank was, guess what was walking down the middle of the road leading thirteen big fat bovine. Yep !! Mrs. Madam Motley !!

She looked just like the last time I had seen her, just a year older. She wasn’t nervous or the least bit scared just fat, full and headed to Brushy Tank for a drink. I was lost for a plan with nothing to do but feed her some cake. The dogs were way too tired to be effective. We were miles from a set of pens and all I could do was feed her in hopes that it would influence her later on if the opportunity arose to entice her into a corral with a feed sack.

I got out watching her every reaction, got a feed sack and started talking to her. She was all eyes and coming to the feed, leading her troops. I was on the look out for any bull who was confused about this routine, but all fell into place and none took offense. Only four of the oldest cows began to eat right away.

The others didn’t know how to eat cake off the ground. I got back into the truck and watched them as they milled around eating the feed. Four cows of the fourteen were branded or marked. The other ten were slick ears. All were nice looking cattle, different ages and sex and looked to be offspring of the four older cows.

I thought it was the same bunch that left me the first day I worked the bunch with the hooking bull. I know it was the motley-faced cow but I couldn’t remember them all from that day nearly a year ago and fifteen miles from where I now found them; some rough mountain country several thousand feet higher. I couldn’t believe it. I had no plan and she knew it, happily munching away.

Did I ever catch her? Stay tuned…

Mike Capron is a featured columnist for High Minded Horseman. He’s a veteran rancher, award winning western artist and professional cowboy. You can usually find him horseback somewhere out in the Chihuahua Desert of West Texas; working his livestock, painting and living a life we all dream of.

Comments for Sweet Talkin's Over Part 2

  1. John Daniels on May 25, 2011 Mike you only chased after “Mrs. Motley” for about a year and she already had you bathing. Isn’t that just like a female?
  2. Patsy Day on May 25, 2011 Hello Mike, Sure like the story, you and Curtis , tell it like it i s. Great to know you both. Give Anne our love also.
    Charles and Patsy Day
  3. Frank Lindley on May 25, 2011 Keep up the good work!