A Cowboy’s Faith Grasslands Lasts Despite Transformation – Osage County Online

“The way cattle are transported has certainly changed dramatically in the last century.”

The cattle cars traveling on the railroad reached cowboy towns in Kansas before daylight, as Flint Hills cowboys were riding on horseback ready for work.

Big, thin, tall Texas mixed-colored calves roamed from train cars to cattle barns.

Real cowboys working on real cow horses quietly moved the little rebel, often with long horns outside the gate.

It was 30 miles, sometimes longer, of cattle across a vast road only green Flint Hills had turned into their summer home.

No cowboys who got lost on their way or returned in the wide open prairies without direction signs have ever been recorded.

Oh, how time breaks. Today, half loads of cattle, some from Texas but from many other places beyond, arrive on large pastures.

There is a portable chute for easy unloading of livestock after a long ride. Often only one cowboy, sometimes even without a horse, counts the shepherds in the summer from the long double-decker truck.

Nowadays, you may graze younger, stronger, and lighter cattle for a few months. A lot of pastures will come out in July instead of October as they used to be.

Fortunately, the most important ingredient that remains unchanged is the potency of the native herbs in Flint Hills. During May, June and early July, nothing makes cattle more efficient at putting on weight than the thin, protein-rich prairie.

On the home front, there are no cows for summer grazing but pairs of cow, calf and alternate calves. While eight of the pastures are located within a few miles of each other, most of those cows are female and children riding on horseback.

However, even then, many livestock, especially those with young newborn babies, are transported in stock trailers pulled by pickup trucks.

Additional pastures are too far away. Therefore, the livestock that will be grazing there are pulled until falling into the trailers. Sometimes, large semi-trucks were hired for long-distance transportation.

Since bulls can be wicked and move with the cows, it is always advisable to be with their girlfriends in the summer.

One of the farm’s rules, unlike many modern day pasture managers, is: “No mechanical carts.” Horses are meant to be used for livestock work.

Remembering from Joshua 21:2: “God commanded our cattle to enter the pastures.”


Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong farmer from Alta Vista, lifelong newspaper columnist, joint national agricultural writer and marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share his cowboy faith.


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