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You can always tell which cows ‘pert near’ had twins

You can always tell which cows ‘pert near’ had twins

Several generations of the Brown family ranched up on the “Big Plateau,” which now bears their family name. It was 1927 when the Canadian immigrants left Dickinson, N.D., to ranch in the remote badlands on the Golden Valley/Billings County line north of Sentinel Butte, N.D., which would continue for three-fourths of a century.

It was then purchased by a father/son combination that had a large farming operation in central North Dakota up around the Garrison Dam area. They also ran some very top quality Red Angus cattle and needed some pasture room to get them out of boggy calving pens in the spring and better summer pasture.

I was one of the first neighbors to befriend them, so I got suckered into taking care of their cow herd and the ranch on a calf share agreement, as if I wasn’t busy enough already.

We always weaned and sold calves in mid-October and chute worked the cows for health, PG’d and culled to be ready for an early winter. Dave and Krist were always swamped with their grain harvest and goose hunt guiding service in so that it was always pushing Turkey Day before the cattle were worked.

That late in the season it’s pretty easy to gather cattle, especially if the weather has gone south. You don’t need a half dozen riders to put on an “old west” production. A couple days prior I took my old feeding pickup out on a high, long, narrow ridge overlooking a great portion of the three mile square, nine-section pasture (5760 acres) in the deep canyon country of lower Roosevelt Creek.

I sat for about 15 minutes blowing the pickup horn, on the times it’d make contact, and popping that very loud trip hopper flap gate that measures the right amount of cake per cow on daily winter feeding runs. Those old bossies knew that sound well. Cattle from as far as two miles away came on the run over ridges and through canyons and side washes like kids grabbing candy at the Fourth of July parade.

Without running them more than possible, I just had to stay ahead of the swarming pack all the way back into the smaller holding pastures for a quick roundup on the working day. I’d secure a date with our local vet and they’d bring a crew out with them.

One year it turned nasty with a cold strong wind, freezing rain, sleet and snow. Most times the fall cattle working season is a great social event of visiting, joking and pulling pranks as you work, but this one didn’t qualify. Not a word was being said as each one did their assigned duties in a hurried manner, trying to keep warm.

Krumweidie (I think that was his name, we just called him “Krum”) was running the head catch, Dave was doing the pour-on, and a few other “unorganized” things off Doc’s pickup end gate, and I was giving shots on the other side of the alley, while Doc Hall was working each catch up at the “skilled labor” end. Krist and the other “low pay scale” bunch were filling the crowding pen and keeping the chute full.

As the seriousness set in even deeper, I broke the silence saying, “Dave, this next cow pert near had twins,” but my statement echoed in silence. Then about two cows later it hit him as he blurted out with laughter.

“How does a cow pert near have twins?”

My response was simple.

I told him her ear tag number was 293 and the cow that had twins was 294.

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