Not something you see every day… A CATTLE DRIVE DOWN OUR LOCAL HIGHWAY!






Hwy 49.

You can look it up.  It is a regular highway that is used by many cars daily.  Granted, some parts of it are a bit remote, but you wouldn’t ever expect to see cattle, lots of cattle, using it.

But, that is what happened yesterday.

We saw a handmade 'cattle ahead' sign tied to the front bumper of a truck and trailer parked on the side of the highway. Huh?

We saw a handmade ‘cattle ahead’ sign tied to the front bumper of a truck and trailer parked on the side of the highway. Huh?

WHA?

Hubby and I had decided to go kayaking (me) and paddle boarding (him) on a lake nearby.  So, we put the equipment in the back of my truck and headed out of town on Hwy 49.

Now, Hwy 49 is the main highway through Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City… it is not a cattle range land.  It doesn’t have periodic cattle guards.  It is a regular, winding through the Sierra foothills, highway.

So, when we saw a truck and horse trailer on the side of the road with a huge handmade sign that read, ‘CATTLE AHEAD’, we really didn’t know what to think.

We slowed down and had a brief conversation.  “Gee, do you think some cattle got loose and are accidentally on the highway and ranchers are crazy trying to catch them?”.

Dunno…

So, we creeped along the highway, expecting to see cows darting across the lanes with frenzied cowboys running after them… but we didn’t.

Finally, after a few minutes, we felt more comfortable, as if maybe the crisis had been averted and the cows were home and people just hadn’t gotten to driving the truck/trailer and sign away.

After I saw the initial few cows and cowboys, I scrambled to get my camera. This is the first photo I took.

After I saw the initial few cows and cowboys, I scrambled to find my camera. This is the first photo I took. What were these cows doing on the HIGHWAY?!

AND THEN WE SAW THEM… SO MANY OF THEM… SAUNTERING UP THE HIGHWAY.

And then we saw a few cows… with cowboys on horses, sauntering up the highway.  The few cows had bells around their necks and looked to be in very good shape.

No one seemed upset or in a hurry.

One car in front of us had pulled over.  We stopped.  All the cars behind us stopped.

And then I realized… there were more.

After the cowboys and first few cows had passed (bells clonging along), there were more.  And more.  AND MORE.

A whole herd.  They just kept coming and coming and coming.  Slowly but surely and very calmly, as if they had all done this before.

The cars approaching in the other direction were not as patient as our side.  They kept driving and pushing through this massive herd.

Hubby got very upset at this and rolled down his window to chastise the people who ‘just had to go’ on this lovely Sunday morning.  For some reason, that side of traffic refused to stop.  They  pushed through the cows.  I was very upset.  I had wanted one of the cows to lean on a car that was driving her from behind – faster than she wanted to go… but these cows were more polite and I.

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I couldn’t believe it! The cows kept coming and coming!

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There were so many!! The cars in the other direction had no patience and kept pushing the cows and driving through them.

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Hubby was very angry with the guy in the blue car who kept driving very fast through the cows. Why was he in such a rush on a Sunday during a holiday weekend?

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With the line of cars gone, our side just sat there and watched the huge migration. They just kept coming!

MIGHT AS WELL ENJOY IT!

Since Hubby had his window rolled down, he started petting the cows as they went by.  They didn’t seem to mind at all…

Blingo Dangly Ding dong dingy ding blangy blang clongy cong…

The cows, all with bells, continued up the highway.

There must have been 200 of them.  Mostly big.  But, there were a few not yet weaned babies who were a bit more upset with this process.  But, all the cows were calm.

A few strays went around the white car in front of us...

A few strays went around the white car in front of us…

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This biker was very brave – riding through these cows that could have easily stampeded with him making all of that noise and darting in and out of them. Not too bright. But, the cows were very docile.

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Hubby started to pet the cows as they went by. Why not?! They were rubbing against the truck as they passed.

So close.

So close.

FINALLY, THE END CAME… FAMILY CATTLE DRIVE

When the last cows passed, we noted several very happy, jolly cowboys of all ages.  It definitely felt like an Annual Family Cattle Drive.  Moms, Dads, Grams, Uncles, Friends and kids – all on horseback.

So odd.

I wondered if this was legal or a good idea or… huh?

We noted two little kids (in helmets) riding in front of their parents on fairly spirited horses.  Very brave parents.  Start ’em young.

I dunno.  The cowboy part of this was very interesting.  I really got the impression that they did this often enough to have a system down.

The other part that I found interesting was that none of the horses were Quarter horses.  They all seemed like Arabs and Arab crosses with a few Appys and maybe an Appendix.

…Hot horses for a cattle drive but I guess every horse can benefit from doing every thing.

In the dust, we noticed the cowboy shapes taking form. This was the end of the line.

In the dust, we noticed the cowboy shapes taking form. This was the end of the line.

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I noticed that all of the horses were excited and holding their heads way up – as I looked more closely, they weren’t Quarter horses at all. They were mostly Arabs!

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This was a family thing… note the baby in front of her Dad. She was wearing a helmet. There were probably 11 cowboys at the end and probably 6 at the beginning of the drive – on Highway 49!.

ON THE WAY BACK.

On the way back from our trip to the lake, we noted all of the same cows in a large field off of the highway.  So, we figured that driving the cattle up the highway was the easiest way for the cows to get to where they needed to go.  Perhaps the family owned distant pastures from each other.

All of the horses used to drive the horses were in the same pasture, as well as a few draft horses.

All very interesting indeed!

This was the last photo I took... I was busy looking at these people and their horses. It definitely seemed like an annual or bi annual cattle drive. Could this be? Do they use the highway like this often? Everyone looked to be having a very relaxed and good time... Wow!

This was the last photo I took… I was busy looking at these people and their horses. It definitely seemed like an annual or bi annual cattle drive. Could this be? Do they use the highway like this often? Everyone looked to be having a very relaxed and good time… Wow!



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5 comments have been posted...

  1. Cristina

    I frequent a little town up that way called Camptonville. if you’re up that way stop by Burgee Dave’s at the Mayo, the only bar/restaurant in town! Anyway, it’s an annual thing with the cattle drive, and I missed it again! Darnit! why the cars coming down the mountain didn’t stop, is because they’re used to it. it’s ok to drive slowly through the herd, I heard! Lol! thanks for the cool story and pics!

  2. katelynn

    I have always found it entertaining how people react to cows on the road! I live in a remote part of Idaho where we have to move our herd several times during the year. Turning out to range, new pastures, or bringing them all back home. Its much much easier to move them this way verses dozens of trailer trips. For the most part the cows just move right along fairly lazy, if the old girls know where they are going it makes it that much easier. Occasionally you get a few heifers who decide to be a pain- they provide some entertainment on a usually dull activity! Horses, four wheelers, dogs, kids, grandparents- you name it: everyone gets in on the action! i really never mind when cars keep driving, as long as they are going slow and mindful of horses and dogs. We may move several hundred at a time and that can take some time! I would have been one of those impatient drivers, but then its really not a unique sight for me! Glad to hear it gave you a little glimpse into a ranchers life! :)

  3. Robynne Catheron

    Wow, Dawn! I am so glad you caught this on camera, and even more glad you shared it with us! What a treat that must have been! I LOVE that your husband is of the same mindset as you; mine would probably have been muttering expletives under his breath as I gleefully leaned over and around him to get the best pictures. I’ve always wanted to go on a cattle drive. I can understand the joy on those riders’ faces, even on asphalt that would have been a hoot!

  4. Laurie

    Wow Dawn that must have been a sight to see!!
    Thanks for sharing……in seeing this video and watching the cattle remain so calm…..their faces told me this was just another Sunday drive for them.
    Maybe we should reflect some of that calmness in our lives ……I know I need it!
    Thank you Dawn your blog hits my heart every time and teaches me.
    GOD bless you and all the horses and donkeys

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