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.
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?”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!