Roundup: Gathering the Herd
Stewart, Leslie J.
Ninety Six Ranch
Trail Drive (1979)
- Roundup: Gathering the Herd
- Contributor Names
- Stewart, Leslie J. (Narrator)
- Smock, William (Interviewer)
- Fleischhauer, Carl (Interviewer)
- Created Published
- October 2-4, 1979
- Subject Headings
- - Ninety-Six Ranch
- - Bradshaw Camp
- - Activities
- - Landscapes
- - Cattle movement
- - Horses
- - Trail Drive (1979)
- - Motion Pictures
- - Ethnography
- Motion Pictures
- - 96 Ranch crew near Bradshaw Camp rounding up cattle to drive back to home ranch.
- - Roundup work consists of locating the cattle in the various grazing allotments and gathering them for the drive back to the home ranch. The Ninety-Six's Forest Service grazing allotment lies in the high catchment basin at the head of Martin Creek. In this mountainous terrain, rolling expanses of sagebrush are cut by creek beds lined with aspen or closely thatched willows. Sparse patches of mountain mahogany fringe the upper slopes. The cattle eat herbaceous plants that grow between shrubs and trees, including blue bunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, Junegrass, and wild clover. To an Easterner, the land may seem barren and the fodder nearly invisible. Although set in a different region and including some alternate features, Fay Ward's The Cowboy at Work offers a very helpful overview of the gathering process as well as the work of driving cattle (Ward 1858, 19-48).
- - Les feels that criticism of ranchers for overgrazing reflects a misunderstanding of the land and its arid climate. "It doesn't look like a lawn," he says, arguing that this is normal for the region. His Forest Service allotment is divided into five large fields, two of which lie fallow every year so the grass can mature and go to seed. Les says that this procedure improves the vigor of the plants more than it increases their quantity. He reckons that twelve to fifteen acres here will support a cow for a month. Vegetation is even more scarce in the Ninety-Six's BLM allotment, where each cow requires from fifteen to forty acres per month.
- - The Ninety-Six buckaroo camps are located near springs or streams and consist of a permanent cabin with a wood-burning cookstove and bunks, a fenced area to hold the cavvy, a place to store hay, and a corral where the day's mounts are caught and saddled. This footage shows the second gather in 1979, when the buckaroos ate and slept at Bradshaw Camp. A week before, the crew had been based at the Cold Springs Camp. The riders seen most often in this video are Henry Taylor and Fred Stewart.
- - Les says that, before the range was fenced a few years ago, cattle would sometimes begin to drift back into the valley before the grazing season ended. Even with fences, however, some animals escape through holes or open gates and occasionally turn up in other ranchers' herds on the west side of the mountains many miles away. The roundup never locates every animal and some cattle remain on the range even after a cleanup drive in early winter. But unless the weather is extremely severe, they will survive.
- - Buckaroos use a variety of techniques to move animals. To drive cattle from a thicket, they stand alongside making noise. Les permits occasional banging on a tin can or shaking a can full of stones, but he tries to discourage regular use of these devices. Whitefaced, part-Hereford cattle tend to be passive and unlikely to stampede, but they will run if startled and, as a consequence, lose valuable weight. On a hill, Les recommends that cowboys ride above the cattle, positioning themselves before being seen. As they ride down the hill, the cattle will move in the desired direction.
- - In the video's final shot, the cattle can be seen rounding a fence corner. The fence encloses the Bradshaw Camp; the cabin is hidden in a small patch of trees in the center. The herd's destination is a distant holding field, lying below the mountain ridge on the horizon.
- 16Mm Film
- Call Number
- AFC 1991/021: NV9-VT1, VT2, and VT3
- Source Collection
- Paradise Valley Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1991/021)
- American Folklife Center
- Digital Id
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Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada,1945-1982 ([call number]), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
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