Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Don't Tell Me Cows Can't Fly

I was working for one of the local outfits about 15 miles or so from Tombstone, Arizona, and during roundup another one of the local ranches brought a few of their hands over to help which is something neighboring outfits will do giving each other a hand when needed. After we finished and loaded up the cattle in the large cattle trucks you see traveling the highways heading to the feed lots, we all hung out a while and had a few beers and talked about the day and other Bull crap.

Sometimes, more than not, the story’s led into wild bull crap stories seeing who could come up with the best story topping all others. Of course, we all knew it was nothing more than bull crap but the fun was trying to top the other guys' wild stories, then we’d all have a good laugh.

Two days later it was time for the other outfit to work their roundup so at daybreak on that morning we were there preparing to head out and milling around shaking hands, visiting, and waiting for the owner to give us his plan on rounding up his herd. These were red Brangus cattle which are a mix of Brahman and Angus breeds.

These cows were pretty onery and the minute they would spot you on horseback they would take off in the opposite and different directions and would hide out in the brush, ravines, or just run from you. Yes, these cows were onery as heck but still not as flat-out mean like the longhorns I had worked.

While working the pens on foot some of these cows would try to freight train you, meaning they would try to run you over and anyone who has ever been freight-trained knows the pain and or possible injuries which can occur.

As we rode out and reached the top of a small knoll the majority of the herd was down in the lower part of the pasture, when they spotted us they took off like a shot so we divided up heading in their different directions. I had rode out and around their last spotted position to the back end of the pasture which was probably 240 acres or so and came up behind them. I caught up about 15 head and was slowly pushing them back down into the lower pasture. This is where the title of this article relates.

As I was moving them down a fairly steep hill towards a somewhat deep wash one old cow who was very good at hiding out, reached the bottom and jumped clear across that wash and landed into a small mesquite tree and then sulled up being completely still as though I couldn’t see her. Funny though, all I could see of her was her rump and tail. I couldn’t help but laugh at that and still do to this day now and again.

In order not to lose the others I just left her there and kept pushing the others and would go back later the next day and gather up the ones we missed hiding out, these cows were professionals at hiding.

Once we had all met up in the lower pasture we began pushing them up to the pens and locking them down I told the story of that old cow and we all had a laugh about flying cows. The next day we all headed out and picked up the rest of the strays pushing them into the pens with the rest.

We finished the roundup the following day and headed to town partying and just having a good time which pretty much cleared out the bar, so we mostly had it to ourselves. I guess the locals were afraid of what could take place and didn’t want to get involved. So the next time someone uses the old expression, "When cows fly," I’ve seen it happen.

Story By Terry McGahey
Associate Writer/ Old West Historian 

Terry is a working cowboy, writer, and historian best known for the fight that he waged against the City of Tombstone and their historic City Ordinance Number 9. He was instrumental in getting the famous Tombstone City Ordinance Number 9 repealed while at the same time forcing the City of Tombstone to fall in line and comply with the laws of the State of Arizona.

If you care to read how he fought Tombstone's City Hall and won, check out:

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