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Cowboying up North

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by Horsewright, May 20, 2018.

  1. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Its been a while since I've done one of my cowboying threads. Lots of leather work to be seen here, not only mine but others too. Here ya'll get to see stuff really being used in the work of making that steak that ya had last night and that roll of leather ya got sitting on the shelf ready to make your next sheath out of.

    Recently we took five days off and travelled up north to help a friend on a ranch he is running now. Mike is a well know bit and spur maker but is also now running this ranch. Its about a seven hour drive north from here in Tehachapi. So we loaded up the horses and our friends Stan and Janine and hit the road. Rolled into Mike's place (about 15 20 mins from the ranch) in time for dinner.

    The next two days we helped gathered some very steep and treacherous but absolutely gorgeous terrain. Having just taken over, Mike wasn't sure how many cattle are on the ranch, so we were trying to gather completely. We were not quite successful in that deal but we gave it heck making several circles driving the cattle to the "bull pasture" where they were held pending the branding.

    The third day we went up to the bull pasture to bring the cattle down to the corrals for the branding/processing. The bull pasture is about a 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the corrals and we had to take the cattle down a steep switch back road and then pop em off the side at the right spot and take em to the corrals. This in and of itself was quite an adventure and we got er done, only loosing a few head that turned back and we couldn't get too and fortunately we didn't need those ones anyhoo. Our pictures were all taken after we arrived at the corrals by our friend Janine. She is recovering from a major surgery and wasn't able to yet join us horseback. Sit back grab your coffee and lets go for a ride.

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    Giving the horses a breather after coming down the mountain with the cattle. Here I'm holding Purgatory for Stan. My horse Sonny the Battleship is hobbled on the right. Nichole's horse Josie is hobbled in the background. Hobbling is putting a strap around the front feet of a well trained ranch horse to keep em in one spot for a while. Stan had forgotten his hobbles and was off grabbing some coffee. I've bout got mine drunk. We made my charmitas leggings and the silk wildrag (scarf) I'm wearing, as well as my water buffalo belt and the Stainless Gordo knife and sheath. In these pics Mike made the bit I'm using on Sonny and the spurs that Nichole is wearing.

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    Our cowboss Mike sorting out the "drys", these are the cows with out calves.

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    Nichole (my wife and partner in Horsewright) bringing out some of the drys. We made her wildrag, wool vest, charmitas leggings, spurstraps and the headstall holding the bit in Josie's mouth.

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    Got all the sorting done and its time to rope. Made Nichole's knife and sheath too. Josie is in what we call the two rein here. Notice that there are actually two sets of reins on her that Nichole is holding. This is the final step in our California system of making a finished horse. Josie has been in the two rein for about a year now. No hurry, probably another six months or so and she'll be "straight up in the bridle". There were some pretty darn big calves in this group that we were doing. So we were trying to get the bigger ones first while the horses and our ground crew were fresh. Normally you want to brand calves when they are about 300 lbs or so give or take, usually a little smaller. We had bull calves 600 lbs plus and one heifer that was every bit of 800 lbs. But we got em done. Sonny's nickname is Battleship for a reason.

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    Nichole has the front end of this one and I've got the back end while the ground crew is working. With these bigger calves its easier on the calf, easier on the horses and easier on the ground crew to also rope the front legs. So if ya look close there's another rope going to the head of the calf that is slack. After Nichole roped the front feet the head rope became redundant. However the header will standby with the headrope still on, just in case. Just in case happened once or twice this day. Thats our new friends Adam on the calf and his girlfriend Jessie with the shots. They were both ground working machines.

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    Mike stepping over to brand and castrate this calf. He has one of my Castrator knives in one of my Boot Sheaths clipped to his belt. Interesting my Tapadero model is named after Mike. His nickname is Tapadero and he drew out the perfect branding knife for me in the dirt one time years ago and that became my Tapadero knife in damascus and the Sonoran Belt Knife in stainless. This ranch does not ear mark their cattle so the pointy Tapadero is not needed and the blunt nosed Castrator works well and certainly can be safer in the hustle and bustle of a branding. That is Stan on Purgatory on the heels and our new friend Lisa on the front end. We made Stan's wildrag and his shotgun chaps.

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    Nichole taking a shot. I'm swinging a hoolihan as back up in case she misses. We sure didn't very much, it was just one of those days. Usually she'll rope good and I'll suck or I'm roping good and she's off but this day we were both on our game. Didn't miss very often at all. If ya look close on my right hip ya can also see one of our pancake style holsters, this one for a Glock 43. Made both our spur straps too.

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    Sometimes ya can get into what we call "live action cowboy shi....". this is when a good horse can sure help out. One that is broke and quiet but also very responsive to the rein and spur. Also the reason for the small little fixed blades. I've cut three people out of wrecks.

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    Hopefully one of your other ropers will come in and grab the heels and then we can get em worked. If ya look close the way I threw my heel loop, it has wrapped around both hind legs. Idea here being as the calf will move forward he steps into your loop and you got his heels. All the plans of mice and men.....even though that is a bout a good a heel shot as could be, didn't work that time. Still got out.

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    Waiting for the ground crew to be done with one before I get another. In our style of roping the rope is wrapped or "dallied" around the saddle horn to slow and stop the calf. The saddle will have a horn wrap that is replaceable because it takes a lot of wear and tear of the rope sliding around it. This is another item we make, just a strip of heavy oiltan about 1.75" wide and 5/6 ft long or so. Our ropes are polyester and will get real warm when running around the horn. a roping glove like I'm wearing here is pretty normal to prevent rope burns.

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    The "jigger boss" (second in command) Pat sticking the iron on. I've met Pat over the years here and there and he's a friend of my son's.

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    Pat joined us a bout half way through to help with the load. he's roping here with a reata, 4 strands of braided rawhide. Ya have to be real careful as they aren't very strong, particularly with heavier cattle. He too is riding in the two rein and Mike made that Santa Barbara style spade bit.

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    Mike castrating a big calf. and Adam is helping to keep it still. Ya'll notice that Pat, Mike, Stan, Nichole and myself are all wearing white shirts. Its kinda a cowboy uniform (I've got 9 in the closet). Interesting cause at a branding you are gonna get dirty, muddy, manured, bloody etc. But still white shirts are super common. Mike was doing all the cutting as the cowboss so he was pretty bloody by the end of the day.

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    Stan and Purgatory and Nichole and Josie have another. Stan bought Purgatory off the huge ranch my son works on in AZ. Purg was ready to retire at 16 and didn't need to do those big 35-40 mile circles anymore but he's got lots of life yet for Stan. Big, stout, million dollar horse. Stan's roping has really progressed since he got Purg. In fact our ranch presented Stan with a "Most Improved Ranch Hand" trophy buckle last year.

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    Stan and Purg coming in for the heels on this one.

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    Got er done.

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    Mike asked us to save a couple three little ones for Adam and Jessie to help with horseback. While they were pretty experienced ground crew neither had actually roped a calf in a branding before. He asked Nichole and I to stay "up" (horseback) and coach em some. He wanted me to head one and let them take heel shots. Here Jessie is getting her throw in.

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    And she got er done! First time! Lisa is helping on the ground and thats Peg, Mike's wife giving the shots in the red plaid shirt. She's a nurse so she's pretty darn good at giving shots, most of her patients probably don't need to be restrained as much as these guys though.

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    Nichole rode over so Josie could give Smoke, Jessie's horse some moral support. An experienced horse standing near like that will help a less experienced one to breath and be quiet. A great weekend plus Thursday and Monday trip. Hope ya enjoyed our cowboying. Any questions or comments are welcome.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
  2. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Great read and super photos, my friend. Looks like fun to some, but you and I know it's plenty hard work. especially when some of those "babies" hit 6/800 pounds.

    Paul
     
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  3. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Thanks Paul! Wished we'd know each other some years back, ya could of gone with us. Here's Peggy with our photographer Janine. Janine is wearing a Horsewright wildrag too.

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    Kind of an interesting thing. We were all talking about it sitting on the porch one evening drinking a beer after gathering one day. Peggy also makes wildrags for sale. She'd approached another gal we all know and asked her for her help. She refused to teach Peggy saying "I don't give away my secrets!" Peggy called Nichole and of course Nichole helped her out telling her "there are no secrets." I know both you and I have said that here about leather work too.

    Talk about beef, look at the size of that heifer! All ol Sonny could do to hold her.

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    Last edited: May 21, 2018
  4. JohnDF

    JohnDF

    105
    May 14, 2018
    Thanks for the story and photos. It brought back a lot of memories for me. Memories like, being on the ground crew sucked and I couldn't wait to be a roper (gotta pay your dues). I also remember my first gathering. I showed up all decked out in my cowboy gear. All the old hands were laughing at me. Well it rained hard that day and my $150 Resistol was down around my ears. Short brimmed hats or ball caps from that day forward. I spent most of my life working on various ranches, rodeos, and building saddles and tack. Now I'm a school teacher but I do miss the old days. Thanks for the memories.
     
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  5. WEB2

    WEB2

    405
    Oct 13, 2004
    Very nice!!!

    Dave, so tell us the secret for getting rid of "ring-around-the-collar" on those whites.....
     
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  6. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005

    I'm not Dave, but you must have missed the part where he wrote "I've got nine hanging in my closet". The ones with the "permanent" ring go to work at the gatherings and the clean ones "go to town" on Saturday night.!

    Paul
     
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  7. duramax

    duramax KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 29, 2012
    Wow, great pics !!! Thanks for sharing
     
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  8. Ratbert

    Ratbert Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2016
    Great read! Thanks for sharing this, Dave. I found myself grinning at cowboys in white shirts! :)
     
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  9. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
  10. MaverickFZX750

    MaverickFZX750

    45
    Oct 8, 2014
    Hi Dave! Very interesting read as always, thank you for many unique photos. Is there some special reason to carry the gun during the roping?
     
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  11. ANovinc

    ANovinc Basic Member Basic Member

    268
    Sep 21, 2016
    It's fun to see some of the items you've crafted put through their paces. Great pictures!
     
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  12. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Thanks @MaverickFZX750. Actually there is. Several. 1) This part of California is known as The Emerald Triangle, and while we were a few miles south of the official Emerald Triangle line, nefarious people abound. There had been 300 illegal plants taken off the ranch that year already. On the way back to Mike's house that night we had to run some folks off, two different groups in fact. So what were they doing way up this winding canyon on private property? 2)This ranch is really in the wilds, Lions, Tigers and Bears oh my. I have been stalked by mountain lions before and confronted by bears. That morning in the bull pasture we saw two large boars and two sows with eight piglets, sometimes they can be a problem. 3) Predatory control. Coyotes abound over ranching country. They will stalk and kill calves or just eat them alive, same with sick cows or horses. If a cow or horse is down because its sick or injured the coyotes won't kill them, they just start eating them, guts first, alive. Don't much like coyotes. The ranch next to us at home has had quite a few calves killed this spring by coyotes, we haven't but keeping fingers crossed. We have in the past. We've had calves killed by Golden Eagles too and a horse attacked by a mountain lion. Its tough being a calf. While a pistol is not the best for predator control it is obviously more portable and so you will have it with you as opposed to the rifle back in the truck. Besides I'm a heck of a pistol shot. I rolled a running coyote at 250 yards one time. Fortunately I had a witness. You know Nichole would throw me down HARD if I was exaggerating!!! First shot was about 20 yards short. Second shot kicked up dust between his legs and the third bowled him over. It was a pistol from your part of the world that day I was carrying, a Tokarov in 7.62x25. Those rounds sizzle. 4) I have always felt that I have a moral obligation to the livestock. What if I was miles up some sidehill and my horse slipped and fell and broke a leg badly? Or I came across a downed cow before the coyotes found her? No cell service and just you and miles and miles of emptyness. I have had to put down many a cow and some horses too. Fortunately never one I was riding but I have that moral obligation, I feel, to be able to handle that situation if necessary. My pistol was not the only one in the branding pen that day just the only one that shows up in the pics. Many feel as I do, many don't. Mike took his off just prior to starting the branding as it would get in the way of him doing the groundwork, but he wasn't carrying one of my holsters. Mine keep em high and tight with no flop so that they are not in the way. He's coming down to help us in July and I'll build him one for his pistol then. Interestingly he also carries a pistol from your part of the world, A Makarov. Hope this kind of explains why I carry a pistol while branding.

    Thanks Amy @ANovinc.
     
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  13. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Very nice Dave! I can almost hear a lonesome harmonica playing in the background !
    G2
     
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  14. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide

    Aug 20, 1999
    I really enjoyed this.
    Thank you.

    One of these days when you're feeling like it, how about a wild rag essay/tutorial?
    Seems like there are a bunch of knots and styles going on there. Local preferences...

    Thanks again.
     
  15. popedandy

    popedandy Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Another great write-up, Dave. There's a lot of work that goes into getting that beef to the table and a lot of good folks doing it. I am always amazed at how good everyone looks after a full day's work. I don't think I'll look that sharp in my funeral suit. Thanks again!
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  16. Misplaced Hillbilly

    Misplaced Hillbilly

    133
    May 16, 2018
    Love the story and pics, I was raised on a small mountain farm in the appalachians. We ran a few head of cattle, helped the neighbors with theirs. My area has one of the countries oldest family businesses, the Stuart land and cattle co. When people kinda take issue with my cowboy hat and boots, I point out folks ran cattle in the east before they moved west lol. I may tell them a bit bout my great uncle by marrige,who comes from a long line of Florida crackers. But usually I just ask "Have YOU ever been armpit deep in the smelly end of a cow?" That usually shuts them up. Feels good to see people carrying on the traditions! Oh and several of the horse people around where my Dad lives now,and where I went to high school,(Russell co. Va.) know a buckaroo trained horse is nearly priceless;):thumbsup:
     
  17. Misplaced Hillbilly

    Misplaced Hillbilly

    133
    May 16, 2018
    Sorry to keep butting in, but one other thing struck a chord with me. Responsibility to the animals. To be perfectly honest I HATED to go out with a battery light( coal miners head lamp) well b4 daylight and chop a hole in the ice of our spring fed cistern. But I knew those cows and horses had to drink. Usually while my 10 year old self was doing that my 12 year old sister was chucking down 75 pound bales of hay from the barn. Our Dad also worked for the coal company so had to be gone very early. Once we was old enough watering and feeding was our chore.Responsibility...
     
  18. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Thanks @Gary W Graley. Wasn't very quiet though, doubt you'd hear much harmonica. Pretty loud all them cows together.

    @Ebbtide good deal glad ya like er. I can sure do that on the wildrags.

    Thanks @popedandy Yeah their is a lot of work that goes into that steak or burger that most folks don't know about.

    Good deal @Misplaced Hillbilly glad ya liked er.
     
  19. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    Love the pictures.

    We had another roundup here in Eastern Wa.

    Normally I go to one that is about an hour away, and camp in a tent. Normally close to 300 calves to brand, cut, and innoculate.



    This year they had the roundup when I could not go to the bigger one, but the same friend had another 130 calves at his home, so I went and helped out with that one.

    I'll have to post up pics in a thread.
     
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  20. MaverickFZX750

    MaverickFZX750

    45
    Oct 8, 2014
    Oh! Yeah! There is pretty enough good reasons to carry something more powerful than just a pistol. Sounds like place in the middle of Siberia in the beginning of the last century, just more dry. Hard work in the hard place. Tokarev or TT very nice pistol even in our days, besades it has good history. Thanks for exlanation and good luck to you and your family and friends around there.
     
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