While horses are still commonly used in ranching operations, its isn’t often to see a large cattle drive to and from summer pastures. No access roads means Eugene Just and his band of cowboys had to push his 100 Angus cattle three miles to their summer vacation spot last week.
He said the majority of his seven or eight cowboy crew look forward to the drive every year.
“Everyone has a good time,” Just said.
Just’s grandson, Evan Just, sons Rod and Randy Just, Donnie Hett who coordinates the drive, and assorted other hands help on horseback, while Just uses a four-wheeler because of his bad knees.
“I used to ride a horse, but I can’t anymore,” Just said, “but it gives them something to look forward to every year.”
The crew starts at daylight gathering the cow-calf pairs off pastures from around Just’s home. They’re then sorted and cows are loaded into a semi trailer, while calves are loaded into a stock trailer to prevent injury while transporting. The crew then drives 20 miles to the pasture off 150th St.
After a short rest, and a chance for the calves to find their mothers, they are driven three miles across two pastures to Just’s pasture.
The whole process takes the better part of the day, usually putting the crew back in time to enjoy dinner together.
“It went pretty quick this year,” he said. “It’s usually not bad unless there are other cattle in the pasture. We’ve mixed them up before.”
The same process has been repeated for the past 15 years and will be used to haul bulls next week to the pasture, and to bring the cattle back to winter pastures in October.
“Much of the area is too rough for vehicles, even four-wheelers,” Just said. “Horses can get around so much better, but four-wheelers are for old people.”
Horses are also used to give medical care to the cattle while in the pasture.
“We check them sometimes using four-wheelers, but for doctoring we have to rope them on horses,” Just said.
Just has been a rancher all his life, and while his age keeps him from doing some things, he loves the way of life.