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Coffee With Joan 4-22-2021

Coffee With Joan

Joan Sullivan is a Artist, Historian & Author. She is a classically trained artist who discovered a love of history through painting who produced “Picture the Past,” a monthly show featuring local ranches and other areas of historical interest which aired locally for over 10 years. Find out more at

April 23, 2021

Penned Cows by Joan Sullivan 1980

Seeing cows munching in the green fields reminds me of the many roundups I’ve attended. It was related to me, from the wife of a rancher, that preparations for the occasion began weeks ahead of the scheduled event. After the roundup there is usually a get together for a feed.
Feeding a dozen or more ranch hands and all the other attending partiers is no minor chore. The food has to be prepared and deposited at the site ahead of the event. I’ve seen huge pots brought to the site where there was a house or campsite kitchen. In order to keep the food hot, it was necessary to keep the preparations on a stove ready to serve the hands. Other ranch wives would bring their own special dish that was planned ahead by the main ranch family. The work done by ranchers’ wives was no less stressful than the roundup itself. Often more than 20 people showed up. Not all of them were workers. Some were looky loos.

Rounding up the cattle that were strewn around the ranch could be very exciting. I was privy to help round up cattle on several occasions. Cattle are naturally fearful and follow their lead which is a horned cow. There are only one or two horned cows that keep order in a herd.
Rounding up the cows to be penned can be exciting. It usually takes two or three ranchers to bring the herd to a pen where the calves are separated from the cows. If my old memory serves me right. A good herd is about 500 cows that has one or two bulls to keep the herd producing.
It’s a hard time for the calves and cows being separated from each other. But as one rancher related to me, “For their short life span, cows live a good life roaming the hills munching on grass.
I know a bit more about cows now than I ever did before going on a roundup. The work that needs to be done to keep the herd safe and free from danger or sickness is another story for another day.
Reference: Rounding Up The Ranches by Joan Sullivan 2015.


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