After reading, “Half Broke Horses” where the main character gained a lot of experience breaking in horses, she touched upon an interesting story about a flying cowboy, who happened to be her husband. His help was needed for a winter storm blowing into the region. It’s hard to believe that any Arizona winter can be deadly, but cows were dying by the hundreds on many different cattle ranches in that short time.
Jim could tell when a hard winter was approaching in Arizona. If he had lived in Wisconsin, he would know a hard winter comes every year. But in Arizona, there are some tell-tale signs of it’s approach. For example:
- birds migrate south earlier
- squirrels store extra nuts and have bushier tails
- acorns look larger
- cottonwood bark looks thicker
- pecan nut hulls are thicker
These are signs that take a trained observant eye to properly detect. He was right about the deadly winter, but not everybody knew it. Many ranchers were caught by surprised and didn’t know how to properly respond to the violent conditions. Here are things they should have done:
- Collect firewood
- bring in the horses
- distribute hay onto the range
- make windbreaks for the cattle [use whatever necessary]
- keep the cattle moving for the purposes of staying warm
- rotate cattle in and out of barn if they all can’t fit
- break ice so cattle can reach water underneath
- Let the cattle roam to improve blood circulation
- cut down fence wire
- let cattle get into big herds for warmth
Cattle have a tendency to migrate south in the cold conditions, so it’s best to cut down the fences and let them roam that direction. Otherwise, they will all clump up against the southern fences, rubbing against it, and damage themselves as they push against it.
Cows will cut themselves trying to break the ice themselves, if they try at all.