Cowboys and Tomatoes

What do cowboys and tomatoes have in common? Nothing that I can think of! I just needed a name for this post.

Soose commented on my Empire Ranch Roundup post, asking for more details on the calf roping demonstration. We came upon the demonstration towards the end of it and only watched about five or six minutes. There were three cowboys on horses with ropes and their job was to cut out (separate) one calf from the three or four in the pen. The goal is to do it as quietly, peacefully, as possible. If you’ve ever been to a rodeo, or watched one on television, you know that is not the goal at the rodeo. A rodeo is a competition, so speed and accuracy in roping the calf are what counts. In real life, keeping the calves as calm as possible is the goal, as it is when you are working with any animals. Calm animals are easier to work with and decrease the danger possibility. Calm animals also keep the other animals calm, which will make the job just that much easier.

So, the three cowboys selected the calf they wanted to rope. They maneuvered their horses around until they had the one calf separated from the others. Each of them had a lariat and one at a time, one would throw the lariat and attempt to put it over the head/neck of the calf. Eventually one succeeded and then another cowboy roped the legs. I wasn’t really able to see how this was done, with the crowd in front of me, but the end result was that two cowboys had ropes on the calf and the calf was on the ground, stretch out so that it was pretty much immobile. These were pretty tamed calves, being used for demonstrations, so it didn’t protest much, but even if it had wanted to, the calf would not have been able to move much.

The third cowboy jumped off his horse, went over to the calf, and, if it had been in a working herd, the calf would have been branded or perhaps medicated for an injury or whatever needed doing to it. The two cowboys responsible for keeping the calf immobile kept their ropes taut, but not so taut as to cause injury or harm to the calf. They waited until the third cowboy was back upon his horse before they loosened their ropes, thus freeing that calf, who quickly was on his feet and back over to the “safety” of the herd, or, in this case, the other calves.
While this was all going on, each of the three cowboys were miked and they explained to the audience what they were doing and there was also a fourth cowboy giving a narrative, so there was a lot of explanation to the crowd. Most of what was told to the audience was familiar to us, as former dairy farmers and having years of experience working around animals. The one thing that was new to me was the fact that the two cowboys waited for the third to get back on to his horse, as a courtesy and safety measure. If they released the calf before the cowboy was seated, it could have charged the cowboy and his horse, possibly injuring one or both.

And that is about the sum of what we learned at the Empire Ranch Roundup. Bill thought we would have enjoyed it more if we had gone with another couple who was more into “doing” events like that, or who were more interested in the topic in the first place. Me? I had absolutely the most fun on our hour long wilderness drive in the solitude. We had four vehicles and one four-wheeler pass us on the road during that hour. Bill always pulls off and lets vehicles pass him when we are on excursions like that. He knows at any moment I’m going to want to hop out of the car and take pictures! He’s so sweet.

Believe it or not, I am still picking tomatoes!

fall tomatoes

They are small, and not extremely flavorful, but we are eating them to the tune of about two a day in salads. It has gotten close to freezing a few nights recently, so they are ripening much more slowly. And these are supposed to be “beefsteak” tomatoes!! Cool weather, less sunshine, and plants dying back equals small tomatoes.


  1. Soose

    Thanks for the details, Karen! I like learning how people do practical things that have been a mystery to me, especially if there are good explanations from the demonstrators. Never worked a farm or animals, so I probably would have really enjoyed this and other offerings that day.

    How different this ranch life is from the crowded slaughterhouses! (Guess these calves are headed there, though?)

    Sitting in a car looking at scenery is not as much my thing. lol

    • Karen

      Ah, but I didn’t just sit looking at the scenery! I was assessing photo opportunities, remarking upon soil composition, watching for hawks, and popping in and out of the car to take pictures! That can be hazardous, as you need to watch where you are stepping … cactus, snakes, scorpions … there could be all sorts of hazards!

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