Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 27, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Jolurday, Nowmbtr 17, 1971 THI ICTHMIDCI HHAtD 9 Only the remnants remain Style has gone from the classic cattle round-up in the West By JOE WILL CALGARY (CP) Like Louis Kiel, the North West Company and whisky traders, the classic cattle round-up has hecomc a Western historical (act. There arc still ride horses to gather in their but the style has gone. Gone are the night-long vig- ils over the herd, as arc the chuclnvagor.s and the jinglers who looked after the horses. Trucks and fences now play i part once filled by men in the saddle. But the changes ere more than physical, says retired rancher 0. H. McKinnon who was a part of the last open- range rouml-up in 1929. In those days it was not just a collecting of cattle; it was a rounding up of men from neighboring ranches to work together on a common pro- ject. The entire round-np outfit was known as a "wagon" with one ranch providing most of the equipment. Men came from other spreads to work and represent those ranches. JUST 'GATHERING' UP' After 1929, some ranches put out wagons on their own land and they would call it a round-up, said Mr .McKinnon, "but it's just a gatherin' up, what they're doin'." The closest thing to such a round-up now comes each fall when the 16 ranchers in the South Sheep Creek Stock As- sociation bring in their head. They work collectively to dear the 120 square miles of forestry reserve they liavc southwest of Calgary. But it is not the Siime. The old chuckwogon with wooden-spoked wheels now is n permanent cabin and the ro- mantically-named jingler has become a corral. The siring of up to a d07.cn saddle horses for each rider on Ihc wagon has shrunk to two or three. FENCE THEM IN And instead of having to tend the herd so it won't wan- der off each night, a fenced field of 2.000 acres keeps them contained. The trip home with Ihe cat- tle lasts no more than two days for any of the South Sheep Creek ranchers. Over- night, Ihe herds are turned into a field and Ihe men sleep in houses. In the days of Mr. Mc- Kinncn's now a deceptively young trail could be two weeks long with men taking shifts at night to keep the herd to- gelher. And that often followed a day which started with the dawn, which tired out a cou- ple of horses for each man and covered miles of short- grass country. When the men took their sleep, it WPS usually in a tent although a few individuals preferred the open air. SLEPT IN TENT Mr. McKinnon recalls that. in 1908 when he was still a "young duffer" his father was called away for a funeral. "I thought I was supposed lei in the lent and I was the only one Ural did. 'Tim other fclles just didn't Imlher but the next night I hart a heck of a lime because Ihe mosquitoes got so had about two o'clock in the morning them fellas all wanted in the tent." And as the mosquitoes irri- tated the men, the sting of the heel flies tormented Ihe cal- lle. One time in flv season, he recalled, the were es- caping over a hill into a lake but somebody "on that back- side didn't get the message and he was still fighting to try to keep Ihem cattle out of that lake." when he got done, the cattle had driven him so far out into the lake he just let his horse swim him across and out the other side." Bin HERDS RESTIVE Other things besides flies could bother the cattle. Sheer numbers would often be enough. In a compact herd of up to "ycu don't get too much stir among tlvm." "But the more cattle the more stir and I've seen herds just go like hatter in a bowl (round and round) all after- noon. "It just seems they start to move and they can't go any- where 'cause there's a rider out there holding them and they just go in a circle." And everybody, at one time or another, has been caught in a snowstorm. Mr. McKinnon's came m the fall of 1917 when a couple of round-up wagons were gathering near the Row River pbout 70 miles west of Medi- cine Hat. Rain began, th.cn turned to snow. The men waited ii couple of days for Ihe weather lo change and scraped away Granson- 9A .Inonnc Hni'kn; snow each time they pitched the-tent. To keep out th? wi'vl earth was hanked around the canvas. It froze hard enough they had to cut that sod with an axe." When they left for home with some yearlings, they fol- lowed Ihc Ice of one of the first irrigation ditches to get out of the snow. The herd of nearly 2.000 was strung out for seven miles and the point man packed fin axe to cut water holes. They spent two weeks in the cold weather "and the flay we got home the wind broke and it started to melt that snow. It was slush out there where a horse's foot went down you would almost think a frying pan had hit." Twelve years later, the last open-range round-up that Mr. McKinnon has heard about oc- curred on the same land. It look more than two weeks to gather cattle from 500 square miles of prairie, much of which was under the own- ership of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Fences began to encroach on Ihe area and the dry years of the 1930s cut the land's carrying capacity. Also, thousands of horses which became superfluous with the increcsc in tractors were turned onto the land. In the years that followed, some of "the "biggest horse round-ups on this continent" were held on that land with most of them packed off to a plant in Swift Current, Saslc., to animal Mr. McKinnon, for many years a director of the West- ern Canada Stock Growers Association and recently voted a life directorship in the provincial organization, says round-ups were always well managed. Even if a rancher did not have a representative on a round-up wagon, hi.s cattle were ignored or sent hel- ter-skelter over the range. That was dishonorable. Anil honor was A prrlfy important thing abctii Ihe only law out there was honor. It meant some- thing." Birth rate dive LaKoy's (CP) Canada's birth rate, falling from 19S4's peak, dropped further last yenr 17.4 live births per pop- -Statistics Canada re- Your Gift Thursday. rate, per in declined to 17.6 by 1968, a ,'J ibt it held through 1969. Jiltf1 im again rrecorded the lowest birth rate last year and Newfoundland the highest among the 10 provinces, though rates were much higher in the flfe --Si, A fA territories. V w i Mil I Quebec rate declined to per last year from 1C in 1069. Newfoundland's rate declined to 2-1.2 from 25.3. The V V Territories rate rose 40.5 from 38. actual number of births i last year to 371.983 from but was still roughly Name Brand short of the record year. when there were Assured to Please Most Discriminating house set j L3KAY O WEAR (HNS) There will be an open liou.se at the Barons School Dec. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. All interested people in the are invited lo attend to 2 Locations To Serve the new library, to re- student projects and meet DOWNTOWN NORTH new staff. 712 4th Ave. S. 312 13th St. Barons Community Hall reports plans for the Fall OPEN THURSDAY AND FRIDAY TILL 9 Nov. 26 and 27 are well. 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