Can you describe a drover’s typical day on the Long Trail?
Stace Webb Via the Internet
Long and tiring. The drovers each had a two-hour watch over the herd sometime between eight p.m. and four a.m. Then they roped and saddled a horse from the wrangler’s string, and allowed the cows to graze until around nine a.m. before driving them north. The herd was pushed along at an easy pace so as not to lose too much weight. The cattle rested at midday and usually were driven until late afternoon before bedding down for the day. Around 25 to 30 miles were covered in the first few days. When the home range was far behind, the drovers eased the average to about 10 miles a day. During the evenings, the horses were hobbled or put in a rope corral while the tired men ate supper, sat around the fire and held “liars hour,” and then crawled into their bedrolls. The drive could take from six weeks to four months. For his hard work, the cowhand would earn, at most, $100. The most dangerous part of their journey was crossing a swollen river, which is where the term, “he’s a good man to ride the river with,” originated.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His books include The Arizona Trilogy and Law of the Gun.
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