Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cattle Rustlers

     I take delight in the simple joys of small town living, especially the old-fashioned values and habits that still are a part of everyday life in a rural area.  I learned this week that even crime is still old fashioned in our area!  I heard a news report this morning that there were a couple of cattle rustlers caught this week.  Yes, this image is what popped into my mind:

    However, I doubt that is what the guys looked like.  They just took advantage of some unsuspecting cows.  Now, you have to understand that cows are pretty dumb animals.  They don't bark or sound an alarm if a stranger comes along.  They don't have the sheep instinct and only follow the shepherd.  If a person comes along and waves at them to move, they move.  And cows are pretty easy to care for. Just give them some room to roam and a field to graze in and they are pretty happy. Take some feed out to them in the winter time and you can leave them alone. 
     I imagine that these two cattle rustlers knew all about that and they hatched a scheme to go to some vast expanse of ranch land and take a few cows away.  It was reported that they took them immediately to the cattle auction where they sold them on the spot and took off with the profit!
     I have been to the cattle auction  a few times in my life.  It looks somewhat like a small amphitheater with steps/seats slanting up three sides of the room. There is a very strong odor of cigarette smoke, leather and of course, cow manure.  In the front of the seating area is a flat floor surrounded by cattle fence and off to one side, an elevated spot where the auctioneer can stand. A door opens and several very scared looking cattle charge in. The floor is a giant scale, so you look up on the wall and there is a "score board" stating the weight of the lot and average weight of each cow.  The auctioneer will name the rancher who is selling them and the type of cows that they are. He will then proceed to auction them off.  I learned quickly to sit very still and not to make a move or I might be the owner of thousands of pounds of hamburger.  These rustlers had to know what they were doing.  Each seller receives a check for the cattle that they sell that day. 
     Cattle rustlers are the reason that cowboys at one time branded their cattle.  They would brand them with the symbol of their ranch to prevent this kind of crime.  The ranch symbol was burned into the flesh of the animal making a permanent mark declaring who the owner was.  Then if the thief attempted to sell it, the buyer could beware of who they were really buying from!  Maybe the cattle ranchers in our area should consider going back to branding their cattle again!
     The news report mentioned that the rustlers were caught.  No doubt the sheriff rounded up his posse, hunted the culprits down and threw them in the hoosegow..............but you'll get that in a small town!

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