Monday, January 26, 2004

Cattlemen and women

Terry writes from Bearhead that his grandmother, Estelle Ashworth Yarborough, remembers when her grandfather, old Josh Perkins, would drive cattle from one part of a pasture to another, and the number of cattle would be so great that they would stretch out over seven miles. Driving cattle through the woods is a little different from the way Hollywood shows it. First off, cows are stupid. They take a lot of herding. The drovers would have had plenty of help, since every kid who could get on a horse would have been there at least part of the way. The other thing is there would be plenty of cow dogs. A good cow dog isn't a movie version of an Australian shepherd saving the farm from disaster, but rather a dog of undetermined pedigree that is not afraid of pushing against a half-wild cow or bull to keep them from wandering off the wrong direction. Anyways, seven miles of cattle working its way through the woods and swamp is a lot of beef on the hoof.

Linda writes about ear marking. I'm pretty sure there's a registry in most parishes and counties for ear markings, just the same as there is for brands. You can understand a lot about the history of cattle people by studying their brands. During the Civil War, several Ashworths from Louisiana and the Sabine Pass area of Texas registered brands in Brazoria County where they had Thomas and Hayes cousins. Louisiana was pretty much conquered by federal troops by 1863, and no one was safe from heavy-handed confiscation of goods, including non-White Redbones of western Louisiana. Brazoria was a little farther away from the rumors of war .I can see these very pragmatic people moving a few thousand cows down the coast just to make sure they were safe.

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