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Open Range: Saving Arlington from the wild calf

Barrie Quallie is a Wallowa County-based columnist for the Chieftain.

Published on May 9, 2018 9:37AM


I have noticed over the years things like the last 10 percent of a job takes 90 percent of the time and 10 percent of the people cause 90 percent of the problems.

It especially applies to dealing with cattle. This has been proven to me on many occasions. When moving cattle, there is always a couple of bunch-quitters that require constant monitoring or they will leave with no forwarding address.

Last week I was helping Krebs Livestock with their spring work on their ranch in Cecil, Ore. Everyone knows where that is.

Things went well until we got a call from Bobby Christiansen, an Arlington City Council member. Krebs leases some ground from the city and runs some pairs on the grass there.

One of the Krebs calves was on the wrong side of the fence and was walking the fence and bawling. The city was receiving several calls from concerned citizens since the field the calf was in was in full view just above the city.

I was dispatched to capture said calf and return it to its home range. Bobby met me in urban Arlington to show me where the calf was.

Arlington is in a fairly deep canyon and when Bobby waved me down, he pointed to the calf half a mile away on a steep side hill covered with deep arroyos, five-foot high sagebrush and lots of rocks and other hazards.

I pulled the cinch into my trusty caballo and found a gate into the field. The calf was in good health and fairly athletic. Stealth failing, I had no choice except high speed pursuit.

Trying to get a throw was futile and dangerous. I finally got the calf headed for a corner and planned on roping him when he came back out of the corner. The calf didn’t like that plan and escaped through the fence and headed for downtown.

I went back to the gate on my now sweaty and panting horse and was soon on the trail of the stray. Almost got a throw in a couple of startled peoples yards but beast headed for the business district.

I had thoughts of hazing him to the golf course but had trouble catching up on the paved road. I finally Mark Dawsoned after him when he got on the highway that goes to Condon. Lots of fun going flat out on the yellow line hoping your horse doesn’t make a quick move.

Got him off the road and across the railroad tracks. Once again pure thoughts and clean living paid off. There was a fenced equipment lot with an open gate. I managed to convince the calf to enter and asked the five or six guys there to please close the gate.

The Krebs worker that had hauled me there arrived with the trailer, and I proceeded to put the capture on the calf. The calf hadn’t given up. I chased him around cranes and trucks till I got a throw and thankfully caught.

It was a simple deal to load him in the trailer and rest my worn out horse. We trailered the calf back to his home range and tearfully watched as he reunited with his mom.

I discovered Bobby Christensen was part of the old Christensen Bros. rodeo stock contracting outfit. Back in the day, they had some of the best bucking stock. Horses like Warpaint and Miss Klamath were two that were seldom ridden.

Former Joseph saddle bronc rider and sculptor J. Shirley Botham was familiar with them. A few days later I visited with my friend Bill McCullough about the ordeal. Bill lived with Bobby when Bobby was attending Oregon State. A few days later Bill called and said he had talked to Bobby and mentioned he knew the guy that captured the calf that was terrorizing Arlington.

Bobby discussed the capture and commented that guy was pretty damn cowboy. To which my former friend replied, it must have been a different guy.

Barrie Quallie is a Wallowa County-based columnist for the Chieftain.



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