Listen to this post
MEEKER | Each spring for a few weeks, advertisements in the newspaper suddenly appear to let everyone know an annual ritual has begun. It doesn’t happen until the ranchers are done with lambing and calving and a long procession of livestock moseys along the highway up into the high country. While it is too early in the season to catch a glimpse of that impromptu parade through town, some of us hope to catch that sight this year.
Meanwhile, as essential business goes on and rest of us are cooped up, it’s important to let people know livestock will be moving soon. Being cooped up for too long can have an adverse effect on anyone. It might make people think about the increase in “herd-busting” that is often the result of road rage. Years ago, a local sheep rancher was moving his herd and a semi truck plowed into them, killing almost all of them.
Every year drivers new to the area and the tradition act differently, but consideration for the animals or trail hands doesn’t always come to mind. Some first time herd-busters alternately zoom forward when they see an empty spot on the road ahead, or slow almost to a stop and honk or yell at the animals. Others take advantage of a prime opportunity to take a few photos, rolling down their windows to “moo” or “baa” at some of the dawdlers, and don’t watch the highway carefully.
Writing in this Loose Ends column space in those early years, I joked about attracting more people to the area with this annual tradition as the highlight. Banners across the road with silly headings like “Get along little Dogies” or “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” might increase the interest in photo ops. Someone from the local chamber could be videoing, and another could hand out bumper stickers saying, “I Joined The Herd!” While people find the sight quaint or charming when they first see it, they later find it annoying as they try and get to wherever they are going.
Right now, no one is going anywhere, except the livestock.
By DOLLY VISCARDI | Special to the Herald Times