Thursday, June 24, 2021

Range riders still roam central Idaho

During the summer, sheep ranching in the U.S. West follows a biblical rhythm. When the bands leave their valley homes for summer grazing, shepherds accompany them. Herders spend all summer with the sheep, guiding them to new feed, providing water, and camping near them at night. 

Although cattle are checked on, watered, and moved regularly, they aren't herded as closely as sheep. Except for Alderspring Ranch cattle. Based in central Idaho's Pahsimeroi Valley, Glenn and Caryl Elzinga, their seven home-grown cowhands, and a crew of range riders herd their organic grass-fed beeves all summer long on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service grazing allotments. I helped (by staying out of the way and taking photos) Elzingas move over 400 cattle from their valley ranch to public rangelands in late May.

Roxy's ready to help new range riders learn to keep cattle where they belong.

Glenn Elzinga gets Sunny ready, with an assist from son-in-law Ethan Kelly.

Horses were tied up everywhere, far enough apart than nobody got tangled up.

Roxy strikes a pose.

Even the hitching rail held horses.

Hats off for a blessing before leaving.

Last minute adjustments.

Riders top the hill gathering cattle.

Abby (Elzinga) Kelly move the electric fence out of the way...

...and checks that everyone's ready for her to open the gate and release the cattle.

It's hard to get water to make a right angle turn; the same is true for a herd of cattle. Here they're back on the road and headed up the hill.
The cattle leave behind their irrigated valley pastures for the upland range.
Buster helps by holding some heifers.
Everything's going well coming down the Pahsimeroi Road.
A long line of cattle follows the highway along the Salmon River for a short way.
The herd does great on this right angle turn.
Hooves over the Salmon River.
Melanie Elzinga points the way.
Riders, horses, and cattle all made it safely to public lands, where they'll send the summer.