Abilene’s Longhorn Cattle Drive

(Bobbie Bland) We’re here in Abilene, Kansas at the 150th Celebration of the Chisholm Trail, at the Trails, Rails, and Tails event. We came up from Woodward, Oklahoma. (Cody Sander) We brought 27 longhorns up from Oklahoma. We drove them in a parade at 10:15 this morning. Drove them out here to Old Abilene and did a few parades around the Old Town. We also loaded them on a railcar and hauled them out of town with a steam engine. We do this a lot, but we’ve never loaded the steers on a railcar like that, that was pretty neat. (Bobbie) That was a first. (Cody) That probably hasn’t been done in a long time. (Bobbie) We have some pretty mature, experienced steers that we thought would load well and we were pleasantly surprised to find that they did. The steam engine is loud but it went really well. [Laughs] (Cody) They did a really nice job of building an authentic loading chute made out of wood. You don’t see something like that very often and cattle would get in a wood chute, so it worked out really well, and the car looked nice, and they did a really nice job here. We’ve been doing this since 1997, not coming to Abilene but we’ve been doing parades, and trail drives, and stuff all over the place. We do about 15 of these a year, probably. In 1997 they were selling a bunch of big longhorn steers in Shamrock, Texas. My dad’s a cattle buyer and he was there at Shamrock that day and it was only him and a packer buyer bidding on those steers. Dad didn’t want to see them go to slaughter so he bought them, and we took them home and decided that we would promote our hometown rodeo with them. We had a cattle drive from the ranch which is about 10 miles to town. We got a few people together and drove about 60 head of steers from the ranch to town and it got really good news coverage. A friend of my dad’s told him, “Don’t sell those steers, I think we can do something with them.” We did a few rodeos with them that year and a few parades, and then it just blossomed from there. Those steers would’ve went to slaughter had my dad not been there and bought them. I guess, as long as there’s a demand for somebody that wants us to bring them and show them off, we’ll do it. We do some stuff around the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we go to Greeley, Colorado every year, they’ve been to Detroit, Michigan. They’ve been to Ellsworth, now they’ve been to Abilene, and we’ve had them at Russell, Kansas. They’ve been all over the place, Amarillo, Tucumcari, New Mexico. (Bobbie) Oklahoma City, a lot. (Cody) Oklahoma City, I don’t know. They’ve been hauled a lot. Dad is at another show in Elk City, Oklahoma right now. He has two loads of them and he has some other guys that help us down there. Bobbie and her husband Brooks and I brought the steers up here. Some friends of ours from Ellsworth are helping us. And go ahead and tell them what you do. (Bobbie) General ranch hand; I have cow/calf and yearling operation at Woodward and then these longhorn steers. Just make sure they have food and water then we get them in and sort them up for jobs specific. (Cody) They really have a pretty cush life compared to—I mean their only job in the world is to get loaded up every now and again. Come to one of these deals and eat good hay and travel around and everybody likes to see them. It’s kind of amazing, all the places we’ve got to go with them. We never thought that we would get to do this, but it just kind of worked out that way. (Bobbie) They spend their days in a tall grass pasture with the river running through it. It’s kind of a dream life; they come to town and get their picture taken. (Cody) The ranch name is Slash-O-Ranch. We have about 130 of them right now. It varies, some of them that get really old we’ll sell for yard ornaments, basically. Somebody will buy three or four of them and turn out the pasture in front of their house or something. Some of those steers live to be 25–26 years old. It’s nice they get to come to some place like Abilene. It’s a very historic cow town and actually does something with authentic cattle and cowboys. Load them on a train with a steam engine and not many people have ever seen anything like that or done anything like that in a long, long time. (Bobbie) We see these steers all the time, so we are used to them. It’s special to see somebody’s reaction that has never seen them before and to see how big the steers are. How gentle, docile they are. It’s neat to see people’s reaction.

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