Izzy Bird, on Jim
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Izzy Bird, still in Estes Park

Isabella is still in Estes Park and helping her host drive cattle.

“Two thousand head of half-wild Texas cattle are scattered in herds throughout the canyons,* living on more or less suspicious terms with grizzly and brown bears, mountain lions, elk, mountain sheep, spotted deer, wolves, lynxes, wild cats, beavers, minks, skunks, chipmunks,** eagles, rattlesnakes, and all the other two-legged, four-legged, vertebrate, and invertebrate inhabitants of this lonely and romantic region.”

They are driving the cattle out of the canyons, where snowfall can trap the herds and lead to starvation. Once in Estes Park to overwinter, the calves will be branded.

“Some ‘necessary’ cruelty is involved in the stockman’s business, however humane he may be,” she observes. “The system is one of terrorism, and from time to time that the calf is bullied into the branding pen, and the hot iron burns his shrinking flesh, to the day when the fatted ox is driven down from the endless pastures to be slaughtered in Chicago, ‘the fear and dread of man’ are upon him.”

Isabella takes great joy in the intensity of the round-up. In another life, maybe, she would have performed in a wild west show or been a cowboy. This is her happy place.

She approves, by the way, of the manner in which American’s treat their livestock.

“There were no stock whips, no needless worrying of the animals in the excitement of sport. Any dog seizing a bullock by his tail or heels would have been called off and punished, and quietness and gentleness were the rule. The horses were ridden without whips, and with spurs so blunt they could not hurt even a human skin, and were ruled by voice and a slight pressure on the light snaffle bridle…I never saw a horse BULLIED into submission in the United States.”

* the canyon is at 7,500 feet, with mountains surrounding that are 11,000 to 15,000 feet.
** I’m thinking chipmunks are less of a threat than the bears but am not a cattle rancher.


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