- Associated Press - Saturday, March 10, 2018

ALFORDSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Cowboys in southwestern Indiana?

You betcha, partner.

Lassos in hand, two Knox County cattle ropers waded through a field of mud recently as rain pelted their western hats and mud glued to their horses’ hooves at Becky and Dave Lottes‘ Alfordsville home.

Their mission was far from shootouts and desert tumbleweeds.

Instead, the men - who wore leather chaps, cowboy hats and boots with spurs - were contracted to wrangle and move a couple stubborn and fiercely wild black Angus steers from the Lottes’ fenced pasture to a trailer headed to a nearby slaughterhouse.

“You just wait, Bert and Ernie,” Becky said to the defiant livestock before the cowboys arrived. “Your time’s a’coming.”

Dave is retired and Becky works nights at Kimball Office, but the two raise cattle at their home for the meat. They sell most of it, but save half a cow’s worth - about 400 pounds of meat - for their own freezer.

The couple has raised more than a dozen cows on their property, but said none had been as fiercely resistant to leave as Bert and Ernie, the steers that area cowboys Ben Bowman and Spencer Grubb - both of Sandborn - rounded up after a tough fight.

Well, it might have been a strain for the steers, but it was just another day on the ranch for the men.

After arriving at the property, Bowman and Grubb trudged on horseback through chilly, rainy conditions to the Lottes’ backyard. There, they were met with two blank stares from two steers who had refused for days to stay in their barn long enough for the Lotteses to lock them in.

Becky and Dave tried tirelessly to get them secured earlier. A botched attempt landed Dave in the emergency room, requiring stitches on his hand from a wire that cut into his hand when he tried to pull the barn gate shut from afar with the cattle inside. The steers plowed through the gate and back into the pasture.

The cowboys, however, are experts and are used to rebels. Bowman said the pair have roped about 65 cows already this year, with 20 or so of those coming on one occasion. About half of the cattle they rope have escaped their farms and it’s the cowboys’ job to bring them home, the other half are just too wild to catch.

Grubb records the adventures of the Indiana Cow Catchers and Cow Horses on Facebook.

It’s a way for the cowboys to make extra money, Bowman added. He trains horses for a living and Grubb is a farrier, but the two regularly spend a few days a week roping cattle.

They strutted into the muddy pasture - Becky called it a “slopbox” - on their steeds and the magic began, one steer at a time.

First up was Ernie.

After Grubb tossed and connected his lasso and tightened it around Ernie’s neck, his horse planted its feet as the cow bellowed and thrashed in resistance. Bowman roped the beast’s back feet and brought him to the ground, where his front feet were also tied together.

Now, it was his brother, Bert’s turn.

Bowman landed a shot around steer No. 2’s neck with a flick. Grubb then targeted and connected his looped rope on a hind leg, giving the two herders full control of the animal.

On horseback, Bowman proceeded to lead Bert out of the enclosure with Grubb acting as the brakes from the rear - lifting the leg whenever the animal stepped out of line.

They shoved him in the trailer and returned for Ernie, who bucked and squirmed, but eventually succumbed to the pros’ will. Then, they were off to Newton Processing Plant in Montgomery.

The cowboys said they are the only experienced wild cattle catchers in the area and stressed that their job is not easy and can be extremely dangerous.

“These things can kill you,” Bowman said after Bert and Ernie were loaded in the trailer. “Sunday, we roped some big bulls, and you’ve got to trust the guy on the other side to not let that bull get up and kill you and run over you and everything else.”

Bowman, 41, and Grubb, 27, have been roping cattle together for more than a decade, and Bowman has more years of practice from before the two teamed up.

The trust they have in each other and the expertise they wield is evident when they work. They seldom spoke to each other while roping the cattle and leading them to the trailer.

“When you go to battle, you’ve got to have somebody on your back,” Bowman said.

Becky loved the whole ordeal. Family came to see just how a couple cowboys could move the steers. And despite the heavy rainfall, a smile beamed from ear-to-ear on her face as she watched the men on horses gallop around the pasture and eventually ride off into the dreary midafternoon.

How does Dave feel now that Bert and Ernie are finally off his hands?

“It’s going to feel even better when I cut into those steaks,” he said with a laugh.

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Source: Dubois County Herald

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Information from: The Herald, http://www.dcherald.com


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