Farrier realizes lifelong dream on 140,000-acre ranch in Nevada
Bord Byrn hasn’t met anyone who never wanted to be a cowboy, and when Byrn’s chance came, he took it.
Byrn, 47, headed west this fall for a week as a cowhand on a 140,000-acre ranch outside of Wells, Nev. He slept in his horse trailer, saddled up before sunrise each day, and helped round up the ranch’s 1,000 head of cattle free of charge.
The New Salisbury resident didn’t want to be a cowboy once. He’s always wanted it. And when his friends Wayne and Margie Bussabarger of Corydon extended the offer to go with them to help on the roundup, ‘It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance,’ Byrn said.
(Incidentally, the name Bord is Scandinavian. ‘It’s supposed to mean fair-haired, and it did when I was younger,’ Byrn said.)
Though a long way from the ranch, Byrn has had a lot of experience with ungulates (hooved animals). He spent 18 years as a master farrier ‘ a blacksmith who shoes horses ‘ and he and Bussabarger are members of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Horse Patrol.
However, the perspective is a bit different out west.
‘Out here (Harrison County), you think of cows per acre. Out there, you think of acres per cow because there is not that much vegetation for them to eat on,’ Byrn said.
On his way to Nevada, Byrn hooked up with his brother, Harry (who owns and operates a ranch in Afton, Okla.), in Kansas City, and the two made their way to Scott and Kathy Merrill’s I.V. Ranch.
The cattle had spent the summer grazing in the mountains where the grass was better due to the higher elevation. The volunteer cowhands were charged with pushing the cattle down the mountain, gathering them and driving them south under Interstate 80 to the winter range.
The entire ranch was surrounded by one fence, leaving a 17-by-20-mile rectangle for the makeshift cowboys to cover.
Riders would head south in a group. Every quarter- to half-mile, someone would break off and start riding west until a line of riders were canvassing the range.
Usually the cattle would be in groups no bigger than five.
‘Their natural instinct is to move away from you. You would get up within 20, 30 yards, sometimes even 60 yards, and they would go ahead and start taking off,’ Byrn said. That’s when the riders would ‘push them on horseback or ‘shoo’ them, as you would say.’
Fifteen riders set out on the first day, rounding up 600 cattle.
‘After that is when it got hard,’ Byrn said.
Four to five riders set out on each of the following days. The Byrns, Harold Bussabarger and Scott Merrill headed to the range every morning. When the week was out, only five head of cattle still were unaccounted for.
When the work was done, the Byrns and Bussabargers left Nevada with the memory of an adventure as compensation.