October 7, 1979, was the final day of the fall roundup and trail drive for the Ninety-Six Ranch. The ranch lies along Martin Creek, a tributary of the Little Humboldt River in the upper section of Paradise Valley, Humboldt County, Nevada.
The cattle ranch's annual cycle began in spring with the birth of the calves. The calves were branded and turned out with the rest of the herd to summer on grazing range about fifteen miles due north of the ranch in the Santa Rosa Mountains. Each fall, some 2,000 cattle were gathered from the range and driven home.
One week before the fall roundup, the buckaroos, as cowboys are known in this region, packed their gear and traveled from the Ninety-Six Ranch in the valley to a line camp in the mountains. The (line) camps along the trail were located near a spring or stream, and consisted of a permanent cabin with a wood-burning cookstove and bunks, a fenced area to hold the cavvy (a string of horses), a place to store hay, and a corral where the day's mounts were caught and saddled.
A buckaroo's day started early during roundup time. At 5:30 in the morning, the buckaroos ate breakfast, put away bedrolls, and began to gather the cattle that they found throughout the range. It took three days to round up the cattle and three more days for the trail drive back to the ranch.
During part of the year, the herds grazed on public land managed either by the Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of the Interior, or on lands overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture. The federal land managers followed detailed regulations governing the date upon which a herd could come onto the land, the date for the roundup, and the permitted herd size, expressed in "Animal Unit Months" (AUMs).
Buckaroos used a variety of techniques to move the animals. To drive cattle from a thicket, they made noisy cattle calls—perhaps by banging on a tin can or by shaking a can full of stones. They were always careful not to cause a stampede. Cowboys often rode to a site above the cattle and positioned themselves out of sight, then rode down the hill so that the cattle would move in the desired direction. Activities such as card playing, conversation, good food, and, even frisbee, provided recreation along the trail.
At the end of the roundup, any calves born during the summer or overlooked in the spring were branded, and the marketable cattle sold. During the winter, the remaining herd, mostly cows, was fed hay and kept in nearby pastures. In the spring, with the birth of new calves and a turnout to the grazing range, the cycle began again.
Paradise Valley Bar and Store
Entering Hartscrabble Field
Crosscountry Movement of Heifers
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