A stampede or panic flight by massed Texas LONGHORNS on a CATTLE DRIVE was an ever present threat or occurrence. Cowboys
dreaded a stampede (from the Spanish 'estampida') because of the time wasted in assembling the herd again, the subsequent
loss of cattle, and the damage the milling1 animals often inflicted2 on themselves with their long horns. It is said that
few cowboys were injured or killed by the rushing cattle. Most human casualties were caused by lightning or falling horses.
Most stampedes occurred at night.
The longhorn, because of its wildness, was easily alarmed and quick to move. A sudden clap of thunder or other loud noise,
the smell of a WOLF, the bark of a COYOTE, the sound of a RATTLESNAKE, any of a host of things might
bring the steers to their feet in fright; the fear spread swiftly and suddenly the herd was running in blind panic.
The cattle would run for many miles, with the cowboys riding hard trying to check their flight, until exhaustion brought
the animals to a halt. It often took several days to round up the scattered cattle, calm them, and get
them on the trail again.
1. milling - herumschwirrend, fräsend
2. to inflict on themselves - sich hinzufügen
In the days of the open range cattle wandered freely over a wide area in search of forage1. Each rancher claimed a
certain area as his range according to the number of cattle he owned and his priority of use. The ranges were not
fenced and cattle from different ranches intermingled; the animals were branded2 to determine ownership. A round-up
was the gathering and sorting of the scattered cattle. There were two round-ups a year, in the spring and the autumn.
The spring round-up was mainly concerned with BRANDING new calves; unbranded calves kept close to their branded
mothers and this signified ownership. Motherless calves or strays were called MAVERICKS. In the autumn or 'beef'
round-up the cattle were gathered for the trail drive to market. All cattlemen in the region participated in the
round-up, each owner of a herd contributing a number of cowboys and horses. The riders would sweep the country,
searching and surrounding the widely scattered cattle and driving them to a point of concentration; here the cattle
were separated according to their brands. The round-up was hard work and required all the cowboy's skills in driving
out stubborn, half-wild LONGHORNS from brush and broken country, 'cutting out' or separating particular animals,
and roping and branding. During the round-up the cowboys slept in the open, tended by a CHUCKWAGON. The coming of
BARBED WIRE fences, which enabled ranchers to keep their cattle separated, ended the need for the open range
1. forage - Futter
2. to brand - markieren, brandmarken (Vieh)
The introduction of barbed wire fences on the hitherto open ranges in the 1870s was a major factor in improving cattle
breeds and agriculture on the Western plains, where the traditional fence materials of wood and stone were scarce.
Before the coming of barbed wire fencing, untamed cattle roamed free, making it difficult to breed the best beef
stock; the scrawny2, native Texas LONGHORN was not the ideal meat producer. In 1874 Joseph F. Glidden, an Illinois
farmer, patented his particular type of homemade barbed wire which proved the most practical and effective of the
many kinds that had been devised; his improvement over the previous types was in the special barbed spur twisted
through the double-strand wire. Glidden's wire went into cheap mass production (other types followed) and the open
range was doomed. The initial use of barbed, or 'bob' wire as it was also called, by farmers and ranchers to protect
their private land upset the free-ranging cattlemen, who called it 'devil's rope'. And big cattle outfits fenced in
large tracts of public land and watering places to which they had no legal right. All this resulted in 'fence wars'
in which opposing factions cut fences and many men were killed. But barbed wire had come to stay and by 1890 most
of the private range land had been fenced, making it possible to breed fine cattle such as Herefords, Durhams, and
Shorthorns. Barbed wire gave the cowboy a new job, fence riding, patrolling the many miles of line to keep it in good
order and repair. The widespread use of barbed wire also helped bring law and order to the Old West. It encouraged
hard-working settlers to farm the land without fear of milling cattle trampling their crops, and it reduced the
crime of RUSTLING3.
1. BARBED WIRE - Stacheldraht
2. scrawny - dürr, schlank
3. rustling - Viehdiebstahl
Assignments (RIGHT / FALSE):
1. The greatest danger of stampeding animals was connected with cowboys being killed. - RIGHT / FALSE
2. Most stampedes occurred at dawn. - RIGHT / FALSE
3. Animals were branded to indicate who they belonged to. - RIGHT / FALSE
4. Unbranded calves could be laid claim on by every farmer. - RIGHT / FALSE
5. Roping band branding were two skills which were essential for cowboys to have. RIGHT / FALSE
6. Barbed wire benefitted the farmers because wild animals could no longer devaste their crops. - RIGHT / FALSE
7. J. F. Glidden's barbed wire was better than previous types due to its thickness. - RIGHT / FALSE
8. The Texas Longhorn produced better and more meat than other breeds like Herefords. - RIGHT / FALSE