Sunday, June 28, 2009

Have Any Of You Cowboys Ever Tried 'Hiving' Calves From A Herd? Well - That's What The New York Times Says We Do!

According to the New York Times, whenever it's branding time - and time to turn little bulls into little steers, all us cowboys take our best cutting horses to perform:

"...a timeless ritual, hiving off calves from the herd..."

Well, I've been on ranches in most of the Western states, though its been quite a few years since I have been accused of 'hiving' any calves - but I have never once heard that 'timeless' expression used before from any cattleman or woman.

So I looked up the phrase "hiving off calves" in GOOGLE and I got exactly - one... hit.

And that was from this article.

I then tried cows, cattle etc - and still failed to get a single hit. So I next tried every possible variation of the verb 'hiving' or 'to hive' with every possible variation of noun describing anything bovine in nature - and I still could not get a single hit.

Now the verb 'hiving' usually means when part of one bee hive swarms off and sets up its own hive. The verb 'hiving' can also mean to move any part of a group from the larger group, though mainly (though not always) it means to set up another residence and not just a temporary separation. It can also be used as a medical term.

But those are still very rare uses of the word - and even then it is mainly used in the UK - and not the US, much less the American West.

Now as far as the rest of the article - it is excellent as one would expect from one of the New York Times finest and most respected writers, Erik Eckholm. I can recall many articles of his over the years and I have read a number of his books.

This article is also a detailed and highly sympathetic look at one of the latest challenges facing independent ranchers - and I highly recommend anyone who is cattle minded reading it.

But, still... I would like to suggest to Mr. Eckholm - that in any of his future forays into our cowhand culture - whenever he is describing a "timeless ritual" of us cowboys - that he might try for a slightly more... timeless... way of describing what it is we are doing.

1 comment:

49erDweet said...

Agree it was extremely inappropriate for Mr. Eckholm to use a Brit word to describe an essentially Yank [or Canadian] enterprise. Wouldn't be surprised, though, if Aussie or Kiwi drovers used that particular term as they worked their herds, so he might have picked it up from them. Should have chosen "cleave", "detach", "sever" or "thin" if he didn't want to use "cut out".

Assumptions aside, imo his gaffe reflects the current state of the gray lady's efforts. Boxed herself into a corner by severely limiting her income and readership, so frills like fact-checking, etc., are stretched thinner and thinner. Sad state of affairs for those who love a free press.

Love to watch a good cutting horse in action. Poetry, intelligence, courage and grace all in the blink of an eye.