Black Gold Ranch and Feedlot
Another service we offer is wild cow catching
A cattleman's worst nightmare ends well
Cattle breakout threatens Route 78 traffic
30 neighbosrs, real cowboys corral herd after four days.
By Jim Nowlan
Twenty heifers and a bull found a break in the fence at Al and Jean Harland’s cattle operation this past Wednesday evening. The cattle traveled four miles east along fence rows to both sides of Route 78, where for four days the livestock threatened traffic near the Gary and Ginny Forelines farm west of Toulon.
The cattle had split up and were hidden from sight in the adjacent cornfields. A collision between an 800-pound breeding heifer or a one-ton bull and a hurtling automobile could be deadly.
The drama ended without harm to humans or loss of livestock following a laborious roundup led by Stan Foglesong of West Jersey. Stan got key help from real cowboys (and nephews) Nathan and Drew Foglesong, who lassoed and corraled several of the spooked and dangerous heifers.
Your editor arrived at the Forelines’ Friday afternoon, hopped into Bruce Dutton’s truck, along with sidekick John Heaton, fifth grade son of Rick and Nancy Heaton. A mile north on 78, we saw brothers Nathan Foglesong, 21, and Drew, 19, of the Black Gold Cattle Company of Astoria, lasso a crazed heifer and push it into a trailer.
Wearing scuffed chaps, the Foglesong boys wheeled their alert, responsive mounts back and forth to drive the heifer out of 8-foot corn onto the roadside. With the confidence of experience, each threw his coiled rope over the heifer’s head.
Nathan wore the widest brimmed cowboy hat I’d even seen. From horseback, it must have shaded an acre. Foglesong had just the right swagger in the saddle to make that hat look like it was specially made for him. If your editor had worn that hat into any self-respecting country tavern, I’d have been laughed out before ordering a longneck beer.
Dutton, young Heaton and I continued a couple of miles west into the middle of a field where Bill Winans had set up a temporary corral that held three other heifers, the only ones captured after two days on the loose.
Jean and Al Harland came up, looking beat. I sure wasn’t about to ask them questions, the way a real reporter would. They had enough troubles. All the other fellows were equally respectful. The nightmare could happen to any livestock farmer.
“Trail boss” Stan Foglesong was at the temporary headquarters. There wasn’t much news. A call came in that the bull had been spotted a mile west and south, near Dean Seckman’s place. We headed off.
Young Jon Heaton and I talked. Jon has glistening brown eyes, big freckles and a winning smile. He likes talking with adults; he’s not at a loss for observations.
Jon was getting ready to show cattle at the Stark County 4-H Fair in a couple of weeks. He wanted me to bid on his sure-to-be-grand champion steer. Bruce declared I should put Jon on The News payroll for helping me with the names of the young cowboys. Jon and I dickered over salary.
Along the gravel road near Seckman’s, Rick Heaton (Jon’s father), and Brad Nelson, township road commissioner and farmer, surveyed the scene. The bull had vanished into the corn.
Why not get a helicopter or the Milledgeville dogs?
Stan Foglesong was in charge. He and the Harlands were neighbors; they traded cows and often worked together. The Harlands trust Stan, who graduated from Toulon High in 1976. His brother Steve, father of the cowboys and 1974 graduate, manages the Black Gold Cattle Company in Astoria, a cow-calf operation with 2500 pairs of livestock.
His boys and other cowboys are used to rounding up hundreds of cattle, not just a few like near Route 78. Stan knew they could handle things, though it might take awhile.
Dutton explained the other options. “There is an outfit up in Milledgeville use horses and dogs. The dogs will drive the cattle in in no time, but it’s bloody, not pretty.” The dogs apparently chew into the cattle to get them moving the right direction.
Using a helicopter is the other option. But Stan felt that would spook these relatively docile heifers even more and make it tougher to bring them in. “These heifers were AI (artificially inseminated).” Cattlemen (and women like Jean) apparently spend more time with AI cattle, if I heard Stan right. As a result, they become easier to handle.
“Flood gap” or tree down over a fence line
“It’s a cattleman’s worst nightmare,” Bruce Dutton observed, referring to stock getting out and threatening people and traffic.
The cattle probably came upon an opening in fence created by a “flood gap,” where rushing rain tears out fence, or possibly a tree fell across fence.
Owners Al and Jean Harland (featured in The News a couple of months ago) went without sleep Thursday and Friday, camping out along the highway to warn motorists and keep an eye out for their cattle. State troopers also patrolled frequently and warning signs were posted.
The adjacent fields are high with corn, and the cattle, which split up, were impossible to see from the ground.
Back at the Forelines farm (which I remember as Del Pitzer’s decades ago), Ginny Forelines, Peggy Gray, Nancy Heaton and daughter Elizabeth had prepared ice chests full of sandwiches and lemonade for the 30 or so neighbors and friends who would be helping throughout the four-day ordeal.
All’s well that ends well
By Sunday morning, the last two heifers had been rounded up.
Steve Foglesong and another rider from Black Gold came up Saturday and joined the operation.
Rick Rumbold, a local vaquero who had worked alongside the young Foglesongs, had driven several of the cattle into a field with Bob Johnson’s cattle, where they settled down.
At the Forelines’, food, coffee and lemonade were always at the ready.
“The support was unbelievable,” Stan Foglesong declared. “Bob Price and Roger Gray were there from the ‘git go,’ as were Rick Heaton, Bill Winans, Dean Seckman and lots of others.”
This was the best of what old-fashioned country cooperation and neighborliness are all about. Everyone dropped what he was doing for the duration and pitched in to help fellow farmers in distress.
Young Jon Heaton will be talking about this adventure for a long time.