By: Brittany Bevis
For the past few weeks, areas of the country like Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana have suffered extreme flooding from rapid snow melts and ice jams along major rivers. The rising waters have closed highways, threatened homes and businesses, and caused dangerous conditions for residents and their animals.
When the Kottwitz family of Mule Creek Junction, Wyoming knew their calves wouldn’t be able to cross the rapidly rising water, they concocted a genius plan to bring them to safety, with the help of a few friends, a Quarter Horse, and a canoe. Friend and neighbor, Savanna Simmons, was onsite with her camera to capture the expedition. Savanna and her husband, Boe, live with their two sons, Brindle and Roan, on Four Three Ranch just north of Lusk, Wyoming. The Kottwitz ranch is located 45 miles north of Lusk in Mule Creek Junction.
Assisting in the calf rescue were Boe and Jennifer Kottwitz with their daughter, Abby, and Savanna’s husband, Boe. “The calves were previously between where the rising Cheyenne River and Mule Creek converge,” Savanna says. “While a few of the calves crossed Mule Creek of their own accord, many were spared frigid water temperatures by the Kottwitz’s efforts.
“I’m not entirely sure where the idea came about, but I know Jennifer was fretting about the calves crossing the creek if it did get any higher or faster, which is probable given the warm week we were having and the melt off that is to come. Their younger daughter, Abby, got into canoeing a few years ago, so I suppose she was just thinking about getting the calves across and the canoe came to mind.”
But the canoe was just one piece of the puzzle. They were in need of some serious horsepower to cross the rapidly moving river. Enter Boe Kottwitz’s Quarter Horse gelding, Jaybird. “He’s a good, solid, ranch horse and while he didn’t necessarily care to go into the water, he did so without much hesitation or trouble. He also was just fine after. He got wet up to his chest, but he didn’t come out shivering or shaking.”
“At the point where Boe is riding his horse into the water toward the calves is where Mule Creek meets up with the Cheyenne River. There’s quite an impressive amount of water flowing from that point on.”
Once Boe and Jaybird crossed the river to the calves with the canoe, it was time to rope each individual calf and transfer them into the canoe for their river, rapid ride. Meanwhile, the momma cows watched patiently on the shore, seeming to know that they babies were being helped. “I don’t know that the cows really knew what was going on. They were recently purchased by the Kottwitzes and were very calm throughout. I don’t think that they thought they were in imminent danger, nor were they really at any point. They just knew that they wanted their babies back.”
The entire process took several hours. Although the wind was blowing hard, the temperature was around 30 degrees, which is warm for Wyoming during this time of the year.
“All is well on the ranch now. The water levels are pretty high and moving rapidly, but all of the animals are out of harms way. It wasn’t too hard of work or too stressful on anybody, animals included. Everyone stayed calm and worked efficiently, which made the process quick and easy. The cows all headed up to high ground away from the water, and Boe gave the kids a ride around the pasture in the canoe after.”
Scroll below for more great photos, courtesy of Savanna Simmons.
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