The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Cattle Drive

By Lois S. Poff © 1987

Issue: March, 1987

It was August, 1931 and my sister and I had just returned to our farm home at Floyd after completing our first quarter at R.S.F.C. at Radford, Virginia. That night our father told us that he had bought up a bunch of cattle down on Runnett Bag and he wanted us to go down with him the next morning to help him drive them out from down there.

I didn't say anything or ask any questions. I was just so happy to get to go to Runnett Bag for I had heard of it all my life and never had got to go there. I knew my father had bought the Phillip Lancaster farm way over near the Franklin County, Virginia line but I didn't know he had gone down in Franklin County and bought up a big herd of cattle to put over there for late summer and fall pasture.

We got up early the next morning and William Epperly, a neighbor, took us down there in his roadster and then he left. My sister and I went in the house and visited with the woman and her little daughter while the men rounded up the cattle. When we heard our father holler, we ran out, grabbed our sticks and got ready to drive. I was surprised when I saw there was so many. I believe there were fifteen or twenty head, mostly steers.

My father got them started in the right direction and then walked on ahead and was soon out of sight. He was checking the way to see if there was other livestock or vehicles ahead that might cause trouble.

We got excited. We had never done a job like that before. We had just gone a short distance until we came to a creek. Before I knew it my sister was just wading across the creek with her shoes on right with the cattle. She thought she saw a place across the creek where they would need heading off. I stayed on the other side until the cattle got across and there I started across a foot log. When I got almost across, I saw two had come back and were just standing in the water. I had to rush back across the foot log, wave my stick, and "hurry, hurry," them on.

When we got them all going on up the mountain trail and I got time to think, I thought of the many western story magazines I had read and western movies I had seen when I was growing up and how I used to wish I could be a cow girl.

Runnet Bag didn't look like I was expecting. I didn't see any big meadows dotted with hay stacks and I believe feed was scarce was why people were selling their cattle.

I didn't speak to anyone all the way up the mountain. My sister stayed on one side of the herd and I stayed on the other. Occasionally I would glimpse my father way ahead when he would stop and wait to see if we were coming on.

After we had driven the cattle for miles up the mountain we came to a better road and there was William waiting in his car. My sister got on the running board on one side of the car and I got on the other and after that we rode along and drove them.

I was glad when I saw my father heading the cattle through an open gate at the Lancaster farm, but still it had been fun.