Patience is a virtue. In our fast-paced world today, sometimes we forget to slow down and remember our roots. Thankfully, we still get little reminders of hard work and patience in our small town.
The Pentz family has been driving cattle on the same trail for three generations now but the landscape of the trail has changed over the years. Part of the original cattle path now houses a stretch of Interstate 84.
Old stock trailing rights allow the ranchers access to the interstate, so these days the 400 head of cattle take the onramp to their summer grazing pastures located at Lost Creek in Croydon. This allows people who choose to enjoy it a close-up look at how the West used to be run.
However, the cowboy way of moving cattle may soon become less common. The Utah Department of Public Safety frowns upon mixing livestock and cars. As speeds on Utah freeways continue to increase, it makes it more and more dangerous to take the cattle to the streets.
The state has given local ranchers other options. Instead of “driving” cattle in rancher terms, the cattle would be loaded in trailers and literally driven to their destination. However, the Pentz family would prefer to see other options explored like a designated livestock trail near the freeway.
“We will keep enjoying this tradition until they tell us we can’t. When I was 6 years old I was moving cattle on the freeway with my dad. I would love to see it continue for four or five more generations,” commented Shane Pentz.
Shane is not alone in his desire to see this drive continue. Echo Miner remembers the time she spent on the Pentz farm fondly. “My brothers and I were always with my grandpa, Charles Irwin Pentz. We worked on the farm sun up to sun down. But the most exciting thing for me besides hanging out with a true, honest, hard-working, cowboy...my grandpa...was the cattle drive! Who wouldn’t love a good ol’ cattle drive.”
Miner continued saying, “I thought we were the coolest family! Everyone would take pictures of us from their vehicles as we pushed the cattle to Lost Creek.”
Some argue that cattle trucks are the safer mode of transport. However the Pentz family is proud that they have never experienced a cattle casualty while using the interstate, even while providing their own traffic control. Some locals argue that an overturned cattle truck causes more delays in busy traffic than the pre-planned cattle drive and that this small inconvenience may be worth keeping a little bit of western tradition alive.
Thanks to local resident Keith Squires, commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety, a partnership was facilitated with the Utah Highway Patrol this year to keep things safe for vehicles as well as the cowboys and their cattle. UHP involvement made it easier to have one lane of traffic open, but at a much slower pace.
The Pentz family normally moves the herd on Saturday, but this year it began on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. The cows behaved and were off the interstate more than an hour earlier than scheduled.
Shane Pentz said working with Squires and UHP officer Lt. Chris Simmons was a breath of fresh air. “In the past, we always did our own traffic control and not all the officers have been nice about it. But this year Keith asked us what he could do to help and UHP called and asked if they could help and everything went well. Their assistance was very much appreciated.”
More than 40 family members participated in the drive. Among that number were many children and teens who were “free range children” for a day. They put down their electronics and experienced the hard work and beauty of a real cattle drive, something most teens and children won’t ever get to be a part of. Having an appreciation of where a meal really comes from, beyond the grocery store, is something most of today’s youth miss out on.
“I remember looking forward to this every year and hoping I would get to ride a horse on the street, but I also enjoyed when Grandpa Charley would put a bunch of us in his little beat up Ford trucks. Once in a while he would say, ‘OK, I have to jump out and get this cow out of the fence so you take the wheel. Just stay on the road and go slow.’ I learned to drive a truck real quick. Then afterwards he would stop at Nebco and buy all his grandkids a banana Creamie,” reminisced Bree Wardell Hubble. “Grandpa Pentz was stern and always let you know if you did something wrong, but he had a way about him that made you feel welcome and loved.”
Ten-year-old Hope Woolsey loved her ride and said, “My dad has done this since he was a little boy and now it’s my turn.” Her 6-year-old sister Navy chimed in saying, “It’s fun riding horses and chasing the cows with my cousins.”
Miner said, “Not only is it a fun family tradition but a learning opportunity as well. From a young age it teaches kids responsibility, hard work and dedication, just to name a few. So when they grow up they have a strong dependable work ethic, which is far and in between these days.”
Miner recalled one instance where she and her cousins, Tiffany, Stephany and Shaelee “got a good talking to” by “good ole” Lane Pentz for all jumping on the Shetland pony and it taking off down the side of the road. “It ended with me landing in a pile of cow manure,” said Miner.
She emphasized that the best memories made are the ones you make with family. “When we had a break I always looked forward to my grandpa’s warm Pepsi. In the end you would be hot and tired but man, was it rewarding! I hope one day my girls will get to experience the Pentz cattle drive.”
Hubble added, “I was lucky enough to learn what hard work is. I believe because of this as an adult I have been able to excel at my job and appreciate that hard work back then.”
Those involved in this year were: Ty, Tiffany, Tyson, Timberlee and Tuk Pace; Ryan, Stephany and Rexton Crossley; Garret, Shaelee and Levi Reden; Diana, Rozi and Mason Pentz; Kelly, Klayton, Kooper and Karter Pentz; Eli, Krissy, Hayden, Jayden, Owen, Soozi, Waylen and Wil Pentz; Tracy, Cassa, Cassie, Carlee, Lee, Stevi and Gracy Woolsey; Lew, Kallie and Raylan Woolsey; Calem and Cassidy Woolsey; Jessie, Cari, Hope, Navy, Brolin and Bristol Woolsey.