Monthly Archives: July 2014

Summer Branding at the Neighbors

It was still dark when the alarm sounded.

I didn’t hear it.

I was sound asleep – tired from being up late. I forgot to make a dessert to take to the branding, and it was bedtime till I remembered. So when the alarm sounded, I was too zonked out to even hear it. :) Thankfully, my husband heard it and woke up.

The kids crawled groggily out of bed at 5:15, yawning and rubbing their eyes. The baby was stretched out so comfortably in sleep, that I hated to wake her. But I did. Because that’s what you do when you want to go to a branding. Meanwhile, My Cowboy was making hot, black coffee, and saddling his horse. When I finally got the kids all herded into the Suburban, we drove over to the barn and loaded the horse.

ranch sunrise
We headed north while the sun rose in glorious color beside us, streaming beams of light high into the sky, painting the clouds silver and orange and golden.


For just a few minutes, the sunshine lay a golden mantle over the land. The tall, prairie grasses glowed with light, and all the trees and hills had a soft, muted look that made you want to just sit and stare.


ranch sign


We drove back the two-track through miles of green grasses, with the birds swooping and darting beside us. There was fresh-cut hay in the fields, and a young elk – trying to figure out where to run to.

We arrived at the pasture where there was already a long row of ranch trucks, each one sporting a horse-trailer. We parked beside the last one and sat quietly while my cowboy unloaded his horse, and mounted up. After instructions from the Cowboss, he rode off with the others into the sunrise – over a grassy knoll, and they were gone. We sat in silence, still sleepy.

early morning ride


After an hour or so, we could see the cows drifting over the hills, followed by the cowboys. They had ridden to the back of the pasture, then worked their way to the center and front, pushing the cattle before them.


gathering cows for a branding, wyoming ranch


As the sun rose higher in the morning sky, the cattle got closer, and soon we could hear the mooing of the cows. The cowboys rode close behind them – close enough to keep them moving, but far enough back so that they wouldn’t start running. gathering cows for a branding, wyoming ranch


Once the cows were all in the branding trap*, the boss’s wife brought out some snacks for break. Huge cinnamon rolls and buckets of cookies and brownies. Plus the coolers full of ice-covered drinks.

Soon the pot was roaring, and the Cowboss had given instructions on how he wanted the roping to go. Some of the cowboys mounted up and started roping calves, while the rest of them stayed on the ground to wrestle calves, give vaccinations, castrate, and brand. They took turns, roping and working the ground.

roping a calf

heel trap


The kids were encouraged to git in there and help any way they could. For the littlest ones – like this tiny cowpoke – the best job is to mark the calf once it has had it’s vaccination.


little cowgirl


cowboys and cowgirls


buckaroo roping



branding iron

My favorite buckaroo in the whole world. :)

My favorite buckaroo in the whole world. :)



Extra horses.


All done! Turning them out again.


My husband’s saddle that he made. I made the cinch. :)

calveshorse feet


*Branding trap is the term used for a small fenced off pen out in a pasture, used primarily for brandings, so they don’t have to trail them all the way back to the corrals. Often they will set up a trap on the day of the branding – using steel fence panels kept for that purpose.


All photos are property of Kay Schrock. 

Happy 4th!



Happy 4th of July! :)

Do you celebrate the 4th? We don’t go crazy, but we do like to remember the day in some way. Some years we gather with friends and watch fireworks, but this weekend we have a lot going on, so I think we will just stay home and have a quiet celebration this year.

I will boil some potatoes and eggs and stir together a potato salad to go with our hamburgers. I will put some beans in the crockpot for baked beans, and maybe make a fun cake! :) Maybe we will eat outside in the cool air.

Here is one of my favorite quotes about Independence Day by John Quincy Adams:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”

–Adams wrote this in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776.

(source: )


I have always loved the way Laura Ingalls Wilder described her childhood revelation on what Independence Day really means…

“The crowd was scattering away then, but Laura stood stock still. Suddenly she had a completely new thought. The Declaration and the song came together in her mind, and she thought: God is America’s king.
She thought Americans won’t obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn’t anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good.
Her whole mind seemed to be lighted up by that thought. This is what it means to be free. It means, you have to be good. “Our father’s God, author of liberty–” The laws of Nature and of Nature’s God endow you with a right to life and liberty. Then you have to keep the laws of God, for God’s law is the only thing that gives you a right to be free.”

~Little Town On the Prairie

Oh that society today would take responsibility to ‘make themselves be good’. This alone – taking responsibility for our own actions – would solve so many current problems.

So tell me. How do you celebrate the Fourth? Are you proud to be an American? :)