On this outfit, we calve later, so we end up branding in July. Yes, July branding may be hotter this way – but calving is ‘waaay nicer! No more 2 am heifer-checks in a howling blizzard. 😀 (Not that I did much of that,anyways, but my husband sure did.)
We had a couple of brandings in June and a couple in July. This one was hot. Dry and dusty, too. I was cooking, so I didn’t get to photograph the entire thing. But when I took cinnamon rolls out for break, I stayed a few minutes.
First, there’s the roping and dragging, then the ground grew takes over. Two people hold the calf, while others vaccinate, ear-tag, brand, (and cut, if it’s a bull). It is a beautiful thing, to watch an experienced crew brand calves. No matter if it’s heel & drag or head & heel; if it is run smoothly it is like flowing music; everyone doing his job efficiently, over and over. Like Pa Ingalls said in By The Shores of Silver Lake:
“That’s the boss’s job, Pa said, “He makes them keep time just like they were playing a tune. Watch the boss and you’ll see how it’s done. It’s pretty work.”
A branding is different than building a railroad grade, but there are similarities. The boss knows who to set to wrestling together, who to have roping when, and who to cut and tag and vaccinate. Everyone working together, it does make pretty music.
Let me just say here that our bosses are awesome. (manager & cowboss) They don’t miss a thing. I am always so impressed with their skill and attention to detail.
Branding is always a fun time on the ranch; the cowboys get to practice their roping skills, the kids get to help mark and wrestle calves, everyone gets to sit down afterward and enjoy a meal together. Chatting, laughter, stories… it’s all part of the ranch life.