We branded a few days ago. Branding is one of the jobs that you kind of dread, but you kind of love. The two hardest parts of a branding bee are preparing food, and lining up the day.
It begins with lining up a crew. You need several people. But not too many. And not too few. I don’t know which is worse.
First off you need cowboys and cowgirls that can gather the herd and get them in the working pens. You need people that can read a cow or calf’s mind, know when to push them, and know when to ease them along. When you get them corralled, you need people that can separate the cows and calves without causing a big ruckus and tearing down your corrals. Most of the time the cows are wanting out so if they are familiar with the set up, this can be simple. Or it can be a wreck. I’ve had both happen.
Most of the brandings we go too are the old rope and drag brandings, with a crew of calf wrestlers ready to tackle calves that should have been worked several weeks ago but wet weather prevented this.
You need a few good ropers. You want cowboys and cowgirls that bring the calf out by roping two hind feet. Oh, once in awhile one will slip a leg, but most of the time they come with doubles.
If you don’t have enough wrestlers you can use the “forks”. This is a contraption invented by someone a heck of a lot smarter that I that slips over a calf’s head and then the horse and the fork hold the calf to be worked.
You need a couple guys branding, a couple vaccinating, a couple castrating, and someone applying a pour on. And someone to tending water jug and beer cooler if it hot.
You need kids to pick up the oysters in case someone wants to prepare them for a tasty lunch. Which I don’t care for. You need people to hold the unworked calves in the pen.
Now some people use a calf table. You push the calf up the alley, into a chute that tips to the side, flip it up, and work the calf. This is an efficient, but slower method, since you can only work one at a time. And if your friends are ropers, eventually, they will unfriend you.
Lunch is the best part. Having a cold beer, visiting with friends and neighbors and eating some of the best food you ever tasted.
Every ranch has a specialty. Grilled steaks at the Bar H. Fresh homemade donuts, Indian tacos and homemade ice cream at the Hotchkiss Ranch. Roast beef, branding potatoes, tasty salads, and a myriad of wonderful food all over the west.
I could tell you more, but I’m supposed to be over the ridge by daylight and I am running late. A rolled up pancake in my pocket in case this is a long circle.
Hope you have a good branding,