Punctuality is not my strong point. Memory is not my strong point either. That is why, two months after the fact, I am finally going to share with you my kids’ first branding experience. Hey, better late than never right?
On this ranch, they go about the business of ‘marking the cattle as their own’ a little differently than most. When you think branding you probably think fire, roping, and wrestling the little buggers to the ground. And for a small group of calves here, that’s how it goes. For the big bunch though, they have a much faster more efficient way of getting the job done. This ranch doesn’t have a huge crew working for them. It’s the two owners, father and son, and their two hired hands. That would be Jason.
They might hire another guy for a couple of days to help brand, but for the most part they are it. Very busy, these guys.
They also have something else to take into account that most other ranches don’t. The father( I haven’t asked them for permission to use their names yet) has been paralyzed from the waist down for the last twenty some years due to a ranching accident. This requires some improvising. It’s a good thing these men are smart and inventive!
My kids found this part amazing, to see something that he had made, help him stand. It was a great lesson about never letting life’s circumstances hold you back. I will never be able to make excuses again and actually believe them thanks to this man!
Ok,so they have a chute system that works something like this. The calves are in a runway.
They are moved from here into a smaller holding pen and then taken one by one down the chute to the table. They built this table also, to suit their specific needs. Never just assume that because someone is wearing a hat and has cow stuff on their boots that that’s all they know about! These guys are smart cookies.
Mmm, cookies. I need to bake today!
Anyway,Jason’s boss #2, aka the son of the above pictures boss #1, works the levers that ensure the calf is on the table at the right spot and strapped down.
The table is then flipped on its side. Jason grabs the back legs and tail to keep them out-of-the-way while boss #1 brands. One word on this part. The smell is horrendous!!!
Boss #2 now uses his nifty rubber band gun thingy to change little bulls into little steers. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of this one. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I did however get a picture of Tuckers face when he received the answer to his question of ” whats he doing with those green rubber bands?” Ah priceless!
Meanwhile, the other ranch hand is busy vaccinating,
and finishing the second part of their brand which is notching the right ear of the calves.
As soon as the ears are notched, the table is sat up, the calf released and the next one run in. Total time from start to finish is about a minute.Several hundred calves get done per day this way with only five men working. Now if only I could be this efficient when doing my chores!
The kids had a blast and so did I actually.Why you might ask? Because of the view of course. It’s not many jobs that you can watch that come with a view like this!
At the end of the day the mammas are happy to have their babies back and the calves have already forgotten what has happened to them. Oh simplicity.