This past weekend we held our branding and after processing the whole day with my husband Art several different times, we determined that this year’s branding was probably the best we’ve ever had, or at least that we can remember having.
For starters, we had excellent weather.
Myles helping bring in the herd for sorting.
The temperature was not too hot out and for being early May, it wasn’t cold, windy, or threatening to snow or rain for once. We’ve had some real doozies for branding day weather in years past.
Our 14 year-old daughter Reneé really wanted try her hand at wrestling calves this year, which I was really excited about since there aren’t as many of us gals wrestling.
Scott–neighbor and friend running the branding irons. Reneé on the back end of a calf.
In years past she didn’t have the confidence (or enough sand in her butt) and was a bit intimidated by squirrely calves that weighed as much or more than she did. The night before and the morning of our branding, she had lots of questions about technique in hold down a calf.
Reneé and I holding down a calf. France (cutter) and Jim (vaccine guy) both friends and neighbors.
Calves that weigh as much as 150-200, even 300 pounds can really pack a punch when they kick and I’ve seen calf wrestlers get the wind knocked out of them so it’s pretty important that calves are held down tight when getting branded, castrated, vaccinated and eartagged at the same time. We assign one person for each job necessary, and it usually takes less than 60 seconds to do everything for each calf.
Larry–good friend and neighbor and our vaccine gun guy
We strive to brand, vaccinate, fly tag and castrate (where applicable) as fast as possible so there’s minimal stress on the calves and they’re paired back up with their mother again quickly.
Pat–good friend, neighbor, and our fly tag man
Laura–neighbor and calf wrestler
Branding day for our calves is a lot like a mother taking her kid in to the doctor’s office for his or her immunization shots. The key is to do everything as quickly as possible before the youngster even knows what happened and get him or her back to momma right after. I always appreciated how two nurses would give my kids their shots simultaneously so the ordeal wasnt drawn out. This is the same system we use for our calves. Restraining calves properly is really important for the calves, the wrestlers, and everyone tending to the calf. Sharp knives, needles, and hot irons can be really dangerous for all involved if a calf gets up or gets a hind leg loose and kicks.
Traditionally, we’ve always branded our cattle, but some outfits don’t. We feel branding our calves is even more important than ever these days since cattle rustling seems to be on the rise as a result of the current high cattle market. We aim to have everything branded before turning them out on summer range.
This year I worked my tail off in the kitchen the day before our branding making salads, side dishes; baking cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, desserts, and cooking my roast beef and BBQ spare ribs for our branding day dinner. I promised our daughter Reneé that I would wrestle some calves with her, as she felt more comfortable having me for a calf wrestling partner instead of her brother Myles, who always goes after the biggest calves in the bunch to wrestle.
All I had left to do on branding day was heat everything up and cook my gravy and potatoes for mashed potatoes. I am very fortunate to have such wonderful neighbor ladies who were willing to check on things in the kitchen for me while Reneé and I wrestled calves.
This is Dick, our Rocky Mountain Oyster cook. He takes his job very serious. Art designed and welded the special channel on top of our branding stove so we could cook Rocky Mountain Oysters for the crew to eat during branding. Goes great with an ice cold beer.
It was a really fun family day and even though it’s considered ranch work, everyone present had a great time doing the work, visiting and sharing a meal together afterwards.
Typical BS session while waiting for another bunch of calves to be brought in as well as after the work’s all done.
The Boss (Art) and Jim visiting
All photos taken by Martha Studt–thanks Mom!