I could make this post really long- but I’m going to opt instead for a slide-show so the photos will load faster. I’ll explain to you what went on.
The first step in any branding is the gathering up of the pairs. A pair is a mama cow and her baby. Once they’re gathered and corralled (There’s photos of the corralled cows), we sort off the babies from the mamas. The babies stay corralled (photos below) and the mamas get put into a bigger corral until the first set of calves are branded. Then we open the gates and let them out- most of the mamas hang around calling for their babies. It’s noisy to say the least.
There’s then several ways to work your calves. You can go into the corral on foot and grab the calve’s back leg, have someone grab the same side front foot, (here we brand the right hip, so you’d want to grab the right back hind and right front- so their left side is on the ground) and basically they flank them to the ground and hold them. You can rope the heels, and then flank them to the ground, like we did at a neighbor’s branding; you can rope the heels, have your ground crew flank them, and then put a rope around the front feet (like we’ve done at other neighbor’s brandings) and have them held by two horses (which, if you ask me, is the most fun!) or you can do like we did (when you’re short on help) and use a calf fork. It holds the head and neck for you, while the back legs are held by the horse. The only drawback for this is that if you’re not super handy, or paying attention, you can stretch your calves too tight; so it’s not as easy on your calves, but it’s pretty easy on your help; it makes tagging, branding and vaccinating all a lot easier to do as there’s not a person sitting on the calf’s front end, holding that right front leg.
Once the calves are roped and their shoulders held in the calf fork it’s time to get to work. They got three shots- one of which was an injectable anti-parasitic. You can pour them with an anti-parasitic, but we have found that the injectable works better for us. The bulls were castrated (and we have plenty of calf nuts to eat- SCORE!) and got a pink tag in their left ear and a fly tag in their right. The heifers got a fly tag in their left ear and a pink numbered tag in their right. Then of course they were branded. I don’t think I got any photos of the tagging, because at our last three brandings, I’ve become the designated tagger. I guess that means I have a good relationship with the Z-tagger. You also can’t be faint of heart to do that job, so…I was hoping to learn to castrated the bulls, but we were short-handed so I didn’t get to learn, this time. But we have our big branding on Father’s day weekend, so maybe I’ll get to learn then.
I tagged about 160 calves, and then it was my turn to get in the pen and rope and drag some calves on The Gump. It was his second time with me riding him in the branding pen. We had a great time! The neighbor’s( nephew (he’s 10)- who you can see in the photos waving his hands to keep the calves corralled- got to rope and drag his first few calves to the branding fire, as did Kelsey, and our intern for the summer, Kara.
At the end of the day, the boys who took over tagging only made two mistakes with the pink ear-tags, all the calves got branded and worked, there was plenty of Bud Light consumed and then of course, we served beef for supper.
It’s the life, I tell you!
There’s pictures of Zach’s Daughter, her boyfriend, and our intern Kara, various horses and tack; Gump of course, holding my cowhide chinks, and other random photos.