Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Branding We Will Go

Wow. Yesterday was an experience! I might have been a 4-H member in my youth, but raising sheep and goats was nothing compared to wrassling cattle. A member of our church has a beef ranch, and we were invited to help with the yearly calf branding. Pete and Adam have been twice, this was my first time. As I said, it was an experience.

The drive to the foothills was gorgeous. Once we had passed the stone fruit and orange trees, we were treated to pastoral scenery like this.

We even saw a few cows. It was like being in a picture postcard. (I just noticed that there is an egret in the top of the middle tree. It looks pretty silly. It spoils my composition, doncha know?)

When we arrived, there was a small campfire burning. It didn't look like much - until you noticed the three branding irons stuck in the coals.

When it was finally time to concentrate on the calves - all the cows and bulls had been vaccinated, wormed, and sent out of the corrals - the cowboys went to work. First, a calf would be selected from the corral.

The calf would be led out, with the lasso around his neck. A second cowboy would swing his lasso, and catch the back feet.

Once he was caught, the neck rope was moved to his front feet, and he was stretched out, in preparation for "the treatment."

He received two vaccinations, and a branding. This little boy was also about to become a steer. I'll leave that part to your imagination.

Once their feet were secure, it took about three minutes to do all that needed to be done to the calves. When they were released, they popped right up and headed out to find Mama. (That's Pete, in the green plaid, making sure this little one doesn't try to come back for seconds.)

And that, my friends, is a VERY brief overview of branding. I actually took 137 pictures and 2 short videos. At that point Pete handed me that blue bucket and I had to put my camera down. It was a VERY educational day, and once more my appreciation for animal agriculture has been bumped up a notch. Very impressive!

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