Monday, June 3, 2013

Ranch Traditions: Branding Part 2

As I left off in my last post,
in our family,
one brother brands calves. 
The other brother cuts,
or castrates the bull calves
and then they (the bull calves) are known as steers.
And the father, as most patriarchs on ranches,
has graduated to the vaccine gun.

We have a two iron brand called a quarter-circle star.
A star with a quarter-circle over the top.

If you have questions about branding,
you can read my first post here:
Although, I am probably not all that qualified,
I do my best to share about it.
I should probably have my husband write all of the ranch posts
because I likely make some mistakes in writing
and sometimes I put up a photo that I shouldn't
in my own ignorance of being a photographer more than a cattlewoman.

You can also refer to Ree Drummond's blog The Pioneer Woman
and the posts by "Marlboro Man".
He does a great job of explaining many things about ranching.
One of my favorites is this:
Although every ranch is a bit different,
this is a great explanation about the business.

My husband is a cutter.
He's the one with his knife in his teeth.

By the way,
you might be concerned about him
getting sick with that knife in his mouth.
But I have been around him for 21 branding seasons
and he has been healthy every single one of them.
Actually I think it builds his immunity.
He rarely gets sick.

I think it is Copenhagen and cutting calves.
And fresh South Dakota air.

At our branding, he probably kneels down and gets up
about 250 times that day.
Which keeps him in fitting well into his Wranglers.
He is one of few that do this job 
. . . passed down to him by Karl, I believe.

I try to tell him it's good exercise that keeps him young.
But he is not so sure anymore.
He is a cutter or the cutter when he "neighbors" at other places too.
So by the time the season is done . . .
I suppose he has done well over 1000-1500 lunges/squats.
Don't quote me on that . . . it is just my guess.
Maybe I should take up that job and my jeans would be fitting well
 . . . or not.

On the branding stove you can see the
Rocky Mountain Oysters
a.k.a. "nuts",
or other various names,
cooking under our "chef", Karl's, knife.
Karl does more cooking that cutting these days.

We have several men that run the branding irons also.
It takes a lot of good hands to get the job done.

Although my husband is a cutter,
he is not an eater.
When the cutter doesn't eat them, maybe that is a message...

It is getting to be time to pass the knife,
or at least get some back-up help.
Which brings me to my next topic . . . 

One of my favorite parts of branding 
is how the men take time to raise up the kids to learn to work. 

It means so much to the kids to be treated with respect.

The kids learn to wrestle calves and how to hold them
so that they lie still.
As my husband says, it is more about technique
than it is about strength.

This was the year
that my son
branded a calf for the first time.

It is a proud thing
to brand your own calves - -
like a rite of passage.

As the day winds down to the last few
pens of calves,
the kids get more attention.

Here, Jake is helping one of our lil' friends
who was all excited about working calves.

Not an ounce of fear
and several pounds of enthusiasm.

It is good tradition
to have family and friendly neighbors
raise up the next generation by teaching them how to work.

It is good tradition
to have your friends take your kid
under their wing
and treat them like they are 
capable, responsible, strong.

It is good tradition
to have neighbors work alongside
helping and growing courage and confidence
in the next generation.

It starts early.

So you might as well show up, geared up.

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