We had been trying to get branded for the last 3 weeks but the weather wouldn’t cooperate. The forecast for today was finally for bright and sunny, and I had a crew lined up.
There was frost this morning, but as the weatherman had forecast, it was bright and sunny. I had shed my vest by 8:00, and my chaps by 9:00.
The cows were in a field along the county road, so my son-in-law Phil jumped four horses out of his trailer at the far end, and Cody drove the rig on up to the house. Cody and I did some last minute work on the chute while the four riders brought the cows in. I had my horse tied up handy, and mounted up for the last little push to bring the cows across the river and into the “bridge trap”.
The first task was to cut out the bulls and run them through to the bull pen where they would be out of the way. Then we pushed a blast of cattle into the corral.
I tied up my horse and grabbed my granddaughter and her cousin to help record weights and give the cows their spring vaccinations. My son-in-law and his brother ran a bunch of cows into the alley and sorted the cows up the chute and the calves out into the next pen. We gave the cows a combination vaccination for a couple of reproductive diseases, a couple of intestinal diseases, and a couple of respiratory diseases.
We had begun gathering mid-morning, and it took a couple of hours to get them in the corral, sort off the calves, and run the cows through the chute. We finished up about 12:30, and the crew loaded up in a couple of pickups to run up to the house for some lunch.
With full bellies, we were all a little slow to get down to the real work of branding. But we lit the fire in the propane branding pot, drew up a couple of vaccines for the calves, and sent in the ropers.
There were two men in the pen heeling out cattle and three teams of two wrestlers. I put a neighbor to branding and a couple of the ladies to vaccinating.
The ropers were hot, and they were bringing out calves with both heels in the loop as quickly as we could get them wrestled down, vaccinated, and branded. We had the usual number of wrecks – calves that got away from the wrestlers and bowled someone over. A couple of calves broke free before they were branded and had to be roped and drug back to the fire.
When the first two ropers began to tire, two more of us went in ahorseback and gave them a rest. Things went pretty quickly until the first propane tank began to peter out. That gave us a good excuse to stop and drink beer for awhile.
We tried to pick up both heels with our loops, then drag the calves across to the wrestlers, who laid the calves on their sides and stretched them out between them. Then the ropers could go back in for another. There were a couple of big calves, and a couple that were only caught by one heel, so one of the ropers dropped a loop on the head also, to control the calves until they were secured by the wrestlers.
Kathi brought down some goodies late in the afternoon to keep up our energy, but we were finished by 4:30. We had yet to cut the yearling heifers out of the herd of cows and calves.
By 5:00 we had the cows turned back out into their pasture, and the yearling heifers turned into another field with a yearling bull. Then it was time for one last beer for the road, and the pickups pulled out for home.