The Intense Branding Cowboy, aka My Hubby, was the trusty Gate Keeper to back up the Master Sorter. Any time the Sorter might lose a "face off" the Gate Keeper was there as a last resort to stop the calf. You have to be brave and quick with great eyes for this task!
At this point I put away the camera and had to get to work. The entire process of peeling off 198 calves from their mamas took over an hour. Finally we were ready to start The Branding.
I want to pause for a moment here and give you the opportunity out of the rest of this post. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of branding or seeing photos of painful but important things quickly being done to baby calves then I would encourage you to skip the following.
But for the rest of you...here we go!
I didn't get SUPER photos although many turned out fine. I was unable to give much attention to picture taking because I did have a very important job. And we don't mess around in these parts with getting a job done. No lolly-gagging with this outfit! We work. We work hard. And we don't pittle fart around (as the Intense Branding Cowboy might tell you any day of the week)! The pictures I was able to catch were taken in the frenzy of a few moments here and there.
All together we worked 199 calves. We were done by 3:30 and took a nice lunch break. It was cold starting out and hot finishing up. I think I put sunscreen on 7 times before I left...I have learned the hard way too many times that these first warm Spring days can lead to first bad sunburns for the year.
My job was my usual. Paperwork and electronic ID tags. Sometimes I help fill needles or give shots but this year we had another person there to help with that.
Here is my clip board and equipment. I would write the calf's tag number down when he came into the chute. This would correspond with a new electronic tag number that I got ready on the piercing gun. Then I would wait for just the right moment (you get a routine down pretty quick when you're working cattle) and hand the gun to the Intense Branding Cowboy and wait until he handed it back. I tried to tag a couple calves myself but it takes a lot of strength and I just didn't have what it took.
I am usually the only gal around so it was awesome to have my sister-in-law there. She was The Vaccinator as well as The Calf Consoler, Cow Chaser, Medicine Mixer, and many more important characters.
The Intense Branding Cowboy was also The Castrater and The Tagger along with various other jobs.
One of these years I will be brave enough to ask to learn to castrate a calf. I am not brave enough yet. The other guys made sure the calf was still while The Castrater did The Deed.
This is as graphic as I got...
Many ranches rope calves and have people wrestle them on the ground to do all of this work. We prefer a calf table. It is a very sanitized, orderly process in comparison. We didn't need as many helpers as other places need and we could easily keep track of everything we were doing.
Here is The Consoler.
This is an electric branding iron.
You can see some of the hair stuck to it. The brand these calves got is a Rocking M. It is an M with a curved line underneath
My brother-in-law has done all of the branding since I've been around. Maybe some day I'll be brave enough to ask to try that too!
This is the MVP for the Day. The toughest job is not cutting out calf nuts or burning hide in my opinion. It is the guy who has to run calves up the alley into the chute. This guy gets the MVP because he goes home with the most bruises, bang ups, and battle wounds. He gets kicked, knocked, bumped, head butted, and much, much more. Thanks MVP for taking a beating for The Team.
And this next award is for The Most Pooped On. We offered to drive him to town and take him through the car wash so his wife would let him in the house again.
This is what you get for having to hold legs.
And here is my Intense Branding Cowboy at the end of a long hard day. Man, you trip my trigger.
We were both filthy dirty and exhausted after The Branding. The Irrigator showed back up as soon as we got home and headed out until late. We finally ate supper at 8:30. I managed to come home with one broken nail, chapped lips, and an aching back. The Intense Branding Cowboy on the other hand got a serious kick to his left thigh and came home with a bruised bone. I know it's bad when he's willing to ice, ibuprofen and Biofreeze. He's better today but he sure got it.
We get to preg check and Bangs vaccinate and tattoo next week at our place so it won't be too long before I get to write another Working Prairie Life post. Hope you all enjoyed!