Friday, June 24, 2016

A Hot Day for Branding

A couple weeks ago I took the kids to check out the last branding of the spring. It didn't feel like spring, it was approaching 90 and windy. About 270 calves had to be processed, and the cowboys and cowgirls were doing it the old-fashioned way. The calves were sorted from their moms, then they were roped individually.

Each calf was ear-marked (instead of an actual brand), an ear tag put in, vaccinated, and for males, a rubber band was applied to a delicate part to restrict blood flow (let's just say that too many bulls are trouble). It took about a minute or two for each calf to be processed. Then it was marked with chalk and let go.

I find watching the roping to be fascinating. It takes a lot of skill and practice to be able to get a rope around a calf's back legs.

I'm told that the elbow position is extremely important.

When the right moment is spotted, the lasso is thrown out.

The slipknot is tightened...

...and if all goes well, a calf is caught. Oftentimes it takes multiple tries to catch a calf.

Several ropers were out there working their magic.

Meanwhile the calves were moving around. Did I mention that it was windy? The kids weren't so fond of all the dust. I found sunglasses a necessity to keep grit out of my eyes.

 The horses are so well trained. They were fun to watch along with the riders.

Baylee kept pulling calf after calf.

It was kind of neat getting down low and seeing what it all looked like from there.

In this corral, a metal doohickey called a Nord Fork is put on the calf's head to keep it from moving during the procedures.

The next corral over didn't have those, so a calf was held by two ropes, each attached to a horse on either end. I hadn't seen that before, so it was neat to check out.

It took about eight hours, but they got all the calves processed. Way to go!
You can see more about moving and processing calves (and other things about ranching) on this fun blog, written by my sister-in-law.

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