If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that it’s branding season in New Mexico! This is, hands down, one of my favorite times of the year. It means spring is here, and gosh, it’s so much fun. It’s a chance for everyone to get together and have a good time while also getting work done.
If you’re new to the blog, or not involved in ag, let me give you the 30-second skinny on branding. If you know what’s up as far as branding goes, feel free to skip to the next paragraph! We brand our cattle to show ownership, and it’s one of the oldest traditions of ranching in the American West. It’s also a law in many states, and comes in handy to identify cattle if they get mixed with a neighbor’s. A brand is much easier to read than an ear tag, and unlike ear tags or buttons, a brand will never fall out or come off. There are two types of brands: hot iron brands and freeze brands. Hot brands are the traditional method, and use a branding iron heated either over a fire or an electric iron to burn a brand into the top layer of flesh to make a scar. It’s good to keep in mind that the flesh of a cow is much, much thicker than a human’s, so branding cattle is not the same as putting a branding iron on your own skin, and the vast majority of calves suffer no ill effects–not just eventually, but right away. Being away from their mothers for the short while it takes to brand seems to affect them more! Freeze brands are typically used for horses, or for individual identification on cattle in addition to a hot brand, and are done with an iron cooled to very low temperatures with liquid nitrogen. A freeze brand is different from a hot brand in that it affects the hair follicle, and causes the hair to grow back white. If you have more questions about branding, I’d be so happy to answer them!
This first branding was a blast. It was my horse client’s branding, so Bert came to ride a few of his horses that I’m selling so that I could get pictures and video for the website, and it’s always fun to have a mid-week day date with all of my boys. Wacey is old enough now to help a little, and had so much fun wrestling calves (while eating cookies simultaneously, of course, check out his right hand in the first picture) and being part of the crew. He kept saying “I a cowboy, mama! Like daddy!” and it was adorable. Buster enjoyed being cooed over by everyone there and trying his first cookie, and in true ranch kid fashion conked out about halfway through for a really good nap right there in the barn.
We have a lot more brandings on the docket, so we’re all excited to neighbor and get together with folks that we don’t see very often, or wish we saw more of! It’s fun to get up early, get everyone dressed and horses saddled, and drive out while the sun is rising with Yetis full of something hot, and the boys dozing in the backseat. It’s definitely one of my happy places!
You won’t see any pictures of the gather–we got there, and the boss asked if I could drive the cake truck to help guide the cows in because the way to the pens at his place can get tricky, and the cows sometimes miss the gate. I had no idea where I was going, and haven’t driven a stick in years but we got it done, and Bert assured me that when I was stopped trying to figure out where to go next (I didn’t see the open gate that was right there until the cows were pretty much on top of us) it just seemed like I was waiting for everyone to catch up.
Of course I was. I know what’s up. No confusion or mini-freakouts here. Not this gal.
My stellar cake wagoning aside, it’s Easter Week! We’re over here rejoicing about so many things, including warmer weather and rain in the forecast, dates with friends on the calendar, Easter festivities, and, of course, the wonderful sermons and messages that abound this week. This is a season of good news and hope and renewal for so many reasons, and kicking it off with a branding last Friday felt perfect.
PS: in the spirit of Easter, did you see the post about the boys’ Easter baskets? I can’t wait! Holidays are so magical and fun with little kids when they know what’s up. The anticipation and the excitement is contagious, and I’m so thankful for it.