On Froze-to-Death Creek

Oh, Froze-to-Death Creek, intermittent stream of my fondest dreams and memories.  When I was a little girl I was sure I would build a house on your banks one day.  And who knows, I might yet.  I’m not ruling out the possibility.


On Saturday, the kids and I watched the PV crew as they branded calves in Froze-to-Death Pasture, 15 or so miles southeast of Ingomar.  Beau, who was working with the crew, left the house for the branding at about 4 a.m.  I, the head wrangler of the Blake kids, finally left the house with children in tow at about 10 a.m.  The most important thing is that we made it on time for lunch, right?  Forty-five miles of dirt road from our front door, we spotted them down on the creek:


We met my mom at the branding (she was cooking for the crew).  Here she is with Emi, talking to Frosty:


Mom brought my grandma with her to the branding.  Grandma is 90.  She likes to watch goings-on from the passenger seat these days:


She also still considers herself to be a horse trader.  In this photo she had beckoned Joe over to her window and was soliciting a horse deal:


He convinced her that his horse was a little too lively for a 90-year-old.  Maybe next year.

My mom also brought with her my Aunt Susan:


My cousin Jenna and her 4 kids and my niece Taylor:


We gals and kids were mere spectators for the day; a full crew was well in swing — in fact, they’d already branded one pasture and were on to the second — by the time we got there.


My dad, boss of the crew, came over to talk as soon as we arrived:


The crew had found a neighbor’s bull in the pasture, and Dad wanted Mom to drive up on the hill and use her cell phone to call the neighbor to come get the bull.  Can you spot the one that doesn’t belong?


Meanwhile, the crew just kept on clipping through the calves.  Here’s Sheldon dragging calves on a high-headed colt:


Here’s Nate on good ol’ Foot:


And Nate, later, when he was castrating.  I’ve never castrated.  I wonder if I would feel inclined to hold the knife handle between my teeth if I did?  (The waviness to the left of the photo is due to the heat rising off the branding fire.)


Here’s Mel filling her vaccine gun:


And Michael, a brave town kid, bearing down on a big calf (it was darn hot):


And Bill, our fearless local ear-tagging expert, wiping the sweat from his brow:


And this little guy, who was stripped of a wet saddle blanket and hobbled for grazing:


Josh, jack of all trades, whose next tattoo I think might be a PV brand:


And Holden, who at age 15 is very shy about showing his face for the camera.  Big hats help in this department:


Joe and Ben ribbed each other over the din of the branding:


And Verg took his turn at roping:


Asher and his second cousin Quade were looking to pick a fight:


So Beau put them to work:



Then the kids all ran down to play in the creek, which admittedly is where I spent a good part of branding days when I was little too:


When the branding was finished, the guys counted the cows out of the corral.  Do you think they all got the same number?


Then Joe put on a  ranch rodeo demonstration for the boys, compliments of a stray yearling in the pasture:


Marsielle got to sit in Grandpa’s saddle:


And Asher got to ride Frosty back to the trailers with the crew.  Here’s Grandpa and Asher heading out:


We are blessed.  The end.

© Tami Blake

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