Been brandin’

Our weeks this time of year revolve around getting all the PV calves branded and cows turned out to summer pasture.  This explains why I haven’t written for a while; I find there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done… no matter how early I rise.

Yesterday the crew branded at the pasture called Five Sections, on the Sumatra Road, and I had my camera handy for the first time this season:




The reason my hands were available for camera-holding?  Grandma held this one:


And Aubry (Jacob’s wife) held this one:


(This is Jacob:)


There are getting to be lots of wives and kids around here!  We definitely outnumber the cowboys these days.  Vergal says he’s going to start charging admission to brandings:


(This is Vergal:)


There were 15 kids at the branding yesterday, not counting the teenagers who were part of the wrestling crew:


What a privilege to bring our youngsters up with a ranch in the back yard.  They watch their daddies at work, they cavort with critters, they roam as wide as their imaginations can take them.  They’re not big enough to work a whole lot yet, but give ’em a few more years to grow and — whoee! — we’ll have ourselves quite the crew:



These 4 boys (helping to scoot the last of the calves out of the branding trap) are all right at 7 years old.  Look out, world!  I’m afraid we’re gonna have our hands full keeping them under wraps.


And then there is my sweet Emi.  I have a secret dream she’ll grow up to be a Top Cowgirl — you know, the one I always wished I could be.  (Who says parents try to live vicariously through their children?)  But should she choose another path, I’ll love her (and her missing tooth) just the same:


The crew here is pretty darn good about putting up with all these stinking kids.  Joe:




Joe again, chasing a runaway calf:



Oh, and my cousin Charlie Arvik is here visiting from Minnesota.  A few years ago my folks bought this horse from Charlie, and now Charlie might buy him back.  Life is funny like that:


My dad, to everyone’s amazement, has been riding this branding season.  There for a year or more — say January 2017 to May 2018 — he wasn’t able to ride at all.  He just couldn’t get his right leg to cooperate and swing over the saddle.  It was really hard on him, because riding has always been Dad’s main thing.  I believe that, until last year, there had been very few days in my lifetime when he hadn’t saddled up.  Even on Sundays in the years of my youth, when the ranch rested after 6 days of work, he’d usually go for a short ride — up the coulee to check on the cistern or over to pen E4 to look at a bull.  He just plain enjoyed it, and also figured it was good for his body and for the minds of his horses to keep at it every day.

Even though Dad couldn’t physically mount up last year, he never forgot about riding.  There’s a saddle on a stand in his garage, and he worked at getting on it most days.  And then this spring, lo and behold, he saddled his old paint horse one day and managed to get his leg over the cantle:


He’s having a fantastic time riding with the crew this branding season, and thank goodness for his good ol’ trusty horses.  Dad’s mind continues to play a few tricks on him — the result of a head injury that laid him low a couple years back — so he’s not always sure what pasture we’re in.  But once the bunch is in the branding pen, he can still heel calves like it’s 1975.  And he just plain loves being part of the crew:


Yesterday was a pretty good branding day.  And, thank the good Lord above, we’re having a pretty good branding season.


© Tami Blake

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