Branding 2011

The day of our branding was a déjà vu experience. It was a blustery Saturday with 40 mile an hour winds and bouts of snow spit-balling riders helping us as we rode out and faced the blasts of wind to gather our herd and push them toward the barn. It was definitely not a cowboy hat-wearing day but rather a scotch cap and stocking cap kind of day.

Saturday, April 30th we held our branding which was one day shy of last year’s branding. The only difference this year was that we used the protection of our big new calving barn to brand in.

We had the exact same windy conditions last year but no barn for getting out of the wind. Just like the year previous, in the middle of the night before branding, I woke up to the sound of wind blasting the side of our house and wondering what we would wake up to. At the first glimpse of light, around 4:00 a.m., I could see a thin white layer of snow and knew I would be feeding a houseful of people in our small home instead of in the front yard.


Around 7:30 a.m. my husband, son and I, along with extra guys with four wheelers gathered our herd which was nearby, toward the barn. As soon as all of our cows were in the corrals, I raced down to the house to start the coffee and warm the cinnamon rolls I had baked the day before.

A half hour later, the coffee urn was done percolating and I hauled the goodies up to the barn. The sorting was already done and calves were cozy warm at the west end of the barn. A small area was paneled off to suffice as a branding corral and by the east doors the branding stove was set up.



I had enough time to serve up some coffee and rolls, and take a few pictures of my son branding his and his sister’s calves before heading back down to the house to start warming up food and boiling potatoes.


Sadly, I didn’t get to wrestle any calves and hated to leave the action for work in the kitchen. Once the kids’ five calves were vaccinated and branded, the east doors were opened to ventilate the branding smoke and let the calves out. A gust of snow flurried around the doors and I could tell the crew was glad to be working in the barn.


Back at the house, the kitchen quickly filled with the sounds of women’s conversations, clattering of pots and pans, and chopping of potatoes. The kitchen grew warm from cooking and people and before long, wind-blown women and kids bustled into the house announcing that the guys were done, even though the potatoes, gravy, and cream corn weren’t.

Knowing that men like the chance for lengthy bull sessions, I didn’t panic at the news and continued delegating when ladies came in and asked what they could do to help until everything was ready. When it was time to eat the branding crew and kids were washing up and snaking their way through my kitchen piling up their plates and the house was soon filled with people in every corner.


Like always, after a day and a half of preparing food, everybody had eaten in a half hour and it was time to clean up and start finding containers to put the leftovers in. By early afternoon everything was cleaned up and put away for another six months when I’ll go through it all over again to work cattle in the fall. By Sunday my house was back in order and it was a perfect day for a branding.

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