Growing up in the country and working on ranches part of the job/fun was branding calves. So here is some of the episodes that I have seen/been through.
When I was a kid I was introduced to the rite of spring branding going to a cousins place and helping him. Branding is a lot like that where people help others especially family. They make a day or sometimes two days and there is lots of good food kind of like a big party at times.
My cousin had a small place so he did not have many cows so we did not use horses or a calf table to brand with. We just put them in a small pen and waded in and caught them by hand and threw them on the ground and took care of them. Usually it always seemed to be that the biggest calves were the last to be done but one year it happened to be the smallest one. He was small enough that we had just over looked him. Well he was spotted and my grand father was closes to him so he grabbed him and all hell broke loose that calf was not liking it at all and was jumping and kicking and just flat out going crazy.
The rest of us for some reason were finding it quite humorous just watching this 50 pound calf pretty much winning this battle. When my grand father finally got him some what under control the rest of us joined in and helped out. Later on our way home my grand father was not in a very good mood so I asked him what was wrong. So he told me he thought he had broke a rib and was just a little upset that it was the smallest calf in the pen that had done it.
When I got older and was working on a ranch we would have 600 head of calves to brand so it took us 2 days. With that many head to do they had a calf table to use.
For you that do not know a calf table is a small squeeze chute that will tip the calf on its side so you can work on them easier.
So the second year that I worked there they decided that they were going to brand all the calves in one day so they borrowed another calf table from another ranch and had some cousins from the city come out to help.
One of their cousins that showed up was a big kid well over 6 foot tall and 200 plus pounds most of it muscle. He was very proud of his strength and liked to show it off at any time possible. The one problem he had was that he was afraid of the calves.
My job was ear making and dehorning and I had to do both tables so I was running back and forth doing that and if they missed a calf going through the chute is was also my job to catch them and stuff them back in.
Well I could not be in two places at the same time and they missed one at the table I was not at and he got away and it took a lot of time to catch him again. So the owner decided that we needed some one to watch what ever chute I was not at so that would not happen again. Well Jerry being the biggest was the chosen one.
Things went fine as they were catching the calves but then it happened and they missed one and Jerry was there. Ok now imagine this you have a 200 plus pound very strong kid face to face with a maybe 90 pound calf. Jerry was just dancing around in front of this calf waving his arms and I still do not know what he was thinking but it did stop the calf.
Well I had finished on the calf I was working on and had started to head that way when all of this was going on. I just ran over there and pushed Jerry out of the way and jumped the calf and stuffed him back in the chute.
Now at the time this happened I was maybe just a little bit over 5 foot tall and might of weighed 115 pounds soaking wet.
So there was a lot of ribbing at Jerry about that and he was not liking it at all. As expected it was not too much later and they missed another one. This one was rather small maybe 60 pounds and Jerry was still smarting from the last one so this one had no chance and Jerry felt a lot better about life.
I have done very few brandings like what you see on TV with the horses and roping the calves as I am not very good with a rope. So when I do go to these I am mainly ground crew but that is fine with me.
I was at one and we had the calves in a pen and were down to the last calf and no one was even getting close to roping it. They kept running the calf around and missing. So one time they ran the calf close to me so I grabbed it and flanked it down so we could get the job done. I was not very appreciated so one of the guys rode around behind me and preceded to rope me and drag me off through the dirt.
So on the next pen I said I wanted to rope and they put the guy that had roped me on the ground crew as I had hoped. Well needless to say I never did rope a calf but I did rope him twice and it made him real mad but everyone else basically told him that he had started it and if he did not like it to leave.
So that is some of my experiences branding calves.
It is what it is
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