Thursday, May 30, 2013

Branding at the Ranch 2013...

Life on the ranch is cyclical.  In the fall, we wean and ship.  In the winter (and throughout the year at this point), we feed.  In the spring, we calve.  And, in the early summer, we brand.  

With the current climate/weather/lack of rain, our branding days have decreased drastically.  We only have about a quarter of the typical amount of calves to brand this year.  So, we accomplished it all in one Friday and Saturday.

A branding goes a little something like this:

First, we gather a lot of help.  Whether it's neighbors, family, friends or at times those looking to experience life on the ranch for a day, we get the crew established a few weeks out.  This time we had about twenty people total (that includes those of us just watching)!  About a week out, whoever is cooking plans the breakfast and lunch.  This year, I had Friday to plan for, and we had breakfast biscuits around 5:30 am and then Italian meatballs, pasta, salad, bread and blueberry cheesecake for lunch.  In that same week, work is done here to get the cattle moved from their pastures to land closer to the pens to make gathering on the day-of a bit easier.  

On the day-of, the help gathers early to have breakfast and saddle the horses (before or right at sunrise).  Then, the crew leaves on horseback to begin gathering the cows and calves and moving them toward the pens.  Once gathered, the calves are separated from their mamas and the branding supplies are readied.  As the branding irons heat up, two people mount their horses and take their turn as the "draggers."  

Their job is to rope and drag the calves to the "flankers" who get the calf on the ground and ready to brand.  

Once on the ground, the calves are branded, ear marked, given vaccinations, and cut (if they are bull calves and we don't want to keep them for bulls).  

Done.  One calf down, and the process is repeated as the crew takes turns with different jobs until the job is complete!

Often, the cattle are not close enough together to brand all in one set of pens, so the gear is loaded up after one set is complete, and the process begins again at a different location.  

 We also typically have some spectators:

These men and women are the real deal.  They don't wear hats and spurs as fashion accessories.  Their gear serves a purpose.  They work hard, day in and out, to not only provide for their families, but for a nation dependent upon agriculture.

I'm proud to be a part of that.  And, the little guys await their turn to carry on the tradition...

 For us, it isn't a weekend affair.  It is our life.

And, I love it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five Favorites...

Five Favorites, hosted at

Another round of Five Favorites with Hallie (pray for her sick kiddos)!

1.  Firmoo!

I got my second pair of funky glasses for $6.95.  That's right...just the cost of shipping.  And that includes a prescription!  You can even get sunglasses.  I am in love :)  Take a look at Firmoo (many bloggers have already mentioned it!) - you can even "try them on" online.  So fun!

2.  Fannie Farmer's Mac n' Cheese
This recipe is amazing!  Yes, it takes a little time to make, but it is so worth it!  It even freezes well!  I made 6 batches for a branding we have this weekend, and someone climbed his stool to get a taste when I wasn't looking.  It's a new favorite!  Tip: Use extra sharp cheddar if you try it!

3.  Smoked Salt

We received a set of fun spices when we got married, and we just ran out of this smoked salt.  Makes things have a bit of that grilled flavor without the grill :)  Yummy.

4.  Tom Lichtenheld

The boys LOVE this book.  I found his website and can't wait to order a few more.  He's an amazing illustrator and the stories are just precious.

5.  Summertime.

The boys got some new sunglasses from Old Navy, and they are loving living outside.  Carter changes personalities when his shades come out.  They're learning not to cry when they run through the sprinkler, and how to play better together.  Ha!  They're still "watering" my plants with the hoses and figuring out a way to be outside with the least amount of clothing as possible.  It's fun to live in the boonies :)

For a ton of other favorites, head on over to Moxie Wife!

Friday, May 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes...

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 218)

Joining Jen again :)

1.  This week has been crazy...starting right after my "quick take" post last week.  That evening my cousin, Whitney, went into labor at 34 weeks.  Try as they might, they couldn't stop it, and Braxton was born on Sunday:

As of today, he has all tubes out and is nursing like a champ.  NICU will soon be a thing of the past :)

2.  It Rained.  Not enough to prevent us from selling 75% of our cattle herd.  But, it rained.  I cannot tell you how important it is for us, but this little guy's excitement might:

3.  We branded some of our baby calves today.  

It takes a crew to do it, and these four little boys (along with two not pictured) make up the next generation of flankers!

 Getting a little fuel...

4.  Here is one of the ones not in the previous picture.  My nephew Stephen Ross and our John Paul will be right there with their older brothers and cousins.  A daddy and his boy...

they are just seven weeks apart...

5.  The boys and I made these coconut macaroons.  Only five ingredients and amazing (if you like coconut):

6.  I'm sure you've seen this picture floating around the net.

7.  May we remember that Memorial Day is about more than BBQ.  To all who have served, thank you.  To all who have lost, God bless you. 

Don't forget to see all of the other takes at Conversion Diary!