Branding season is upon us and that means cowboys as far as the eye can see!
Our neighbors have been a huge help while we adjust to our new location. They came to my rescue one morning when I found a newborn calf clinging to life. They heard the stress in my voice over the phone and came right over. But that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, last weekend before I had to travel to Laramie for a shoot, I had the opportunity to photograph the gather and some of the branding. Here are some shots from that morning.
They have a larger herd than us and helped us a few days before to brand our little grasshoppers. Neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what it’s all about. Am I right? 🙂
Have a great May Day folks! Hang baskets of fresh flowers on the doorknobs of your neighbors’ houses. Dance into May. It’s finally warming up!
We were delighted to have time in our hectic schedule to make it to a branding this year. We got the invite and jumped in the Ranger for the half hour trek through the hills to the neighbors corrals.
It started out overcast, cold and windy. The cowboys set out across the pasture with me in tow. In an atv of course. I have quickly learned that if I want to shoot, it’s best I don’t mount a horse and try to do both at the same time. I’m not the best multi-tasker.
It’s a good thing I had the atv because I had to pick up a little sickly calf along the way. He just couldn’t make the trail. We treated him and he’ll be fine in no time. Just a touch of an upset tummy.
A few little ones got out of the sorting pen so a couple guys had to rope them back in.
The clouds parted by mid-morning and it warmed up nicely.
While the babies mothered up after getting their hides burned, we all enjoyed a nice meal with old friends and made new friends. Brandings are not just about the calves, but about neighbors, friendship, and laughter after a busy calving season. It also means now they all go out to new pasture for the summer and graze until their hearts (and bellies) are content. Ahh… the circle of life.
Our crew from back east took charge a couple of weeks ago and branded the last batch of calves.
They led the mothers and calves out of the calving pasture,
over the hill,
along the fence line,
and into the branding pen.
They sorted the mothers from the calves and led them out of the corral.
Reagan and Marley were great spectators.
These guys were also in the audience. They snorted and stared and were as grumpy as ever.
And then the roping began.
Tommy and Hillbilly worked hard and did a great job of bringing the calves in so they could be vaccinated and branded quickly.
Once they were down, the ground crew swooped in and had them up and at’em in no time.
A couple of days later, the cowboys and cowgirls led the herd up the hill so they could wait for the trucks to take them to the Laramie Plains
One little one tried to get away but Patrick and Jack guided him to the rest of the herd.
They went right in to the corral, with the encouragement from those on horseback, and waited.
On the last day of their visit, Marley’s mom and sister went shopping so we decided to have a photo shoot.
Marley was a fantastic model and we had a blast taking her “cowgirl portraits”.
We dodged a few raindrops and had moslty cloudy skies. But the sun popped out every now and then and we were dolloped with some lovely light.
All in all it was a great visit and even though we put them to work, I hope they enjoyed it!
Not really any choking going on, but plenty of roping.
Patrick had to put a little scare into this calf trying to get away from the herd. Even though momma is at the top of the hill and he’s taking him to her, his one track mind wants him to go back to the last place he sucked.
The last of the cows were trucked to the Laramie Plains this morning. It’s so dry here but there is plenty of grass and water up there so they will have a happy summer of grazing and lounging.
These past few months have been a lot of work for me and Patrick and I’ve been cowgirlin’ more than photographerin’ (I know that’s not a word but it feels like one today). We have a crew out from back east so I’ve been able to sit back a little more and document the action rather than be right in there with it. We’ve been herding cattle and chasing calves and we had a successful branding.
AND finally…drumroll please…..
…the last heifer to calve gave birth a week ago. Yes, our last calf of the bunch has finally arrived. Patrick says “she’s holding on to that calf like it’s money”. She was as big as a bus that last week and we are so grateful the calf came out okay. We’re done with calving for the year so maybe we’ll catch up on some sleep this summer. Ha! A girl can dream of zzz’s can’t she?
*Note: No animals were hurt in the making of these images. Their haunches probably stung for a bit but they all bounced back to their feisty selves the very next day. This is a healthy bunch of calves.* 🙂
As always, if you are interested in ordering prints, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get you all of the details.
Hope you all have a great weekend!
The branding was set for Saturday, then cancelled, and then back on leaving it solely up to the rain clouds above. So we woke up at 5am, loaded the horses, and away we went wondering what mother nature had in store for us.
After a couple of sprinkles of rain on the way to the South Ranch, we arrived a little damp but the guys and gals mounted their horses and rode out to the pasture anyway to gather the little ones.
The calves ran into the branding pen with no idea what was about to happen. And we still weren’t sure if the sky was going to fall.
The cowboys roped.
The horses and ropers worked like champions, bringing in the calves for booster shots and their brand. Rain clouds hovered over us all day long, a constant breezed carried sprinkles all around us, but we made it through the entire day without a downpour. And to think just 2 days before, it snowed for 6 hours straight.
The branding was a success and we finished it off with a fantastic meal with good company. Patrick and I checked on the calves yesterday and aside from being dazed and confused and a little sore, they all look very well. I’m sure they will be very excited when they are trucked to the Laramie Plains and left alone for the summer.
We got ’em. Patrick separated the cows from the calves while I got the vaccines ready. They started out with just a coo for their momma. Then the mooing got louder and louder.
“This hurts me as much as it hurts you little ones”, I tell them. I always tear up a little during brandings. But it’s a law, it has to be done.
They bounce back up after it’s all over. “Alright now #48, no disrespect. C’mon now”.
They look good though. I refused to do the actual branding so the guys had to get them to the ground and tattoo while I vaccinated. I was efficient while handing over the irons and giving shots at the same time if I do say so myself.
We were done in less than 40 minutes. They mothered up and started sucking almost immediately.
It was a little chaotic but they stayed paired up for a little while. Then we opened the gate to let them out.
And they hauled butt!
A few little ones went the wrong way so Patrick and one mother went to get them and lead them in the right direction. Even young calves think they know everything.
And off they ran to new pasture.
Phew! That group of 20 is done. Only 300 or more to go.
We were invited to a couple of brandings in early May. Yes, you’ll see a lot of Patrick on horseback, you know I can’t resist. But if you were wearing a cowboy hat, you were also focused on closely.
The weather, as I’ve stated before, is so unpredictable out here. I got sunburned at Tom’s on the 5th and we froze our fannies off at the Smalls’ on the 7th. Go figure.
Click the images below to view the gallery of each of these 2 brandings.
Yesterday we branded 68 calves. We did most at the South Ranch and a few of the wilder ones at the main ranch. It’s always tough to watch the babies be split away from their mommas for their shots and the 5C but it’s only for a short amount of time. When they are released back into the meadow, the mommas are able to find the babies quickly. They mother up and get as far away from the corral as possible.
Remember Munchkin? I finally spotted him yesterday and he’s doing great! He’s too small to be branded yet but he’s nice and healthy.
His momma doesn’t let him out of her sight. She’s taking great care of him. Unfortunately that can’t be said for all the cows out here.
On our way home from the South Ranch we saw lightning in the distance. It was a nasty storm over Glendo and it was headed our way.
We got home just in time before the sky fell. And I mean it poured, thundered, and hailed like I’ve never seen before.
While looking over the grounds today to make sure there was no damage from the storm (there was none thankfully), we came across this horn. Deer lose their horns in December and start sprouting new ones almost as soon as they lose the old ones.
I think this is just the beginning of a stormy spring.