We branded my cow herd Thursday. All four calves, and the cows. The last one had calved and I wanted to get it done as soon as possible. Snow put it off the first time I planned to try. I talked to a friend and she was free Thursday. The two of us would have no problem running such a small bunch through the calf table. Then I thought I would see if the girl who has been coming out to ride with me wanted to come. Then her sister was there when I asked and I couldn’t not ask her. Then I asked another friend and she wanted to come play with us too. Then finally it occurred to me that we had a big enough crew to do a lot more than four head.
I talked to my father-in-law and volunteered to do one bunch of his cattle for him. He then invited himself to our branding. You really can’t tell a man he can’t come brand his own cattle so he came and invited a friend of his own. So much for our all girl branding. Since the boys were crashing our party we were thrilled when my husband with many jobs was able to get away from one of them to come play with us too.
The girl who’s been riding with me rode Jerry to help get the cows in. We got mine in first with the help of the worlds only cow goat. Then we braved more of the deep mud to get the big bunch. The goat came right along for that too. So did a couple of the guys. The gate to that pen is at the bottom of the hill. The mud and muck was indescribably deep. Not quite as bad as quicksand, there is a bottom to it down there somewhere. It was half a corral that was as bad as the gate that gave us so much trouble trying to get the cows out of the corrals last week. Even the top of the hill had deep, greasy mud.
Most of the cattle went out the gate nicely. All except for the last two calves who were delighting in out running us in the muck. Unwilling to run our horses they had no trouble until along came Daisy. She had no trouble running on the slick ground and the calves soon discovered it was no fun after all and ran straight out the gate.
We got back to find my cows in the chute waiting. They wanted me to brand my own and that would’ve been great but our much beloved Poppy was up first and I could barely stand to do it. Unfortunately The Goblin Child’s first introduction to branding was me saying “Poor Poppy” and she repeated it somewhat distressed throughout the whole process.
I took up position in the back pushing calves in and Paula came to join me, leaving Heather to brand and vaccinate with the father-in-law. That left four people to get the big bunch sorted and ready to go. It worked great. When we started the big bunch the children were happily foisted off onto the two youngest girls. That I consider child care a job to deserve more thanks than working cattle shows just how twisted we are doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just that we do it all the time, and love it, but the chance to play at things we got to do before children came along makes it seem like more of a chore. It was sure nice to have someone to help watch kids.
With the big bunch nearly done I snuck out behind the barn with my husband to, well unfortunately to start loading cattle. Oh well, you can only have so much fun in one day. The Goblin Child’s favorite playmate, Whitten, was sad to have to leave as we were climbing in the semis to haul the cattle so we invited him to come along while his mom ran errands. It was all fun and games until we stuck the semi.
Even with all the moisture we’ve had lately the driveway looked dry. We pulled in to back across the road into the pasture to unload. Unfortunately the exact spot we stopped to start backing had a small puddle just big enough for all the back tires and they sunk. We unloaded there and there were enough of us to carefully guide the cows and calves across the road through the gate. I then called Whitten’s mom to tell her we were stuck and she may never get her son back. She came to rescue him immediately. Like rats fleeing a sinking ship we begged rides from her. As we prepared to escape the men got the semi free and we decided to stick around after all.
That days work may have been finished but the next day brought more calves and the next. Paula made it back for another days work at the calf table even though she would far rather rope and drag calves. Hopefully the others will come back again too. We are now out of sorted pairs to work and get out to pasture and the rain has set in again. That’s just fine we all have injuries and sore muscles that need a days rest to recuperate.