It's also the time of year when ranchers gather with family and friends to enjoy a day of branding this year's calves.
We attended my sister and her hubby's familys' branding. The were 30 cowboys and cowgirls in attendance to brand just under 300 calves.
They still brand the old fashioned way. Using horses to drive the animals to the pen and to sort and rope them.
Once the calf is roped, it is brought to a pair of cowboys (or girls) to be wrestled and held down.
Once restrained, they are branded and if a bull, castrated.
Each brand is registered with the state and must be placed on a certain spot on the calf. My sister's calves were branded on the left ribs and her in-laws were the left rear hip. Because they were all mixed together, we had to check for either blue or yellow ear tags.
Of course I got in on the action too. I'm in the bright pink hat.
I did about 25 that day... just kidding, this was my only one. It's really hard work holding down a surprisingly strong calf.
A propane blow torch is constantly going throughout the entire process to heat the irons.
It was a beautiful day out. While we may look "bundled up" in sweatshirts and long sleeves, it was about 80 degrees. The wind was so strong we needed protection from the dust and dirt blowing around.
We ladies worked hard too. You don't want that truck to roll away.
Once the calves were all branded, we cheered and saddled up for the 2 mile trek back to the house. Well, others saddled up. I rode in the truck because I was too sore from riding the day before. While I enjoy riding, I'm not able to do it often enough for my body to be used to it.
Once back at the house the men relaxed and chatted while the women hauled out the food. We had set up tables and chairs in the shop the day before. Kendra (Glenda's mother-in-law) had made pies, salads, mashed potatoes and meat while Glenda made rolls and cakes. Before feasting we bowed our heads and gave thanks to God for another successful branding and for no injuries.
The entire process was how ranchers would have done it 100 years ago. Neighbors, family and friends helping each other, laughing together and worshiping together. I feel so blessed to have been a part of it.