Another day, another nickle #18: Branding, The Dust and The Smoke and The Noise

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Blog entry by Thos. Angle posted 07-19-2009 03:12 PM 5527 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 17: Greetings from the land of the big sky Part 18 of Another day, another nickle series Part 19: Just Another Day in Paradise »

Well, it’s Sunday and I have a little time to let all my friends here at LJ know what we’ve been up too.As many of you know, my job description here at the Padlock is a little complicated. I’m supposed to take guests with me to work on the ranch but we have no guests. My title is Flying V unit manager. I am running about 750 cows which were supposed to be part of the guest operation if we had guests. ” if we had some eggs we could have ham and eggs if we had some ham”.
On June 4th, while putting in a new electric fence line, I managed to nearly take off my right thumb with a post driver. I was driving one inch by 60 inch tall fiberglass posts. The post sunk through a crust and the driver jumped off the top of the post and came down with my right thumb on the top of the post. The top handle then came down and tried to shear my thumb off. I pulled my glove off and was looking into the joint. I was also making a lot of noise. Luckily, Carleen was with me and amazingly there was a clean handkerchief in the truck. Carleen drove me to the hospital while I cussed. 4 1/2 hours later I went home with a pin sticking out of my thumb.I tried to do some work but that d——- pin was in the way. I took Workers Comp for 4 weeks then started driving tractor around the feed yard. At 5 weeks I got rid of the pin and got back horseback.

We needed to get the calves branded. I had a couple guys working and we got the fences up and started moving cows. To make a long story short, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week we branded 700 calves. Saturday was the big day, we branded 307 and were eating lunch at 1:30. I had three different crews for the three days and Carleen did the cooking. I’m not sure why they sent me three different crews. I guess I wear them out pretty quick.

If you’ve never been to a branding, It’s not like watching Rawhide on TV. We gather the cows and calves early in the morning into a big portable corral. The cows are bawling and the calves are bellering. The cowboys, 9 of them, are yelling. After the cows are in the corral, several of us will go to cutting out “drys”, cows that don’t have calves. After we get the drys into a side corral. (they go to the feed yard then on to Walmart), we sort off the cows to make room to rope. We kick out most of the cows and then it’s time to get to work. We fire up the propane branding pot to heat the irons, more noise. By now the dust is flying from every where. The gumbo here becomes a powder about like talcum.

When The irons were hot, I sent in four ropers. On the 9 man crew I had yesterday, one man didn’t rope. The ropers ride into the herd and rope a calf by both hind legs. We try not to bring in calves by one hind leg. As the roper drags the calf by the ground crew, one of the cowboys places a metal device called a Nord Fork over the calf’s head. The Nord Fork goes behind the calf’s head and over his neck but is open at the bottom so it doesn’t choke him. It is attached to a bunch of bungees and staked to the ground. The roper faces his horse and holds the calf’s heels. The calf is branded, vacinated, dehorned, casterated( if a bull) and tagged. With 4 ropers, 3 Nord Forks and a 5 man ground crew we averaged less than a minute per calf. It was noisy, dusty and hot. After about 50 calves the crews switch and the a new set of ropers go in. Around and around it goes until the last calf is worked. One of the guys got his rope under his horses tail and put on a pretty good bronc ride for us. One calf jumped up on the panel wagon and a rope was cut. I caught my right hand in a coil of my rope and said a few choice words. Luckily missed my messed up thumb. My thumb is still fat and the end is on crooked and it is a little like roping with someone elses’s thumb. The 6 weeks was up on Thursday and dang it, this was my branding.
Dinner was under a tree and it sure tasted great.

If any of you would like to experience this, go to the Padlock website and check it out. Carleen and I will make you welcome and send you home worn out.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

12 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4002 days

#1 posted 07-19-2009 03:31 PM

Hi Tom;

Sounds like you and Carleen are getting a real work out!

I can’t figure out why you would want to do that to your thumb though.

I hope your enjoying yourselves, and not being over worked.

Good to hear from you.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3962 days

#2 posted 07-19-2009 03:40 PM

Mr. Angle it is always a pleasure to see your posts. Not only are they educational, but also entertaining. I often find it amusing how the things you describe are vastly different than the things you see in the movies.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4122 days

#3 posted 07-19-2009 03:43 PM

Good to hear from you Thos.

I hope you’re healing OK and that you two are doing well otherwise.

Rita and I will have to head down one day. She has family in Sheridan anyway.

Let me know if you head in to Billings for the day, we can grab lunch.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3845 days

#4 posted 07-19-2009 03:45 PM

Tom, this is sure different side of the story than we are used to hearing about being a cowboy. It sounds more like work than an adventure that ends with a nice ride into the sunset!!

I hate to hear that about your thumb. I could understand getting hurt like this if you were running a table saw. Maybe you should check and see if Sawstop makes a post driver so something like this doesn’t happen again! :)

Keep safe and let us know what is going on with you.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4423 days

#5 posted 07-19-2009 04:06 PM

Dang Tom You have all the fun. We’re just sitting here in the air conditioning and watching reruns of Bonanza.

I’m glad that things are working out for you and I’m real sorry to hear about your thumb. Check back when you can and let us know about “Thoma’s Travels”

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#6 posted 07-19-2009 05:17 PM

Hey Tom
Sorry about your thumb. Good to hear from you I enjoyed your account of the branding and the whole event.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3980 days

#7 posted 07-19-2009 05:33 PM

Wow…real cowboy stuff….what about the ones that went to Walmart? Why did they get to go eat, then go on a shopping spree while all the others get branded?


View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3349 days

#8 posted 07-19-2009 05:37 PM

Nice to meat a follow Cowboy here on L/J’s. I was born and raised on a ranch…and have a small spread of my own here in eastern Oklahoma where we (My family and I) raise cattle and horse’s.

-- Don S.E. OK

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3985 days

#9 posted 07-19-2009 10:22 PM

Thanks for the kind words, fellows. I must be getting old because it seems good to be done. As for the sunset…..........I was asleep before there was one.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3608 days

#10 posted 07-19-2009 10:27 PM

You and your dear wife sound as though you have an interesting and enjoyable life good luck .Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3897 days

#11 posted 07-19-2009 10:50 PM

Boy, that brings back memories …

-- -- --

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4184 days

#12 posted 07-21-2009 04:06 PM

ouch re: thumb
My husband had to have a pin put in his baby finger (one week before our wedding). For some reason they decided that they wouldn’t protect it – surprise, surprise but he mangled it more.

Hope your thumb heals up quickly and perfectly.

I, too, enjoy reading about a real cowboy’s life.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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