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