Another day, another nickle #8: Branding

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Blog entry by Thos. Angle posted 04-19-2008 03:09 PM 1488 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Broke Down, again!! Part 8 of Another day, another nickle series Part 9: Summer Plans »

As has been the case with most of this blog, it has nothing at all to do with wood working. In fact, my recent life, with the exception of Lumber Jocks, has had nothing to do with wood working. However, it seems that some of my friends here on LJ enjoy a short trip to a different world from time to time and so I tell an occasional story.

Here in the ION country we have a different set of seasons. We have WINTER of course but then comes CALVING followed by BRANDING and then HAYING followed by SHIPPING and we are back to WINTER. I almost forgot hunting but that is a sub-season during shipping. If you think our world mostly revolves around cattle you would be correct. Before the ranchers can turn the cattle onto the range they need to be worked. This consists of branding them with the owners brand, castrating the bull calves, earmarking them with the owners mark and giving them a couple of vaccinations. There are special chutes which have been designed to make this a mechanical chore but you won’t find one amongst the ranchers around here. We are not old fashioned, we just know the value of a good horse. We have a use for the horse every day and that finger mashing contraption just sits most of the year and rusts. No, here we still work calves with good horses and ropes. I almost forgot to mention skill.

When it’s time to brand, the rancher sets a date and calls the neighbors and a bunch of friends. We all try to get to as many brandings as we can because it’s a chance to visit and have some fun together. Out here people are scattered out and don’t get together enough to get sick of each others company. It’s also a a chance to show off a new horse and maybe get some bragging rights on how good he is.

On the morning of the branding, every one shows up at the appointed time and gathers the moma cows and calves onto the rodear ground. This is usually just a fence corner with some extra fencing and all the pick-ups and stock trailers lined up to make a barrier. The riders hold the herd until they are settled down and the irons are hot. We mostly heat branding irons with a propane torch in a branding oven made of steel on legs. We like to say that a brand is a cow’s return address. Strange as it may seem to folks in the east, cattle rustling is still a very real problem..
When the irons are cherry red, the boss waves his finger in a circle and the riders ease into the herd. A buckaroo ropes a calf around the neck and takes a dally on his saddle horn with the rope. We do not use rubber on our horns because it is too hard on horses and cattle. As the header walks his horse to the fire another rider eases in behind the calf and ropes him by the heels. When the calf is positioned in the right spot by the ground crew, the heeler takes up the slack, dallys and lays the calf down in just the right spot. The ground crew removes the head loop and puts it on the calf’s front feet. The riders hold the calf with their horses while the ground crew works on him. Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Many times the reality is a lot more fun to watch.

On Thursday we branded at the Fretwell’s. It was a really nice day and there were lots of good hands. There was a cooler full of beer and some of the boys really had fun before it was over. After about an hour of things going well, I heard a commotion and looked up to see a young fellow coming across the rodear trying to put a bronc ride on a sorrel horse. I think he got his rope under the horse’s tail with predictable results. He landed in a heap. Everybody had a good laugh and he got back on and went back to roping. A little later it all happened again but this time the kid got him rode. I offered to sell him a saddle that he could ride him in but he didn’t take me up on it.

The day wound down about 4 in the afternoon and every one agreed it was a lot of fun. There had been lots of good roping on lots of good horses. There were plenty of war stories told during the breaks and chow. We all headed back to what we usually do and wait for the next call.

“And it’s all about horses and cattle and men, the country, the work and the pride. And places where cowboys who still lean to lonesome, can pick up their saddles and ride.”

“For Those Who Lean to Lonesome” Don Hedgepeth

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

17 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3961 days

#1 posted 04-19-2008 03:15 PM

Some how there is a paragraph out of sequence here but it is in the right order in the original. Sorry, I can’t seem to correct it. “The day wound down” paragraph is actually the last . Oh, well. OK, I fixed it.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4313 days

#2 posted 04-19-2008 04:13 PM

That is a far cry from the feed lots in my neck of the woods. I hear the three seasons to be winter,dust and mud.

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3938 days

#3 posted 04-19-2008 04:18 PM

Don’t get much of that activity around here and the seasons are pretty standard. A big issue in my neighborhood is making sure you don’t water the sidewalk. It seems if you do, next thing you know is there’s a freeway popping up.

Love these stories Mr. Angle.

-- Working at Woodworking

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4086 days

#4 posted 04-19-2008 04:38 PM

Enjoyed the “short trip”. A good story always puts pictures in your mind and this had many.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3821 days

#5 posted 04-19-2008 04:43 PM

Thanks for the story Thomas. It is nice to share personal stories. such as this. That is the basic premise behind this community.

I really appreciated this post.

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

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3961 days

#6 posted 04-19-2008 05:51 PM

I hear ya, Dennis. You forgot the smell. thanks guys.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 4085 days

#7 posted 04-19-2008 06:11 PM

Thomas… could bottle that and sell it. Your life is so far afield from my own it’s like we live on different planets. I really enjoy the mini vacations….:)

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4399 days

#8 posted 04-19-2008 09:01 PM

Thomas. Thanks for the trip. We from the far east of the US forget that they olden ways are still the current ways.

I enjoyed this.

-- 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 jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4245 days

#9 posted 04-19-2008 10:16 PM

Thanks for the story Thomas, I can really visualize the sight, sound and smells, reminds me a lot of some of Zane Grays works. You should write a book and I’m serious about that. With your lifes experience it would surely sell. You really have a way with words. I’m proud to call you friend, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3879 days

#10 posted 04-19-2008 10:23 PM

thats one of the things i look forward too on l j the most thos angles stories ! it is in some strange way like a little vacation . thanks thos . ! sometimes i get so sick of lookin at concrete i could cry ! lol

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3978 days

#11 posted 04-19-2008 11:57 PM

Hi Thomas;

I enjoyed your sharing the days events too.

For us “city slickers”, it’s sounds both like a lot of work, and a lot of fun too.

I’ll bet it was a blast for you.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3773 days

#12 posted 04-20-2008 01:51 AM

Hi Thomas

Thank you so much for your story. This country was born through this kind of cooperative and spirit – neighbor helping neighbor to accomplish something worthwhile. Glad to know it is still very much alive and well!

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Grumpy's profile


23928 posts in 3850 days

#13 posted 04-20-2008 01:57 AM

Thanks for the insight Tom. You don’t seem to have much spare time.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3895 days

#14 posted 04-20-2008 02:54 AM

Great story Tom. Sure sounds better than fighting traffic in the big city. You know all your “neighbors” – here if you know one’s name that’s something. Most time people don’t even say hello to you here. Your stories are wonderful, keep ‘em coming.


-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3961 days

#15 posted 04-20-2008 01:16 PM

thanks all for the nice comments.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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