Branding calves is an acquired art, not to be confused with the timed rodeo event of team roping. The idea is to get the calf to the fire while making it as easy on the calf, horses and ground crew (in that order) as possible. Douglas Thomason above times the rhythm of his loop for a long distance shot, catching the calf before it knows it’s caught, half the job done with no stress and little fuss.
Though the camaraderie is an essential part of trading labor, the branding pen is not a place for recreation. Robbin and I appreciate the care our neighbors take with our calves, as this 450 pound bull calf above would bring about $1,100 in town today. We hope that by June that he’ll be a 650 steer and bring in the vicinity of $2.50/lb. An injured calf, or ones overstressed and susceptible to sickness can become expensive.
Followers of branding pictures on this blog will recognize many familiar faces. On the ground, everyone has a job to do, an orderly process of vaccinations, castration, branding, dehorning, earmarking, tagging and recording–in the branding pen, it can become a dynamic dance.
Yet in the midst of it all, there are moments that might be forgotten if not captured in a photograph, whether a daughter recently returned home having a moment with her father,
or a Brent Huntington wiping sweat and smoke from his eyes.
Our thanks to all, especially the several anonymous photographers.