With the help of mostly the same neighbors every year, our branding at the Paregien Ranch is special. The year it snowed, or the year we couldn’t see across the branding pen in the fog, or Kenny and Virginia McKee eating a hamburger afterwards under their ponchos as the rain came down so hard we weren’t sure we would get off the mountain.
Adding to the branding’s uniqueness, two Blue Oaks grow in the middle of the branding pen—good shade, but potentially dangerous obstacles that require control of your horse and the calf on a short rope. Of all the oaks that have died during our prolonged drought, these two thrive. Every year we discuss removing one or both, but plans to improve these corrals will incorporate one of them within a new panel fence.
Also, our brandings are fairly tame, and small, with less calves than usual this year with our reduced number of cows. And we go slowly, one calf down at a time with most of us up in years enough to draw Social Security. “Old people slow,” I apologized to Doug Thomason after his first day helping us five or six years ago.
“I like slow,” he replied matter-of-factly.
And we’re all happy with that.