Back to Work




Though the impacts of our four-year drought are fresh in everyone’s mind, and far from mitigated by recent rains, our approach to work has changed. With most stockwater ponds less than half-full and Dry Creek just beginning to run, no one dares suggest that the drought is over.

But instead of gathering and branding calves in the dust this year, we are watching weather forecasts trying to get our calves marked between storms. But so are our neighbors with whom we trade labor. It’s tricky business, though a welcome change.

Trying to get anything done between Christmas and New Year’s Day is usually futile, but with a promise of over an inch of rain early next week, we’re branding another bunch this morning. We gathered Tuesday and Wednesday, cut wood for the branding and cook fires, planned a meal, and even had to weed-eat the grass in the corrals so we could rope today. The pace has been tough, but with an eye towards the coming El Niño, no one is complaining (too much).

Eight inches to date on Dry Creek, more than the 2013-14 season.


11 responses to “Back to Work

  1. Water is a blessing, definitely. Happy New Year, John!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John, good to read of the increase in water and the results. Worth it compared to the recent past.


  3. Dancing around the rain. In rhythm to the music made with your family..
    Scraping mud off boots rather than stomping the dust off. A slicker moved to the front of the closet. Perhaps, just maybe…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hot Iron branding of cattle is a legal requirement in only some states in Australia. Many breeder won’t do it because it reduces the value of the hide and some feel that the welfare of the animal is compromised. Is it compulsory in all states of the US?


    • I really don’t know, John, if hot iron branding is compulsory in any state of the US. There was a push a few years ago for Electronic ID (EID) tags as a marketing tool and a means to trace various maladies like Mad Cow disease. But not very practical, as in order to read the EID tags, cattle had to be run through a chute. Most often, strays between neighbors need to be sorted a long ways from the corral.

      Like many producers, we no longer use our rib iron because it damages the best part of the hide and rely on our hip iron instead. We understand the concern over hot iron branding from the animal welfare perspective, but compared to dehorning and castration, we feel the impact is short-lived and minor. Of greater concern, I think, would be the confined conditions in dairies and feed lots.

      The welfare of our animals is always paramount. We want our cows content and healthy in order to cycle, breed and conceive. We take pride in calves that shine in the sale ring. Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

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