It’s all new ground, this branding in the dry—even though Robbin rigged and ran a sprinkler from a spring-filled tank the day before to keep the dust down. Conditions were delightful. Still feeding everyday, but wearing down as we and our neighbors try to get a few calves marked as we go. It’s time, a month later than normal. Naturally, the calves are lighter, not the big and bloomy kind that draw compliments or test the ground crew.
Age and youth, the cowboy dream alive and realized in the same pen, at the same moment, under perhaps the worst circumstances of weather to date in California. Surviving the Drought of 1977 early in my career gave me confidence during the many dry years since, but these historical dry times will impact the future for man and beast for years to come. Busy with the basics, we have yet to imagine some of these far-reaching impacts.
But it’s reassuring to be in the company of neighbors, all of us in the same boat with the same decisions to make: whether to buy more hay or sell more cows—usually both that can’t last forever. Most our brandings roll ‘old-people slow’, just right for us and a few throwback kids that might want this kind of life. What they don’t know, of course, is that they invigorate and inspire us, help keep us going, make it all the more worthwhile.