Andrew Patrick and I went out to our dear friends’ Blaine and Keelia s place to help them out with a big project. They are cattle ranchers and this weekend was the branding party. We got to participate in a real live cattle drive!
We saddled up at 6 am on Saturday the last day of April 20011. I rode Doc, a Doc Bar bred quarter horse, across the ranch with Blaine, Keelia, Larry, Scott, Tracy, Mike, Deirdra, and Mackenzie. We got to the pasture where the cows were and split up to sweep all the cows up the canyons and across the pasture to the corral. I got to push cows! i took the far east ridge and made sure that any of the cows in that area were encouraged toward the south end of the pasture and the main corral on the ranch.
Once all the cows and the people were up at the corral the real work began. First all the calves were separated from the mama cows. The moms were worked first, run up the chute and given a shot. The mama cows are counted and sent back out to a small adjacent pasture to wait for their babies.
Working the calves was really hard work that requires some physicality. Each must be pushed up the chute individually to the business end of the operation where each is branded & polled and about half are castrated. Working each calf is SHOCKINGLY fast. The longest will take 2 minutes. It was a grueling brutal day. I was taught that you really need to stay as close as possible to the back of the calf by being kicked no less then 3 times. I had never wanted to eat cow more in my life!
In the end, it was a fantastic experience that I hope to get to participate in again. It was back breaking and i was sore for a week. Sitting at a desk after a weekend of ranch work feels really strange. Everything about my real life in fact, felt so abstract after the tough work, there is something very satisfying about doing a days tangible labor.