Have you ever been at a loss for words? Me either. I always have something to say. Ask The Rancher… I can talk his ear off. Like, he has learned to not even turn the radio on in the car because I will chatter enough to keep him busy. And I bounce around all over asking him about this and that and then I remember this one thing that I wanted to tell him and then… Well, you get the point.
Thus far, I haven’t really done that to you. I’ve been able to stay pretty well on point.
But I think the day has come that I have so many things to say that they are all going to just get all wrapped together in this post. There is just so many things that need mentioning. I promise they are relate because they all happened on this same day of branding. And I’ll do my best to tie them together but just be warned… It was just really full of ups and downs and sideways-ness…
Here we go-
Every year this day of branding is a big deal. All the other weekends of branding, we are branding with the association which means that not every calf coming in is ours. And there is ooodles of help. But the day that we brand on our private ground and all 300+ calves are ours. Friends… that is a lot. A LOT. At least for this girl.
So we call everyone and their dog, scratch that… everyone and their horse to come and help us. Normally we have big group, like 30 or more. And we had all those fine helpers lined up to come this year, until the rains came. And came and came and finally rained us out of our originally planned day (but we didn’t complain!). We postponed to the next week and ended up losing a lot of the help. But don’t worry, we managed… It was all a little slower than normal, but we made it.
There were parts to the day that were, well… miserable. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it all but it was still miserable. I mean, there is nothing nice about working on a hot, EXTREMELY windy and equally TERRIBLE dusty day when you have strep. The night before I started getting a sore and swollen throat and I knew it was strep. This was my third bout of strep in almost as many weeks so I knew how it went down. Seriously… It wasn’t enough that I was still recovering from giving birth and waking up multiple times in the night for said baby, I had to develop strep that would equally keep me from sleeping (it just isn’t as cute as my baby)…
Part of me contemplated heading to the doctor before heading south to brand, but I knew that just wouldn’t work. It would take too long to get in, checked out, a prescription filled and out to the range. With so few cowboys coming to help, they actually really needed me! So I pulled up my cowgirl pants and just dealt with it (and thank you tylenol and ibuprofen for making that possible!).
I did occasionally get a break when baby requested me or rather was saying it was time to eat. It was great for an excuse to rest my tired aching body, but I felt bad to leave the guys because that meant someone else had double duty giving shots too. And not meaning to toot my own horn, but I have gotten a pretty good system down to keep the shots flowing fast. So I just kept bouncing back and forth between the corral and the baby, going where ever I was needed most… although what I really wanted to do was go to sleep. On the bright side, I’m pretty sure I earned myself some substantial Rancher’s Wife Stripes!
Normally, this day of branding is one that I can quick jump on a horse and help gather. But being the momma bear that I am, I hate leaving my baby. Not wanting to be left behind, I convinced The Rancher to bring the gator down with us so I could load up all the babies, the dogs, my camera, my pal, The Montana girl, and the kitchen sink and still come help (I don’t know if I really convinced him to bring it or if they were already planning on it, but I’d like to think it as me…). And I was so grateful and had a fun, bright spot in the day getting out there. There fresh air was just as good for this girl as any medicine!
We gather the herd in and then sort all the mommas out, making its lots easier and faster to rope the calves. Its certainly noisier, but who needs their hearing? This few minutes of sorting is a highlight for the cowboys. Ya see, whoever is running the gate has the responsibility to risk life and limb to make sure that not a SINGLE calf gets through. If they do, they owe the whole group. What do they owe- I dunno… Some say beer, some say steak, some say a candy bar… I don’t think anyone has ever actually paid up, but the potential is always there for a good time. They can get away without paying up because a calf out means that those cowboys get a good chase and roping that is better than any beer, steak or candy bar! Unfortunately there weren’t any missed on the first round of sorting. But someone must have paid off the gate-man because there was a good handful for the roping come round two!
Oh, hey… Lets talk about that wind. So the day started off beautiful. Sunny, warm but not hot with a teensy breeze to keep the smoke from hanging around. But the rude weatherman forecasted gusting winds in the afternoon, about the only weather prediction they can ever get right (says The Rancher). As we were gathering in the second herd, true to the forecast those winds picked up and it was near impossible to see. Aside from not being able to see, like, anything, it made it super hard to keep your hat on. You might not think that’s a big deal, but all the sudden we find ourselves with a bunch of awkward, naked topped cowboys finding it hard to rope. It was really probably do to the wind, but I’m sure the thought of losing and being hatless just threw them off their groove.
Despite the extra juggling because of less help, having a sweet, hungry baby, terrible winds and dust, strep throat and everything else crazy going on, the work got done. We may have had a pound of dirt in our eyes and ears and I lost my voice for the nest 4 days, but as cowboys do we faced the work and got it done!