Whew! I made it! We held our annual branding last week. Preparations took most of the week before and we're still trying to get things put back together. It's exhausting, but so much fun too. Around here branding season is something everyone looks forward to. It's a time to get together with neighbors and friends and show off buckaroo skills. Cattle rustling is still alive and well in the west, and actually increasing lately, so branding is still a necessity to ensure that we find all our cattle in the fall. My dad is as cowboy as they come and insists on doing things the old fashioned way. We don't have any ATV's on the ranch, and we do nearly everything on horse-back. Branding is no different. We still rope the calves from our horses and dad insists on things being done well. No crashing around, no racing. He likes to see the cowboys using good horsemanship and good loops to ensure that the calves aren't overly stressed. All five girls in the family learned to rope and our branding has become a place where other women feel welcome to work with the men. Cowboy traditions are important to my family. We feel strongly about preserving this way of life. That's why we also started a kid's roping pen- to teach the next generation the cowboy way. We sort off the smaller calves and let the little guys have a go at roping. This picture is my little man, setting off to catch a calf. The parents are right there to help out and give instruction.
The bigger kids also get a chance to rope from horse-back, learning and practicing until they feel comfortable roping with the adults. I wish we would have done this when I was a kid.
My role during the branding has changed. Where I used to be one of the hands, now I'm the cook and nanny. Since I'm the one with the youngest child, I sit out from roping and make sure lunch is ready and that the kids are okay. It's been a hard transition for me, going from ranch hand to baby sitter. I've had to realize that I just can't do everything, and that my job now is just as important as any other. We put on a big spread of food for everyone, since that's the only pay they get for their help. It's a big job, preparing in advance and then getting everything heated and ready. It feels good to be the one that makes sure everyone gets enough to eat and I do enjoy cooking.
Getting the kitchen back under control has been a battle though. Things are still a mess from the flood we had as well. We are in the process of moving off the ranch for hubby to finish up school, and this week was when we had to move our stuff, so add the craziness of moving to the general mayhem, and you have my week. I'm looking forward to getting things back in order this week. The dishes are finally tackled and I made it to the grocery store today. Laundry tomorrow...