Well, the weather in Nebraska has been crazy lately! Lots of rain and storms, and Saturday was no exception!!! We didn't leave for the ranch (which is 2 1/2 hrs. away) until 3:00p.m Saturday afternoon. The entire state was covered with "sketchy" weather and storms. So... we thought that we would be smart and leave later to avoid the storms. Our friends Jon and Mandey went with us, and we took two vehicles since we were hauling some stuff back. So... Andy and Jon were in Andy's truck and Mandey and I were in my car. We were doing good, just ran into some rain a few times, but no big deal. That's until we hit Newport which is ten miles south of the ranch. It was so weird, as soon as we got there it started to down pour!!! I'm talking cats & dogs!!! It was really hard to see, but we kept going. Then the hail started coming down!!! First, it was just pea size hail but then it turned to golf ball sized hail and it was still down pouring!!! I couldn't see a car length in front of me!!! So, I had Mandey call Andy to tell him that I was pulling over to stop. When she got him on the phone he said to "HURRY UP!!!", there was a tornado south of Newport coming our way at 45mph!!! Thank God someone was responsible and turned on the radio!!! So with that said, we were off!!! I am so thankful that I have driven that stretch of highway at least a million times!!! Because, at 70mph in a down pour with hail, you can't see much!!! I was gripping the wheel so tight that my hands started to hurt!!! By the time we got to the ranch it had stopped raining and we learned that the storm was going east of us. Thank goodness!!! My family's ranch was taken out by a tornado in 1992, and that is one thing that we don't want to experience again!!! But after all, we do live in "Tornado Alley"!!!
Sunday turned out to be a great day except for the nasty Nebraska winds. If you have ever been here you know what I'm talking about!!! This state is so flat their is nothing to stop it or slow it down!!! Okay... now I'll explain what we did on Sunday. First of all, I have to say that this is part of the culture and business in "ranch country". It is NOT done to be mean or cruel. If you feel that it is cruel, I respect your opinion and hope that you try to understand the purpose of this process and procedure. Now with that said...
We call this a "Branding Party". This is because tons of friends and neighbors show up to help just because it is the "right thing" to do. We ended up with at least 30 people helping. First we rounded up the cattle and took them to a corner of a pasture that had a temporary corral and shoot. After we got all the cattle in the corral we sorted of the cows from the calves. We first put the cows through the shoot so we could vaccinate them. After the cows were finished it was time to start working the calves. The guys on horses would rope the calves and bring them out of the corral. The guys that were on foot would then grab the calves and hold them down so that they could receive vaccinations and get branded. After that, the calves were let go and went back to their mothers. It was a quick and simple process! After the branding everyone went back to the house for food and drinks, this is where the "party" part comes in!!! ;) Unfortunately we couldn't stay for the party part :( Andy had to leave this morning at 4:00 a.m. for yet another business trip so we wanted to get home early! Poor guy was so tired and sun-burnt!!! Oh well there's always next year!!!
Click on the pics to enlarge them. If you have ever seen a rodeo, a lot of this will look familiar. After all this is how rodeos started....
If you have any comments or questions please let me know!!! Thanks for looking!!!
Picture #1- This is Jodi (my little sister) catching the horses Sunday morning. You have to take along a bucket of grain so that they will come to you so that you can put on a halter. This is her horse Duchess. I was riding Duchess during the round-up. She must have been having a bad day because she tried to buck me off in the morning and tried to buck Jodi off in the afternoon!!!
Picture #2- The guys are sorting the cows away from the calves. The cows in this picture are Black Angus if you see any red ones in other pics they are Herefords.
Picture #3- This is the shoot that the cows went through and got their vaccinations. The red part "catches" them and hold them in their until someone pulls the lever to release them.
Picture #4- Just one of the cowboys roping a calf!
Picture #5- The guys on horses are keeping the back legs tight with the rope while the other guys are holding down the front legs. There are also a couple guys going around branding while other guys are doing the vaccinations.
Picture #6- This is of Jodi branding one of her own calves!