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I suppose you are getting tired of me writing about branding. You should be, because I seem to write about brandings fairly often. I guess it’s because they really show how a neighborhood comes together to work or play.

The season is pretty well wrapped up now. A few of us have some late calves to brand, but most people are pretty well done. I should rephrase that. I don’t have late calves. To me, a calf is a calf. When we preg check cows, when the person checking asks what the cutoff date is to mark for late calves, I tell them, I don’t have late calves. I’ll take a June calf. Or even a July calf. They are early for next year, not late this year.

Last week I attended two Harding County brandings. Will and Jen had to be gone, so I was the rep. I’m not much help. You know that. But I fill a hole when we are bringing them in, and I can fill the vaccine gun for someone that really works.

The first branding was just off the Slim Buttes. It’s one you don’t want to miss. I think I counted 26 riders as we left the yard and went to gather cows. The sun was bright in the east. The grass was as green as I’ve ever seen it. There was enough grass that, even in that short grass country, it was waving in a gentle breeze. I don’t think I ever saw a prettier sight. Well, there was a girl… never mind.

When the herd was gathered up, the chuck wagon came with homemade donuts. Some frosted with homemade frosting, three different flavors, and some dipped in sugar. I tried them all. They put the Donut Hole to shame.

The branding was smooth, thanks to a bunch of kids from over by Sorum. I doubt if you’ve been to Sorum. But trust me, it’s there. I guess there are a dozen kids in this family. No one seems to know for sure. Some say 13. Some say 12 ½. Some are pretty well growed up. Some are pretty young. But, pound for pound, they are the wrestlingest bunch I’ve ever seen. They could put a half nelson on a 200-pound calf or a figure-four leglock around the neck and hold down any calf they grabbed. And man, could they eat donuts.

The dinner was a taco bar with homemade ice cream for dessert. Have you ever worked half a day and been treated with homemade banana ice cream? Or butterfinger ice cream? There was vanilla, but it was embarrassed.

The next day was on the Grand River. I’ve heard of this branding for years. It’s a big one, eight hundred head or better. And you have to dress up! I mean, you really have to dress up. Some ropers with tuxedos. Everyone with at least a jacket and tie. Here you will find some of the best cowboys and cowgirls in the world. At least the best dressed in the world. One calf wrestling young lady was even wearing a tutu. Is that what you call those deals? First one I’ve seen on a calf wrestler.

Watching eight hundred pair coming down the river, early in the morning, with forty cowboys and cowgirls dressed for a dance. Something I will never forget.

Thanks for having me.

Later, Dean


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