Western Wednesday ~ Branding Calves

For those who aren’t familiar, yes, we’re western here…and calves get branded and their ears notched just like they did 100 years ago.

Why? Because there are cattle rustlers still today…just like 100 years ago. True story. This is the best way for a rancher to protect his or her property.

Catchin' the Heels

Nice double heel catch by Erik (who BTW, makes a living as a buckaroo).


Some ranches catch heels only, but in our area, most ranches catch the head then the heels. The calf is then drug to the fire by the heels.

Your’s truly and Colt holding the front legs while the ears are being notched.

Does that last photo look a little hazy? By the end of the day, the wind was blowing 30 mph and the dust was thick and heavy. My camera had never been so dirty!


Western Wednesday ~ Gathering Pairs at Crowley Ranch

Moving Pairs

Last week I spent two days at Crowley ranch gathering and moving pairs. Fall is when most ranchers gather their pairs from summer pasture, sort the mamma cows from the calves then ship the calves to auction yards. Yes, the clouds were threatening rain, but we were lucky this time.

Searching for Pairs

The cow boss usually runs three border collie cow dogs at a time. I can only handle my one! It was great fun and can’t wait to go back in the spring to help turn out the newborn pairs to summer pasture…and the cycle goes on and on…

Dec 23 – Shoot a Color

In my book, barn wood is a color 😉  The weathered wood goes hand in hand with the dry high desert winter colors. This is the Pete French Round Barn which is about 10 miles down the road from us. Riddle Mountain is in the background. When visiting the Round Barn, it’s a MUST to see the Visitor’s Center; they have the best gift shop in Harney County!

For a little history…quoting from their website:

“The Pete French round barn is one of the stops on your (Jenkins) tour. It was here that cattle king Pete French trained horses (for driving) during the winter months. The inside of the barn is uniquely made from juniper posts and lumber that was hauled from over 60 miles from the north. The round barn was built in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s, the date is not certain. The barn remains much as it was in Pete French’s day with some minor repairs to the outside and roof. The (Jenkins) family donated the Pete French Round Barn to the state of Oregon in 1969.”


Dec 18 – Equine

For today’s photo challenge, I opted to photograph my best cow horse EVER, Colt 45 (aka Colt, AQHA registered name River Bug Rambler) and our new saddle. We’ve had saddle fitting issues and had to finally break down and get a custom made saddle.

Nothing fancy, it’s a working saddle. But I rode him today, and when I pulled the saddle off of him, he didn’t crank his tail…I think he likes it!!! We’re ready to go day work cows now…and I can’t wait to rope the first calf come branding season!

I think my favorite thing about this photo is the snow on Colt’s nose 😉


Nov 3 – Shoes

The challenge was shoes, but this is not a “shoe” household…boots is the name of the game! We gathered and trailed weanlings for the neighbors today (they get shipped tomorrow). Eric, their new son-in-law and full-time buckaroo for Tree Top Ranches, was sport enough to put up with me and my camera. I like his chinks too…they rounded out the photo I think.


April 7 ~ Photo A Day #97

Still photos are so deceiving…the wind was gusting up to 30 mph as we did our best to rope calves for branding. My husband and I are still at the rookie stage with our roping and had a very difficult time getting our ropes to catch anything. Thank goodness the “good ropers” were there to get the job done!


This was the last catch of the day. The buckaroo on the far side is holding the calf at the branding fire while the other is most likely talking “cows and roping.”

It was still a good day; the food was great, the beer cold and hanging with friends is always  a bonus.

April 6 ~ Photo A Day #96

Another typical spring day…sun, hail, rain, wind and back to sun again. I helped another rancher, the 3J Ranch this time, sort out cow/calf pairs on this particular day. We had just gotten blasted with rain and hail…Colt’s ears are still wet.

Holding Herd

We gather the herd and put them in a corner of the field. There is a fence that’s nearly invisible on the backside of the cows, and we set up pickup trucks and trailers to make “wings” on the left and right. Then we wait for the cows and calves to “mother up” and then push that pair out of the herd (these are calves that have been branded).

What is left are the cows with calves that have not been branded, cows that still need to calve and dry cows. We drive the branded pairs out to summer grazing range land; the rest go to a smaller field to wait as the rest of the cows calve.

April 1 ~ Photo A Day #91

Oops…boy do I have a lot of catchin’ up to do! I’ve been taking daily photos, but just been too busy to get them posted.

I’ll start out with a double feature from one of the most picturesque spots in all of Harney County…McCoy Creek. I helped the rancher move his cow/calf pairs out of the canyon and up to the range land where they will spend the summer grazing.

In the photo below, you can see the trail of cows going up the well worn path to the top of the rim rock. Many times it’s been just me and the rancher; this time there were five riders and it sure made the trip easier. The lil’ calves don’t know how to trail yet, and it’s quite a challenge to get them following along.

Climbing Out of the Canyon

Once on top, the range land opens up and spreads out for miles. We took the pairs about three miles to their first pasture. As the year progresses, they will be rotated to other pastures to keep the range land from being over grazed. It’s an important part of the land management that many don’t understand. One of the highest priorities for a rancher is to manage the range.

No grass = No grazing.  Ranchers do everything possible to maintain quality feed for their livestock…and you get good beef on your table at an affordable price!


These photos were taken with my lil’ point ‘n shoot that I carry in my pocket when I’m in the saddle.

March 31 ~ Photo A Day #90

Today was Easter, and we spent part of the morning gathering up and moving cow/calf pairs toward summer pasture and then later branding the first year heifer calves  for a neighboring rancher…the life of a rancher isn’t dictated by the dates or events on the calendar.

I was hoping to get some branding photos, but it’s hard to hold the reins of your horse and your rope, then rope a calf…and take some shots with the camera all at the same time!

Buckaroo ~ Horse Training

We only branded about 50 calves today, and when we were done, I grabbed my camera to take a few shots of what I could.

This is Eric…a fine buckaroo that makes his living sitting on a horse most of the day taking care of cows and calves. The horse he is riding is a new prospect that he is training to become a trusting partner for his daily chores. (the lil’ black blob on the left under the fence is a calf napping…his mother is standing over him further to the left out of the photo)

OK…but I have to say that we had the most wonderful fellowship and Easter dinner after the work was done. There was a Lutheran and a Catholic prayer before dinner and then we all enjoyed the most delicious meal. It was truly was a great day~

Tomorrow…moving the cow/calf pairs we gathered up today and moving them to higher pasture. It’s spring and everything is in high gear!