Branding

 

When the Rafter E branded recently, a bunch of us went out to help. There’s a definite pecking order here, and it's a badge of pride to have worked your way up the branding ladder.

  As a kid, you flank the calves; you grab them, throw them and hold them down. This is conducive to abrasions, muscle strain, and involuntarily changing the color of your shirt.

  As you get older, you get to handle the branding iron, then move up to giving shots. After that comes earmarking. When you reach the pinnacle of branding, that is, when you own the calves, then you get to rope the calves and drag them up to the fire.

   It is a swirling cauldron of heat and hooves, excited cowdogs and bawling cows. There is the smell of manure and singed hair and sweat and corral dust.

  At the Rafter E, I wielded a syringe as the youngsters got their teeth rattled by the heavy stuff.

   Wasn't the first time I’d given the shots, though. Once during a branding at the Triangle Cross, I was about to immunize a calf when the calf jumped and I stuck the needle into my thumb.

  Hurt like the dickens, of course, but at least it was effective. I haven't had black leg since.


Brought to you by “Whimsy Castle,” the new novel by Slim Randles https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/whimsy-castle-slim-randles/1145573423?ean=9798893151763


 

Newspaper columnist Slim Randles, who writes the weekly Home Country column, took home two New Mexico Book Awards in 2011. His advice book for young people, “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right,” took first place in the self-help category, and “Sweetgrass Mornings” won in the biography/memoirs category. Randles lives and works in Albuquerque. Home Country reaches 3 million hometown newspaper readers each week

Slim Randles learned mule packing from Gene Burkhart and Slim Nivens. He learned mustanging and wild burro catching from Hap Pierce. He learned horse shoeing from Rocky Earick. He learned horse training from Dick Johnson and Joe Cabral. He learned humility from the mules of the eastern High Sierra. Randles lives in Albuquerque.

Randles has written newspaper stories, magazine articles and book, both fiction and nonfiction. His column appeared in New Mexico Magazine for many years and was a popular columnist for the Anchorage Daily News and the Albuquerque Journal, and now writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country,” which appears in several hundred newspapers across the country.

 

  Huntington Beach News


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