10 Things Every Person Can Learn from a Cattle Branding

by Kevin on April 16, 2012

“Why don’t you go get your horse and drag some calves?”

These eleven words will put a smile on any cowboy’s face. It was my first time to day work for this ranch and being given the opportunity to drag was something far from expected. To be honest, I have very little experience draggin’ calves. Why? ‘Cause I was never the boss or the oldest one…so that left me to do the flanking.

After my fifth attempt to snag double-hocks on a particular calf, the boss’ son started razin’ me pretty hard. I didn’t let him get to me, but I was gettin’ pretty frustrated. This little booger was Houdini reincarnated into a little black heifer. I finally snagged her up…quite by accident, but no one else knew that.

If I were to re-count to you everything that happened during the brandin’, this would be a book instead of an article. So, I’ll just give you the ten lessons I learned, or was reminded of that day.

  1. Click picture for more great stuff from Rockin' K Bar Photography

    All you have to do is rope and drag calves durin’ brandin’ season to see just how far from perfect you really are.

  2. You can check the gentleness of your horse the first time a calf you’ve roped runs underneath you and darts out between your horses back legs.
  3. You can check the gentleness of your buddy’s horse the first time a calf you’ve roped runs underneath his horse and darts out between its back legs.
  4. If you’re flankin’, it’s never the roper’s fault when something goes wrong.
  5. If you’re ropin’, it’s never the flanker’s fault when something goes wrong.
  6. When they tell you to hold on tight to the Nord Fork when you take it off…there’s a reason.
  7. If you don’t want to be the one giving the injections, don’t be hollerin’ at them that are.
  8. If you’re on the back legs, talk real nice to the cowboy doin’ the cuttin’.
  9. When the boss’ wife offers you a muffin…eat a muffin. Just make sure you put the paper towel in your pocket for later out in the pasture.
  10. Tryin’ to make a hand is a lot better than trying to make an impression.

Got anything you’d like to pass along?


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  • If any one asks if you’d like to work the sorting gate, run away, run far, far away. 😉

  • Carol Vonfeldt

    Many, many years ago, I can remember both my brothers being vaccinated for Black Leg – but not on purpose!! Different years, but same brothers – makes you go hummmmmmm?? Thanks Kevin for your messages, I always look forward to reading them. CV

  • I was always a flanker….I finally got old enought to have senority to rope, now no cows! phooey!

    how about:
    #11 When you on the back end of the calf, always put your foot over that little hole before the iron hits the hide!

  • Carol

    Guess I should have explained a little more about the Black Leg. This would have been a time when my brothers had the calf on the ground, for some reason the calf wasn’t in the squeeze chute and the struggle started up again. AND that syringe just wasn’t in the right place anymore… now you know the rest of the story!!

  • I always do the cuttin. I tell those doin the ropin to bring that sinner to my altar. You know it puts the Fear of God into those who don’t know I’m just kiddin! Then I give a wicked laugh and invite them to church!

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