As spring winds down and summer begins, ranchers in Wyoming begin the time-tested tradition of branding their cattle. Branding predates our state, and is still the most reliable method of marking cattle for identification.
How a cattleman organizes his branding is as unique as the actual brand itself. Some families choose the traditional route of roping calves out of a herd with horses and cowboys. Others choose to use a chute and table, eliminating the need for horses. Some features are a matter of necessity, others of tradition. Some ranch branding probably don’t look all that different than they might have 100 years ago, save for a iron heated by propane instead of a wood fire.
But some things don’t change. No matter where you go, you’ll find neighbors helping neighbors. Kids work side-by-side with their parents, learning how to brand, rope and even castrate the bull calves. Socializing with friends and family. Earthy smells. Petty squabbles. Cussing. Laughter. And food. Lots and lots of homemade, delicious food.
Joining the Smith family and their crew is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the year.