We branded a bunch of 162 calves yesterday, using both our new machine and our original prototype. These were the oldest and biggest calves on the place, and about 30 of them were January calves out of cows that I bought. Being right at three months of age, some of them were husky enough that they would have really tested even ambitious football player type calf wrestlers. By roping them with both hind legs and raising their rear ends up off the ground, and then securing the rope, they were fairly immobilized and easy to process.
Our crew consisted of Saddletramp, Mrs. Soapweed, our sophomore son (Brock), his cousin (Brian McCrory, who has just completed a tour of duty in Kuwait), my sister (Sybil), and me. Later in the day, my dad came along and wanted to rope awhile. I let him ride Tom Cat, and between Dad and the horse, they had 105 years of total ranching experience (Dad is 82, and Tom Cat is 23). Saddletramp’s gracious wife had volunteered to make the noon meal, and she did a super job. She works at the Cody School as a secretary, but has experience as a ranch cook and also in operating a café. She hasn’t forgotten a thing about cooking, even though she presently gets more practice typing.
Once again, we were happy with the way the machine performed. It is much more “rope friendly” than our original prototype (which was also set up and in use when we needed it). The original mud flap rubber on the "rope grabber", had deteriorated enough that we had to re-do it. This time we used belting from a hay baler, and after using it on over a hundred calves, hardly any wear is observed. This will undoubtedly be the rubber of choice.
The job took a big chunk of the day, but it was accomplished favorably. We had access to the corrals at my dad's headquarters, so separating the cows from the calves was done with the aid of a sorting alley. The branding took place in this alley, also. Electricity was nearby so we used an electric branding iron. The quietness was enjoyed, in comparing it to the roar of a propane stove. We set up both contraptions at the end of the alley, so when a calf was done, it could be easily dismissed out into a bigger corral. We let twenty calves at a time into the alley, and waited until they were all branded before putting twenty more into the roping area. The weather cooperated wonderfully, and the temperature was near 70 degrees with very little wind. In fact, just a slight gentle breeze would have been welcomed.
I’ll send along a few pictures of our day’s activities.