Saturday, July 12, 2014

Branding, Trailing and Family Meeting

No wonder the past month is a bit of a blur. We gathered, sorted, branded, trailed the cows to the summer range, hauled steers to mountain valley pasture, planted the garden, and started on the fruit harvest!
Jordan sorts cattle on branding day

The day  before branding, Mike and I gathered the cattle after I drove down from town. We rode to the southern end of the ranch and down to the riverbar, where the yearlings and two-year olds practiced their shenanigans while we got the herd pointed uphill. Once they climed to the bench they settled into an easy trail down river.
Steers sorted and waiting to head for mountain pasture

Almost home, dusk began to creep in and we saw Gabe and Cammie's headlights coming down the canyon and knew they'd have dinner waiting. Then right above the house, the yearlings and two-year olds staged a mutiny, running everywhere but down the trail, testing the patience of dogs and herders, before they finally climbed off the bench to the river and through the gate.

Jacinda and Zeke, ready to work

Next morning,  Zeke and Jacinda came down and Jordan came and brought a horse. And Jerry and Liz showed up from Flora. And Paul and Molly and 'the doc' in residence from the clinic in Enterprise where Molly works.

Jordan with calmest calf 

It was  hot, but not too hot. We had a good crew and all went smoothly, other than one near-disaster at the end when Mike's horse got a rope under his tail, and set off bucking and tying himself up in knots.
Jerry, 'Doc', Liz, Molly

Luckily, Chester stayed upright and Mike stayed on. The doc didn't have to practice his medicine (he confessed he had no kit with him) and we all got to retire to the shade for a well deserved meal.

Gabe and Bird, Jerry, Zeke and Mike on ground crew

We feasted on pork from Amaranta Farm, salads, cold watermelon and cobbler.
Jacinda and Zeke - after

Weston rides the chow line 

A few days later the cows were topping out. 

Above Log Creek

Prairie and Gabe spent Fathers Day with Mike, trailing to the head of Alder Creek. The temperatures were blessedly cool and the cattle traveled easily.
'Mound scabland' ecological site  

That night we gathered for a family barbecue, the gift of a new wheelbarrow to Mike, and a meeting about the future of the ranch.

Mike and Chester, head of Alder Creek

It felt good to be together, to have accomplished another move from winter range to summer and to enjoy the delicious beef we raise.

Family meeting at Cammie and Gabe's

It felt good to share what is important to each of us, to hear about what the ranch gives to each of us, and what we each give to the ranch.

Wes contributes to the discussion

We listened to each other and we made a few decisions. It was good.  

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef