Terry took the day off on Tuesday May 9 and we all drove out to the ranch to brand Jerry's 53 calves. It had been two years since I last went and why I didn't attend last year I don't even know. It's always fun though.
When we got home Evie made this handy chart complete with labels to describe the branding process. We love it so much, it's hanging on our fridge and even Gramma and Grampa's too. :D And what's more is that it's totally accurate! Start on the right side and move your way left. 1) tub, 2) shoot, 3) cage, 4) calf table, 5) freedom.
It was colder than expected so we all had to borrow coats from Jerry and/or Alice. Ha!
Jerry's renter's kids, Carson and Sydney, helped again. And surprisingly, our kids were actually pretty decent help this year! Yay for growing up!
It's nice that Ezra is old enough to stay out of the way and can finally tolerate the noise of the generator (no crying, clinging, or covering ears).
Getting ready. Samuel had new boots on which were purchased for his upcoming first camp at Rainbow this summer.
Here are the baby calves all separated and ready to go waiting in the the barn. The moms were in the next corral over bellering loudly away for them. It was quite a din.
First the kids (mostly Carson and a neighbor kid named Kyle) put some calves in the tub.
Next Evie and Sydney and Matt (a friend and youth leader from church we had brought along), pushed the calves down the shoot/line to the calf table where they were caught, turned on their sides, given three shots, and branded with the P/F for Poor Farm.
Inside the table, while their fur and skin was being burned by a hot brand, they would beller, kick, poop, and flail around as much as they could before Jerry let them go. One calf in particular appeared to be lactose intolerant when he let loose a huge puddle of white poo. Ewwww. Jessica said it was better than last year when she got sprayed with milk when one of the momma's utters got compressed. HA!
Good job kiddies!
Early on in our operation one of the calfs attempted to reach its mother in the neighboring corral by jumping through this water tank (it's actually an old hot tub that Jerry and his dad used to sell but Jerry decided to get some use out of it as a water tank!). The poor calf totally got stuck and then was jumping around like mad in there! We all made to run over, afraid it was going to to hurt itself.
It got out though. Unscathed thankfully.
Ezra entertained himself by riding his Strider around when he was bored.
When the calfs are born Jerry and Alice do one or two things to them, tag their ears and band the boys' "tenders." After one rambunctious calf was let out, Terry discovered his shriveled "rocky mountain oysters" had just been left behind. Ha ha ha ha ha!
Matt said it was "a once in a lifetime experience," meaning it was one he didn't need to have again. However, he was a great help!
I thought this calf was pretty. Seriously though, they all looked so healthy, glossy in fact!
Close up of view of the operation. My job was write down the calf number and gender to make sure we had all of them.
Burning hair and flesh, 'aint no smell like it. Yuck.
Evie, Matt, Samuel, Noah.
Calves all done.
Everything was just starting to green up and bud.
I hiked up the hill above the corrals to take in the the full picture.
Pile of calves waiting for their mama's who were getting their shots.
Looking west - I love the views out there.
Ezra was bored and I was unneeded so we went to visit Snap's grave.
I hiked further up the hill (while my baby bellered behind me since I was "leaving him") because I thought this tractor with a tree growing out of it was cool.
Ezra posing with a pile of petrified wood.
We went back to watch the rest of the cows be immunized and discovered they were waiting for Jerry to find some medicine for this cow. He initially thought it was pink eye, but Matt and I said No way (Matt is a doctor). Matt did some research and found that the likely culprit was "silage eye" as a result of her pushing her head into a pile of hay to eat and getting poked. Pretty gross right? Jerry said it's mostly healed now though.
Vaccinating the cows went very quickly.
The last few cows in the tub.
Mothers and babies reunited.
We all headed in for lunch and afterwards the guys help Jerry carry his repaired roller coaster engine back to it's place. It had been broken last year after he ran too much weight through during a family reunion weekend (something we did again on May 28 of this last weekend) and it worked perfectly. Next all that was left was to go home and wash the smell of burnt hair off of us.