May 7, 2012

Branding TIme Again on the Quarter Circle XL

It is branding time again on the ranch this Friday. It continues to be all about cows cows and more cows this week - getting things lined up. The neighbors will come and help up brand - and after that we can be stress free and enjoy going to help brand at ten to twelve of their brandings. It is a great time of the year.

We have a chuck wagon cook coming again this year so one less thing to multi task and look forward to his coffee cooked over a wood fire along with the other dutch oven food. Breakfast by the fire at 4:30 am and lunch on the prairie following the branding make it easy to feel like I am time traveling.

My thoughts rewind to when I first made my appearance as a total novice - before I got into 'character'. It is hard to believe this will be my 10th branding season. It still feels like I just got here although I have learned so much along the way and hopefully preserved some of it with my photographs. As I step into more of a manager position on the ranch I still look to my business partner and 'old' time cowboy for all the advice and depend much on our neighbors for spring and fall work. It is a good system around here and makes for a strong community - we couldn't get all the work done without their help.

Since I first set foot on the ranch, I have felt like I stepped back in time. I often ride around in daydream mode, thinking about the early day cowboys and brandings on the ranch and how the way we cowboy and brand is not much different from the 1800's. The cast of characters just changes over time. When you stand in the branding corral on the ranch you can see an indentation in the land just a ways away where one of the Thode's had a dugout where they set up camp in order to claim the land for the ranch when it was homesteaded around the turn of the 20th century. I feel I am surrounded by history while carrying on the cowboying tradition on the ranch. Thanks to my friend and business partner Lyle O'Bryan for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it all. ©JEAN LAUGHTON