Written by Leah Peterson @ Cooksley’s Clear Creek Farm
There is a tradition each spring in this part of Nebraska. The annual cattle branding event is a sign of the transition from one chapter to another each year in the ranching world. Living in an area where cattle are required to carry a brand is a unique experience. Each brand carries such significance in its appearance and location, and every operation determines how that branding takes place.
At our ranch, branding happens the first weekend in May. Over the years, our number of cattle have increased, turning it into an all day event with many hands needed. We move all the cow/calf pairs into a large corral, work quickly to sort the cows out of the corral, and then assemble our horsemen and women and wrestlers, and shot givers, and data recorders and get to work. Our objective is simple. We try to rope and drag the calves to the wrestlers, quickly brand them, evaluate them for sickness, give them their shots and record their information and get them back on their feet and to their mothers in a short amount of time. This ensures that we limit the amount of stress placed upon these calves, and that helps them stay healthy.
Along with the work, we laugh and joke, and make light of the back-breaking work. Friends and family gather for this tradition, and at the end of the day we enjoy a feast to celebrate our labors, and give thanks to God for His provisions for our ranch. The cattle are the lifeblood of our operation.
This year we were honored to have two staff from the Lincoln Journal Star follow us through our branding day. Also, we were joined by family and friends that traveled from afar to take part.
We now turn our attention to sorting the pairs into smaller bunches and preparing the fences and water systems so that all cattle may go to their summer pastures. We have been blessed with some moisture the past few weeks, but it is only a drop in the bucket in efforts to replenish the damage of the drought. Difficult decisions stand in front of all cattle producers this year, but we are united in knowing that we may lean on one another in this great state. We are grateful to live and work in Nebraska, a state that supports and encourages its Ag community.