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.



Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.