Hierarchy of the branding pen

We worked our calves yesterday—branded, castrated, tagged and vaccinated—and I drove into the farm fully thinking my role would be of documenter and cook. That all changed when my husband gave me the “come here” look and impatient hand signal.

I was told I needed to tag. Impatiently I told him, “I don’t know how, you’re going to have to show me.” Of course a few cuss words came out of my mouth because the cowboy crew around me was intimidating to say the least. What I lack in experience they make up for in years of doing and ability. Lucky for me they overheard my hasty outburst and directed me where to put the tag and the easiest way to make it work when my brain became jammed.

I had never been to a branding before last year. I’d helped my husband work our own calves before, running vaccines to him from the cooler and making tags. It’s easier for me to swallow to just have him waiting on me than a crew of 10 tapping their toe because I can’t figure out which side the tagger goes on the ear. I’d never honestly stuck a tag in a calf’s ear before yesterday. And after nearly 70 calves I feel confident enough to do it again.

At the start of the day I wanted nothing more than to blend into the scenery and make spectacular photographs, but in the end, I’d managed to find my place in he hierarchy of the branding pen. Still at the bottom. But at least my steak, broccoli salad and meal was a hit.