Branding Time

Branding helps track livestock from pasture to plate. This helps keep the rancher's records accurate and keeps the American food supply safer.

The month of May in the Green River Valley is a whirwind of brandings. While folks in the city are running from one appointment to the next meeting, my schedule has my family and me flying between ranches.

On my calendar I had 8 brandings to go to this month. All but one were neighbor brandings. We all trade help and we also invite other friends and family to come. We’re generous like that.

I love branding because it involves the entire family. Plus it’s very fun! This year our 4-year-old got to ride with us while we gathered cows and our 2-year-old even got to help hold one of the calves while my husband and I wrestled the calf to be branded. Learning about ranching can never start too early.

Look at those kids! They'll be ready to run the operation in no time!

On our branding day this is my schedule for the day:

4:30 a.m. – Start the Day—wake kids up, make breakfast, get ready and feed the chickens and sheep. My husband gets the horses ready and does his chores.

6:30 a.m. – Get the food over to mother-in-law’s for the branding meal after we eat breakfast.

6:45 a.m. – Get on horses and head out to gather calves from the field.

8:30 a.m. – Start branding the calves.

12:30 p.m. – Head for mother-in-law’s to help with the last minute details for the meal.

2:00 p.m. – Clean up the meal.

3:30 p.m. – Go home and rest…if the kids let me. Husband goes and fixes the windmill because we turn the cows out the next day.

7:00 p.m. – My husband finally gets home and we begin to put the kids to bed.

9 p.m. – Collapse in a pile on the bed and prepare for a similar schedule tomorrow!

There is a lot that goes into a branding day especially when you are hosting the branding. Going to someone else’s branding is more fun because you don’t have to worry about the details as much. It’s just like going to Thanksgiving; it’s so much better if it’s at someone else’s house and not yours.

The days are long and the paycheck is a good meal but it is time well spent with friends and family.

Happy family moments! Thank goodness those girls are styling up the corral with those pink shirts!

From RealRancher Kari Bousman – Boulder, Wyo.

Published by is a visit to the day-to-day lives of America’s original animal welfare advocates and environmentalists.

6 thoughts on “Branding Time

  1. I read somewhere recently that the brand is like the calf’s return address, so they can get back home if they get lost! Thanks for putting in all those long days, so the rest of us can have that wonderful, wholesome beef on our tables.

  2. The best part about community brandings is… money exchanges hands its all based on trade, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. A great system of trade. I think ranchers rely on the help of the neighboring ranches to get big jobs done and vice-versa. That hasn’t changed for generations. Thanks for your great story Kari!

  3. I’ve been to many brandings and each is an incredible blend of community spirit, camaraderie and friendship. People of all ages, from grandkids to grandparents, all working together. It’s real work. Nothing phoney about it. You look over your shoulder at the end of the day and can see what’s been done, and be proud. I look forward to the next branding.

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