Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Weekend Cattle Branding

It was time once again to make the 1.5 hr drive to the Farris family's 5-F Ranch in Dunlap, CA (a foothill community near the northern entrance to Kings Canyon National Park). Amy had a friend from So Cal visiting for the weekend (thanks for coming up to visit, G-Funk!), so they stayed back on the homefront in Hanford. I (Steve) met the gang there at about 9am. This time, we were at Virgil's Ranch, which is property my family leases from a guy named Virgil (go figure). It is just a mile or so from our property. I arrived a little later than everyone else (but I also had the furthest to drive... and we stayed up late watching the Olympics). Haley and a few locals whom my Dad had recently met were already separating the adult cows/bulls from the babies. Once they are separated, the adults are ran through a narrow fence lane and into a squeeze chute, where their heads are locked down and their sides squeezed (gently) so they do not move around while getting a slew of vaccinations (which are required by the FDA). They are also examined for injuries, warts or infections. I think there were approx 20 adults that we treated on Sunday. They they hang around to watch their babies get ran through the gauntlet. The little ones are a bit more difficult to keep still because of their size. They often have to be held still by one or more people... usually by their head and tail... while they receive 6 vaccinations (Christina & I were the shot-givers), get their ears pierced with a 5-F tag with an ID number on it (Karina was the ear-piercer), and branded. My Mom was recording which vaccinations were given to which numbers... the FDA is requiring strict record-keeping to allow for tracing of lineage in case of an outbreak of contamination of beef or mad cow disease. My Dad is always the one who locks in their heads and squeezes down the chute. He also does the actual branding most of the time. My brother-in-law, James and a couple of the local guys were pushing the cows down the lane and into the chute. Randy was assisting them with the help of an electric shocker. Trenton had his own shocker... until he shocked Randy and had it taken away! My cousin Brian and another local, Mike, were locking the cows in the chute and holding down the babies while they were branded and treated. That's pretty much the process. Here are a few pictures and I'm going to make my first attempt to put a couple of short videos on here, as well.

This was my arsenal of injections. I hope not many of my patients see this or we may not be seeing them again in our office!

Randy with his shocker... watch out!

Tanner & Carter watching the action from the safety of the fence.

James in his customary position of King of the Lane guiding the cows to their destination.

A young heiffer with her head locked in the squeeze chute.

The branding iron heating up.

Winnie and Dun Dee love going to the mountains!

Cowgirl Christina... she really knows her stuff around the animals.

This is the only picture of Haley that I ended up with... Hmmm... I can't believe she just started her Junior year at Immanuel High! She knows how to ride and can sort with the best of 'em.

Trenton with his favorite outfit... his flightsuit... and with some glove that glows in the dark, of course.

Tanner's self portrait.

Shot from outside the action.

Karina flexing her power over the bovine while piercing their ears.

There's the Boss marking his territory...

Christina doing her thing...

This wild one decided to slip out the side of the squeeze chute. Brian, James and Mike were there to keep her from escaping before she got the works!

The boys wanted to walk down the creek bed to this Native American cemetery, which is still in use. A very interesting and solemn place.


El said...

Steve, I don't know how you got all that done--working, plus taking pictures and videos! Great job of showing us the action. Too bad we had to miss all the fun this time. Maybe next time...........

Melissa said...

I've never seen anything quite like that! (In a cool way!) Thanks for sharing. I guess I didn't know your family had such a large ranch! Again - Thanks for sharing!