Lammers Branding 2023 | Old Ways and Good Neighbors

This time of the year is a highlight for many, and for good reason. After a long and often lonely winter, after the discouragements that can come after months of cold and dark and solitude, after dealing with the extremes of life and death during calving, branding season is a bright spot, a relief, a respite. Even a rough calving season can be followed by the best of branding seasons, and this has been a good one.

Some parts of the state and the country have modernized how they accomplish ranching tasks throughout the year, in ways that minimize the need for outside help. Even after my short time as a part of this community, I can understand the thought behind that, or how it might be necessary in some situations. Sometimes for whatever reason a whole community steps back from trading help and goes to a more independent model, so you don’t really have a choice but to follow suit. I get it. But what a loss!

Thankfully the majority of ranches in this community along Spring Creek, Battle Creek, and the Foothills, still participate in trading help, preserving a way of life that goes beyond the profession, preserving a way of life that necessitates the forming and maintaining of neighborly relationships, relationships that only serve to strengthen a community. Branding season is perhaps when this shines the most, and everyone not only reaps the benefits of having good neighbors, but of being a good neighbor.

Branding season is when you really see the importance of people stepping up and stepping in, sometimes last minute because life happens. Of communities working together and coming together in a way that has been lost from the culture at large but is still alive and well in the agricultural community.

It is a time when skills are taught, learned, honed, or re-learned. And no one ever qualifies out of all four of those categories. There is always something you can teach someone else, learn from someone else, do better at, or re-learn. Information is exchanged and even the most seasoned can glean from the hard-earned wisdom of others.

I’m thankful for those old ways. Old ways of learning skills and trading knowledge, of sharing work and life and fellowship. Thankful for neighbors and friends – old to my husband and his family, new to me. Thankful for this way of life.

Lindblom Branding 2023 | Family and Community

What a great day we had on Saturday! A beautiful early morning gather, great help, perfect weather, not a smitch of dust, no (serious) injuries, healthy calves, and a hearty meal afterwards. I didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures, but managed to snag a few.

It sure is neat to see so many different people give of their time to help out and make things go smoothly. Some of these relationships go back generations. I have been told that the way our community functions is pretty unique, and I have witnessed and experienced myself how giving and gracious people are, helping without strings attached. There is the understanding that everyone does pitch in to help with this branding or that branding or that day of working cows, but people aren’t keeping records to see who showed up and who didn’t. It is pretty amazing. We have some great neighbors and friends! The line of pickups and trailers parked outside the branding corrals speaks volumes. I sure feel blessed to be a part of this family and this community!

Perli Gates Branding 2023 | Just Good

Another branding in the books! It was a good day at the Perli Gates, branding calves and working cows, and after the rain we had this weekend with the multiple postponed brandings, it is good to see neighbors and get some of the spring work going and done!

Some people say the word “good” and to them it means “good, but not great.” I say the word “good,” and to me it means just what it says. Not as a comparison but as a statement of fact.

And it really doesn’t get much better.

Good neighbors.

Good horses.

Good dogs.

Good work to do.

Good fellowship over coffee and again over supper.

There is so much to be thankful for when you can work alongside husband and family, work alongside neighbors who all look out for one another and get the work finished without any injuries, and then give thanks to God for a good day over a hearty meal at the end of it all. The branding rounds will continue the rest of this week and we’ll see many of the same neighbors as everyone pitches and gives of their time to get the work done.

The grass has greened up intensely over the last few days as the temps have warmed, and the views of Harney Peak and the Hills were gorgeous on the way home. We polished the day off with a few rounds of stick chasing, and finding the first lilac blooms.

It was a good day. Just plain good.

Photo Roundup | April 16 – May 13

The last few weeks of pictures (okay, month) got away from me! Spring work is going strong and we have just been busy! A good sort of busy. A lot of what we’ve been doing hasn’t been super conducive to carrying a camera around either, so maybe the photo crop has been a little slim week-to-week.

The end of April wrapped up with getting our pairs worked, which is fun work especially if the weather is beautiful, which it was. The calves look great. Between that project, and getting ready for our branding, and helping neighbors with theirs, and gardening projects, and the random sorts of projects that crop up when dealing with livestock, we haven’t had a lot of downtime. The chicks down in the brooder kindergarten in the barn are getting huge, not really chicks anymore and soon ready to join the big girls in the coop. The big girls are laying eggs like crazy. Last week, we finished my greenhouse (I’ll write more about that later!), and I got tomatoes, peppers, greens, and herbs going in it. They have already grown a lot, and seeds have germinated so much quicker than I expected. I’m optimistic about this gardening year!

This past month went by with a lot of “lasts.” The last heifers calved. The last cows calved. The last pairs were worked out of the calving pasture into the branding pasture. The last square bale was fed. The last frosty morning came and went (so far, knock on wood). The last panel was gathered up from around the calving shed and moved to the branding pasture. The last piano lessons were taught for the semester.

We also had lots of firsts. The first rainstorm. (And the next, and the next!) The first pasqueflowers, and then the first of the rest of the wildflowers, and the obligatory wildflower hunting. The first brandings. The first days working calves. The first nights with the windows thrown open. The first true gardening days. My first assignment as a contributing writer for Down Country Roads, a local magazine.

These firsts and lasts are the end of one season and the beginning of another, as calving season and summer are bridged by the excitement of the branding season, the camaraderie of working with family and neighbors, the fresh and early mornings and the warm middays, seeing the sun rise earlier and earlier and watching the sun set later and later. And with all the moisture we have had, we are actually excited for summer! The daily rhythm is punctuated by plenty to keep things interesting, plenty of the things that add spice and savor and sweetness and a little bit of chaos.

It’s a beautiful life. It really is.

Oh, Josie

There is sure an extra dose of sass in this fluffy little black-and-white body.

Over the last couple of weeks, calving has come to an end and the pre-branding work, which included long days gathering cows and sorting pairs and tagging and vaccinating, occupied much of our time. The pups would accompany us, but would find themselves locked in the aluminum trailer while we were riding out to gather or working in the corrals, to keep them out of the way and prevent any “self-deployment,” as we call their tendency to, well, self-deploy. Sometimes they apparently think the cows just need a little wake-up, or maybe even need to be shuffled to the next hill. So we lock them up and have the delightful pleasure of listening to the two pups howling inside that tin-can of a trailer. I imagine the echo is pretty inspirational.

One of those mornings, we were horseback in the corral about 100 yards from the trailer, and I caught a glimpse of a little black dog on the back of the flatbed pickup. At first I figured it was Dave’s pup, Cooper, who hadn’t been locked up and likes to sit on top of the pickup cab, but it didn’t take long to see that it was in fact my pup, Josie. She had somehow managed to climb out one of the trailer windows and then jump up onto the flatbed, both of which were rather impressive feats. She then rummaged around in the coffee break bag and stole an apple and put teeth marks in the other. She was happy as a clam and didn’t show a bit of remorse. Her conscience was not pricked. I had introduced her to apples, and she apparently likes them well enough to self-deploy on them as well.

A couple days later, she gave us quite a good scare while we were working pairs. When we took coffee break, which generally happens at an appropriate lull which generally happens around 10am, Josie climbed out of the trailer looking rather lethargic, kind of slinking around and trembling. It was abnormal enough I started looking all over her for possible snake fang marks, or wondering if she had managed to get herself kicked or stepped on by one of the horses. I didn’t find anything, but she kind of moaned when I pressed her little belly and, even more abnormally, she showed no interest when I was eating an apple or a beef stick. She loves to share, but not that time. At one point she was curled up in my lap, with her head bobbing and eyes closing, still shaking and shivering. It was bizarre. Brad said later he almost had me take the ATV back to the house and get her to the vet. Anyway, a couple hours later she was just fine, right as rain. All I can figure is that the dramatic little thing got her feelings hurt when she ended up locked in the trailer by herself for what must have been a tortuous hour. Horror of horrors. It was quite the convincing performance. She got a lot of mileage out of that. Thank goodness I didn’t take her to the vet. That would have been embarrassing.

Oh, Josie. I really don’t know what I’d do without her.

The Making of a Faithful Friend

The pups recently had their four month birthday and are suddenly little dogs, not little puppies! That time went so fast. They’ve chunked up then stretched out, going from roly-poly babies to slender adolescents. They’ve bit by bit traded puppy energy for dog energy, uncontrolled impulses to attentive action. It’s somewhat bittersweet. Okay, very bittersweet.

The puppy stage is adorable, and it has been worth all the work and the messes, the endless sweeping, mopping, and shampooing the carpet, but honestly it has been neat to see their individual personalities emerge and develop as their puppy craziness has subsided a little. Bess has turned into a great pup for Brad, loving her job of riding with him to check cows and tag calves in the morning and has great cowy instincts.

Josie, meanwhile, has become the best little buddy, helping me with chicken chores and attempting to herd them around, riding on the fourwheeler and loving when she gets to chase cows, going on long walks and hikes, but is even content to run errands with me in town or hang out in the house when I have housework or writing to do. She has such a strong desire to learn and to be doing, so I started training with her on a little agility work when I have a few minutes here and there, and she absolutely loves it. She follows me around like a little shadow, coming to find me occasionally in the middle of the night or if she loses sight of me on our walks. Where I am, generally she is.

And when you’re talking about working dogs, that companionship is extremely important, where trust, mutual trust, is grown and cultivated. These dogs are so intelligent and intuitive, and they have such a strong desire to please. Friendship, or companionship, is an important facet of the dog-human relationship to nurture, feeding into their desire to work and their instinct to do so, and using that innate desire to please to curb their not-always-correct impulses, rather than fear.

How fast these little creatures become faithful little friends!