As the branding season is among us, the weekends are filled with baby calves, great company, and good fun. When asked what I will be doing on “Saturday” from the middle of March to the first of June, my reply is something to the effect of, “Well I’m not sure- are we branding calves?” As a new comer to the sport, I can honestly say I have not always felt this way. When Spencer and I first got together, I actually dreaded branding “season”. Or in California better known as “we brand all year long”. Check out a past blog on “branding season” for more about that. He pretty much would miss his own funeral for a calf branding. I can’t tell you the numerous occasions he got “calf fever” and couldn’t make a previously agreed to event.
Well I am excited to say I have crossed over to the dark side. Branding season is finally in my blood. I have fallen ail to “calf fever” myself. Stay away, it’s contagious and highly expensive, addictive, and FUN. Having only been branding for the last 4 or so years, it has taken me a while to get to this point in my addiction. “Hello, my name is Jessica and I am a brand-a-holic!” Now with that being said, I have been attending brandings for the past 11 years. I feel I have paid my dues….. I started out as a spectator on the outside of the pen, next I graduated to shots giver, then I had a chance to rope with the “kids”. That’s when you are up at the end of the day, and get a chance to swing a rope at the tiny babies. Really they don’t even need to be roped, they are small enough where you can brand them a foot. After said period, I advanced to being able to heel a few. This period was accompanied by much fear, anxiety, and possible sickness behind the trailer. A few years went by and I started doctoring a lot more with the hubby. That’s when it started to get in my blood. Fast forward to last year, calf brandings, ranch rodeos, team ropings, oh my! I regretfully announce, I have blood poisoning. Only to be cured by my attendance at lots and lots of calf brandings! This brings me to the current topic! Penalties in the branding pen!
My dear friend and avid fellow brander and I have spent the last few weeks in deep conversation about this issue. Her and I both have worked our way up the “cowboy-girl” ranks and share the same sentiments. Today, we decided to become the “referees of the branding pen”. Now I must preface this by saying this is all in good fun. You may not agree with the below penalties, as you might be a penalty committer. But read on with a light heart and now its nothing personal. We are all guilty as charged- even the Cow Boss husband.
PENALTIES- Vary in Severity and Consequence
Sandbagging– also known as sitting in the corner and constantly “recoiling” your rope only to be ready when a calf is headed and you can heal it. Everyone loves to heel, and as a fellow “I only want to heel” committer my self, I totally get it. It’s how we learn and gain confidence in the pen. But if you are a veteran of the sport, don’s sand bag us poor beginners! Let us heel, it’s about all we can do. This is a moderate penalty and results in wearing the title of “sandbagger”. Completely harmless and only preceded by the reputation!
Shot Stealer– better know as the “brat” of the branding pen. This penalty is committed by the “cool guy” who throws a underhand or side arm shot and snags a calf you are tracking behind. It is highly committed and infuriating. Us beginners, are concentrating so hard on the “perfect shot”. Only to have it stolen by you not so cool guys. This penalty is followed by a mean mugging- mainly from the wife who’s husband just stole her shot, and followed by the title of “brat”, or some other colorful word.
Riding in front of the boss– this can take on so many forms. But is mainly committed by the “newbie” who thinks they have been there and done that. Don’t let them fool you, they look the part. Ladies and gentlemen, the only person in branding pen who should have their knife out, is the boss. Or who ever the boss appoints to cut calves and mark ears. If you are not said person, keep your knife in the holster. Don’t worry, your day will come- maybe you may get to graduate on to calf cutter, or ear marker. But until then, you should stick to mugging! This offence is warranted by so many actions- a romel between the ears, a good hinny chewing, or possibly sitting in the penalty box. Penalty box offenses are something similar to a demotion- back to gate opener or beer go-for.
Windmiller– get short white guy! Please for the love of NOT being rim fired, get short. We all have seen this and been a victim of the crime. There is nothing more scary then the person who ropes a calf, is dallied at the knot, and expects you to try and heel their calf. Mind you trying to navigate the 3 other headed calves, 4 other ropers, and branding pen traffic jams. Please, undally, ride to the corner, and get SHORT! I promise, some one will swoop in behind you and rope two feet! And please, I beg of you, ride some where! Don’t just post up and expect us to play ring around the rosey! This offense is is crowned by the title of “did you see that guy” and constant heckling from the ground crew and your fellow roper budies.
The penalties could go on and on! But for now I will leave you with the main four! So as branding season commences I remind you, get short, stay in the middle, and avoid the penalty box at all costs!