Preparing for the biggest ranch holiday of the year… Branding Day!

Every spring we hold a Branding Day for our herd of cattle.  It is a day where friends, neighbors, and family come together to help us gather our cattle, vaccinate, wellness check, and brand all of the baby calves that were born that spring.  We also run the mama cows through the chute and check them over as well.

It is a hard, yet incredibly fun, day of physical work!  We use horses to rope and drag the calves – yes, just like in the movies – and then teams of two on the ground flip and hold the calves while they have their wellness checks, vaccinations, etc.   The whole process only takes a few minutes per calf, and then the calf is released and it trots off happy as you please to find its mama again!

We generally have about 50 or so people here.  A good number of this group are “helpers” – aka working the branding.  The rest are kids and wives (though some of the wives are known to rope or wrestle or vaccinate as well!)  We definitely love making Branding Day a family fun event.  The kids generally play in the “draw” (low spot in the pasture), building forts and pretending to be Cowboys and Indians… or whatever else their creative minds come up with!  As the kids get older, they take on Branding Day responsibilities.

My part?  Well, I love cooking. (Obviously.)  And since I feel rather inadequate at most things “ranching,” I gladly take over the role of the main cook for the Branding Day Feast following the hard day of work!  (My sister in law and mother in law also do some of the cooking, but I try to make it as easy as possible on them.  Alana likes to rope and ride and also takes care of the cattle records; Susan gets to be Grandma – plus her house has the only restroom facilities currently, so I figure she has enough on her hands.)

This year’s menu includes:

Branding Day Cinnamon and Caramel Rolls (For the coffee break after gathering.)

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Beef Enchiladas with Red Sauce

Mexican Rice

Crock Pot Black Beans

Iceberg Wedge Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Banana Cake

Lemon Bars (Alana)

Brownies (Alana)

Jello Salad (Alana)

Carrot Casserole (Susan)

I spent today (the day before branding) doing all of the prep work – I made the cinnamon roll dough (to bake in the morning), baked the banana cake, and made up all of the enchiladas so that all there is left to do is bake them.  The rice will be fast and easy to whip up tomorrow; and I had several big bags of Crockpot Black Beans frozen and I decided to take the easy way out and throw those in the crockpot to reheat tomorrow.  🙂

The salad will also be quick to make.  Plus I have a lovely teenager coming to help me first thing in the morning, which I am certain I will be grateful for with a 2 year old and a newborn “hanging on my apron strings.”

I will post recipes at a later date – along with pictures of this sure-to-be-fabulous Spring Day!

 

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