My Dad, George Salisbury, and his cousin Bob Terrill, used to run cattle together in the Powder Wash country. The corrals, north of Powder Wash Camp, are still known as the Terrill Corrals. While the corrals don’t see as much activity as they used to, our family and the Terrills still brand calves in the corrals, with Bob’s son Tim and granddaughter Tate.
It finally stopped raining long enough to allow us to brand some calves. Clouds were threatening, but with lots of good help, we got through them. They were, as my Dad used to say, “Big enough to get ahold of.”
It’s time to brand those calves which have been born this spring. We’ve been branding calves both in the mountains and the desert. We have our good crew of employees, friends and family on hand to help us with this endeavor.
Branding season commences. We have most of our baby calves on the ground. We have to pick the right days for branding–after the calves are big enough to not be too stressed, but not so big that they will cause the branding crew too much stress. These calves have reached that “Goldilocks Moment”. In the last few days, we have branded one set of calves on the Home Ranch, and one set of calves in the desert at the Powder Flat Headquarters. We even had a photographer from the Library of Congress, Carol Highsmith, to document the great American branding. As usual, we had child labor on hand.
Nikki roping calves
Mike Buchanan, McCoy and Rhen ready to go to work
Cow and calf–at the ready
Rhen and Mara, on the job
Meanwhile, back at the Powder Flat Ranch…
Nikki holding the calf
Nikki, Megan, Mike Pierce and Jill wrestling a calf
Eamon with the irons
Mike B. and Mike P. branding a calf with help from Kate
It’s that time of year. We have lots of calves on the ground, so it’s time to brand, castrate and earmark, so the calves will be ready for the rest of the season hanging out with their Moms and eating green grass.
We have been really shorthanded this spring, so in order to get the calves branded, we had to call on every friend, neighbor and family member that we could rope into helping. I thought we might have to use literal roping to get a crew together, but in the end, enough folks showed up at each branding to get the job done. We started in early May, and finished the last branding on June 23rd. Thanks to all who helped us!
branding crew, ready to go; Dudley Creek
Eamon, Tony and Brian
Meghan and Brian practicing a marriage encounter
Raelyn and John vaccinating the calf
Raelyn and Siobhan, vaccinators extraordinaire
Iridescent testicles Young bullhood gone awry Gives lurking smirking cowdogs Their testosterone supply
Peanut, Megan, McCoy, Rhen, Tiarnan and Sharon: training the future branding crew
Last spring we could hardly find suitable days to brand calves. Every day dawned cold and rainy. Each day that looked like maybe it wouldn’t rain, we had to chose between docking lambs, branding calves and fixing fence (among other things). This year is the opposite. Each day is unrelentingly warm and dry. While this gives us lots of suitable days, the weird weather has compressed seasonal work in its own way. We had to start irrigating when we were still branding. The fences are in much better shape than last year, when near record snow crushed them to the ground. The early dry up and green up, with no following rains, has meant that fences have to be in good shape for early turn out. And everyone is scrambling to take care of the early growth of feed, since it appears that not much regrowth is likely when we come back to fall pastures.
Except for the late calves, we have finally gotten all the calves branded and ready for their rotation to summer pasture on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests.
Patrick and Sharon O'Toole are ranchers in the Little Snake River Valley on the Wyoming-Colorado border. They represent the fourth generation on the six-generation family ranch. The O'Tooles raise cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and children on their high country ranching operation. The transhumance operation stretches from north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado to Wyoming's Red Desert.
Pat has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives, the Western Water Policy Commission, and is currently President of the Family Farm Alliance, representing irrigators and water users in the western United States.
Sharon is a writer and poet. She writes extensively on western issues, and the relationship between landscape, animals and people. She is widely published as an author, essayist and editorial commentator.
Sharon's father George, 89, passed away December 25, 2010. He lived much of his life in the house where he was born, and remained active in the day-to-day life of the ranch. Mr. Salisbury was a decorated World War II veteran, a former member of Wyoming's House of Representatives, and former President of Wyoming's Board of Agriculture.
Pat and Sharon have three children. Their daughter, Meghan and her husband Brian Lally, live on the ranch with their children, Siobhán, Seamus, Maeve and Tiarnán. Meghan also served on the Wyoming Board of Agriculture, and she and Brian are active in community service. Daughter Bridget lives in Denver with her husband, Chris Abel, where she works in public relations and he serves agriculture in the food business. Son Eamon and his wife Megan live on the ranch with their sons, McCoy and Rhen. Eamon is a horseman and natural resource manager, and Megan is a nurse.
The blog traces the activities and life on the ranch, from the mundane to the fabulous.