The Saratoga Sun -

By Liz Wood 

A Branding new day


A distinct smell fills the air as the branding iron singes the hair on a calf. The calf screams out, then lays still.

It may look like torture to the untrained eye, but branding day is an organized way to take care of all the calves’ needs at once; two injections, castration – when needed, clipping the ear, and putting the brand on the calf.

Every now and then a calf needs to be dehorned too.

Branding day at the Alden Condict Ranch brought neighbors from all over the Valley to help brand 250 calves in one day.

“Times are changing,” Sarah Keller said. She recalled branding with her and Charon Timm’s children when they were younger. “They were all boys, now they are all girls.” Lexi Vorn, Chloe Boxberger and Aspen Boxberger are 3, 5 and almost 7 years-old. They each have a job.

The branding irons are electric, because they are more evenly heated, Mike Condict said.

He wouldn’t mind learning the art of heating a branding iron, but that was not to happen that day.

As cowboys took turns roping calves, others kneeled down to hold the young cattle down.

Tim Barkhurst, a Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Famer, displayed his skills in roping a calf out of a dozen that have grouped together. By this time, many of the calves have been branded and his rope needs to land the one calf that is brandless.

Barkhurst rarely misses.

With only two cowboys at once pulling calves, they stay ahead and sometimes there are three-to-four calves waiting to be branded.

Barkhurst spends the whole morning on his horse, pulling one calf after another for the younger cowboys to hold down.

As the sun hits the top of the sky, the first batch of calves are almost done. In the other pen, more calves await their fate.


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