We are getting ready for our annual branding. The 1 day a year where we will "work" the majority of our new baby calves. This is the day where we begin the journey of setting them up for sucess as they make their way down either the production chain to a consumer ordering a high quaility cut of beef or into the replacement pen to make the next generation of mama cows. We will give the calves their 1st round of vaccine, brand them, the bulls will get a growth hormone implant, and castrated. I will get into more about the reasons why we do all this and how it all done with the calves best interest, health, and safety in mind.
But first it is all about the Food.
Branding time is a day that family, friends, and neighbors all get together and help each other out so it is just as much about the quaility time with good company as it is about getting a hard day's work complete. There is a lot of times that friends and family have to decide which branding to go to because often times there are several the same day. Many times that decision isn't made by who has the best facility, who has the smallest calves (not as much work as big calves), or who has the best wrecks that you don't want to miss out on. Often times the decision is made by who's wife cooks the best. Plain and simple the men need to make sure the farm wife can cook if he wants the best help. Now I have spent my fair share of time out doing the work and listening to to all the "guys" complain about all the bad meals they have been served not just at branding time but also harvest time. I have this huge fear knowing they will judge my cooking just as hard as the any other farm wife's cooking. So needless to say right now my grocery list is longer and way more detailed than my list of medical supplies needed for the livestock. Not that I care about the calves any less but that list is pretty straight forward and needs less planning as we have worked on building a complete health program long before the week before we decide to vaccinate calves. We are generally short handed and being I know the details of what each group of calves needs I will be in the pen working calves the day of the branding instead of in the house cooking and making sure the meal is hot and ready when the work is done. I have been working out a game plan for the last 2 weeks on when the food needs to be bought and prepared, when the meat needs to come out of the freezer to thaw, the house cleaned, what can be done a head of time, and setting up a spot to serve and eat.
The good thing is I have a secret weapon to getting the meal on the table when the crew is ready to eat that I like to call "MOM"!!!! I will have most of the hard part done by the time she gets there, but mom will make sure the plates are layed out, the food makes it from the oven and roaster ovens to the table, and I sure she will give it all a 1 last taste test for quality control. I hope her taste buds are working good on Sat morning, I don't want to be the one they guys complain about at the next get together.... Now to just get the groceries bought, prepared, cooked, and ready for her to finish up for me.