Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Monday, June 02, 2008


I arrived home on a Sunday evening. The following day (Memorial Day) was branding day at the Dennis Ranch. Both of my brothers with their wives and children were home, and a neighbor and his wife came over to assist. We had only about sixty head to brand, so it took the six of us most of the morning to vaccinate the cows and brand the calves.

For the uninitiated, branding is the process whereby a cattle owner places the mark of his ownership on a calf. This mark is called brand, and it is accomplished by applying a heated iron to the calf's skin. This will leave a scar, permanently marking the animal, thus providing indisputable proof of ownership.

During the branding, calves are held either by two people whose job it is to "wrestle" the calf and hold it during the branding, or, as we did for ours, two ropers mounted on horses will hold the calf by means of ropes attached to the front and rear legs. The calves are captured by means of these same ropers who catch the calf around the head or around the hind feet.

While the calf is held by the wrestlers, the brand is applied, necessary vaccinations are given, castration of the males occurs, and horns are sometimes removed. The entire process happens very quickly. Less than ten minutes elapses from the time the calf is caught until the time the calf is released.

I suppose, to some, the idea of branding seems cruel. To some, it may seem inhumane. To some, it may seem unnecessary. I suspect these same people believe that steaks magically appear at the supermarket wrapped in sanitary cellophane packaging and lamb chops come from trees. While there is a great deal more I would like to say to such people, I will refrain for now. It should be noted, however, that branding is an integral component of the rural culture from which I originate. Eliminate branding, and you will have destroyed the culture.


Alli said...

Very interesting! I'd never really thought about the branding except that it sounded painful... but it's good to know that it's a quick thing, and you can also squeeze vaccinations and castrations in there too so it's all in one fell swoop.

Great post!

J. Thorp said...

Y'know what's funny? This weekend, the kids were sitting around the dinner table, imagining if meat grew on trees (because of there were meat trees, then meat would be a vegetable, and we'd be constantly reminding them to eat their hot dogs instead of their green beans).

Bren was the funniest, with this riff:

"Wow! Something smells delicious!"

"Oh, that's just my rib tree."

"Mm, can I pick one?"



Anonymous said...

Preach on Brother Tyler!

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