branding

The life of a cattle rancher is never an easy one, but most think it is worth the extra effort. Cattle ranching is not a 9 to 5 kind of job, but I guess it does have it’s perks too. After all, while the day might start at sun up, it could allow for a break in the afternoon heat of the summer day. Still, when there is work to be done, you do the work, and that can mean long hours, and sometimes into the late night or early morning, without a break. That is the life my husband’s uncle, Butch Hein has chosen…or rather inherited from his dad, Walt Hein. Of course, I think it was as much earned as inherited. Quite possibly the only thing he inherited was the old homestead house, which, he doesn’t live in.

One of the things that always must be done in cattle ranching is the branding. That always means hiring a few extra hands to help with the project, because those cattle are not too keen on the process, and who can blame them. They are chased around and roped, held down by the men, and branded with a hot branding iron…ouch!! Any girl who has ever burned herself with a hair curling iron can totally relate to the plight of the cow. These days, of course, Butch has his son Scott and grandson Carson to help out, but it’s possible that he could still need additional help for branding and moving the cattle from one pasture area to another, as those are both pretty big jobs, requiring extra people to accomplish.

A number of years ago, Butch built a house at the edge of the small town of Forsyth, Montana, where he has lived all of his life. Scott had lived, with his family, a mile away or so, but then he built a house on his dad’s large section of property. It has worked well for them, because they can consolidate their equipment, and ride to work together. Scott is a partner in his dad’s ranch, and in time, will be it’s owner, so working together is a must so they both know all the ins and outs of the business. The upside to it is that Butch and Scott, as well as Scott’s family are all very close, so working together can be lots of fun. I’m happy about that, because since Scott’s mom, Bonnie died, when he was young, Butch has really need a nice family to share his love with. Scott’s family is just the family he needed. Today is Butch’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

BrandingScott & ButchNot having had anything to do with the business end of ranching, I find myself fascinated when I look at the pictures of branding, and hear about calving. While others who have been around it for some time, might just think of those things as all in a day’s work, or maybe even as a lot of work. My family were, at least in the years of my lifetime, city dwellers, so until Bob and I got married, I knew very little about country life, other than the little bit of time I spent at a friend’s house, which was not a ranch, and who I was only around during my junior high school years. That said, when I married Bob and we went to visit his grandmother in Montana, I got my first real taste of ranch life. Of course, as a guest and a girl, I didn’t get in on the tough stuff, like calving or branding, but I heard a little bit about it, and in reality, it was quite interesting to me, and I wouldn’t have minded getting to see it.

Bob’s grandpa owned the ranch at that time, although his son, Bob’s Uncle Butch is a Terri, Carson, & friendsrancher too, and owns not only his own land, but Grandpa’s ranch too, now that Grandpa has passed on. Bob used to spend summers visiting his grandparents when he was a kid, and I’m sure he got in on some of that fun stuff, although I don’t know if he considered it to be fun, but my father-in-law finds the whole process interesting to this day, and often talks to his brother, Butch about how his herd is doing, and how the calving is going. He has told me about his own experiences in calving too, such as the time he had to help a neighbor pull a calf that the mother was having trouble giving birth to, because the calf was coming out wrong. I’m not sure I would want to watch that process, but I guess when it happens, it is all hands on deck, because you can lose both mother and baby, if you don’t get it handled quickly, and even then you can lose them, because, sometimes the calf is just too much for the mother. A sad, but true fact of ranching.

These days, most of the ranching is done by Uncle Butch and his son, Scott, along with Scott’s wife Terri, and their kids, Laura, Carson, and Lindsey. I’m sure some things are Laura & friendLindsey, Terri, and frienddone much differently these days, than back in the early years of Grandpa’s ranching career, but some things don’t change much. Cattle still have to be rounded up, and that still requires horses, riders, and of course, skill…probably another reason I live in the city. Not that I can’t ride, but I’d do best on some old worn out horse that doesn’t move too fast. I find that to be the best way to stay on the horse. From what I’ve see of the Scott and Terri Hein family, they could hold their own with the best of them. I’m sure that being around ranching, your whole life helps with that, but I have a feeling this is in their blood.

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