Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Swingin' Ropes, Mulehide & Paint?

The 3rd weekend in May marks a special event for Calaveras County. It is the weekend of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee. This longstanding tradition has welcomed spring for several decades. In fact it began when the main street of angels camp was paved for the first time! Not only do 4-H & FFA kids show their livestock at the fair, there are carnival rides, baked goods contests pretty much if you sewed it, drew it or grew it, there is a contest for you at the fair. This also marks a special weekend for cattlemen and women from Calaveras & surrounding counties. During Friday & Saturday of the fair local cowboys and cowgirls compete in all kids of arena events. From real ranch ropin, to pennin' and sortin' even calf branding which is the topic of this post. I think that this is one of the most important aspects of the fair. Not simply because of the good time had by all and comrodery experienced, but while these events are taking place thousands of people from cities and towns get a glimpse of ranch life. For some this may be the only time they have ever seen a horse ridden or a calf roped.

Teaching others about our heritage is something that is near and dear to my heart. I think that it is so important to teach people everywhere about life on the ranch. BeefonaBudget.com had the opportunity to help sponsor one of the events that took place during the weekend. Amy & I sponsored one of the belt buckles for the winning calf branding team. Being college girls on a budgets, we saved up to be able to do this, but we believe it was worth it. Not only were we able to help ensure that others caught a glimpse of ranch life, but we were also given the opportunity to give back to a community that has supported me my entire life and continues to support me today. The calf branding event was oh so fun. This is a quick glimpse of how it works.

Now it is a little different atmosphere than the branding pen on the ranch, but the idea is the same. There are four guys on a team. Two get up on their horses, the other two stay on the ground to do ground work. The ropers catch the calf, head first, then heals.

In the event the healer doesn't catch both heels, the ground men, flank the calf and adjust the ropes so that it can be stretched, they also remove the head rope and place it on the front legs of the calf.

Then they stretch out the calf and one of the ground crew guys or gals comes behind with the branding iron (dipped in paint) and paint brands the right rib.

They then switch, the ground crew gets up and the ropers come down, and they go at it again.

This is a timed event, the fastest time wins. The winning team this year was the Double Anchor Crew with a time of 1 min 35.68 seconds. Team members Jesse Fiedel, Dan Erickson, Kent Hirdes and Rigo Estrella all received a belt buckle for winning, and the purse money of course.

With swingin' ropes, mulehide & paint fun was had by all!

Happy Trails,


Photos Courtesy of Jeff White and The Calaveras County Fair.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grace in Green Pasture

It has been nearly two weeks since I have been home. It is hard to imagine that it has been that long, time sure flies! It seems like just yesterday I drove across the country! Home is beautiful. It is May and there is still green grass, not only is it green but it is up to my waist!

There are two angles to look at. The first being that the grass is green. It is May. I don't remember many times where the grass has been green at home during the month of May, not to mention the end of it! You see, there is more than one reason California is referred to as the Golden State. The first being The Gold Rush, the second being the fact that generally by this time of year the native grasses take on a golden brown color. The state is literally GOLD from June to October on an average year. The grass is still green and the wild flowers must have known I was coming because they stuck around too! The cows are loving the green grass, they are livin' high! There is nothing quite as peaceful as cows in belly deep green grass.

The second angle to look at is that the grass is so tall! A good combination of late rain and a lot of sunshine has given our grasses a growth spurt! The grass is tall, so tall that if it grows much more it may start laying over. This is great for cattlemen like my Dad who rely on late grass growth for summer and fall feed, but it could potentially cause some problems later in the summer. See once the grass (and brush) dries out, remember the Gold comment, the fire hazard potential increases! Wild Fires also seem to paint the California sky Gold. Increased tall grasses and thick brush results in more fuel for wild fires. If we aren't careful, too much grass too late, will become too much smoke! So we will continue to be thankful, rotate cows to cut down some of the grass height, and enjoy every moment of grace full green pasture and wild flowers!