Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Branding Calves and the California Outback

A week ago I hitchhiked from Mount Vernon, Oregon to Cedarville, California. John and Susie were happy to see me again. I had been gone for a week.

A couple of days ago, John, Susie, four of their friends and I drove from Cedarville to a ranch between Burney and Fall River Mills, California. The ranch is forty miles north of Mount Lassen (Lassen Volcanic National Park). John and Susie have a cow-calf herd there; the calves needed branding.

Two guys on horses would rope the calf--one guy roped the calf's neck and the other guy would rope the hind legs. They would drag the roped calf close to where we were standing and then John and I would grab the calf and flip it on its side. One of us would loop the rope around the calf's front legs just under the hooves and make sure it was drawn up tight. We would do the same thing to the back legs. The guys on the horses would then take up the slack in the ropes, so that the calf would not move.

John would then notch the ears and castrate the bull calves. Susie and her daughter would inject the calves with Vitamin E, there was an 8-Way shot, and there were shots for pnemonia, scours and pinkeye--they had two syringes each. I would then take the hot branding iron and brand the calves high on the flank. We used the same brand for all of the calves except three.

We ended up branding around eighty head. We then walked to the house, had a steak dinner and then headed back to Cedarville. We left Cedarville at eight in the morning; we got back at six.

This morning John and I drove out to a piece of ground they own. It is around eighteen miles north and east of Cedarville. There were lots of sagebrush and Juniper trees. This is high desert country (Cedarville is 4600 feet in elevation): they call this the California Outback. This country is much different from the Fall River Mills neighborhood which has a lot more trees, good pasture and some farm ground.

We dug (or tried to dig) a couple of post holes on this ridge--we brought a couple of railroad ties with us. John wants to build a gate that leads out to his property. We also brought a couple of gate panels. There were a lot of rocks in the ground, so we weren't able to dig down very far. We will come back later and pour concrete around the end posts. After the concrete is set up, we will hang the gate panels on the end posts.

The Nevada state line was a mile away on another ridge. It was pretty muddy driving out there. We had to put John's rig into four-wheel drive. They have had a lot of rain and snow this spring. It is supposed to rain off and on for the next few days.

Fixing Fence on the Emigrant Trail


24 October 2017

Yesterday I was helping some friends work some calves here in the Surprise Valley.  I was in the corral running the calves into the chute when this calf kicked me in the face.  That was the first time I had ever been kicked in the face. 

It was a really beautiful, sunny day; I think it got just over 70 degrees F with no wind.

Does this mean that I could take a punch from Mike Tyson or Conor McGregor?  Probably not.  I really don't want to find out.

Kicked in the face by a 400 lb calf 


  1. Thank you for sharing your inspirational thoughts on God. They bring peace to troubled souls. :) I'm glad you like my poetry, it means a lot to me, thank you for reading!


  2. I really enjoy reading your poetry. You have a lot of talent.

    I used to read a lot of poetry years ago; maybe you are resurrecting my desire to read poetry again.

    Years ago someone told me, Tim, your problem is that you are too honest and you are a poet. He wasn't putting me down, I believe he was telling me the truth. I have only had two poems published in my life, so I am not an accomplished poet--but I do love reading good poetry: T.S. Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Sylvia Plathe and some others. If you read my short story "High Plains Drifter", you will see some poetic flashbacks or day dreams or stream of consciousness that the hitchhiker has while he is talking with the truck driver; it is more like a poetic sketch than a short story.

    Speaking of short stories: I believe that James Joyce's "The Dead" is one of the finest short stories ever written.

    I am grateful that the Lord created you to be a poet.

  3. Thank you, Tim!

    God created me to be far more than that. ;) And all of us, including you. :)

    I will certainly look into the works that you have cited. Although I may write convincingly, I am actually very poorly read compared to most English majors. I do enjoy Sylvia Plathe and I have read T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland." I have never taken a workshop on poetry, or had any sort of instructor to help me, so I'm really honored that you like my poems so much. :)

    A famous poet once said "The commonality in all poetry is that it tells the truth." To be a poet, you have to be able to tell the truth... other than that, I have no idea what a real poem is, and I doubt I will ever really know. :)

    Keep travelin'!


  4. If I were you, I would not take any classes on writing poetry because you are already a gifted poet.

    The more you seek God, the more you will be inspired to write poetry. I am very well-read in literature/poetry, but this does not necessarily translated into my writing good poetry. My "Shiloh" poem was absolutely positively DICTATED to me by the Holy Ghost. Glory to God in the Highest!

    I am glad that you like John Milton so much. When I was your age, I read a little of John Milton, but I was really into William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Andre Gide and William Faulkner. You can't go wrong by studying Milton. I really believe that Milton is influencing the world today. In the paper that I wrote on Milton, I said that eventhough Milton never set foot in America, because of his influential essays ("Areopagitica", "A Second Defense of the English People" and "On Christian Doctrine") he was a Father of the United States of America.