Here are a few impressions from the first branding I attended outside Foley, Colorado. As I watched three generations work together to care for their land and livestock, I came away from the branding with a new appreciation for ranching and the western lifestyle. Ranching is about family, community, and hard work. Friends and neighbors come from far away places to lend a hand. Kids learn responsibility by undertaking various tasks that must be done during the organized chaos that is a branding: ear tagging, vaccinating, and roping and dragging and flanking for the older kids. The hours are long and the weather elements are harsh, but whatever it takes to get the job done.
On a more personal note, I expanded my vocabulary while I was there - I learned what a bedroll is and how to use it. And I reached a personal cowgirl milestone when I switched out my SD cards while at a blazing fast (or at least it felt that way) lope in an effort to catch up with the group. The ranch horse I was lent, Sayhey Rey the Bay, was an excellent dodger of cactus, and it's fair to say that I now trust him with my life.