Where I come from

Had the opportunity to shoot a video of the Hogan family branding this winter's calves today. It's been 20 years since I left the smallness of Riverton, Wyo. We used to do this very same thing every spring before shuttling the herd out to the open spaces of the range.

The smell of hot irons on the calves sides is something that never is forgotten. The sounds of kids struggling to haul down calves in their own weight class brings back fun memories for me. I remember throwing a loop on a few calves that were more than happy to take me for a rough ride through the dirt and rocks of the pen. It was an all day affair of branding, castrating, de-horning and tagging in those dusty-rickety pens that were a patchwork of various types of wooden boards and logs.

A lot of memories came rushing back into my mind after putting this short piece together. Some are not the best memories, but there are several that I'm very fond of and am glad to have them back from the hidden corners of my busy mind. Cattle ranching is quite a simple life. But, ranching is a lifestyle much like journalism. There's not many "off" hours and it requires you to commit your life to maintaining the craft and the herd, or the story.

Some will cringe and worry about the welfare of the calves, but believe me, folks have been doing this for over a hundred years and there have been very few problems after the process. Besides, if you work on a ranch for even a few weeks you would learn that cattle are oblivious to just about everything. Except for an instant and for no reason whatsoever, spook and beat the snot out of you or a fence with utter disregard for their own wellbeing. I once watched as a heifer stared at a Chevy bow tie on a mid-1970s pickup broadsided her at about 25 mph. After picking herself up off the county road gave a slight glance at the sturdy grill and began walking away, as if nothing had happened. Beef, there's a reason it's what's for dinner.


Joshua Duplechian said...

Josh-I love this! It totally brings me back to Idaho. The smells and the sounds make me want to quit eating my breakfast. Nice job man!

Joshua Buck said...

Cool video, Josh.

I shot that same family's branding day a few years ago. However, unlike you, who is embracing a new medium, I went in there with an F3 a 24 mm and a handful to Fuji neg film.

Nice work.


Marianne said...

Don't get me started...