Ranch Country photography
by Robert McCune
May-June 2011. Part Six
Blue shirt is handling the branding iron, Red shirt the cutting knife, and Beige shirt is holding the calf down. There’s a fourth person at work here - the cowgirl. Armed with a large syringe and a 1-inch(?) needle, I think she’s inoculating the critter.
Being as I was on the “safe” side of the portable section of fence, there was no danger of me getting kicked by the calf, or by one of the cowboys. And witnessing close up, the surgery? The smell of a hot branding iron on hide and hair? In the beginning, I warned myself, “You’re not going to walk away from this.” After awhile, that possibility was no longer in my mind. I just did what a photographer has to do.
The testicles were tossed into a nearby pail. (I deleted those photos. Thank you, Robert!). Prairie oysters are sometimes roasted over a campfire when the day’s work is done, and eaten right there at the corral. From what I’ve learned, the usual thing is to have them for supper that evening back at the house. Fried in oil or fat and seasoned to taste with a sauce.
And why an anchor for the ranch’s brand? The original owner of the ranch was a retired maritime ship’s pilot, from the San Francisco Bay area.