June 9, 2015



I would guess that branding season is pretty well wrapped up. Most ranchers have worked their calves and moved cows to a summer pasture. The way I gauge if brandings are done, is by our branding. We are usually last and that held true again this year.
Now, I go to quite a few brandings. I’m not much help, but I do show up. In fact, some of the locals have given me a nickname. They call me “Blister.” I thought it was kind of a cool name until someone explained the meaning to me. A blister is something that shows up after the work is done! That hurt. That really hurt.
Yesterday they were glad to see me show up late at a branding. Now this branding was held in the Badlands of North Dakota. On one of the prettiest ranches in the country. They had gathered up a handful of wrestlers with the promise of good food, good company, and plenty of refreshments when the work was done. In fact, for the food, they had it professionally prepared at a meat shop.
Now, this is where “Blister” was kind of handy. I was assured they didn’t need my help at branding, but to come for lunch. So, my present wife and I weren’t in any rush. They figured on being done branding shortly after noon and we could come share in the post branding activities, and watch the Belmont Stakes.
So we left around noon. Shortly after we left, I get a phone call from the branding. They had branded the last calf, grabbed a beer, and got in the lunch line. As they set out the food, a grim realization set in. There was no meat! No meat! They had the beans, rice, coleslaw, buns and pickles. But they had no meat! A meatless branding is unheard of!
Now ranches and ranch wives are often judged on their dinners. Be it roundup, branding, shipping, or whatever. We know which ranch serves steaks. We know who has donuts when the first circle is done. We know who has prime rib. We know who grills hamburgers and which ranch furnishes homemade ice cream for dessert. With homemade chocolate topping. But to be known as the ranch that furnishes meatless sandwiches would be a travesty to say the least.
But with the miracle of cell phones, satellites, and fast cars, “Blister” came to the rescue, and the ranch survived the near demise of their future.
After the lunch, it is time to gather around, grab a cool one, and settle world problems. Oh, and there are problems. There are floods and tornadoes and windstorms and drought. There are terrorists and wars and the list goes on and on.
But, lo and behold, it took a cowboy from North Dakota, sitting in the Badlands, to solve the problems of the water shortage in California. He thought they should simply desalinate the ocean water! I thought to myself, well I didn’t actually keep it to myself. I assured him that I’m sure someone in California, which has hundreds and hundreds of miles of coastline, maybe would have noticed all that water out their window. And when I suggested that he get on his cell phone, call Governor Jerry Brown, and tell him of this novel idea, he got a little upset.
And that, my friend, is how the fight started.