Colville, WA, is 72 miles north of Spokane, WA. From Colville, I would drive an indeterminate number of miles up the Aladdin Star Route to the cutoff for Deep Lake in Stevens County. My cabin was 3 or 4 miles down that cutoff. Someone told me that Deep Lake is now a place to be. You can buy a cabin on the lake shore for a private get-away.
It was up in the wilds around these parts that I experienced an honest-to-goodness cattle round-up. The farmers let their cattle out in the fall to find winter feed and to have their calves. It was an annual festival of sorts when the farmers would band together to saddle up and go on the look out in the hills and mountains to find all the cattle they could and to drive them down to whichever farm was determined to be the host-farm that year. Once the cattle were rounded-up, the fall calves needed to be separated and branded.
I remember with great fondness finally bringing the cattle down to the highway, the Aladdin Star Route, and driving them up the middle of the road for several miles to the designated farm.
Once at the farm it wasn’t as hard as one might imagine to separate the cows and calves into the proper farmer’s ownership. The calves stuck to the cows that gave them birth. Those cows had been previously branded so all you had to do was separate them according to brand.
The process of branding was much like you see in a rodeo. (I really dislike rodeos.) The calves are roped and dropped. Then they are held down while they are branded and, in the case of bull calves, castrated.
It was time to brand and castrate the first calf. One of the farmers said to me, as we gathered to divvy up who was to do what, that I was to “git the easy part.” Holding the head and the front quarters down required strength and experience. Holding the hind quarters was the “easy part.” So that’s what I was to do.
The calf was dropped and one of the farmers took the head. One of the other farmers told me to grab the tail and to throw my leg over the hind quarters and to hold it down as well as I could.
They were branding on the right side rib cage. The hot brand was retrieved from the fire and carefully balanced over the ribs. When the fire brand hit the hide, the calf didn’t like it, to say the least. It wrestled to get free at the head. It bawled at one end and it pooped all over me at the other! The farmers all thought this was great fun as I tried to get the poop off my face and the rest of my body.