Saturday, May 8, 2010


This morning, I woke with a start. My body jerked from the re-occuring falling dream I've been having. My eyes opened wide, and I immediately wondered, Where in the world am I? Dalton's watch alarm went off. Sam rolled over next to me, slowly waking up. I mumbled a few words, and Sam threw out the time. "six-seven-ten-oh-seven." What? We giggled. 6:07am.
"I can't remember the last time I was awake this early."
Went to the bathroom. Headed upstairs to find so-very-awake Jolene and Grandma Hogan, ready to pick on me like they do to all us kids. (Especially my sticky-up hair in the morning, and my grandpa glasses they'd never seen before.) I slowly made my way to the table and helped myself to a bowl of my new favorite cereal, Blueberry Morning (which tastes like blueberry muffins. mmmm). I woke up slowly.
"You guys had better be ready. Once grandpa is ready to go, you know how he gets...he's READY to go."
Checked the clock. 6:30. Clomped down the stairs, put on the infamous camo pants without a button (which are almost too small). Threw on my white t-shirt that I knew by the end of the day would have to be dirtier than anyone else's because that's the contest. Threw on some Converse, tied a bandana around my head, put in my contacts, brushed my teeth, and headed out the door to grandpa Hogan's deep booming voice down the stairs, "Time to go!"
I got that nervous feeling in my stomach. Like when I'm about to go get something else pierced. That feeling of the worst nervous caterpillars ever because they're mixed with the excited butterflies. I turned around and looked Sam in the eyes, "You ready for this?" "Heck yeah I am!"
We got to Bob & Leo's. It was cold. We started the morning with some picking-on's by Chris, some catching up with Mike, and some other random chat with the fellows gathered around. We talked about how ready we were!
Then, finally, the moment we've been waiting for since we stepped out of the truck.
The loud roar of the hot-irons heating up. Everyone gathers around for a minute, because although the sun is out, the air is cold. Then, once they're ready, we disperse. All going off with our own partners, ready to grab onto the first calf we feel we can manage.
We all gather around the pen as Grandpa Hogan ushers them out. You can see eyes moving, fingers pointing, and you can feel your heart beating inside your chest. The adrenaline is ready to kick in.
That one.
Sam doesn't even have to say it, we both just feel it. She grabs the back leg of the calf, and I grab its ears. Trying to steer it back, this one's fiesty. It's kicking and tugging and mooing. Fighting with every ounce to get out of our grasp. It succeeds, wriggling and twisting itself out of Sam's hands. We both grunt and scream a little, because we're both people that like to make some noise. I jump on its head, but it won't give in. He assumes a swift kick in the neck will get me to let go, but I don't. Sam grabs on, and I lose my grip. "MEL!" she screams out. It's kicking her in the rib-cage, and I'm trying to get my grib.
Finally, there it is. A soft moment to catch its breath. I wrap my arm around its neck, and you can see it in both Sam and I's eyes. The countdown.
3, 2, 1!
And at one, I grab the leg, and we work together to flip it over.
We both look at each other, already exasperated.
"That homeschooling is getting to ya!" Sam yells.
"Are you kidding? You let go first!" We janter back and forth.
Turns out this year would be the toughest yet.

At the end of the day, more than 20 calves branded by the two of us, a little bit of showing off, a large amount of showing up the guys, a lot of grunts and screams, some "thanks you"s, "excuse me"s, and an occassional "COMING THROUGH! OUT OF THE WAY!"s, we feel refreshed.
Exhausted, but refreshed.
There's nothing like taking down calves that gets the anger of everything you've ever had anger towards out. There's nothing like taking down calves to grow a bond between two people.
There's nothing like branding that brings Sam and I closer.

And I wouldn't miss it for the world.


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