Gathering, sorting, branding, mothering…

While it may seem things have been a little quite here at Granite Glen (at least if you follow this blog), in reality things couldn’t really have been more hectic.

This time of year is ALWAYS full on. While most enjoy the last few weeks of school holidays post New Year, we gear up for one of our busiest times of the year.


I have been like a blue-tailed fly… feeding seven people (our immediate family, 2 jackaroos and one niece who always spends branding with us) including smokos and lunches for our ‘picnics’ at the yards, washing for seven people (smelllll-eeee after long sweaty days),  moving vehicles…. oh hang on. Why don’t I just SHOW you what we get up to on a typical day branding?

We climb aboard our horses (not me though this year, being the only available vehicle shifter) and get READY for action…

brand_8358 eSome of us with more style and vigour than should be legal…

brand_8365 eNice one Lachy!

brand_8369 eHe did do some more trick riding later in the day, but we are working out a deal for me NOT to publish them here. Heh.

brand_8375 eHere is Dash, dashing off to gather the cows. He and his noble steed, Chimichanga, do love a spot of cow-gathering. They are quite the team, these days…

felfie_8426 eeHere is ME, moving vehicles and taking photos. Essential to the task at hand really.   You would think someone might clean that rear view mirror for a girl, wouldn’t you? Those birds have NO manners!

brand_8433 eHere is Violet and her mount, Sandy, bringing up the tail of the mob.

brand_8457 eDash and Lachy pushing the mob over a rise, half a paddock away from the yards.  Both these jackaroos are what we might call great metabolisers.  I (as chief cook and fattener-upper) have trouble getting some kilos onto either of them.   You should see what these two put away between them? Crazy…

brand_8483 eViolet leading the mob up the final hill – Sandy does love being in the lead.  Come to think of it, so does Violet (and not always in the mustering sense!).  Cal is bringing up the tail in this shot.

brand_8491 eThe cows were being a little ornery – Lachy had to help out at the back to push them up, UP…

brand_8495 eAnd then with Salina and Mr I… OVER!

brand_8535 eI am not sure what brothers discuss while sharing the tail-end duties?

Triple J’s Hottest 100? The Stock Market? Who wants to stir up the boss by wearing the Charolais shirt tonight?

cows_9345 eOnce at the yards, it’s time to push the cattle through the yards in order to sort them out.

cows_9342 eIt’s a bit of a dusty task at present – we are nowhere near as drought-stricken as many out west, but we ARE ready for rain.

cows_9323 eWell and truly ready.

And if any of those cheeky cows think a little dust is going to distract Dash and Chimmy from the task at hand…

cows_9309 eThey’ve soon got ANOTHER think coming!

cows_9386eCows and calfs are seperated in the yards – calves drafted off into a smaller cool yard.

We then set up for branding – which really consists of several jobs completed in the one handling.

brand_8578 blAll calves get tags – or ‘earrings’ – which identify them for the rest of their lives.

An electronic tag is ‘read’ into our little specially-designed (dust resistant!) computer before being attached.

brand_8584 fFor all stud animals (around 1/3 of our herd) I also assess each calf on a number of criteria including horn status (we breed mostly polled animals with no horns), colour, age and type.

The calf is also branded, earmarked, vaccinated and (where assessed necessary in male calves) desexed.

brand_9400 eThe entire process is complete in between 1 and 2 minutes per calf.

brand_8328 eAs soon as each paddock’s calves are completed, the calves are returned to their mamas.

The yards go from very noisy to the dulcet tones of furious suckling within a few minutes, as calves find their mothers.

brand_8812 blI stalk them as they do so, and work out WHICH calf belongs to which cow… a task known as ‘mothering up’.


It’s one of my all-time favourite jobs, but one which cannot be rushed.  It’s important I get every single calf with their right ‘dam’ for our stud records.

brand_8835It can take a lot of patience and double checking against cow lists, and sometimes I get a helper or two.

brand_8832Salina was a great off-sider for this task, as she enjoys those peaceful moments walking quietly through the mob finding the last unmothered calf almost as much as me.

brand_8818 blOften the calves settle down for a nap soon after getting a bellyful of milk – forgetting to be worried about these pesky humans.

brand_8848 fSometimes their Mamas join them in a slumber – and that’s a pretty darned sweet sight.

brand_8619 eAnd then, when you make a move towards the gate, they line up, waiting to head for their home paddocks again.

dashdog_8687 e

The trip home is always smoother than the one in… everyone keen to get back to familiar pastures.


cows_8714 e

Probably didn’t really need more than one rider behind them – but the truck was waiting for horses and humans over the hill, so they all tagged along!

brand_8662 e

And within minutes the sounds of munching and bovine kids’ snoozing fill the air.

cows_8668 eThere’s no place like home!

yards_9134 e

And the yards fall silent. Til tomorrow anyway…


14 Responses to “Gathering, sorting, branding, mothering…”

  1. Awwww :D So jealous x

  2. Just love these photos, BB. Lachy must be quite a rider! Isn’t this just the best life for kids?
    Fleur McDonald´s last blog post ..That moment when your heart skips a beat…

  3. Oh what a beautiful story. So glad that Salina is able to be there to be a part of these memories too!
    debby´s last blog post ..Good find!

  4. Hi! It will take me months to catch up on all the blog posts I’ve missed since I left Iowa and my ancient hulking computer behind early in November. But I’m back now, writing from Savannah, Georgia! I’ve missed your cows and horses and dogs and…oh, yes…your kiddos!!!

  5. Still a monumental task, no doubt, but isn’t it grand with all the new technology in keeping the records! I found this post most fascinating!
    Kelly´s last blog post ..Ponderings #17

  6. Fingers crossed you get some of the rain headed for us up here in the north of Qld. It has been showering for about 24 hours, soon to be rain if the radar is anything to go by. It looks very dry where you are.
    FionRK´s last blog post ..Cyclone

  7. Thankyou BB, very interesting as always.
    I love all the details, they answer s lot of questions. But wow…the washing, cooking and feeding…seems like you have the busiest job! What do you cook for them! I’m imagining a lot of roasts, slow cooked dishes and pastas?

  8. Oh, what fun. I like the look of Lachy’s horse.

  9. Well – no wonder you have been QUIET.
    I suspected this was on the agenda – mustering etc.
    Looks pretty dry still, has been raining down here in Brisbane – most days for the last week and really is cool – weird for this time of year.
    Hope that rain comes, I thought you would have got some, even good falls.

    • Hi Amanda

      With that cyclone moving in further up north, you should get some good drenching rain. What is the prospect of this from your point of view from the radar that you watch? Still cool (strange weather here in BNE)- so unseasonal – bizarre.

  10. What a great day BB. Yes clean that mirror so we can have better “signature” shots :)
    bushboy´s last blog post ..Flowers Birds Bugs and Snakes

  11. well done crew dash looks like he has a good horse.we got 40ml on the 25th

  12. BB, thanks so much for taking us along on this ride. I love cows and your pictures bring them close enough to pet.
    Lynda M Otvos´s last blog post ..“Super” Bowl

  13. I always figure silence on the blogging front equals super busy times in other things. You are making me miss the fun, dustiness, exhaustion and exhilaration that go with branding time. Love the photos and that cobweb at the end is certainly peaceful after the dusty, busy photos before.
    Anne´s last blog post ..Running On Empty (Promo)

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