Now I’ve seen both sides of the fire, the branding fire and the cooking fire. Both have huge rolls in their line of work and have very much in common. That branding fire is where it all ends up at the end of the rope. This fire holds running irons, signature brands and in the coldest of times it offers a little warmth… if there is time to stand by it. Cowboys and ranchers have been using branding fires for as long as there as been cattle to make there signature mark on. It may be just a hole in the ground that is full of wood and iron, but this spot is the focal point of the branding pen and the men in it.
Bertha holds a pretty good fire herself. Bertha is my drop in range, cooktop, furnace, washing machine, dryer and furnace. Yes, you can call her a drop in cooktop cause when Chris Morton and I were going down the highway and dropped her off the trailer, she stayed right where we put her. She has punished me many a time in the summer months, but oh how she can draw folks to her in the winter. Like a moth to a lantern.
The branding fire is the catalyst for a signature. A permanent mark of ownership on yearlings’ hide. It is like an ink well, and as long as there is woodyou can keep on writing as long as you need. It’s hard to brand a bunch of yearling without a heat source, just as it is hard for me to rustle up some grub on Bertha without her ole belly full of wood.
But both fires get the job done in their own way. Mine provides nourishment and warmth and theirs provides proof of ownership. When the day is done in the branding pen they grab them irons and cover up the hole. When my day is done I let ole Bertha rest awhile and then start over the next morning
I have watched many a cowboy ride out of camp and told myself many times,”Don’t know for sure what is fixin to take place on the field of cow battle, but at least their bellies are full for the challenge.”
I don’t know how many cowboys I have seen ride out of camp, but it is more than I can count over the last 21 years. At times I miss the visiting that would take place on the way to set up for a drive and the events that take place on a daily basis, the adventure, the wrecks, and the BS. But I hung a shingle out many years ago and it said I was a Ranch Cook for hire. My dad told me find something you like to do and do it well, good things will eventually come from it.
Good things have found their way to my camp and I’ve met some fellers that have touched my life in so many ways.I have a large extended family in the ranching community and the catering business. All I can say for sure is that it all started with a fire, no matter which side I was standing on.