Tuesday, July 17, 2018
News Roundup

Branding day, fading elsewhere, is still a ritual on Colorado ranch

DENVER — Time has changed much in the American West. On some ranches, cowboys round up cattle on four-wheelers and track livestock with drones. While technology is easing tasks, though, some think it is also threatening the skills that make a cowboy a cowboy: roping, riding and a near-religious devotion to hard work.

But for centuries, neighbors have gathered each spring for a day of branding newborn animals. Well-trained cattlemen pull a hot iron from the fire, and calves mewl as curved steel singes hair and burns flesh. Afterward, there is cheap beer and a meal, maybe a band and a dance.

The branding process has been criticized as cruel. And some families have moved to other methods, including freeze brands created with liquid nitrogen and ear tags they can read with an electronic wand. Perhaps the most notable innovation is the calf table, a viselike device that allows people to trap, flip and mark an animal, eliminating the need for a crew of helpers.

In some places, that is sending the community gathering known as branding day into the past. But not on Bill Gray's ranch outside Ordway, Colo.

Gray, 65, is a third-generation rancher who still tracks and marks his cattle the old way. His brand serves a practical purpose, allowing him to prove ownership at sale and ward off cattle thieves. (Rustling is not just a crime of the past.) "You can put the ear tag in them," he said. "But you can tear the ear tag out."

He has two symbols he uses to identify livestock. One, called a P-slash-T, was passed to him by his grandfather, like a family crest.

Ordway is three hours southeast of here and has about 1,000 people. Gray calls on many of them to help in the ritual. "Tradition has a lot to do with it," he said. "Part of ranching is neighbors helping neighbors."

Among his chief concerns is an urban-rural divide. "I'm sure urban people think that what we do, some of the practices, are barbaric. But they're not," he said. "If I mistreat my cattle, it's going to cost me money. I can't do that."

As for his neighbors who have moved to calf tables, "I don't hold it against them," he said. "Some people need to use it if they're not proficient at what we do."

Gray has eight children and 22 grandchildren and has been through a lot lately. A dry period lasting 14 years was followed by a recent drop in cattle prices. In February, his home burned down, cause undetermined.

On a recent day, Gray's roundup began just as the sun bumped over the muddy prairie. His son, his grandson, his neighbors and part of the high school wrestling team rode up to help.

Cowhands on horseback pushed hundreds of animals into corrals, and ropers lassoed the calves by the legs, flipping them onto their sides. Flankers rushed to hold the animals down as older men took out the irons. Next came vaccination, the injection of a growth hormone and, for the males, castration.

Many brandings are governed by an unspoken cowboy etiquette: Young people wrestle the cattle onto the ground, while older ones handle the iron. But Gray said that he was a bit different. "I try to let everybody do some of the jobs," he said. "That way, when it comes their time, they'll know how to do it."

Comments
Her 3-year-old was locked in a washing machine filling with water. Now sheís warning parents.

Her 3-year-old was locked in a washing machine filling with water. Now sheís warning parents.

Itís not unusual for Lindsey and Alan McIverís children to get up before them.Most mornings, the kids entertain themselves for about 10 to 15 minutes, coloring and playing, before going to wake their parents, Lindsey McIver told the Washington Post.B...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Woman run over by Publix semitrailer in Florida dies

Woman run over by Publix semitrailer in Florida dies

BOYNTON BEACH ó Authorities say a Florida woman is dead after being run over by a Publix grocery store semitrailer. A Boynton Beach police news release says 68-year-old Herma Jervis was taken to a nearby hospital Monday morning and was pronounced dea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Poll: Little support for arming teachers

Poll: Little support for arming teachers

Most parents express scant enthusiasm for arming schoolteachers, preferring metal detectors and mental-health screening as tools to keep students safe, according to a survey released Tuesday.Asked to choose between two potential ways of addressing sc...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hillsborough to train school resource officers during active shooter exercise

Hillsborough to train school resource officers during active shooter exercise

DOVER ó With the start of classes nearly three weeks away, Hillsborough County school resource officers will receive extensive active shooter training Tuesday morning to prepare them in the event of another school tragedy.Members of the Hillsborough ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Thick humidity fuels sweltering conditions, increasing rain chances for Tampa Bay

Thick humidity fuels sweltering conditions, increasing rain chances for Tampa Bay

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to pick up throughout Tampa Bay on Tuesday afternoon, along with continued blistering sunshine and high humidity.An increased chance of rain, around 60 percent, will continue throughout the week. A hig...
Updated: 2 hours ago
First look (with video): Universalís new high-tech fountain shows ends the night at the theme park

First look (with video): Universalís new high-tech fountain shows ends the night at the theme park

Times Staff WriterVisitors to Universal Studios in Orlando on Monday night got to witness the premiere of the new high-tech, dancing-fountain, cinematic show to end the day in the park in what the showís creator called "a kiss goodnight." Itís full o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Race-baiter claims self-defense; Florida Republicans blast Trumpís performance; catching up with All-Star Blake Snell

The Daystarter: Race-baiter claims self-defense; Florida Republicans blast Trumpís performance; catching up with All-Star Blake Snell

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.ē There is a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain today, with storms expected to start along the coast in the morning before moving inland, according to the National Weather Service. High te...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay Timesí all-Tampa Bay baseball team

Tampa Bay Timesí all-Tampa Bay baseball team

North Suncoast Player of the Year: J.P. Gates, Sr., Nature CoastGates changes games. Even when he was not pitching, he was still in the middle of the lineup and playing first base. He was pitched to carefully but still had good power numbers. "H...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Artwork of Holocaust survivor Toby Knobel Fluek gets permanent home in St. Petersburg museum

Artwork of Holocaust survivor Toby Knobel Fluek gets permanent home in St. Petersburg museum

ST. PETERSBURG ó She wasnít ready to get rid of her momís most valuable possessions when she buried her in 2011.It wasnít until last year that she could actually start contemplating it. Thatís when she finally searched "Holocaust museums" on Google. ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa Bay business: This is what Prime Day is like as an Amazon seller

Tampa Bay business: This is what Prime Day is like as an Amazon seller

Amazon doesn’t even give its sellers a headsup on which July day the mega online retailer is selecting for its biggest sale of the year, Prime Day. But out of her natural sponges workshop in Tarpon Springs, Theo Prodromitis knew to start getti...
Updated: 3 hours ago