Cowboy Culture – Reminiscing on Spring Brandings

(Photo by Elizabeth Hawley)

By Clay Reid

As I am winding down on another year of spring branding here at the ranch, there is always that moment in time when I catch myself dreaming of all the other brandings of years past. With that dream comes the memories of some of the great cowboys I was able to share the pen with and some of the great episodes they starred in.

One such cowboy was John Gaither, a true man of God and a great cowboy. He was a man who walked the walk and talked the talk when it came to his faith in God, and I never saw him waver from it. He was also tough as a boot, a testament to that picture so famously floating around of him going over the horse’s head as it is stumbling and crashing to the ground at a steer roping. He was a very old man at the time, but he never missed a beat.

He had given his heart to God, and has left this old world behind, but I will always miss those conversations about living as we were trotting to the backside of a pasture.

Another old legend in these parts was the infamous Lewis Blair from Dundee, Texas. Blair was an old rodeo clown who was well known for his iron grip and his love for chasing coyotes with his greyhounds. As a matter of fact, Gaither and I were able to share the branding pen with Blair the last time he ever drug a calf to the fire at Jeff Williamson’s Javelin pens, west of Dundee.

Blair and Gaither were both dragging, and Blair had necked a big old bull calf. When I went to the calf, I was met with some pretty serious resistance. However, with a bloody lip and a little muscle, I was able to get the calf to the ground in a headlock. The only bad thing was, I was on bottom.

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