Shortly after sunrise Wednesday, Ken Woolstenhulme drove about 2 ½ hours to collect 19 yearling steers his family had purchased at auction earlier in the week. Then he turned around and hauled them home.
By late afternoon, the cattle had been unloaded into a pen as he and his son, Wade, and grandson, Paden, prepared to inoculate, tag and brand them.
As light rain fell, the men drove the yearling steers into a branding chute. Woolstenhulme, 81, clipped off neat patches from their heavy winter coats where he would apply an electronic iron shaped in the design of the family brand. While he attended to branding, his 14-year-old grandson kept a firm grip on each steer’s tail to keep them still while Wade Woolstenhulme maneuvered a syringe and devices to remove the former owners’ ear tags. Then he snapped on tags with the mark of the family ranch.