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Calf Branding & The Virus


SLIM RANDLESHome Country
Fiction by SLIM RANDLES
To The Desert Independent

September 12, 2020

We were just getting the branding fire going well at the Rafter E when Dud brought out the tape measure. We stared at him until he said something through his corona mask.

“How long do you figure a calf is?” he asked.

We looked at each other. Steve said, “I don’t know … four feet?”

“I mean when they’re lying down and being worked. You know, from the head to the hind legs?”

“Stretched out, maybe five feet,” Herb said.

“Gotta measure that branding iron,” Dud added. “Three feet. So two branding iron lengths is a social branding distance.”

“The virus, right?”

Dud and his mask nodded.

Steve scratched his head, then put his hat back on. “Dud, I’m pretty sure you can’t catch that danged virus from a calf.”

“I know that,” Dud said, “But Anita told me I had to treat you guys just like the people I run into at the store.”

We all looked at each other and grinned.

“Dud, you like that horse of mine, don’t you?” said Steve. “Well see, Ol’ Snort likes you, too. So why don’t you just get on him and do some heeling and dragging. I happen to know my catch rope is ‘way socially distant.”

In such ways do some of us deal with change.

Brought to you to honor those masked folks who wait on us in the coffee shops and take our temperature at the doctor’s office. Thank you for your courage.


"Home Country" columnist Slim Randles won three regional book awards for the two books he wrote in 2014. "Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing" won for best how-to book and best cover design at the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in Albuquerque. Randles lives in Albuquerque and has a dozen books currently in print.



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