We went to Tamara's brother Rob's ranch this weekend. You can see a picture of Rob to the right. He's been described a lot of ways but probably never as cuddly or soft. I had a lot of stuff to do so the first time they went out I stayed back and read. When they came back, Rob made some comment that it was too bad we had to leave the next day because they were branding some cows. We decided to stay a bit to see the branding since we never had.
The next morning we drive out to where the cows were "waiting" for us. They did the big group over christmas and there were only twelve for that day. They split off the steers from the to be branded and their moms into a different pen so they didn't cause problems. It sill confuses me an animal who outweighs you 10:1 will run scared like a little girl because you yell and run at it. I'm sure it has something to do with what we were about to do to the calves because saw the wrath of the bulls in Pamplona (that's right, 4/6 of the Hall men have run with the bulls.) I mean, when I play ball and see a guy who I outweigh (doesn't happen too often) by even 10 pounds I think about how I'll dominate him in the low post. I can't imagine if I outweighed him by 1800 pounds. Even the calfs we were going to brand were ~300 pounds.
They roped the first cow and as I walked over I overheard something about "not dropping yet" and saw some blood on Ottavio's hands. I thought to myself, I'm no doctor, but it sure looks like they're castrating that cow. Turns out I, without medical training, was correct. I didn't know this was part of the process. Then I saw Ottavio put them into the pocket of his chaps. I mean, I know cowboys do thing their own way but let's not get carried away.
On the second one they let me help hold the calf down and on the third one they let me flip it onto it's back and hold it down. Over the course of twelve calves I learned some of the finer nuances of how to make a calf submit (they don't tap out but you can see it in their eyes), flip it over, tie its legs, and some of the other joys of the process. A lot of the cows didn't even flinch when you emasculated or branded them which thoroughly surprised me. I guess they saw struggling didn't do anything for their brother so why fight it. I don't know.
After we were done Ottavio emptied the contents of his pocket into the fire. I said, "You're going to burn those and not give them to the dog?" "No, I'm cooking them" he responded. Typically, you cook stuff you're going to eat. "They taste somewhere between shrimp and lobster" he continued. "So they're a delicacy?" I inquired. He laughed. I'm not sure why I ate one. He just held out his hand full of them and I took one. It wasn't bad, but I'm not counting down until I get to eat another one. It didn't really have a lot of flavor but I think with some tabasco it could be all right. They should also probably be grilled and not just tossed into a fire because I don't think the ash helped. In case you skimmed some of the above, I did in fact eat a cooked bull testicle this weekend. What?
After all this I shook hands with a couple of the guys, forgetting what they had been doing with their hands mere minutes before. I told Rob it thanks and that I had a good time, which I did. I said, don't misunderstand-I don't want to be a cowboy or anything but it was cool. Twelve is one thing-200 might not do it for me. I'm not looking for a career change or anything. But if riding around on horses while roping, castrating, branding cows and eating rocky mountain oysters is wrong I don't want to be right.