Round ‘em up! Have you ever used that phrase? Well that’s exactly what happens every year at the Grieb Ranch when it’s time to “work” the calves. Preparation for the day begins with inviting friends and family to come be part of the work crew for the event. The number of hands needed depends on the number of calves that need to be “worked”. The day begins with the hands mounted up on a horse and the group heads out to gather the cows and calves out of the hills. The cattle are found and then using dogs and horses the cows and calves are encouraged to make their way down the hill into the working pen.
Here the calves are tallied, branded with the ranch ID and they get several shots to keep them healthy. Everyone at the round-up has a job. One person ropes the calf’s head and then another ropes the hind by catching (hopefully) the two hind legs which helps the ground crew. Next a strong, young man tips the roped calf to the ground, putting the calf in a position to be safely worked. In a matter of moments, the calf is branded, vaccinated, ear-tagged if needed, given a copper bolus to balance the lack of that element in the soil, and the bull calves get castrated. This process is the fun part as all the generations of Grieb family and friends work together to get all the tasks done. This year it was a small round-up as the drought has forced a smaller herd so the focus was on giving the youngest generation more of the work to develop their cowboy skills. Grieb Ranch had four generations working together to finish the job in a few hours one afternoon.
Once the work is done the cowboys gather at the house for a meal. Traditionally a round-up meal at the Grieb Ranch starts chips and onion dip or guacamole (made with avocados from the ranch) and walking tacos (more on walking tacos in a coming post) and is followed by a full-on Santa Maria style BBQ tri-tip with all the traditional trimmings of beans and toasted butter-soaked bread, potluck salads and finished off by scrumptious desserts. As long as cattle roam the hillsides of Grieb Ranch the cowboys and cowgirls will come lend a hand to work the calves every time there is a round-up in years to come.