own a completely legitimate livestock brand in Texas
it must be registered in the county where the brand is being used.
A brand may be canceled or abandoned by branding a bar across the
original brand. This is called venting or barring out a brand. Only
in Texas and for a short period of
time, a series of letters, branded on the neck of an animal denoted
the county of origination. This practice was abandoned quickly.
When early day trail herds were gathered for driving north to market,
several brands might be included so a "road brand" was added to
the owner's brands. It was not unusual for these herds to be sold
several times along the way and other road brands added. Often when
they reached Dodge or Wichita, Kan., they were described as "burned
till they looked like a brand book."
Always read a brand from left to right, top to bottom and from outside
to inside. A brand can be flying, lazy, benched, open letter, tumbling,
walking, rocking, swinging, boxed, circled, raftered, mashed, backward
and on and on.
The letter O can be round, mashed, squashed, quarter-circle, half-circle
or three-fourths a circle. A circle within a circle is called a
A bar, the most simple design, can become a slash or a cut and slash,
an I, a one or (as was used by John Chisum,) extended as a fence
rail branded horizontally on the side of the animal. If you have
a few moments and enjoy a challenge, draw a letter then add all
the descriptions listed above to the letter to make a brand.
If by chance the old-time cowboys ran onto a brand that was blotched,
blotted, distorted or otherwise unreadable, they each had pet names
for the design often making fun of the mark. Among favorite names
were fluidy-mustard, whang-doodle, fool brand or the worst description
of all, a fly swatter.
Mexican brands tended to be artistic and flowery often bringing
out such descriptions as, "the map of Mexico, a skillet of snakes
or a bucket of ropes."
An odd brand in Wyoming was registered as a Revolving H but was
unreadable to all but local ranchers. The old cowboys named it "danmfino."
When asked to translate the word they answered, "Damned if I know."
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" February
22, 2011 column
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