We left for Llano Ranch at 7:00 a.m. The energy level of the class wasn't high, but it wasn't dragging either. You could feel the anticipation in the air for what we were about to shoot. Wyman got a call from his friend Jesse out at Llano Ranch and was informed they were going to be doing their calf branding Saturday morning. Well, of course, Wyman couldn't pass that up and wouldn't pass it up either. Nobody objected.
So we head out there. All the rain we had made the roads real muddy, but Erin was a trooper driving through that mud with the 15 person van. We didn't get stuck once, but we did have a few exciting moments of sliding, off-roading, and deer chasing.
When we got to the location we had some time to walk around and do some more flower photography. Silly flowers.... and I got a few portraits of Tim, the caterpillar. Tim is a fuzzy little one and also, according to Jerod, a three time Academy Award winner.
When the cows finally got herded into the pin and the calves were sorted out, the real excitement began. Each heifer was branded the ranch brand on its hind and the year they were born on their shoulder, along with getting vaccinated. The bulls were castrated and given the ranch brand, as well as vaccinated. It was busy and intense. At first I watched to get an idea of what was going on, and after that I had no problem shooting the action.
We ate at Lums BBQ for lunch, and oh boy was their brisket good! I had a full tummy after that.
At 4pm we headed out to go grab some "drinks" and then up to Mason Mountain. As we drove there, two storm cells merged and it seriously felt like we were in the movie Twister. It was wild. The wind coming off the front of the storm rocked the car and broken branches and leaves littered the road. We decided to haul ass up the mountain to shoot the storm as it rolled in. Awesome. Now, I've hiked mountains before, did all the time when I lived in Vegas so I felt pretty ready for this. But hiking up a granite mountain with photo gear was entirely new to me. I was ready to sacrifice my body before my camera! Thankfully, no falls, only minor slips that caused my heart to race a bit.
After we ran up the mountain, we all probably got in 4 good shots of the storm and then it began to rain on us. So we ran down the mountain and jumped into the vans, that's when it became torrential and began to hail. We were definitely in the movie Twister sans the tornado. The chaos only lasted 15 or so minutes and we were able to get out after that and run around freely to shoot photos. I shot film for the most of it and then switched to digital. Mason Mountain was gorgeous and I got in a good bit of exploring while I was there.
We had dinner at a little Mexican restaurant, I don't know where since my mind was swimming in a bottle of Shiner and a cup of Cabernet. I ordered a side of onion rings and nothing else and boy were those deep fried rings delicious!
Off to bed now. We'll go out and shoot in the morning if there is fog, but if not, I'll get to sleep in, then after lunch it's off to 377 Falls.