Sullivan Creek Ranch hosting 5th annual Gather and Branding Day May 19

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Sullivan Creek Ranch will be hosting its fifth annual Gather and Branding Day on May 19, starting at 8 a.m. A lunch buffet will be offered, with tickets available for purchase by May 14. (Emily Anderson)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Step into the world of traditional ranching with the Sullivan Creek Ranch as it opens its doors for the 2024 Gather and Branding event. Scheduled for Sunday, May 19, starting at 8 a.m., this annual event promises an authentic glimpse into the Western tradition of “neighboring,” where friends and family come together to help with cattle gathering, branding and doctoring. The event will be held at Sullivan Creek Ranch, located at 151 County Road 1047 in Vinemont.

Greg Anderson, the owner of Sullivan Creek Ranch, explained, “‘Neighboring’ is the concept of fellow ranchers (neighbors) recognizing a need for extra manpower and chipping in to help out. It is very common during branding season or ‘Spring works’ where cattle are gathered, calves are given the mark of the ranch, and vaccinated against potentially life-threatening diseases. Additionally, in times of stress, neighbors will help each other out to ensure critical tasks are completed and the continuity of ranch operations is maintained. Everyone reciprocates and the fabric of the community is strengthened. Oftentimes, given the workload throughout the year, this is the time of catching up with old friends and having a reunion of sorts. Everyone is involved, including children. It is a family oriented culture.”

A typical day at the event involves detailed preparations and skilled activities that are essential to ranch operations. After breakfast is served to those working the event, a briefing takes place to ensure that everyone understands how the gathering is going to work and what to expect. Key personnel are introduced, providing attendees with clear points of contact for any questions they might have.

The briefing also details the specific roles assigned for the day, such as who will be responsible for roping, who will attend to any sick calves and sorting off calves for weaning. With the conclusion of the briefing, the goal is to have the team well prepared and ready to commence the gather and branding, setting the stage for a well-coordinated day of traditional ranch activities.

“After the briefing, we set off to round up the herd, gather them in the corral and sort the calves to be worked off their mamas. Once sorted, we methodically rope and drag the calves to a branding fire where the ground crew awaits with vaccine guns and the branding iron. Once branded, the calves are released back to the herd and their awaiting moms. Upon completion, we enjoy food, drink and fellowship. People play corn hole, practice roping, ride horses and we’ve even had folks fly kites out in the pasture,” Anderson shared.

The event is particularly family friendly and educational for first-time attendees, with various opportunities for the attendees to interact.

Anderson emphasized the educational aspect: “Attendees are given the opportunity to vaccinate a calf or two under the supervision of our very experienced ground crew, and we put a heavy emphasis on safety. The idea is that people get to participate in a tradition that few in the Southeast see and walk away feeling a stronger connection to traditional ranching and how their food gets from the pasture to the table. Most people find the day to be a lot of fun. They learn about tradition, common ranching practices and the cowboy culture.”

Lunch will be an affair to remember with freshly grilled Mexican cuisine prepared on-site by Carlos Soto and his family.

“Every year our good friends Carlos and Claudia Soto bring their whole family out and grill traditional Mexican food, right there on-site. Usually, as the branding is wrapping up, the smell of grilling onions and various meats fills the air and that signals the beginning of the celebration – a celebration of good stewardship of livestock, a kinship with our friends and family that live a similar lifestyle and the development of new relationships. It is the perfect punctuation mark on a cool event. The food is fresh and delicious. There is really none better!”

The menu will include a variety of meats, homemade tortillas and traditional dishes such as tacos, fajitas and quesadillas. The meal will be an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet, priced at $25 a plate. Please note that tickets will not be sold at the event and must be purchased in advance by May 14. Tickets are available on the ranch website or through a link posted on its Facebook page.

With this year marking the fifth public branding hosted by Sullivan Creek Ranch, Anderson reflected on its success and growth, saying, “The response has been great. We work hard to let folks be a part of it and every year, the ‘neighboring’ part of the tradition grows as more nonranchers in our community come out and participate.”

For more details on the gather and branding event or Sullivan Creek Ranch, contact Greg and Emily Anderson at greg.anderson@sullivancreekranch.com or emily.anderson@sullivancreekranch.com.  Additionally, more information can be found on the Sullivan Creek Ranch Facebook page or www.sullivancreekranch.com.

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