The term “brand” is associated with marketing but it originated with livestock brands.
Originally used to testify to the ownership of an animal, brands tell stories in their unique shorthand.
“Riding for the brand” became a symbol of loyalty and pride.
The brand is now ubiquitous in the world of business. As companies plot ways to conduct war on rival brands, most probably don’t give a thought to the origin of the term, “brand”, and its history on the open range.
If you’d like your brand story included in our website or program contact Jen Zollner, 403.529.6384. (See How to Read Brands at the bottom of this page.)
2021 Brand Stories
Daniel Negus Cavan
Henry Negus Cavan
Calvin and Lionel Cavan
Lance & Lana Cavan
Dan & Erin Cavan
Mick and Elaine Nieman
For our 2020 Medicine Hat Cowboy boy Poetry and Western Music Show we’ve added the following Brand Stories:
The Wright Ranch
Memorial Brand Stories:
For the 2019 Medicine Hat Cowboy Poetry and Western Music in Harmony show we asked local ranchers for their Brand stories, which were included in our program.
Historic Reesor Ranch
This brand was originally owned by Markham Ranching Company for which WD Reesor was manager from 1900 to 1904. After a killer May storm in 1903, the company folded and WD Reesor bought up the remaining assets and obtained the brand. Today Bar M5 is owned in Alberta by Lyle Reesor, son of Keith and Helen Reesor. Leanne Reesor, daughter of Scott and Theresa Reesor owns it in Saskatchewan.
Jim and Carol Hern
Their ranch is in the Bindloss community which is about 85 miles north of Medicine Hat on Highway 41. Jim is the grandson of William Fowlie, his mother’s father who homesteaded in the area in 1912. Hern ranching operation consists of two ranches, the X Bar 4 Ranch and the Bar Diamond Ranch. From 1963 cattle from both ranches wore the X-4 brand. In 2013 we incorporated both ranches names into a new registered brand, X-^. (diamond)
Les & Diana Roth: Taking his father’s brand meant Les didn’t have to rebrand as he gradually bought dad’s cattle. Albert recognized each of his animals at a glance. He wanted a large brand, and large it is. Even so, there was that one time when he stopped the auctioneer because someone else was selling his cow.
1923-2017 Floyd Brusky: This brand was also on the door of Floyd’s new 1967 Ford truck made with a 22 rifle. At a branding there was talk about being a good shot. Floyd had only one bullet hole out of place. The truck did go to Sunny’s Auto Body the very next day for an ‘erase’ job.
1918-2009 Jack Trieber: His daughter, Millie remembers they always had to bake a batch of spudnuts and were sure to have cold beer on hand for the brandings. Who helped them varied from year to year. It was neighbors or family and sometimes it was the ball team.
Gerald & Bernice Kunz: Albert Kunz passed the brand to his son, Gerald. For years branding was a neighbour event in which Ken Bauer, Ted Adams & our family helped each other. After branding, the herds would be trailed on horseback to the government-run Bitter Lake PFRA pasture, then back again in the fall. PFRA lease lands have since been privatized meaning farmers and ranchers form a co-op and run it themselves.
Bob and Carol Eisenbarth: One year, just as their branding had begun, this one Charolais went wild. She jumped over the corral, over the neighbor’s fence and was out of sight. Two days later she was found five miles from home, one white amongst a herd of Black Angus. She didn’t hit home; she went directly to the sale.
Shelley Goldbeck’s Brand Story: My dad, Ernie Goldbeck and my mom, Ilene (pronounced Eileen) took over the farm when my grandpa, Peter Goldbeck passed away when I was 11. Here is the story my dad told us about the brand when we were young:
“The Triangle represents you three kids”. That was my brother, my sister and me. “I’m E, of course!” he said. “And the Bar (the “lying down” letter ‘I’) is your mother. She’s the one who keeps us all together.” My parents are married 63 years.
Larry Krause’s Brand Story: Dad’s brand was Half Diamond (we always called it Rafter) over joined HL. We still have the branding iron. It has found its place as a prop at my SHAW TV Timberline Music Show.
When we were designing our brand, we wanted to carry the heritage “Rafter” to the next generation. We decided on having KP under the Half Diamond. This represented Gail and my last names, Krause and Pfeiffer being joined under one roof, as in fact we are.
Time wore on, we sold our cattle and relocated. But once in a while we’d see a nice bunch of Polled Herefords with the Rafter KP. It’s a bit of a legacy.
The Lehr Family got their first brand in the early 1960’s when Dad bought the brand with the cattle.
The brand changed to two characters and the operation grew immensely as two sons and three grandsons gradually took over ownership. The brand is electric now and the traditional branding party has been replaced by a ranch crew of five and a calf table.
1925-2018 Bill Treiber: His son Wayne said: Each of us knew our job. My older cousin and uncle would hold the beasts down while dad branded. You’d get the odd cow that would chase you up the fence. There were always wet cow paddies to mess with.
1936-2002 Herb Zollner: His dad, Martin gave him a heifer when he was 16. Now he needed a brand; he wanted his very own brand. Martin’s brand was Bar MZ.
He’d use his dad’s bar and the Z iron. (By the way, a double bar is no longer allowed as a new Alberta brand.) Herbie’s land was more suitable for cropping, so the PFRA was our summer pasture. Ours was a family farm, so branding was a family affair. Then came having to stop right in the middle of seeding to haul the cattle to pasture. We had to put the cattle racks on the seed truck, haul for two days, then take the racks off again. The worst part was cleaning all that guck off the truck box before seeding again.
Tarry & Audrey Herter: This is a tough one to brand. First you have to be sure all four ends of the X touch the circle. Then you have to know how to brand or you’ll over brand and it’s a blotch. As a new brand it’s probably not even allowed anymore but it was passed down from dad, Ben Herter so it’s perfectly legal.
Michael & Marie Kulyk: The brand is his mother’s initials (Florence Kulyk). Credit to Mike Kulyk, Sr for acknowledging his wife in this way, an equal in their ranching operation. Michael and Marie live on the home place his grandfather, Steve Kulyk, homesteaded in 1916.
Wendell and Dawn Straub: Our girls, Mindy & Kimberley want to be involved in all the farm and ranch activities. Branding is the perfect time for them to be part of it all, helping sort, carrying pails and even helping wrestle the calves, doing whatever they can.
Ross and Cindy Straub: Border View Farms Ltd. is a fourth generation farm, homesteaded in 1912. The R1 brand was registered in 1974 and is still used today. Annual branding parties bring neighbours & friends together to socialize and identify cattle before being moved to pastures. Sometimes there are as many helpers as animals. Different methods are used to get the job done including calf tables, old fashioned wrestling, roping and norforks.
Phyllis Rathwell Our brand is 2 Lazy Left 2. This was the brand we registered after selling the last of our herds and the last bit of hay land. We chose Two Lazy Two as a way to recognize the hard work of friends and neighbours who continue ranching, and to declare that we are now at a place in our lives when we are ‘too lazy to ranch’.