As I think back, I realize how fast times change. One morning in the early 90s at 6am, when there were no cell phones, no internet, no email, only payphones, I left the house on a ranch I was living in just outside of Pueblo and grabbed the Arkansas Valley Journal that had just come in as I went out the door.
I was looking for a single digit brand for a new cattle company that I had started, and the Ark Valley Journal was the best periodical for finding brands for sale, but you had to check the classifieds quickly because good brands went fast. As I headed down the driveway I opened the paper to the brand section and there was this amazing brand for sale. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen anything like it for a long, long time: a diamond that looked like a star, with rays coming out of each corner. Wow. I remember thinking about how clean it would look on our cattle. And I remember thinking that it was not possible for something this nice to still be available.
I sped up in order to get to the Loaf and Jug store five miles ahead that had a pay phone. I put the coins into the slots of the phone and dialed. The voice that answered sounded sleepy and a bit annoyed, but I dove in and asked if their brand was still for sale. I remember the feeling of relief mixed with joy coming over me when she said, yes it is. I sent the woman a check that afternoon and the brand was ours.
Over the years, we have branded many cattle with it. Cattle we purchased, calves we produced. When we built the iron, we split the brand in half so it could be applied in two applications and the hide inside of the triangle wouldn’t overheat and cause a scar. If a brand is applied right, meaning it’s kept on the appropriate amount of time corresponding to the age of the animal and the heat level in the iron, it simply changes the growth direction of the hair instead of creating a scar on the skin. Sitting on the hip, where we proudly place it, the diamond star looks like it’s meant to be there.
Our brand has become a symbol of the pride we take in breeding a herd of cattle that is the embodiment of our philosophy of ranching. It stands for who we are as people, as ranchers who are preserving our traditions by living them. It stands for how we care for the land and the wildlife that abounds in it alongside our livestock. It stands for the pride we have in the group of people who we work side-by-side with, people who have become a part of the life we are living on the ranches we manage.
Indeed, times have changed. Back then, we were just beginning our ranching operations and had few cattle of our own to brand. Today, we have been in business for almost 30 years with a growing herd of cattle wearing the diamond star.
And beyond this, our brand has also become the representation of the work and all things that we stand for. The diamond star is the logo that we have created for our company, stamped on the leather goods that we produce in our leather shop, a bumper sticker on our trucks and cars. And today, in a world run by cell phones and computers, things that hardly existed when the brand came to us, it is also a symbol for the things to come that we are working for–things that even though we cannot see exactly, inspire us and compel us to continue ranching, motivated by a vision to work the land and leave things better than how we found them.