I live in fall-calving country and this means most ranchers brand their calves in January and February. In the wake of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, many ranchers don’t know whether they should cancel or go ahead with their brandings.
Because of the speed at which the omicron variant is spreading, ranchers have many questions as to how they can keep their branding from becoming a super-spreader event. Until now, the all-knowing, all-seeing, Dr. Fowl Chee, has not given the cattle community their marching orders as to how they should proceed.
Because of all the publicity surrounding Dr. Fowl Chee’s candidacy for People Magazine’s Sexiest Man of the Year Award and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, the demands on his time have been enormous. Thanks to our political clout we were able to arrange an interview with the great man himself. So, here are our marching orders from Dr. Fowl Chee.
Us: Should ranchers proceed with their brandings and if so, what special precautions should they take?
Fowl Chee: If, against my best advice, cattlemen do decide to proceed with their branding, they should insist all participants self isolate for 10 days prior to, and 10 days after the event.
Only essential workers should be invited to participate. This means no fence sitters, town folks, Extension agents, bad ropers, crippled old cowboys or donut-hogging kids. These essential workers should be met at the front gate by a ranch representative who is gowned, masked and wearing a face shield.
The ranch rep should demand to see proof of at least three vaccinations, including a booster. If the documentation looks like it was purchased off the internet, they should be turned away.
Before unloading their horse, cowboys should get out of their pajamas they’ve been wearing for two years during lockdown and put on a mask and sterile gloves.
Us: Is that it?
Fowl Chee: Cowboys should also disinfect their saddle, rope and other tack with an approved disinfectant in which I own lots of stock. Their horse should also be wearing a mask, which can be made by sewing several new coffee filters together. They should also be careful not to touch their face with their hands.
Us: Oh, that’s easy Fowl Chee. Most of the participants will have a beer in each hand anyway, making it very difficult to touch their face.
Fowl Chee: This is no laughing matter. There should be no after-party and participants should wear a mask at all times. No bandanas or wild rags. And none of these new sick masks that say, “Thanks for wearing a mask so I don’t have to.”
Us: Isn’t there a big debate about how effective face masks are?
Fowl Chee: We have found numerous benefits to wearing them. People can’t smell your anchovy-pizza laced breath, they’ll keep your face warm, no one will know who you are when you rope a fence post instead of a calf and you won’t get any cow pucky in your nose or mouth. And cowboys won’t be able to put any of that disgusting tobacco in their mouth. And if they do, there will be no spitting.
Us: Doctor, can cattle spread the coronavirus?
Fowl Chee: At this point we don’t know, but we have sent $125 million to the Wuhan lab to infect 200 cows, which will then be turned into the general population. Believe me, you’ll be the first to know.
Us: Many ranchers are anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, and some even think the vaccine contains a microchip so the government can spy on them. What do you say to these folks?
Fowl Chee: That’s preposterous. We’d never be so blatant to put it in the vaccine. No, we put the microchip in the swab that we shove into the bottom of your brain when we do a COVID-19 test.
Us: When ranchers work their cattle is it still necessary to maintain social distancing?
Fowl Chee: Absolutely. One tip we recommend is to eat lots of chili beans and high fiber foods the night before a branding. The next day people will naturally tend to socially distance themselves.
Us: What other mandates have you made?
Fowl Chee: As a precautionary measure, we demand all participants be wormed with Ivomec before leaving the ranch.