Because our new place isn't finished (or even close!) my in-laws have so graciously allowed us to use their facilities to calve, and share their branding. Our herd is still growing so it works out just great to be able to pair with them to get all of our calves branded at once. And I think our neighbors and friends enjoy it, because although brandings are super fun, after the 10th or 11th one, you just want your weekends and evenings back!
What's on our menu
I have linked some of the recipes we used this year, but here is our full menu:
Crockpot Cabbage Rolls
Aunts Anita's TOP SECRET Baked Beans
2 Green Salads
Mini Pumpkin Pies with Whipped Cream
Mini Apple Pies
Black Bottom Cupcakes
CROCK POTS: use them for everything. Our cabbage rolls, baked beans and hams will all be warming in crock pots the day of the branding.
MAKE AHEAD: Make everything you possibly can ahead of time. We have these wonderful things called freezers and you should use them. I am not personally much of a kitchen gal, so the less time I have to spend in the kitchen on branding day the better. (But to be fair, my mother-in-law is in charge here and she rocks the kitchen detail so I can play in the dirt!).
SELF SERVE: As mentioned above, my husband is convinced we need to have pies with ice cream for dessert. Well sorry hubs, I am not dishing out 65 plates of pie and ice cream before it melts! That's just too much work. So to battle this, we settled on individual tart pies (which are super easy, even though they sound like a nightmare) and a couple of cans of aerosol whipped cream. It may not be quite the same, but dang it sure is easy with no clean up.
USE WHAT YOU HAVE: The individual tart pies are actually very reasonably priced to make because I use the pumpkin and apples from my garden that I froze last fall. Use what you have- if you have a side of pork left over, use that. If you have a ton of carrots left over from your garden, use those. I absolutely hate spending money so if it takes a bit more time but saves me a dollar, I'll probably do it.
GET HELP: A very good friend of ours has a massive branding every year (400+ head) and they decided in recent years to hire (a family member) to stay home and do all of the food prep for them. I think this is a fabulous idea. If you are not a great cook (even though I know that mamma is!), you don't have time or if you'd just rather be with the cows, don't be afraid to hire it out! It's stress off your shoulders and you can enjoy visiting with your friends and family members.