ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – As valuable as a deed to a home are the symbols etched on the jutting flanks of heifers, horses and buffalo alike. Livestock brands bear the weight of familial legacy for some – legacies Big Country ranchers are eager to protect by getting their brands once-again submitted to the state and on time.
“It’s been in our family as far as I’ve known 116 years,” said Terry Chrane, owner of Chrane Ranch.
Chrane is just one of many ranchers set to pay visits soon to their respective court houses. All ranchers who have a livestock brand and want to keep ownership of it must register with their County Clerk between August 31, 2021 – February 28, 2022. If the deadline is missed, it’s possible a longtime brand could be registered to a new taker.
Brands are used to identify the owner of a livestock animal, helping keep cattle straight if they become loose or if a rustler is caught stealing steers. For Chrane his brand is a hollow triangle-shape.
“It’s one of those things that the people who founded the ranch started and we try to keep it for generations to come,” said Chrane.
This statewide registration takes place every ten years and secures a brand for its owner for that decade. Chrane, a longtime rancher, says the process is easy enough – he just fills out a paper application which includes diagrams where the brand is drawn. It’s given to the clerk and goes into the state’s system.
In the office of the Taylor County Clerk are books of brand records dating back to the 1800s. County Clerk Larry Bevill says all records are kept electronically now, but there’s something special about the big, red binders with thousands of names.
He can see the scrawl of famous names from around town like J.W. Wooten who built the Wooten Hotel still standing in downtown – his symbol just one of the hundreds of curves, loops, and angles written on 200+ year old paper.
Bevill says letters are being prepared to be mailed to the more than 400 currently registered brand-holders in Taylor County. He says almost all will make it a point to renew their brands either online, by notary or in person, the fee to do so in Taylor County just under $30.
Even if a family has hung up their cowboy hats and stepped away from the ag life, Bevill says it’s very common for members to retain their brand.
“My wife’s family will register their brand although they’re not running cattle anymore,” said Bevill. “But it’s an heirloom, it’s something important it’s their history it grounds them to Texas.”
In his experience Bevill’s even seen siblings viciously vie over the symbols in the wake of a parent’s death – all but tearing each other apart to be the owner.
As the saying goes “words are only as strong as you allow them to be” but a brand appears to be more like an exponent — amplifying the good or bad depending on the who’s got the iron.