Early Sublette County Brands Project
Budd Ranches
by Nancy Espenscheid

     The brand most associated with our ranch is the VV Bar.  I don't know when it was first registered, but the first brand book I have found it in is the 1912 book, where it was registered to the Budd Brothers.  The Budd Brothers referred to the sons of D.B. Budd, Henry, Dan, Charlie, Jess, and my grandfather, John.  I have an idea that it was used by my grandfather from about 1898 on, as that was the time he started owning cattle of his own.  It was originally recorded as the VVI, with the I having a dot over it, but of course, the dot often ran into the rest of the I and it became a bar as time went on.
     The VV Bar is approved for the left rib on cattle, and is a very pretty, easy to read brand on a cow.  In addition to the VV Bar, we also had the Open A, Open A, Bar for the Purebred Registered hereford cattle, also on the left rib.  In the late 1940's, when my dad, Joe Budd, started his registered herd, he needed a brand to differentiate the two herds at a glance.  When someone accidently put the VV Bar on a calf upside down, he had the inspiration of the open A open A Bar.
     Budd cattle wore these two brands for nearly 90 years.  In 1986, when my husband and I decided to change our cow calf operation to a yearling operation, we found that the VV Bar, a three iron brand, was difficult to apply to the spring yearlings we were purchasing.  We ran these cattle through a squeeze chute to process them, that is, give them certain vaccinations, tag them and brand them.  This meant that the brand had to be applied to the calf while standing up, struggling in a chute.  We then started looking for good, one iron brands that were approved for the hip, which would be easy to apply in these conditions.  We obtained the following brands:  the Hook, the Z spear, and the Lazy H spear.
      In the winter of 1990, we went to an auction and purchased the Zero Quarter Circle from the Harry Rahm Estate.  We paid quite a lot of money for it but felt it was worth it because of the lack of availability of good clear brands that are approved for the right rib of cattle.
     Of course all of these brands are accompanied by a specific earmark.  Earmarks are an important way of identifying a cow if the brand is blotched or if you're horseback in a herd of cattle and are unable to see the brand.  Neighbors all know each other's earmarks as well as each other's brands.  Now, many ranchers have started using eartags as an additional means of identification.  Some have numbers on them for individual ID and some have the rancher's brand drawn on them for herd ID.  The eartag isn't an official way of determining ownership, but it sure helps identify one from a distance, in a herd, or if the brand is really haired over and hard to read.
    I could tell branding stories for days, but won't, as I know that you have gathered many unique tales from many other ranchers.  Brandings are truly a special time on every ranch, strong in tradition and full of drama.
     A man's brand is a special thing, usually a source of pride and often the identity that goes with it spreads.  I remember sitting in a crowd of people at the Wyoming State Fair, nervously watching my young son showing a good hereford steer.  Several rows back, I overheard a couple of fellows from some far corner of the state visiting.  "You see that hereford steer with the VV Bar on the left rib?  That's a Budd steer.  Budds raise some good cattle over there near Big Piney."

Submitted by Nancy Budd Espenscheid, February, 1991 as part of the
Brands Projert for the Green River Valley Museum.  This was done to represent Budd Ranches, Inc. now owned and operated by Gary and Nancy Espenscheid.