In the landscape of today’s Montana workforce, few jobs remain that have been deemed essential. One of which is ranching and on this particular day at the Kearn Ranch, new cattle needed to be branded. But the branding itself provides more than just identification to Jake Kearn’s herd.
“This is the first chance you have to get a vaccine into all of them, so we vaccinated them for a lot of different diseases," says Kearns Ranch owner Jake Kearns.
And amidst the Coronavirus epidemic many of you will wonder why this just can’t wait. It’s simple: time is crucial for ranch hands.
“This just has to happen, if we miss this we run the risk of putting some cattle out there that aren’t up to spec they way they normally are," Kearns adds. "It’s just something we have to do.”
When you have as many cattle as Jake does, branding and vaccinating become a group effort, making social distancing even in a rural community like Melrose, a hard feat to accomplish. But for ranchers at the end of the day, this is their reality.
“I guess in a perfect world we could do what everyone else did and stay away and all that stuff. But we don’t have that luxury right now," added Kearns.
And as more and more Americans stock their food shelves, it becomes clear why ranching has been deemed essential. No ranching means no beef, which creates a food shortage, and more importantly it takes away livelihoods for families like Jake’s all across Montana.