In a bit of a departure, this space is not dedicated to a famous or historic ranch’s brand. Instead, I wanted to tell my favorite brand story—and of course, it hits very close to home.

When my son was born, my wife and I named him Tate. As a birthday gift, I wanted to register a brand in his name in our home state of Colorado. Tate was born in February, and I casually doodled brands that might fit him in the ensuing months. Nothing perfect came to me until April, when it hit me like a bolt from the blue: “T8.” It was his name in two symbols. I hurriedly thumbed through the Colorado Brand Book. The brand was not there and I saw nothing that might conflict with it. Immediately I printed the application form and sent it in, fully confident I would get the perfect brand.

When I opened the envelope from the Colorado Brand Board, I was dismayed to see they had denied my request. Indignant, I called and kindly asked for an explanation. It seemed someone had registered for that exact brand just three months prior to my attempt. I submitted another one, and got it, but the lost T8 haunted me.

My brothers and I partner on some summer stocker cattle. One summer, we happened to buy two steers marked with the T8 brand. Now, it just seemed that the brand was teasing me.

Every five years, in January, the brand board requires brand owners to renew their brands. It involves a fee, so if folks aren’t using a brand, sometimes they just let it expire. Owner’s phone numbers are sometimes listed in the brand book next to a brand’s registration, so if you find a cow with that brand, you can track down the owner. When the time came to renew, I found the owner of the T8 and called her. She said she was willing to sell the brand, but her price was much too high. I explained it was to be a birthday present for my son’s eighth birthday and his name was Tate—so this brand would be perfect for him. She was unmoved from her price.

The brand board gives owners until July to renew. When the final notices were sent out, I called her one more time and came up a little on my offer—if she would include the irons she had—and she took it.

For five years now, my son has enjoyed the brand. There’s never been a more perfect one for him, and he’s proud of it. We put it in the concrete of our saddle shed porch; he’s branded our roping dummy and all his toy livestock with it; it’s on his chaps; heck, he even signs his schoolwork and texts, “T8.” It’s a gift he’ll be able to treasure for a lifetime, and it brings me so much pleasure to have given it to him.

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