The simple rubber band is a nifty item with many different uses that range from simple, functional purposes (keeping bundles of papers together) to clever, creative ones (turning regular jeans into maternity pants) to downright silly pranks (we’ve all been victims of the slingshot rubber band to get our attention). You’ll find a plethora of them in all shapes and sizes and colors all over your home. You will also find them in a barn. If you are easily made squeamish, you might want to stop reading at the end of this sentence. Why? Well, there is method called “banding” that all ranchers know. It is the most common method used to castrate a buckling or ram lamb by placing a rubber band around the male parts of livestock. We’ve had to perform this act a few times now. Our kids do not shy away from any opportunity to learn something new on our franch. But, for this franch task, it was a little awkward to hear, “Can I do it too, dad?” It turned out to be an impromptu opportunity to teach our curious children some real-life anatomy. My husband explained the different male parts, and how to make sure the testes is pulled through the band with the scrotum without forgetting to detail why that was important. Eventually, the male parts shrivel up and simply drop off after a couple of weeks. That’s all it takes – a rubber band. Squeamish yet? Perhaps, Stephen Perry wouldn’t have followed through on his invention of the rubber band in 1845 had he known castration would be on the list of its many uses. This same method is also used to dock the tail of our sheep. My daughter likes to search the pasture for the tails once they are no longer attached. It’s like a treasure hunt for her. Thankfully, she has been lucky enough to only so far find tails… It’s likely you will never look at a rubber band again without thinking about how ranchers castrate their livestock.