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Solano and the lambs

Solano with the lambs

 

Faithful readers may recall Solano, the pet lead sheep. Last spring he was featured on this blog as he traveled with his herder, Alejandro, and the yearling ewes on the Savery Stock Driveway. He was sporting a backpack that Alejandro had fashioned for him, though I’m not sure what it held.

He has been hard at work as a lead sheep, helping to convince his more suspicious cohorts to enter the corrals. Here is is with a group of lambs, getting ready to load and head for the feedlot.

Solano will soon rejoin Alejandro and this year’s yearling ewes. Alejandro is anxious to reunite with his pet and co-worker.

Alejandro and Seamus

 

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Fall Work

Cows in the JO

 

I once told a cook that we were only really busy in the summer. As the year wore on, he commented “I didn’t know summer lasted until November!”

So here we are in November, and it seems like  the fall work just keeps coming. Here’s some pics of cows, calves, ewes, lambs, dogs, horses and folks who help us out.

in the corral

Eamon and dogs at the ready

Casey and Bubba

Eamon, Bubba and Casey having a meeting

ewes and lambs in the Dixon corral

lambs onto the truck, Nevada bound

sea of sheep

Meghan and the loaded truck

beaver dam across Battle Creek

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2022 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Horses, Sheep

 

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Sheep camp

sheep camps

I mentioned to some acquaintances that I couldn’t attend a Zoom meeting because I was busy moving sheep camp, it became apparent that they had no idea what I was talking about. However, they applied a humorous interpretation, speculating about what sheep camp might entail. They envisioned sheep playing volleyball, rowing boats, perhaps attending a crafts class. . .. All this made me wish that I were a graphic artist and could sketch sheep involved in summer camp activities. Alas–that is not my skill.

What I am actually doing, along with Meghan, is moving the sheep camps (portable homes) as our herders trail the sheep from the Home Ranch environs to fall pastures north of Dixon, Wyoming. These pastures also happen to be our lambing grounds in May and June. When the ewes left here in late June, their lambs were toddlers. They faced down bears and coyotes as they grazed on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests in the summer months. The predators exacted their toll, but the sheep were defended by the herders and the Livestock Guardian Dogs (aka Big White Dogs). Now the sheep return with their almost grown lambs. They will graze on fall pastures on Cottonwood Creek until it is time to trail north to winter country on the Red Desert.

Leo on the trail with the sheep

herder, sheep and Baker’s Peak

Loco Creek

guard dog on the job

along the Savery Stock Driveway

coming down the hill

sheep running under trailer parked on the Driveway

heading for fall pasture

 

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2022 in Animals, Dogs, Folks, Horses, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

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Fall Work

Chandler counting cows through the gate

 

October is one of our busiest months. The cows and calves, and the ewes and lambs, along with yearlings of both species, have spent the summer on the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests. Our off-date is October 1st, so we stage the bands of sheep and gather all the cows we can find and bring them down to pastures near the Home Ranch headquarters. It has been a warmish fall and some of the cows are hiding out. Eamon and the cowboy crew have been backriding every day, but the best incentive is cold weather, which reminds the cows that it’s time to get the heck out of the Forest. We migrate along with the deer and elk as instinct draws the critters downward. This time of year, all the sheep and all the cattle are close to home. We work them through the corrals. The lambs are separated from the ewes. Often we sell the lambs this time of year, but this year we still have feed so we will keep them a little longer. The lambs are weaned and switched to a different bunch. The calves will be with their mamas a couple of more weeks, and then it will be time for them to be sold, as feeders or as replacements. It’s noisy as night, as the newly weaned lambs and calves call in the night, and the guard dogs who are now close to home bark all night to warn us of various impending dangers. To be fair, usually the coyotes are howling which makes the guard dogs even more on alert than usual. Tomorrow, we’ll start the sheep on the trail to our fall pastures, some 20 miles to the west.

Meghan, bringing down the cows

lambs in the corral at sunrise

 

Hampshire ewes hanging out with the bucks for March lambing

Theo working sheep

at the Home Ranch corrals

cattle in the Big Meadow

yearling ewes in Loco Canyon, with guard dog

fall colors with the Petite Tetons (the Mountain Formerly Known As Squaw)

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2022 in Animals, Cattle, Sheep

 

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Equinox Sunrise

Equinox sunrise
beaming south of Sheep Mountain—
Winter is coming.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2022 in Events

 

Heifers on the Move

semi at the chute

 

It’s time to move the heifers to fall pasture at the Home Ranch. We still have lots of green grass, although the leaves are showing some yellow.

guiding the truck in

Eamon and dogs at the ready

in the corral

headed for green grass

 
 

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Moving Camp to Battle Creek

sheep in the Aspens above Battle Creek

Summer is slipping away for our sheep grazing in the National Forests. We haven’t had rain lately, so the vegetation is drying up. We have been blessed with a rainy summer so there’s feed on the ground. The ewes are getting restless as the sunshine days grow shorter and the nights get colder. We had our first frost this morning and soon the leaves will change the color of the hillsides. A few eager trees are already throwing out some yellow. We move the sheep camps every few days to fresh feed. Today we moved Edgar’s camp from Aspen Alley to the Battle Creek Campground.

Maeve and Sharon with the newly moved camp.

Edgar and Sharon

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2022 in Events

 

Adventure trip with AG

AG and Pat with the handyman jack

Our friend AG Kawamura came to visit us from California, and to represent Solutions from the Land at the AgroForestry tour Pat organized. He had an extra day and we wanted him to have a true range agriculture experience while he was here. AG raises strawberries, green beans and other tasty commodities, so he is a true farmer, but had never tended sheep camp before.

Sure enough, as we were pulling the sheepcamp up the VERY rocky road to Bridger Peak, we heard a bang, followed by dust billowing out to the side. Soon we were looking at a really really flat tire. We had a handyman jack and a spare tire (and Alejandro’s pet lambs, Susan and Cunadita) in the back of the truck.

After a lot of jacking by AG, Pat and Tiarnan, they managed to get the flat tire off and the spare tire on. I was indeed helping by sitting in the driver’s seat with my foot on the brake.

Pat and Tiarnan taking a turn

AG and Tiarnan removing the lug nuts

a teaching moment

AG with the spare, and Susan the lamb

Susan supervising

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2022 in Animals, Family, Folks, Folks who help us out, Sheep

 

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Wool Away

San Antonio bound

We just sold three years worth of wool. In 2020, the Trump trade war with China, and Covid 19, caused the previously decent price of wool to plummet. We decided to keep that year’s clip in hopes of higher prices in the future. We’d heard stories of sheep producers who had held their wool throughout the Depression, then sold several year’s worth for good money when the United States entered World War II and needed wool for uniforms and other strategic goods. In 2021, the wool market and the trade situation had not improved, so we kept a second year’s clip. We have a large shed where we can store the wool, so were not accruing storage charges at a wool warehouse. This year, we visited with the wool buyers, who advised us that the world political situation was not improving, but that prices were up somewhat. We decided to sell the 2020, 2021 and 2022 clips, which required two semis with long flatbeds. The first truck driver was from Uzbekistan, and spoke limited English. He was very cautious and conscientious, and when the wool was loaded, strapped and tarped, it looked as neat as could be. The second truck driver was from Denver, but spoke fluent Spanish, which was very helpful with our Spanish-speaking employees who were loading the truck. He even helped load the bales of wool, which weigh 400-500 pounds each. The wool was secured and headed for San Antonio. Our fine Rambouillet wool is usually sold to another buyer who uses it for U.S. military uniforms. We think this fine wool will end up in mills in Italy. The blackface wool goes on to become blankets and sweaters. The shed looks empty without three years worth of wool bales stacked up.

Aaron with hayhooks

Juan with skidsteer, Aaron ready to load

Juan, skidsteer and bale of wool

emptying the shed

Loading the trailer

Lalo making sure the bales are in the right place (33 on each layer, fewer on the top)

bringing up the tarp

Lalo tarping the wool bales

securing the tarps

ready to roll

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2022 in Events, Folks

 

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Yearling ewes, and Solano, from Badwater to the Forest

Alejandro on the trail with the yearlings

After lambing, we trail the ewes and lambs to grazing allotments on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests, where they find green grass, fresh water, and bears and coyotes. The on-date is the first of July, and we stage the trailing, one day apart–one bunch after another. When the ewes, lambs and herders and settled on their summer grazing grounds,  it is time for the yearling ewes to start on the trail. They have been grazing in the high desert Badwater pasture since shearing in late April. They follow the traditional trails, including the Savery Stock Driveway, to their high mountain allotment in the Medicine Bow.

Solano with his backpack

The yearling herder Alejandro likes to keep an orphan lamb each year, and raise it as a pet. This summer he has two bum lambs, including one which was lost on the trail and picked up by our neighbor, Jock–an avid bicyclist. Alejandro still has his pet from two years ago, Solano. I was startled to see that Alejandro had “repurposed” a dog food bag into a backpack for Solano. I’m not quite sure what he was meant to carry. Solano is quite the sheep. Sometimes he follows Alejandro on his horse, and sometimes he hangs out with the dogs or the sheep. I like to say that Solano is “no ordinary sheep.”

Jock bringing me the lost lamb on his bicycle

Tiarnan with Alejandro’s pet lamb

lamb and Tiarnan

midday break at Loco Creek

Guard dog mom and pups catching a ride

yearlings on the march

 

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