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Migration

Shadows

As the elk and the deer
head down from summer’s grass
calves and fawns by their side
we gather cows, their calves and
hope for good weather.
We hook up the sheep camps,
move our community of critters—
ewes, lambs, dogs, horses.

The shepherds shift from early mornings,
lazy afternoons, fights with bears
and coyotes—
trying to find a camp spot among
tourists, campers, refugees from Covid.
At home, we stage the sheep, bringing them
bunch by bunch to pastures,
to the corrals

For sorting, for judging who stays,
who goes, some to the desert
some to farmers with soft fields and warm barns.
Lambs climb onto trucks—
first the heavies, born early,
next the lights,
and finally the peewees
headed for corn and lower country.

Now we follow the migration.

ewes trailing down from the Routt Forest

past the Bull Pasture

KIm supervising

Meghan at the sorting gate

lambs

under the sun

Anthony working the chute

ewes after sorting

Meghan loading the truck, with help

lambs loading on truck

Pepe and Oscar bringing them up

Pepe. Edgar and Bubba

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Red at Night

Fires in the forest
paint strokes of scarlet slashing
across the Mesa

photo credit. Meghan O’Toole Lally

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2020 in Farming, Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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Buck testing–it’s pass/fail

bucks relaxing in the meadow

 

Each fall we test the buck herd. Geri Parsons, Optimal Livestock Services, comes to check our rams for fertility and health. At the same time, we look at their teeth, their feet and their general condition to make sure they are ready to romance the ewes in a couple of months.

ready to test

Geri, Edgar and Rhen

Oscar, Geri and Edgar

 

Geri in her portable lab

evening dust-up between bucks

 

 

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The Fall Gather

Saddling up

We’ve been trailing and back-riding for a week, as the cattle come off the summer grazing grounds. The cows and calves have been on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests since June and July. They graze in large rotations and we ride through them almost daily. They don’t want to leave since the weather is still warm. They see no reason to leave perfectly good feed and water. We’ve been watching the Middle Fork Fire, to the south of our allotments. It’s been burning in ungrazed areas, although there are plenty of beetle-killed pines everywhere. We’re glad to be out of the Forest with this season of fire.

Rhen mounting

On the road

home to the meadows

Pat D. and Tiarnan

cows trailing near the Midnight Ranch

riding crew at lunch (photo credit, Pat Danscen)

through the horse’s legs (photo credit, Pat Danscen)

Tiarnan and Battle Mountain

Tate, Sharon and Liberty the filly (photo credit, Pat Danscen)

Dudley Creek

Sharon and Seamus the horse (photo credit, Pat Danscen)

Day’s end

 
 

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Leaving the Medicine Bow

    

 

     Autumn ritual–
     Alejandro’s yearling ewes
     leaving the Forest

 

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Autumn in the Routt National Forest

Dog Days of September

 

October 1st is drawing near. In our world, that is the off-date for most of our National Forest permits. We are now staging both the cows and the sheep to trail down to the Home Ranch in a few days. Here’s Pepe and Modesto, our excellent long-time herders, with their ewes and lambs, ready to come off the Forest. We have had a record year for predator losses, in spite of their efforts and the efforts of our valiant Livestock Guardian Dogs. Since we know how many ewes and their lambs went up in July, and Pepe and Modesto (and the other herders) keep track of other deaths, we will soon have an idea of how terrible these losses have been.

Pat and Pepe in Big Red Park

Pat and Modesto near Independence Creek

Modesto’s ewes and lambs

 
 

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Battle Creek Reflections

Fall’s first reflection
of Julie in Battle Creek,
Seasons in motion.

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2020 in Animals, Horses, Nature and Wildlife

 

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Not the storm of the century

First snow (?) on Squaw Mountain

 

As we suffered through was we consider brutally hot weather (95 degrees), we were told that a huge early snowstorm was on the way. Our new cook, from Alabama, said she was terrified of winter and abruptly left. Sure enough, all over the state, roads were closed, power was off, tree branches were broken. Here’s what the storm looked like for us. Things have cooled off nicely though.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2020 in Musings

 

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Sangre de Cristo–Summer of Fire

Red sunrise over Sheep Mountain

Sangre de Cristo,
blood red against the sky,
smoky crimson sunrise
illuminates the dry

and murky landscape,
grey haze that turns to pink,
and throws a rosy glow
to make night’s shadows sink.

Mountains rise ephemeral,
magic light against their rock,
a brief illumination
shows their beauty with a shock.

of this pink and hazy glow
wrought by fires in the south,
fire in the sky,
and fires bred by drought.

Flames that rise and roar
and eat all before their path,
nature and man’s doings
give way before their wrath.

We watch from distant fastness
as smoky fingers curl,
long tendrils reach with greed
to menace with their swirl,

and spread a grim grey threat
to make us tear and choke.
We wear a gauzy veil
of ash and haze and smoke.

It filters through our valleys
where grass stands stiff and dry,
where leaves hang low and thirsty
beneath this pall of sky.

Tales now come to haunt us
of flames that leave a stark
and ancient calling card,
borne aloft by wind and spark.

We watch and wait and fret
that such could be our fate,
while distant matches flare,
in a tinderbox, we wait.

Such thoughts all disappear
with wonder and with awe,
as sunrise works its alchemy,
paints the country with a raw

and glowing pinkwash,
with a brief and fleeting dye.
Sangre de Cristo,
blood red against the sky.

Red sunset over Battle Mountain

 

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2020 in Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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World class sheep exhibit at the Little Snake River Museum

This weekend marked the Grand Opening of the William MacPherson Sheep Center at the Little Snake River Museum in Savery, Wyoming. John and Catherine MacPherson donated restored sheep wagons from Carbon County’s early sheep production days, in honor of Bill’s father, an early sheepman. The Museum District and the MacPhersons saw to the construction of an exhibit building to house the wagons and other historic sheep production paraphenalia. A coming attraction will be an original wagon built by James Candlish and donated by the Vern and Della Vivion family. James Candlish was a blacksmith who is credited for building the first sheepwagon in Rawlins, Wyoming in 1884. It will be on loan from the Wyoming Wool Growers Association.

Here’s some photos of the event, which featured speakers, music, a spinning demonstration, children’s activites, a barbeque and a tour of the Savery Stock Driveway. Wyoming author and musician David Romtvedt presented Basque music, poetry and history (although most of Carbon County’s early sheep producers were of Scots, Irish and English descent). A great time was had by all!

MacPherson Sheep Center

Cat Urbigkit tells the crowd about predator challenges

Sharon reading poetry at the Government corrals

David Romtvedt playing Basque tunes at the Niland  cabin in the Medicine Bow National Forest

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2020 in Events, Folks, Sheep

 

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