In October. when the sheep come down from the National Forest permits where they spend the summer months, we bring them into the Home Ranch and sort them. The wether lambs and the speckled-face ewe lambs go to the feedlot in South Dakota. There they eat corn until they reach slaughter weight–about 150 pounds. They are then sold through the Mountain States Lamb Coop and are marketed in restaurants and meat markets, mostly on the East Coast. We look at each and every ewe, and the “good old ewes”–those with good bags and maybe some teeth–but too old to put in another winter on the desert–are sold to a shepherd in the Midwest, where they will produce lambs and wool for several more years. The cull ewes–those that will not raise another lamb due to age or infirmity, but who are otherwise healthy–are sold as “killers” and will become meat, often in Mexico. While we are sorting the sheep, all of the herders come into the ranch as we work their charges. This is usually a fun time, since many of these men have not seen each other since lambing. They eat at the cookhouse and tell bear stories. When the sorting is done, the lambs and cull ewes are put on trucks, and the winter bunches are made up.
Many of these photos were taken by Deb Johnson, who was visiting from Wisconsin. Thank you Deb!