Sorting and shipping–all in a sheep’s life

14 Nov
Sorting and shipping–all in a sheep’s life

fall sheep camp

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!

Sorting ewes at the Home Ranch corrals, mid-October

Dave Johnson, Ron Cole and Pat solve the problems of the world

Bringing them in

Most of the crew

Meghan and Tiarnan at the chute

Richar and Eamon counting on

Going their separate ways

the black sheep of the family

Tim the trucker

and his truck!

Pat, Eamon and Johannes the intern

Seamus and Maeve helping

Antonio and Pepe

Meghan, Pat and Tiarnan-end of the day

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Animals, Sheep


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