Monthly Archives: February 2012

Leap Day

Time comes to mind—
so immutable
so fluid.
Tick, tock.
The universe
a giant clockwork
moving in lockstep.
All those planets,
stars, asteroids,
An eclipse terrifies
but arrives
on time.
separate one hour
from the next.
We choose
the times
of our life.
Daylight savings,
Back or forth.
Fly west and lose
a whole day.
Go east
and there you’ll find it,
twice—that lost day.
Nuclear timemasters
debate seconds, milliseconds.
Keep the universe
in exact time.
But casually add a day
here and there.
We have
all the time
there is.

The Sandman, climbing, as he has for time out of mind.

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Poetry




We certainly experiencing “Global Weirding” this year.  Last winter was a hard hard winter, followed by a cold, wet, killer spring.  It rained throughout most of June, and really for the rest of the “summer”.  HIgh water didn’t go down until mid-July.  Fall continued to be wet and cool and November was snowy.

“Here we go,” we thought, and hunkered down for another hard winter.  Then–it stopped.  We have had one of the driest December and January seasons ever. Almost no snow, mud in the driveway,  We’ve told our friends downstream on the Colorado River system, “Sorry.”

Until the last few days.  All of a sudden we got a month’s worth of snow in a few days.  Steamboat Springs, Colorado, 55 miles to the southeast of our ranch headquarters, got a record 48 hour snowfall–good news for skiers.

We are glad to see the snow.  Really.  As my Dad used to say, “As long as it doesn’t get to be a fool about it!”.

Eamon, Marley and Siobhan getting to the pickup

Sandman Mountain (see sandman on upper right)

Squaw Mountain from the northwest

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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Events, Nature and Wildlife


Another side of the Poetry Gathering

Another side of the Poetry Gathering

Pat and I attended the 2012 Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada earlier this month.  It is put on by this  blog’s sponsor, the Western Folklife Center.  If you are not already a fan, visit their website.  A link is posted to the right.

I usually say that these folks are geniuses to lure people to northern Nevada in late January/early February, but if you offer enough fun, great Cowboy Poetry, Western (NOT country and western) music, wonderful food, great art, and the opportunity to pony up to the bar at the Center’s Headquarters in the old Pioneer Hotel, you can get it done.

Did I mention really interesting workshops?  Many of the workshops involve creating cowboy gear such as braided leather latigos and felt cowboy hats, but one can also learn Western style dancing, authentic home cooking and relevant writing.  This year we assisted with two workshops.  “Get Along Little Bloggies” was taught by Teresa Jordan, and I was very much more a student than an assistant (finally got WordPress broke to lead, I think).  Pat and I were on a panel whose topic was Crossing Boundaries: Ranching in the 21st Century.  The discussion centered on collaborative conservation, meaning working with other folks and other groups to achieve common goals.  In our complicated ranching operation, we not only work with our neighbors and others in our community, but with state and federal agencies and with interest groups.

Instead of just constantly having fun, we took some time to visit our friends Steve and Robin Boies, who ranch north of Wells.  Actually, the tour they gave us of the conservation work they have done IS our idea of a good time.

When we got home, some folks from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were at our ranch for a tour of the work that we have done on our fishery on Battle Creek (with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife), and that our neighbors have done on Savery Creek and the Little Snake River with our Conservation District.

We did have a really good time seeing great poets, musicians and artists.  If you want to see those photos, visit the Folklife Center’s website.

Here are some photos of our recent experiences with collaborative conservation.

Robin, Pat and Steve at the Boies Ranch, north of Wells, Nevada

irrigation tunnel that was blasted through rock by hard rock miners, Boies Ranch

Mark Hogan, Sherry White, Mindy Meade and Matt Filsinger of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Sadie and Pat O'Toole of Ladder Ranch--at Battle Creek

Larry Hicks, Little Snake River Conservation District, telling it how it is at the Savery Stock Driveway Bridge

flood damage from spring 2011 runoff from the Savery Stock Driveway Bridge

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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Events, Family, Folks, Folks who help us out


Snow at last!

Heifers on fresh snow in the Upper Meadow

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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Animals, Cattle



More on Dunkin, Life and Times

Jose with Dunkin and his dogs
north of I80 at Creston Junction, April 2009

Dunkin and friends
on the trail to the Routt National Forest, June 2009

Cottonwood Pasture, October 2010

Dunkin and Friends: repost from July 2010

Pepe with Dunkin
Johnson Ranch corrals
Routt Forest

Faithful blog readers will remember Dunkin, the bum lamb who grew up into a bellwether–a lead sheep. Dunkin was saved from certain death, and obscurity, when Pepe found him standing by the side of his dead mother as a newborn lamb. Pepe adopted him as a pet, and we even carried milk replacer on a pack horse to Dunkin his first summer. He is now a VERY large sheep, splitting his time between hanging out with the other sheep, and hanging out at the camp with the dogs. He is currently living with Modesto’s bunch, but recently reunited with Pepe.

Dunkin with his friends–Richar. Pepe and Modesto
Johnson corrals
Routt forest, July 2010

Dunkin (of blog fame), Dot (of National Geographic fame) and guard dog pup
Multi-species representation
Chain Lakes, Salomon’s camp, February 2011

Johanna with Dunkin at shearing, April 2011

Dunkin with lamb buddies, October 2011


Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Animals, Sheep, The Bellwether: Dunkin



Dunkin the Bellwether: repost on the life and times of Dunkin

December 12, 2008


Pepe and Dunkin, June 18, 2008
Loco, Savery Creek
photo by Sharon O’Toole

Sometimes, for one reason or another, a lamb ends up as an orphan. We call them bum lambs, because they try to “bum” milk from ewes not their mother. In Nevada, they are known as “leppies” although I’m not sure why. We usually bring them home and raise them on a bottle until they can graduate to grass and grain pellets. Bum lambs have a lower survival rate than lambs with moms. It is critical that they receive colostrum, which is the first anti-body laden milk that comes from the ewe. We often rob some of this thick golden elixir to give to orphan lambs, for without it, they usually succumb to disease, sooner or later.

Pepe found Dunkin standing next to a dead mother. I don’t know why she died, but Dunkin was a lucky lamb. Pepe (who has never done this before) took Dunkin under his wing and kept him as a pet. Here are a series of pictures showing Dunkin throughout the past seven months, thriving as I have never seen a bum lamb thrive. I attribute this to the vast amounts of lamb milk replacer he consumed, along with horse oats, as well as Pepe’s TLC. We actually packed lamb milk replacer ( a powder) on mules to Pepe’s high mountain camp last summer, along with Pepe’s groceries, dog food, and sheep salt.

Dunkin was born a buck lamb, and while we eventually convinced Pepe to castrate his pet, he never did dock his tail. Dunkin spent the summer following Pepe’s band of sheep to the summer pastures, playing with the other lambs, and sleeping with the sheepdogs under the sheep camp and by Pepe’s tent. Given Dunkin’s superior social skills, with people, sheep and dogs, we decided to keep him as a bell wether. A wether is a neutered male sheep, and the original meaning of bellwether is a sheep who leads the others into a corral or pen.

The final photo shows Dunkin outside looking in, as his peers are loaded onto a semi, destined for a feedlot in South Dakota, and eventually, fine dining establishments. He still has the ewes and the ewe lambs for company.

Pepe, Dunkin, Marie and George
Dudley Creek, Routt Forest, July 3rd
photo by Sharon O’Toole

Pepe, Dunkin and Megan
Farwell Mountain, Routt Forest, August 8th
photo by Sharon O’Toole

Pepe and Dunkin
Routt Forest, September 29th
photo by Pat O’Toole

Pepe, Dunkin in hunting season, October 31st
Cottonwood corrals, north of Dixon
photo by Sharon O’Toole

Dunkin, saying goodbye to his friends
Badwater, November 15th
photo by Sharon O’Toole

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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Animals, Sheep, The Bellwether: Dunkin


Hanging out with the pigs, the llamas and the odd sheep

Each July, our family attends Fun Days at the Little Snake River Rodeo.  In addition to the rodeo events, including calf riding, mutton busting and ribbon roping,the kids can chase and catch pigs and chickens.  Our family members brought home five pigs this year (see the post from July 2011). We raise them, and then when they are big enough, we have them butchered, cut and wrapped and they become local food.

We like raising the meat that we eat, but also think it is important that the kids know where their food comes from.  A few days ago, the last two pigs were deemed big enough to become pork, so we took the kid to bid farewell and, in a sense, give thanks for the privilege of raising some of our own food.

Farewell to the pigs

Each winter, we end up with an odd lot of sheep ,those who are lame and halt.  We keep them around the headquarters, where they can receive extra feed and care.  This winter, the Mama llama, Beulah, and her cria Maria (poem to come) are hanging out with them.  Beulah and Maria are bonding for guard duty.  Maria has grown since her surprise birth in early January.  She is very friendly.

  • Beulah and Maria practice guarding

Seamus & Maeve feeding llamas

View of the horse barn, cattle and fence

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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Animals, Cattle, Events, Family, Folks, Sheep