Monthly Archives: April 2012

The long trail south, with an aside from “Moby Duck”

The long trail south, with an aside from “Moby Duck”

Every year in mid-April, we begin the long trek south with the sheep.  Most of them have wintered on the Red Desert, north of Wamsutter, Wyoming.  They trail sixty miles or so to the Badwater pasture–a checkerboard pasture southeast of Creston Junction.  When the Union Pacific put the railroad through in 1865, the U.S. government gave them every other section for 20 miles on either side of the track as an incentive.  If they’d just given them a solid ten miles, it would have made life easier for future generations, but that is how it is.  Half the sections are privately owned (and many of them were sold by the railroad over the years) and half are BLM-administered lands.

This annual journey includes crossing under Interstate 80 and over the Union Pacific tracks, thankfully on an overpass.  It is a trail fraught with hazards, as the traffic is sometimes heavy and the railroad overpass is blind on the approaches.  We do a lot of flagging and keep the sheep in the right-of-way as much as possible.

I recently read “Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author,Who Went in Search of Them” by Donovon Hohn–a book which tracks the vast number of container ships who travel from Asia to the United States with consumer goods.  I was interested to note that the sheep were passing over railroad cars carrying containers that clearly originated in China.

Containers which came by sea from China.

When we pass through the gate into our good neighbors Duane and Debbie Rodewald’s pasture, we give a huge sigh of relief.

Pepe, surveying the route

Modesto, pushing the sheep under I80

Guard dog leads the sheep under the interstate

The road isn’t closed today.

Heading up the railroad overpass.

Sadie helping

Going through Rodewald’s gate–hallelujah!


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Spring, and the grazing is good

Spring at Powder Flat

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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Animals, Cattle, Sheep


Blue Heron rookery on the Little Snake

A blue heron nests on the Little Snake

The other day, we went down to check to pregnant cows and new calves in the Big Pasture, which lies along the confluence of Battle Creek and the Little Snake River.  In the trees, we noticed a big bird’s nest, then two, then three, then four.  As we looked more closely, we saw that these nests were occupied by blue herons.  When we went over to take a closer look, Maeve went down in the mud.  She manages to combine being a princess who actually wears a tiara much of the time with being the grubbiest of the five grandchildren.  Once we rinsed her off in the river, we looked up and saw the herons watching us.  We have done a lot of work on Battle Creek, largely in order to enhance fish habitat, especially for Colorado Cutthroat Trout.  This gives us mixed feelings.  The rookery is a wonderful demonstration of the health of the riparian area.  It also indicates that these herons are eating a heck of a lot of trout.  When asked what keeps him awake at night, Pat told the story about the herons eating the endangered trout.  In any view,t the herons are lovely, and we look forward to seeing the chicks.

Flying the coop

cows and calves near herons and chicks

Princess Maeve with mud

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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Cattle, Family, Nature and Wildlife


Spring shots

kite over Squaw Mountain

Sandhill cranes with sideroll

pregnant cows in the Lemmons Meadow


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