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