Monthly Archives: November 2012

Dry season

The days unfold–one warm dry sunny day after the next.  The neighbors gather and talk of only one subject–when will it snow?  We all have tales to tell.  Only two years ago, we were lamenting because we had to start feeding hay two weeks before Thanksgiving.  This year, some of us still have some rough feed we can use for the cows and horses–the tall dry grasses left under the trees that couldn’t be reached by the mower during haying season.  Some have been feeding hay for months, after the summer pastures came up short and the fall pastures were used early.  Some have shipped animals out because of the lack or expense of feed.  Drought in the corn states and demand from ethanol have made corn–the staple of livestock feed–prohibitively expensive.  The government’s mandates, and lack of action on disaster programs mean that the livestock sector has been sacrificed as farmers are being encouraged to grow fuel in place of food.  Cattle and sheep, but also dairy (especially dairy!), poultry, hogs, and even catfish are being driven into loss as corn prices soar.

We continue on, unhampered by storms or ice or cold.

the Hampshire bucks at Powder Flat

Bucks drinking from the tank at Powder Flat

Filomeno and Antonio with horse they are breaking

Dunkin with ewe friends

Maeve, ready to load truck

wagons at Cottonwood


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View from Sheep Mountain

Eamon took this photo before the leaves fell.  It is taken from Sheep Mountain, looking to the west.

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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Nature and Wildlife


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Loading the Wool: Destination China

Loading the Wool:  Destination China

Most of the sheep were sheared last May.  Since we didn’t receive any bids on it, we stored it in our new hoop shed, north of Dixon.  Our friendly wool broker, Mike Corn of Roswell Wool, advised us that the market should be active come fall, so we waited for that time.  Sure enough, we sold the wool to a buyer who will ship it to China for further processing.  Here are photos of the wool being loaded onto a truck for California.  Due to California’s Byzantine regulations, this truck will take it to Bakersfield, where it will be reloaded for transport to the port, where it will be loaded again onto a ship.

Wool bags stored in the hoop building

The truck got stuck in the mud and we used the tractor to pull it out.

Timeteo loading the bales onto the tractor

Loading the wool into the semi, where our employees stacked it in an orderly manner.


Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Events, Folks, Peruvian sheepherders


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Dads count too–or counting on the dads–or

Dads count too–or counting on the dads–or

Most of the year, we think about the ewes–are they eating enough?  are they pregnant?  did they lamb? did they have twins?  did they elude the coyotes and bears?

Of course, in order to have those little lambs hit the ground in May and June, we need to have dads.  In the livestock world, dads (be they bucks, bulls, or stallions) count too, and we want them to be the best most productive sires we can find.  And, since it costs money and opportunity to support them for most of the year (well, actually, for all of the year, but they only work for a couple of months), we want to make sure they are the optimal sort of dad.

Who you gonna call?  Optimal Livestock Services of course!  Each fall, retired Colorado State University vet Dr. Cleon Kimberling, and his partner and sidekick Vet Tech Geri Parsons travel throughout the Rockies to test rams.  They check rams for fertility, disease, and other factors, such as age and condition, that can influence their ability to breed ewes.

Dr. Kimberling mans a traveling lab, where he examines sperm samples from rams.  Geri, with help from our crew, collects the samples in test tubes, records information about each individual, and gives all the info to Cleon, who studies and collates it.  At the end of the process, we growers are given a computer printout that rates each ram according to fertility, health, age, and other variables.

We then mark the rams who fail to make the grade.  They get a truck ride which ends in a vacation in Mexico.  I’ve never asked Dr. Kimberling what happened to his vet students who failed to make the grade.

Geri testing buck

Geri marking a test tube

Dr. Kimberling at the microscope

Maeve helping Dr. K.

Pepe and Timoteo securing a ram

Crew hard at work: Pepe, Sharon, Geri and Christian

Edgar and Sadie

Pepe, George and Pat, photo by Maeve

Pepe and friend by Maeve

Free at last!


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