Headed for the Promised Land

30 Nov
Destination: the sagebrush sea

Destination: the sagebrush sea

Every year at this time, we are almost there with the final leg of our 150 mile trek as the sheep trail from their summer country in the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests to winter pasture in Wyoming’s Red Desert. Each way, spring and fall, we must cross the overpass across the Union Pacific line, and the underpass below Interstate 80–both coast to coast trails of a different sort. We make this part of the trail on WY Highway 789. For several miles, we share the highway with cars, pickup trucks and trailers, motor homes, and semi trucks hauling everything from livestock to oilfield supplies. We flag the road, ‘fore and aft, to warn traffic that the sheep are on the highway. We’ve only had a few near wrecks over the years, due mostly to inattentive or inexperienced drivers, and sometimes bad weather. Mostly we see our neighbors, who wait and wave, fellow travelers, and folks who stop and take photos and ask questions. I always send up a prayer of thanks when sheep, dogs, horses and humans have safely threaded the needle, and are on their way to the Red Desert. Then I pray for a good winter, good feed and a good living for all.

at Rodewald's gate

at Rodewald’s gate

Jean Carlos on the run

Jean Carlos on the run


Filo on the railroad bridge

Filo on the railroad bridge


headed East

headed East



passing the Fireworks Stand

passing the Fireworks Stand

sharing the road

sharing the road

Prima Express

Prima Express–dos direciones


Under I80

Under I80

Ovcharka livestock guardian dog sees them through the gate

Ovcharka livestock guardian dog sees them through the gate

trailing crew--Rhen, Pepe, McCoy and Pat

trailing crew–Rhen, Pepe, McCoy and Pat

more crew--Pepe, Tiarnan and Pat

more crew–Pepe, Tiarnan and Meghan

Tiarnan and Modesto headed north on adopted wild horse

Tiarnan and Modesto headed north on adopted wild horse




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5 responses to “Headed for the Promised Land

  1. elliek

    December 1, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    How many sheep are you trailing these 150 miles? Do you lose many sheep on this move? Looks like an interesting move to take on.

  2. Ladder Ranch

    December 1, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    Each of the three bands has more than 1,000 ewes. We really don’t lose any. If a ewe is lame, we load here into the pickup and give her a ride. You can see that they are tended by people and dogs.

  3. Scott Clark

    December 1, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    Happy trails and good feed with plenty of good water

  4. Cathy Weatherford

    December 3, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Way cool. We are originally from Smith Valley in Nv. There were some sheep producers there, and in the Bridgeport Ca area where we summered cattle. This posting brought back a lot of memories. Great pictures. Big job. We only saw one sheepherder who rode his donkey. The rest walked. That was in the day when then lived in tents. I don’t think they allow that any more. Wonderful times in our life. Thanks for sharing, and keeping the sheep industry alive.

    • Ladder Ranch

      December 3, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      We still use tents in inaccessible places in the summer.


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