Here’s Modesto’s ewes, ready to head through Rodewald’s gate
Today, the third band of sheep crossed over the UP line and under I80 at Creston Junction. They are trailing north to winter pastures on the Cyclone Rim and Chain Lakes allotments in the Red Desert. This is a long walk from the summer pastures on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests.
Here’s the sheep topping the railroad overpass south of Creston Junction.
We should be under snow by now, but we’ve only had a few skiffs, so in our book, it’s still fall. As much as we need winter, we are taking advantage of the relatively warm dry weather to keep catching up on fall work, and even getting ahead on some spring work, such as plowing. We are happy to have our good child labor, like McCoy, helping us out.
McCoy and Eamon at the end of the day.
McCoy helping Meghan water the horses
Prince and the feral horses checking each other out
We are on the trail, headed for winter pastures on the Red Desert. Most of the ewes are at the Badwater Pasture, about 100 miles north of our summer country, and 40 or 50 miles from the Cyclone Rim and Chain Lakes allotments, where they winter. These are the yearling ewes, who are getting a fresh brand and a squirt of insecticide to ensure good health. It was a windy day, with a winter storm predicted. We were working hard to finish so that we could all hunker down. It did snow some, but the storm went to the north. We are waiting for some snow on the ground so that we can trail on to the Red Desert. We don’t have much live water there, and the sheep depend on eating snow. We pray for some storms–just not big ones!
the yearling ewes
showing off their fresh brands
Pepe and Meghan, hard at work
Walter jumping the fence
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Maria is hanging out with the bucks
It’s that time of year when we bring in the livestock–the cows and calves, the ewes and lambs–the time when we finish our summer’s work and prepare for the winter season. We sell most of the calves, and send many of the cows to less snowy pastures for the winter. Some of the cows will go to our friends’ ranch near Laramie (where the snow is horizontal rather than vertical), Some will go to Nebraska. This means we bring them all in to the Home Ranch, work them, and load some of them on trucks.
First, we need horses
Ready to bring them in
And we need a crew–Eamon
Meghan and Peruanito
Siobhan and Taylor
McCoy checking things out
Rhen on the job
Megan and Jeff
Our neighbor John may be a belts and suspenders kind-of-guy
Patrick and Sharon O'Toole are ranchers in the Little Snake River Valley on the Wyoming-Colorado border. They represent the fourth generation on the six-generation family ranch. The O'Tooles raise cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and children on their high country ranching operation. The transhumance operation stretches from north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado to Wyoming's Red Desert.
Pat has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives, the Western Water Policy Commission, and is currently President of the Family Farm Alliance, representing irrigators and water users in the western United States. He is active with several conservation and agricultural organizations.
Sharon is a writer and poet. She writes extensively on western issues, and the relationship between landscape, animals and people. She is widely published as an author, essayist and editorial commentator.
Pat and Sharon have three children. Their daughter, Meghan and her husband Brian Lally, live on the ranch with their children, Siobhán, Seamus, Maeve and Tiarnán. Meghan has also served on the Wyoming Board of Agriculture and the Environmental Quality Council, She and Brian are active in community service.
Daughter Bridget lives in Phoenix with her husband, Chris Abel, where she works in health care communications. Chris works in the food distribution business.
Son Eamon and his wife Megan live on the ranch with their sons, McCoy and Rhen. Eamon is a horseman and natural resource manager, and Megan is a flight nurse. Eamon is a member of the Wyoming Beef Council and is active in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
The blog traces the activities and life on the ranch, from the mundane to the fabulous.