More evacuation of sheep, Groundhog Day

02 Feb

sheep loading at Chain Lakes (the bucks are red)

On Groundhog Day, we all saw our shadows, but we don’t have any expectations for an early spring. We did have a sunny day to evacuate the last of the ewes and rams still on Chain Lakes to our ranch near Dixon, Wyoming. It is almost as snowy at the Dixon Ranch, some 20 miles west of our main headquarters and proximate to our lambing grounds. We still have to have the sheep on full feed, but they are safely closer to home. We’ve had days that our sheepherders and sheep were stranded and unreachable. We’ve had days when even the oilfield plows couldn’t work because conditions have been so terrible. We are grateful to our neighbors who have worked to keep the roads open. They need to tend their wells, and they have gone our of their way to keep our access to sheep and men open as well. After three horrible days of blizzard and cold, we finally had a window to evacuate the rest of the sheep, horses, dogs and herders. The truckers are working constantly. There aren’t enough sheep trucks and truckers to keep up, and they go from one herd to the next as the sheep producers wait to get their critters and employees out of danger. All this costs a non-budgeted fortune for plowing, for trucking and for feed. The feed, alfalfa, is soaring in cost and really hard to find.

This doesn’t take into account the antelope, deer, elk, and even feral horses that share the same winter country. They too depend upon open winter grazing, with enough snow to provide water. We are watching them as they seek open ground, and as they die. We are the ones there as they gather into ever larger bunches, and eventually lay down and die.

We’re not yet sure how we will pay all these expenses, but we know we cannot leave our animals without care and safety. That is the original meaning of “animal husbandry.” It is our obligation to keep them safe and fed.

Hampshire buck, ewes in meadow near Dixon

ewes under Sheepman Express chute

Modesto, Seamus and Border collies unloading




unloading after dark


Posted by on February 2, 2023 in Events


5 responses to “More evacuation of sheep, Groundhog Day

  1. murisopsis

    February 6, 2023 at 10:24 AM

    I’m praying for an early spring!!

    • Ladder Ranch

      February 6, 2023 at 12:25 PM

      Thanks. We want a slow melt off so it doesn’t flood, but we’ll have to see what’s in store.

  2. Martha Kennedy

    February 6, 2023 at 11:16 AM

    Whenever I drive across the valley — which is completely open — I wish I could transport you all down here.

  3. Ladder Ranch

    February 6, 2023 at 12:23 PM

    We looked for a place to go, but the trucking is a killer.

    • Martha Kennedy

      February 6, 2023 at 1:46 PM

      I’m sure. I thought of you last week watching a couple hundred sheep grazing on a barley field.


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