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Author Archives: Ladder Ranch

About Ladder Ranch

I am a rancher and writer who lives in Wyoming

Snow after drought

Aspen Alley in the fall

 

Snow settles on ground

left thirsty by months of drought,

now kissed by moisture.

homestead cabin on Box Creek

Dudley Creek aspens

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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Fall Gather

Chica bringing down the cows

 

 

The cows and their calves have happily spent the last three months grazing on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forest. October 1st is the off date for our Forest grazing permit. Friends and family help us as we bring the cattle down from their summering grounds.

Cows through the trees

Eamon, Rhen and McCoy

Rhen and Pal

Rhen looking for cows

Rhen, still looking

Home at last

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2018 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Family, Folks, Nature and Wildlife

 

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First lambs to the feedlot

Ewes and lambs heading for the corrals

Oscar sorting lambs

This has been one of the driest years on record. Usually our ewes and lambs graze on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forest allotments until the end of September. This year, with much less rain than usual, we are sorting the feeder lambs off early to send them to the feed lot. Most years, we send the oldest (and heaviest) lambs first and the youngest lambs last. This fall, like many range producers, we are bringing the sheep down to the Home Ranch so the lambs can be sorted. This gives us less mouths to feed at home, and they transition onto a nutritous growth ration. All this is happening several weeks earlier than usual. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Each year, we gauge the present and try to predict the future. While our fellow Americans are trying to dry out from Hurricane Florence, we pray for rain, or snow–or both.

the sheep in the newly painted corral

Oscar and Raul’s lambs waiting for the truck

through the corral poles

down the chute

Raul and Edgar bringing up the lambs

a wether lamb with a ewe lamb earmark–marked “capon”

capon in the chute

Eamon counting lambs

They went that-a-way

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2018 in Animals, Family, Folks, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

Ryan Fire

Ryan fire at night

It has been a summer of fire, with smoke hanging heavy in our Valley much of the time. Only one of these fires, on Baker’s Peak, was close to home. Some of our neighbors lost pastures in fires to the west of us. Fire crews have been hard at work all summer. Professional firefighters go from one fire onto the next, as they achieve control. Many local and volunteer firefighters have also stepped forward to protect their friends and neighbors, and their property. We are once again veiled in smoke, mostly  from the Ryan Fire, which is actively burning on the Wyoming/Colorado border about 30 miles to the west of us.

Current Situation

Total Personnel 223
Size 15,477 Acres
Estimated Containment Date Monday October 15th, 2018 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved Timber Fuel Model. Beetle-killed lodgepole pine and spruce/fir. Pine contains 40-50% dead standing and abundant down timber available to support surface to crown fires. ERCs are near the 97 percentile.
Terrain and fuel driven crown runs.

smoke over Battle Mountain

smoke rising over Battle Pass

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Events, Nature and Wildlife

 

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Fall Equinox

Squaw Mountain, Lucky Butte, Flattop

 

 

Equinox has come
and gone. Dark creeping closer,
shading dawn and dusk.

Sheep Mountain

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2018 in Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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Gathering cows in Big Red Park

Cows in Big Red Park, ready to rotate to a new location

Cows and Hahn’s Peak

Tiarnan and Sarah on the job

Tiarnan moving the cows to Silver City Creek

 
 

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Phoenix Forest

burned trees stand above the regenerating forest

In 2002, the Hinman Fire burned 31,016 acres in the Routt National Forest. It was part of what became the Mount Zirkel Complex of fires. Much of the burned area included trees blown down by a rare high-altitude wind storm with hurricane force gales. On October 24, 1997, it laid flat 20,000 acres and an estimated 6 million trees. leaving a pick-up-sticks matrix on the ground. The dead trees left perfect habitat for pine beetles, which have scourged the area and left millions and millions of acres of dead trees. Many of those beetle-killed dead trunks still stand, with thousands falling every day throughout the forests of the mountain West.

The Hinman Fire burned hot and hard, and left scorched tree trunks standing tall and dead. The trees were diseased and killed by the beetles, providing the “perfect storm” for the fire. It was particularly impactful to us, since we had 800 ewes and their lambs on the Farwell grazing allotment. In a effort that is still legend, our sheepherder Pepe Cruz brought the sheep down the Elk River drainage, trailing the sheep throughout the night, with a sack of new puppies tied to his saddlehorn. He brought all of the animals under his care out safely, with fire burning on three sides.

We still graze on that allotment. The regeneration of the landscape there gives me hope for the rest of the Forest, which has been devastated by beetles. In the burned over area, still marked by the standing spears of trees burned 16 years ago, the vegetation is rebounding and new growth trees are filling in the landscape. The burned area looks verdant and healthy compared to the rest of the Forest. It gives me hope to see the new forest rising from the ashes.

new growth

vegetation everywhere

 

Farwell Mountain

ewes and lambs grazing

 
 

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