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Category Archives: Animals

The long journey to the wintering grounds

Ewes coming to the road

Most years, we set out on the sheep trail to the wintering grounds on about the same date. It is usually about a five- or six-day trail from our late fall pasture at Badwater to our winter grazing permits in the Red Desert. We leave around Thanksgiving time–grateful that the ewes have come south on the same trail in the spring, met the shearers. trekked to the lambing ground, borne and raised lambs, grazed on the forest, trailed back to the Home Ranch corrals, weaned their lambs, and now head north to winter pasture. It is usually a time when we can take a breath. We pray that the winter is not too hard, that the dry grass is enough to sustain the ewes, and then the rams, as the cycle begins anew.

following the tractor

This year, back-to-back blizzards hit soon after the first two bunches of sheep set out. Some days they have been stranded on the trail and it has been all we can do to reach the sheep and the herders with supplies. The Interstate has been closed, with multiple wrecks and even some deaths. We crossed two bunches in between storms, but have struggled to move them north, breaking trail with the tractor. The weather has paused between storms, allowing us to make progress. We are grateful that the storms have not been unrelenting.

We had to turn south with the last bunch. Their winter pasture on Chain Lakes is snowed under, and we’ve found another, more open, allotment to the south and west. We are trailing down the highway, which must confuse the ewes, whose instinct and habit is to head north. Since we are on the highway, and not the cross-country trail, we flag, fore and aft, to slow the oncoming traffic. Locals are also not used to seeing livestock on the road this time of year, and non-locals are mostly interested to see the sheep, the dogs, the herders and the family members.

The sheep north of the interstate are still struggling to get to Cyclone Rim. They have finally made it to a plowed road, but it is slow going due to all the trucks stuck as they try to reach the energy development in the same areas.

Eamon and Guillermo bringing up the sheep

almost to the gate

Eamon, ready to trail

Wagon, waiting for the day

View from the rear flagger

Wilber and Guillermo putting in at the 18 mile marker

 

 

 

 
 

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Shipping lambs

lambs in the corral

In the fall, we send lambs to the feedlot. These are the lambs that we have nurtured in the womb throughout the cold winter months. These are the lambs that we saw into the world in a cold wet spring. These are the lambs for whom we fended off coyotes and ravens and bears. These are the lambs who followed their mothers and grew on sweet summer grass.

Some of their numbers fell to predators. A few fell to the hundreds other hazards that await the creatures that we care for. Now we sort out the ewe lambs who will stay with us and become mama ewes. The others go to feedlots where others look after them. In a few months, they will go to slaughter and provide sustenance, by-products such as insulin, and pelts for all of us. The income they bring helps us continue the cycle  of husbanding livestock and caring for landscape.

sunrise

lambs loading at Cottonwood

Raul with a lamb

onto the truck

Meghan supervixing

 

 
 

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What the shepherd saw

Sunset when the sheep got into the haystack

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2019 in Animals, Dogs, Nature and Wildlife, Sheep

 

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Fall Lambers

“What was I thinking,
listening to sweet nothings
in June? Loved and left!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2019 in Animals, Poetry, Sheep

 

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“Almost Winter” is sure looking like winter!

Cows and sheep heading in

 

 

 

I’m thinking of Wyoming’s four seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction. It seems like Winter is in a hurry. Almost Winter, we hardly knew ye!

 

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2019 in Animals, Cattle, Nature and Wildlife, Sheep

 

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Fall cow work (Almost Winter)

 

from the Forest to the corrals–getting ready for winter

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2019 in Animals, Cattle, Horses

 

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Winter’s Comin’ On

bringing cows and sheep in for extra feed

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2019 in Animals, Cattle, Nature and Wildlife, Sheep

 

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