Category Archives: Dogs
Today, we gathered, trailed and sorted cattle in the Powder Wash. It was a great home-schooling experience for Siobhan, Tiarnan, Rhen and Seamus (helping but camera-shy!). We were joined for a time by three young mustang stallions, evidently kicked out of their herd and looking for friends.
We brought the ewe lambs (coming yearlings) home this week from their winter quarters on the frozen beet fields of Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin. You can see their dirty faces from rooting sugar beets out of the ground. The white-faced Rambouillets look like smut-faced cross-breds with the dirt on their noses. We unloaded them at the Chivington Place, where the snow has finally melted enough to bring them home and allow them to graze. We hope to bring the rest of our ewes back to our country soon. We are still waiting for snow to melt on their BLM grazing allotments.
Faithful blog readers know that due to extreme winter conditions in the Red Desert, our usual wintering ground, we have trucked most of our ewes north to the sugar beet fields in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. The Bighorn Basin is several hundred miles to the north of us, almost to the Montana border, but is also several thousand feet lower, and less snowy. We have some ewes who experienced “early conception,” probably due to a rogue buck lamb who escaped docking. At Powder Flat, we are set up for shed lambing (usually in March) and have a great crew. Pat and I went up to visit the ewes and herders, and to collect the pregnant ewes and bring them home to lamb. The Bighorn Basin is also experiencing an unusually snowy winter, though for them it is several inches of snow, not several feet. We have a good crew there too–Pepe, Modesto, Alejandro and Joel. It’s a long ways from home, but has feed available for the ewes.
Our decision to move most of the ewes north was not an easy one. We have never not kept them (relatively) close to home on desert sagebrush steppe grazing permits. Last February, our sheep were trapped by bad weather and roads. When this winter started early and hard, we bought extra feed and hauled it to them daily, hoping for a thaw. We did not have back-to-back blizzards like last February, but it has just kept snowing and getting colder. Eamon found sugar beets which had frozen in the ground in the Big Horn Basin. After lots of phone calls and planning, we started loading ewes, and rams, on trucks and moving them to beet fields and crop aftermath in the north part of the state. Most of them had never seen a truck.
with apologies to Clement Clark Moore
not a creature was stirring ‘neath sage nor on branch.
The feed pile was heaped, all ready for morn.
when sheep could devour their sweet breakfast corn.
The ewe lambs were nestled all snug in the brush
while ‘round them ewes lay still in the hush,
near bucks red with paint, their bright metal bells,
reflected the moonlight’s wintery spells.
Then out in the desert there arose such a clatter,
the guard dogs leaped up to see what was the matter.
Away to the bedground they flew in a flash
barking and growling, on alert for a clash.
The moon on the sage flat showed new-fallen snow,
giving lustre of midday to sheep bedded below,
when, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
but Santa’s own feed wagon, pulled by Mule deer.
The feed sled it brimmed with alfalfa and hay—
this wagon he pulled instead of a sleigh.
More rapid than pronghorns, his coursers they came.
He whistled and shouted and called them by name.
“On Bucky, on Bambi, on Fawna and Devin,
on Woody, on Forest, on Jumper and Kevin,
to the top of the rim, we’ll fly with good cheer,
With a nose glowing green, our leader, John Deere!”
As ice flakes that before the wild blizzard they fly,
through snowstorms and wind, they mount to the sky,
and up to the sheep wagon, on to the feed ground,
came Santa’s sled, where goodies abound.
With Santa attired in Scotch cap and wool,
in fleece-lined gloves—his white beard so full—
he wore arctic Sorels, a snug Carhartt coat
a red and green glad rag covered his throat!
His eyes how they twinkled, his nose how it froze!
He blessed his wool socks, which made comfy his toes!
Above that warm beard, his cheeks were all rosy.
He was glad for his woolens, which kept him all cozy.
The wagon’s pipe glowed, from the fire beneath,
while woodsmoke encircled the camp like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a round little tummy—
all those cookies and milk—those goodies were yummy.
He was chubby and plump, like a ewe eating corn.
He went right to work, for soon would come morn.
He winked and he whistled, the dogs soon drew near,
Border collies and guard dogs looked up at his deer.
For herders he brought new winter attire,
and coal for their stockings to add to the fire.
The dogs all got bones, still covered with meat,
new coats for the horses, from heads to their feet.
For the sheep, Christmas magic, with a nod of his head,
their fleece grew an inch to warm their chill bed.
He gave ewes a blessing: they’d all carry twins,
for this winter season is when it begins.
He mounted the wagon, called, “Gee” to his team
and off they all soared like a sheepherder’s dream.
Then I heard him exclaim as he flew with his deer,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good year!