RSS

Category Archives: Llamas

Shearing at Badwater

wooly ewes waiting for the shearers

It’s that time of year again. The shearers have shown up and shearing is underway. Each year it takes a lot of moving parts for fleeces to roll off the sheep and into the big bales. Our shearing crew are contractors who come out of California. We are their last client of the season. This is good because they are not under pressure to move on to the next producer, but nerve-wracking because we want to have the ewes shorn in time to trail to the lambing grounds north of Dixon. Lambing starts around May 10th.

We were fortunate with the weather this year. We had a snowstorm right before we were ready to start. The weather cleared and was warmish and nice for most of the week, allowing us to get through the “main line,” as the wool buyers call the running age ewes. The yearlings were next, followed by a brief, but not killer storm–always a worry for freshly shorn sheep.

Our crew packed up their portable shed–the shearing equivalant of a food truck–and moved to Powder Flat. The early lambers and the rams were there, and soon they too had given up their winter coats. Beulan and Maria the llamas were also shorn, much to their spitting disgust, but they are ready for summer.

wooly ewes with wagons

waiting in the corral

shorn ewes, ready to lamb

Frank and Gramps, son and father, on the job

Modesto and Eamon counting sheep

shorn ewes with birds

Edgar with unshorn llamas at Powder Flat

 

shearer at work

Meghan and Maria

Megan with Beulah

Beulah, freshly shorn

the wool packer baling the fleeces

bales of wool

fleeces in line

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ladies in Waiting

pregnant ewes with the new shed

guard dog doing her job

guard dog puppy playing with Border collie puppy

ram lambs hanging out

rams, llamas, bulls at Powder Flat

Solano, pet lead sheep, hanging out with Border collie

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 10, 2022 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Llamas, Sheep

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Winter Romance

Leo with his herd of Border collies

It’s that time of year again. December rams mean May lambs. A sheep’s gestation is five months less five days, and usually we put rams into the ewe flocks on December 15th. A big snow storm was predicted for the 15th. Since some of the roads are scary, especially I80, we decided to haul bucks on the 14th.

The rams wait all year for these winter weeks. A ewe’s heat cycle occurs every three weeks, so we leave the bucks in for six weeks or so. The rest of the year, they are bachelors (except for the lucky few who get to hang out with the early lambers in October). For a few weeks, it’s all romance, all the time!

ewes on the Red Desert

loading the trailer, llamas supervising

rams in their working clothes

Meghan and Pepe unloading the Hampshire bucks

Meghan with Leo’s horse

looking for the ladies

ready to go to work

Guillermo watching the sheep

Guillermo, Meghan and Pepe

Pat, Pepe, Leo and Meghan

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 15, 2021 in Dogs, Family, Folks, Horses, Llamas, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Early Lambing at Powder Flat

Hampshire ewe with comfy lamb

 

Each March, we lamb our purebred ewes, Hampshire and Rambouillet, in the sheds at Powder Flat. We raise our rams for the commercial range ewes from these two farm flocks. Luckily, we have a good crew and the early weather has been mild.

Pat and Edgar with pen for outdoor dining

guard dog hard at work in a circle of ewes

guard dogs on the job

guard dogs on the job

Hampshire ewe and twins

bum lambs in warm straw

Leo feeding the bum lambs

Meanwhile, Maria is hanging out with the bucks

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

some sheep, some cows and a coupla llamas

Some sheep, some cows and two llamas walked into a bar. . .not really, because they couldn’t get a ride to the Cowboy Inn

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 27, 2019 in Animals, Cattle, Llamas, Nature and Wildlife, Sheep

 

Tags: , , , ,

Maria the cria

Here’s Maria looking out for the new lambs.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 10, 2018 in Animals, Llamas, Sheep

 

Tags: , ,

In Winter

sheep and llamas in Cow Pasture Read the rest of this entry »

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 10, 2018 in Animals, Cattle, Llamas, Poetry, Sheep

 

Tags: , , , ,

Llama Drama

Beulah, Maria and the bucks

There was lots of llama drama
At the shearing shed tonight,
Mama Beulah and Maria
Put up a worthy fight.

“Can’t you see it’s cold out,
Can’t you see our frosty breath?
It’s not weather fit for shearing.
No fleece could bring our death!”

 

 

“We have barns to give you shelter,
We have cozy straw for bed,
There will be no frozen llamas,
You have no need for dread”

“But we can see those rams
Who have lost their wooly coats,
They no longer look majestic,
They look more like hairy goats.”

Pepe and Maria

“Step right up here, ladies,
To the Ladder Ranch salon.
You’ll soon sport the latest style,
Your wavy locks will soon be gone.”

“No, we like our flowing locks.
We like it long and swirly,
We like it warm and thick.
Our best look is llama curly”

 

 

“Your new look will be most stylish.
Your new look will be most sleek.
You’ll have the latest, greatest ‘dos,
Your llama glamour all will seek.”

“Whoa, what is all this racket?
What is this clank and clatter?
We don’t want a crew cut hair cut!
Our opinion doesn’t matter?!”

Holding the spitting mad llama

“Never mind those four strong guys,
Just ignore that noisy shearer,
Lie right down here on the platform.
There’s no need for fear here.”

“Wait, I’m on my back now!
You’ve stretched me stem to stern!
Those blades are on my skin!
Are you sure that it won’t burn?”

“Don’t struggle so, my llama,
Soon this shearing will be done.
From your fleece you’ll soon be parted,
And your hide will soon see sun.”

“No—I won’t take this lying down,
It will make this llama sad.
Why, this humiliation
Just makes me spitting mad!”

“Now you can look just lovely,
With your new stylish trendy ‘do,
You can join your sheep friends,
With a cut that’s cute and new!”

Edgar assisting with the shearing of Beulah

“No, I don’t want this summer haircut,
Can’t you tell that it’s still cold!
I don’t like those noisy clippers
I don’t like this strongarm hold!”

“We can let her go now,
Her shearing is complete.
Oh, yuck! What is this vile goo
That’s spattered on my feet?!”

“That’s my mama llama spit,
You deserve that sticky blast.
Maybe next year you’ll remember
And this trim will be my last!”

 

 

Yup, it was lots of llama drama
At the Ladder Ranch tonight,
If you don’t mind a little spit
They’re quite the stylish sight!

Beulah and Maria, looking like the camelids they are!

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Terremoto in the Colca Canyon

Yanque, Peru--post earthquake

Yanque, Peru–post earthquake

Pat and I were in Peru in mid-July, where we met with officials from the American Embassy regarding our difficulties with H-2A visas for our skilled Peruvian sheepherders. We spent a week as tourists. Our long-time employee, Pepe, recommended that we visit the Colca Canyon, which is famed for its Andean Condors.

It is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, but in a very different landscape. The upper part is scored with relatively gradual slopes. They are very steep, with dramatic mountains rising on each side. The slopes have agricultural terraces—some from pre-Inca and Inca times and some more recent. As the canyon, and the terraces change in altitude, the crops vary in relation to the micro-climate.

When the Spaniards conquered the indigenous people living in Colca Canyon, they “resettled” them from remote farmsteads into towns where they were more easily “governed”. The twelve towns established by the Catholic Church each have a square and a beautiful church, which have largely been refurbished. For centuries, the Church provided most of the government of the region, since it was so isolated. Llama trains bore goods back and forth to Ariquipa. A highway brought the region into the modern world, and today it depends on a thriving tourism business.

On August 15th, not long after our visit there, the area was rattled by a shallow earthquake. At last count, nine people were counted among the dead, including an American tourist. Scores were injured, and access through the winding mountain roads was cut off. This followed hard on the heels of an unusually cold snap which killed thousands of head of livestock in southern Peru.

The area depends on agriculture and tourism. We were amazed by the number of tourists visiting. Each of the twelve towns in the valley has developed a unique attraction. We visited Yanque, the town most hard-hit of all. The tourist attraction in Yanque is traditional dancing in the Plaza de Armas (town square) every single day. When we saw the dancing, I thought of the movie “Funny Farm” where the locals relentlessly ice skate to impress visitors.

Still, the dancing was wonderful, and we weren’t there for any of the many festivals where we might have seen dancing. I admired the local folks for figuring out a way to extract income from the many tourists visiting the area. I read that the Plaza is now filled with folks whose homes were destroyed. We pray for them.

Pat with ladies, hawk and llama in Yanque

Pat with ladies, hawk and llama in Yanque

Yanque dancers

Yanque dancers

Smoking volcano above Yanque

Smoking volcano above Yanque

llama cria above Chivay

llama cria above Chivay

tourists at Cruz del Condor

tourists at Cruz del Condor

crosses above Cruz del Condor

crosses above Cruz del Condor

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Animals, Events, Folks, Llamas

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

More Winter

Adolfo as St. Nick ( the snow was too deep to drive the cake to the waiting critters. Note the magpie who was riding the grub line.

Adolfo as St. Nick ( the snow was too deep to drive the cake to the waiting critters)

 

 

I feel like I’ve stepped into “Dr. Zhivago” with piles of deep snow everywhere. It’s more like an old-fashioned winter, and we are glad to have lots of hay in the stacks. Luckily the temperatures aren’t very cold (relatively speaking) and it just keeps snowing. I know this is making our friends in California very happy! Glad to help out, folks, but you could come help shovel the sidewalks!

 

winter waiting

Note the magpie who was riding the grub line.

 

Llamas on the feed line

Llamas on the feed line

waiting for feed in the Wyoming Field

waiting for feed in the Wyoming Field

 

Tags: , , , , , ,