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Category Archives: Sheep

January on the Red Desert

ewes at Chain Lakes

The past two winters have been hard winters by anyone’s standards. Conditions were especially harsh on the Red Desert north of Wamsutter, where we winter our sheep. In 2018-2019, the ewes and bucks were snowed in on the Cyclone Rim allotment for weeks, and we couldn’t even get to the Chain Lakes allotment. In 2019-2020, the winter started early, so we found frozen sugar beets in the northern part of Wyoming and trucked the sheep to farms.

Now we are in drought. We have received around 65 percent of normal moisture so far this winter. An easy winter is easier on both livestock and herders, and on us as we drive back and forth to the sheep camps. The sheep depend upon snow for water for most of the winter. We’ve had several days of wind and thaw, which takes the snow and leaves bare sage and steppe. We now wait for a good winter storm, which we hope will bring much-needed moisture. Winter snow brings us spring grass.

Enough snow. Not too much. Not too little.

Joel with guard dog puppy.

Sentinel ewes

Pat and Pepe at Cyclone Rim base camp

 
 

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Pancho and Lefty

Alejandro with Pancho, the pet sheep and Lefty, the puppy

 

Here’s Alejandro at his winter camp near Powder Wash. Pancho is a bum lamb who is well on his way to becoming the new bellwether. He has big hooves to fill to replace Dunkin. We’ll just have to name the puppy Lefty.

The horses are wintering well

Alejandro with his Border collie puppies

 

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Winter

Tres amigas

guard dog puppies in waiting

peewee lambs with guard dog

elk wintering near Battle Mountain

Pat and Eamon in the Routt Forest

Hampshire ewes at Powder Flat

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2021 in Cattle, Dogs, Family, Nature and Wildlife, Sheep

 

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Merry Christmas to you and yours!

 

The holidays are here,
The year is almost gone.
Sunset’s coming sooner,
long nights–they linger on.

Christmas on the Ladder Ranch
brings us gifts galore.
Family gathers ‘round us
while Yuletide fires roar.

Deep within the meadows—
summer’s rush to green has passed–
round bales stacked like coins,
winter’s wealth, its shadows cast.

Fair weather birds have fled,
but winter sounds abound,
brave trills of chirping chorus
echo bird-song all around.

Coyotes add their yips and howls
and wail their eerie cries
which echo through the hills
making hackles rise

On man and beast alike.
On Battle Creek, an icy sheen
glows while cracks and groans—
add to winter’s subtle keen.

But here beside the fire,
with its crackle and its roar,
we’re warm and well and happy,
with all we need and more.

There’s children’s cheery laughter—
they cry and yell and shout,
like to scare the coyotes
as they run and tear about.

There’s cows and sheep and horses,
there’s canines large and small—
dreaming Border collie dreams
and guard dogs watching all.

The cows must fill their bellies
with grass hay long since cut,
and raked and baled and scattered
‘long the tractor’s snowy rut.

They’ve calves to grow within them—
throughout the winter’s cold
and await the season’s turning—
winter solstice comes and goes.

And ewes upon the desert
munching daily corn,
awaiting warmth in springtime
when their babies will be born.

In Battle Mountain’s folds,
deer and elk have bedded down.
In hollows under oak brush,
there’s shelter that they’ve found.

We thank the Lord for blessings
for His creatures great and small—
for all of those we care for,
Please Lord, bless us all!

We are grateful for our friends
and kin, found both far and near,
from Ladder Ranch to you and yours,
Merry Christmas! Yuletide Cheer!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2020 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Poetry, Sheep

 

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Conversation Between Buck and Rambo

Looking for the ladies

Conversation between Buck and Rambo
or
Breeding season on the Ladder Ranch

There’s a rumor goin’ ‘round, ‘bout some ladies to be found–
the boss is hookin’ up the trailer, gassin’ up the truck
(The trailer lights aren’t working, again, but oh well.)

I’m hopin’ that you’re right, and it seems that time of year—
they’ve been pourin’ out the grain, dashed red powder on our backs,
lots of hay, and we all look fat and ready—well, you know.

 

Last year all the ladies loved my tuxedo vibe.
My black face is debonair, my moves make me look fine.
I jumped out of the trailer, and I think they liked my leap.

Ha—that woolless blackface face can’t compare with wooly charms,
and HOW ABOUT these curly Rambouillet horns. They love those!
I’ll rub them on this hay bale and that will make them shine.

We have to wait all year, just hangin’ with the guys—
they keep us in buck prison, and we KNOW how that can be.
It’s the ladies that we want, with their pretty ewey charms

YES! The boss says time to get to work, but it’s not work at all,
we can whisper those sweet nothings, but you know they’re loved and left.
raisin’ lambs on grassy meadows, while we move back to bachelor digs.

BOTH: Time to get to work!

Which one of these is not like the others?

 

 

Red bucks in the middle

It’s time to get to work!

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2020 in Animals, Events, Poetry, Sheep

 

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After the sort, before the trail

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2020 in Animals, Dogs, Sheep

 

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Migration

Shadows

As the elk and the deer
head down from summer’s grass
calves and fawns by their side
we gather cows, their calves and
hope for good weather.
We hook up the sheep camps,
move our community of critters—
ewes, lambs, dogs, horses.

The shepherds shift from early mornings,
lazy afternoons, fights with bears
and coyotes—
trying to find a camp spot among
tourists, campers, refugees from Covid.
At home, we stage the sheep, bringing them
bunch by bunch to pastures,
to the corrals

For sorting, for judging who stays,
who goes, some to the desert
some to farmers with soft fields and warm barns.
Lambs climb onto trucks—
first the heavies, born early,
next the lights,
and finally the peewees
headed for corn and lower country.

Now we follow the migration.

ewes trailing down from the Routt Forest

past the Bull Pasture

KIm supervising

Meghan at the sorting gate

lambs

under the sun

Anthony working the chute

ewes after sorting

Meghan loading the truck, with help

lambs loading on truck

Pepe and Oscar bringing them up

Pepe. Edgar and Bubba

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Buck testing–it’s pass/fail

bucks relaxing in the meadow

 

Each fall we test the buck herd. Geri Parsons, Optimal Livestock Services, comes to check our rams for fertility and health. At the same time, we look at their teeth, their feet and their general condition to make sure they are ready to romance the ewes in a couple of months.

ready to test

Geri, Edgar and Rhen

Oscar, Geri and Edgar

 

Geri in her portable lab

evening dust-up between bucks

 

 

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Leaving the Medicine Bow

    

 

     Autumn ritual–
     Alejandro’s yearling ewes
     leaving the Forest

 

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Autumn in the Routt National Forest

Dog Days of September

 

October 1st is drawing near. In our world, that is the off-date for most of our National Forest permits. We are now staging both the cows and the sheep to trail down to the Home Ranch in a few days. Here’s Pepe and Modesto, our excellent long-time herders, with their ewes and lambs, ready to come off the Forest. We have had a record year for predator losses, in spite of their efforts and the efforts of our valiant Livestock Guardian Dogs. Since we know how many ewes and their lambs went up in July, and Pepe and Modesto (and the other herders) keep track of other deaths, we will soon have an idea of how terrible these losses have been.

Pat and Pepe in Big Red Park

Pat and Modesto near Independence Creek

Modesto’s ewes and lambs

 
 

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