Alejandro’s yearling ewes
leaving the Forest
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.
This weekend marked the Grand Opening of the William MacPherson Sheep Center at the Little Snake River Museum in Savery, Wyoming. John and Catherine MacPherson donated restored sheep wagons from Carbon County’s early sheep production days, in honor of Bill’s father, an early sheepman. The Museum District and the MacPhersons saw to the construction of an exhibit building to house the wagons and other historic sheep production paraphenalia. A coming attraction will be an original wagon built by James Candlish and donated by the Vern and Della Vivion family. James Candlish was a blacksmith who is credited for building the first sheepwagon in Rawlins, Wyoming in 1884. It will be on loan from the Wyoming Wool Growers Association.
Here’s some photos of the event, which featured speakers, music, a spinning demonstration, children’s activites, a barbeque and a tour of the Savery Stock Driveway. Wyoming author and musician David Romtvedt presented Basque music, poetry and history (although most of Carbon County’s early sheep producers were of Scots, Irish and English descent). A great time was had by all!
After we rescued the misguided GPS traveler on the morning of July 4th, we moved on to rotating the bucks to a new pasture across the Little Snake River. Even though the grass is greener on the other side of the Little Snake, the bucks were not enthusiastic about crossing. It did not involve any swimming (although shorn sheep can swim). This was not, so to speak, our first rodeo, and we knew that eventually they would see it our way. It took a lot of whistling, throwing of sticks, calling back the dog, roping and pulling a couple of bucks across to serve as a “draw”, but we eventually prevailed. Our crew included Pat, Meghan, Bridget (on loan from Arizona), Siobhan, Bubba and me, plus Belle the Border Collie.
Lambing is closely followed by docking the new lambs. This means literally docking the tails, to protect against flystrike, earmarking and paint branding to indicate ownership, castrating to make management easier and to create better meat quality, vaccinating to protect health, and a look at each and every lamb for problems to address. It makes for long days, but also adds camaraderie and teamwork to our hard-working crew! A good lunch is sure to appear. No one has trouble sleeping at the end of the day
Shearing the sheep is a challenge every year. We are dependent, foremost, upon the arrival of the shearing crew. These skilled and essential crews are more difficult to find every year. For the crew bosses, it is harder each year to put together skilled shearers and to put together sheep to shear. We are dependent upon the weather, which is capricious. This year, now, our excellent shearing crew has started a few days late, due to weather. On Friday, we were able to get in a good days’ shearing. Yesterday it rained all day. Rain is usually good—much better than drought—but wet sheep can’t be shorn. Today, we started again, and managed to get through 50 head. A brief but fierce storm came through, and stopped us. So tomorrow, we try again. We have a lot of ewes who need shorn before lambing starts May 10th or so.
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again –
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
from Wille Nelson’s tune
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again