Peanut had her new baby–a beautiful sorrel filly. We are asking for votes for her name.
At the cookhouse breakfast, Meghan said, “You can’t make up my life.”
I had enjoyed a solid night’s sleep, so I asked her what was up. She said that she had been out int he middle of the night trying to locate a Harvest Host RV guest (another story), when she noticed lights in the middle of the hay meadow. She went to investigate, and discovered a young man who had somehow followed his GPS into the very irrigated field and gotten very very stuck. She retrieved him, pointed his really muddy self to a shower and a bed. Mind you, it was 3 a.m. It turns out that he was looking to spend the Fourth of July with his uncle, who lives in the mountains to the south and west. We mustered our crew, pulled him out, and delivered him to his grateful uncle and cousin. Just another morning on the Ladder Ranch!
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.
We have had a challenging winter, so far. Last winter found our sheep trapped on the winter sheep permit on the Red Desert. We could not get them out, and we could barely get feed in to them. We had a good crew on the ground, and managed to keep everyone alive and well until the snow started going off in early March and we could move the sheep out to graze. We were able to trail to spring country, the shearing pens and the lambing grounds. This year, the winter has come early and snowy and cold. Two bands of ewes trailing to the winter country on the Red Desert were caught by storms and we had to break trail with the tractor in order to stay on the designated BLM trail. We decided to move the third bunch to leased ground to the south, on a permit called LaClede after an old fort. The early storms have not quit, and the winter feed, usually available as the wind blows the sage flats clear, is buried. We have piles of snow in the north country, and in LaClede.
We learned of sugar beets in northern Wyoming, which had not been harvested due to s severe October freeze. After aligning a lot of moving parts, we have made the decision to lease fields, truck sheep, move sheepherders, wagons, and dogs to beet fields and crop aftermath. The fields are farther north, but 2000 feet lower, and offer us the means to nurture our animals through the winter months. We have trucked the ewe lambs and some of the ewes, with more to follow this week.