Category Archives: Events

Pregnant, late or open

cows coming in

It’s that time of year again. The cows have spent the summer on the forest, raising their calves. The calves have been weaned and now it time to decide which cows will stay and which will go. A key factor in this decision is pregnancy. The cows have also been keeping company with bulls all summer. If all went well, they are pregnant. If not, they will find a new home. Our friend and long-time veterinarian Warner McFarland came with his ultrasound machine to check each cow and call out, “pregnant,” “late,” or the dreaded “open.” Luckily, not many cows were open (i.e. not pregnant). Since all of our summer crew has departed for warmer climes, we depend on family and Chandler to get things done.

Meghan, waiting for the cows to cross the bridge and head up th the corrals

heading into the corral

Megan looking at the eartag

Eamon operating the chute

Megan checking a cow

Warner preg checking

Megan entering data

through the rails


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Posted by on November 8, 2023 in Events


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Loading the 2023 Wool Clip

Bales of wool ready to load

After we finished shearing the sheep in early May, we stored the wool bales in a shed at Cottonwood. In early August, the wool buyer sent a truck so we could load the bales and send them to San Angelo. They will eventually make their way to Italy to be turned into fine woolen clothing. We loaded the bales, two high, onto the skid steer, then drove them to be loaded onto the flatbed trailer of the semi. We loaded 102 bales. The driver strapped them onto the bed, then secured tarps over the whole load. We had a great crew, all working together to get the job done.

Aaron contemplating the job

Aaron using hayhooks to move the bales, Juan in the driver’s seat

Tarping the loaded wool bales

Simon, Juan. Aaron, Samuel, Lalo



Posted by on August 8, 2023 in Events, Folks who help us out


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Trailing the yearlings from Badwater to the Forest

wagon and yearlings hit the trail


Each spring, the yearling ewes graze in the Badwater pasture, south of Interstate 80, until it’s time to hit the trail south and east to their summer grazing grounds on the Medicine Bow National Forest. It’s a high allotment, and the snow has lasted longer than usual on the forest. The ewes travel five-ten miles per day for some sixty miles or so. This year, they trailed part of the way down the highway instead of on the traditional back country trail..

Trailing down the highway requires flagging front and back. We do this with one pickup pulling the sheepwagon behind and another vehicle in front, both with flashers and flags. Alejandro, the herder and another person on foot push the sheep. Alejandro is followed by his faithful Border collies, and Solano, his pet sheep. We try to stay in the right of way to make it easier for traffic to pass.

We spent two days trailing down Highway 789, overnighting on BLM land proximate to the road. Lots of people stop to take photos and ask questions, so it provides us with a teaching moment. We were happy to put in at the Dad/JO road and get onto the backcountry trail. We trailed onto our pastures north of Dixon, then east on the Savery Stock Driveway to the Blake allotment in the Forest. Alejandro, his ewes, his dogs and Solano will rotationally graze until our off-date in late September.

on the trail

on the highway

Solano following

dead horse by the Muddy Creek bridge

turning into the Dad/JO gate

through the gate

Alejandro and his crew

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Posted by on July 15, 2023 in Events


Summer Scenes and the Ladder Ranch crew

horses with Sheep Mountain


Summer is here, and we are crazy busy with cattle, sheep, horses, and lots of folks! We have a great crew this summer. Here’s some pics of these summertime days.

Bald eagle on post


Clyde at the Elephant corrals


Riley and James

sprinklers on the Mesa

Edgar with the alfalfa

James, Robyn, Liza, Riley

Pat, Meghan, Eamon, McCoy Rhen

Riley and James

Riley, Robyn, Liza, Eamon, McCoy, Samuel, Simeon, Rhen

Robyn, Liza, Maeve

Sharon and Megan

bald eagle on post


Bald eagle in a Cottonwood

Battle Mountain from Buck Camp


Sandhill crane in meadow

steers on the JO

steers grazing

calves at Powder Wash

wild horses at Powder Wash (not in a Horse Management Area)

headquarters above Battle Creek






Posted by on July 10, 2023 in Events


Shearing Days–Spring at Last!

Spring shearing is always an adventure. This year, we planned to shear a little later than usual, since we had put the bucks in with the ewes a few days later than usual. Our shearing crew comes from California, and they told us they would be a few days late (surprise!), due to persistent rains in California.. This year we didn’t have to worry about trailing to the shearing pens on time, since the ewes have been near them since late January, when we trucked out of the Red Desert. Still, when our crew showed up, we were just a few days away from the beginning of lambing.

The rains showed up the same day that the shearers set up,. We gathered up every tarp we could and draped them over the wool handling area. We have good sheds at Cottonwood, where we were to shear, so were able to put the ewes in to stay dry. Wet sheep can’t be shorn. The moisture ruins the wool if it’s packed, and the shearers won’t shear wet sheep because it leads to “wool pneumonia.” Between the sheds, the tarps and our intrepid crew, we got all the ewes with the “main line” wool done at the Cottonwoold pasture. Since that is also our lambing grounds, the ewes, who were starting to lamb by the time we were done, just moved right onto their lambing pastures.

We moved onto shearing the yearling ewes, who had spent the winter at Powder Flat. We moved the shed, the shearers and our crew and were able to finish the yearlings in one day. Riley, our friend and former ranch cook, supplied the meals, delivering them each day to where ever we were. Her tasty meals kept everyone going


waiting for the shearers

bringing up the wooly ewes inside the shed

Juan pushing the ewes

Lalo holding the ewes

shorn ewe running out of the shed

ewes above, wool below

packing wool under the tarps

Seamus running the skids

wool bales, ready to stack

crew heading in for lunch

a hearty lunch

Pat, Robyn, Riley Abby and Meghan

Riley, Abby and guard dog

Robyn and Belle

shorn yearling ewes





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Floodwaters ascend,
winter’s final legacy
saturating fields.

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Posted by on May 6, 2023 in Events


More evacuation of sheep, Groundhog Day

sheep loading at Chain Lakes (the bucks are red)

On Groundhog Day, we all saw our shadows, but we don’t have any expectations for an early spring. We did have a sunny day to evacuate the last of the ewes and rams still on Chain Lakes to our ranch near Dixon, Wyoming. It is almost as snowy at the Dixon Ranch, some 20 miles west of our main headquarters and proximate to our lambing grounds. We still have to have the sheep on full feed, but they are safely closer to home. We’ve had days that our sheepherders and sheep were stranded and unreachable. We’ve had days when even the oilfield plows couldn’t work because conditions have been so terrible. We are grateful to our neighbors who have worked to keep the roads open. They need to tend their wells, and they have gone our of their way to keep our access to sheep and men open as well. After three horrible days of blizzard and cold, we finally had a window to evacuate the rest of the sheep, horses, dogs and herders. The truckers are working constantly. There aren’t enough sheep trucks and truckers to keep up, and they go from one herd to the next as the sheep producers wait to get their critters and employees out of danger. All this costs a non-budgeted fortune for plowing, for trucking and for feed. The feed, alfalfa, is soaring in cost and really hard to find.

This doesn’t take into account the antelope, deer, elk, and even feral horses that share the same winter country. They too depend upon open winter grazing, with enough snow to provide water. We are watching them as they seek open ground, and as they die. We are the ones there as they gather into ever larger bunches, and eventually lay down and die.

We’re not yet sure how we will pay all these expenses, but we know we cannot leave our animals without care and safety. That is the original meaning of “animal husbandry.” It is our obligation to keep them safe and fed.

Hampshire buck, ewes in meadow near Dixon

ewes under Sheepman Express chute

Modesto, Seamus and Border collies unloading




unloading after dark


Posted by on February 2, 2023 in Events


Hard winter, loading at Chain Lakes

herd of sheep on Chain Lakes allotment

We are experiencing the worst winter in decades. We trailed the ewes to their usual wintering grounds on the Red Desert, north of Wamsutter, Wyoming. We got there in early December, right on schedule.  Most winters, snow falls, then blows into drifts, leaving bare ground where the ewes can graze on dried grasses left from the summer. My Dad used to say that when that country is good, it’s great, and when it’s bad, it’s awful. Well, this year it is awful. It started snowing in mid-December. We were two days late putting the bucks into the ewes because the part of Interstate 80 we need to traverse, between Creston Junction and Wamsutter was closed. We normally just feed some extra corn or cake while the bucks are in, but we have had to purchase and bring in extra feed as the landscape has gotten buried in snow. All our neighbors in the region have been trucking their sheep out of their desert winter pastures to their home ranches. Sometimes in bad winters, it is possible to find a place to take the sheep where they can graze. This year, the bad conditions reach from Nevada to Nebraska. In mid-January, we brought four truckloads of sheep closer to home on the Dixon ranch, where we are already feeding some cattle. These were the thinner ewes. Since then, we have been trying to evacuate the rest of the sheep, but have been unable to line up trucks since they are busy hauling so many sheep. We are grateful to Sweetwater County Road and Bridge, and our neighbors who are plowing in the oilfield.

We were supposed to load the rest of the sheep all last weekend, but a major storm came in and closed all the roads, locally, on the Red Desert, and especially on I80, which has been littered with accidents every time they try to open it. Our sheep truckers are just waiting for the conditions to allow it. As soon as everything is plowed, we will load the rest of the sheep and come to safer grounds. We’ll still have to feed alfalfa and cake, but both the sheep and our herders will be close to home. Here’s some photos of the loading of the sheep in mid-January.

Here’s the semis coming in very early in the morning.

Ewes trailing in to the corrals

Meghan and Leo waiting at the corrals

ewes following truck

Sheep coming in, trucks waiting

getting the corrals ready

ewes on drifts

guard dog with the sheep

Three guard dogs, sheep, drifts



sheep in corrals, drift behind

setting up the chute

oilfield tanker passing

Modesto, who went with with the sheep to Dixon

Meghan and Modesto

The team of Belgium horses that we’re feeding with at Chain Lakes

Eamon and Chandler

unloading at the Dixon ranch

Marty’s “Sheepman” truck

Fed Ex truck near Dixon


Posted by on January 27, 2023 in Events


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Equinox Sunrise

Equinox sunrise
beaming south of Sheep Mountain—
Winter is coming.

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Posted by on September 22, 2022 in Events


Moving Camp to Battle Creek

sheep in the Aspens above Battle Creek

Summer is slipping away for our sheep grazing in the National Forests. We haven’t had rain lately, so the vegetation is drying up. We have been blessed with a rainy summer so there’s feed on the ground. The ewes are getting restless as the sunshine days grow shorter and the nights get colder. We had our first frost this morning and soon the leaves will change the color of the hillsides. A few eager trees are already throwing out some yellow. We move the sheep camps every few days to fresh feed. Today we moved Edgar’s camp from Aspen Alley to the Battle Creek Campground.

Maeve and Sharon with the newly moved camp.

Edgar and Sharon

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Posted by on September 10, 2022 in Events