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Shearing 2018

Wooly ewe with bell
Photo by Elizabeth Campbell

2018 shearing is complete. The crew showed up in a timely manner, the ewes moved through in an orderly manner, and we thanked our lucky stars because many years bring problems, from weather to a late crew to the late arrival of our sheepherders from Peru.

First the ewes trailed from their winter pasture on the Red Desert to Badwater, which is spring and fall country. The shearing crew showed up and set up their shed and baler. We brought the bunches through, staging them for the trail south to the lambing grounds. We got two days of rain, which was welcome, but finished in time to trail several days ahead of lambing.

We then moved on to Powder Flat, where the ewes who had lambed in March were still in the wool, and the bucks, still in their red “working clothes”, awaited. We had a glitch when my dog, Cora, hit the automatic locks on the pickup as I was hauling the shearing shed to Powder Flat. Unfortunately, the pickup was at the main gate (fondly know as The Portal), and my phone was inside. After several hours, which included a long walk, much unhitching and hitching and dragging heavy vehicles around with a tractor, we were able to haul the shed to the waiting shearers and get started. Pat brought the extra keys, liberating the truck and the dog.

After two half days, all were sheared and ready to head into the spring season and events.

Border collie with sheep
Photo by Elizabeth Campbell

Ewes, waiting to be sheared at Badwater

Sharon at Badwater

Wooly sheep in chute
Photo by Elizabeth Campbell

 

Newly sheared ewes

 

 

ewes at Badwater shearing

shearing, with shed and truck

David on the wool bales

Hampshire bucks waiting for the shearers

Rambouillet bucks

shorn ewes with lambs at Powder Flat

Rhen supervises the loading of the chute

Riley and Siobhan, back to back

Rhen at the Craig Wool Warehouse

 

 

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Spring is rushing over us!

Spring has definitely sprung, if not with weather, then with spring work. After a dry winter, we have had series of spring rains and snows. In the meantime, we have lots of baby lambs and calves arriving. We are trailing sheep to spring country and preparing to shear.

Cows with calves at Powder Flat

Heifer eating afterbirth

Wild horses watering at developed well

windmill from the ground

ewes and lambs

docking the early lambs

bum lambs in a box

lambs warming up in a tub

rainstorm with Battle Mountain

 

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Pregnancy checking on Cyclone Rim

Ladies in waiting for Geri.

We raise our own replacement ewes from the best of our Rambouillet commercial ewes. We select about 1500 of these ewes, checking them for fine consistent wool, good body type, twinning, open faces, and other traits. The rest of the ewes, who are good but not as good, are bred to Hampshire (blackface) rams. We breed the replacement moms to the Rambouillet rams that we also raise.
When these lambs are born in May, they are more vulnerable to harsh weather conditions than the cross-bred lambs, who have hybrid vigor. The twin and triplet lambs are more at risk since their Mom has multiple lambs to care for. We have lambing sheds where we can give the ewes and their multiple lambs extra care and shelter. It is key to know which ewes are carrying the valuable and vulnerable twins and triplets.
Luckily for us, we can call on Optimal Veterinary Services to test our ewes mid-pregnancy. We set up our corrals, and Geri Parsons’ testing tent, on top of Cyclone Rim—a high range on the Red Desert. That’s where Avencio and his sheep are. The winter has been dry, so we have moved up chasing snowdrifts for water for the sheep. Geri, and her partner, Dr. Cleon Kimberling, “have lab, will travel”. Doc didn’t come this time (too far to ride his bike!), but we gathered employees and family members to work as the ground crew. We were lucky to have good weather with almost no wind—not always the case on Cyclone Rim!
Geri set up her tent next to the chute. As each ewe stopped, she checked them with an ultrasound machine, then called “single”, “twin”, “triplet”, and occasionally “open”! We then marked each ewe. The ewes pregnant with multiples will be sorted into a separate bunch when we shear in a few weeks. Then they will head to the lambing sheds for TLC.

Cora and Sadie on the job

view from the back

guard dog on the job

Friends

Siobhan and Tiarnan sorting

Tiarnan in Geri’s chute

Siobhan at the chute

Tiarnan with the sorting flag

Pat and Tiarnan behind the sheep

Meghan and Oscar working the chute, Geri’s tent in place

Brian working the chute

A perfect day on Cyclone Rim

Maeve,Meghan and Tiarnan

Day’s end

 

 

 

 

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What goes in must come out

The bucks have finished their winter work.

 

It’s a buck’s life. These boys only work six weeks a year, but it’s an important six weeks. Without them, we would have no baby lambs in the spring. Of course, it falls to the ewes to be pregnant for five months, and then to spend another five months or so raising lambs.

As for the bucks, they are ready for some rest. In a few weeks, they start looking for something to do, which usually involves trying to escape wherever we want them to be. They were glad to see the ewes on Cyclone Rim in mid-December, but now it’s time for them to leave the ewes and return to their bachelor ways. They go home the same way they left–one horsetrailer at a time.

Guillermo, Tiarnan, McCoy, Rhen and Seamus bringing the bucks up

up the chute

Oscar and Guillermo loading the trailer

Oscar and Guillermo and the loaded trailer

last buck jumping out

Home at last! Here are the bucks with fresh hay in the Mouse Pasture.

 

 
 

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Doings at Chain Lakes

Scott, Pat and Matt at the #2 Well at Chains Lakes

 

We lease grazing from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on their Chain Lakes Wildlife Habitat Management Area northeast of Wamsutter. It is a wonderful area, with healthy rangeland. Part of our lease is an agreement to maintain historic water developments to benefit both wildlife and livestock. Here we are with Scott from Pronghorn Pumps and Matt from the Game and Fish, making plans to repair this long-time watering site.

British Petroleum is drilling new oil and gas wells on the same landscape.

 
 

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Sun rising

Sunrise over Flattop

St. Francis and Sheep Mountain

winter

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2018 in Events

 

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Year’s End haiku

Solstice sunset at Powder Flat

The sun swings southward
rising now just past the slope
of Flattop Mountain.

Solstice bringing short
days and long nights, at long last
finding its nadir,

And now, blessedly,
it will not seek a further
dark’ning nor shrinking

Of sunshine, daylit
hours. Now begins a dawning–
first gleams further north.

As light grows longer
morning shine extending time
and dusk now later

And later each day,
the world breathing in, and out
since Fall equinox

Led the moon and stars,
turning day into darkness,
stealing time each turn

Of the earth around
the sun, then leaning away
each revolution.

The pole star blazing
earlier as each nighttime
stole hours of sunshine.

Now we begin the
pendulum swinging northward,
toward the springtime,

It seeks a turning
Away from the magnet pull
That drew it southward.

Now the poles reverse
Morning’s rays creeping northward
Toward Sheep Mountain,

Toward equinox
when the heaven’s days and nights
will become equals.

But for now, solstice
in the winter, in the cold times
end times, renewal

We don’t sacrifice
animals. We don’t light fires
and burn Yuletide logs

Though we string shining
ropes that glitter and sparkle,
that glisten and glow

Yet we count the hours
for we know the sun returns
and the nighttime shrinks.

Our superstitions
replaced by certain science
daylight will rebound

Instead we sing songs
of praise, and adulation–
the birth of our Lord

Heralding the time
when the rising of the sun
fulfills the promise

Of the infant child
whose birth, foretold by shepherds,
attended by beasts

By cows, by donkeys,
by sheep bleating in the night
calling to the Babe

And we know by faith
and by our experience
that daylight returns.

So in the meantime
we sing and we celebrate,
this blessed season.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in Animals, Cattle, Events, Nature and Wildlife, Poetry, Sheep

 

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