Category Archives: Events
March is here, but still thinks it’s winter. Lander Lil (Wyoming’s version of Puxatawny Phil) definitely saw her shadow, maybe two shadows on Prairie Dog Day. All our sheep are close to the Red Desert winter camp. Usually, they are separated by many miles on our winter BLM grazing permits. This year, we asked for an emergency declaration so that they can stay close to the corn and hay which is sustaining them. Most years, we only give corn until about February 1st, when most of the ewes have been bred. This year, we see no end in sight, although we are hopeful. We, the sheepherders and the sheep are all happier when they are out walking around and grazing. In the meantime, we bring feed in on the one plowed road into the permit.
Home Sweet Home
In the fall, the cows and calves are gathered into private pastures near the Home Ranch. They have spent the summer months grazing on National Forest permits. It takes several “back rides” to make sure that all the critters have come down from the summering ground, and we collect them into pastures where they can graze and hang out until it is time to sort them. Here are some views of our family, friends and employees moving cows and calves closer to home. Soon it will be time to load the calves onto trucks to their new homes, and the cows onto trucks to go to winter pastures and cornfields where they will ruminate and gestate until spring.
It has been a summer of fire, with smoke hanging heavy in our Valley much of the time. Only one of these fires, on Baker’s Peak, was close to home. Some of our neighbors lost pastures in fires to the west of us. Fire crews have been hard at work all summer. Professional firefighters go from one fire onto the next, as they achieve control. Many local and volunteer firefighters have also stepped forward to protect their friends and neighbors, and their property. We are once again veiled in smoke, mostly from the Ryan Fire, which is actively burning on the Wyoming/Colorado border about 30 miles to the west of us.
|Estimated Containment Date||Monday October 15th, 2018 approx. 12:00 AM|
|Fuels Involved||Timber Fuel Model. Beetle-killed lodgepole pine and spruce/fir. Pine contains 40-50% dead standing and abundant down timber available to support surface to crown fires. ERCs are near the 97 percentile.|
|Terrain and fuel driven crown runs.|
In 2002, the Hinman Fire burned 31,016 acres in the Routt National Forest. It was part of what became the Mount Zirkel Complex of fires. Much of the burned area included trees blown down by a rare high-altitude wind storm with hurricane force gales. On October 24, 1997, it laid flat 20,000 acres and an estimated 6 million trees. leaving a pick-up-sticks matrix on the ground. The dead trees left perfect habitat for pine beetles, which have scourged the area and left millions and millions of acres of dead trees. Many of those beetle-killed dead trunks still stand, with thousands falling every day throughout the forests of the mountain West.
The Hinman Fire burned hot and hard, and left scorched tree trunks standing tall and dead. The trees were diseased and killed by the beetles, providing the “perfect storm” for the fire. It was particularly impactful to us, since we had 800 ewes and their lambs on the Farwell grazing allotment. In a effort that is still legend, our sheepherder Pepe Cruz brought the sheep down the Elk River drainage, trailing the sheep throughout the night, with a sack of new puppies tied to his saddlehorn. He brought all of the animals under his care out safely, with fire burning on three sides.
We still graze on that allotment. The regeneration of the landscape there gives me hope for the rest of the Forest, which has been devastated by beetles. In the burned over area, still marked by the standing spears of trees burned 16 years ago, the vegetation is rebounding and new growth trees are filling in the landscape. The burned area looks verdant and healthy compared to the rest of the Forest. It gives me hope to see the new forest rising from the ashes.
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.