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