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Category Archives: Folks

January Day at Powder Flat

Powder Flat house in the winter

 

After a series of winter storms brought on by the “atmospheric rivers” hitting California, then flowing on towards us, we have more than enough snow. The Snotel near our mountain headquarters is measuring 160 per cent of average.

Our crew at the Powder Flat headquarters, Edgar and Alejandro, have been doing a great job of keeping all the animals safe and fed.

 

sheep in the corral

solar panels

2022 lambs on feed

winter lambs

Pat with lambs

winter gold

livestock guardian dog on the job

Do Not Enter

 

 

 

“Do Not Enter” the road to Powder Flat from the folks building the power line

 

Maria the llama with her sheepy friends

antelope gathering in a herd–a sign of a hard winter

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2023 in Animals, Dogs, Family, Folks, Llamas, Sheep

 

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Working the yearlings in winter

Meghan at the Terrill corrals

 

Today was the best day we’ve had in a while to vaccinate the ewe lambs. They are on their wintering grounds near Powder Wash. Last week was bitter cold as a “bomb cyclone” with the unlikely name of Winter Storm Elliot swept down from the Arctic. It caught us on the southern end, and we only had two or three days of wind and terrible cold. It was far worse to the east of us as the storm swept across the Midwest and the Northeast. Today, it warmed up to about 30 degrees, with only some wind, so Meghan gathered up her crew of Eamon, Chandler, Filomeno, and McCoy, Maeve and Rhen to vaccinate Alejandro’s ewe lambs. The ewes on the Red Desert “blew out” as they walked before the wind. The herders waited out the storm in their camps, then found the ewes when the cold and wind died down. The Farmer’s Almanac says we are on the borderline between a harsh winter and a mild one.

coming down the chute

Alejandro with his ewe lambs

Meghan, Filo and Aleja

Meghan with vaccine gun at the ready

time to relax

 

 
 

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Preg Testing

Casey bringing in the heifers

 

November brings pregnancy testing. We bring in the heifers and the cows, call for the vet, and learn who is pregnant, and who is not. Our long-time vet, and friend, Warner McFarland, the jefe at Carbon County Veterinary Clinic, came to check the cows. As the cows come through the chute, he palpates, looks at the ultrasound, and calls out “pregnant,”  “open,” or “late”.

Each animal goes in with her cohorts to await the next step. Occasionally, we find a cow with a problem that needs attention, such as an errant horn aiming towards her eye. Luckily, Warner carries a saw for just such an occasion, thereby saving the cow’s eye and a whole lot of misery. Thanks, Warner, for all you do!

Our neighbor, Matt lending a hand

Chandler at the chute with Warner

Warner with the tools of his trade

preg checking

sawing off the threatening horn

 

 
 

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Solano and the lambs

Solano with the lambs

 

Faithful readers may recall Solano, the pet lead sheep. Last spring he was featured on this blog as he traveled with his herder, Alejandro, and the yearling ewes on the Savery Stock Driveway. He was sporting a backpack that Alejandro had fashioned for him, though I’m not sure what it held.

He has been hard at work as a lead sheep, helping to convince his more suspicious cohorts to enter the corrals. Here is is with a group of lambs, getting ready to load and head for the feedlot.

Solano will soon rejoin Alejandro and this year’s yearling ewes. Alejandro is anxious to reunite with his pet and co-worker.

Alejandro and Seamus

 

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Sheep camp

sheep camps

I mentioned to some acquaintances that I couldn’t attend a Zoom meeting because I was busy moving sheep camp, it became apparent that they had no idea what I was talking about. However, they applied a humorous interpretation, speculating about what sheep camp might entail. They envisioned sheep playing volleyball, rowing boats, perhaps attending a crafts class. . .. All this made me wish that I were a graphic artist and could sketch sheep involved in summer camp activities. Alas–that is not my skill.

What I am actually doing, along with Meghan, is moving the sheep camps (portable homes) as our herders trail the sheep from the Home Ranch environs to fall pastures north of Dixon, Wyoming. These pastures also happen to be our lambing grounds in May and June. When the ewes left here in late June, their lambs were toddlers. They faced down bears and coyotes as they grazed on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests in the summer months. The predators exacted their toll, but the sheep were defended by the herders and the Livestock Guardian Dogs (aka Big White Dogs). Now the sheep return with their almost grown lambs. They will graze on fall pastures on Cottonwood Creek until it is time to trail north to winter country on the Red Desert.

Leo on the trail with the sheep

herder, sheep and Baker’s Peak

Loco Creek

guard dog on the job

along the Savery Stock Driveway

coming down the hill

sheep running under trailer parked on the Driveway

heading for fall pasture

 

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2022 in Animals, Dogs, Folks, Horses, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

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Heifers on the Move

semi at the chute

 

It’s time to move the heifers to fall pasture at the Home Ranch. We still have lots of green grass, although the leaves are showing some yellow.

guiding the truck in

Eamon and dogs at the ready

in the corral

headed for green grass

 
 

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Adventure trip with AG

AG and Pat with the handyman jack

Our friend AG Kawamura came to visit us from California, and to represent Solutions from the Land at the AgroForestry tour Pat organized. He had an extra day and we wanted him to have a true range agriculture experience while he was here. AG raises strawberries, green beans and other tasty commodities, so he is a true farmer, but had never tended sheep camp before.

Sure enough, as we were pulling the sheepcamp up the VERY rocky road to Bridger Peak, we heard a bang, followed by dust billowing out to the side. Soon we were looking at a really really flat tire. We had a handyman jack and a spare tire (and Alejandro’s pet lambs, Susan and Cunadita) in the back of the truck.

After a lot of jacking by AG, Pat and Tiarnan, they managed to get the flat tire off and the spare tire on. I was indeed helping by sitting in the driver’s seat with my foot on the brake.

Pat and Tiarnan taking a turn

AG and Tiarnan removing the lug nuts

a teaching moment

AG with the spare, and Susan the lamb

Susan supervising

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2022 in Animals, Family, Folks, Folks who help us out, Sheep

 

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Wool Away

San Antonio bound

We just sold three years worth of wool. In 2020, the Trump trade war with China, and Covid 19, caused the previously decent price of wool to plummet. We decided to keep that year’s clip in hopes of higher prices in the future. We’d heard stories of sheep producers who had held their wool throughout the Depression, then sold several year’s worth for good money when the United States entered World War II and needed wool for uniforms and other strategic goods. In 2021, the wool market and the trade situation had not improved, so we kept a second year’s clip. We have a large shed where we can store the wool, so were not accruing storage charges at a wool warehouse. This year, we visited with the wool buyers, who advised us that the world political situation was not improving, but that prices were up somewhat. We decided to sell the 2020, 2021 and 2022 clips, which required two semis with long flatbeds. The first truck driver was from Uzbekistan, and spoke limited English. He was very cautious and conscientious, and when the wool was loaded, strapped and tarped, it looked as neat as could be. The second truck driver was from Denver, but spoke fluent Spanish, which was very helpful with our Spanish-speaking employees who were loading the truck. He even helped load the bales of wool, which weigh 400-500 pounds each. The wool was secured and headed for San Antonio. Our fine Rambouillet wool is usually sold to another buyer who uses it for U.S. military uniforms. We think this fine wool will end up in mills in Italy. The blackface wool goes on to become blankets and sweaters. The shed looks empty without three years worth of wool bales stacked up.

Aaron with hayhooks

Juan with skidsteer, Aaron ready to load

Juan, skidsteer and bale of wool

emptying the shed

Loading the trailer

Lalo making sure the bales are in the right place (33 on each layer, fewer on the top)

bringing up the tarp

Lalo tarping the wool bales

securing the tarps

ready to roll

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2022 in Events, Folks

 

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Yearling ewes, and Solano, from Badwater to the Forest

Alejandro on the trail with the yearlings

After lambing, we trail the ewes and lambs to grazing allotments on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests, where they find green grass, fresh water, and bears and coyotes. The on-date is the first of July, and we stage the trailing, one day apart–one bunch after another. When the ewes, lambs and herders and settled on their summer grazing grounds,  it is time for the yearling ewes to start on the trail. They have been grazing in the high desert Badwater pasture since shearing in late April. They follow the traditional trails, including the Savery Stock Driveway, to their high mountain allotment in the Medicine Bow.

Solano with his backpack

The yearling herder Alejandro likes to keep an orphan lamb each year, and raise it as a pet. This summer he has two bum lambs, including one which was lost on the trail and picked up by our neighbor, Jock–an avid bicyclist. Alejandro still has his pet from two years ago, Solano. I was startled to see that Alejandro had “repurposed” a dog food bag into a backpack for Solano. I’m not quite sure what he was meant to carry. Solano is quite the sheep. Sometimes he follows Alejandro on his horse, and sometimes he hangs out with the dogs or the sheep. I like to say that Solano is “no ordinary sheep.”

Jock bringing me the lost lamb on his bicycle

Tiarnan with Alejandro’s pet lamb

lamb and Tiarnan

midday break at Loco Creek

Guard dog mom and pups catching a ride

yearlings on the march

 

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Lambs losing their tails, gaining vaccine

ewes and lambs on Cherry Grove

We’re almost done lambing and it’s time for docking      the lambs and getting everyone ready for trailing and summer’s grazing on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests. Sheep are naturally long-tailed, and if those tails are not cut short early in life, they can have problems later with manure and flies. The assembly line process also includes earmarking, castrating the males, vaccinating for diseases and a stamp with a paint brand. The ewes also receive a fresh brand and everyone is counted. We usually run two docking lines with all hands on deck, and bring up a hot lunch and plenty of cold drinks.

ewes and lambs ready to go

docking crew working two lines

Seamus vaccinating

hats and lunch

after docking

 

 

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