bring May lambs
Ewes through the dodge gate,
dart left, duck right, straight ahead—
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.
This has been one of the driest years on record. Usually our ewes and lambs graze on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forest allotments until the end of September. This year, with much less rain than usual, we are sorting the feeder lambs off early to send them to the feed lot. Most years, we send the oldest (and heaviest) lambs first and the youngest lambs last. This fall, like many range producers, we are bringing the sheep down to the Home Ranch so the lambs can be sorted. This gives us less mouths to feed at home, and they transition onto a nutritous growth ration. All this is happening several weeks earlier than usual. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Each year, we gauge the present and try to predict the future. While our fellow Americans are trying to dry out from Hurricane Florence, we pray for rain, or snow–or both.
Our yearling sheep remain at Badwater after shearing, while the pregnant ewes trail on to the lambing grounds north of Dixon. The yearlings hang out there on the high desert until the bunches are made up and trailed to their summer grazing permits in the National Forests. Most years, we wait until after the Fourth of July and trail the yearling sheep south and east to their summer ground on the Medicine Bow Forest.
This year, due to extremely dry conditions in Badwater and on the trail, we decided to move the yearlings by truck. It took all day and into the night to get them all loaded, transported and unloaded. We were still unloading well after dark. and everyone made it safe and sound. Many thanks to our intrepid crew and neighbors who helped out!