RSS

Tag Archives: Adolfo

Sorting the buck lambs

Purebred Hampshire and Rambouillet sheep, waiting for the sort.

Purebred Hampshire and Rambouillet sheep, ready for the sort.

Much of our lives revolves around reproduction…sometimes encouraging it, sometime avoiding it, but always managing it. Sheep reach sexual maturity at a relatively young age, so in July we must remove the buck lambs, born in March, from their mothers and the ewe herd. The conventional wisdom, at our latitude(about 41) is that ewes can be bred in any month with an “R” in it. It’s a bit more complicated than that, depending on factors such as the breed and nutrition, but we have learned not to overthink it. Suffice it to say that if you don’t want to be lambing at Christmastime or so, it’s a good idea to remove intact buck lambs from their mothers in July. We don’t want to wait until “AuRgust”!

Since we raise our own bucks, and they are getting to be pretty big guys, we put them into the corrals at the Johnson Ranch, where they summer north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The buck lambs who pass the test to be replacement rams are weaned and taken to the Home Ranch, far away, we hope, from any ewes.

 

These guys will miss their moms, but they get to grow up to be Dads.

These guys will miss their moms, but they get to grow up to be dads.

Which one of these is not like the others? Pepe, Adolfo, Apolinario and Max are taking a lunch break.

Which one of these is not like the others? Pepe, Adolfo, Apolinario and Max are taking a lunch break.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

More Winter

Adolfo as St. Nick ( the snow was too deep to drive the cake to the waiting critters. Note the magpie who was riding the grub line.

Adolfo as St. Nick ( the snow was too deep to drive the cake to the waiting critters)

 

 

I feel like I’ve stepped into “Dr. Zhivago” with piles of deep snow everywhere. It’s more like an old-fashioned winter, and we are glad to have lots of hay in the stacks. Luckily the temperatures aren’t very cold (relatively speaking) and it just keeps snowing. I know this is making our friends in California very happy! Glad to help out, folks, but you could come help shovel the sidewalks!

 

winter waiting

Note the magpie who was riding the grub line.

 

Llamas on the feed line

Llamas on the feed line

waiting for feed in the Wyoming Field

waiting for feed in the Wyoming Field

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Shipping days

bringing in cows and calves

Bringing in the cows and calves

 

It’s that time of year when the long days of summer have come to an end. Since early summer, the cows and calves, and the ewes and lambs, have grazed the Forest. Their only responsibilities have been to gain weight and avoid predators. The cows have had the added task of consorting with bulls and getting pregnant.

Those days are gone, and it is now time for the calves and lambs to leave their mothers and move on to the next stage of life. The nights are noisy as the cows and ewes call for their departed offspring. The older moms probably give a sigh of relief as their mothering duties have been fulfilled for another turn of the seasons.

Cows and calves in the Lower Meadow

Cows and calves in the Lower Meadow

Chad bringing up the cattle

Chad bringing up the cattle

Eamon sorting the calves

Eamon sorting the calves

"Heifer!" "Steer!"

“Heifer!” “Steer!”

Ewes in the corral

Ewes in the corral

Meghan and Oscar putting the lambs in the corral

Meghan and Oscar putting the lambs in the corral

Eduardo and Adolfo bringing up the lambs

Eduardo and Adolfo bringing up the lambs

Oscar at the cutting gate

Oscar at the cutting gate

This is how we roll

This is how we roll

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Lambing time

Bum lambs--sometimes we have more lambs than mamas with available milk

Bum lambs–sometimes we have more lambs than mamas with available milk

goat mama fostering lambs

goat mama fostering lambs

For many years, our lambs have been born on the open range, under the care of herders. Lambs usually come into the world under one of three management systems. Shed lambing calls for a lot of management, and a lot of labor, as the new moms and baby lambs are brought into the protection of sheds, and placed in “jugs” (little pens). In the past, we have lambed in sheds in March. We raise our own rams and for a number of years, we have shed lambed our farm flocks of Rambouillet  and Hampshire ewes, who are the moms of the replacement bucks.

Most of our ewes “drop lamb.” Pregnant ewes are tended by herders. Each morning and evening, they ride through the sheep and “cut the drop.” This means that the ewes with brand-new lambs are “dropped” back, while the still pregnant ewes are moved ahead to fresh ground. This requires a large landscape, with the ewes scattered among sage and grass. In a few days, the ewes and their baby lambs have had a chance to “mother up” and are gathered into a bunch. When these flocks of ewes and lambs are put together, and the lambs are docked, they will trail on up to the Forest for the summer months.

The third way of lambing is open range lambing. Some producers with large tracts of private land build tight fences, concentrate on predator control, and let the ewes lamb without assistance.

Shed lambing saves the most lambs, due to one-on-one (or two, or three, or even four) attention. Drop lambing still involves a lot of labor, and has the advantage of keeping the sheep on clean ground. The herders ride through the sheep constantly and help any that require assistance. The disadvantage of drop lambing is vulnerability to bad weather, and increased exposure to predators, from coyotes to ravens. The weather has been more volatile the past few years, with spring storms killing hundreds and hundreds of lambs.

In an attempt to reduce our losses to weather, we have constructed a couple of large sheds in the last two years.  The investment in infrastructure has been considerable, but our goal is to save lambs, and give ourselves, and the sheep, more protection against the vagaries of weather. This involves a lot of work for us and our employees.

On the range and in the sheds, our employees and family members are working to keep the ewes and lambs healthy. It has rained every day since we started lambing, and we are lambing in the wool, due to the shearing contractor not showing up. Even the ranch cook has helped out, after bringing hot lunches to the shed every day. Way to go, crew!

Brittany, all-around ranch hand, bringing ewes and lambs in from the corral.

Brittany, all-around ranch hand, bringing ewes and lambs in from the corral.

 

ewe and lambs get a ride in the bucket--a speedy ride to the shed

ewe and lambs get a ride in the bucket–a speedy ride to the shed

Lambing shed full of jugs and lambs

Lambing shed full of jugs and lambs

s

Two-year-old ewe with triplets

 

Pepe, real men fill pink water buckets

new shed, waiting for tenants

new shed, waiting for tenants

Pepe putting a skin graft on a lamb to be adopted by a new mom

Pepe putting a skin graft on a lamb to be adopted by a new mom

Antonio, drop lambing on Muddy Mountain

Drop lambing on Muddy Mountain

Antonio helps a ewe on the Loco lambing ground

Antonio helps a ewe on the Loco lambing ground

Rain, sleet, snow--intrepid lamber!

Rain, sleet, snow–intrepid lamber!

Adolfo, Avencio, Brittany, Pepe, Julia, Benoit, Filo, Eduardo, Leo

Adolfo, Avencio, Brittany, Pepe, Julia, Benoit, Filo, Eduardo, Leo–our French house guests helped out too!

 

Julia and Benoit--Au Revoir

Julia and Benoit–Au Revoir

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,