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Tag Archives: Border collies

Shearing at Badwater

wooly ewes waiting for the shearers

It’s that time of year again. The shearers have shown up and shearing is underway. Each year it takes a lot of moving parts for fleeces to roll off the sheep and into the big bales. Our shearing crew are contractors who come out of California. We are their last client of the season. This is good because they are not under pressure to move on to the next producer, but nerve-wracking because we want to have the ewes shorn in time to trail to the lambing grounds north of Dixon. Lambing starts around May 10th.

We were fortunate with the weather this year. We had a snowstorm right before we were ready to start. The weather cleared and was warmish and nice for most of the week, allowing us to get through the “main line,” as the wool buyers call the running age ewes. The yearlings were next, followed by a brief, but not killer storm–always a worry for freshly shorn sheep.

Our crew packed up their portable shed–the shearing equivalant of a food truck–and moved to Powder Flat. The early lambers and the rams were there, and soon they too had given up their winter coats. Beulan and Maria the llamas were also shorn, much to their spitting disgust, but they are ready for summer.

wooly ewes with wagons

waiting in the corral

shorn ewes, ready to lamb

Frank and Gramps, son and father, on the job

Modesto and Eamon counting sheep

shorn ewes with birds

Edgar with unshorn llamas at Powder Flat

 

shearer at work

Meghan and Maria

Megan with Beulah

Beulah, freshly shorn

the wool packer baling the fleeces

bales of wool

fleeces in line

 

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the fall sort

crossing the Battle Creek bridge

Fall days are the time of year when the cattle and the sheep come down from their summer grazing on the the national forests. We bring them all to the Home Ranch, and sort them through the corrals. The ewes bring with them their whole entourage–herders, horses, Border collies, livestock guardian dogs. For a couple of weeks, we manage a rotating menagerie of sheep, dogs and–pigs? We keep a few feeder pigs over the summer to provide winter pork, but in the meantime the pigs consider themselves free-range critters who are likely to show up about anyplace. The guard dogs are suspicious of the pigs, but the pigs don’t care. I am reminded of “Babe” and wonder if we couldn’t train them to herd livestock. They are utterly indifferent to the dogs, who are puzzled by the pigs.

Meghan bringing up the ewes and lambs

multiple guard dogs relaxing as the sheep come in

Mike watching the gate

That’ll do, pig

Meghan bringing the sheep into the pens

another bunch across the bridge

boys, bales and Squaw Mountain

Pepe and Eamon working the chute

pigs on the job

fall sheep with Squaw Mountain

 

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Merry Christmas to you and yours!

 

The holidays are here,
The year is almost gone.
Sunset’s coming sooner,
long nights–they linger on.

Christmas on the Ladder Ranch
brings us gifts galore.
Family gathers ‘round us
while Yuletide fires roar.

Deep within the meadows—
summer’s rush to green has passed–
round bales stacked like coins,
winter’s wealth, its shadows cast.

Fair weather birds have fled,
but winter sounds abound,
brave trills of chirping chorus
echo bird-song all around.

Coyotes add their yips and howls
and wail their eerie cries
which echo through the hills
making hackles rise

On man and beast alike.
On Battle Creek, an icy sheen
glows while cracks and groans—
add to winter’s subtle keen.

But here beside the fire,
with its crackle and its roar,
we’re warm and well and happy,
with all we need and more.

There’s children’s cheery laughter—
they cry and yell and shout,
like to scare the coyotes
as they run and tear about.

There’s cows and sheep and horses,
there’s canines large and small—
dreaming Border collie dreams
and guard dogs watching all.

The cows must fill their bellies
with grass hay long since cut,
and raked and baled and scattered
‘long the tractor’s snowy rut.

They’ve calves to grow within them—
throughout the winter’s cold
and await the season’s turning—
winter solstice comes and goes.

And ewes upon the desert
munching daily corn,
awaiting warmth in springtime
when their babies will be born.

In Battle Mountain’s folds,
deer and elk have bedded down.
In hollows under oak brush,
there’s shelter that they’ve found.

We thank the Lord for blessings
for His creatures great and small—
for all of those we care for,
Please Lord, bless us all!

We are grateful for our friends
and kin, found both far and near,
from Ladder Ranch to you and yours,
Merry Christmas! Yuletide Cheer!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2020 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Poetry, Sheep

 

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Border collies on the job

bringing ewes up for shearing

 

 

Daughter and mother,
my right-hand canine duo—
Cora and Sadie.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in Animals, Dogs, Poetry, Sheep

 

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Life in the North

ewes in the Bighorn Basin

Faithful blog readers know that due to extreme winter conditions in the Red Desert, our usual wintering ground, we have trucked most of our ewes north to the sugar beet fields in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. The Bighorn Basin is several hundred miles to the north of us, almost to the Montana border, but is also several thousand feet lower, and less snowy. We have some ewes who experienced “early conception,” probably due to a rogue buck lamb who escaped docking. At Powder Flat, we are set up for shed lambing (usually in March) and have a great crew. Pat and I went up to visit the ewes and herders, and to collect the pregnant ewes and bring them home to lamb. The Bighorn Basin is also experiencing an unusually snowy winter, though for them it is several inches of snow, not several feet. We have a good crew there too–Pepe, Modesto, Alejandro and Joel. It’s a long ways from home, but has feed available for the ewes.

ewes near Burlington

Border collie on the job

Tres Amigos

pregnant ewes ready to load

Modesto and Pepe

Home at last

Dogs give a welcome home

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2020 in Animals, Dogs, Family, Folks, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

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Counting on, Modesto’s bunch

ewes and lambs in the Johnson corral

July 1st brings the on-date for the Forest grazing permits. We worked Modesto’s bunch at the Johnson corrals, in the Routt National Forest.  We not only counted the ewes and lambs, but put numbered paint brands on the “marker” ewes, and gave Rhen an opportunity to practice his mutton busting.

Cora keeping an eye on the sheep.

Belling number 2, Juan supervising

 

numbering the marker ewes

Rhen practicing mutton busting

Siobhan and her team of Border collies

Counted, belled and numbered–heading for summer pasture

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2019 in Animals, Dogs, Family, Folks, Sheep

 

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Romance on the ides of December

Avencio unloading the bucks

 

The ides of December means that it’s time to put the rams in with the ewes. Romance in December brings lambs in May. A sheep’s gestation is five months less five days. I wish we could predict now just when the shearers will arrive and what the weather will be like on the 10th of May.

on their way…

Bucks in their working clothes

romance is in the air

Guard dog checking out his new charges

 

 
 

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Puppies for sale!

It was hard to keep Cora’s puppies in focus!

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2017 in Animals, Dogs

 

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Ides of August

Cows and calves in the Smylie Meadow

Alfalfa windrows

All is green and warm. It’s hard to believe that we are not far away, in time, in temperature, from fall. Soon we will see frosty mornings, golden leaves, and critters headed for lower climes. For now, we hang onto these long sunny days. Each sunrise the sun sneaks south, while we breathe warm breezes, a little longer.


Cora and Sadie, looking ahead

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2017 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Events, Farming

 

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Working Mom and Daughter

Cora and her mom Sadie on Monday

Here’s Sadie on Wednesday

Cora checking her e-mail

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Animals, Dogs

 

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