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The dwindling dinner party

unloading the corn

 

Every year we buy several loads of corn to feed to the ewes on the desert. We will put the rams in with the ewes in a couple of days, and it is important that their nutrition is optimal. Nothing is better than corn for flushing the ewes. In late November, we had the first load of corn delivered. Now, in almost mid-December, that load is almost gone, but the ewes have found it very tasty and nutritious.

LOTS of corn!

two weeks later…

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2017 in Events, Folks, Folks who help us out

 

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Corn and sheep getting ready for romance

plenty of snow

plenty of snow

The bucks will join the ewes on December 15th so that they will start lambing on May 10th. We want both the ewes and rams to be fat and happy for this occasion. We need snow (but not too much snow) because the sheep depend on it for winter water. They can survive by eating snow, and there’s not much live water on the Red Desert, especially during the frozen winter months. We also depend on feeding corn during the bucking season, which will last until the beginning of February–two heat cycles for the ewes. The government-mandated corn ethanol program has been devastating to the livestock sector, as it drove prices to new highs in 2013. Corn prices are down some, due to a bumper crop. In any case, there is no substitute for corn as a nutrition-packed supplement to support the ewes as they survive often harsh conditions, conceive lambs, and grow next year’s wool crop. It is amazing that they can convert desert grass to food and fiber for people!

I80 behind, winter pasture ahead

I80 behind, winter pasture ahead

Guard dog on the move

Guard dog on the move

Where ARE those bucks?

Where ARE those bucks?

Al the trucker opens the pot

Al the trucker opens the pot

Corn ready to bag and feed

Corn ready to bag and feed

Tri-State delivers!

Tri-State delivers!

 
 

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Sheep camp supplies

Richar, ready to unload hay

Richar, ready to unload hay

As the year grows ever shorter, and the days wax with the passage of the winter solstice, the sheep are on their wintering grounds.  Three bands are north of I80, where the ewes are keeping company with the bucks.  This brings the promise of spring lambs, and gives particular meaning to the phrase “animal husbandry”.

The sheep are under the constant care of our Peruvian sheepherders, who make sure that they have fresh pasture (grasses left over from the summer), water, protection from the constant predators, and that they remain within the allotment boundaries set by the Bureau of Land Management.

Border collies on the Red Desert

Border collies on the Red Desert

We have been blessed, finally, with winter snow, which solves the water problem.  We have mortgaged our future in order to buy corn to keep the sheep strong during the breeding season, and for the cold weather, present and future.  As my Dad always said, “You can’t starve production out of an animal”–(not that I can imagine why one would consider it).

Today, Pat, McCoy (2) and I took supplies out the the sheepherders, and to Richar, the camptender who is responsible for feeding corn each day and making sure the herders have all they need.  We took hay, firewood, coal, dog food, groceries, mail and new calenders.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Animals, Folks, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

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