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Ace Number One Cowboy

Casey and the docking team–Seamus, Siobhan and McCoy

While Casey posts photos on Facebook of his cowboy exploits with the rough and tough Ladder Ranch crew, here is what he is really up to!

 
 

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Docking 2017

Belle helping the humans

Go that-a-way!

When most of the lambs are on the ground, we are faced with the next big task–docking. This is a major job which involves handling each and every lamb which has recently been born–giving it an earmark, castrating it if it is a male, judging if it is replacement quality if it is a female, vaccinating for enterotoxemia and tetanus, cutting the tail, and last, but not least, stamping on a paint brand. This operation involves a lot of moving parts with a lot of coordination of critters and people. It calls for all hands and the cook!

Heading into the corral

Bringing up the ewes

Docking crew ready to go

McCoy, with the docking crew and the Dinkum Docker

Siobhan taking a break

Rhen and Tiarnan–the happy dockers!

 

Tyler, German, Juan and Rafael at the docking board

German holds lamb while Kimmy castrates

Jaime putting a lamb into the Dinkum Docker

Tyler and Jaime

the multi-talented Kimmy vaccinating

Rhen branding for Pepe

Brittany counting tails

After the docking

Luka supervising lunch

Time for rest and contemplation of tails

 

 

 

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Guard dogs coming in

Here’s the guard dogs checking things out as we bring the lambs in to dock in the Cottonwood Pasture.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Animals, Dogs, Sheep

 

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Seamus and sheep camp

Seamus checking out the sheep camp at the last (!) shearing/docking on Cottonwood

Seamus checking out the sheep camp at the last (!) shearing/docking on Cottonwood

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2015 in Animals, Events, Family, Folks, Sheep

 

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A century’s worth of experience

Lambs in the Dinkum Docker

Lambs in the Dinkum Docker

We had a surprise visitor at the last docking. Our neighbor, Harry Russell, 103, is a retired rancher. Harry docked many a lamb in his day, and enjoyed watching and offering the occasional word of advice. He was happy to take a bucket of lamb fries home.

Harry checks out a lamb

Harry checks out a lamb

Jenri, Harry, Rose, Sharon, Antonio

Jenri, Harry, Rose, Sharon, Antonio

 

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Docking, so far

 

Oscar and Avencio on the docking board

Oscar and Avencio on the docking board

We are in the midst of docking lambs. We have to hit the “sweet spot” after the lambs are big enough to dock without too much stress, before they get too big–which is stressful to the crew, and soon enough before we trail to the Forest to recover and be ready to follow their mothers. We also have to dodge stormy days, the schedule for artificially inseminating the cows, and the imminent arrival of the wool truck.

Our Peruvian sheepherders are glad to be through most of the lambing. Now their biggest worry, and ours, is the loss of the lambs they worked so hard to deliver, to coyotes. Yesterday, we lost 10 lambs altogether in the various bunches–and that was just one day.

Docking means that we have moved the portable corrals to the temporary site where we have set up the day before. The herder has the sheep staged to go into the corrals early in the morning. We hope to do this in an orderly manner without the lambs running back and scattering into the brush. Once the ewes and lambs are in the corral, we start bringing them up in small groups, dropping the lambs into the small front pen, and paint branding the ewes in the forward pen, counting, and turning them out. We keep bringing them up in small groups until the last lamb is docked and the last ewe is counted.

On the docking line, each lamb is earmarked with our distinctive earmark. Buck lambs are castrated and the lamb carriers carefully place them in the “Dinkum Docker”–a mechanical holder which restrains them as they are vaccinated and slowly slide down to the bottom. The “tailer” sits at the bottom and sears off the tails with a hot knife. This is the safest and most humane way to remove the tails, since it is quick and leaves a clean wound. Another crew member holds the back legs to ensure that the tailer does not get kicked in the face, and applies a gooey mix of creosote and pine tar. This has antiseptic qualities and keeps the flies away. Finally the tailer flips the lamb over on his lap so that the brander can stamp on the paint brand.

The brander is often a child. It is a skilled job, since the brand needs to be in the middle of back, and stamped on without too much wasted paint. The paint is formulated to be scourable after the wool is sheared off. Pat always tells the brander that the other lambs will make fun if the brand is off-center or incomplete.

Bringing up the ewes and lambs

Bringing up the ewes and lambs

This lamb is happy to be on its way!

This lamb is happy to be on its way!

Antonio stands ready to count the ewes

Antonio stands ready to count the ewes

Christian branding the ewes

Christian branding the ewes

Dinkum Docker, waiting for customers

Dinkum Docker, waiting for customers

Tiarnan branding for Pepe

Tiarnan branding for Pepe

Brittanny, summer intern, vaccinating lambs

Brittanny, summer intern, vaccinating lambs

McCoy, Tiarnan and Antonio on the job

McCoy, Tiarnan and Antonio on the job

Ewes and lambs after docking

Ewes and lambs after docking

Maeve, the happy docker

Maeve, the happy docker

 

 

 

 
 

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Father’s Day

Eamon teaching his son McCoy to brand lambs

Eamon teaching his son McCoy to brand lambs

We spent Father’s Day docking lambs. Here’s a photo of Eamon, who was cutting tails, teaching his son McCoy, 3, how to brand the lambs. As he said, “This is an investment in the future.”

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Animals, Events, Family, Sheep

 

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