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Tag Archives: Edgar

Lambs on the ground

Mama ewe on the alert

 

 

It must be spring! We’ve got lots of baby lambs on the ground. We lamb the purebred Hampshires and Rambouillets in March at Powder Flat. These babies grow up to be rams and replacement ewes, and a few will even become 4-H lambs.

Thanks to our great crew–Edgar, Luis, Uribe and David for all your hard work and long nights. Now we pray for warm rains and green grass.

Home on the hay pile

morning in the corral

Rhen with a crossbred lamb

Rhen watching Luis on the run

NOT wanting to lie down with the lion

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Animals, Sheep

 

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Minnesota Bound

Thinking about lower country

Thinking about lower country

Every fall, we have what we call “the good old ewes.”  These ewes are still sound, but aren’t quite up for another winter on the Red Desert. They are Minnesota bound. Sheep producers around Pipestone can offer them a comfier life at a lower altitude, with more shelter. They will be able to produce lambs and wool for several more years.

Pepe, Edgar and Raylor bringing up the ewes

Pepe, Edgar and Taylor bringing up the ewes

Meghan at the cutting gate

Meghan at the cutting gate

Ned, the brand inspector, and the trucker, loading.

Ned, the brand inspector, and the trucker, loading.

Now underemployed Guard Dog

Now underemployed Guard Dog

Meghan and Ned

Meghan and Ned

Ready to roll

Ready to roll

 

 

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Out like a ram: sorting the bucks

Edgar checking the bucks

Edgar checking the bucks

The bucks have done their job and are back on the Home Ranch for another ten months of bachelorhood.  It’s easy enough for them. In the meantime, the ewes carry their pregnancy to term, trail 100 miles or so, get sheared, and have their lambs. The ewes then trail to the Forest with their lambs, raise them–dodging coyotes, bears and ravens, and trail back to the ranch for weaning.

Some of the rams have given their all, and won’t make it to another breeding season. We sorted out the bucks who are old, thin, and/or no teeth, These will be sold and are destined to be buckburgers or dog food.

The rams do lead a good life, and we take care of them until the end.

Brittany, Meghan and Katie checking teeth

Brittany, Meghan and Katie checking teeth

Tiarnan and Meghan

Tiarnan and Meghan

crew: Katie, Brittany, Randy, Tiarnan, Meghan, bucks, Randall, Cody, and Edgar

crew: Katie, Brittany, Randy, Tiarnan, Meghan, bucks, Randall, Cody, and Edgar

 

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On to the Red Desert

On to the Red Desert

December 1st is the on date for our winter sheep grazing allotments on the Red Desert, north of I80 and Wamsutter, Wyoming.  The sheep walk a five-day trail from our late fall pasture, Badwater, to the checkerboard Chain Lakes allotment,  with the private owned by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.  It also serves as critical winter habitat for antelope.  We maintain the water and the fences, and provide “boots on the ground.”  One band of sheep winters in Chain Lakes and two move on to the aptly named Cyclone Rim allotment.  A few weeks ago, this blog showed photos of our search for water holes on Cyclone Rim.

We are still thirsty for snow and watering spots.  For almost the first time ever, the sheep had dry days on the trail, although not back-to-back. Normally by this time of year, we have enough snow for the sheep to eat for water.  They are very hardy, and most years go much of the winter surviving on snow and without access to fresh water.  The sheepherders are asking us for snow, as if we could bring it like firewood and dog food.  We tell them, “Do what we do, pray!”

Richar, Afrenio, Timeteo and Christian bringing up the sheep

Richar, Afrenio, Timeteo and Christian bringing up the sheep

waiting their turn

waiting their turn

The bucks will be turned in with the ewes in a few days, in order to bring those spring lambs. To make sure the ewes are in optimal condition, we decided to worm them in advance of bucking.  On this day, it was coldish and windyish, but certainly a relatively pleasant day.

looking forward

looking forward

two noses:  yearling ewe and Edgar

two noses: yearling ewe and Edgar

done and done

done and done

guard dog with supply wagon

guard dog supervising

evening grazing

evening grazing

a day off

a day off

 
 

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Dads count too–or counting on the dads–or

Dads count too–or counting on the dads–or

Most of the year, we think about the ewes–are they eating enough?  are they pregnant?  did they lamb? did they have twins?  did they elude the coyotes and bears?

Of course, in order to have those little lambs hit the ground in May and June, we need to have dads.  In the livestock world, dads (be they bucks, bulls, or stallions) count too, and we want them to be the best most productive sires we can find.  And, since it costs money and opportunity to support them for most of the year (well, actually, for all of the year, but they only work for a couple of months), we want to make sure they are the optimal sort of dad.

Who you gonna call?  Optimal Livestock Services of course!  Each fall, retired Colorado State University vet Dr. Cleon Kimberling, and his partner and sidekick Vet Tech Geri Parsons travel throughout the Rockies to test rams.  They check rams for fertility, disease, and other factors, such as age and condition, that can influence their ability to breed ewes.

Dr. Kimberling mans a traveling lab, where he examines sperm samples from rams.  Geri, with help from our crew, collects the samples in test tubes, records information about each individual, and gives all the info to Cleon, who studies and collates it.  At the end of the process, we growers are given a computer printout that rates each ram according to fertility, health, age, and other variables.

We then mark the rams who fail to make the grade.  They get a truck ride which ends in a vacation in Mexico.  I’ve never asked Dr. Kimberling what happened to his vet students who failed to make the grade.

Geri testing buck

Geri marking a test tube

Dr. Kimberling at the microscope

Maeve helping Dr. K.

Pepe and Timoteo securing a ram

Crew hard at work: Pepe, Sharon, Geri and Christian

Edgar and Sadie

Pepe, George and Pat, photo by Maeve

Pepe and friend by Maeve

Free at last!

 

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Transitions

Transitions

October is a month which starts with glorious colors as the leaves drop their summer green and segue into the yellows, reds and browns of a brief, glorious orgy.  Now, as the month winds its way down toward Halloween, tans and greys prevail, as the trees stand bare and the fields lay fallow.  In the last couple of days, we have had wet welcome snow.  The growing season is long past, but after this record dry year, moisture is a miracle, and we hope a portent of things to come.

It is also a season of endings.  After the burst of life that comes forth with the births of new lambs and calves, it is now shipping time.  The lambs are being loaded onto trucks, destined for the feedlot in South Dakota, and the calves have been sold.  Both will be fed until they are the right size to be slaughtered for food.  We have also retained ewe lambs, which will become our replacement ewes next year, and sold replacement heifer calves, which will become someone’s cows. We also have replacement heifer calves, destined to become our future cows.  Soon, all this season’s babies will be gone, or at least weaned, and we will go into our winter season with the animals who stay.

lambs in front f the cow barn

Pepe at the sorting chute

lambs

Edgar and Richar pushing the short term ewes up. They go to Iowa.

Edgar, Meghan, Filomeno and Richar at the loading chute

Filomeno working the chute

Meghan risking all to load the truck

Tiarnan and Pepe greet Maria

Cows, watching the calves being loaded

calves, bound for the feedlot

Ned inspecting the sold replacement heifers

heifer loading crew: Meghan, Dan, Gaylon, Eamon, Ned, Marley

Abby is hitching a ride toward Massachusetts on Dan’s truck

 

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