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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

 

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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

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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

 

 

 

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New Year’s Day at Powder Flat

Winter cows at Powder Flat

Winter cows at Powder Flat

Pat and I celebrated New Year’s Day by visiting our employees, cows, horses, dogs and birds at Powder Flat (the sheep were a little father out). We could do this because we spent New Year’s Eve partying hardy with Pat’s Mom Marie, 98; Maeve, 8, McCoy, 4; and Rhen, 2. The cows are enjoying the bounty brought by last summer’s rain. They are still grazing, and looking fat and happy in spite of a couple of 30 below nights. We also admired two–count ’em two, litters of Livestock Guardian Dog puppies–seven each. That means puppies for sale! We also visited with last summer’s colts and a lot of birds who are enjoying the corn and hay.

Antonio and Tiarnan check out guardian litter number one

Antonio and Tiarnan check out guardian litter number one

Four noses:  Tiarnan, Antonio, guardian dog Mom, pups--litter 2

Four noses:                                                                      Tiarnan, Antonio, guardian dog Mom, pups–litter two

Antonio, Pat, Oscar, Tiarnan and Eduardo at Powder Flat

Antonio, Pat, Oscar, Tiarnan and Eduardo at Powder Flat

Mother and child reunion

Mother and child reunion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future cavvy

Future cavvy

Birds of a feather

Birds of a feather

 

 

 

Battle Mountain and Baker's Peak from the west

Battle Mountain and Baker’s Peak from the west

 

 

 

Baker's Peak and Mount Oliphant

Baker’s Peak and Mount Oliphant

Winter grazing at Powder Flat

Winter grazing at Powder Flat

Powder Flat headquarters with Powder Mountain to the north

Powder Flat headquarters with Powder Mountain to the north

 

And on the way  home--the ones that got away, from the hunters

And on the way home–the ones that got away, from the hunters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trailing over the UP line and under I80

Coming through Rodewald's gate

Coming through Rodewald’s gate

It’s that time of year. Pat asked, “Are we going to post ‘Trailing over the UP line and under I80 ‘ pics again?”…because, except for the weather, it looks pretty much the same every year, and I am grateful for that. I have said on this blog before, and I say again, this stretch of our long trail from summer to winter country, and back again, is one of the most dangerous things we do all year. The scariest part is heading up the railroad overpass. Even though we are flagging, fore and aft, sometimes it is hard to convince folks to slow down, especially before they can see the sheep on the road. So when the sheep are safely through the gate north of Interstate 80, I breathe a sigh of relief, and send thanks to the Lord. We trail three bunches, a day apart, so the crossing takes place three consecutive mornings. A difference I see this year, with the sudden drop in oil and gas prices, is the reduction in oil field traffic through the sheep as they thread their way through this needle. Soon we will be settled on our wintering grounds on the Red Desert. Next we will pray for a “just right” winter–not too much snow, not too little–not too much cold, not too much wind, and lots of good grass.

heading for the gate, and the highway

heading for the gate, and the highway

We're headed north. The truck is headed south.

We’re headed north. The truck is headed south.

My flag, in the rear

My flag, through the windshield,  bringing up the rear

Creston Junction, just ahead

Creston Junction, just ahead

 

Under Interstate 80

Under Interstate 80

Dances with Border collies

Dances with Border collies

 

As one motorist observed, "a Wyoming traffic jam!"

As one motorist observed, “a Wyoming traffic jam!”

 

not West, but true north

not West, but true north

Oscar, Eutemio and Eduardo--a successful crossing!

Oscar, Eutemio and Eduardo–a successful crossing!

 

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Events

 

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