Tag Archives: ewes
Each March, we lamb our purebred ewes, Hampshire and Rambouillet, in the sheds at Powder Flat. We raise our rams for the commercial range ewes from these two farm flocks. Luckily, we have a good crew and the early weather has been mild.
The past two winters have been hard winters by anyone’s standards. Conditions were especially harsh on the Red Desert north of Wamsutter, where we winter our sheep. In 2018-2019, the ewes and bucks were snowed in on the Cyclone Rim allotment for weeks, and we couldn’t even get to the Chain Lakes allotment. In 2019-2020, the winter started early, so we found frozen sugar beets in the northern part of Wyoming and trucked the sheep to farms.
Now we are in drought. We have received around 65 percent of normal moisture so far this winter. An easy winter is easier on both livestock and herders, and on us as we drive back and forth to the sheep camps. The sheep depend upon snow for water for most of the winter. We’ve had several days of wind and thaw, which takes the snow and leaves bare sage and steppe. We now wait for a good winter storm, which we hope will bring much-needed moisture. Winter snow brings us spring grass.
Enough snow. Not too much. Not too little.
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!
Conversation between Buck and Rambo
Breeding season on the Ladder Ranch
There’s a rumor goin’ ‘round, ‘bout some ladies to be found–
the boss is hookin’ up the trailer, gassin’ up the truck
(The trailer lights aren’t working, again, but oh well.)
I’m hopin’ that you’re right, and it seems that time of year—
they’ve been pourin’ out the grain, dashed red powder on our backs,
lots of hay, and we all look fat and ready—well, you know.
Last year all the ladies loved my tuxedo vibe.
My black face is debonair, my moves make me look fine.
I jumped out of the trailer, and I think they liked my leap.
Ha—that woolless blackface face can’t compare with wooly charms,
and HOW ABOUT these curly Rambouillet horns. They love those!
I’ll rub them on this hay bale and that will make them shine.
We have to wait all year, just hangin’ with the guys—
they keep us in buck prison, and we KNOW how that can be.
It’s the ladies that we want, with their pretty ewey charms
YES! The boss says time to get to work, but it’s not work at all,
we can whisper those sweet nothings, but you know they’re loved and left.
raisin’ lambs on grassy meadows, while we move back to bachelor digs.
BOTH: Time to get to work!
As the elk and the deer
head down from summer’s grass
calves and fawns by their side
we gather cows, their calves and
hope for good weather.
We hook up the sheep camps,
move our community of critters—
ewes, lambs, dogs, horses.
The shepherds shift from early mornings,
lazy afternoons, fights with bears
trying to find a camp spot among
tourists, campers, refugees from Covid.
At home, we stage the sheep, bringing them
bunch by bunch to pastures,
to the corrals
For sorting, for judging who stays,
who goes, some to the desert
some to farmers with soft fields and warm barns.
Lambs climb onto trucks—
first the heavies, born early,
next the lights,
and finally the peewees
headed for corn and lower country.
Now we follow the migration.
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.