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!”
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.