RSS

Tag Archives: Jean Carlos

Headed for the Promised Land

Destination: the sagebrush sea

Destination: the sagebrush sea

Every year at this time, we are almost there with the final leg of our 150 mile trek as the sheep trail from their summer country in the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests to winter pasture in Wyoming’s Red Desert. Each way, spring and fall, we must cross the overpass across the Union Pacific line, and the underpass below Interstate 80–both coast to coast trails of a different sort. We make this part of the trail on WY Highway 789. For several miles, we share the highway with cars, pickup trucks and trailers, motor homes, and semi trucks hauling everything from livestock to oilfield supplies. We flag the road, ‘fore and aft, to warn traffic that the sheep are on the highway. We’ve only had a few near wrecks over the years, due mostly to inattentive or inexperienced drivers, and sometimes bad weather. Mostly we see our neighbors, who wait and wave, fellow travelers, and folks who stop and take photos and ask questions. I always send up a prayer of thanks when sheep, dogs, horses and humans have safely threaded the needle, and are on their way to the Red Desert. Then I pray for a good winter, good feed and a good living for all.

at Rodewald's gate

at Rodewald’s gate

Jean Carlos on the run

Jean Carlos on the run

 

Filo on the railroad bridge

Filo on the railroad bridge

 

headed East

headed East

FedEx

 

passing the Fireworks Stand

passing the Fireworks Stand

sharing the road

sharing the road

Prima Express

Prima Express–dos direciones

 

Under I80

Under I80

Ovcharka livestock guardian dog sees them through the gate

Ovcharka livestock guardian dog sees them through the gate

trailing crew--Rhen, Pepe, McCoy and Pat

trailing crew–Rhen, Pepe, McCoy and Pat

more crew--Pepe, Tiarnan and Pat

more crew–Pepe, Tiarnan and Meghan

Tiarnan and Modesto headed north on adopted wild horse

Tiarnan and Modesto headed north on adopted wild horse

 

 

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tending sheep camp

Jean Carlos and Tiarnan near Tennessee Creek

Jean Carlos and Tiarnan near Tennessee Creek

 

Tiarnan and Rhen went with me to move sheep camp on Tennessee Creek in the Routt Forest. Jean Carlos was happy to see the boys and fed them a hearty lunch of spaghetti, vienna sausage and mixed vegetables. They were hungry. After pulling the camp down a very rough and narrow road, Jean Carlos gave Tiarnan a ride. In spite of the bouncy trip, Rhen had somehow fallen asleep, and was mad when he learned he had missed a ride on the horse. We then went on to Clark for some of their famous ice cream.

Jean Carlos, Rhen and Tiarnan at the sheep camp

Jean Carlos, Rhen and Tiarnan at the sheep camp

Tiarnan helps to siphon water

Tiarnan helps to siphon water

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Animals, Family, Folks, Horses

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Docking and shearing multi-tasking

Docking and shearing on Cottonwood Creek

Docking and shearing on Cottonwood Creek

This spring, for the first time in our experience, we have lambed our ewes in the wool.

This situation occurred, in large part, because shearing contractors cannot get enough foreign shearers through the broken H2A visa system, and not enough American shearers are available, even though shearing sheep pays very well. In our particular situation, our usual shearing contractor was not honest with us as to when his crew could realistically arrive, which left us with no time to find another shearer—a nearly impossible situation anyway.

By mid-May, we realized that we could not get the ewes sheared before lambing. I tried explaining the difficult situation to the ewes, but they refused to wait another week before giving birth. As a mother, I can relate to this. And also it was raining every day.

We did manage to find an American crew out of California, but they were able to shear only a day and a half before the rains and the lambs really set in. This left us with 6000 or so sheep left to shear, including the yearlings. The California crew said they could come back in June, after things slowed down, sort of. This was good, because the shearing contractors who depend on foreign (mostly New Zealand) shearers lose their crews as the visas run out in late May. I will say that hardly any American crews exist, and the industry needs its foreign shearers to “get the clip out.”

We did get through the lambing, which was inevitable due to the certainty of birth. This left us with several thousand wooly ewes, with lambs at side. At this point, we not only needed to shear the ewes, but we had several thousand lambs to dock.

We decided that we could shear and dock at the same time—in fact, that we had to. Luckily, our California shearing crew was flexible, and was willing to move their portable shed every day to the site of each ewe and lamb bunch. We set up corrals so that the ewes could run straight ahead into the shearing shed, and the lambs could be drafted off to side pens and into a docking line.

Usually, to minimize stress on sheep and human crew alike, we bring the ewes with lambs in in bunches of 300 or so. With the shearing/docking situation, we had to do each entire band at a time—typically 850 or so ewes, and their lambs—usually about thousand. We had to do this because we couldn’t separate the ewes and young lambs for more than a few hours. As I told the wool buyer, “Take a good look, because you’ve never seen this before and I hope you never see it again!”

Pepe, Richard, Meghan, Oscar, Cassie, and Jean Carlos on the docking side of things

Pepe, Richard, Meghan, Oscar, Cassie, and Jean Carlos on the docking side of things

waiting for the blades

Waiting for the blades

Siobhan at the cutting gate at Badwater

Siobhan at the cutting gate at Badwater

All hands, AND the cook!

All hands, AND the cook!

docking,shearing crew eating lunch

We all line up for Cassie’s hot lunch!

wool packer moving the bales of wool

wool packer moving the bales of wool

Tiarnan branding for Pepe

Tiarnan branding for Pepe

Antonio truimphant

Antonio truimphant

the view at Cherry Grove

the view at Cherry Grove

Ten pounds lighter

Ten pounds lighter

shearing at last!

shearing at last!

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Open winter; February thaw

This must be the February thaw.
It follows the January thaw, except
not much snow fell between
Aquarius and Pisces.

How will we know Spring?

Heifers on dry ground

Heifers on dry ground

she thinks she's hiding

she thinks she’s hiding

 

 

 

 

 

As storms pound the East Coast, and snow in Boston piles up, we watch our drifts melt away. We depend on snow for winter water for the sheep, and to bring summer moisture for everything. At Powder Flat, all our livestock are watering at reservoirs and wells.

 

 

 

The ewe lambs and old ewes still have a little snow below Lower Powder Spring

The ewe lambs and old ewes still have a little snow below Lower Powder Spring

The purebred ewes watering at Powder Flat

The purebred ewes watering at Powder Flat

The ewes watering below the Spring

The ewes watering below the Spring

Reflections

Reflections

leaving the water hole

leaving the water hole

through the waterhole fence

through the waterhole fence

Apolinario and Pat talk about water, with input from the dogs

Jean Carlos and Pat talk about water, with input from the dogs

Siobhan, Pat and Maeve

Siobhan, Pat and Maeve

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Buck lambs bound for Iowa

Buck lambs, wet but eager to be chosen

Buck lambs, wet but eager to be chosen

 

Each year, our friends Rodney and Janet Fleming come for a visit from Iowa. It is a true busman’s holiday. The Flemings raise sheep in Iowa, and they come to see us so that they may visit sheep camps, participate in general ranch work and visit about dogs and sheep. They also pick out a couple of ram lambs to take home to their ewes in Iowa. We raise both Hampshire and Rambouillet rams to breed to our own commercial ewes. This gives us the opportunity to select for the traits we want, and that the rams, who have never been pushed on grain, are hardy when it comes time to go to work under sometimes tough conditions in Red Desert winters.

Meghan and Rodney bringing up the Hamp buck lambs

Meghan and Rodney bringing up the Hamp buck lambs

Jean Carlos coming to help with his entourage of guard dog puppies

Jean Carlos coming to help with his entourage of guard dog puppies

Jean Carlos and Pepe with more puppies

Jean Carlos and Pepe with more puppies

Rodney with his top choices

Rodney with his top choices

 

Tags: , , , , ,