The McCullem Place is part of our Powder Wash ranch west of Baggs. It serves as spring pasture for some of the cows and calves. The homestead era headquarters is mostly gone, so we set up portable corrals, brought in the cows and calves, and processed the calves. These are some of the Akaushi-cross calves so we also had to take a snip of ear to check their bloodlines. We built an old-fashioned fire to heat the branding irons. We had another great crew of family, friends and employees.
At the cookhouse breakfast, Meghan said, “You can’t make up my life.”
I had enjoyed a solid night’s sleep, so I asked her what was up. She said that she had been out int he middle of the night trying to locate a Harvest Host RV guest (another story), when she noticed lights in the middle of the hay meadow. She went to investigate, and discovered a young man who had somehow followed his GPS into the very irrigated field and gotten very very stuck. She retrieved him, pointed his really muddy self to a shower and a bed. Mind you, it was 3 a.m. It turns out that he was looking to spend the Fourth of July with his uncle, who lives in the mountains to the south and west. We mustered our crew, pulled him out, and delivered him to his grateful uncle and cousin. Just another morning on the Ladder Ranch!
Meghan assessing the stuck car in the light of day.
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.
Cora keeping an eye on the sheep.
Belling number 2, Juan supervising
numbering the marker ewes
Rhen practicing mutton busting
Siobhan and her team of Border collies
Counted, belled and numbered–heading for summer pasture
When most of the lambs are on the ground, we are faced with the next big task–docking. This is a major job which involves handling each and every lamb which has recently been born–giving it an earmark, castrating it if it is a male, judging if it is replacement quality if it is a female, vaccinating for enterotoxemia and tetanus, cutting the tail, and last, but not least, stamping on a paint brand. This operation involves a lot of moving parts with a lot of coordination of critters and people. It calls for all hands and the cook!
Heading into the corral
Bringing up the ewes
Docking crew ready to go
McCoy, with the docking crew and the Dinkum Docker
Siobhan taking a break
Rhen and Tiarnan–the happy dockers!
Tyler, German, Juan and Rafael at the docking board
Patrick and Sharon O'Toole are ranchers in the Little Snake River Valley on the Wyoming-Colorado border. They represent the fourth generation on the six-generation family ranch. The O'Tooles raise cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and children on their high country ranching operation. The transhumance operation stretches from north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado to Wyoming's Red Desert.
Pat has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives, the Western Water Policy Commission, and is currently President of the Family Farm Alliance, representing irrigators and water users in the western United States. He is active with several conservation and agricultural organizations.
Sharon is a writer and poet. She writes extensively on western issues, and the relationship between landscape, animals and people. She is widely published as an author, essayist and editorial commentator.
Pat and Sharon have three children. Their daughter, Meghan and her husband Brian Lally, live on the ranch with their children, Siobhán, Seamus, Maeve and Tiarnán. Meghan has also served on the Wyoming Board of Agriculture and the Environmental Quality Council, She and Brian are active in community service.
Daughter Bridget lives in Phoenix with her husband, Chris Abel, where she works in health care communications. Chris works in the food distribution business.
Son Eamon and his wife Megan live on the ranch with their sons, McCoy and Rhen. Eamon is a horseman and natural resource manager, and Megan is a flight nurse. Eamon is a member of the Wyoming Beef Council and is active in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
The blog traces the activities and life on the ranch, from the mundane to the fabulous.