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Tag Archives: livestock guardian dog

The long journey to the wintering grounds

Ewes coming to the road

Most years, we set out on the sheep trail to the wintering grounds on about the same date. It is usually about a five- or six-day trail from our late fall pasture at Badwater to our winter grazing permits in the Red Desert. We leave around Thanksgiving time–grateful that the ewes have come south on the same trail in the spring, met the shearers. trekked to the lambing ground, borne and raised lambs, grazed on the forest, trailed back to the Home Ranch corrals, weaned their lambs, and now head north to winter pasture. It is usually a time when we can take a breath. We pray that the winter is not too hard, that the dry grass is enough to sustain the ewes, and then the rams, as the cycle begins anew.

following the tractor

This year, back-to-back blizzards hit soon after the first two bunches of sheep set out. Some days they have been stranded on the trail and it has been all we can do to reach the sheep and the herders with supplies. The Interstate has been closed, with multiple wrecks and even some deaths. We crossed two bunches in between storms, but have struggled to move them north, breaking trail with the tractor. The weather has paused between storms, allowing us to make progress. We are grateful that the storms have not been unrelenting.

We had to turn south with the last bunch. Their winter pasture on Chain Lakes is snowed under, and we’ve found another, more open, allotment to the south and west. We are trailing down the highway, which must confuse the ewes, whose instinct and habit is to head north. Since we are on the highway, and not the cross-country trail, we flag, fore and aft, to slow the oncoming traffic. Locals are also not used to seeing livestock on the road this time of year, and non-locals are mostly interested to see the sheep, the dogs, the herders and the family members.

The sheep north of the interstate are still struggling to get to Cyclone Rim. They have finally made it to a plowed road, but it is slow going due to all the trucks stuck as they try to reach the energy development in the same areas.

Eamon and Guillermo bringing up the sheep

almost to the gate

Eamon, ready to trail

Wagon, waiting for the day

View from the rear flagger

Wilber and Guillermo putting in at the 18 mile marker

 

 

 

 
 

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The last of the lambs to the feedlot

early morning truck ready to load

up to the chute

the last lambs waiting in the corral

Meghan on the job

Oscar, Edgar and Pepe bringing up the lambs

guard dog and horses supervising

Pepe

 

 

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Sheep on Fall Pasture

sheep on Loco

Modesto

guard dog in November

 

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2018 in Animals, Dogs, Folks, Horses, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

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In Like a Lamb

Hampshire ewes with her twin lambs

 

For us, rain, sleet, snow or shine, March always comes in like a lamb. We raise our own rams, Hampshire and Rambouillet, and the ewes start lambing March 1st. After the winter wait, the long months of lambs growing in the womb, we get to see these babies. With them lies our future. Their future, likewise, depends upon us. It is a long time between lambs on the ground and rams, dusted with iron oxide, jumping out of the horsetrailer to join the ewes, starting the cycle anew.

In the shed

Ladies in waiting, protected by guardian dog puppies

ewes and puppies

Oscar helping a lamb find a mom with a skin graft

Edgar and Oscar conferring

plenty of feed on hand

Oscar with his lambing crew, Tiarnan and Seamus

Babies in a box,
waiting for milk replacer,
or a new mama

Luis feeding a baby lamb

 

 

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Through a lens, iPhonely

Winter sheep with southerly sun

Pat’s birthday present was a new set of lenses for his iPhone. Here’s some photos he took at Powder Wash trying out the new lenses. Watch this space for future pics.

If the blackface and some of the whiteface ewes look roundish in these photos, that’s because they will start lambing in a month or so. You can also see how little snow there is. The winter continues to be warm and dry, and we continuously check the weather report for promises of snow. My Dad always said that a wet spring beats a hard winter, so we can hope!

 

Powder Mountain

ewes on the feed line

Powder Rim

Which one of these is not like the others? (Hint–look at the color of the ears.)

Cattle and sheep co-existing symbiotically

H

 

 

 

 
 

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Guard dog and puppies

taking a break from guarding the sheep

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2018 in Animals, Dogs

 

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Mom of the Year–Lady and the lambs

Sam and Siobhan feed the plethora of bum lambs

Sam and Siobhan feed the plethora of bum lambs

 

Every year, we end up with a number of bum (orphan) lambs. They are motherless due to a variety of circumstances. Some ewes have more lambs than milk. Sometimes a ewe dies, leaving an actual orphan. Some lambs are weak, or injured, or just lost.

We sometimes are asked why these motherless lambs are called “bums”. It’s because they are “bumming” milk from their compatriots, or at least the most successful ones do.

This year, we have ended up with more bums than usual, partly due to our decision to lamb all the almost two-year-old ewes in the sheds. They did produce more lambs than milk. These are lambs that might have died on the range, so we are glad to have them back at the Home Ranch. This year, we decided to go all in, and raise them in an “organized” manner.

Raising bum lambs involves a lot of extra time, labor and money, as we purchase lamb milk replacer, which costs somewhat more than illegal drugs. This year, our efforts to supplement the lambs has been aided by Lady,  the livestock guardian dog mom. We put her and her seven puppies with the multitudes, figuring it would be a good bonding experience for lambs and puppies alike.

Little did we expect that Lady would take her responsibilities so seriously.

Lady nursing two of her puppies and two of her lambs

Lady nursing two of her puppies and two of her lambs

the Lady and the lamb

the Lady and the lamb

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Events

 

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Tiarnan bonding with the guard dog

the dynamic duo

the dynamic duo

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Animals, Dogs, Family, Folks

 

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more of Still Winter

Icicle and Battle Mountain

Icicle and Battle Mountain

I spoke too soon when I said the winter was just about right, and that we wouldn’t need more additional feed on the Red Desert. We have since had lots of snow and wind. In the mountains, where we live, we have had LOTS of snow. On the Red Desert, where most of the sheep are wintering, we’ve had snow and wind. This is usually a good combination, since the wind  opens up the underlying grasses, but this year we’ve had enough snow to cover up the feed.  At the Home Ranch, we’ve had enough snow that the tractors have been getting stuck, making it hard to feed the cows. Today, Eamon hauled extra feed to the ewes, and we’ve had folks in to unstick the tractors. All the animals have been fed, thanks to lots of time of effort on the part of family and valued employees.

Sheep Mountain

Sheep Mountain

Guard dog looking out for elk

Guard dog looking out for elk

feeding the Central Boiler

feeding the Central Boiler

You can see where the elk have been lovin' our haystack!

You can see where the elk have been lovin’ our haystack!

summer wagons under snow

summer wagons under snow

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2016 in Dogs, Events, Nature and Wildlife

 

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Winter Work

cows with hay feeder

Cows following the hay feeder

We now swing toward the winter solstice.  Days grow shorter and nights grow longer. The time for caring for livestock is well and truly upon us. The cows need sustenance to nurture the calves growing within them. For the ewes and rams, it’s the breeding season, and good nutrition is essential. All of us–man and beast, domestic and wild–are hunkered down and hoping for a “just right” winter. We need snow, but not too much. We need wind, but not too much. We need sun and grass and corn. We will rejoice when the world turns and the days grow longer.

The cows grazing at the Powder Flat headquarters

The cows grazing at the Powder Flat headquarters

McCoy chopping ice for the cows

McCoy chopping ice for the cows

 

Mcoy striking a blow while Marley and Belle watch

McCoy striking a blow while Marley and Belle watch

winter cows

winter cows

ewes near Ace in the Hole

ewes near Ace in the Hole

Romance is in the air

Romance is in the air

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Family, Folks, Sheep

 

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