Marie, Pat and Sharon Christmas 2015, Hobe Sound, Florida
Pat’s Mom, Marie O’Toole, will turn 100 years old in May 2016. She still lives in her own home in Florida. Pat and I spent Christmas with her, conveniently missing some minus 20 degree temperatures at home. We are trying to talk her into moving West, but for some reason, she thinks Wyoming is too cold!
October 1st is a day of transition for us. It is the off-date for the cows and sheep who have spent the summer grazing on our national forest permits. This year, it is also the date that the Farm Bill expired, and the government shutdown started for everyone except Congress, which continues to dither along. No budget, no Farm Bill, no Immigration Bill, no plan. After a dry spring and summer, we finally received blessed rains, a lot of our ponds and reservoirs have filled, and the springs are flowing. After foreseeing a dry fall, we have blessed water. The leaves are finally changing colors–the latest I can remember. The first freeze came on the day of the equinox. October 1st is Rhen’s first birthday. Last year, the trappers killed a bear who had been killing rams. We said, “Bear in the morning–baby in the afternoon!”
Round bales ready for winter
Eutemio’s wagon at Dudley Creek
Switch horse Daisy and her colt Lulu on the Savery Stock Driveway
looking West to Muddy Mountain
rainbow over Sheep Mountain
Siobhan trailing cows off the Routt National Forest
Battle Mountain from the government corrals, Savery Stock Driveway, Medicine Bow National Forest
97-year-old Marie O’Toole with six of her nine great-grandchildren
Rhen eating cake on his first birthday
deer crossing Cottonwood Creek north of Dixon
Seismograhic helicopter flying over Battle Mountain during deer hunting season. They hope to drill next year. Don’t like.
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.
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.
Sharon's father George, 89, passed away December 25, 2010. He lived much of his life in the house where he was born, and remained active in the day-to-day life of the ranch. Mr. Salisbury was a decorated World War II veteran, a former member of Wyoming's House of Representatives, and former President of Wyoming's Board of Agriculture.
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 also served on the Wyoming Board of Agriculture, and she and Brian are active in community service. Daughter Bridget lives in Denver with her husband, Chris Abel, where she works in public relations and he serves agriculture in the food 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 nurse.
The blog traces the activities and life on the ranch, from the mundane to the fabulous.