Tag Archives: Modesto
Today, the third band of sheep crossed over the UP line and under I80 at Creston Junction. They are trailing north to winter pastures on the Cyclone Rim and Chain Lakes allotments in the Red Desert. This is a long walk from the summer pastures on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests.
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.
Once again, the sheep have crossed the UP line overpass and the I80 underpass at Creston Junction, Wyoming on their trek north to spend the winter months on the Red Desert on Cyclone Rim and Chain Lakes. We crossed three bunches one after the other. The first two bunches were one day apart. Fog and snow meant that bunch three had to hold up a day. Our neighbors, the Rodewalds, told us to hold up an extra day on their pasture. They had planned to ship calves that day, but had to cancel the trucks due to road and weather conditions. The next day dawned bright and clear, if bitter cold (-23 degrees) and we made the passage without incident. It is always nerve-wracking, due to heavy oil field traffic. We flag front and rear, and sometimes run into over-eager truck drivers. Luckily, this year, the truckers helped us and we crossed without any problems. On the same day, we got our first load of corn in. Corn is necessary to sustain the ewes through the cold cold weather, and to flush them since we plan to put the bucks in in a week or so. It is important that they are increasing their nutritional level just ahead of the breeding season, in order to increase the conception of twins.
Once the lambs are on the ground, it is time to think about docking them. This means that each bunch is gathered into a large pen. The lambs are dropped into a smaller pen, then are passed along an assembly line, where they are earmarked, the males are castrated and they are placed into the Dinkum Docker, a sort of slide. There they are vaccinated, their tails are removed with a hot knife (which cauterizes the wound), daubed with pine tar (which disinfects and keeps the flys away) and daubed with a paint brand. Soon they are looking for Mom, who is also looking for them.