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Tag Archives: Powder Wash

Bucks and ewes at Black Tie reservoir

The bucks are in a hurry to get out of the trailer

The bucks are in a hurry to get out of the trailer

It’s that time of year, finally. The bucks have been waiting, sometimes patiently (spring) and sometimes not so patiently (fall), but after ten long months, it is time for them to join the ewes, thus ensuring a spring lamb crop. We took a load of blackface bucks to the Black Tie reservoir area at Powder Wash, where they joined the ewes there. We had an experience we hadn’t had before–the guard dogs puppies, born last spring and now ambitious adolescents, did not like the strange bucks joining the flock. They’d never seen rams before, and they correctly ascertained that the rams did not have honorable intentions. The barking and chasing did damper their lust, until we called the dogs in and convinced them that the presence of the bucks was OK. It’s been a dry early winter, but a snowstorm did come in today.

Guard dogs alarmed at the arrival of the bucks.

Guard dogs alarmed at the arrival of the bucks.

United at last!  Ewes and bucks ready for romance.

United at last! Ewes and bucks ready for romance.

Pat and Antonio with the anti-lust brigade.

Pat and Antonio with the anti-lust brigade.

 

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Wearing out the winter

Pat and McCoy with the heifers

Pat and McCoy with the heifers

This is the time of year when we hold our breath. We hope all the cows and sheep and various critters for whom we are responsible have enough to eat, enough to drink and enough body fat to withstand the cold weather. We assume that the bulls and bucks have done their jobs. We hope that the Good Lord sticks with us with weather and sends enough snow, but not too much; enough cold, but not too much. We hope that the cows and the ewes are all pregnant, and will hold those pregnancies to term, and raise a baby. We hope that predators–mostly coyotes, but bears, mountain lions, ravens, crows and maybe wolves–will find something else to eat besides our critters. The sheep eat snow and we depend on having the right amount–not so much that it will cover the grass and brush, but not so little that we are chasing drifts in draws. The cows need “wet water” and we expend a lot of energy and resources to make sure it’s available.

It is also the time of year that we try to ensure that we have enough help lined up for spring, summer and fall. Our sheepherders come on h2a visas which allow them to stay for three years with at least three months at home in Peru. We try to plan so that about one third of our crew returns to Peru in the winter, when we need less help. The process is so dysfunctional that we need to request about twice as many “new guys” as we will probably need, because there isn’t much rhyme or reason to who gets approved. Even returning employees are not assured of getting approved, so it is a challenge to plan.

So far, the winter has been cooperative. This will allow us to engage in one of our favorite vacations: traveling to Elko, Nevada–at approximately the same latitude as our home (read Deep Winter) for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. We will be hosting a  discussion on Food Policy. After all, to have cowboys, we need cows, and to have cows, we need consumers: the Three C’s. That said, it is nearly a week of solid poetry, music, art and discussion which is nothing but fun.

Sheep near Eagles' Nest. The bucks are in their working clothes.

Sheep near Eagles’ Nest. The bucks are in their working clothes.

Antelope at Powder Flat

Antelope at Powder Flat

McCoy and Nene

McCoy and Nene

McCoy, Eamon and Pat on the lookout at Lower Powder Springs

McCoy, Eamon and Pat on the lookout at Lower Powder Springs

Pat, McCoy and Eamon at water well at Powder Flat. I used to spend hours here pumping water with our old generator, "Fred".

Pat, McCoy and Eamon at water well at Powder Flat. I used to spend hours here pumping water with our old generator, “Fred”.

Punk colts

Punk colts

Tim, McCoy, Eamon, Pat, Oscar

Tim, McCoy, Eamon, Pat, Oscar

 

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April: lion or lamb?

We have been praying for moisture, after yet another dry winter (this on the heels of two hard winters).  We are getting intermittent rainy and snowy days, which usually we are grateful for.  Last week, we got a snow storm which came with high winds which made it unfit for man and beast.

At Powder Wash, we lost several calves, lambs and ewes, in spite of sheds and shelter.  On the Red Desert, the ewes “blew out”, which means that in sheep just walked in front of the howling winds.  In these conditions, we tell the sheepherders just to stay in their camps.  Since there are few fences, the sheep are usually miles away from where they started, but they are OK, and we have to find them and put the herd back together.

Still, the moisture brings promise of green grass.

Baldie cow with black calf

Baldie cow with black calf

Squaw Mountain with fog at sunset

Squaw Mountain with fog at sunset

Red Desert wild horse shares the range with cattle

Red Desert wild horse shares the range with cattle

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2013 in Animals, Cattle, Sheep

 

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Cows: from desert to mountain

Cows:  from desert to mountain

Our cows spent the spring on our desert ranch at Powder Wash.  When it came time to  truck them to the mountains, our crew gathered them up.

Eamon, bringing in the cows

Siobhan in the dust

Pat with McCoy on Plata

The calves unloading at the Home Ranch

Heading through the gate

Then it was time to brand the youngest calves.

Morgan Seigal, looking for a slick calf in the St. Louis pasture

Margaret Cogswell, Cowgirl

 

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