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.
Tag Archives: Salomon
Pregnancy testing is one of the veterinary services offered by Optimal Livestock Services–Dr. Cleon Kimberling, veterinarian, and Geri Parsons, vet technician, proprietors. We ask them to pregnancy test our ewes who are expecting white-faced lambs. When we know which ewes are carrying twins, we can manage them separately so that they can get extra nutrition and care. At lambing time, we can make sure they have better shelter because the white-faced lambs are more vulnerable at birth than the cross-bred lambs which have black-faced Hampshire fathers. You old ag majors remember the lessons about “highbred vigor” which results when different types of sheep, or cows or whatever, are mixed. The purebreds are less hardy, but they are the lambs which grow into our replacement ewes (or at least the females do). We need both.
Geri recently showed up to check our ewes, who currently reside on the Red Desert, north of Wamsutter, Wyoming.
Late June brings our annual trailing from the lambing grounds, north of Dixon and Savery, to our Forest grazing permits on the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forest. We start the sheep on the trail for the Colorado permits first, since it is a longer drive. All has to be planned throughout lambing and docking, so that the oldest lambs are in one bunch, and ready to go first. It is about 40 miles for the sheep who are heading for Farwell Mountain, near Columbine, Colorado.
We try to stage the sheep so that they are one day apart, which makes it easier to move the camps as we go along. We count the sheep through the government corrals on the Stock Driveway. This gives us an accurate count as we head into the Forest, and is required by the Forest Service as part of our permit rules and regulations.
It is also our last easy chance to corral the sheep and dock any lambs which have been born since the last docking, put paint brand numbers on the marker sheep, and pull out any bum lambs who need to go to the Home Ranch for TLC.
Once we leave the corrals, we are officially on our summer country (even though the Colorado bunches still have days ahead of them on the trail). It is time to face the bears!
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.