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On to the Forest!

Ju

Leo trailing the sheep up the road

July 1st is the on-date for most of our sheep grazing permits on the National Forest. We have to stage them on since we have several bunches which graze on federal permits in the summer, and it is the on-date for our neighbors as well. They usually trail one day apart so we go up the line and move each camp to the next spot until everyone is settled

There is always a grateful sigh when we know we are through lambing, through docking and through trailing. The next challenge is withstanding the predators which view our ewes and lambs as tasty snacks, especially in a year when the deer population is low. My Dad’s cousin once said, “Well, you’re up there in the nice cool flies.”

Now we are up in the “nice cool bears.”

We have grass and we have water. The grazing greatly reduces the fuel load and the fire danger. We are worried about fire in this year’s drought conditions. So it begins.

 

Pulling the wagon and flagging the sheep up the road

crossing the South Fork bridge

Leo

closer than they appear

lambs hitching a ride

It was an early morning for Meghan!

Tiarnan helping Leo

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2021 in Animals, Dogs, Horses, Sheep

 

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Docking Days

 

ewes and lambs near Cherry Grovech

It’s that time of year. We’re nearly through lambing, and now we need to dock all those baby lambs. This is to ensure their health and well-being in the future. We dock their tails, vaccinate, castrate and earmark. The whole process takes a few minutes, then the lambs run off to join their moms. We count, number and brand the ewes and check for health before trailing.

Pepe and Meghan with the Dinkum Docker

Bubba. McCoy and John eating lunch

Eamon at the docking lunch

 

ewes with newly docked lambs

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2021 in Animals, Events, Sheep

 

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Spring lambs!

ewes and lambs in State Land pasture

ewes and lambs at Cottonwood

Cottonwood Creek

Pepe checking his ewes

Pepe at Cherry Grove

 
 

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Heading South

We are heading south on the sheep trail.

 

Now that the sheep are sheared, it is time to head 40 miles south to our lambing grounds. Trailing was held up a couple of days by stormy weather, but the moisture was welcome. We are pushing hard to get there before we have too many lambs on the ground. Now it’s time to pray for perfect weather, no predators and green grass!

The ewes are eager to migrate to the Cottonwood lambing grounds.

Pepe has picked up the ewes with early lambs and one guard dog.

 
 

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A Successful Shearing

shearing underway

2021 shearing went very well. Roland Montemayor’s crew showed up with plenty of shearers and wool handlers, good equipment and on time. The Montemayor crew has sheared for us for several years. We try to shear two weeks or so ahead of lambing, which is easier on the ewes and the shearers, and allows time for the ewes to trail on to the lambing grounds ten pounds lighter.

My only complaint was the howling wind for the first two and a half days. The winds were so strong on the third day that it was blowing the fleeces away. As Meghan pointed out, “The point is to get the wool into the bags.” We called it a day after lunch. We have shut down shearing many times due to weather, but this is the first time we’ve stopped because of high winds. Finally the weather settled down and we were able to finish all the sheep–pregnant ewes, yearlings, the early lambers and the bucks. Roland’s crew moved on and sheared sheep for a couple of our neighbors. Shearing is one of the very most important things we do all year, and it is one which we have little control over since there are so many factors that come into play. Thank you, Roland, Ciro and crew for your good work!

early morning–waiting to get started\

wooly ewes waiting their turn

the first shorn sheep

shearer at work

Tiarnan, Guillermo and Anthony on deck

Siobhan at the chute

 

packing the wool

wool handler on the run

packing the fleeces into the tromper

guard dog supervising

Thomasa–former bum lamb and newly sheared lead sheep

Pepe processing sheep

lunch line

lunchtime

top hand Julio

bells

Badwater base camp

 

view through the hatch

shorn ewes: free at last!

Pat and Roland

ewes through the shearing shed

 

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Southering

Ewes ready to leave the Red Desert

We are heading south from the wintering grounds on the Red Desert. The first leg takes us to the Badwater Pasture. The shearing crew has assured us that they will be here in a couple of days, which means we can shear the pregnant ewes at Badwater. This is better for the ewes because they can trail the last 40 miles to the lambing grounds at Cottonwood without ten pounds of wool on their backs. It also means they are shorn well before they start lambing. Some years the shearers are late due to weather, equipment or misadventure, and we see lambs on the ground as we are trying to shear. With luck, all will go well. Stay tuned!

 

Seamus opening the gate

heading under I80

truck above, sheep below

passing through Creston Junction

between I80 and the railroad overpass

the orange flag alerts oncoming traffic

Joel bringing the ewes over the Union Pacific line (the trickiest part)

through the gate and into Rodewalds’ pasture

Pepe and John at Rodewalds’ gate

 

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Spring Fever

spring snow on round bales

bovine shadows

It’s springtime and the livin’ is crazy. After hunkering down for the winter months, we are moving livestock from winter pasture to spring pasture. We are lambing, calving and trying to get all of our livestock charges to where they need to be for the change of seasons. We trucked the yearling ewes, and a few older ewes, from their wintering grounds at Powder Wash to the Badwater pasture. We are seeing the Akaushi cross calves on the ground, after last year’s decision to try these Wagu-type bulls on our Angus heifers. The calves sure are pretty and we’re excited to see what they look like as they grow up.

Akaushi babies at Powder Flat

Pepe, at dawn, ready to load the yearlings

ready for the trucks

guard dog, on the job

guard dog on the truck

Meghan, supervising

yearlings unloaded at Badwater

 

Alejandro, with his bellwether, Panchito

 

 

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Bringing the bucks home

Leo getting the bucks ready to load

In mid-December, we haul bucks out to the Red Desert so they may romance the ewes, thus guaranteeing lambs in May and June. “December rams bring May lambs” as the old saying goes.

Now it’s time to bring the rams home so that they may resume their bachelor lives, and create challenges until next December.

Here we are loading rams on the top of the aptly named Cyclone Rim. We are on the Rim seeking snow drifts for water for the sheep. The bucks are still in their working clothes (red powder) which will come off when they are shorn in a month or so.

Welcome home, bucks!

Leo with the bucks

down the chute to the trailer

Pepe, Leo and Seamus

Leo’s camp on Cyclone Rim

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2021 in Animals, Sheep

 

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Cattle and sheep and dogs, oh my!

Ladder Ranch crew–Rhen, Eamon, Edgar, Leo, Pat

Rhen on the chute after guiding his Dad who was backing up the truck.

Sometimes we have multi-species days. Pat, Eamon, Rhen and Sharon headed to Powder Flat to load heifers on trucks so we could move them to spring country north of Dixon. We are full-on lambing at the Powder Flat headquarters, so there was plenty going on there already.

heifers heading for the truck

Eamon on Aspen, ready to trail up the road

meanwhile back at Powder Flat. . .

 

guardian dog puppy in training

burning old straw by the lambing shed

Leo and Rhen feeding a bum lamb

Ladder branding iron

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2021 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Horses, Sheep

 

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January on the Red Desert

ewes at Chain Lakes

The past two winters have been hard winters by anyone’s standards. Conditions were especially harsh on the Red Desert north of Wamsutter, where we winter our sheep. In 2018-2019, the ewes and bucks were snowed in on the Cyclone Rim allotment for weeks, and we couldn’t even get to the Chain Lakes allotment. In 2019-2020, the winter started early, so we found frozen sugar beets in the northern part of Wyoming and trucked the sheep to farms.

Now we are in drought. We have received around 65 percent of normal moisture so far this winter. An easy winter is easier on both livestock and herders, and on us as we drive back and forth to the sheep camps. The sheep depend upon snow for water for most of the winter. We’ve had several days of wind and thaw, which takes the snow and leaves bare sage and steppe. We now wait for a good winter storm, which we hope will bring much-needed moisture. Winter snow brings us spring grass.

Enough snow. Not too much. Not too little.

Joel with guard dog puppy.

Sentinel ewes

Pat and Pepe at Cyclone Rim base camp

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2021 in Animals, Dogs, Family, Folks, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

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