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Tag Archives: sheep

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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After the sort, before the trail

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2020 in Animals, Dogs, Sheep

 

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Migration

Shadows

As the elk and the deer
head down from summer’s grass
calves and fawns by their side
we gather cows, their calves and
hope for good weather.
We hook up the sheep camps,
move our community of critters—
ewes, lambs, dogs, horses.

The shepherds shift from early mornings,
lazy afternoons, fights with bears
and coyotes—
trying to find a camp spot among
tourists, campers, refugees from Covid.
At home, we stage the sheep, bringing them
bunch by bunch to pastures,
to the corrals

For sorting, for judging who stays,
who goes, some to the desert
some to farmers with soft fields and warm barns.
Lambs climb onto trucks—
first the heavies, born early,
next the lights,
and finally the peewees
headed for corn and lower country.

Now we follow the migration.

ewes trailing down from the Routt Forest

past the Bull Pasture

KIm supervising

Meghan at the sorting gate

lambs

under the sun

Anthony working the chute

ewes after sorting

Meghan loading the truck, with help

lambs loading on truck

Pepe and Oscar bringing them up

Pepe. Edgar and Bubba

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Buck testing–it’s pass/fail

bucks relaxing in the meadow

 

Each fall we test the buck herd. Geri Parsons, Optimal Livestock Services, comes to check our rams for fertility and health. At the same time, we look at their teeth, their feet and their general condition to make sure they are ready to romance the ewes in a couple of months.

ready to test

Geri, Edgar and Rhen

Oscar, Geri and Edgar

 

Geri in her portable lab

evening dust-up between bucks

 

 

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Autumn in the Routt National Forest

Dog Days of September

 

October 1st is drawing near. In our world, that is the off-date for most of our National Forest permits. We are now staging both the cows and the sheep to trail down to the Home Ranch in a few days. Here’s Pepe and Modesto, our excellent long-time herders, with their ewes and lambs, ready to come off the Forest. We have had a record year for predator losses, in spite of their efforts and the efforts of our valiant Livestock Guardian Dogs. Since we know how many ewes and their lambs went up in July, and Pepe and Modesto (and the other herders) keep track of other deaths, we will soon have an idea of how terrible these losses have been.

Pat and Pepe in Big Red Park

Pat and Modesto near Independence Creek

Modesto’s ewes and lambs

 
 

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Docking 2020

Bringing up the ewes and lambs

Lambing is closely followed by docking the new lambs. This means literally docking the tails, to protect against flystrike, earmarking and paint branding to indicate ownership, castrating to make management easier and to create better meat quality, vaccinating to protect health, and a look at each and every lamb for problems to address. It makes for long days, but also adds camaraderie and teamwork to our hard-working crew! A good lunch is sure to appear. No one has trouble sleeping at the end of the day

docking crew at Cherry Grove

end of the line, Dinkum Docker, Maeve branding

 

Pepe and Renee tailing and branding

Pepe, Renee, Siobhan

dances in dust

Eamon tossing lamb

Juan catching lamb

Siobhan and Bubba, docking

ewes and lambs, mothering up

 

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Babies in May

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2020 in Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Horses, Sheep

 

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Border collies on the job

bringing ewes up for shearing

 

 

Daughter and mother,
my right-hand canine duo—
Cora and Sadie.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in Animals, Dogs, Poetry, Sheep

 

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Shearing, interrupted

Anthony bringing up the wooley ewes

Shearing the sheep is a challenge every year. We are dependent, foremost, upon the arrival of the shearing crew. These skilled and essential crews are more difficult to find every year. For the crew bosses, it is harder each year to put together skilled shearers and to put together sheep to shear. We are dependent upon the weather, which is capricious. This year, now, our excellent shearing crew has started a few days late, due to weather. On Friday, we were able to get in a good days’ shearing. Yesterday it rained all day. Rain is usually good—much better than drought—but wet sheep can’t be shorn. Today, we started again, and managed to get through 50 head. A brief but fierce storm came through, and stopped us. So tomorrow, we try again. We have a lot of ewes who need shorn before  lambing starts May 10th or so.

Ciro shearing

the first shorn ewe

wooley ewes, shorn ewes

shorn ewes

Oscar and the crew

free at last!

water

storm clouds

 

 

 

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An existential question regarding Siobhan

Is Siobhan dressed for Coronavirus?

. . .or trailing yearling ewes up the highway on a cold April day?

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2020 in Animals, Family, Folks, Horses, Sheep

 

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