The rams hang around for ten and a half months, waiting for the day when they are called to go to work, fathering lambs for the next season. We put the bucks in over a period of days and weeks. We figure that the first bucks to go in with the ewes are getting tired, so we send reinforcements. They sometimes resent being worked through the chutes, but are happy to jump out of the trailers to join the ladies. When we were loading them, I said, “Hop in boys–all the corn you can eat.” Meghan said, “All the ladies you can breed!” I added, “…and all the wind you can tolerate.” Such is the life of a buck in the winter.
Tag Archives: Siobhan
Aerial Mapping puts Big Red Fire at 529 acres
(STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.) August 29, 2017 – A helicopter flight over the Big Red Fire today gave fire personnel a more accurate view of the incident size and as a result the fire is now being reported at 529 acres.
The fire has grown over the last few days due to timely winds, group and single-tree torching, and then subsequent short to mid-range spotting of the fire into unburned areas on the Routt National Forest.
Despite the large increase in reported acreage, management of the wildfire remained the same as it has been, with emphasis on firefighter and public safety, utilizing trigger points to engage the fire where there is a high probability of success, and monitoring fire behavior. This management approach is consistent with other recent area fires in similar fuel types.
The main focus of 70 personnel working the fire has been to utilize Forest Roads 500, 500.1B, and 500.1A to establish fire line along the southern boundary of the fire.
Private land near Big Red Park and an active Forest Service timber sale (Blue Duck Salvage) could be at risk if the fire moves south.
An area closure remains in place, temporarily closing part of the 500 Road and its’ subsequent spur roads, as well as Forest Trail 1204.1A.
The Big Red Fire was discovered on Saturday, Aug. 19 in north Routt County, Colo. It is burning in mixed conifer, which includes spruce, fir, pine, and both live and bug-killed timber.
The wildfire is located just north of Big Red Park, along Forest Road 500, and approximately five miles south of the Colorado/Wyoming state line.
It has been determined that the fire was caused by lightning, with initial response by Forest Service and County staff.
Although unplanned, wildfires such as the Big Red Fire have the potential to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health.
InciWeb will be used as the primary means of information distribution for the Big Red Fire. An incident page will be updated at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5551/. The Forest Twitter account, @FS_MBRTB, will also be used for fire updates.
turns out isn’t mostly dim,
but sorta smoky
Like those brush fire days
when blazes light up the range
and wind blows our way,
Dimming the mountains.
I expected more twilight–
maybe a few stars.
Still—through the glasses,
the moon slid over the sun,
leaving a crescent.
It grew chill, and still,
and leaf shadows lay stipled.
While Casey posts photos on Facebook of his cowboy exploits with the rough and tough Ladder Ranch crew, here is what he is really up to!
It is hard to describe shearing season. It is essential, and ridden with uncertainty. The sheep must be shorn once a year in order to remain healthy and productive. The wool is a critical part of our income. And it is overwhelmingly important that the wool be shorn before lambing commences—a point that was brought home in 2015 when the scheduled shearers did not show up, and the problems of the season were exacerbated by weather and visa issues for the crews. We had to lamb in the wool, and organize a complicated shearing/docking operation in June.
Shearing of the range sheep herds is accomplished by contractors, who hire highly skilled crews (mostly foreigners, who need H2-A visas). It is a well-paid profession, but like most essential agriculture jobs, hardly filled by Americans. The contractors spend most of the non-shearing season vetting, hiring and completing paperwork so that they will have enough skilled, hard-working shearers to fill their crew.
The contractors seek to work for producers with a large number of sheep. This means that they don’t have to move as often, and are guaranteed a good period of work. Producers develop reputations for their facilities and respect for the crew, as well as proximity to amenities such as grocery stores and fuel.
Likewise, shearing contractors are known for their speed, care of the sheep and the wool, and above all, reliability. Producers value the good crews and strive to hire them. It is a dance every year, with the crews shifting as the situations change. Loyalty goes a long way for both partners.
This year our good California crew returned, and sheared our sheep in good order. We had luck that they were able to show up only a couple of days after our original target date. Sometimes the delay is many days, or weeks. Producers have to “stage” the sheep, since the shearing areas are usually at a fixed site, with usually “just enough” feed to support the sheep as they cycle through the shed.
In the old days, producers had large fixed sheds, which were designed to facilitate the movement of sheep and efficiency for the shearer. Most of these old Australian-style sheds are gone now, and the traveling crews have portable sheds which are basically small buildings on a trailer base. These are ingeniously designed to allow the sheep to enter a long chute from which the shearers (usually six or eight to a shed) can pull them to the shearing floor. After she is shorn, the ewe goes out a trap door to the left, while the wool slides out to the right. The wool handlers are waiting to sort and bale the wool just outside. Some crews have “sorting tables” to make it easier to skirt and bale the wool.
About 40 fleeces go into each bale, tamped down by a large ramrod into a rectangular wool bag. Bellies and tags (dirty short pieces) are baled separately, as are different types and grades of wool. The wool handlers, often women, are also skilled and must work fast to keep up with the shearers, who outnumber them.
The weather is a huge factor in all this. Wet sheep cannot be shorn. The wool quality is ruined if it is baled wet. Shearers won’t shear wet sheep because it can lead to “wool pneumonia”. Cold spring storms are a threat to recently shorn sheep. In a week or so, enough wool grows back to allow the sheep to have some insulation, but freshly shorn sheep are very vulnerable to cold, wet weather. A late April storm in 1984 killed a quarter million ewes in Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. Some of them were ours.
All that said, we are grateful that we got through the week it takes us to shear with relatively good conditions, a good crew and healthy sheep. We have to trail to the lambing grounds now with the main bunches. The two-year-olds are already under way lambing at our lambing sheds, so all hands are busy.