And they call the wind
Every year we buy several loads of corn to feed to the ewes on the desert. We will put the rams in with the ewes in a couple of days, and it is important that their nutrition is optimal. Nothing is better than corn for flushing the ewes. In late November, we had the first load of corn delivered. Now, in almost mid-December, that load is almost gone, but the ewes have found it very tasty and nutritious.
Every fall, we have what we call “the good old ewes.” These ewes are still sound, but aren’t quite up for another winter on the Red Desert. They are Minnesota bound. Sheep producers around Pipestone can offer them a comfier life at a lower altitude, with more shelter. They will be able to produce lambs and wool for several more years.
It’s that time of year when the long days of summer have come to an end. Since early summer, the cows and calves, and the ewes and lambs, have grazed the Forest. Their only responsibilities have been to gain weight and avoid predators. The cows have had the added task of consorting with bulls and getting pregnant.
Those days are gone, and it is now time for the calves and lambs to leave their mothers and move on to the next stage of life. The nights are noisy as the cows and ewes call for their departed offspring. The older moms probably give a sigh of relief as their mothering duties have been fulfilled for another turn of the seasons.
After all our adventures with shearing (and we still have a few ewes to shear and lambs to dock!), we loaded the first load of wool today. Most of it is bound for the U.S. military. Here is our intrepid loading crew, including the Utah trucker who came to haul it. One more load to go!
The last truckloads of cows came in from Laramie last night. Due to mechanical problems, we ended up unloading after dark. I tried to take pictures without a tripod. The results were spooky, or maybe artistic.
We are now at the time of year when we determine how many mouths we can feed throughout the winter. Those pregnant old cows–should we feed them high-priced hay so that they will bring us one more calf–or sell them to someone who will probably offer them an easier winter in lower country? The smaller calves–feed them and hope for a better market, or send them on to a feeder who will then assume the risk (both up and down)? Given the drought conditions, which tell us that we may need every bale of hay we have on hand, we have decided to sell all the “maybe” animals. Eamon loaded the remaining calves, some older but sound cows, and even a few extra bulls on the truck and sent them to the auction. We hope they will give another owner good honest service.