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Tag Archives: Union Pacific

Along the spring sheep trails

looking east from Powder Rim

We have started trailing from our wintering grounds to spring country where we have shearing and lambing in our future, and theirs.

The ewe lambs have spent the winter in the Powder Wash country. Yemerson has started them along the Powder Rim trail. In a few days, they will arrive at the Badwater Pasture, where they will hang out until early July.

In the meantime, the ewes who wintered on the Chain Lakes allotment on the Red Desert have started south. Their destination is the Cottonwood lambing grounds. In a few weeks, we’ll have wool in the bags, and lambs on the ground, God willing.

ewe lambs watering on the Powder Rim trail

nooning at the reservoir

leaving the Red Desert

between I80 and the railroad overpass

Pepe giving an early lamb a lift

catching a ride

over the Union Pacific bridge

almost to the Rodewald gate

Timmy–ready for green grass

 

 

 

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The first sheep head south

The sheep are ready to leave winter pasture on the Red Desert

The sheep are ready to leave winter pasture on the Red Desert

We have to flag as the sheep enter the highway

We have to flag as the sheep enter the highway

Today, the first band of ewes headed south, under Interstate 80 at Creston Junction, and over the Union Pacific line on Wyoming Highway 789. After a hard winter on the Red Desert, they are going to greening pastures. The other two bands which wintered on the Red Desert will follow in a couple of weeks as they travel to Badwater for shearing and Cottonwood for lambing.

crossing under I80, in the rear view mirror

crossing under I80, in the rear view mirror

sheep heading down from the Union Pacific overpass

sheep heading down from the Union Pacific overpass

The traffic was backed up as it waited for the sheep to pass over the narrow bridge.

The traffic was backed up as it waited for the sheep to pass over the narrow bridge.

heading for the gate

Filomeno heading for the gate

through the gate into Rodewald's pasture

through the gate into Rodewald’s pasture

Most of the Livestock Guardian Dogs rode in the truck--after various escape attempts

Most of the Livestock Guardian Dogs rode in the truck–after various escape attempts

Meghan and Pepe with multiple dogs

Meghan and Pepe with multiple dogs

 

 

 

 

 

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Headed for the Promised Land

Destination: the sagebrush sea

Destination: the sagebrush sea

Every year at this time, we are almost there with the final leg of our 150 mile trek as the sheep trail from their summer country in the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests to winter pasture in Wyoming’s Red Desert. Each way, spring and fall, we must cross the overpass across the Union Pacific line, and the underpass below Interstate 80–both coast to coast trails of a different sort. We make this part of the trail on WY Highway 789. For several miles, we share the highway with cars, pickup trucks and trailers, motor homes, and semi trucks hauling everything from livestock to oilfield supplies. We flag the road, ‘fore and aft, to warn traffic that the sheep are on the highway. We’ve only had a few near wrecks over the years, due mostly to inattentive or inexperienced drivers, and sometimes bad weather. Mostly we see our neighbors, who wait and wave, fellow travelers, and folks who stop and take photos and ask questions. I always send up a prayer of thanks when sheep, dogs, horses and humans have safely threaded the needle, and are on their way to the Red Desert. Then I pray for a good winter, good feed and a good living for all.

at Rodewald's gate

at Rodewald’s gate

Jean Carlos on the run

Jean Carlos on the run

 

Filo on the railroad bridge

Filo on the railroad bridge

 

headed East

headed East

FedEx

 

passing the Fireworks Stand

passing the Fireworks Stand

sharing the road

sharing the road

Prima Express

Prima Express–dos direciones

 

Under I80

Under I80

Ovcharka livestock guardian dog sees them through the gate

Ovcharka livestock guardian dog sees them through the gate

trailing crew--Rhen, Pepe, McCoy and Pat

trailing crew–Rhen, Pepe, McCoy and Pat

more crew--Pepe, Tiarnan and Pat

more crew–Pepe, Tiarnan and Meghan

Tiarnan and Modesto headed north on adopted wild horse

Tiarnan and Modesto headed north on adopted wild horse

 

 

 
 

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North to the Red Desert

Sheep ready to cross onto the highway

Sheep ready to cross onto the highway

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.

Under I80

Under I80

Border collies at work

Border collies at work

Pepe, Salomon, Modesto, Christian, shadow

Pepe, Salomon, Modesto, Christian, shadow

 
 

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The long trail south, with an aside from “Moby Duck”

The long trail south, with an aside from “Moby Duck”

Every year in mid-April, we begin the long trek south with the sheep.  Most of them have wintered on the Red Desert, north of Wamsutter, Wyoming.  They trail sixty miles or so to the Badwater pasture–a checkerboard pasture southeast of Creston Junction.  When the Union Pacific put the railroad through in 1865, the U.S. government gave them every other section for 20 miles on either side of the track as an incentive.  If they’d just given them a solid ten miles, it would have made life easier for future generations, but that is how it is.  Half the sections are privately owned (and many of them were sold by the railroad over the years) and half are BLM-administered lands.

This annual journey includes crossing under Interstate 80 and over the Union Pacific tracks, thankfully on an overpass.  It is a trail fraught with hazards, as the traffic is sometimes heavy and the railroad overpass is blind on the approaches.  We do a lot of flagging and keep the sheep in the right-of-way as much as possible.

I recently read “Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author,Who Went in Search of Them” by Donovon Hohn–a book which tracks the vast number of container ships who travel from Asia to the United States with consumer goods.  I was interested to note that the sheep were passing over railroad cars carrying containers that clearly originated in China.

Containers which came by sea from China.

When we pass through the gate into our good neighbors Duane and Debbie Rodewald’s pasture, we give a huge sigh of relief.

Pepe, surveying the route

Modesto, pushing the sheep under I80

Guard dog leads the sheep under the interstate

The road isn’t closed today.

Heading up the railroad overpass.

Sadie helping

Going through Rodewald’s gate–hallelujah!

 
 

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