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Guard Dog on the job

Hard at work

Hard at work

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Animals, Sheep

 

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Lambs on feed–and the livin’ is easy…

Last month, we loaded almost all of our lambs onto trucks and sent them to a feedlot in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.  It is time for the ewes to be lamb-free for a couple of months so that they will be ready for the winter months, and their future liasons with bucks. One might think that the ewes are doing most of the work here, and one would be correct. The job of the lambs is to put on some pounds. Here they are, eating a high-carb diet and having their every need attended to. We went to see them the other day, and I think they were glad to see us.

Lambs hanging out in the feedlot

Lambs hanging out in the feedlot

Where is that corn?

Where is that corn?

Happy and healthy

Happy and healthy

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Animals, Sheep

 

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Is she or isn’t she–that is the question

Dr. McFarland pregnancy checking a cow

Dr. McFarland pregnancy checking a cow

It’s that time of year again. With the calves weaned, it’s time to learn which cows are pregnant, which ones are open (not pregnant) and which ones are due to calve later than we like. This keeps us from putting winter feed into a cow who is not going to raise a calf next year. Often the ones who were bred later will make a fine cow for someone on a different calving schedule, but do not fit our “program”. Our annual cycle is absolutely determined by our climate. We ranch at a high altitude, and even our low country is more than a mile above sea level. The long summer days and great soil mean that our grass is high in protein, perfect for raising strong and healthy livestock and wild ungulates. The short growing season means that we need to maximize that grass while it is available. Add to this our complicated schedule of a landscape scale rotation through private and state lands, and BLM and Forest grazing permits. This means that we need our calves to be born in a fairly small window, so that they will grow and thrive when conditions are optimal, and be a uniform size when it is time to sell them. We shorten that window for some of the cows by artificial insemination in late June. This does give us an added risk of bad weather during a shortened calving period–a risk we try to minimize by keeping them close to sheds and shelter during calving. But we will worry about that next spring. For now, we wait for Dr. McFarland’s cry of “pregnant!”, “late!” or “open!”. First he peers through the googles that show what the ultrasound machine is perceiving, then he follows up with an old-fashioned palpation if necessary. Some of the cows get vaccine, some get new eartags, and they all get a backpour for parasites. Then it’s on to the wintering grounds–just in time, for today we got our first real snow

Brittany and Megan taking care of business

Brittany and Megan taking care of business

Rhen and McCoy supervising, again.

Rhen and McCoy supervising, again.

Megan contemplates her next move

Megan contemplates her next move

Eamon running the hydraulic chute, with "pregnants" in the field

Eamon running the hydraulic chute, with “pregnants” in the field

"pregnant!"

“pregnant!”

Mc McCoy bringing the cow up

McCoy bringing the cow up

Cow in squeeze chute with Brittany and Pat

Cow in squeeze chute with Brittany and Pat

Brittany and Rhen high-five

Brittany and Rhen high-five

Brittany--the happy cowhand

Brittany–the happy cowhand

Rhen and Meghan, thinking about cows

Rhen and Meghan, thinking about cows

 

 

 

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Shipping the steer calves

Calves, heading to the scales

Calves, heading to the scales

Once a cook told me, “When Sharon said things would slow down after the summer, I didn’t realize that summer lasted until November!”. Well, it’s true–in my mind, the busy season begins when we start the sheep on the trail in mid-April and comes to an end when we ship the calves in the fall. The work doesn’t really end then–we still have to pregnancy-test the cows and trail the sheep to their winter country, but it really does slow down a lot. By now, all but the most die-hard hunters have gone, the sheepherders have gone back to their camps after a month or so around the ranch headquarters, and the cows are settling into their winter pastures. We still have some heifer calves to sell, but we have just put the steer calves on a truck. Their buyer is feeding them in Nebraska this winter. This means that we listen to several nights of mama cows calling for their babies, although the older cows know their calves are gone, and that their job is to nurture the calves in their bellies. We have few quiet nights this time of year, as we wean first the lambs, then the calves. We have a lot of guard dogs around until the winter bunches are settled in, so lots of barking accompanies the night song. Often the coyotes will taunt them, setting off a chorus of barking and howling that would put the Hound of the Baskervilles to shame. Soon enough, winter’s quiet will set in, with only the creaking of the ice and the caw of crows to break the cold silence.

 

Calves waiting to be weighed

Calves waiting to be weighed

Cows, seperated

Cows, separated

Where ARE those calves?!

Where ARE those calves?!

Slim, Pat and Eamon at the scales

Slim, Pat and Eamon at the scales

McCoy double-checking the weights

McCoy double-checking the weights

Rhen and McCoy checking things out

Rhen and McCoy supervising

Brittany and Sadie working the cows

Brittany and Sadie working the cows

Cows with Flattop

Cows with Flattop

 
 

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Helping fish and irrigation on Battle Creek

the sun shines on Battle Creek

the sun shines on Battle Creek

We have been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners Program for a number of years. The Partners Program, along with several other partners, have helped us in a project on Battle Creek that includes a number of structures that enhance habitat for fish, especially Colorado Cutthroat Trout, and provide improved flood irrigation for our native hay meadows. This, in turn, benefits the wetlands that support our bird populations. The structures also protect the stream banks against erosion during spring runoff. The structures got a good test during the high runoff years of 2010 and 2011. We saved a lot of meadowland, but some of the structures took a beating. We had a Colorado structure that failed and was causing erosion. Thanks to NRCS and the Fish and Wildlife Service, we were able to repair and enhance these rock and log structures, and are good to go!

 

 

 

It takes big machines. Thanks to our very professional crew!

It takes big machines. Thanks to our very professional crew!

New double drop structure near the headgate

New double drop structure near the headgate

dripping water as the wood is placed in the Creek

dripping water as the wood is placed in the Creek

This operator can grasp a toothpick if he chooses

This operator can grasp a toothpick if he chooses

Preparing the floodplain

Preparing the floodplain

Seamus checks out the trackhoe bucket

Seamus checks out the trackhoe bucket

McCoy and the dogs check out the new structure

McCoy and the dogs check out the new structure

Val reflects upon the project

Val reflects upon the project

 

 

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Boys and their cows

McCoy, Tiarnan and Rhen have the cows under control

McCoy, Tiarnan and Rhen have the cows under control

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Animals, Cattle, Family, Folks

 

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Indian Summer

Antelope under Sheep Mountain

Antelope under Sheep Mountain

Rock structure in Battle Creek--helping out both fish and irrigation

Rock structure in Battle Creek–helping out both fish and irrigation

The Upper Meadow with cows and bales--both ready for winter

The Upper Meadow with cows and bales–both ready for winter

Cows with their calves

Cows with their calves

Ewes and lambs going into the Bull Pasture

Ewes and lambs going into the Bull Pasture

Lots of sheep and one cow grazing in Don's Meadow

Lots of sheep and one cow grazing in Don’s Meadow

Sheep Mountain is an extinct volcano

Sheep Mountain is an extinct volcano

First snow lingers

First snow lingers

 
 

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