Pat and I were in Peru in mid-July, where we met with officials from the American Embassy regarding our difficulties with H-2A visas for our skilled Peruvian sheepherders. We spent a week as tourists. Our long-time employee, Pepe, recommended that we visit the Colca Canyon, which is famed for its Andean Condors.
It is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, but in a very different landscape. The upper part is scored with relatively gradual slopes. They are very steep, with dramatic mountains rising on each side. The slopes have agricultural terraces—some from pre-Inca and Inca times and some more recent. As the canyon, and the terraces change in altitude, the crops vary in relation to the micro-climate.
When the Spaniards conquered the indigenous people living in Colca Canyon, they “resettled” them from remote farmsteads into towns where they were more easily “governed”. The twelve towns established by the Catholic Church each have a square and a beautiful church, which have largely been refurbished. For centuries, the Church provided most of the government of the region, since it was so isolated. Llama trains bore goods back and forth to Ariquipa. A highway brought the region into the modern world, and today it depends on a thriving tourism business.
On August 15th, not long after our visit there, the area was rattled by a shallow earthquake. At last count, nine people were counted among the dead, including an American tourist. Scores were injured, and access through the winding mountain roads was cut off. This followed hard on the heels of an unusually cold snap which killed thousands of head of livestock in southern Peru.
The area depends on agriculture and tourism. We were amazed by the number of tourists visiting. Each of the twelve towns in the valley has developed a unique attraction. We visited Yanque, the town most hard-hit of all. The tourist attraction in Yanque is traditional dancing in the Plaza de Armas (town square) every single day. When we saw the dancing, I thought of the movie “Funny Farm” where the locals relentlessly ice skate to impress visitors.
Still, the dancing was wonderful, and we weren’t there for any of the many festivals where we might have seen dancing. I admired the local folks for figuring out a way to extract income from the many tourists visiting the area. I read that the Plaza is now filled with folks whose homes were destroyed. We pray for them.
We’ve had a long quiet spell on this blog. Don’t worry–life goes on at the Ladder Ranch. Pat and Sharon just spent two weeks in Peru. Our problems with visas for our skilled and valued Peruvian employees has reached the level where we decided to go to Lima and meet with staff at the American embassy. We also spent time with the family of Pepe Cruz, our long-time Peruvian employee. More photos will follow, but here are a few to prove that we were well and truly in Peru when we left in the middle of July, trusting Meghan, Eamon and family to hold down the fort. So here’s a few photos of us when we were touristing, not working. More Peru photos to follow!
Much of our lives revolves around reproduction…sometimes encouraging it, sometime avoiding it, but always managing it. Sheep reach sexual maturity at a relatively young age, so in July we must remove the buck lambs, born in March, from their mothers and the ewe herd. The conventional wisdom, at our latitude(about 41) is that ewes can be bred in any month with an “R” in it. It’s a bit more complicated than that, depending on factors such as the breed and nutrition, but we have learned not to overthink it. Suffice it to say that if you don’t want to be lambing at Christmastime or so, it’s a good idea to remove intact buck lambs from their mothers in July. We don’t want to wait until “AuRgust”!
Since we raise our own bucks, and they are getting to be pretty big guys, we put them into the corrals at the Johnson Ranch, where they summer north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The buck lambs who pass the test to be replacement rams are weaned and taken to the Home Ranch, far away, we hope, from any ewes.