It’s that time of year. In order for our calves to be born in a timely manner next spring, the cows must become pregnant now, or soon. Most of them will manage this in the traditional way, which involves a close, if brief, relationship with a bull–preferably one of our choosing. Some of the cows will have a close encounter with a straw of bull semen. What this encounter lacks in romance it makes up for in the quality of the afore-mentioned semen. Artificial insemination allows us to breed the cows to bulls which have been carefully selected for characteristics we like, while not having to buy and support very high-priced bulls. If, for some reason, the cows do not respond to the attention of Adam, Megan and Hallie–well–there’s always the actual bulls who are willing to work to ensure a spring calf crop!
Every year, we end up with a number of bum (orphan) lambs. They are motherless due to a variety of circumstances. Some ewes have more lambs than milk. Sometimes a ewe dies, leaving an actual orphan. Some lambs are weak, or injured, or just lost.
We sometimes are asked why these motherless lambs are called “bums”. It’s because they are “bumming” milk from their compatriots, or at least the most successful ones do.
This year, we have ended up with more bums than usual, partly due to our decision to lamb all the almost two-year-old ewes in the sheds. They did produce more lambs than milk. These are lambs that might have died on the range, so we are glad to have them back at the Home Ranch. This year, we decided to go all in, and raise them in an “organized” manner.
Raising bum lambs involves a lot of extra time, labor and money, as we purchase lamb milk replacer, which costs somewhat more than illegal drugs. This year, our efforts to supplement the lambs has been aided by Lady, the livestock guardian dog mom. We put her and her seven puppies with the multitudes, figuring it would be a good bonding experience for lambs and puppies alike.
Little did we expect that Lady would take her responsibilities so seriously.
Memorial Day is indeed a memorable day on Snake River. Families gather to decorate graves and remember their dead at the Reader Cemetery, the Baggs Cemetery, the Baker Cemetery and the Little Cemetery Under the Hill. Several small private cemeteries still hold pioneer family members in various locations. Friends and families gather and visit as they place flowers and memorials on graves. A service is held at the Reader Cemetery, then many folks, local and visiting, get together for a picnic at the Little Snake River Museum in Savery. Most of my family is buried at the Reader Cemetery, along with many friends. Maeve, Tiarnan, Rhen and I placed flowers, and I told them stories about various folks as they ran around. I had to laugh at the inscription on my parents’ friend George St. Louis’s stone. “Head for the Roundhouse, Nellie. They can’t corner you there!”