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Monthly Archives: May 2012

The blackface sheep move to summer quarters

The blackface sheep move to summer quarters

We have a farm flock of purebred Hampshire sheep.  We lamb them out early (March) at Powder Flat, and raise our replacement bucks for the commercial herd from these ewes.  They also produce replacement ewe lambs and some future lamb chops.

In late spring, usually mid-May, we truck them to the Bull Pasture, near the Home Ranch.  They hang out there for a couple of weeks, then trail about 15 miles up to the Johnson Ranch, a private inholding in the Routt National Forest.  There they spend the summer, growing and fending off bears and coyotes.

A few days ago ( and a couple of weeks earlier than usual), Meghan, Siobhan and granddaughter-of-the-heart Bahnay trailed them on up to their summer pasture.  They (sheep, horses, dogs and ladies) really did walk all the way, but I caught them on their mid-day break.

Meghan, Siobhan and Bahnay hard at work

Hampshire lambs taking a break

Guard dog, likewise

Fox in Three Forks Ranch meadow

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Animals, Family, Nature and Wildlife, Sheep

 

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Elk crossing

Cow elk crossing the road near the Johnson Ranch in the Routt National Forest.

Maybe this post should be titled “Early Spring”.  I drove through the Routt Forest on May 15th and saw these cow elk crossing the road.  It is really early for elk to have migrated to their summer country in the Forest.  But then, everything is really early (except the shearing!).

It’s a little hard to see, but just as I took this photo of the elk in the meadow, a hawk flew up between them. Notice that the pine trees in the background are dead from a pine beetle infestation.

Elk with hawk rising

 
 

Shearing

Modesto trailing sheep across the Adams bridge

This spring, shearing was a process, not an event.  In order for our spring schedule to go smoothly, the shearing crew needs to be done by May 1st.  This gives us time to trail in an orderly manner to our lambing grounds, which takes four or five days.  This year the crew showed up on April 30th.

It has been a phenomenally dry spring, so they had not been delayed by weather.  Two reasons accounted for their late appearance.  Our long-time shearing contractor had retired to his farm in New Zealand, along with his wife, a wool-packer extraordinaire, his three-year-old daughter and their newborn twin sons.  The gentleman who took over his business was not nearly as experienced or efficient.  In addition, our government’s jihad against legal foreign workers has taken its toll on shearing crews.  Our crew did an excellent job, but was much slower than we were used to.

This year’s shearing, which lasted two weeks, took us into lambing, which starts May 8th.  We had pregnancy tested many of the ewes in March, so we sent the ewes pregnant with twins on to the lambing grounds.  This meant they trailed, heavy with lambs and with wool, and were sheared while they were beginning to lamb, on our private land on the lambing grounds.

Luckily for shearing, but unluckily in general, we lost only one day to rain.  It was the only rain that came in a month.  Hallelujah—we finally finished and were able to get on with the business of lambing.

guard dog watching sheep on the trail

waiting for the shearers

Sheep wagons at Badwater

Shearers at work

Shorn ewes in front of portable shearing shed

Amanda carrying wool to the mechanical packer

Maeve and Tiarnan on the wool bales

Stacking the wool bales

Tiarnan and ewe check each other out

Pepe, Dunkin and Siobhan

Afrenio and Pepe help Maeve practice mutton busting

Maeve and Seamus with the guard dog puppies

Modern sheepwoman: Meghan on cell phone

The first twins

 

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How did you spend your Mother’s Day?

Seamus, Meghan, & Maeve working hard on Mother’s Day!

Meghan stacking wool bales with Seamus and Maeve at her side!

Meghan working with her family at her side.  If the US Department of Labor had their way this could not happen.  Luckily, they were scared into withdrawing their proposal to ban kids from working on a farm or ranch.

post by Brian Lally

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Family

 

Sage grouse and avocets and kids, oh my!

Sage grouse and avocets and kids, oh my!

Each year, Siobhan’s teacher, Cindy Cobb, takes her third grade class on a field trip to see sage grouse dance.  This is an opportunity for the kids in our rural school.  Sage grouse are an iconic western bird, and lots of attention is being paid to them due to the possibility that they might become listed as an endangered species. Each spring, the birds gather on open areas in their sagebrush habitat, known as “leks”.
Male sage grouse dance in order to impress the females, who wander among the preening males looking for “the one”. They spread their fan of tail-feathers, puff out their white chests and make a distinctive “cooing” sound.
“Reminds me of people,” quipped Tony Mong, the Wyoming Game and Fish biologist who accompanied the students to the dancing ground.

Trying to impress the ladies

Miss Cobb explained that she likes “hands-on” teaching, and she is known for the many field trips she sponsors for her students.
“My philosophy of teaching is based on a Chinese proverb,” she said. “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
“How many kids, or even adults, have seen sage grouse dance?” she asked.

Tony and kids watch the grouse from inside the bus

This lek is below this oilfield installation

Next, the class visited man-made wetlands near Dad, 20 miles north of Baggs.  This project diverts water from Muddy Creek and has created wetlands on a formerly dry sagebrush flat.  It provides a stopover for migratory birds and habitat for a number of species.  Here, Tony explained the various ecosystem services provided by such wetlands, using items swiped from the family kitchen to illustrate.

These wetlands are considered “urban” even though they are definitely way out in the country.  This is due to the high level of oil and gas development in the area.

Ducks galore

Siobhan and friends on the dike with Pat and Miss Cobb

The Magic School Bus

An urban wetland