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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sheep camp supplies

Richar, ready to unload hay

Richar, ready to unload hay

As the year grows ever shorter, and the days wax with the passage of the winter solstice, the sheep are on their wintering grounds.  Three bands are north of I80, where the ewes are keeping company with the bucks.  This brings the promise of spring lambs, and gives particular meaning to the phrase “animal husbandry”.

The sheep are under the constant care of our Peruvian sheepherders, who make sure that they have fresh pasture (grasses left over from the summer), water, protection from the constant predators, and that they remain within the allotment boundaries set by the Bureau of Land Management.

Border collies on the Red Desert

Border collies on the Red Desert

We have been blessed, finally, with winter snow, which solves the water problem.  We have mortgaged our future in order to buy corn to keep the sheep strong during the breeding season, and for the cold weather, present and future.  As my Dad always said, “You can’t starve production out of an animal”–(not that I can imagine why one would consider it).

Today, Pat, McCoy (2) and I took supplies out the the sheepherders, and to Richar, the camptender who is responsible for feeding corn each day and making sure the herders have all they need.  We took hay, firewood, coal, dog food, groceries, mail and new calenders.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Animals, Folks, Peruvian sheepherders, Sheep

 

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Stolen kisses

Sunset, December 29, 2012

Sunset, December 29, 2012

Snowflakes brush like kisses
stolen as Old Man Drought
looks the other way
not seeing sweet soft touches
that fall like caresses
filling the spaces
where dry has slowly,
inexorably pushed and sucked
and laid bare the rise and fall
of landscape.

Snow falls and falls
and fills the thirsty land,
the creekbeds and ponds,
the rills and runs of arroyos
dry so long,
now filled with promise
of flood and flash and
a possible future
of spring grass.

A spring that could be
green with feed
for those who hunger–
grasses fed by winter snows
that kiss the earth with wet
and the promise of rain.

Maybe drought’s doom
will not curse us forever.
Maybe these snowflakes
sent like kisses, wet brushes
against our cheeks
portend a promise
of green and grass
and prosperity.

A lover’s kiss.
Take that
Old Man Drought.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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The Christmas Trail by Badger Clark

Geo0rge on Hickory, Buck Drawphoto by Patricia Moore

George on Hickory, Buck Draw
photo by Patricia Moore

 This is in memory of my Dad, George Salisbury, who died Christmas Day, 2010.

The wind is blowin’ cold down the mountain tips of snow
And ‘cross the ranges layin’ brown and dead;
It’s cryin’ through the valley trees that wear the mistletoe
And mournin’ with the gray clouds overhead.
Yet it’s sweet with the beat of my little hawse’s feet
And I whistle like the air was warm and blue
For I’m ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you,
Old folks,
I’m a-ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you.

Oh, mebbe it was good when the whinny of the Spring
Had weedled me to hoppin’ of the bars.
And livin’ in the shadow of a sailin’ buzzard’s wing
And sleepin’ underneath a roof of stars.
But the bright campfire light only dances for a night,
While the home-fire burns forever clear and true,
So ’round the year I circle back to you,
Old folks,
‘Round the rovin’ year I circle back to you.

Oh, mebbe it was good when the reckless Summer sun
Had shot a charge of fire through my veins,
And I milled around the whiskey and the fightin’ and fun
‘Mong the mav’ricks drifted from the plains.
Ay, the pot bubbled hot, while you reckoned I’d forgot,
And the devil smacked the young blood in his stew,
Yet I’m lovin’ every mile that’s nearer you,
Good folks,
Lovin’ every blessed mile that’s nearer you.

Oh, mebbe it was good at the roundup in the Fall,
When the clouds of bawlin’ dust before us ran,
And the pride of rope and saddle was a-drivin’ of us all
To stretch of nerve and muscle, man and man.
But the pride sort of died when the man got weary eyed;
‘Twas a sleepy boy that rode the nightguard through,
And he dreamed himself along a trail to you,
Old folks,
Dreamed himself along a happy trail to you.

The coyote’s Winter howl cuts the dusk behind the hill,
But the ranch’s shinin’ window I kin see,
And though I don’t deserve it and, I reckon, never will,
There’ll be room beside the fire kep’ for me.
Skimp my plate ’cause I’m late.  Let me hit the old kid gait,
For tonight I’m stumblin’ tired of the new
And I’m ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you,
Old folks,
I’m a-ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2012 in Family, Folks, Poetry

 

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Images from the winter solstice

happy as pigs in slop

happy as pigs in slop

Eamon and Pat in winter

Eamon and Pat in winter

Siobhan, Maeve and McCoy with Salt and Pepper--Siobhan's 4-H steers

Siobhan, Maeve and McCoy with Salt and Pepper–Siobhan’s 4-H steers

Squaw Mountain with flag

Ladder heifers

Squaw Mt, bales, flag

Squaw Mountain with bales

birds of a feather

birds of a feather

almost like partridges in a pear tree

almost like partridges in a pear tree

 
 

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Guys with snow

Eamon, Pat, Sadie and bull calf on Battle Creek

Eamon, Pat, Sadie and bull calf on Battle Creek

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Animals, Cattle, Family, Folks

 

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On to the Red Desert

On to the Red Desert

December 1st is the on date for our winter sheep grazing allotments on the Red Desert, north of I80 and Wamsutter, Wyoming.  The sheep walk a five-day trail from our late fall pasture, Badwater, to the checkerboard Chain Lakes allotment,  with the private owned by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.  It also serves as critical winter habitat for antelope.  We maintain the water and the fences, and provide “boots on the ground.”  One band of sheep winters in Chain Lakes and two move on to the aptly named Cyclone Rim allotment.  A few weeks ago, this blog showed photos of our search for water holes on Cyclone Rim.

We are still thirsty for snow and watering spots.  For almost the first time ever, the sheep had dry days on the trail, although not back-to-back. Normally by this time of year, we have enough snow for the sheep to eat for water.  They are very hardy, and most years go much of the winter surviving on snow and without access to fresh water.  The sheepherders are asking us for snow, as if we could bring it like firewood and dog food.  We tell them, “Do what we do, pray!”

Richar, Afrenio, Timeteo and Christian bringing up the sheep

Richar, Afrenio, Timeteo and Christian bringing up the sheep

waiting their turn

waiting their turn

The bucks will be turned in with the ewes in a few days, in order to bring those spring lambs. To make sure the ewes are in optimal condition, we decided to worm them in advance of bucking.  On this day, it was coldish and windyish, but certainly a relatively pleasant day.

looking forward

looking forward

two noses:  yearling ewe and Edgar

two noses: yearling ewe and Edgar

done and done

done and done

guard dog with supply wagon

guard dog supervising

evening grazing

evening grazing

a day off

a day off

 
 

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Less mouths to feed

12 12 02_3786

We are now at the time of year when we determine how many mouths we can feed throughout the winter.  Those pregnant old cows–should we feed them high-priced hay so that they will bring us one more calf–or sell them to someone who will probably offer them an easier winter in lower country?  The smaller calves–feed them and hope for a better market, or send them on to a feeder who will then assume the risk (both up and down)?  Given the drought conditions, which tell us that we may need every bale of hay we have on hand, we have decided to sell all the “maybe” animals.  Eamon loaded the remaining calves, some older but sound cows, and even a few extra bulls on the truck and sent them to the auction.  We hope they will give another owner good honest service.

calves heading up the chute

calves heading up the chute

He just clean the truck!

He just cleaned the truck!

Yondo on the job

Yondo on the job

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Animals, Cattle, Family, Folks

 

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