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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Summer Love: A.I. for the cows

 

Cows waiting in the Elephant Corrals

Cows waiting in the Elephant Corrals

Not all of our cows find Mr. Right Bull in their forest pastures in the summer months. Some of them meet Mr. Artificial Inseminator just before they trek to the National Forest grazing permits. After studying the bull catalogs and deciding on the future fathers of many of next year’s calves, Eamon orders semen and sets the wheels in motion.The process is complicated, but the day arrives, and the AI crew  arrives, and the chosen cows are ready to conceive. This allows us to use better quality bulls than we can afford to buy, and means that we don’t need to keep as many live bulls on hand throughout the year. The bulls aren’t too disappointed though. They go to the Forest with the cows, and breed those who didn’t conceive or are in the natural breeding group.

The AI techs prepare the semen

The AI techs prepare the semen

This is romantic? No bull!

This is romantic? No bull!

McCoy and Eamon working the chute

McCoy and Eamon working the chute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family labor:  Georgia, Jim, Rhen and Jeff

Family labor: Georgia, Jim, Rhen and Jeff

McCoy and Megan bringing up the cows

McCoy and Megan bringing up the cows

The bull team

The bull team

Ready to ride

Ready to ride

 

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The next generation

Siobhan on Coco

Siobhan on Coco

McCoy ready to ride

McCoy ready to ride

Maeve, mounted

Maeve, mounted

lamb and pup

lamb and pup

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Family, Folks, Horses, Sheep

 

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Bear on Cottonwood Creek

Pepe Cruz, our ace long-time employee, spotted this bear in a tree on our lambing grounds. It seems like an unlikely spot, several miles from where we have seen bears in the past. He appears to be an old bear, by the wear on his teeth. He didn’t bother any of the sheep, and seemed happy to hang out in the Cottonwood tree along the creek.  Photos by Pepe.

A bear looks down

A bear looks down

Pinup bear

Pepe’s Pinup bear

A bear in hand is worth two in the bush

A bear in hand is worth two in the bush

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in Nature and Wildlife

 

New Event at the National Finals: Roping Children

Eamon roping Maeve and McCoy

Eamon roping fast children–Maeve and McCoy make a fast break

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Family

 

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Docking, so far

 

Oscar and Avencio on the docking board

Oscar and Avencio on the docking board

We are in the midst of docking lambs. We have to hit the “sweet spot” after the lambs are big enough to dock without too much stress, before they get too big–which is stressful to the crew, and soon enough before we trail to the Forest to recover and be ready to follow their mothers. We also have to dodge stormy days, the schedule for artificially inseminating the cows, and the imminent arrival of the wool truck.

Our Peruvian sheepherders are glad to be through most of the lambing. Now their biggest worry, and ours, is the loss of the lambs they worked so hard to deliver, to coyotes. Yesterday, we lost 10 lambs altogether in the various bunches–and that was just one day.

Docking means that we have moved the portable corrals to the temporary site where we have set up the day before. The herder has the sheep staged to go into the corrals early in the morning. We hope to do this in an orderly manner without the lambs running back and scattering into the brush. Once the ewes and lambs are in the corral, we start bringing them up in small groups, dropping the lambs into the small front pen, and paint branding the ewes in the forward pen, counting, and turning them out. We keep bringing them up in small groups until the last lamb is docked and the last ewe is counted.

On the docking line, each lamb is earmarked with our distinctive earmark. Buck lambs are castrated and the lamb carriers carefully place them in the “Dinkum Docker”–a mechanical holder which restrains them as they are vaccinated and slowly slide down to the bottom. The “tailer” sits at the bottom and sears off the tails with a hot knife. This is the safest and most humane way to remove the tails, since it is quick and leaves a clean wound. Another crew member holds the back legs to ensure that the tailer does not get kicked in the face, and applies a gooey mix of creosote and pine tar. This has antiseptic qualities and keeps the flies away. Finally the tailer flips the lamb over on his lap so that the brander can stamp on the paint brand.

The brander is often a child. It is a skilled job, since the brand needs to be in the middle of back, and stamped on without too much wasted paint. The paint is formulated to be scourable after the wool is sheared off. Pat always tells the brander that the other lambs will make fun if the brand is off-center or incomplete.

Bringing up the ewes and lambs

Bringing up the ewes and lambs

This lamb is happy to be on its way!

This lamb is happy to be on its way!

Antonio stands ready to count the ewes

Antonio stands ready to count the ewes

Christian branding the ewes

Christian branding the ewes

Dinkum Docker, waiting for customers

Dinkum Docker, waiting for customers

Tiarnan branding for Pepe

Tiarnan branding for Pepe

Brittanny, summer intern, vaccinating lambs

Brittanny, summer intern, vaccinating lambs

McCoy, Tiarnan and Antonio on the job

McCoy, Tiarnan and Antonio on the job

Ewes and lambs after docking

Ewes and lambs after docking

Maeve, the happy docker

Maeve, the happy docker

 

 

 

 
 

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Father’s Day

Eamon teaching his son McCoy to brand lambs

Eamon teaching his son McCoy to brand lambs

We spent Father’s Day docking lambs. Here’s a photo of Eamon, who was cutting tails, teaching his son McCoy, 3, how to brand the lambs. As he said, “This is an investment in the future.”

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Animals, Events, Family, Sheep

 

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Image

Rainbow

Here’s a rainbow shining on our sideroll irrigation wheels. Now if I can find the pot filled with gold in all that alfalfa!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Events