RSS

Monthly Archives: November 2014

Trailing over the UP line and under I80

Coming through Rodewald's gate

Coming through Rodewald’s gate

It’s that time of year. Pat asked, “Are we going to post ‘Trailing over the UP line and under I80 ‘ pics again?”…because, except for the weather, it looks pretty much the same every year, and I am grateful for that. I have said on this blog before, and I say again, this stretch of our long trail from summer to winter country, and back again, is one of the most dangerous things we do all year. The scariest part is heading up the railroad overpass. Even though we are flagging, fore and aft, sometimes it is hard to convince folks to slow down, especially before they can see the sheep on the road. So when the sheep are safely through the gate north of Interstate 80, I breathe a sigh of relief, and send thanks to the Lord. We trail three bunches, a day apart, so the crossing takes place three consecutive mornings. A difference I see this year, with the sudden drop in oil and gas prices, is the reduction in oil field traffic through the sheep as they thread their way through this needle. Soon we will be settled on our wintering grounds on the Red Desert. Next we will pray for a “just right” winter–not too much snow, not too little–not too much cold, not too much wind, and lots of good grass.

heading for the gate, and the highway

heading for the gate, and the highway

We're headed north. The truck is headed south.

We’re headed north. The truck is headed south.

My flag, in the rear

My flag, through the windshield,  bringing up the rear

Creston Junction, just ahead

Creston Junction, just ahead

 

Under Interstate 80

Under Interstate 80

Dances with Border collies

Dances with Border collies

 

As one motorist observed, "a Wyoming traffic jam!"

As one motorist observed, “a Wyoming traffic jam!”

 

not West, but true north

not West, but true north

Oscar, Eutemio and Eduardo--a successful crossing!

Oscar, Eutemio and Eduardo–a successful crossing!

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Events

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

November–from fall to winter

Battle Mountain from Brown's Hill

November is a month of transition. We ship the calves and start moving the cows and the ewes to their wintering grounds. The lambs are on feed, and the calves are either sold, or selected as replacements and on winter feed. The cows are pregnancy tested and their fate determined. It’s a lot to be thankful for when fall segues into winter and we settle in for the long months of quiet and cold.

moving cows near the Chivington Place

moving cows near the Chivington Place

rider moving cows below Powder Mountain

rider moving cows below Powder Mountain

Welcome(???) to the Powder Flat Headquarters--part ofour wintering ground

Welcome(???) to the Powder Flat Headquarters–part of our wintering grounds

Ewes on the reservoir, ready to trail north

Ewes on the reservoir, ready to trail north

ewes near the communication towers, Badwater Pasture

ewes near the communication towers, Badwater Pasture photo by Oscar

 

 

cows crossing the creek photo by Oscar

cows crossing the creek
photo by Oscar

the little bulls at Powder Flat

the little bulls at Powder Flat

Heifers at the Flying Triangle

Heifers at the Flying Triangle

the deer are settling in for the winter, too

the deer are settling in for the winter, too

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Animals, Cattle, Sheep

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Guard Dog on the job

Hard at work

Hard at work

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Animals, Sheep

 

Tags: ,

Lambs on feed–and the livin’ is easy…

Last month, we loaded almost all of our lambs onto trucks and sent them to a feedlot in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.  It is time for the ewes to be lamb-free for a couple of months so that they will be ready for the winter months, and their future liasons with bucks. One might think that the ewes are doing most of the work here, and one would be correct. The job of the lambs is to put on some pounds. Here they are, eating a high-carb diet and having their every need attended to. We went to see them the other day, and I think they were glad to see us.

Lambs hanging out in the feedlot

Lambs hanging out in the feedlot

Where is that corn?

Where is that corn?

Happy and healthy

Happy and healthy

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Animals, Sheep

 

Tags: , ,

Image

Working the cows

ready to preg test

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Animals, Cattle

 

Tags: ,

Is she or isn’t she–that is the question

Dr. McFarland pregnancy checking a cow

Dr. McFarland pregnancy checking a cow

It’s that time of year again. With the calves weaned, it’s time to learn which cows are pregnant, which ones are open (not pregnant) and which ones are due to calve later than we like. This keeps us from putting winter feed into a cow who is not going to raise a calf next year. Often the ones who were bred later will make a fine cow for someone on a different calving schedule, but do not fit our “program”. Our annual cycle is absolutely determined by our climate. We ranch at a high altitude, and even our low country is more than a mile above sea level. The long summer days and great soil mean that our grass is high in protein, perfect for raising strong and healthy livestock and wild ungulates. The short growing season means that we need to maximize that grass while it is available. Add to this our complicated schedule of a landscape scale rotation through private and state lands, and BLM and Forest grazing permits. This means that we need our calves to be born in a fairly small window, so that they will grow and thrive when conditions are optimal, and be a uniform size when it is time to sell them. We shorten that window for some of the cows by artificial insemination in late June. This does give us an added risk of bad weather during a shortened calving period–a risk we try to minimize by keeping them close to sheds and shelter during calving. But we will worry about that next spring. For now, we wait for Dr. McFarland’s cry of “pregnant!”, “late!” or “open!”. First he peers through the googles that show what the ultrasound machine is perceiving, then he follows up with an old-fashioned palpation if necessary. Some of the cows get vaccine, some get new eartags, and they all get a backpour for parasites. Then it’s on to the wintering grounds–just in time, for today we got our first real snow

Brittany and Megan taking care of business

Brittany and Megan taking care of business

Rhen and McCoy supervising, again.

Rhen and McCoy supervising, again.

Megan contemplates her next move

Megan contemplates her next move

Eamon running the hydraulic chute, with "pregnants" in the field

Eamon running the hydraulic chute, with “pregnants” in the field

"pregnant!"

“pregnant!”

Mc McCoy bringing the cow up

McCoy bringing the cow up

Cow in squeeze chute with Brittany and Pat

Cow in squeeze chute with Brittany and Pat

Brittany and Rhen high-five

Brittany and Rhen high-five

Brittany--the happy cowhand

Brittany–the happy cowhand

Rhen and Meghan, thinking about cows

Rhen and Meghan, thinking about cows

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Shipping the steer calves

Calves, heading to the scales

Calves, heading to the scales

Once a cook told me, “When Sharon said things would slow down after the summer, I didn’t realize that summer lasted until November!”. Well, it’s true–in my mind, the busy season begins when we start the sheep on the trail in mid-April and comes to an end when we ship the calves in the fall. The work doesn’t really end then–we still have to pregnancy-test the cows and trail the sheep to their winter country, but it really does slow down a lot. By now, all but the most die-hard hunters have gone, the sheepherders have gone back to their camps after a month or so around the ranch headquarters, and the cows are settling into their winter pastures. We still have some heifer calves to sell, but we have just put the steer calves on a truck. Their buyer is feeding them in Nebraska this winter. This means that we listen to several nights of mama cows calling for their babies, although the older cows know their calves are gone, and that their job is to nurture the calves in their bellies. We have few quiet nights this time of year, as we wean first the lambs, then the calves. We have a lot of guard dogs around until the winter bunches are settled in, so lots of barking accompanies the night song. Often the coyotes will taunt them, setting off a chorus of barking and howling that would put the Hound of the Baskervilles to shame. Soon enough, winter’s quiet will set in, with only the creaking of the ice and the caw of crows to break the cold silence.

 

Calves waiting to be weighed

Calves waiting to be weighed

Cows, seperated

Cows, separated

Where ARE those calves?!

Where ARE those calves?!

Slim, Pat and Eamon at the scales

Slim, Pat and Eamon at the scales

McCoy double-checking the weights

McCoy double-checking the weights

Rhen and McCoy checking things out

Rhen and McCoy supervising

Brittany and Sadie working the cows

Brittany and Sadie working the cows

Cows with Flattop

Cows with Flattop

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,