By Lynn Harlan
Our truck driver, Angus, stuck his head out of the back of the semi, looked at the lambs left to load and said, “I’ve got another whole empty deck.”
I had a sinking feeling in my heart.
Yep, Little Bo Peep had lost her sheep. But, I knew where to find them – up on the hill and mixed in with 1,700 ewes. It was not going to be a good day.
We had been at Beartrap for a few days – an area on the stock trail up above Kaycee where there is a community corral for working sheep. When ranchers come in with their herd for shipping, there is good water, some grass and an awesome corral that was rebuilt a few years ago by the area woolgrowers.
We had already loaded out the feeder lambs to be sent to Powell for the winter. They would feed on remnants of corn, beet and alfalfa fields, fed a little corn and hay and grow out to be lamb chops in the spring and summer of 2022.
We couldn’t get an extra truck for the replacement ewe lambs to be sent over, so they would load the next morning. Some of our bigger lambs had already been sent down to a feedlot in Colorado, as grass was short on the mountain.
It was a busy few days. Dust from the corrals had been churned to a fine face, neck and ear coating. We could turn out the ewes for a day or two, and trust them not to head home to the south, as they were recently weaned and would hang around the corral for a while. We planned to corral them at some point during the day and let the ewe lambs out for a drink and some grazing.
Bob went down the mountain to another lamb shipping, so it was Kate and I left at Beartrap, with Nemesio and Jesus – our two Peruvians. When Angus left with an empty deck, I told Kate I probably knew where the lambs were hiding. We needed a plan. Finding more than 100 lambs in the mountain and hauling them to Powell wasn’t exactly in our itinerary for the day.
Kate sent the two guys to take down their lay downs – a fence that is made to lay down for the winter so the elk don’t tear it up as much.
Next, Kate said to me, “Go up on the hill and see if there’s lambs in the ewes. If there are, bring them down and we’ll corral them, then we’ll go get the guys to help us work them out. I’ll take a load to Powell in the double-decked horse trailer. I didn’t have anything else to do today.”
Poor Kate. She was a little exasperated with her mom.
Yes, I had one job to do and that was to herd the ewe lambs. I was keeping my eye on them while doing a few things at the camper, as I really do have more than one job during shipping. But, I didn’t think they had time to escape up the hill and out of sight. When I went to bunch and gather them, I didn’t even go look up that hill.
Oh well. My good dog and I loaded up to bounce up the trail to the top. This was a rocky, jagged trail that would bring a smile to a hard core ATV’er out for an adventure, but for me, I always held in my breath until after the last stony shelf.
Of course, the lambs were in with the ewes. We headed off to the corral.
When we got everything in, Kate said, “It’ll take an hour to go find Jesus, why don’t we try to run them even if we have to load them chute by chute.”
I was looking at all the hunters going up and down the road and wondering if we should wave some down, but sometimes it’s just easier to try by yourself.
Which we did, and those ewes trotted through the chute with Kate on the dodge gate, my good dog holding up the back and me keeping them going. It was amazing.
The ewes had been trained a couple of times already, but for them to go so willingly was surprising. The day was looking better.
Kate did a rough count of the lambs in the chute – more than a double-decked horse trailer with some even stuffed in the nose. We had two pickup trips to Powell – what a money maker!
But, now all lambs are in their happy homes and the ewes are trailing off the mountain. We finished up the month of September with calf shipping and pregnancy testing – a couple more days of eating corral dust.
If it won’t rain, maybe October will bring us some of the white stuff. The skies have cleared up and the trees are turning wonderful shades of fall – my favorite time of year!