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Shearing the early lambers

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Warm work on a cool day

We raise our own Rambouillet and Hampshire bucks. We breed their mothers, the purebred ewes early--around the first of October. Since a sheep's gestation period is about five months less five days, that means we are lambing now. We lamb these ewes at the Powder Flat headquarters, where we have corrals, sheds, and a crew.

It's a lot easier on everyone (except maybe the newly naked sheep) if the ewes are sheared before they lamb. The lambs don't mistake a wool tag (hanging bit of wool) for a nipple, and the ewes are interested in seeking shelter in cold weather, much to the benefit of their newborn lambs. In a few days, they have grown back enough wool to see them through some fairly cold weather. If a storm comes in, we have sheds and shelter.

We were able to bring the bucks in from their newly completed duties on the Red Desert, and were able to get them sheared too. This makes it easier in April when we shear the main line. The bucks probably don't think it's such a great idea. On the other hand, they now get to go back to hanging around until December or so--not such a bad life!

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Bringing the bucks up the chute

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Eutemio working the chute

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Rob, hard at work

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Shearing dance

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Through the escape hatch

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Wool handlers packing the wool

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Raul at the ramp

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Heavy ewes, newly shorn

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Ewes and lambs, with a cozy barn

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Pat and ewes look each other over

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Richar and Nene

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The tractor pulling the portable shed up the hill

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It's still plenty wintery
Powder Flat, Moffat County, Colorado
photos by Sharon O'Toole

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About Pat & Sharon O'Toole

Sharon O'Toole
Pat and Sharon O’Toole are ranchers in the Little Snake River Valley near Savery, Wyoming, right on the Colorado-Wyoming border. They raise cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and children. Pat “immigrated” from Florida in 1970. He attended Colorado State University, where he met Sharon when both worked for the campus newspaper. Sharon grew up on their ranch, where they live and work with her father, their daughter, son and granddaughter (soon to be grandchildren!). Pat is a “water buffalo” and has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives (1986-1992), on the President’s Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, and is the current President of the Family Farm Alliance, which advocates for farmers, ranchers and irrigators. Sharon is an author, poet and journalist. She writes extensively on Western issues and is a columnist for “The Shepherd” magazine. Pat and Sharon are the parents of three children: Meghan, 27; Bridget, 26; and Eamon, 20.
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