The week started off as a regular week. I re-sprayed a couple fields in front of the pastures, so that Larry and I can start planning for the back pastures. This is how Monday and Tuesday went.
On Wednesday, Larry and I went to the back four pastures and started to scope out what spraying would look like. We started with the windmill and elk pastures, which are the pastures furthest away from HWY 16. We looked for grasshoppers and leafy spurge. Most of the spurge we found were in draws and hills. The grasshoppers were more sporadic, since they can actually move around. We found little to no grasshoppers in any of the four back pastures.
Larry then sent me out to finish scouting those two pastures so we could move on to the front two pastures. In the elk and windmill pastures, I found large patches of spurge, in only a few areas. I didn’t find enough grasshoppers to make it a concern.
The next day we scouted the front two pastures, which are called the south and center pastures. These two areas had exponentially more leafy spurge and grasshoppers. However, there still were not enough grasshoppers to warrant spraying for the species.
On the last day (Friday), Larry and I brought up a map of his property to label the areas where we needed to spray. We needed to label where we found invasive species to provide these details to Lander Weed & Pest, in order for them to spray these areas. We will get an answer sometime next week on how they will spray and the chemical they will be using.
This week was a slow week. On June 15, the weather was calm all day and the wind did not pick up at all, so I was able to finish up several fields and eventually start on the last riparian area.
On June 16, the weather consisted of high winds and dark cloudy skies, which was consistent for the next two days. I was not able to help in the fields due to high amounts of rain, unless it was with cattle—which was a new experience.
On June 19, the weather finally cleared up and I was able to spray. This time spraying was more of a learning experience, since Paul from Lander Weed & Pest came up and was able to increase our pesticide strength. Paul will be helping Larry and I off-and-on for the next two weeks.
This week was a learning experience as usual. I figured out Larry’s process on how he runs his ranch, what I should be doing when not spraying and how he wants me to spray. What I mean by this is, I was always confused on what Larry wanted me to do since he is used to communicating with Michael (current ranch hand). I figured out that as long as I am being helpful and remembering tasks Larry has given me in the past that have not been completed, he is happy with the work I am doing.
Due to some of the communication opportunities and confusion in exact tasks to be done and task execution, I have had the opportunity to work on developing interpersonal skills as well. As I am building relationships with Larry, I am learning how to advocate for myself until I have clarity in what he wants and push to set expectations so there is less confusion on my part—and less frustration on his.
I am also learning how to have professional conversations when our expectations do not align—though those conversations may be difficult. Finally, I am learning to develop multi-generational relationships when there is a fundamental difference in understanding each other and pressing in until we can align.
This week started off similar to last. I finished spraying across HWY 16 on June 8 and moved on to fields #12 and #14 towards the middle of the day on June 9.
Spraying across the highway was the most difficult patch I have done, and I will have to come back to this area on a later date to see the progress and effectiveness of my application. For this land next to the highway, I mostly used the backpack sprayer—due to the amount of steep terrain. However, I was able to use the ATV sprayer along the irrigation ditches.
On June 9, fields #12 and #14 were much easier patches to spray because the fields are flat and very similar to the fields Larry and I sprayed the first week. This task was a great “break” from spraying on foothills and small canyons—which is seriously the most difficult task I have done in a longtime!
Towards the middle of the week, spraying was off-and-on due to high winds and our moving further into the pastures east of the highway. The pastures extend for a couple of miles and the chemical being used cannot be out in the sun for more than an hour, or it will lose its effectiveness.
While the wind was picking up, Larry showed me how to do fly rubs and more surrounding how he operates his cattle ranch. On Friday, I ended the day by spraying the tree line near the front end of the south pasture, and I intend to finish this stretch on Monday, June 15.
The Old West is revitalized each year when the historic cattle drive known as the Upper Green River Drift makes its way through western Wyoming. Cowboys mounted horseback drive thousands of head of cattle along the path, just as they have done for 124 years.
Right now, outside forces are threatening this longstanding western tradition. Radical environmentalist groups are working to issue a devastating blow to the grazing practices that these ranches have efficiently implemented for years.
Fortunately, ranchers have already made headway in the case.
An early victory came as a federal judge rejected the preliminary injunction filed by these activist groups that would have immediately hindered the grazing ability of cattle from these ranches.
To see what Mountain States Legal Foundation is doing to help ranchers in this case try and preserve the western way of life, read the story below.
This week was more of a straightforward and normal week. Since Larry and I started spraying last week, we have sprayed six fields, two pastures and eight riparian areas; mostly for leafy spurge and Russian thistle.
Between June 1 and June 6, we sprayed unless the wind picked up to over 15 miles per hour, which is the regulatory maximum for when chemical can be applied to an area. This is set to reduce and stop the drift of chemical to other plants—like trees and shrubs—that can easily be killed by chemical.
By the end of the week I learned to slow down on spraying and how to apply certain chemical to specific areas. This is necessary in order to assess the fragility of weeds and determine the amount of chemical needed to kill them.
My second week started on May 26, following the Vignaroli’s camping trip. On Tuesday, Larry and I began clearing more debris from fence on the south side of the property, then fixed the fence to be sturdier and better prepared for when the river floods again. This took most of the day, but near the day’s end we scoped out spots to spray weeds when the weather permitted.
On May 27, Larry sent me out to the bull pasture to do spit repairs for fencing. I would reapply clips, stretch wire and replace posts to make the fence “like new”. This project extended into fields #3 and #12, which I finished the next day.
On the next day, Larry and I finally found time to spray. Around noon, the wind was low enough to spray fields #3, #10 and #11. This took the rest of the day. I learned more in detail—compared to my last internship—about application rates and better methods to conserve chemical.
On May 29, Larry and I finished field #3 and were able to see our progress from Thursday’s application. This week seemed longer due to the number of hours spent repairing fence, mixing chemical and spraying, but it was full of lessons learned.
Larry has taught me more about application rates, chemical conservation and land ownership than a company or contracting agency would have.
Hi there! My name is Madison Pollart and I am very excited to be the communications intern for the Wyoming Stock Growers Association this summer! I hail from Snyder, Colorado, where I was raised on my family’s small cow/calf operation. I am a graduate of Prairie High School in New Raymer, Colorado, where I was an active member of the school through numerous athletics teams and organizations. I served as president of the prominent New Raymer FFA chapter, where I also competed in various events. It was here that I began to pursue my passion in advocating for the agriculture industry.
I am heading into my senior year at the University of Wyoming, where I am earning my bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and minor in public relations. In my time at UW, I have been a member of UW Women’s Club Volleyball, UW Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers and I am currently serving as treasurer for the Wyoming Collegiate Cattle Association—an extension of WSGA.
I have a deep love for the cattle industry and passion for the agriculture industry overall. I enjoy spending time working both on my family’s ranch and neighboring operations. After graduation, I look forward to a career that will allow me to advocate on behalf of the cattle industry and ranchers everywhere. I plan to continue being involved in my family’s ranch and hope to have an operation of my own one day. As the sixth generation of my family to work in production agriculture, I am dedicated to continuing my family’s tradition of being good stewards of the land and the livestock we raise on it.
I cannot wait to get out into the great state of Wyoming to meet and work with some of the exceptional ranchers that help keep this state and our country running strong. I am sure that a summer full of learning and adventure awaits me…and I am so excited to get started!
Hi, my name is Zane Schneider and I am WSGA’s rangeland intern for the summer. I am a senior at the University of Wyoming majoring in energy systems sciences, with a concurrent major in energy in natural resources. I also have a minor in geology, with a concentration in GIS mapping systems. I grew up in the small town of Eaton, Colorado.
During my academic career, I have managed to accrue two years of work with reclamation monitoring and ecology experience. I had the privilege of working for KC Harvey Environmental, LLC., where I learned valuable professional skills in biomass operations, equipment maintenance, energy systems and energy efficiency. I am interested in advancing my current skills to develop and build robust, durable solutions to the most important challenges facing my profession in invasive species monitoring for rangelands.
I started the move up to Buffalo on May 16, moving into an apartment that the Vignoroli’s are allowing me to live in for the duration of this internship. On May 18, my summer internship kicked off.
On my first day, I helped put out gated pipe in fields numbered two through five, which I found on the map that Larry—the owner of the ranch—showed me. Michael, a ranch hand for Larry, discussed with me some of the main duties I will be working on with him and what he wants me to help with part of the time. Towards the end of the day, Larry and I identified the main patches of weeds and specified those which he wants me to spray and control.
The next day, Larry and I did more invasive species and weed identification in his pastures, located in the northern and northeastern parts of the ranch. While doing this, we also fixed and filled water tanks and mineral bowls for the cattle.
During the afternoon and evening, Larry and I brought the ATVs out to hook them up with a mounted sprayer and backpack sprayer for the following week. After fitting one of the ATVs with a sprayer, Larry allowed me to practice (with water) on some grass and weeds in the arena. This helped me get a bearing for what type and consistency of spraying Larry wants to see.
The next day was a busy and tiring day. A project that Larry and Michael had been planning for two years was set to take place this day. Our group set up half a mile of fencing that needed repairs. This took all day, but I had the opportunity to get to know some of Larry’s in-laws and Michael’s son, Lane. For the next two days, Larry and I did several chores around the pastures which allowed us to become better acquainted with one another.
Overall, in my first week I learned to do several things outside of both the environmental field and my suburban comfort zone. These new skills will allow me to have a broader knowledge of other manual labor applications outside of my degree field.
It’s hard to believe that a week has already flown by at the Ladder Ranch! We started out the week by trailing some more cattle to the forest. Most of them went okay, but there were a few that decided to take to the brush! After a lot of hard riding, I just had to leave them be and go help with the other bunch. The next few days were taken up with driving to and from the Environmental Stewardship Tour. We had a good time and got to see some pretty country. When we got back, we had a big docking to get through. We docked well over 1200 lambs and finished fairly early in the afternoon. Back at the ranch, we had to pick up some little bales in the field so that we could move the sprinklers out of the way for the hay contractor. We wrapped up the week with another small docking and counting sheep for the forest. The Ladder Ranch marks about 40 ewes with large paint numbers and about ten have bells put on their neck. The idea behind this is to provide the herders with “marker sheep” to keep track of. If one of the marked sheep is missing, chances are that they have some more sheep with them. I spent several hours on Saturday hauling round bales out of the field to the stackyard. After that project was done, we took the tractor down and put in concrete blocks in the river to turn irrigation water down the ditch. Before the night was through, I baled up about 170 more small bales of grass hay. It was a busy few days, but it sounds like next week will be not as chaotic. More haying and general ranch work coming up!
Cundall Ranch Report By Jedidiah Hewlett
The Cundall Ranch is set in a beautiful spot along the Cottonwood and Boxelder creeks near the Glendo Reservoir. The ranch has been owned by the Cundalls for over one hundred years, lending much experience to this hard-working family. Although it hasn’t always been easy, the Larry and Ruthie Cundall have put enormous effort into preserving the land for future generations. There are a few areas which sets this ranch apart from its modern counterparts. The Cundalls have put a good deal of time and resources towards water development on their property, and it has paid off. As partners with their local NRCS office, the Cundalls were able to install several new wells and springs for livestock water, as well as cross fencing to subdivide pastures. This project enabled them to utilize their large pastures better and help prevent the cattle from damaging the land. Furthermore, the resident wildlife of the area are able to utilize the water tanks, reducing the distance that herds must travel for water. The second area of excellence shown by the Cundall family is that of vegetation control. Over the years, they have tried numerous strategies for controlling undesirable plants, like cheatgrass and thistle for example. Their efforts have included predator insects, herbicides, and targeted grazing with the cattle. The Cundalls also learned how to train their cattle to eat the thistle, giving them yet another management tool for their pastures. Always on the lookout for a better way, the Cundall family is eager to try new methods for controlling undesirable plants and increasing the quality of their land. The Cundall family takes great pride in the historical value of their land. The Boxelder Creek Campsite used by pioneers on the Oregon Trail rests on the Cundall’s summer grazing pasture. This historical site was referenced many times in recovered memoirs of those that used it in their trek Westward in the 1800’s. Several graves were discovered near the site and some of the persons buried there were identified through careful research. In 2015, the Cundalls designated the land as a historical site, installed a metal sign on the perimeter and a plaque on the graves. This effort took courage, but the Cundall family realized the significance of this area and took measures to preserve it before it was lost. In addition to their tangible practices and methods for managing the ranch, the Cundalls operate with an open mind to find the best way to accomplish a task. The Cundall family is truly worthy to receive the 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award because of their heartfelt efforts to preserve and enhance the land, manage vegetation, and preserve the historic tradition of their ranch.
I must say, this week seemed like the longest one yet! We began the week by gathering cattle from one pasture and taking them about 5 miles up the road to another pasture. We spent several hours trying to make sure the cows were paired up so that they would hopefully not go back down the road looking for their calves. After getting a few more head out of various pastures, we were done for the day. On Monday and Tuesday, we docked lambs. It was cool to finally see how commercial sheep producers process sheep in large quantities! We use a panel corral and move it around to process one band of sheep per day. One band can be anywhere from 800 to 1000 ewes. After the lambs are sorted off from the ewes, the lambs are processed in small chutes to hold them. First, the lambs are earmarked and castrated if they are bucks. Then they receive vaccine, their tails are docked, and a paint brand is put on their back. It is quite the process and it is a very efficient way of processing a large quantity of sheep. From my calculations, I think I docked about 80 lambs per hour. After all that excitement, we went fencing on Wednesday and Thursday. We spent a lot of hours out on that mountain pasture, but we got a lot of fence fixed too. Much of the fence we were fixing is called “lay-down” fence. It is a fence line of solid posts and the actual fence is stapled to another set of posts that we tied up to the solid ones. The fence is laid on the ground during the winter so that heavy snows and wildlife do not damage it. When the fence is needed again in the spring, it is set up and minor repairs make it much more convenient than permanent fences. On Friday, we docked another band of sheep and moved the corrals. After the third docking, my wrist was getting sore from all the work! On Saturday, we gathered a little bunch of cows and trailed them back to the ranch to work them at he corrals. I got the opportunity to help rope and doctor one of the calves that had foot-rot. Since I haven’t roped much off of a horse, I was really happy that I caught it with my first loop! The cow-boss showed me how to tie the calf down to doctor it and told me a few techniques for working with cattle when they are down. It was a great week and I learned a lot. Also, after a few hot days and some “rain” from the pivot, the Triticale that I planted is coming up nicely! It is so rewarding to see the fruits of my labor! Next week, we have more docking and cattle moving on the agenda.