Howdy! The WSGA staff was busy last week with the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, so we were not able to post any updates from our Rangeland Interns. Without any further delay, here is an update from Brittany on her first week at the Ladder Ranch!
I’m Brittany Heseltine from Big Piney, interning on the Ladder Ranch which runs sheep and cattle in Savery along the Colorado border. Wow, what an amazing first week! My first seven days at the Ladder Ranch has flown by so fast with so many new experiences! I arrived Sunday, May 25th and met Sharon and Pat O’Toole, the owners of the Ladder Ranch. Between dinner that night and breakfast the next morning, I met their daughter Megan Lally and her four kids, their son Eamon, his wife Meghan and their two sons and the two Peruvian hands, Tim and Edgar. Tim and Edgar speak very little English but all the O’Tooles are very fluent in Spanish and, thanks to two years of Spanish in high school, I am able to communicate a bit. I also met and worked with the Australian visitors, Ali and Will, who are on a working vacation learning how other parts of the world do agriculture.
I helped move yearling ewes up into a chute and onto what they call a ‘Plant’ for shearing on Monday and Tuesday which was a completely new experience for me as I have never worked sheep before. Monday, we had to wait two hours to shear because it had rained the night before and the sheep were still wet. The Plant is a mobile building made from plywood on a flat-bed trailer with doors and a chute for the sheep to wait for shearing and small panel corrals outside each door where the shorn sheep are counted out periodically. There is room for up to six shearers to simultaneously shear inside the plant and out of the weather. The wool is then sorted by the wool handlers and baled accordingly. Wednesday, I fixed fence with Ali and Will that was the border between the ranch’s private property and the forest allotment with a wonderful view of the mountains directly around the ranch.
Thursday, I helped gather some escaped cow/calf pairs with Eamon and Colton, the cowboy, and move them to the correct pasture. The country is a lot more brushy than I am used to so when gathering I have to look more intently for the cows and calves. It lightly rained all day, so by the time we got back to the barn we were all soaked through and happy to be back. Friday and Saturday, we gathered and branded calves. Once the pairs were in the corrals, we sorted the cows from the calves. Both days Eamon and Colton heeled the calves to the fire. On Friday we used nord-forks which I had never seen used before and the Ranch’s second time ever using them, but found them to be very useful when there is only a small crew for branding. Saturday there was enough people to have about three wrestling teams instead of using nord-forks. We found we were able to get more calves branded, earmarked, vaccinated and castrated faster which was a plus since there were more calves than the day before.
I hope you all are looking forward to the coming weeks as much as I am here on the Ladder Ranch!