2020 Rangeland Intern: Zane Schneider

Zane will be interning near Buffalo, WY this summer.

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 internship entails helping manage various invasive species throughout the summer.

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.

Work will take place on many areas of the ranch.

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.

There will be many opportunities to learn new things on the ranch.

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.

Jedidiah’s Week 7 Report at the Ladder Ranch

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.

Jedidiah learns about commercial sheep production

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.

Aidan continues to learn with the Kane’s

This week was very interesting, both in the field and in the classroom. On Tuesdays David and I went into Sheridan and went on a weed tour over two ne species found in Sheridan county. The two species were Medusahead and Ventenata. Both are grasses that are highly invasive, and Ventenata is so invasive that it will out compete both Medusahead and cheat grass. On the tour we saw what each of them looked like in the field and then also, a test area where they sprayed a bunch of different chemicals at different rates to see what worked the best on Ventenata. Then this week I also saw how to shoe horses, and I have to say I did not know it was such a process. On Friday we went back to a pipeline we thought we fixed but it blew out again, and finally got it fixed and fused together. Instead of using PVC we used Poly which is a lot more flexible and doesn’t snap as easily. This was a very interesting week and all in all I would have to say I learned a lot. Hopefully this week we can start haying.

Jedidiah remains productive with the Ladder Ranch

We had another productive week here at the Ladder Ranch!! We started out by branding another little bunch near the home ranch. The next big project we accomplished was getting the whole pivot planted with Triticale. I had never run a planter previously, so it was great to learn! It is a little tricky to know what the application rate is because the drill is an older build. I think we got most of it seeded around 80 pounds to the acre at least. We turned the pivot on this week and laid down 1” of water all around the pasture. After the first pass, the soil just soaked it all up. One problem that we had was that the drain pipe on the end got blown by the wind one day and hooked on the fence. It worked out just so and the pivot arm got bent because of it. We were all surprised because it hadn’t happened last year when the pivot was running. We all decided that the solution (besides mending the pipe) is to cut the spigots shorter on that section so that it will go over fences without problems. Also as part of irrigating the pivot pasture, we laid out some gated pipe to get where the pivot does not reach. The pipe was a little challenging to fit in, but we got it finally! Although there is a lot of dirt work left to be done around the concrete dam, we have been running water for a several days on the pasture. The results should be exciting!!! One of the ranch dogs also had 8 puppies under the porch of the house. A few of the crew dug them out and we put them on our porch. The ranch uses the border collies as an additional source of income for the ranch. The puppies are sold when they are old enough or some are trained and sold for more later on. Things are really getting busy around here now, with cattle to go to the forest and lambs to dock. The rest of June is almost completely planned out!!!

Mary’s week of cowboying and cleaning up

This week at Perry Cattle Co., I got to spend a lot of time in the saddle, and I got to clean the barn and some of the equipment.

We needed to clean the barn so that we could brand and vaccinate the seven “slicks” (or unbranded calves) that had just been born or missed since the last branding. It was important to get all the  straw out of the way just in case the branding iron were to hit some of it and caused a fire.  It felt good to clean up the barn because it was instant gratification. After even five minutes, the barn looked good.  By the time it was all said and done, it was good enough to house the Kentucky Derby horses…. if I do say so myself!

I rode Sam, the horse, a few times this week. On Monday we moved the cattle from the lower pasture to the higher pastures. The grasses were lush and tall in the higher pasture, and so the cattle will have plenty of great things to munch on, and without the cattle on it, the lower pasture will be able to recover. Sam and I are starting to get along a lot better now. He did not give me any troubles on Monday. He also behaved on Friday when we were rounding up those seven slicks. Although, I almost got jostled off when we were running after some of the cows. During the branding, I got to run the nord fork. I struggled, but towards the end, I was sort of, kind of,  getting the hang of it!

I have been getting the hang of the sideroll sprinklers and I am so proud of all that I have learned. I have been having a great time working here, and I am so excited to see what new adventures this week will entail!

Aidan’s week of fencing

This week I learned how to take down fence. Monday I took down quite a bit of fence, and I have to say, this is not the kind of work you want to be tall for. By the end of the day I felt like an old man walking around with a hunch back! The following day I went up with the hired man Terry Savage and helped do the opposite, and fix fence all day. On Wednesday, Terry and I were back at tearing down old fence again, and I have to say, kudos to whoever built that fence because it was in some nasty spots. Then on Thursday, we continued to tear down the fence, and it seemed like we were moving at the speed of a turtle. Then on Friday I learned how to spray weeds, and we got a fire truck. Saturday was an interesting day, David bought a fence roller that hooks to the back of a tractor, and we started to roll up the fence that I tore down on Monday. The thing worked pretty good, but it didn’t have the power to tear through some sage brush and trees, so we just cut the wire and spliced it. All in all it was a good week, I learned a lot about fence, and I am pretty sure my spine compressed down a little. Oh and also, the sunsets here are to die for!

Jedidiah’s weekly work summary

We had another real Western week at the Ladder Ranch! We started off by branding another bunch of calves out on the desert. It was a swell time! We had a really good team of ropers and wrestlers, which helped get the work done quickly. After we had the branding out of the way, the cattle were paired and taken to greener pastures up river. Unfortunately, some of the cows and calves haven’t found each other and have been searching for each other. Hauling cattle a few at a time has kept us busy this week. While all the cattle catastrophes were taking place, another intern and I worked on fixing some of the pasture fences for two days. One of the fences was on a lease pasture and had fallen into very poor condition over the past several years.  Furthermore, a lot of it was on steep, rocky slopes. With a little elbow grease and determination, we got it done! The Ladder Ranch has a newly installed pivot field that they had plowed and disc-ed this spring. We have been working on getting it leveled so we can plant it with Triticale. The biggest roadblock we had was repairing the old blade so that it would work properly. We had another big branding in the mountain pasture this week. We did about 270 calves in about 4 hours. By the time we got done, everyone was ready to go home! This week I also got to go out to help pick out 4-H lambs from one of the bands of sheep. We also moved a sheep camp, so I got to see how that was done as well. To finish off the week we hauled some sheep panels in preparation for docking lambs and a solar panel for a remote stockwater well. Besides all this, we started working with some 3-year-old horses and trying to gentle them down. It is definitely a learning curve for me but I am excited about it!

Mary continues to learn with the Perry’s

This week at Perry Cattle Company, I am finally starting to get into the swing of things…. sort of! I still make plenty of mistakes, but I am getting a better handle on some of the basic tasks that happen on a ranch. It was a very exciting week and provided lots of chances to learn.

I started doing more with the side rolls. I am now able to move them and their hoses without as much instruction. I am getting better at straightening the pipe so they will not get twisted when we move them. I can hook the side rolls to the pump by myself. I learned how to start the pump that brings the water from the ditch to the side rolls. I still sometimes forget one or two things- mostly to open the pump so water can actually flow through the pipes and irrigate the pasture- but in time, I will be an expert….hopefully! I am determined to get the hang of it.

We had an exciting day on Wednesday! We did a small scale branding for about 28 calves, and we put fly spray on about 15 cows. I was in charge of giving the cattle their shots. We were vaccinating for black leg and Bovine Viral Diarrhea. The one other time I helped with a branding, we ran all the cattle through the shoot. Here though, we had somebody heel the calf, and then we (the ground crew) would use a Nord Fork. The Nord Fork is a device that catches and holds a calf’s head to the ground. This prevents the calf from thrashing and possibly hurting somebody. I thought it was going to take extra time, but when you are able to castrate, brand, vaccinate and ear tag a calf all in one fail swoop, you find that you saved a lot of time and the calf was able to go back out and be reunited with it’s mother quicker.

This week I have spent a lot of time in the saddle. Sam, the horse I have been using, was trying to get away with some bad manners. He would not do what I asked, so Jeff and Amy helped me by showing me how to get  horse to listen to me. After making Sam go in circles, where he had to listen to my commands, and chasing a cow out of a pasture, I have not been having the problems that I had prior.

Finally, week three wrapped up with more irrigation, some fence building, and my first ranch meeting. I want to see the business side of what makes a farm operate, it is exciting to be on the ground floor of how a cattle ranch operates.

 

Aidan – Week 3

This week was very interesting, and I learned a lot. We started off the week by moving bulls and putting them in with cows. Then on Wednesday Nate, Molly and I drive down to the Wyoming Stock Growers convention. I stayed at the convention until Friday. Throughout the convention I went to many different committee hearings and speakers. I have to say my favorite speaker was on finding the perfect steak. I thought the speaker was good, and the topic was interesting. Furthermore, I went to committee meetings on Brands, as well as livestock health. I have to say I did not fully understand the brand talk. But I found the livestock health very interesting.  Also, I got to listen to senator Barrasso speak, as well as Governor Matt Meade. Listening to all of the potential governors was very cool and thought provoking. I think there are a few great candidates and I am interested to see who Wyoming chooses.  I then learned how to fix fence yesterday. All in all I would say it was a very educational week, one of which I really enjoyed.

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