Hey everyone! My name is Madison Clark, and I could not be more excited to be working as an intern for the Wyoming Stock Growers Association this summer. My internship will be mainly focused on public relations and communications, so I will be doing a lot of writing and reporting for the WSGA’s news outlets, including the Cow Country magazine, newsletters, and helping run the organization’s social media outlets, blog and website. I will get to travel to events such as the Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention that will be held two weeks from now in Buffalo, the Wyoming Stock Growers Environmental Stewardship Tour in Casper, the Wyoming State Fair in Douglas and other locations throughout the state to interview members and learn their stories.
I am an Ag Communications & Political Science major at the University of Wyoming, so this internship is definitely related to something I would like to pursue as a career after I am finished with school. I have competed in rodeo for as long as I can remember, and the opportunity to compete on the rodeo team at UW is what drew me to Wyoming. I grew up on a small ranch in Southwestern Nebraska, so working in Cheyenne for the summer is striking me as a big city experience!
My first week is off to a great start, and I am really looking forward to learning more about the cattle industry, ranchers and all other things agriculture in this great state throughout the summer.
Josiah has become the “master irrigator” over these past few summer months. The past couple weeks have proved some problems with the dry and windy weather. He also got to visit his family in Rock Springs. Here is what he had to say:
Well, it was a week of irrigating, (surprise!), but I was able to work on some fence as well to mix it up a bit. The water has been slowing down quite a bit lately so that has made things a bit more challenging. It really just involves damming up the head gates a bit more and yanking more water from the creeks. It has also made things a bit quicker for me as well, because we aren’t able to irrigate as many fields at a time now. The weather has been awful all week, dry and windy and the prairie is starting to show it. My irrigated meadows are little patches of green surrounded by fields of dying grass. Heck it has even been hard keeping the meadows green with how dry it is, I’m forced to rotate the water more often or else the other areas go without water too long.
This weekend I was able to make a quick trip down to Rock Springs to see my brother, sister in-law and my beautiful niece. It’s always good to see family and it makes everything better to be there and spend time with my niece. While I was there I also found out I’m going to be an uncle again just this time to a nephew, so I’m super excited about that!
Rangeland Intern Samantha had quite an exciting week at Ladder ranch last week. She got to try to something new, while also tracking down run away cows! Here is what she had to say:
We ran into a lot of challenges this week! The root of our issues came from the cows that we put into the buck camp pasture. Almost every day this week, Nikki and I were putting cows back into buck camp because they had gotten out somewhere along the fence. Some days we found ourselves putting the cows back in TWICE! Each day we found a new hole in the fence that we had to fix. There was one spot we had to fix 3 times, where we ran all new barbed wire because the cows kept busting through the first old wire. We’re hoping to not run into any more cows being out this upcoming week!
One day, when we weren’t putting cows back into buck camp, Chad, Nikki and I went up to the Colorado forest where we moved the group of cows in Big Red Park to Silver City. The cows moved fairly well! When we got to Silver City, there was a mother cow and a calf that needed to be doctored. While we were waiting for Chad to get back with the pickup, Nikki had me practicing heeling so I could help her rope the cow while Chad gave the cows medicine. Nikki had me roping since Chad didn’t bring a horse that he could rope off of! I was okay with this because I got the opportunity to rope and caught after my 3rd loop! WOO! This was the first time I roped off of a horse!
Another day this week, Nikki and I trailed 3 heifers and 2 bulls from the house to upper big gulch where the big herd of heifers is! This little group had gotten in with the neighbor’s cattle! They moved fairly smoothly up to the pasture but we ran into a couple of issues when one of the bulls wanted to peel off and be with the milk cows that were in the first pasture that we have to go through to get to Upper Big Gulch!
Allison Harvey had a busy week on the ranch, per usual. Her mentor, Eric was out of town for the week so it was her responsibility to do the weekly chores. She had some troubles this week, but it all worked out for the best. Here is what she had to say:
The week started out with water trouble… again. It was very hot out here so we were checking water daily. There were a couple air locks in the main system at the Divide to we opened up a different pasture and turned on another well system.
I drove the sheep back out to their pasture after we separated out the wethers. The side by side broke down and I had to walk the rest of the way. Though it was a bummer because I had to walk the rest of the way and back to the house, I ended up seeing my first rattlesnake and Nieva the puppy did better herding when I was walking than when I was driving the side by side.
During the second half of the week Eric was gone for a legislative committee meeting so I was responsible for the weekly agenda. I checked the animals, fence, and water daily. I also moved the temporary fence to the other side of the waterer for when we move the heifers and bulls into a different pen. I rolled up the barbed wire for an old pasture that they’re just storing iron in. The creek from the tank overflow down by the house gets filled in every year by sticks and leaves so I dug it out.
We are hauling the ewes over to get processed tomorrow, so we sorted them out of the sheep again after marking them last week.
Ian Zerbe has had the privilege to work at two different locations this summer with the Allen family. He started the summer off at their lower ranch doing usual ranch-like activities. This last part of the summer he has had the opportunity to work along side their pack trip outfits and he really seems to be enjoying it! Here is what he had to say:
We are finally done haying! I’m up on the mountain for good now. This past week I’ve been on the trail more hours than I can count. Packing in on an overnight trip nine hours away was definitely the highlight. We packed in three empty pack horses and our two riding horses to pick up some gear for people that had been in there for a week. Our whole camp consisted of two sleeping bags, a few cans of soup, and picket and hobbles for five horses. It was amazing to spend the night under the stars of the wind river mountains. I can’t help but think about the fact that I have less than a month left here. I’ve learned more than I could describe and I feel confident that I’ve been able to help the Allens out and teach them what I know as well.
Check out the beautiful area that Ian gets to visit for pack trips!
Rangeland Intern Josiah Masie has been absent from his mentoring ranch in Lander due to an unfortunate break in his leg. He was home for roughly two weeks but it back on the ranch hobbling around in a walking boot. Here is what he had to say about his first few days back:
I’m back! After a couple weeks of recovery I’m finally able to gimp around the ranch again. I made it back Wednesday (the 20th) and promptly started up again, mowing my lawn, getting some weeds knocked out, and general cosmetic work. The following days I have been fencing, trying to get the dairy pasture all fenced in again (it was damaged during the flooding and we just haven’t had time to put it back together). That’s been nice to do, since its close to the house and I don’t have to do much walking. Its actually the first big fencing project I’ve been trusted to do myself, so that’s pretty cool. I have to sink about 5 posts, notch them cut poles to fit, put up the poles up, and then make an H brace to tie into the barb wire fence. Its been slow going but by the time I’m done with it I should just be getting out of my boot and be able to wear two shoes just like a real boy.
Samantha had an eventful week per usual at Ladder Ranch. She touches on fixing fence as well as chasing cows all over the property. Oh the joys of moving cows! Here is what she had to say about her experience last week:
To start the week off, the other ranch hand and i spent quite a bit of time working on a fence around the pasture that they call “buck camp”. It was important for us to fix this part of the fence since we’ll be putting the cows left on the ranch in this pasture next week. A large majority of the fence was fixed on the neighbors’ portion but once we hit the part of the fence that was on ours, we had to spend a lot more time fixing the fence!
We spent another day this week gathering and moving the bred heifers out of their pasture and moving them across the ranch to where they will spend the majority of the rest of the summer! We ended up being 6 animals short once we got back to the corrals at the house with the heifers, bulls and dry cows. After sorting out the dry, we moved the heifers up the road. The next day, I went with Chad (another hand) to go back-ride to look for the missing 6 cows! We were missing 5 heifers and 1 bull! After riding for over 6 hours, we started to head back to the house to go eat lunch. Right as we were about to head into the alfalfa field, we looked over to find the missing 6!!! This was more funny than anything in my opinion! After getting them into the pasture that we were in, all 6 cows split off and ran into the tall brush. The small herd split in half, with 3 of the heifers missing, we ended up chasing them all over the place and eventually got the first half to the barn. After lunch, we went back for the last 3. This was just as bad. We lost them in the tall brush and I ended up standing up on my saddle in an attempt to find them!! (Pictured above) We eventually got them to the house!!
The rest of the week we spent moving alfalfa bales to the sheds in Dixon, WY. These bales will be used in the winter to feed the sheep and cows!
Rangeland Intern Allison Harvey is busy at work in Gillette. She had a bit of trouble with fence this week, this is what she had to say about it:
“On Tuesday it seemed that every animal that could get through a fence did get through a fence. The heifers, steers, bulls, and rams all managed to get through on the same day. After we did the routine ranch check, we attempted to roughly sort the steers and the heifers away from each other. When it cooled off a bit, we brought the sheep up to separate off the rams from the ewes and wethers. We also separated off twenty wethers for processing. Luckily, the pen the bulls got into was empty.
On Wednesday, I performed the routine ranch check. I fixed the gate that the rams had broken through and checked on the sheep. I repaired the temporary fence near the heifer waterer where they knocked it down. I also repaired the temporary fence where the steers had knocked it down.”
This was a great learning experience for Allison as these are definitely the day-to-day happenings on a working operation!
She was also given a great opportunity to teach this week!
“We also had a group of 4-Hers out for a day camp. We started the day off by collecting sticks and stones for an art project and making homemade lemonade. Before lunch, we necropsied a lamb that had been recently wounded by coyotes and explained the challenges of protecting the livestock while teaching about anatomy. After lunch, we followed up on how we protect the livestock by introducing the guard dog puppies. While they worked on their craft, I showed them my snake and talked about snakes. We finished off the day with homemade ice cream and showing them dried animal bones. While some of the kids came from ranch backgrounds, most of them did not. It was fun to answer questions about ranching and to see their fascination with it. One question I got a lot was why we keep the livestock out on the range if they can get eaten by wild animals? I explained that because this area doesn’t get a lot of rain, and because the country is so rough, it’s hard to harvest enough forage to keep the animals in a barn.”
Rangeland intern Ian Zerbe is still hard at work with the Allen family in Lander. He has moved up the mountain to the upper ranch to work primarily as a wrangler, and going on pack trips. Some of the other wrangles that Ian works with love to take pictures, and he is then able to share them with us. It is so fun to visually see what he is up to each week. Here is a little bit of what he had to say about last week and transitioning into the second half of his summer on the ranch:
Learning the horses has been challenging because there are so many of them but as I spend more and more time with them I have started to realize each one of their unique personalities. There are roughly 65 horses at the upper ranch now that we have been cycling through pack trips and day rides with the guests. So many of the horses look virtually identical but for a few minute markings. I am constantly amazed when Jim, Mary, and Jessie Allen can look from a couple hundred yards away and rattle off all the names of the horses as they mill around. However, I am noticing a great deal of improvement in my horsemanship skills as well. Working with these horses every day you start to get a feel for each ones unique personality and where each fits in to the herd.
I have also far surpassed my previous records for hours in the saddle. Just the other day another wrangler and I packed in on a 26 mile round trip in to the mountains to take supplies to the forest service. The men we supplied were in charge of clearing all the trails in that area of trees and boulders so they would be accessible. After 14 hours of riding and clearing a few trees of our own, we were very glad to get back to camp for a hot meal and warm bed.
This past week I have been in some of the coolest places and seen some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen in my life, I can’t wait to see what next week has in store!
Rangeland Intern Samantha has been hard at work, with early mornings and busy days. She was able to go into the town of Dixon one night for the local rodeo where the ranch donates Ewes to be used for Mutton Busting. Sounds like a good night off work!
Samantha also explained that all of the cows and sheep have been moved to where they will spend the rest of the summer. This was a transition week for the main ranch and she is now working on other tasks! Here is a little bit of what she had to say about her week:
“One day this week we spent a morning and part of an afternoon moving some cows from one pasture to another. This herd is the one herd that is left on the ranch as of right now! On our way to go move these cows, we made the attempt to move another bull from the corrals at the house up to there. We made it about 1/3 of the way before the bull got away from us! We decided to leave the bull where we lost him so we could load him up on a trailer instead of trying to fuss with his poor temperament. On the way back, we moved a small herd of bucks (male sheep) and 2 cow/calf pairs back to the house. After we got to the house, a small group of us trailed the bucks across the river to where the rest of the bucks are at. It was really difficult to get the bucks to go into the river and across it! Eventually we decided to rope the horns one of them and pull him across as a leader! This was definitely our best option.
When we moved the cows up onto the forest, we somehow left 30 cow/calf pairs in the first pasture. On Thursday, two of us packed salt blocks up to some of the cows and spent about 8 hours looking for the missing 30! We never ended up finding them that day but will definitely need to spend some more time up there to make sure that we find them!”