Skip to main content

The Glamorous Life of the Sheep Farmer

What a day! After stopping on our way to the ranch to buy goat's milk and lamb milk replacer for the bottle lambs, we proceeded to get the truck stuck in the mud at the Lincoln ranch. We processed the 12 new lambs (which means we put ear tags on them, docked their tails, gave them a selenium supplement and dipped their umbilical cords in betadine) and gave the flock some fresh feed. The first tow truck that showed up to pull our pick-up out was too heavy, so we walked a mile in the rain to move another set of sheep on the north side of the ranch. By the time the truck was out and we were done, we were all soaked. Thankfully, our intern Courtney and our daughters Lara and Emma were all good humored about the entire ordeal.

As I mentioned yesterday, lambing in weather like this always makes me nervous. As usual, my nervousness proved to be unfounded, for the most part. We've tried to select ewes who take good care of their babies, and all of yesterday's lambs made it through the storm just fine.

The glamorous part of this job is the muck and mud associated with being outside in this kind of weather. Even with the best rain gear, it's tough not to get soaked. I enjoy being outside in all kinds of weather, partly because it feels so good to get warm again once I'm back inside.

We hope you're all enjoying the wet weather - we sure need it! However, I wouldn't mind a little sunshine now and then over the next several days!


  1. Sounds like I am going to have to get some good rain gear.

    Dan, do you or anyone else hear know how I get alerts via email when the blog is updated?


  2. No worries, I figured out you have an RSS feed for the blog.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Trade Offs

As we were building fence for the soon-to-be-lambing ewes this morning, someone drove by and asked my partner Roger how long it took to set up the electro-net fencing we use for the sheep. Roger replied, "It's not too bad," to which the driver said, "Seems like a lot of work." Roger's answer - which both of us use with some frequency, was, "Yeah - but this way we don't have to feed any hay!" The driver, who obviously wasn't a rancher, didn't understand - and I suspect even some of my rancher friends don't understand the trade off we're making. Building electric fence is a lot of work - wouldn't it be easier just to feed hay?

The paddock that Roger and I built this morning encloses about 5.75 acres of high quality forage. Since the ewes are on the verge of lambing, their forage demand is peaking. They're eating nearly twice as much grass now as they need in the late summer - after all, many of them eating for three (and p…

No Easy Answers Part 2

In mid October, some friends who graze their cattle in the mountains of western Lassen County (less than 200 miles from our home), became the first ranchers to have cattle “officially” killed by wolves in California in nearly a century. Wildlife officials confirmed that the Lassen pack killed a 600-pound heifer; four more heifers died (and were partially eaten by wolves), but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) couldn’t confirm the cause of death. While I learned about the depredations shortly after they happened through the rancher grapevine, news of my friends’ losses weren’t made public until the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation issued a joint press release this week. The October 28 edition of the Sacramento Bee ran the story.
If you’ve read my previous blogs about wolves, you’ll probably know that I’ve frequently been frustrated with the Bee’s coverage. The paper has run guest opinions disguised as news articles, and appar…

Humbled and Excited

More than 20 years ago, I went to work for the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA). After two internships, I'd been hired by my friend and mentor John Braly as the membership director in 1992. By 1996, I'd been promoted to assistant vice president - pretty heady stuff for a young guy who hadn't grown up in the industry. I started looking for new challenges. Dr. Jim Oltjen, who was (and is) the beef extension specialist at UC Davis (my undergraduate alma mater) suggested that I think about going to graduate school to prepare for a career in extension. I considered it, but the timing wasn't right.

Fast forward to 2013 (or so) - I'd been working as a part-time community education specialist in our local University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) office for several years. The farm advisors in the office - Roger Ingram and Cindy Fake - suggested that I consider getting a master's degree and applying for a future farm advisor job. This time the id…