Much like the banker said to Walt Disney…
You want me to put those lambs where? And so the saga begins…
Each year we raise lambs. Many are butchered here by our Saudi students at SUU for their personal use. When necessary, some are taken to Cedar City Auction or to Custom Meat Shop for private customers. That’s where the story really begins…
You want me (well, really us) to put three better than 100 pounds each ram lambs into our trailer, so we can take them to the butcher. Somehow this just doesn’t play out in my mind with a successful ending.
Hang with me as I play this in my mind…
Let’s talk about this trailer. It’s a custom job made from recycled parts. The bed is from an old pickup truck. The real problem is that the cap is welded on. That kind of limits movement once you’re in the trailer. It has plenty of ventilation, but that translates to lambs escaping… not a pretty picture, or a successful transport.
Then there are the lambs. It’s settled that we’re taking three lambs to butcher. The problems are that the lambs are pretty frisky, weigh better than 100 pounds, the distance to the trailer bed from the ground is nearly 30 inches, and worst of all… there’s no way to secure the first lamb while we wrestle the next one into the trailer.
Here are the players… Cindy (bad back and short temper), Shari (former heart patient, still overweight and bad back), and maybe Bev (bad knee and just recovering from a bout of Bell’s Palsy) if she’s not driving the school bus.
So I think it goes something like this.
First we each voice our idea about how to wrangle the sheep. I’m in favor of using our extra panels to confine all (12 of them) the boys and then sort the three we want. Cindy thinks she can simply rope them one at a time, and then wrestle them into the trailer. Bev thinks we should just put them into the trailer by first lifting their front legs up onto the back of the trailer tailgate.
Even if we use my idea to confine the animals, we still have to wrangle the sheep into the trailer, one at a time. Now, we’ve done this before, and as I remember, we got bruises to show for it. Also it was into an open pickup bed where we had someone in the bed to hold them.
We’ve loaded goats into the back of the Avalanche with the lid on, and I sat in the back with them, but they’re shorter than these sheep.
So, back to the loading issue…
Who’s on the front? Who’s on the back? Are we gonna put a lead on them? Who’s gonna keep the first one in the trailer? What happens if Bev isn’t there and it’s only Cindy and me? Something’s missing!
I’ve gone out and looked over this trailer issue. Bev thought the solution to keeping the sheep from going through the windows would be to put the lambing jug into the trailer. Not a bad idea, except it’s wider than the bed between the wheel wells. So it looks like a parallelogram sitting in there. We can get everything closed up, but it sure is limiting. Not to mention a frightened sheep could do some serious damage to the jug, and to himself.
After a couple days of discussions, Cindy and I have convinced Bev we’d rather look very silly using the 3-horse trailer to transport three sheep, than to look like a couple of idiots trying to unload the sheep from the little trailer at the butcher site… just too many variables to control at both ends.
With the horse trailer, the sheep will voluntarily jump in… just put hay in, and they’ll follow. Also, we can secure one if the other decides to be difficult. The horse trailer door opens sideways and helps as a fence, whereas the little trailer has a tailgate to deal with.
So, the gals have gone to Enterprise to get the horse trailer, fuel up, and get ready to load the first market lambs. Next month we’ll do this again, with at four lambs, and still look silly with a great big trailer, but with far fewer bruises to show for the escapade.
And so the roundup begins…
With the trailer backed into place, and the fence opened and used as part of a chute, I’m thinking we should grab another fence panel and make a chute and squeeze so we don’t have to chase the lambs or worse yet, wrangle one from the far corner to the trailer.
Well, I got voted down, so off we go, lariats in hand to rope the three largest lambs.
Now, their paddock is about 50 ft by 50 ft, plus the loafing area that is another 20 ft deep. So, they’ve got a pretty good area to scamper about. With three of us, if we move carefully, we should be able to corner them and rope the largest lamb. That’s the plan.
Cindy’s first with the lariat. I’m her fist backup with Bev behind me. We creep up on the lambs and force them into the southwest corner. Cindy spots the big white face she wants and it’s game on.
She misses on the first toss… and off they go, heading for the loafing shed.
So it’s rinse and repeat with the same results. We play this game one more time. She finally hits her target and we wrangle the first lamb into the great big trailer. With that boy securely locked into the front compartment, it’s Bev’s turn at a lamb.
By now, it’s beginning to rain, and there’s thunder and lightening in the area. That puts extra pressure on Bev as she really doesn’t like to be out in lightening. Quite frankly, I’m not real crazy about it either, having been too close a couple of times years ago.
Bev is working with limited time, as she has to drive bus in about an hour. She goes about her business quickly. We sneak, corner, and hold, while she tosses the lariat. After more than a few misses and breaks for lightening getting too close, she snags her lamb, and we wrangle it into the trailer.
My turn now. Even though I use to catch rabbits barehanded, I’ve slowed considerably. As for the lariat, I’ve not tossed one in years. So, we sneak, corner, and I toss… only to miss several times. Finally, I snag my prey. Barely. I’ve got him by the front foot. So we grab him and readjust the rope around his neck and then wrangle him to the trailer.
Mission accomplished, it becomes Cindy’s and my job to haul the boys to Cedar City where they await their fate the next morning.
Cindy’s not real crazy about driving out here as she grew up on the flat lands of northwestern Ohio. Until the first trip they made here in 2004, she’d never seen real mountains, much less drive the twisting curvy roads that are so common throughout the West.
Off we go to Cedar City. We encounter rain in the mountains. Cindy has the Avalanche in “tow mode”, so the transmission is doing it’s thing. The cruise control, which is probably Cindy’s favorite gadget, is on… but every time we go up a slight incline, it sends the engine into a frenzy. The tach goes up to about 45000 and stays there until we’re on level ground. You can almost see the gas gauge heading south. The real problem is we’re climbing from 5300 ft to over 6100 ft and then back down to about 4900 ft. The air is thin, the gas is unleaded, and well… you know the results.
We arrive in Cedar City and Cindy get’s on the right road, Airport Road, but we miss out turn onto Bulldog Road. I’m not terribly concerned as I know we’ll eventually come to an intersection where we can turn right and get over to Bulldog. The only problem is that it’s very hard to see the entrance to the butcher site when coming in from the north.
We found the drive without too much trouble, and proceed to figure out the unloading options. With no mobile slaughter truck there, the place looks totally different. It’s really nice because we can back the trailer straight back to the holding area for the lambs. I have all the confidence in the world that Cindy can do the job. and she doesn’t let me down… Perfectly placed on the first try.
We repeat the process. Put the lariat on the lamb before letting him out of the trailer, as their fences aren’t all that secure. Better suited to cattle than to sheep. Everything goes great until we get to the third lamb… The lariat breaks.
No problem, I’ve got him in a corner, just form a new slip and wrangle him in.
The water doesn’t look good, but we’re unsure of our source. In the meantime, Cindy is checking out the horses that are boarded just before you get to the slaughter yard. She finds a couple of them out of water. Ok, so how we have to figure out the source and the hoses.
There’s a frost-free faucet hidden in the weeds, with several hoses strewn about. We make connections, get the horses some water and then add fresh water to what the lambs have in their bucket. There’s a little straw, so I throw that over the fence to them and wave good bye. Little do they know what’s in store.
We head west again (in this area, it’s said nobody goes west), and get home in time for dinner.
A week or so later, Cindy confides she was terrified when we missed the turn onto the right road, and that the “backing job” was a miracle.
As for me, I thought we did a pretty professional looking job, even if was by accident. The next four lambs are going to the butcher next month, and it shouldn’t be much of an adventure.
Incoming search terms:
- how to wrangle sheep into a pickup truck?
- catching a sheep with a lariat
- hog wrangling as a profession
As our 2012 garden season has come to a close, it’s now time to concentrate on getting ready for winter. Around here, winter can arrive in a heartbeat.
The hay is all in place, over $7000 for the the 7 blocks this year. At that price, we bit the bullet and invested in a professional hay tarp. We had the hay all put into one place this year, since we have the tractor to move bales. We’re also installing gates at each access road.
So far, we’ve pretty much dismantled the gardens, except for some parsnips, beets, turnips, cauliflower and cabbage. We had a hard freeze on the 5th, and that pretty much took care of the garden.
We’re adding a “storage container” to our little farm. That will allow us to properly store our garden and farm tools someplace other than in “Mom’s garage”. That has meant clearing a large area of loose sand and tumbleweed, and moving stuff (including an old truck) so the big truck has enough room to make the correct turns, and back into the spot for the container.
The horses are all gone. We put down the one gal that had eye cancer, and then gave the other two to our neighbor’s grandson. He’s great with horses. The day he came to load them, it only took about an hour to get them into the trailer. Not bad, considering Dusty (the gelding) had only been trailered once (and he didn’t have pleasant memories, having been gelded, vaccinated, and hooves trimmed), and Dakota had never been in a horse trailer.
This past weekend, we put the ram in with the ewes, and the buck in with the nanny goats. In about 5 months, we should have lambs and kids popping out all over the place.
A month or so ago, we took our “old cow” to the butcher. She was 4 years old (had 8 teeth), and didn’t breed last year. After the younger heifer presented us with a beautiful heifer calf, the old gal was “excess inventory”. She’s in the freezer now, and the steaks and burger are absolutely awesome. Except for her poor confirmation, her meat would grade out at prime or better. We got 452# of meat, nearly a freezer full.
We also hatched 11 chicks in September and they (along with their mothers) have moved to the “grow-out pen”. Soon we’ll put their mothers back into the big coop, leaving the youngsters to grow. First one that crows is a Sunday dinner. Any others that crow will seal their fate, too.
Over the winter, watch for “farm tales”, stories about the Four Country Gals living their dreams. They’ll be here on the blog, so will still be doing more “re-arranging”.
So sorry, we won’t be at the Cedar City Downtown Farmer’s Market this week.
We’re between crops. Our summer crops are pretty much finished, and our fall crops aren’t quite ready.
So, what’s in the fall crops?
We’ll have leeks, turnips, tomatillos, more beets, and more squash. Also, we may have some potatoes. They’re pretty popular with Mom, so will only bring what she doesn’t want. Oh, and our tomatoes are finally ripening.
Watch for new recipes, as we’ll also have plenty of green tomatoes.
With the high price of pork, we have the best deal going. Order your winter pork from us. We hand-raise your hog with high quality natural foods. Your hog is sheltered from rough weather and carefully fattened for your freezer.
Cost of your whole hog is $425 (plus about $110 for cut and wrap). That makes your finished pork cost an average of $4.25 per pound.
Compare that with bacon at $6.99 and chops running anywhere from $4.99 up.
If you’d prefer a 1/2 hog, your price is $225 (plus about $55 cut and wrap). Still an awesome deal.
To order, call us at 868-3024 and be sure to get on our “Custom Meat Program” Mailing list.