On the rare occasion that Tim has to leave the ranch for some reason, I get to help feed.  This morning as I head out, Optaciano, our night man, is returning from an “all-nighter” taking care of the ewes and lambs born during the night. As I pull up to the hay yard, Melendez is already hooking up the hay wagon.  His surprised smile makes me wonder if he’s glad to see me or he’s thinking “uh oh, she’s driving the tractor today”.  I know Tim and Melendez take turns on the hay wagon, as it is hard work, peeling the flakes of hay off the large ton bales.  Melendez doesn’t ask, but climbs onto the hay wagon, ready for the task, as I climb into the heated tractor cab.

We head to the lambing shed, and as I look around, it is again, a beautiful morning at Lava Lake Ranch.  We are well into lambing season and the ewes that have not had lambs are milling around as we turn into the lambing area.  Claudio and David are already inside the lambing shed feeding the ewes and new born lambs.  When I was at the shed Sunday evening, there were 10-15 lambs, today there are well over 100 lambs, with the jugs (pens used during lambing) filled with mostly twins, and three set of triplets.

Now, it’s back to the hay yard to load up more bales to feed the horse herd and rams.  The horses are all looking fat and furry as they have their long winter coats on. As they fall in behind our wagon, I think of the horses’ names, most of them descriptive: Young Mare, Old Mare, Strawberry, Paint and so on.  Fortunately none are named Loco.  If our herder’s ever name a horse Buck, and he’s not a buckskin, BEWARE!  I’m also reminded to do some winter riding soon.

With the remaining hay, we head to the rams.  For obvious reasons, we keep the rams (males) separate from the ewes.  They jostle for position to get the first hay flakes and butt heads when they get irritated with each other.   The rams are kept down by Lava Lake, where there is a natural barrier of lava flows, which you can see in the background of the photo below.  Not only is this natural barrier great for separating our organic operation from the outside world, it provides a natural fence too.

Once we are done with the larger animals, Melendez will finish up with the dogs and then go down and help the guys already in the shed.  It is a constant job; assisting the ewes who are lambing, feeding, cleaning the jugs, bedding with organic straw and preparing for the next morning’s feeding.  It is a wonderful natural cycle and all of the hard work irrigating and putting up the organic hay during the summer begins the new cycle of lambs for the this year.

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