As I stumble through my morning routine I am ready within minutes for Rambling Ewe Ranch’s big day.
The moon fills the sky and sheds enough light so we can find our way to the truck.
Orange flag in hand, Camelbak packed, we load up water and lunches for the herders. J checks the trailer to ensure proper hitching and we hop up in the truck.
We pick up Alberto, he lives nearby on the ranch. Elias and Daniel are waiting for us at the mountain.
Our herders are used to this early work, it’s a daily occurrence for them. For me, it's a little tough and I find myself unable to hold back the yawning.
As we all make our way up to where the sheep, Elias and Daniel are waiting, the excitement begins to build.
The mamas and babies are coming home!
Make way B-town…Sheep on Road!
I am dropped off about a mile ahead of where the sheep will get on the road and I find myself smiling with excitement. It’s just me, the horses in the field nearby out this time of day and the road is quiet. Soon enough cars will be making their appearance. I sure hope we have happy drivers today.
It’s important the cars see me as they are driving. My sole purpose as flagger is to alert cars that sheep are ahead and to PLEASE slow down.
Most cars slow down and enjoy the drive through the sheep. Some smile and wave and roll down their windows. Some want to chat with you about the sheep and ask how many we have this year. Many times children poke their heads out of the car to get a better view of the sheep. Other cars take heed to our signs that are posted the week prior and avoid the street altogether. That's fine too.
Some forget the sheep are on the road and are either pleasantly surprised or grumble the whole way through.
I radio J on the walkie-talkie and ask them what his status is. He replies back, "They are on the road!"
I wait to see the first sheep around the bend and start walking! "Okie dokie! Here we go!"
Soon enough we are rocking and rolling.
J will trail the back of the herd in the truck. He slows traffic behind him as he pulls our horse trailer full of our dogs that were working on the mountain. There is an orange, bright sign on the back of the truck that says, Sheep on Road. We don't let the dogs trail on the road, we've had a car hit one of our dogs once before and want to ensure that doesn't happen again.
|They want to be where the sheep are. They aren't happy campers when they aren't.|
|Jigs did come along for the ride, but slept most of the time in the car. She gets by on her looks, not her hard work. ;)|
Along the way, I enjoy the view of the foothills of the San Juans. It’s a lovely sight and there is something about leading hundreds of sheep to a place they love, that makes your heart happy.
And so, I am reporting back with news of a good and successful day. Today is a milestone for J and I. We made it through our first full year of sheep ranching! It's a wonderful feeling and I want to say thank you to everyone that has offered us their support, prayers and words of encouragement over the past few months.
Tonight our herders are proud of their work (as they should be) and our sheep are happy.