Summer at Lava Lake
By Phoebe Bean
We can’t believe it’s already May! The past few months at the ranch have flown by, and the summer months are sure to pass quickly as well.
May at Lava Lake main ranch.
Over the winter, I wrote about lambing season and all that it entails; cute lambs, hard working staff, freezing night shifts, and puppies were just some of the things I covered. For those of you that missed one of my recent posts, A Season of Growth, we delivered over 2,100 healthy lambs this year! Last month, I talked about what springtime means for Lava Lake and all of the long days our herders put in to ensure that our lambs are in tip-top shape when they “turn-out” into the mountains. Our wonderful veterinarian, Doc Yoder, came out to help vaccinate our horses, puppies, and bucks against diseases like West Nile Virus, rabies, and Parvo, and our ranch foreman, Pedro, spent countless hours with our herders going over details on individual ewes and lambs before sending them out into the beautiful mountains we are privileged enough to call home.
Family friend, Frances Cobb, holds one of the lambs while visiting the lambing sheds. This is just one of 2,100 healthy lambs this year!
Now that the summer season is rapidly approaching, I thought it might be helpful to briefly explain what typically goes on at Lava Lake during May, June, July, and August. Right now, our garden is being prepared to be planted (which we couldn’t be more excited about!) and we’re getting ready to put in a small orchard by the ranch house. Biologists Tess O’Sullivan and Alan Sands will be planting native plant species along a restored creek on the main ranch, sage grouse leks will be monitored across the whole ranch property, and the pronghorn will settle back into the Pioneer Mountains after their long migration. Learn more about the pronghorn migration here.
Pronghorn running along the edge of the lava flow.
The two bands of sheep that have turned out are under the care of Hector and Mario, and everything is going well so far. Over the next few months, the sheep will move from the high desert up into the Pioneer Mountains, grazing on lush wild grasses and herbs. Jack, Paco, and Harry (the Great Pyrenees puppies) are all doing very well, and, believe it or not, are seven months old! They will continue to learn from the older, more experienced guard dogs until the late fall.
One band leaving the main ranch in April.
Ranch summers for our family are often my most coveted memories. Hot days mean fun swims in the lake or ponds, lots of popsicles, playing with horses and dogs, and tons of laughter. The grill is always fired up and ready to go, and dinner is usually served outside on picnic tables as the sun is setting. Once the sour cherry trees are laden with fruit, we enter a race with the birds to pick and pit as many as we possibly can to ensure lots of sour cherry pie nights and enough sour cherry jam to last us until the next summer. Fences are fixed, sheep camps are restored, and weeds are weeded. Horses are exercised and pack in food to the herders, the chickens are fed, trucks are repaired… Summer at the ranch is hard work, but it’s also the most fun.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our garden!