Ask a herder #3
Well its official, other than the whole ability to actually find a sheep camp on my own (I'm not a very good mud driver either so that might be a strike against me), I've been deemed worthy of being able to go to sheep camps on my own (this deeming may never be tested!). I think its because I know all the herders by name and I can say Hola and Hasta luego.....what else can you really need to know right? Although I did find out that one of my favorites may be able to speak fairly good English. I tried it out on my latest trip and I got some answers in English, probably need more cookies to really liven up the conversation........
So what did I find out on my latest sheep camp outing?
Q: At what weight are lambs usually slaughtered?
A: Lambs in the feedlot are usually slaughtered around 165 lbs.
Q: Where do the bucks go after they do their work with the girls?
A: After the bucks are cut out of the herds, they make their own herd until they head back to the summer country. The number is obviously much smaller, so there is usually only one herder with the bucks.
Q: Where do the herders get water?
A: Federal regulations require ranchers to bring fresh water to camps, the herders aren't supposed to melt snow to "make" water. If there is enough snow herders will make water for the dogs and horses.
Q: What is a "jumper"?
A: A jumper is a worker who is brought to work legally in the United States through the H2A program and has signed a contract, once they arrive in the U.S., they disappear, not full-filling their contract with the rancher who brought them here to work. "Jumpers" are often not found and move on to different employment or some may return to their home countries once they get enough money to get a ticket back.
Q: What do herders do to pass the time when they aren't moving/feeding the sheep?
Some of the favorite pastimes at sheep camp include reading magazines, talking on the phone, or hunting horns. Once they collect horns, they can be sold for extra cash. They have the perfect opportunity to hunt horns because they are out in desert/forest all day everyday.
Q: Why does your dog bite my ears, my hands and my ponytail?
A: Not really sure why, but you are one of his favorite people. (I don't even bring him cookies, although sometimes he helps himself to cookies that are meant for sheep camp)