Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Trip to Colorado

Just about a month ago, I hauled some of my Lincoln sheep to the Estes Park Wool Market in Colorado, the location of the 2012 National Lincoln Show and Sale.  I've hauled sheep and cattle to northern CA before - down into the Yreka area where friends ranch outside the town of Montague.  However those were 8 hour trips and this was a 1,250 mile trek one way.  Luckily a good friend and fellow Lincoln breeder, Chris Bazant of Missing Creek Ranch kept me company. There is a stark beauty to the eastern part of Oregon:

Note the bug splatter on the windshield, and this was just after 6 or so hours of driving.  You can also see giant wind mills in the background.  Idaho and Utah are quite attractive as well.  But then one starts across the southern part of Wyoming...............
After counting pronghorn antelope for hours, there's really not much else to do and one begins to understand why the state has drive through liquor stores.  Once in Laramie, we headed south into Colorado towards Fort Collins and Loveland.  It was great to see trees again.

In Loveland, CO one turns to the west and heads up through a canyon to Estes Park, the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park.  The wool market and sheep show take place at the county fairgrounds, elevation 7,000 + feet.  I was a little unprepared without hat or sunglasses, as the weather in western Oregon had been overcast when we left.  On the first day of the show, the temperatures were in the mid 80s, with 15% humidity and wind gusts over 40 mph.  In the distance, we saw a small wildfire start.  By Sunday morning, it had increased from 2 acres to 14,000 - what we were witnessing was the beginning of the High Park Fire, the second most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.

Despite the unfolding disaster to our north, we managed to have a good time and a successful show.  My big natural colored yearling ram was the Reserve Grand Champion colored ram and the top selling natural colored Lincoln in the sale.  He has gone on to start a new Lincoln flock for David Day in Indiana. And a natural colored ewe lamb I donated to raise funds for youth members of the National Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association was the Reserve Grand Champion colored ewe and was purchased by Nancy Irlbeck of Aniroonz.

Here is a photo of me with my ram as well as NLSBA president Brian Larson with a white ram in 12 months of fleece together with Deb Robson.  We were taking part in a video shoot for on specialty wools and their uses.  It will be a free on line tutorial and I'll put the link on our website and this blog as soon as it becomes available sometime during the month of July.
Getting out of Colorado was a little more eventful than planned.  The High Park fire was just north of Fort Collins and had gobbled up close to 40,000 acres by the Sunday afternoon of the show.  Heading through Fort Collins, things did not look good.  I stopped at a Shell station to ask whether the highway to Laramie was still open.

The folks working there had not been told of any closures, however just a quarter mile ahead, the road was closed and we were diverted east.

I've never been so thankful for the rain and moisture of western Oregon!  Despite the detour, we made it home in two and a half days.  Coming through the Columbia River Gorge, we saw our first clouds of the return trip, and the rain soon followed.