Along The Path
with Sheilah Smith

The Navajo Churro Sheep Project

Once again I'm off on an adventure. This time it is to take pictures of the churro sheep and four-horned rams. I have an early afternoon appointment with Harley and Mary Hatch who supervise the Navajo Churro Sheep Project southeast of Bloomfield, NM. This project was started by Professor Lyle McNeal of Logan, UT to reintroduce the churro sheep to the Navajo ranchers.

My son, David, and I arrive around 1:30 pm. Harley and Mary are not back from errands in town so we sit in David's pickup and drink coffee from the thermos I brought.

The sack of snacks were plentiful and David remarked that I must have thought we'd get lost in the wilderness. I told him I believed in coming prepared; that I was a good Girl Scout.

The day was chilly but it was enjoyable just to be away from town and to view the way the sun played on the face of the bluffs.

Harley and Mary arrive at 3:30. Harley has afternoon feeding to do so David and I walk to the corrals where we proceed to take pictures of 50 llamas. We are fortunate to come on this day as 25 llamas are to be shipped the next day to various Navajo ranchers on the reservation.

The llamas are used to guard the sheep. If they are guarding one group of sheep and another group is introduced to that bunch the llamas will guard both groups.

Then it was on to the sheep corrals. I had to be sly as I approached them, moving slowly to keep from spooking them. I took pictures from the road that divides the llama corral from the sheep corral.

Next we went to the corral where the rams are kept. By this time Harley had finished feeding so we were able to go into the corral with him. There is one white ram with curled horns who is like a pet who comes close but the rest are camera shy.

I did get a picture of a black four-horned ram and one of a white four-horned ram and even managed to get a picture of them together. It is unusual to see two horns point upwards and two horns point downwards as I'm used to seeing the curled-horn rams with just two horns.

It is getting on towards evening and we have taken enough of Harley's time so we end this adventure but stay tuned.

I'm back!

Lambing season is in full-swing and for this trip I stop by and get my "adopted" daughter, Beth, and her 3 1/2 year old son, Michael.

It is a cold, windy day but the first sunny day in a while so I am determined to get pictures of the baby lambs.

We once again catch Harley and Mary doing their afternoon feeding. Harley shows us to the corral in which are kept the new mothers and their lambs who are anywhere from a few days old to a month old.

I carefully walk among them (watching where I step) as they are protective of their babies. We tried to persuade Michael to come see the lambs but he was apprehensive.

After getting pictures of the young lambs and their mothers we proceed to the new-born and day-old corral.

Michael was still leery of coming near the sheep but after I held a day-old lamb he decided he would venture in. As long as he was standing close to me it was okay to be among the animals.

We visit with Harley and find that shearing season is coming up soon so that is next on the agenda. I'll continue the saga then.

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