Down and dirty

Local sheep ranchers to be featured on Discovery Channel's 'Dirty Jobs'

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They explore sewers, fumigate homes and dive for golf balls while dodging hungry alligators.

They're the crew of the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs," and they find out firsthand what it's like to have some of the grittiest careers in the nation.

Next, they're coming to Craig.

Makers of the show are making plans to document the castration process of local sheep ranchers Albert and Melody Villard this summer.

"They're interested in having (host) Mike (Rowe) participate in part of the roundup operations as well as the branding and castrations," Melody Villard said.

Applying to be on the show was the idea of the Villards' 5-year-old son, Kelton.

"He's a big fan of 'Dirty Jobs,'" Melody Villard said. "He always reminds us when the show is on."

The family applied online to appear on the show and recently heard the crew will be coming to Craig in early June.

They plan for Rowe to assist with the usual spring lamb operations -- tail-docking, earmarking, branding and castrating.

The Villards don't see their sheep operations as exceptionally dirty but admit it's different from what many Americans are used to.

Albert Villard's grandparents started the family's sheep business in 1928, when they purchased land north of Craig by Fortification Rock. They operated the ranch until 1978, when they passed it onto their sons. Albert and Melody Villard have been running the ranch since 1992.

The Villards say the spring sheep operation is a social event -- friends and family members turn out to help with the tasks needed to keep the business running.

"It all happens pretty fast," Melody Villard said. "Between 6 a.m. and about 8:30 a.m., we get through 300 to 400 lambs."

The lambs are rounded into three bunches on the lambing grounds and processed by the ranch crew.

"We're hoping to get Mike to check the ewes for milk production and hold the lambs while the tails are cut." Melody Villard said. "Maybe he can help push them into the corral."

The family's flock is currently at their winter range near Dinosaur, and their Peruvian sheepherders are on their way back to Craig. The sheep will be trucked to the ranch in a few weeks, in time for a visit from a production crew from "Dirty Jobs."

The Discovery Channel's hit show airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays.

For information about the show, visit dsc.discovery.com.

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