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This is Page 127.

See some past photo entries below.

See an index of all past photos here.

See Page 1 here with the current photos.

 

We welcome your pictures. We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We're looking for vintage photos and contemporary photos: family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo to share, email us for information about sending it to us.


 

Send your photos.

 Email us.

 

 

If you enjoy this feature, you may also be interested in our 
Western Memories Project, the personal recollections—many with photos—contributed by BAR-D visitors.  Your stories and photos are welcome.



We welcome your photos.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

Share your part of the West or the West of your past. To send photos and their descriptions, just email them to us.   


previous  photos

index of all photos

See an index of all past photos here.

Find the current photos here.

Week of July 22, 2013

This is the second of a multi-part posting shared by Stan Howe, Montana singer, songwriter, musician, storyteller, writer, radio host, auctioneer, Model T authority, and fiddle expert. He writes about the old sheepherder wagon on his ranch property near Helena:

This is what is what is left of an old Sheepherder's wagon that I have parked down by the creek at my ranch. I was working in the field moving irrigation pipe when it came up and rained. The sun was just setting so I went and got my camera and took these photos of the wet wood with the evening sun shining below the clouds and turning everything to a rose-colored glow.


Here is a picture of the sheep wagon with brighter light:
 

It's an interesting old wagon, bigger than most, it is the longest traditional wagon I've ever seen. It came off a big ranch up at White Sulphur Springs where there were a lot of sheep right up in to the 1960s. The herders were probably out longer there than they were some places because they went to the mountain in the summer and probably didn't come in until fall.

This one may have been built extra long for a couple to live in instead of just a single herder. While not many herders were married, some were and the young herders took their wife with them or the wife would come out and stay for awhile in the summer and maybe bring the kids along for an adventure.

This wagon, like all of them, had all the amenities of home. Entering from the front with a door split so the top could be opened and the bottom left closed to keep the dogs in or out and get better ventilation, most had a little set of steps, some just used the wagon tongue as the step. Hanging inside the door was the wash basin, to the left was a water bucket and dipper on a little bench with a bar of soap and a towel hanging above. A mirror hung above the wash basin and usually a shelf that held a tin tea can with needle and thread, buttons, medicine, etc., along with whatever other small items might be needed. Below was a cabinet for sheep medicine, dog food, canned goods, etc.

To the right would be the stove, a smaller version of the home kitchen range with four lids, an oven and possibly a warming oven above. A bucket of either wood, coal or sheep droppings set on the floor next to the stove. Most herders would burn wood and gathering wood was a day to day chore. If they were parked in an area with no wood the camp tender would bring them wood or possibly coal to cook with.

Behind the stove was a cabinetquite often lined with tin to keep the mice outwhere the day to day cooking necessities were kept. This cabinet was built on the shelf behind the stove and usually extended up the side quite a ways with small shelves for holding cooking items. A frying pan hung on the end.

Being built out over the wagon wheels, there was a shelf that ran along both sides at about chair level that extended the width of the wagon so a bed could be placed across the back. Trap doors cut in the shelf went down to a box on each side in the middle between the wheels. These were also often tin lined and used to store dry beans, coffee, flour, etc., where the mice couldn't get to it. Under the bed built across the end was a table that pulled out from under the bed, below that would be drawers for clothes and blankets, ammunition, personal items and eating utensils.

Above the bed, set in the end of the wagon was a window that would open, quite often the window had a pull rope to open it from near the front or somewhere so that the herder didn't have to crawl over or reach over the bed to open it. Often there were pegs set in the back to hang a "winter blanket" on the back wall to keep the wagon warmer in cold weather.

Outside, the feed box was built on the back of the wagon and filled with feed for sheep or horses. Most of the time the herder did not have a team with him. When it was time to move the camp tender came and hitched up his team to the wagon, moved it to where they next grazing area would be and then rode the team horses back to his wagon and went on the to next camp. The herder really had no use for a team and it was one less thing to bother with. While some had a horse to ride, many did not.

Contrary to myth, most herders were sober and dependable, conscientious about their job and the animals in their care and would not abandon them. But the days are long and the nights longer and the desire for human company could be pretty temping. A herder with a horse might think that he could ride to town for a Saturday night and be back before the sheep came off the bed ground in the morning. A herder without a horse knew he couldn't walk to town and get back so he was more likely to stay with the sheep and the wagon.

The wagon would be parked near a water hole and a bed ground but not right next to it unless there was a spring for water that ran down to a dam or pond. The wagon would be parked up a little above the bed ground so the herder could see the entire flock or "band" with a glance out the door of the wagon. The wagon was always parked with the door toward the bed ground. The herder would leave the top half of the door open when he went to bed so he could sit up in bed and look out at the bed ground and be ready to take a quick shot at a coyote or dog bothering the sheep. His gun stood at the ready inside the door and most herders were good shots as they got lots of practice with coyotes, bears, bobcats and mountain lions with a taste for lamb.

Along the out side of the wagon between the wheels was often a basket that held a five gallon can of kerosene for the lamp and lantern. Herders didn't like the can inside because of the smell and the fire danger. It is pretty easy to spill some when filling a lantern and keeping the can outside meant no mess to clean up if some was spilled. On the other side of the wagon would be a water barrel with a spigot on the bottom and a tight bung on the top. When there was no good water at the bed ground, the camp tender would bring clean water but most often the herder knew where there was a spring with good water maybe not enough for the sheep but enough for him. He would fill his water barrel there or the camp tender would swing by there and fill the barrel when he moved the wagon.

The camp tender came once or twice a week to check on the herder, he brought mail and news from town, usually stayed and had something to eat and visited with the herder to give him a bit of social life. Big ranches were known by the number of wagons they had out; each herder would have about a thousand head of sheep in his band so a ranch with a dozen herders had 12,000 head of sheep. Most ranches weren't that large, two or three thousand being about the average in Montana. Some would keep one band at the home ranch and have two bands out on grazing, so they only had two herders.

My favorite herder, although I don't remember him personally, was guy called Hike a doodle. He'd walk along behind the sheep yelling "Hikeadoodle, Hikeadoodle, come on, Hikeadoodle" I guess it meant hurry up, keep moving or some thing like that.

Herders came from a lot of backgrounds, many were young men trying to get a start in ranching. It paid pretty well, you got your food and a place to stay, there was no place to spend the money and you were seeing where you might want to homestead when you had saved up a little money. Some were loners who just didn't want to be around people and some were doctors or lawyers or professors who for one reason or another needed a fresh start away from what ever they had been doing and who ever they had been in a previous life. Some were just bachelors who needed a job and this was the one that was available.

My stepdad's father did that. He came from Pennsylvania when he was 16, got a job herding sheep that paid fifteen dollars a month, saved nearly every dime and when he was 21 married and a few years down the road started up a little homestead ranch. He married Mary when she was 16, they lived for four years in the sheep wagon until they had two boys, my stepdad was the first of two and was born on a July night in a sheepwagon parked north of Ekalaka, Montana. He was proud of it all his lifethat he was born in a sheep wagonbut it's another story of their marriage and how it all came to be that I will have to tell another night.

This old wagon suffered the fate of many in the 1920s and later, it was taken off the original wagon skein and mounted on a car frame. The rubber tires made it easier to move; by this time the camp tender had a pickup and needed to be able to hook the wagon behind it and move faster than a team did. This wagon is mounted on a 1930s Chevrolet frame and running gear. You can still see where the built-in cabinets and everything were, it's a great bit of Western history that just looks right setting down by the creek on this old ranch I bought 15 years ago. I can imagine it parked there when the herder had his band of sheep grazing down along the creek, his dogs sleeping in the shade and him making a pot of coffee to have with a pipe of tobacco on a lazy afternoon in a Montana summer.

Stan Howe has contributed other interesting photos to Picture the West:

  An eastern Montana homestead and hayfields

  Remnants of  eastern Montana homesteads, part 2

  Remnants of eastern Montana homesteads, part 1

Dodson, Montana's cowboy bar

  The home place, Westmore, Montana


  Spring fiddlers' show in Pony, Montana

StanBetsy1949.jpg (27787 bytes)   Photos and stories from the family ranch in Westmore, Montana

 Early eastern Montana homestead photos


 

You can contact Stan Howe: 4433 Red Fox Drive, Helena, Montana 59602, 406-443-5658, email.

Visit his site about Westmore, Montana:  www.westmoremontana.info.

 

 

 


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


Week of July 14, 2013

This is the first of a multi-part posting shared by Stan Howe, Montana singer, songwriter, musician, storyteller, writer, radio host, auctioneer, Model T authority, and fiddle expert. The photos here are by Roberta Willman.

Stan writes about his land in Westmore, in eastern Montana, and of "busting a myth":

[Roberta Willman took these photos] of my hayfields all baled. I haven't been down there this spring but everybody says it is just green and gorgeous like they haven't seen in years.

The myth is that this land should have never been settled and that the Milwaukee Railroad duped the  homesteaders into land where they would surely starve to death. This place was homesteaded in 1909 and has grown crops like this for over 100 years—true some years good and some years bad—but overall it has been a successful agricultural operation.

This is the hayfield west of the Westmore townsite:



photo by Roberta Willman

The second is where the town was and some of the area east of town:


photo by Roberta Willman

Stan tells:

It is beautiful country. Different, but beautiful.

My mother loved that little ranch and those red hills. My grandfather brought her and the youngest two of her older brothers and bought a relinquishment on a homestead in 1912 after my grandmother died in South Dakota.

My mother lived there all her long life and never wanted to be anywhere but where she was doing what she was doing. Raising kids and horses and cows and big gardens to feed them. Times were hard some times but not so hard they didn't get by.

There was always music and neighbors and friends and our door was always open for them all. One of he last times I visited her before she died at 94 we went to Miles City to the old time fiddlers. She talked about her life and what she had done and where she had been and told me again that she wanted to be buried in those "old red hills" where she had spent her life and where she would spend eternity. We should all be so fortunate to be happy with where we spent our earthly days.
 


 

Stan Howe has contributed other interesting photos to Picture the West:

  Remnants of  eastern Montana homesteads, part 2

  Remnants of eastern Montana homesteads, part 1

Dodson, Montana's cowboy bar

  The home place, Westmore, Montana


  Spring fiddlers' show in Pony, Montana

StanBetsy1949.jpg (27787 bytes)   Photos and stories from the family ranch in Westmore, Montana

 Early eastern Montana homestead photos

You can contact Stan Howe: 4433 Red Fox Drive, Helena, Montana 59602, 406-443-5658, email.

Visit his site about Westmore, Montana:  www.westmoremontana.info.

 


   Share your photos for Picture the West.

Send your views of the West.

We're looking for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We welcome vintage and contemporary photos:  family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you. 

If you have a photo and story to share, email us.


 

 

 

 

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