Sometimes, we have to put men on an allotment that they’ve never been on. This naturally happens with all first time men, but we put the new guys with experienced guys and that is how they learn. They learn the country, how to rope and ride, how to herd sheep, how to pack and set up tent, how to watch for lambing problems, and even how to cook. Men don’t cook in Peru, our guys never cook before coming here! In the case this summer, Luis, is a new guy with experienced herder, Edwis, but he has never been on this particular summer allotment. Edwis has been with us for four years and has been on other allotments, so he knows how to pack, herd, and all the things, but doesn’t know the campgrounds and grazing areas of the Devil’s Hole allotment.
Monday morning, my mom and I load up our Tennessee Walker saddle horses, Slim and Isaac, the guys' food order, chainsaw oil and gas, sheep salt, and dog food. We make the two hour drive up the rocky dirt roads into the forest and to their canvas wall tent. We unload all but half the salt and dog food, we will leave that at the next campground, and Edwis catches and saddles his horse. We eat the lunch Luis has prepared while playing with the adorable little black pups.
We drive to the next camp ground, Green Knoll, and start on our horses from there. My mom points out where the spring is below camp that they’ll get their drinking water from. Each campground has a spring near by where the guys fill their 5-gallon containers for drinking and cooking. She points out the different areas of where to graze and bed the herd from this campground and tentatively for how long. Some people believe that the herds bed near camp each night or in the same place, this isn't true in our situation. The sheep bed on higher ground from where they grazed that day and they are continuously moving to a new grazing area each day. On a typical day, the herd begins grazing down hill towards water from their bedding ground first thing in the morning. Between mid-morning and mid-day they drink and bed for an hour or so. They continue grazing in that area through the afternoon. They often bed again in the late afternoon before being directed to graze in the direction of where they will bed that night. The next morning they are directed in a new direction for grazing, water on a new area of the creek, and bed on a different high point that night. This process continues in the area of the given campground until the herd is grazing more in the direction of the next campground and this is when the herders move camp.
We ride down the old logging road, that’s since grown in, to the Hamsfork River. We cross over and up the hill on the other side. Amidst the trees is an old, now mostly broken down, trappers’ cabin. I remember staying here often with my grandpa and cousin, Garrett, when we were little. The trees remember us too, with many names carved in the surrounding aspens. This campground is called Hill Cabin.
From here we ride up the ridge to the next campground at the edge of the trees. They don’t stay at this campground as long, just enough to get the herd from this area to the next on the other side of the ridge. My mom points out the allotment border to the south, Devil’s Hole Creek. Edwis grazes his herd to the north, and Teo grazes his to the south. We have eight different grazing allotments on the forest, each with a herd of sheep on it, and all bordering each other. The guys have to be sure to not graze in bordering areas of each other at the same time as to not mix their herds. My mom knows what campground each camp is at at all times and where the herds are grazing, and she coordinates this accordingly before we even make it to the mountains.
This is as far as we have time for today; Edwis has to get back to his herd to bed them for the night. Once he is camped at this last campground, we will return in a couple weeks to show him the next set of campgrounds. We head back for his camp, a different route than we came in. Then mom and I loop back to the pickup where we leave the rest of the salt and dog food for when Edwis moves here. We load up and head for our own camp, a sheep camp parked in the trees where it has spent every summer for as long as I've been alive. We stake one of our geldings and hobble the other before preparing supper for ourselves. We fall asleep to the sound of buzzing mosquitos with an early alarm set for going to count two herds in the morning.