Sheep as Far as the Eye Can See

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You can try to picture this scene of sheep as far as the eye can see coming out of the mountain range down the Boulder Road after being in the higher elevations all summer. At one time about 30 ranchers took their sheep up this primitive mountain road to use the government grazing permits, but now those sheep drives are a thing of the past.

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These herds of sheep are grazing on what is now Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch. The present owner’s great grandfather, Ralph Jarrett, purchased the 160 acre homestead from Tom Hawley back in 1917. This property was used by the Jarrett’s for decades, first for cattle, and then as a “stopping off” place for their bands of sheep while making the 80 mile trek over the hills from the Jarrett sheep and cattle ranch west of Big Timber. Then the sheep were moved on with the help of sheep dogs to graze on the government permits in the higher mountain elevations.

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Camp was pitched on the Jarrett property for a couple days in order to rest the sheep and men after the 35-40 mile trip before heading up farther into the high country. A cabin was built on the property by Ralph Jarrett. His son, Tom Jarrett, is shown leading his pack horse with supplies ready to start up the road to finish the trip. It took several pack horses to move supplies up to where the sheep herders and camp tenders would spend the summer watching over the bands of sheep and protecting them from predators such as bear and coyotes.

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The herder watches over the sheep bands as they graze in a solitude setting with his faithful dog at his side. This scene no longer takes place as ranchers were forced to stop the mountain trips with their sheep due to difficult restrictions on federal grazing lands.

 


 

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