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Sheep Stars and Solitude

 
  • 029 Epilogue

      On a rainy night outside the high school of Webster Groves, Missouri, a woman was passing the auditorium entrance where a large bulletin board announced the program being given inside: “SHEEP, STARS, AND SOLITUDE.” She stopped to read the words. Then, for some reason which she herself could not […]

     
     
  • 027 Symphonies and a Psalm

    On June 5, as we were crossing a stream in a cienega, Rosalio said to me: “This is it.” At my questioning, he elaborated: “We here. The home ranch. She begins here.” We continued on, as though nothing had happened. To me, I had visioned entering the home ranch as […]

     
     
  • 026 Rosalio’s “Children”

    On Ranger Johnson’s map in Heber I had seen how the sheep trail crossed the Sitgreaves National Forest, swung out over private land past Dry Lake, circled the tiny town of Snowflake, then entered Sitgreaves Forest again before crossing the boundary into Fort Apache Indian Reservation. What the ranger pointed […]

     
     
  • 025 Left-handed Trees

    We are in the high forests — at last. Like the horny-skinned, dust colored, earth-bound caterpillar that emerges from its cocoon as a soaring butterfly, this sheep trail has changed from the tortures of Ramer Canyon and the Rim Country into a palace of pineclad wonders. It is Sunday, dawn, […]

     
     
  • 024 Cream Puffs and Branding Irons

    Heber is a quiet Mormon settlement with a few stores lining the main street. As Ranger Johnson dropped me in front of the town cafe, the last remnants of activities were being clothed in the deepening darkness. A boy and a girl raced their bikes along the road, stirring up […]

     
     
  • 023 Wilderness Interlude

    Ranger Harlan Johnson, who had spent most of the day fighting a forest fire off beyond Heber, drove up to Mule Springs Corral in his pickup to welcome us to Sitgreaves National Forest, and more particularly to check Rosalio’s trail permit. Seeing my cameras, he at once forgot about sheep […]

     
     
  • 022 Horseman of Mystery

    Ramer Canyon is an enormous gouge in the earth, strewn with twisted pine forests, ravines, and ridges. But hazards to the sheep came far less from the ravines and ridges than from the forests and tangles of undergrowth, which swallowed up almost the entire herd from sight. Sometimes we could […]

     
     
  • 021 Herders’ R and R

    Pleasant Valley is logically named — and strategically situated. To Pablo and Rosalio and the herd it was a place of rest and refuge between two of the cruelest sections of the Heber-Reno. Back of us were all the tortures of the trail leading out of Tonto Basin, the weariness […]

     
     
  • 020 Shots in the Night

    We camped under a large juniper near a rocky cairn, between Charcoal Mountain and Spring Creek, on a high plateau of the Sierra Ancha. Rosalio roused us at 4:30. The sun topped the mountains, and the sheep voluntarily started at 5:45. Rosalio has just left with the sheep and Pablo […]

     
     
  • 019 Heroes in Mud

    Today I learned the stuff which makes a herder. By 5:30 in the morning when breakfast was over, the rain had established itself into a dismal storm. And the air was swiftly chilling, turning cooler. There would be a cutting downpour for half an hour after which it would cease […]