Huckleberries Online

MONDAY, AUG. 27, 2012, 8:30 A.M.

Basque Country (Idaho)

Outstanding in their field: Trina, a 3-year-old Finnsheep, stands with her unusually large brood of seven 2 1/2-week-old lambs in a field at the home of their owner, Colleen Peck, on Thursday in Snoqualmie, Wash. Finnsheep, a breed of domestic sheep known for multiple births, commonly give birth to up to five lambs. The healthy septuplets, including four boys and three girls, are fed both by their mother and a supplemental formula hand-fed by Peck. American Finnsheep Breeders’ Association acting secretary Herb Tucker said such a feat has only been recorded twice in the United States. (Associated Press)
Outstanding in their field: Trina, a 3-year-old Finnsheep, stands with her unusually large brood of seven 2 1/2-week-old lambs in a field at the home of their owner, Colleen Peck, on Thursday in Snoqualmie, Wash. Finnsheep, a breed of domestic sheep known for multiple births, commonly give birth to up to five lambs. The healthy septuplets, including four boys and three girls, are fed both by their mother and a supplemental formula hand-fed by Peck. American Finnsheep Breeders’ Association acting secretary Herb Tucker said such a feat has only been recorded twice in the United States. (Associated Press)

Sheep, you may be surprised to learn, are not as dumb as they look. Some people might even describe them as shrewdly calculating, remarkably crafty animals with fierce independent streaks. Given the slightest opening, for example, they will quit a herd, striking out in small, enterprising bands for the high-desert plains — ungulate fugitives in a promised land of sagebrush and cactus — sometimes never to be seen again.

They’re good animals if you take care of them,” said Henry Etcheverry, as we bounced along a dusty two-track in the Minidoka desert near Rupert, Idaho, 160 miles southeast of Boise, tracking an errant herd. “But take my word for it: they’ll clean your clock if you don’t.”

Mr. Etcheverry is one of the last Basque sheepmen left in the American West, where there were once hundreds, if not thousands, like him. He learned the business from his father, Jean Pierre Etcheverry, who emigrated from the Basque Country, a region in the Pyrenees Mountains comprising parts of southern France and northern Spain, in 1929. Back then sheep outnumbered Idahoans seven to one, a peak that coincided with the tail end of Basque immigration to the western United States. NY Times, Full story.

H/T Christa Hazel

This is a great read. Anyone care to share their sheep experiences?




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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.