Wool

Just a short post today. The past week was spent getting my taxes done; not a fun job. But now it is back to sheep and their wool!

My last post showed two videos of the shearing process. Beto was the main shearer in the videos. In just a couple of hours he had told me that he had sheared 150 sheep! So wonder he had the brace on, but then the floor of the shearing shed does get slippery with the lanolin. The wool is collected after each sheep is sheared and tossed on a platform next to the shearing shed. On this raised platform is a machine that will compact the wool into bags. Each bag weighs between 400 and 500 pounds! A sheep that has a black face will have wool that is black underneath and this wool is separated in the shearing shed. Most of these sheep are pulled aside and will be sheared at one time. Sometimes one will get through but the men running the sheep through the chute try to keep them separated. But sheep will be sheep and get away.

Here is the machine that will compact the wool.

Before the wool is put into the compacting machine, a bag is added and clamped into place, the sides raised and wool is slowly added. The above video shows what is happening with getting the bag in the machine before adding the wool. The machine does all the hard work that use to belong to the sheep ranchers children. In the past before the machine, the children would be put in the bag and the it was their job to stomp the wool down so more wool could be added. That must have been a fun but dirty job with the wool flying all around them and the dirt and lanolin that would be on the fleece!

The bag is continuously changed as it can not hold anymore. The bag may sit on the platform until the space is needed for the next full bag. It is then pushed onto the ground as was seen in the above video.

The four to five hundred pound wool bags.

The bags are then rolled by two men to a trailer.

How would you like to roll and push that wool bag weighing four to five hundred pounds up that ramp?

My next post will present information about what happens to the sheared sheep! Hope you enjoy.

The Shearers

Imagine having to spend most of your workday bent over a ewe or ram holding the animal between your legs or putting pressure with one foot on her stomach so you can spend three minutes shearing her.  It is backbreaking work but the men that I met this morning had been doing the work for many years as they traveled the west going from one rancher’s flock to another to shear the wool, a renewable product!  Shearing takes place mostly in February in Arizona, although it can be earlier or later depending on the schedule of the shearers. There are no shearing outfits in Arizona. However, that does not mean there are no shearers; these men and maybe women, shear small flocks near them.  They are willing to shear these small flocks as they may have sheep of their own and need to stay near their homes.  The shearers today came from California. They had already sheared sheep this week so their tents had been set up in the field as they had planned to shear in the same location for a few days.  They will move their operation at least once before they will move onto another state and begin the process all over again. 

When they arrive, the rancher and family along with his herders will have the fences set up to drive the sheep through a maze into the shearing pen. Some of the sheep are brought into the pens the night before to be the first to begin getting their wool cut.  More sheep will be brought in by the herders throughout the day. The shearers will set up their electric shearers and about 9 a.m. will begin the process that lasts for about three hours with only short breaks to stand up tall stretching their backs, move the wool from the sheep they had just sheared and then, it is back to grabbing the next ewe or ram to shear. Rams are sheared but there was none this day while I was watching. Some of this was shown in pictures on yesterday’s post.

Sometimes a small sheep herder in the area will bring their sheep to be sheared as it is too expensive of an operation for them to have the shearers come to them. 

There is some redundancy in the two videos. The last shows the line of the sheep as they wait for shearing and what happens as the shearers grab one of them. Both videos shows the activity that goes on within the shearing pen – the shearing, the grabbing of the wool and getting it out of the way for the next shearing job, and the men as they continuously work. Notice that the floor is a piece of plywood that can get slippery from the lanolin found in the wool.

Tomorrow we will look at what happens to all that wool that has been sheared. Each sheep gives 10 to 12 pounds of wool.

Arizona Sheep Shearing

The Auza sheep are being sheared this week and it will continue into the next few days. Over the weekend, I traveled to Casa Grande to catch up with the Auza family and the crew who would be shearing for them. I also needed my “fix” on seeing sheep as it had been since last May that I had been able to spend any time with the sheep, the herders and the Auza family. I will be posting the activities of Saturday over the next few days as there are lots of pictures and a few videos that capture the activity that occurs during the sheep shearing. I read on a Facebook page that sheep shearing is actually “spa day” for the sheep! In a way, I guess that is true as they get to shed their long wool coat for the hotter temperatures of the next few months before they are moved to greener pastures and cooler temperatures in the northern part of the state. By then they will have grown some of the wool back on.

The first two videos are as the sheep being brought to the shearing station which for a few days is located where a majority of the ewes having been grazing and caring for their young.

After the ewes and their babies are corralled, the workers begin to corral them into a tighter funnel.

The sheep are now moved into a narrow chute to begin the separation of moms from their babies.
The worker watches for the babies to move them into another pen separate from the line for their moms. He moves the gate to separate the ewes from their lamb.
Just a sheep wondering what the hold up is!.

The video tells you everything. The babies want their mommas!

Tomorrow I will post a video on the shearing from a man who has been in the business some twenty years.

Guest Writer Tony Lucas

Today, we have a guest who wrote a poem about his experiences with his father and the sheep.  “Little Tony” was the name fondly given by the Thude family as his uncle was also called Tony.   Tony’s father, Eliseo Lucas, was the herder for Gunnar Thude for many years. Lucas is an Arizona Livestock inspector today. 

Gunnar Thude and Eliseo Lucas

A SHEEPHERDER AT HEART

FROM THE TIME I COULD REMEMBER I STUCK NEAR MY FATHER, MANY TIMES IN THE WAY BUT TO HIM NEVER A BOTHER.

BEING FOREMAN OF A SHEEP OUTFIT HE MUCH ENJOYED, HE TAUGHT ME HARD WORK NEVER TO AVOID.

IN THE SPRING TRAIL NORTH MOVING CAMP TWICE A DAY, IN A MONTH AND A HALF COOL GREEN MEADOWS WILL BE YOUR PAY.

NEVER GRAZE IN THE SAME PLACE TOO LONG, THAT WAY THE LAND YOU WILL NEVER DO WRONG.

ALWAYS TALK TO THEM SO THEY KNOW WHEN YOU’RE NEAR, THE FLOCK WILL LEARN NOT THE HERDER TO FEAR.

WHEN TURNING THE BAND START AT THE REAR AND STAY WIDE, THAT WILL ENSURE THAT THEY STAY AT EACH OTHERS SIDE.

ALWAYS LISTENING AND WATCHING FOR YOUR HERD MARKS, BELLS, LEADERS, TRAILERS, AND ALL OF THE DARKS.

WHEN YOU HAVE A CUT AT FINDING SIGN BE THE BEST, THOSE STRAYS TRACK AND FOLLOW TILL THEY’RE BACK WITH THE REST.

WHEN YOU COME OFF THE MOUNTAIN AND YOU’RE NOT SHORT A ONE, THAT’S WHEN YOU KNOW THAT THE JOBS BEEN WELL DONE.

WHEN LAMBING HAVE A KEEN EYE AND KNOW YOUR EWES, STOPPING TO FIGURE OUT IS TIME YOU CAN’T LOSE.

AT FIRST LIGHT TILL NEAR DARK STAY IN THE FIELD, AT TAIL DOCKING YOU WILL SEE A GOOD LAMBERS YIELD.

MOTHER NATURE YOU CANNOT CONTROL, THINK AND WORK TO MINIMIZE HER TOLL.

ADDRESS THEIR NEEDS AND FEED THEM WELL, AT THE TIME OF SHIPPING BIG LAMBS YOU WILL SELL.

FOR MANY YEARS WE WORKED TOGETHER SIDE BY SIDE, WHATEVER WE DID WE DID IT WITH PRIDE.

WE WORKED AS ONE TO TALK WE NEEDED NOT, FOR WE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT EACH OTHER THOUGHT.

IT GOES UNSAID FIRST COMES THE FAMILY THEN THE SHEEP, WHAT YOU GIVE THEM IS WHAT YOU WILL REAP.

WONDERFUL CHILDREN AND A STRONG, LOVING WIFE, THAT’S THE BEST WE CAN STRIVE FOR IN LIFE.

THEY SAY MONEY AND POWER MAKE A MAN SMART, I SAY IT’S THE LOVE AND STRENGTH IN THAT SHEEPHERDERS HEART.

“IN LOVING MEMORY OF ALL THINGS I LEARNED FOR MY FATHER ELISEO LUCAS”

Lambs

January 1921 Wool Prices and Range Conditions

At the start of 1921, the sheep industry and for that matter, the cattle industry, were in bad shape. Both had seen good years during World War I as the government bought the meat and wool was used for making uniforms. It took wool from approximately twenty sheep to make all the needed clothes for one soldier.  But as 1920 ended wool prices were low, the Arizona range was dry, reducing feed for sheep and cattle, and many sheep men were concerned with the future of the industry. By the end of January there was hope that the wool situation had taken a turn for the better. The Salter Brothers, Boston wool brokers, had expressed in letters to M.I. Powers of the Citizens Bank, Flagstaff and Babbitt Brothers that there was considerable improvement in the wool market. The Salter Brothers were offering 30 cents per pound on wool three weeks ago. Two weeks ago, the price from another mill in Boston had offered 32 cents.  Another mill had offered to buy Arizona wool at 35 cents a pound. “Salter Bros. say that they feel once they have sold a block it will ease up the situation considerably and there will be money to loan on the new clip.” (Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, January 28, 1921)

For a perspective on those amounts: 30 cents in 1921 would be worth $4.37 today, 32 cents equivalent to $4.66 and 35 cents would be $5.09.  The sheep industry today would be thrilled to receive that type of money today for a pound of wool!

Range Conditions through most of 1920 were not good. The ranges were dry which reduced feed for livestock in many areas of the state. The outlook for 1921 seemed a little more promising as rains began to fall in the later part of January. Rain fell in the western portion of the state partially filling dry water holes and providing moisture for winter annuals to begin. A good inch of rain fell in Seligman vicinity. Yuma exceeded their monthly total for the month of January. The area received over a half inch. In the northcentral portion of Arizona snow had fallen but it melted without runoff to any stock ponds. The Grand Canyon and Williams areas had three inches of snow still on the ground. Water tanks were frozen though. The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff reported that some snow had been on the ground since winter began and livestock had been able to graze far from established water holes. The eastern and southern portion of the state reported to be in need of precipitation as the range was dry and water scarce. In the Douglas area the stock was in poor shape as water was scarce.

A Flagstaff observer reported, “Recent light snows melt within a few days after falling’ this moistens the ground, and will put it in good condition for farming, but it does not run and makes no stock water. Stock on the lower ranges adjacent to the San Francisco Peaks (the Canyon Diablo country, etc.) is wintering well as the weather has not at any time been severe and there is plenty of dry feed.” 

In other sections of the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff for January 28, 1921, we learn more about the condition of the range from sheep men who visited Flagstaff.  Returning from Phoenix, Lewis Benedict told of range conditions in the south as serious and there was a fear of heavy loss of sheep if the rains did not come soon.  In the Congress Junction area, William Pitts, foreman for the Howard Sheep Company, reported that the recent rains in the area had made good feed and the range had greatly improved in the last ten day. Two other sheep men, Harlow Yaeger and Charlie Woolfolk, who had winter sheep ranges in close proximity to one another, said that even with little rainfall in the area since last spring, the feed for their sheep was splendid.

Let us hope that our winter 2021 rains continue for the next several months with rain in the Salt River Valley and snow in the high country.  Slow melting snow in the high country with runoff will fill the stock ponds that both cattle and sheep men rely on and that water makes its way to the Salt River Valley for use by the farmers in the southern portion of the state.

The Thude Family Part 2

Gunnar has now been in the livestock business for nearly 30 years. Carlos Sanudo was hired in 1957 to work in Gunnar’s sheep business. Carlos was 37 years old when he migrated to Arizona. Gunnar’s eldest daughter, Elma, married Carlos Sanudo in 1962.  In 1968, Elma bought a part of Gunnar’s sheep outfit.  She named it the Long Tom Sheep Co. as their sheep ran in Long Tom Canyon.  Previously to buying Gunnar’s sheep, she had many years of experience with the sheep.  She had followed her father’s sheep into the mountains every year as a young woman, starting in 1946, at the age of 20.  In the summer, the sheep were trailed to greener pastures in the Heber area of the White Mountains.  The trailing of the sheep took 30 long days, but she was always at the tail end of the flocks as the sheep would be moved on city roads in Chandler and Mesa to begin the Heber-Reno trail northward.  She would get the herders supplies and keep the books while living in a cabin with no telephone and only kerosene lighting. Her father believed that every child should learn to work and indeed, she worked.  Since she did not like riding a horse for hours on end which was required for taking care of cattle, she was willing to care for the sheep. At times, it was necessary for her to bottle feed the lambs, but she learned early on that even if she grew attached to the lamb, it was to be sold or eaten! 

Elma Thude Sanudo and Francis Line, film maker.

As the sheep were moved from the farm in Chandler, through the town to get to the Heber Reno trail, she delighted in telling complaining motorist and Department of Public Safety officers that livestock and that included sheep, had the right-of-way in Arizona. No matter how many obstacles got in her way, from DPS officers to motorist complaints, or angry people in subdivisions, nothing would keep her from her beloved sheep. Trucking of the sheep was not an option as it was too expensive. Her desire to remain as a shepherdess was dependent upon the hazards of trailing and being able to find winter feed, alfalfa, for the sheep.

In the 1960s Gunnar sold one of his ranches to John Wayne.

In 1977, Gunnar sold his Holbrook ranch and the Paradise Sheep Company to John Frandsen Thude, his nephew. With no sheep or cattle to care for, Gunnar was free to spend his summers in his native Denmark, away from the Arizona heat. He passed away in 1980 only having a short time to enjoy his retirement. He was known for always helping others, either lending money or giving them a helping hand on their ranch.

Elma continued to work the sheep until she sold out in 1999 to the Auza Sheep Company, Casa Grande, Arizona. Elma raised her five sons, Gerald (1947), Mike (1949), James (1950), John Gunnar (1953), and Dennis (1955), while tending her sheep. Raising sheep was a full-time job and she was saddened that none of her children continued in the business she loved. Elma passed away in 2002 and Carlos in 2006. What happened to Gunnar’s nephew still needs to be told and hopefully I can finish researching it soon.

Carlos and his pet sheep, Franco!

The Thude family spent nearly 70 years in the livestock business in Arizona and many of those years was in the sheep raising business. I have been privileged to known some of Gunnar’s and Elma’s children and hearing their stories of early life on the range in Arizona. The Thude Family – Gunnar and Elma – will be inducted into the Arizona Ranching and Farming Hall of Fame in March 2022. They should have been this March but circumstances beyond the control of the Hall of Fame, i.e., pandemic, has postponed most celebrations. More will be posted as it is learned about the family, herder stories are collected, and when the family is finally inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Gunnar and Eliseo, one of his herders.

The Thude Family Part 1

I posted sometime ago that I was going to present the story of the Thude family.  So here is their story as researched by me after interviews with many of the family members.

Gunnar Thude was a humble man instilling in his family the traits of hard work, honesty and always willing to lend a helping hand to other ranchers and others. The story of the Thude family begins when Niels Pedersen (Petersen), a naturalized Arizonan, in 1887, went back to Vilslev, Ribe County, Denmark, his home village, and recruited his cousin Hans Peder Thude with two other men to come to Arizona and help settle the land. Pedersen, being well established in the Arizona farming community by this time, had two reasons for bringing men from his home village: workers for his farm and ultimately for them to acquire their own farmland. Pedersen paid the passage of the three men and the men paid off their debt by working for Pedersen.

In 1892, using the Homestead Act Hans Peder acquired 160 acres.  What Hans did between 1892 and when he returned to Vilslev, Denmark is still being researched and someday more historical information will be able to be added to Hans story. But sometime in 1901 or 1902 Hans Peder visited his hometown.  His plans to return to the United States were thwarted when he met Kirstine Frandsen and they married. Some in the family suggested that he may have had to stay to care for the family farm but stay he did. Hans and Kirstine had seven children from which three of his sons would later migrate to Arizona.

Gunnar, the eldest son, migrated in 1921 at the age of 17. He first worked in New York, moving onto Nevada before coming to Arizona and working for Pedersen just as his father, Hans had done. It was during this time, Gunnar met his future wife, Anna Norby, Pedersen’s maid. The couple married in 1924 and they had three children: Eldon (1924), Elma (1926), and Mary (1928).

Gunnar and Anna bought land near Price and Ray Roads and began their own farm.  The years 1923 to 1927 were good to Thude. Thude believed in what he was doing in Arizona and officially became a naturalized citizen in 1928.  He was able to buy land and made good money. But the depression came and he lost everything, but his land which saved him. Hay was cut using horses as no one had money for fuel to use gasoline powered equipment. Hay that was sold helped pay the expenses during those lean years of the depression. But he did not sell all of the hay and this was stacked on his property. His foreman, Jose Valencia, told Gunnar to buy cattle or they would be eating the hay themselves.  And so, began his livestock business! In the 1930s he started to keep sheep. He bought a bigger farm in 1937 and expanded his sheep flock. Also Gunnar bought the Moose Ranch near Williams, Arizona to run his sheep sometime in the early 1940s. An exact date for the purchase has not been researched as of this writing.

By the mid-1940s, Gunnar was raising sheep under the name of the Paradise Sheep Company. Gunnar and his daughter, Elma, partnered with Kemper Marley and Don Brown. Marley had land in Scottsdale that could be used to winter the sheep.   

Thude trailed his sheep into the White Mountains along the Heber-Reno Driveway. Land acquisitions were made on ranches in many different parts of northern Arizona: Williams, Heber, Holbrook, and Springerville. Sheep and cattle were both raised. His land in Chandler was used for winter grazing of the sheep. A circuit of his ranches was required weekly to check on his flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, his workers, and his crops which were raised on his land in Chandler.

In 1948 Gunnar married Pat Pearce.  Three children were born of this union: Betty (1950), Gunnar Mikel (1953), and Frances (1955).  Pat had two children from a previous marriage, Charlene (1944) and Bill (1945).  She would ride horseback with him to the sheep camp in the White Mountains. She told her children that the sorest she ever was happened when she rode a horse with Gunnar on the range!

In the late 1940s, Francis Line, a film maker, traveled with a flock of Gunnar’s sheep as the herder took them into the White Mountains. Francis Line documented his travels in the National Geographic Magazine, April 1950, a book titled: Sheep, Stars, and Solitude: Adventure Saga of a Wilderness Trail, (1986), and in a documentary film.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story tomorrow!

Disaster Strikes on the Sheep Trail!

Raising sheep had its hazards and the one which most sheep raisers dreaded was when the snowstorms hit their flocks when they were on the trail heading to winter grazing pastures.

While this year at the end of December, there doesn’t look like we will have lots of snow, it was a different situation in December 1898. In the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, an article from December 31st stated that disaster struck in the Mogollon Mountains to a few of the sheep raisers as their herders with their bands of sheep were making their way to winter grazing in the central part of the state, mostly the Verde Valley the week of December 23rd. Harry Scorse from Holbrook on the first day of the big storm was caught unprepared and had one of his feet badly frozen and suffered greatly from the exposure out in the snow and wind. His sheep faired even worse as he lost a considerable number of them. Another sheep raiser, Julius Wetzler, turned his sheep loose as the storm hit his outfit at a most unfavorable place in the Mogollons. Upon gathering his flock, he found that he also lost a great deal of his flock from starvation. Hugh Campbell had several bands of sheep on the way to the Verde Valley but was feeding them hay and his losses have been slight in comparison to Scorse and Wetzler. The fourth sheep raiser that had his sheep also out during the storm was those belonging to H. C. Yaeger. He had reported no losses in his bands. He reported that the snow in the Verde Valley was melting and his sheep were finding plenty of food.

A week later the weather was warming and it was reported that if it stayed warm, the grasses would start to grow resulting in plenty of feed for the flocks the winter of 1898-99.

And thus we learn a little more about Arizona’s past sheep history!

The Wool Raisers of 1898

I have spent the last several months browsing the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, for 1898, for as mention of the sheep men and their activities. The following is a summary of my findings for the year.

One sheep raiser that appeared to do well in selling his wool clip was Thomas Sayer. In Boston he was able to sell his 1896 wool clip for 12 cents per pound. That would equate to be $3.76 today. He had held his 1896 wool clip as the price that year was 3 cents per pound, or $0.93 today. Mr. Sayer still had his 1897 wool clip and his 1898 wool clip to sell. It was hoped that better days were ahead for the sheep raisers with the increase in wool prices.

Another sheep raiser was James A. May.  May had recently married at his father’s home in South Carolina and he and his new bride had just arrived in Flagstaff, January. A great deal of information is learned in this little article about Mr. May. He was called “a sheep king of Arizona.” The article stated that May had amassed a fortune and was thinking of retiring from working on the range and putting his money into the mines of Arizona. He had previously lived in Denver and was connected “with one of the local railway offices, but was swept to Leadville by the carbonate excitement, finally winding up a contractor of the Santa Fe and South Pacific, after which he drifted into sheep raising. (The Coconino Sun, January 29, 1898).

Two sheep raisers, Jerry Woodbridge and Harry Fulton, had reported after arriving in town the week of February 5th, that snow was plentiful in their areas. Both were expecting plenty of water and grass for the upcoming grazing season. This weather information gives us a picture into range conditions and what was foreseen for the future months ahead.

While the snow would result in tanks full of melting snow water and help the grass to grow, conditions were not favorable where the men were shearing their sheep. Many had commented in early March that if the winter rains did not come, they would be forced to move their flocks northward earlier than normal. This would also mean that shearing would not be taking place in the Salt River Valley and the wool clip would be shipped from other locations than Phoenix. A contradiction was made in mid-April about the weather which has not been resolved. By mid-April the sheepmen reported the weather was now favorable for lambing and the ranges were in excellent conditions. More on this in my next blog.

Sheep raisers were involved in many political offices of their respected counties. Some were recorded as being on juries such as Mr. John Noble.  The county treasurer, D. M. Francis, was spending time in the Salt River Valley the first part of February to look after his bands of sheep that will be sheared in the next few weeks. C. H. Schulz was able to return to his sheep camp with the adjournment of the board of supervisors.

In the Coconino Sun and other earlier newspapers, little tidbits of information about people can be found by searching the headline “Personal.” This is a great place to find information about the sheep men and to confirm that someone was in the sheep raising business.  Seven such mentions were for C. E. Howard, J. W. Cart, H.C. Locket, H. D. Yeager, D. M. Francis, Frank Hart, and Manchester Maxwell.  Howard was the manager of the Howard Sheep Company based in Williams. Cart spent his winters in Phoenix but his headquarters was in the Winslow area. Lockett had been in Phoenix and now was heading northward as were his sheep on the move to the north. Yeager came north from Phoenix to look after his sheep interest. Mr. Francis had purchased fifty head of Lincolnshire bucks from a dealer in Salt Lake, Utah. With the price of the sheep and the cost of transportation, he paid $25 per head. Today, that would be $784.30 per sheep! We learned that Frank Hart, a prominent wool grower from Navajo County visited Flagstaff. Then there was Manchester Maxwell.  The newspaper reported that he had a “bunch of sheep northeast of Flagstaff”, was an old Tennessean and fought in the Civil War with General Forrest.  It is interesting to get a little more information about some of these sheep raisers than just they were in town!

A sadder note was the death announcement for Lucien Greathouse Smith who had died at his mother’s residence in Flagstaff. Lucien was from Greenville, Ill., and his body had been shipped there for interment. Lucien was only 30 years old at the time of his death. He had been engaged in the sheep business in Coconino County for several years and had his headquarters at Seligman.

Another sad note found was about the fifty-nine head of sheep that were lost due to being struck by lightning.  The sheep had gathered under a tree during a thunderstorm when lightning struck the tree.

Probably the saddest note for the year was the death of D. J. Porter. Porter had been reported to have made a fortune in the sheep business in Apache County and selling it for $10,000. He then moved to Gallup, NM, where he bought a saloon and with wine and women, he was soon broke. He returned to the sheep business in 1897. But something went terribly wrong for him and he committed suicide by taking strychnine.  Today, that $10,000 would be worth $313,590.36, a nice retirement amount if invested and used wisely. Obviously, the women and wine were too much for Porter and there may have been mismanagement of his business. That is only speculation on my part.

As reported earlier, in January 1898, Mr. May was in the sheep business but was thinking of getting out of it and concentrating on mining. Obviously, he was still in the business as late as September when he reported thievery of 600 head of his sheep, or 10 percent of his flock.

Other less interesting comments had to deal with the sheep raisers being in town from their headquarters, the number of sheep in the county and/or selling or shipping their sheep to market. The end of August, Coconino County Assessor’s office reported that there was an increase in the number of sheep in the county for the year. In 1898, 183,750 roamed the county and were valued at $259,088.50.  The increase between 1897 and 1898 was only 33,203 head of sheep, or about 15 percent.  Mr. J. M. Kilgour sold 999 head of sheep for $4.70, or $147.45 today. The sheep averaged a little over 107 pounds and had been straight grass feed. It was said that the price received was the highest ever paid for straight grass feed sheep from Arizona.

As will be reported in my next blog, Arizona’s weather was an important factor as California sheep men were bringing their sheep by the train load to graze on the grasses of northern Arizona with the drought conditions in California making it impossible for them to keep their flocks alive. 

100 Years Ago – Holbrook

In the The Tribune, Holbrook, October 21, 2020, under “One Hundred Years Ago” there was an short article about the sheep industry. I have included the article below.

This is the time of year that many sheep outfits move their sheep to the Salt River area. Obviously in 1920, there would have been many sheep outfits in the state, thus the number of sheep moving. Holbrook shipped many sheep in and out of the area as many outfits were headquartered in and around Holbrook.

Today, the sheep are moved by truck. The three outfits in our state haven’t gone south yet as it is still to warm for the ewes that are pregnant. It will probably be another week before they are moved to pastures in central Arizona. I’ll post pictures later of them being shipped.