Dry weather continues in the state of Arizona.

Weather for the first week of June hadn’t changed much for some areas of the state.  Carlos Castillo, the Holbrook sheepman, had been in Flagstaff the first of the week. His sheep are on the range near that city. Castillo was concerned for he reported dry winds have done much damage to the range in that Holbrook section and more rain is badly needed. Sounds like 2021 is repeating what happened in 1921.

Shipments of sheep into Kansas City was down from last week by 500 sheep, from 7,000 to 6,500. This number includes all western states. Prices for lambs were 25 cents lower than the week before too.

On a positive note, there were two new brands issued for the sheep outfits of Bankhead & Henderson and Granville Fain. Someone was doing well or hoped that the weather would change for the better.

As to the fire danger, Fire Chief L. R. Lessell, of the Coconino Forest service office, reported 31 fires in forest for the first six months. Sixteen of the fires burnt less than a quarter of an acre and the others burned up to ten acres. Not wanting to jinx 2021, I will refrain from commenting on fires in the state.  I do know that fire mitigation is on many people’s minds and hopefully a fire mitigation program using sheep and goats can be accomplished here in Arizona.

And here is your sheep fix for the weekend courtesy of Rovey Dairy Farm in Glendale, Arizona.

Poor Range Conditions Continue

As I began to write this blog, I thought, well, not much going on for the week of May 20 and 27th, 1921. But then a story of the sad shape of the industry emerged.  

Range conditions were still poor as the drought had not broken across the state.  A snowstorm the middle of the month, the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, reported it to be “worth millions to the stockmen and ranchers of this section of the country and will do much toward relieving city water conditions. (This would be referring to Flagstaff). There was about a foot of it, all wet and juicy as any melon ever cut by the stockmen.”  A week later another soaking rain was reported.

But range conditions varied across the state. While one article mentioned that cattle were starving north of the Grand Canyon, that statement would hold true for any sheep on the ranges here. In my previous blog, you may have seen, I talked about the “illegal” stockmen from Utah who were using the range to the detriment of the Arizonans.  The Arizona stockmen had reported the range in “deplorable condition, having been stripped bare by the trespassers from Utah.”  The newspaper reported that “two years ago, this range had plenty of feed, but once the stockmen from Utah found it, it had been rapidly turning to sand and dried sage brush.”

In consequence of the poor condition of range pastures during the latter part of 1920 and the first five months of 1921 in Arizona, cattle and sheep came through the winter with greater losses and in poorer condition than usual. The mortality of cattle was reported at 100 per thousand, compared with 25 per thousand last year and 61 per thousand, the ten-year average. The loss of sheep was reported at 115 per thousand, compared with 53 per thousand last year and 43 per thousand, the ten-year average. The mortality of lambs were particularly heavy, estimated at 100 per thousand. This compared with a loss of 50 per thousand during 1920 and 81 per thousand, the ten-year average.

The last week of May saw little improvement in ranges as the rainfall was only light to moderate with no appreciable amounts added to the rain gauge. The southern portion of Arizona was suffering the worst as the area had received no appreciable amount since the week of April 6th, almost two months ago. Stock water was low due to no run-off from the storms. Livestock had been dying because of lack of water and poor range feed. Only two areas within the state were said to be good: Near Flagstaff and Pinedale.  Sheep were improving now that they had arrived on the summer ranges. Shearing that had taken place in the north showed that fleeces were not up to standard in quality or weight.

The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff reported little improvements in sales of wool. Freight rates from Phoenix to Boston were still exorbitant amounting to ten per cent of the present market value of the wool. Wool from San Francisco was half that cost to Boston. C. J. Babbitt said that it was unfair especially since wool is not a perishable commodity and needed no special care from the transportation companies. He cited the fact that cotton from Phoenix paid less than wool and believes that Arizona needed to fight the high transportation costs for wool.

A few sheep owners were mentioned: R. Tom Brown, E. H. Duffield, Harry Henderson and George F. Campbell.  Brown had brought his bands from their southern winter grazing area to an area near Mormon Lake. Duffield, previously a trainmaster, from William, was visiting old friends in Flagstaff for part of the last week in May. Mr. Henderson, previous sheriff of Coconino County, had arrived from Wickenburg where he had wintered his sheep. His sheep would arrive soon and he had grazing for them near Bellemont and Grand Canyon. Harry, told the Coconino Sun, “the hills down near Wickenburg have commenced to hair out with grass in good shape but the desert country is still bare.”  George F. Campbell had arrived the first part of the last week in May from his sheep ranches in the south. His sheep are on the road to their summer range east of Flagstaff. Harry Henderson has not been found in the newspapers before, but D. W. Henderson was listed as attending the Wool Growers’ Association annual meeting in July 1920. Are they the same person?  R. Tom Brown and George F. Campbell were both attendees of the mentioned conference as both served on the Advisory board of the Coconino National Forest for the Wool Growers’ Association. Duffield was not listed as attending the meeting so it may give a starting date for his beginnings in raising woolies.    

Arizona Supreme Court – Illegal grazing fees charged on Utah livestock owners -May 1921

Some weeks there is lots of news about the sheep industry-the men moving their sheep or shipments of lambs and wool, how many are being shipped and the amount of wool by different wool growers and then other weeks there is absolutely nothing or maybe just one story. The biggest story and the only story this week one hundred years ago was the rendering of a verdict by the Arizona Supreme Court declaring that it was illegal to tax sheep, goats, herds of cattle and horses from another state grazing on land in Arizona. Now that was a big concern to livestock raisers in Arizona who already were having hard times with the drought, low prices for their animal products – meat, wool, pelts, high supply costs, high freight costs and higher taxation.  These were the concerns for both the sheep men and cattle men in Arizona and would result in a joint annual meeting which took in July, but more on that meeting later. First let’s look at what brought about this decision of the Supreme Court of Arizona.

A resident of Utah, James Smith, had taken his case to the Arizona Supreme Court when he was charged in Mohave County by W. P. Mahoney, sheriff for illegal transporting sheep and grazing them on land in Arizona without paying grazing fees. Mohave County attorney and the chairman of the board of supervisors had gone to Phoenix in March to present to the Supreme Court of Arizona the county’s issue with Utah residents, like Smith, from grazing on land that they felt should only be used by livestock owners who are residents of their county or of the state. The local county court found Smith guilty and he was ordered to pay an undisclosed fee. So far this year, Mohave County had collected $15,000 from Utah sheep men. In question also were the grazing fees collected last year, in the amount of $20,000.  

The newspaper reported, “The decision of the state supreme court is a great disappointment to this county. Every year many thousands of sheep and cattle are driven across the line from Utah and graze in this county, crowding the stockowners who live here.”  Assistant County Attorney for Mohave County, George W. Harben believes that unless relief from the encroachment of Utah stock growers is afforded to Arizonan’s own residents north of the canyon, there is likely to be blood shed there, as a lot of bad feeling have naturally been engendered. “An attempt will be made,” Mr. Harben said, “to have the governor make for a special session of the state legislature to request for the enactment of a new law covering this matter.”  The newspaper speculated that a new law would be in the form of an assessment against the invaders for the expense of policing the border.  

Fourteen other Utah sheep owners had been charged and were scheduled for trial in Fredonia. It was unclear whether these trials would be held at the time of the writing of the article.  

This encroachment by Utah sheep and cattle men was taken up in the joint meeting of the Arizona Wool Growers’ Association and Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association in July.  It was put forth as a resolution to get the state legislation to act to prohibit or restrict access to the area north of the Grand Canyon.  So, obviously the governor never called for a special session of the state legislature or the legislators were in no hurry to help provide relieve to an important industry within Arizona. It will be a topic to watch for in future newspapers.


This Week in April 1921

This week in 1921 was a slow week in the wool industry across the country, or was it? The wool trade was active but not lucrative for the wool growers. Tariff legislation was still in the debate stages in congress and it was thought that it would not help the situation for wool growers of the west. A great deal of wool was being held in warehouses in the east and buyers of wool were not eager for the new clip that was accumulating in the west. The buyers were only willing to advance five to ten cents a pound to the wool growers; a much lower amount than they had advanced last year. This money was used to pay outstanding debt that the wool growers had accumulated and would be used to fund their expenses for the coming year.  

What a difference just a few months could make in the industry when it looked as if at the end of January, the wool growers were going to receive between 30 and 35 cents a pound for their wool. The Boston wool brokers, Salter Bros., had written to M. I. Powers and the Babbitt Brothers that they saw a considerable improvement in the wool market for the next several months and had told their buyers to pay as much as 35 cents a pound in order to get ready for the new clip that would be coming in the next few months from the western wool growers. I wrote about this in an earlier blog.

The tariff legislation was asked for by the National Wool Growers’ Association at their annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The association asked for: 1. An import duty be placed on foreign mutton and lamb., 2. Import meats be branded as such., 3. A petition be filed with the interstate commerce commission calling for a reduction in livestock and wool freight rates.  There were other items that the association also wanted but those three can be easily dealt with here.

In reading the newspapers for the first few months of 1921, railroad rates were reduced at least for Arizona. The Corporation Commission of Arizona agreed with the Wool Growers that a reduction in rate was needed to ship sheep north instead of trailing them in the spring after shearing as was the normal practice of sheep owners. Feed along the trails was inadequate to allow for survival of many of the sheep already in poor condition from the poor winter range conditions in the deserts where the sheep graze while lambing and being sheared.  The reduced rates would be allowed for a specific time period, time enough for all the sheep to be moved northward.

Another outcome of the weak wool market and drought conditions was seen in the wages that was agreed upon by both the sheep owners and the cattle men who were in a similar situation with no market for the cattle. Separately both organizations had agreed to pay $45 a month for help.  ($45 in 1921 would be equivalent to $604.19 in today’s dollars; not a great deal of money.  What is not discussed is the fact that both the cowboy and herder received room and board; makes a big difference when that is factored in.)

And that is this week in 1921.

“Mutton Cured and Smoked at Home as Good as Pork”

In 1921, the sheep industry was in dire situation as I wrote about in my last blog. The cattle industry wasn’t doing well either. However, an article appeared that was supposed to encourage the consumption of more mutton. In the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff for February 25th, an article gave a recipe for cured and smoked mutton! The article stated that the United States Department of Agriculture believed, if farmers cured and smoked mutton it could be as delicious as pork. In 1921, the government agency stated that only 3.9 percent of the meat used in the United States was lamb or mutton. The newspaper stated, “This is partly due to the fact that there is a popular impression among farmers that after a sheep is slaughtered, the only domestic use of the flesh is eating it while it is fresh. As a consequence, the farmer’s family grows very tired of mutton before the carcass is consumed.”

The Bureau of Animal Industry within the US Department of Agriculture had done some experimental work in the curing and smoking of mutton. The directions for home curing mutton was as follows:

“The first essential in curing is to be sure that the mutton is thoroughly cooled. The meat should never be frozen, either prior to or during the period of curing.  The time to begin curing is when the meat is cooled and still fresh; the proper time is from 24 to 36 hours after killing. Because of the high shrinkage incident to curing, only large pieces, such as the legs and shoulders, are suitable for treatment.

“Mutton may be cured by using any good brine formula, but dry-cured meat is better for future use than brine-cured and requires less work. However, danger from rats and other vermin is less in the case of brine-cured meat. Both methods of curing are very successful if care is taken to see that each operation is executed properly.

“Following is the method of dry-curing mutton: For each 100 pounds of meat use 7 pounds salt, 3 pounds sugar or syrup, 2 ounces red pepper and 2 ounces black pepper.

“Mix all ingredients thoroughly, then rub the mixture well over the meat and pack it away in a box or on a table. Allow one and one-half days cure for each pound of meat the pieces average. After the meat is cured hang it in the smokehouse.”

And, that is how it was done in 1921! I think I will just buy mine fresh from Rovey Dairy in the Phoenix metropolitan area. And if you don’t live in the Phoenix area, there are farmer markets in Cochise County that carry lamb and beef from Dennis Moroney. Fry’s food also carries US lamb but won’t be as fresh as from Rovey Dairy or 47 Ranch (Dennis Moroney). So eat that lamb. It has lots of protein.

Counting Sheep Nonsense

Once in a while it is fun to just include nonsense about the sheep industry. In The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, March 11, 1921, “Under Cheerful Chirps (by “Del”) even states that “mostly nonsense,(that is the tidbits within this section of the newspaper) except in those rare intervals when a real idea comes along and is grabbed off”, the following appeared:   “Paul S. Coffin, out on Harlow Yaeger’s sheep ranch a few months ago, was asked by the latter to estimate how many sheep there were in a certain band. Paul looked carefully at the sheep, then replied: ‘Just 622.’  He had the number exactly right. Counting sheep in a band is very difficult and is to some extent quess work, so Harlow was surprised. ‘How did you find out?’ he asked. ‘Why, that was easy,’ said Paul. ‘I counted their feet and divided by four!’”

Earlier that year, in the same section of the paper, there was another similar tidbit, but this time the person said 500 sheep by counting the legs and dividing by 4. It must have been fun in the early part of 1921 to poke fun at the sheep industry. Of course, there wasn’t much else to say about it as it was going through some tough times just as was the cattle industry. Stay tuned for the rest of that story later in the week.

But back to counting the legs of sheep and dividing by four. My husband and I have watched on a few occasions the herders and shearers counting sheep. This particular time we were visiting Joe Manterola and his sheep outfit up near Williams, Arizona. The herders counted sheep for the shearers after they had tagged the sheep. Tagging removes the wool around the ewes eyes and from their bellies for when they give birth, their young can easily milk. Counting the sheep is necessary so the shearers know how many sheep they have tagged for their pay. I can assure you that this counting was not done by counting the legs and dividing by four as Mr. Coffin stated he did. There is definitely too much running, jumping and running in pairs by the sheep as they passed the counter to count legs! I had a difficult time just counting the sheep!

Here are some pictures and a video to show the activity.

Sheep are gathered together.
The herders begin to count.
The actual counting process.

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.

Just Trailing Items

For something different today I thought I would post pictures of items that the sheep herders use while on the trail.

This is one example of a pack box carried by the donkeys. It would have a variety of items in it – tools, medicine, cooking utensils, and personal items

Some of the boxes would be used to carry food.

A water jug that belonged to the Dobson outfit.
A box from the Dobson outfit
Just a bell worn by one of the sheep. The bell helped the herder know where his sheep were. Each bell made a different sound and if he did not hear that sound he would go in search of the sheep.
The cooking pot – one of the most important items for the herders. The camp tender cooked all their meals in this pot. It could be buried with hot coals over and around it or just used on top of the fire. I have seen some great dishes being made with these pots.
A camp stool used by the Thude/Sanudo sheep raisers.
Hobbles – used to put twins together at birth so the strong one will force the weaker one to go to their mom for feeding. These are used in the fall and spring when the ewes give birth.
Not used on the trail but shears for shearing the sheep back in the day. Shearers who used these were very precise and could cut the fleece off in no time, however, they are not as fast as the electric shears used today.
One last picture on the trail. The bucket is carrying two puppies that will be the new trailing dogs in the next few months. This also shows the donkeys with their loads.

And that is just a few pictures for today. Next time – donkeys of the Arizona sheep industry!

Sheep and Trains Don’t Mix

An article from September 27, 1902 in the Williams News caught my attention this week. The article was entitled “Wreck on Canyon Railroad. Work Train Derailed by a Band of Sheep – One Man Killed.”  The information was obtained by the newspaper at the coroner’s investigation because of the death that occurred. So here are the facts of that dreadful day. 

The article began “A backing train, a cut on a curve with a heavy down grade, a large band of sheep and an excited herder resulted in a wrecked train, the loss of one life and a number of men being badly injured on the Canyon railroad, about four miles north of Williams, last Saturday afternoon (September 20th).”

The work train had been sidetracked to allow for another train to pass, the “No.33.” (Probably that train can be identified with further research.) A small train with one engine, two coal cars and a caboose but with a steep grade was all that was needed for this accident to occur. Conductor J. O. Dodge, brakeman E. S. McClure, engineer Lumsden, fireman Price and the 12 men who made up the stringer work crew were on the train. In an area hidden from view by those on the train were a band of Frank Everett’s sheep in the process of crossing the track.

The train was progressing through a deep cut and then a sharp curve when the brakeman sitting in the cupola of the caboose with the conductor saw in front of him no more than 300 yards away the sheep crossing the track. While the brakeman reached to apply the air in the caboose to slow the train, the grade and the curve made it impossible to stop the train from crashing into the sheep. The brakeman testified that the train was going about 20 miles an hour when they hit the sheep. He also testified that the man killed was in the door of the caboose and may have tried to jump and failed.

The caboose ran about 100 feet on the ties before it jumped the track and toppled down the embankment. The two coal cars and engine continued down the track. As soon as possible those men who could help, cut the engine loose and as fast as it could the engine headed to Williams to summons the doctor and help. Once in Williams another car was quickly attached to the engine and with Dr. Tyroler, Agent Hudson and others headed to where the wreck had occurred.

A horrendous site was met by these newcomers. Dr. Tyroler was much in need as every man, except one, had been injured, some worse than others. One man had died. The doctor saw to the best care of those injured in this emergency.  It was now time to remove the shattered pieces of the caboose off the deceased. The injured men and the deceased were loaded on the train and all headed back to Williams where Dr. Tyroler would be able to better attend many of the men’s injuries.  Some of the injuries were cuts, sprained ankles and bruises to arms and legs. One man had a compound fracture of his leg.  

One of the injured was sent to Los Angeles to be further treated. Some of the men were sent to wherever their homes were for recouping.

The six member jury that the coroner had empaneled stated, “We find that the said P.H. Swan, deceased, came to his death in a railroad wreck, on the Grand Canyon railroad, on this, the 20th day of September, A.D. 1902, and said cause was purely accidental and unavoidable; and we, the jury, exonerate all parties from any and all blame.”

I found no other mention of the sheep and how many were injured or killed in the train accident. Mr. Everett is not listed in the January issue of the Williams News as a member of the Arizona Wool Growers Association nor, is he listed in any comment for the rest of 1902 or the year of 1903. Further research will need to be undertaken to determine if this ended Mr. Everett from continuing as a sheep raiser in the state. It is likely he partnered with someone too.  Stay tuned for new information that may be uncovered.

Cowboys and Sheep

The Pleasant Valley War between the Grahams and Tewksbury, cattle and sheep, is well known in Arizona history. It is an understatement to say that there were some cowboys that just did not like sheep and that was any sheep no matter who owned those white woolly creatures. Of course, there were those like George Wilbur who I wrote about in my last blog that raised both sheep and cattle but let’s not muddy up our story.

Our story today is about, well, a sheep owner!  The Candelarias had brought sheep into Arizona from New Mexico settling in the areas around Concho on over to Springerville, the Round Valley area. There were many Candelarias but only one we are interested in in this story: Don Pedro.  Our story took place sometime between 1891 and 1912. A Texas cowboy family had moved into the area and one of them thought it was fun to shoot Don Pedro’s rams.  Don Pedro tried to convince the cowboy not to shoot the rams.  Well, that cowboy, whose name is not known, shot once to many times at Don Pedro’s rams. The next thing the cowboy knew was Don Pedro had shot the horse from under him. 

But this is not the end of the story by any means. Don Pedro was unable to seek legal justice and came up with a better idea to stop the cowboy.  A friend was asked to report to Don Pedro when the Texas cowboy and his family had their next family gathering. How long of a wait this was is anyone’s guess?

When the family gathering was reported, Don Pedro went to their ranch telling those with him he would be back in thirty minutes. Continuing to ride to the ranch house, Don Pedro asked to speak to the patriarch of the family.  Now, with little English spoken by Don Pedro and the patriarch speaking little Spanish, one would think that the conversation would be difficult for either to understand the other.  But Don Pedro had no trouble in getting the family patriarch to understand him. As the story goes, Don Pedro told him that every man, woman and child that was present at the ranch that day would be killed if he was not out in the thirty-minute time he told his men about. The patriarch did not believe Don Pedro and threatened to kill him. But Don Pedro’s plan was now revealed to the patriarch and his family as he was directed to look out the window and see Native Americans had surrounded the ranch house while Don Pedro had been inside.

Moral of the story: do not mess with Don Pedro! He would not be intimidated by Texas cowboys nor would he allow his livelihood (i.e. killing of his rams) taken from him.