Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Young sheep ranchers swap stories

At the 2014 Trailing of the Sheep Festival, tales of the “visionaries”—the first generations to establish sheep ranches in the American West—were heard and honored. Then in 2015, the “survivors”—second- and third-generation sheep ranchers who steered their family operations through the farm depression of the 1980s told their stories. At this year’s festival, on Friday, Oct. 7, at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum, it was the next generation’s turn, at an event called the Sheep Tales Gathering. These are some of their stories. For Dominique Etcheverry, of Etcheverry Sheep Co. in Rupert, Idaho, growing up on the family ranch and learning the trade was a unique learning experience. “To be raised that way, it’s like your family are your mentors but also your peers,” she said. Though she now works as a graphic designer, she remains involved with the family operation by helping her father at the ranch and educating people about the benefits of sheep, lamb and wool. Some of that education started early. Etcheverry recounted that when she was a youth on the ranch, during sheep trailings the local highway would often be shut down, aggravating motorists. “I would run up and down the highway and hand out cookies to people to calm them down and explain what was going on,” Etcheverry said. One of her and her sister’s jobs growing up on the ranch was checking on all the sheep to make sure they were doing OK. “One interesting thing about sheep is that they love to die,” she joked. She said they’d be lying on their sides and wouldn’t realize they’re well until she and her sister propped them up again. She mentioned that one day her grandfather—who had begun the operation after moving to the U.S. from the French Basque country in 1929—complimented them on their work. “That was always huge—he didn’t give compliments out easily,” she said...more

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