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Sheep Trails and Dog Trials

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

#Ketchum's #TrailingoftheSheep is my "not-to-miss" event of the year, except for 2020 and the Year of the Unexpected. But I have wonderful memories of 2019. Arriving in an early snow blizzard that quickly moved through, watching the #sheepdogtrials clutching a blanket around the shoulders while balancing a cup of hot cider, the festival dancers, and the parade that brought up all the nostalgia of my own small town parade memories. And the sheep. Oh yes, the sheep.

The idea to bring a shepherd into the Hartmann Ranch came years ago as I was plotting the saga of Lena and Evan Hartmann. My shepherd recently immigrated from Scotland and he brought with him his border collie. His name is Graham Kincaid. He's opinionated and very focused on the needs of his working companion, Alec. If you were to ask Mr. Kincaid, he'd tell you there's never been a better dog born on God's green earth for herding sheep. But when he realizes that his dog has sired puppies, you can imagine Mr. Kincaid might have a vested interest in acquiring one. Unfortunately, the young woman who owns them is less inclined to relinquish them to the brash Scotsman. Tempers flare and therein lies the tale.

The Big Wood River still is a highway for the sheep and shepherds as they move every spring into the higher elevation grazing fields. In October they reverse their route before winter comes. (Yes, that's an intentional plug for the first book in the saga of the Hartmann Ranch, Comes the Winter. Which btw will be on sale at the end of this month.)

Some of those original Scottish shepherds moved on to establish businesses elsewhere. They were frugal and sent their children to fine universities, but their cultural heritage remains. If you come next year to the festival, make sure you travel south to Hailey where you can watch the dancing and sample a variety of lamb delicacies.

Last year, I wrote a post about searching for a location in which to place my fictional Hartmann Guest Ranch. The picture below was taken of the valley where I chose to build the house. If one travels up this valley, they'll find it narrows so much that I would not recommend taking a rental car. And yes, as in the story, there is an abandoned mine up in those hills.

We picnicked on that log to the right, and I must say, it was chilly. But the setting was perfect, so perfect that in A Portrait of Dawn, the Hartmanns take their own picnic to the pond. Of course, that was July of 1890, and the weather was a little more agreeable.

If you do make the trip as far as Ketchum, go at least as far as the Galena summit and a tad beyond to this overlook of the #SawtoothRange. It's breathtaking. When you see it, I think you'll understand how a setting can inspire romantic stories such as The Sawtooth Range.


Here's another sneak preview of A Hartmann Ranch Christmas.

Monday, December 2, 1891

Graham buttoned his jacket as a sudden chilling wind blew in from the north. Only a month down from the summer range high in the Sawtooth valleys and he was counting the months before he’d be heading back. After weeks of quiet solitude, the constant chatter from the ranch hands and clamor of Ketchum’s city streets set his teeth on edge. Thinking back to his recent interchange with Miss Webster, he let out a loud puff of air. Neither the sheep nor his dog argued with him half so much.