Sheepherders in the Pacific Northwest

“When I talk to the dogs and horse and sheep, I tell’em how good they are and how proud I am of ’em. A dog and horse have a cravin’ for affection like a human being.”

~ Ed Wallace (sheepherder, born 1914)

“I kinda read a sheep’s mind. Their brain’s not in their head but in their stomach. If they got a full stomach they got a good brain, they’re contented.

Greediness makes a leader. If they think there’s a flower or a plant up there ahead and they don’t get to it first they won’t get any. You can hit real lush feed like a mountain meadow and they can be full but they’re not satisfied ’till they run clear over it. They’ll mash more feed down than they’ll eat. A sheep is an awful greedy animal. They’re actually more a glutton than a hog.”

Virgil returning a ewe to the band

“You’re watching these sheep all the time. It’s kinda a recreation in seein’ your sheep doing good. And that does you good. You get so you know every damn one of them. You get interested in getting ’em fat…

“Well, you’re free as a bird out here. You ain’t got nobody messin’ with you. All you got to contend with is your dog.”

~Rudy Duran

Rudy on horseback, with his dog Bill, and in the wagon

“The main thing about sheepherding is let the sheep take care of themselves. Treat them good and they’ll be all right. … Always give them plenty of salt. If you’re mean to a sheep he’s mean to you. He just runs every Goddamn place. Treat ’em good and he’s a friend. Smartest animals ever lived is a sheep. You can teach them to do anything.”


Roy Galt & Boots

“I was herdin’ one winter and I mean the weather was really bad, blowing and storming. My horse was standing outside. I used the rug on the floor, wrapped it around him with a wire. I woulda put him in the wagon with me if I coulda. Tied a bucket on his ass to shit in. I couldn’t get him in. I tried but I could only get his head in. He couldn’t come no further.”

-Fred Murdi