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The Ice Pond

Posted on by Dean Clark / Comments Off on The Ice Pond

I was forbidden to climb on our first house in Idaho, a tarpaper shack across the meadow from where Dad worked at Clearwater Timber Protective Association (CTPA) near Headquarters. The house consisted of a framework much like a large, garden shed with a low, flat, board roof sloping nearly to the ground in back and covered with tarpaper for waterproofing. The board siding was also covered with tarpaper secured by thin wooden strips. There was one layer of unsealed boards on the floor, and even with throw rugs it could be drafty at times.

We had two small bedrooms, one for my sister Ardath Jean and one for my parents. I slept on a studio couch in the combination living room/kitchen. There was no inside plumbing and no electricity. Water was carried in a bucket from a spring about three hundred feet away for drinking or poured into the reservoir of the wood burning kitchen range used for cooking and other household needs. The outhouse was a two-holer about fifty feet from the kitchen door, our only door. Lighting was by kerosene lanterns. Of course, there was no refrigeration. Any perishable food was put in a submerged, covered box out at the spring, appropriately called a spring box.

A dirt road led to the tarpaper shack during the summer, but in the winter we waded through an average six feet of snow across the meadow on foot, climbed over Reeds Creek on a perilous, abandoned railroad bridgework, and then waded in snow for another two hundred yards to our car parked near the public road. I never had to wonder why my mother was less than thrilled with our new house. We lived in the tarpaper shack for two winters and three summers. Continue reading

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Those Bleeping Sheep

Posted on by Dean Clark / Comments Off on Those Bleeping Sheep

Shortly after World War II, strange things began happening in the northern Idaho woods where I was raised. Each spring, bands of sheep began showing up in our logging community of Headquarters, deep in the Clearwater National Forest.

They temporarily blocked traffic on the roads and we occasionally ran into flocks in the mountain meadows while riding our horses. We grumbled, “Who in bleep would bring all those sheep out in the woods and turn ‘em loose with all our wild animals? Why, they’ll just eat up all the grass, and our deer and elk won’t have anything left to eat. They’ll bleep in our cricks, kill all the fish and besides that, they stink!”

Backwoods sentiment on the subject ran rampant. Of course, as a young buck I got sucked into the local opinion against the sheep. At the time, we had no idea that permission had been granted by the Clearwater Timber Protective Association in Orofino to bring in the flocks for summer grazing.

One day, while riding through the woods on my horse Ribbons, I came upon a meadow full of sheep. The sheepherder was congenial and invited me to sit and talk awhile. He explained how he and the dogs took care of the sheep out in the woods. Years later, I learned these particular sheep belonged to Hi Hood, a rancher who had shipped bands of sheep on the Camas Prairie Railroad up through Orofino Creek to the Hollywood Stock Pens near Pierce. There, they were divided into smaller bands and driven with the aid of sheep dogs into the surrounding meadows. The sheep were kept moving so as to not strip all the vegetation and were kept away from the streams except to drink. Continue reading

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