Category Archives: Homedale

The Austrian Settlement

For me, the word “scam” describes something that happens in far-off places, to other people. I’ve never really thought about it happening to me or someone I know, and I certainly never considered it happening to someone a century ago.

That’s why when I saw a flier for the Owyhee County Museum Sesquicentennial Celebration that promised a presentation on a hundred-year-old scam, I was intrigued. After driving through rolling hills to Murphy, I met with Joe Demshar, director of the Owyhee County Museum, who would be giving the presentation. He has a very personal connection to the story. The scam concerned members of the “Austrian Settlement” near Homedale, from which Joe descends. He’s a fifth-generation Demshar, one of eight families who settled there in 1914. The other families were the Dolences, Cegnars, Kushlans, Bahems, Jesenkos, Marcheks and the Miklovichs. They were originally from Slovenia with the exception of the Bahems, who were German.

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of founding of the Austrian Settlement. Despite many obstacles, the families who stayed in the area survived and thrived. To honor them, Homedale will erect a monument to the settlement. On February 15, more than three hundred people crowded into the Homedale Armory to hear Joe’s story. Continue reading

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Posted on by Rachel Holt / 2 Comments

Gopher It

I don’t know that anyone wakes up one day and says, “I’m going to be a gopher trapper.” I certainly didn’t.

I had gophers in some of my pastures farther out from the house, but there weren’t many mounds and holes, and I’ve always been one to try to live within nature rather than dominate it. Then one day, a hole appeared right by the front door. If it had been to one side, I might have lived with that. It was smack in front of where I walk every day.

I called a gopher trapper, and he said he’d come out. Well, a few days turned into a week, and I called him and he said, oh, he’d get there soon. Soon turned into two more weeks. This time when I called, I raised the urgency a bit. He responded, and when he got there, apologized, and said, “Man, I’ve been swamped, I’m sorry.” I was a bit irritated, and said, “I’m sure of that. It’s February.”

He explained that gophers never hibernate like most people think and, yes, he actually was quite busy. One of the things I loved about Don right off was he had a great laugh and was just darn likeable. I followed him as he explained that this was definitely a male gopher and that you can tell because they usually burrow in straight lines looking for romance. Female gophers, he said, create burrows in circles. Both sexes are highly territorial. Continue reading

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Posted on by Andrea Scott / Leave a comment