Diane Josephy Peavey

Idaho Sheep Ranching: Traditions and Culture

In the early part of the 20th century, south central Idaho was second only to Sydney, Australia with as many as 2.65 million sheep in Idaho in 1918. Today many of the generations-old ranching families have been forced out of business by natural and economic crises.. Those who remain face new challenges every year. In this discussion, we will look at the nomadic way of life of sheep ranching, unlike the cattle business, and the constant movement of herders, sheep camps, dogs, ewes and lambs between summer and winter pastures. We will explore the role of the Scottish, Basques and Peruvians who figure prominently in the history of sheep ranching. Many of these men and women now own their own sheep operations and many come together every year for the “Trailing of the Sheep” Festival to remember and reminisce about the days when Idaho was sheep country.