Baker Correspondence – January 2016



Traditional sheepherder's wagons like this one made the hard and solitary life of the Basque sheepherder just a little more comfortable.
Traditional sheepherder’s wagons like this one made the hard and solitary life of the Basque sheepherder just a little more comfortable.

Baker Happenings

Sheepherders’ Gathering, January 15-16

Join the fun in one of the most unusual parties in the state — one to honor those in the sheep industry. Sheep herders, owners, and others associated with the sheep business come to the Border Inn near Baker, Nevada to share stories, dance, eat delicious family-style dinners and sourdough pancakes, listen to great music, and more. This will be the 13th annual gathering. Over the years, many folks have attended, including Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons and the Mountain West Digital Library, who have collected oral histories and video recordings of sheepherders.

Basque dinner at the Sheepherder's Gathering
     Basque dinner at the Sheepherder’s Gathering

You can hear some of the stories right from the sheepherders themselves at the 7:00 pm Open Mic Program on January 15. Music also accompanies this program and the open mic stays open until everyone who wants to talk or sing has had a chance. January 16 is a full day, starting with a Sourdough Pancake Breakfast from 7 to 10 am, prepared by sheep owner Dave Okelberry. At 10 am is the screening of Ghosts on the Mountain, a documentary about immigrant sheepherder life. Filmmaker Jared Jakins will lead a discussion. At 2:30 pm get ready to tap your feet to some Old-Time Cowboy Music by Sourdough Slim and Robert Armstrong. You’ll be hungryPondering some mysterious tracks by 5 pm, when the five course Basque Dinner ($25 + tax/person) starts. To finish, the Annual Sheepherders Ball runs from 7:30 pm until the wee hours with the Silver Sage Family Band. For reservations, call Gary or Denys at 775-234-7300.

Tracks in the Snow

One of the things I like best about winter is a fresh snow that shows tracks of every animal that has crossed it. I might see tracks of a deer dragging its hooves through the snow, rabbits bounding, rodents scurrying from one bush to another, a coyote cruising along a trail, or a bird taking off. Every animal is recorded. Deciphering the tracks can take a little practice, but is well worth it. Some helpful free guides can be downloaded from NDOW’s website and Great Basin National Park’s website.

Gretchen Baker

(Don’t miss Gretchen’s blog, the Desert Survivor.)