As usual I am ending the year with more books on my shelf than I had space to write about in this column, so I will play a little catch-up and include several suggestions for early 2014 reading.
“Shepherds of Coyote Rocks”
Pinedale, Wyo., rancher/writer Cat Urbigkit is a recognized expert on issues related to shepherding and writes eloquently about the subject in “Shepherds of Coyote Rocks: Public Lands, Private Herds and the Natural World.” Cat has written for newspapers, magazines, and children’s books, and brings her love of sheep, guarding animals, and the lifestyle of public land herding to this book that gives insight into the herds and the herders.
Urbigkit is also a photographer with the knack of being in the right place and always having a camera so she can capture such moments as a herd of lambs visiting the herder’s camp trailer, a herder in Nepal, or guard dog Rent napping beside an orphan lamb. This personal narrative takes you on a journey with Cat to the rangeland. She shares the joys of the lifestyle, as well as some of the challenges. The book is published by The Countryman Press.
“Blazing a Wagon Road to Oregon”
This story of a determined group of American pioneers who set out from Missouri to travel to the Pacific Northwest in 1843 comes from other diaries, letters home, and later reminiscences. Author Lloyd W. Coffman introduces the participants in this migration through a weekly chronicle that outlines shared experiences, and individual perspectives.
If you have read a lot of trail diaries and journals, as I have, there it not much new information here, but if you have not and want a good overview of what the journey was like, this is a very good book. The maps are only slightly helpful as they are not clearly reproduced, but the many excerpts from pioneer documents clearly do highlight the story of the trail. The book is published by Caxton Press.
“Rodo and Stock Tradin’”
South Dakota has produced a good number of top rodeo cowboys, but you might not know author Bob Penfield, who grew up near Lemmon, S.D., working with his granddad before a stint in the Army, where he was stationed at Camp Buckner, Okinawa. They say you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy, and in Penfield’s case, he and fellow soldiers found some horses, some calves, and began rodeoing there in Okinawa, which he writes about in Rodeoing on the Island of Okinawa, 1954-1955.
In Stock Tradin’ Penfield shares a collection of short essays based on his many years of trading livestock, a “job” he began at age 14 with the encouragement of his grandfather, who had been tradin’ stock for decades. But stock tradin’ and Penfield goes back much longer, back to 1649 when Samuel Penfield came to America and landed at Jamestown, VA. While that many-great grandfather handled horse trades, Bob Penfield dealt in all kinds of stock from weaner pigs to sheep, cattle, and horses. His stories are home grown and self published. ❖