5/8/2013 10:37:00 AM Commentary Sheep, 4-wheeling in a 2-wheeler, and a 'rescue'
Heidi Dahms-Foster Special to the Tribune
Saturday truly was an adventure in newspaper land. Randy and I started the day covering a couple big benefit plant sales in Chino Valley. For general information, "covering" these plant sales generated large purchases of said plants. And let me tell you, in Chino Valley, they love plants, because at each sale it was as if locusts had descended on a choice field. I had to defend my stash of plants from people who were trying to lift my purchases, while trying to shoot photos of the frenzy.
We worked our way through Prescott Valley, where Cheryl Hartz had local events under control, and then down the Highway 69 Corridor.
We stopped in Old Cordes for the PV Lions Poker Run, a gold panning demo and a barbecue. Being a birdwatcher, I was thankful to the friend who pointed out a Red-tailed hawk nest in a nearby tree.
I also had heard earlier in the week that shepherds were bringing a flock of sheep through on their way to summer grazing. This is an historic annual event that I don't think we'll see much longer, so I was eager to find and photograph those critters. Randy lent his Chevy truck to the effort, and on information from folks at the Cordes Station, we were on our way.
We found the shepherds, but ran into a serious language barrier. Through our bad Spanglish - "Donde está sheep?" and much gesturing on their part, we were pointed in the general direction of the flock, two hills over yonder.
After a lot of 4-wheeling in that 2-wheel truck (I now have a lot more respect for Randy's driving), we found the shepherds' donkeys hobbled for grazing. But despite parking on the "roads" and hiking to the edge of numerous crevasses, we found nary a lamb, and heard not a bleat.
We returned to the Cordes Station, where we found Cal Cordes, who knows everything about the area. He pointed us in a different direction with more 4-wheel roads, and promised we'd run right into the flock. We found the roads, but no sheep.
We did run into the shepherds again, and they had covered more ground walking than we did in the truck! They looked incredulous when we indicated we still had not found the sheep.
Randy asked how many sheep were in the herd, thinking we were missing them because 20 or 30 might be hiding under brush in the shade. One shepherd wrote on his hand. "1,800." Now we were incredulous. How could we miss nearly 2,000 sheep?
We headed back in the direction they gestured, and eureka!, I finally saw them! Those sheep covered a whole hillside. They were bedded down in brush and camouflaged so well they looked like rocks. At least that's my excuse for passing right by and completely missing them before.
Oh, and Cal's directions were right. We took the other rut in the road, of course.
We finally headed on out to the Bluegrass Fest at Arcosanti, where our truck battery gave up the ghost. Thanks to a certain fire chief for rescuing us with his jumper cables. I'm thinking he's glad we were at Arcosanti and not still out back of beyond on the Cordes Ranch, which would have made the rescue a bit more rustic.
Randy spent Sunday afternoon lovingly installing a new battery in that Chevy, and apologizing for treating it so badly.