http-equiv='refresh'/> Tin TeePee/Log Cabin: A Movie

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Movie

Another cool and windblown day in Montana.  We took a long walk this morning with the Emmi girl and I saw this little flower hiding beside a rock:

rock and flowers

It was a short morning at home, I got in a little quilting and Michael worked on the skid steer for a while before we ate a quick lunch.  Then it was off to pick up Nat for the matinee performance of a movie filmed here in our county about people we know.

For years even back when Nat was a child huge bands of sheep, 20,000 to 30,000 per summer would be moved up the Boulder road into the mountains south of Big Timber some 60-80 miles to graze on public lands which border Yellowstone Park.  The sheep were tended and protected from predators by sheepherders living in tents throughout the summer. 

When I came to this area there were only two ranchers still moving sheep up the Boulder drainage.  Usually someone would call and let us know the sheep would be on the road on certain days, the moving days could certainly make you late for any appointment you might have!  The sheep were moved by ranchers on foot, horseback and four wheelers.  There were thousands of sheep on the road and they left thousands of their calling cards behind!  The owners would move the sheep in segments, about 10 miles per day,  stopping along the way at various ranches until the sheep reached USFS land.

In 2001-2003 a young man decided to document this sheep drive and chose the Allestad family as the subject ranchers.  The movie this young man filmed has received good reviews in such publications as The Los Angeles Times.  The movie, Sweetgrass, began showing in Big Timber last night and we attended the matinee performance this afternoon.  It is strictly a visual movie with very little dialogue although some of the sparse dialogue is very colorful as one of the new sheepherders expresses his frustration with the unpredictable animals.  

We thoroughly enjoyed the movie especially Nat and Mike as the sheep are moved into country the two of them used to visit while helping maintain the family hunting camp also located in this remote wilderness. 

The movie clearly demonstrates how grueling this 60 mile trip was, how unpredictable a sheep can be and the perils the sheep faced upon reaching the wilderness grazing area.  The Allestad family’s last trip was in 2003 due in large part to the US governments insistence upon reintroducing wolves back into the area.  In 2002 Michael’s cousin Pete was one of the sheep tenders for the Allestad family.  He tells harrowing tales about the summer he spent defending the sheep from wolves and grizzly bears.  A tradition, a way of life is now gone probably forever.



  1. That movie sounds great. I tried to find it at our library but no dice. Pretty soon you will be able to get out in your garden too. Patience!!! ☺

  2. I put a hold on it on Netflix and they will send it when they get it in.... neato!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard


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