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February 17, 2009

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Jubilee

We are here to report on the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. So much goes on that it is a different experience for each person--sort of like the blind men and the elephant. One person might describe the wonderful versifying that goes on day and night, another the old time, and new time, Western music, another the dancing and cultural programs, and another the great issue oriented discussions (some of these are organized, but most of them take place at the Pioneer Bar, the Stockman's, the Star--well, you get the picture!). Gearmakers had a heyday this year, as beautiful custom saddles and other Western gear were featured. Sandra Day O'Connor was a wonderful highlight with her keynote speech. What a treat to see one of our own who has served our country so powerfully!

We did have a scare. When we were almost home, my Dad had a heart attack. Luckily, we were in town and the next thing we knew, a helicopter carried him away to the Wyoming Medical Center. He is home and doing fine now, and I don't think we can blame it on those late nights with our friends. Really.

George, Yula Sue Hunting and Gwen Peterson visiting
Convention Center
Elko, Nevada

Pat presenting a talk about the effect of energy development on landscapes
Convention Center
Elko, Nevada

Pat and Linda Hussa resolving Western issues
Pioneer Bar, Folklife Center
photos by Sharon O'Toole

February 7, 2009

Oscar Payano: Four Seasons

Oscar Payano is the sheepherder who has worked for us the longest--about fifteen years. His father, Santiago, worked for fifteen years, then retired, but not before he brought Oscar into our operation. Oscar is returning soon for his sixth contract. Like his father before him, Oscar is a true sheepman. When we go to sheep camp, we know we'll find Oscar and his sheep in good order. He has such experience, and such knowledge of sheep and sheepherding, that he is a master of his trade. Like an Olympic skier, he makes it look easy. Here are some photos of Oscar, taken in all seasons.

Working the chute with Pequino
Shearing at Badwater

Oscar in the rearview mirror
Muddy Mountain, Cottonwood pasture

Tailing lambs at docking
Loco, Carbon County

Summertime in the Medicine Bow National Forest
Forks Allotment

Riding into camp in the fall
Upper Big Gulch, Medicine Bow National Forest

Late fall sorting
Badwater pasture

Moving the panels with Didi
Badwater pasture

We had to shovel them out, winter 2007-2008
Badwater pasture
photos by Sharon O'Toole

The opinions expressed in the Western Folklife Center's Deep West online journals are those of the online journal participants and not the Western Folklife Center. The Western Folklife Center does not moderate these journals and as such does not guarantee the veracity, reliability or completeness of any information provided in the journals or in any hyperlink appearing within them.

About Pat & Sharon O'Toole

Sharon O'Toole
Pat and Sharon O’Toole are ranchers in the Little Snake River Valley near Savery, Wyoming, right on the Colorado-Wyoming border. They raise cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and children. Pat “immigrated” from Florida in 1970. He attended Colorado State University, where he met Sharon when both worked for the campus newspaper. Sharon grew up on their ranch, where they live and work with her father, their daughter, son and granddaughter (soon to be grandchildren!). Pat is a “water buffalo” and has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives (1986-1992), on the President’s Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, and is the current President of the Family Farm Alliance, which advocates for farmers, ranchers and irrigators. Sharon is an author, poet and journalist. She writes extensively on Western issues and is a columnist for “The Shepherd” magazine. Pat and Sharon are the parents of three children: Meghan, 27; Bridget, 26; and Eamon, 20.
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