Anything but Lonely at Buffalo Peaks Ranch

Work is underway at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, as we prepare for our first full year of ranch renovation. Before we shelve books and offer classes and workshops, we have a few roofs that need fixing, and buildings in need of a fresh coat of paint. This coming weekend we’ll begin a regular schedule of ranch clean-up, as we make ready for the spring construction season.

Winter is a quiet time at the ranch. Sometimes we wonder if it will be too isolated, too quiet. Well, that worry went away recently after the Land Library’s architect and adviser Ted Schultz emailed us this report:

“I had the chance to drop by the ranch last Sunday during the few hours of sunset — oh my is all I can say. The winter ranch felt anything but lonely — a surprising feeling — even though not a soul or footprint. The sounds of the metal roof popping with the diminishing rays of the settling sun; the rhythmic sound of a chain knocking with the steady wind on a gate post, coyotes’ lonely yips quite nearby.

The ranch is all about the five senses. I can see people living there in the dead of winter in the most fulfilling way — the wide open solitude as a great, vital companion.”

No wonder we’re happy to begin our winter work! Here’s a few wonderful photos Ted sent us from his winter ranch visit. Enjoy!

Sun setting over Buffalo Peaks, January 2015. All that's missing is the warm glow of light through the windows, and the smell of soup and freshly-baked bread on the wind!
Sun setting over Buffalo Peaks, January 2015.
All that’s missing is the warm glow of light through the windows, and the smell of soup and freshly-baked bread on the wind!
The Lambing Barn and sheds, with a glowing Reinecker Ridge on the horizon.  Lots of snow, but as you can see, it's relatively easy to get around.
The Lambing Barn and sheds, with a glowing Reinecker Ridge on the horizon.
Lots of snow, but as you can see, it’s relatively easy to get around.
Buffalo Peaks Ranch at dusk. No elk in sight, but they'll be at the ranch any time now!
Buffalo Peaks Ranch at dusk. No elk in sight, but they’ll be at the ranch any time now!
South Park's deep blue sky and the Bunkhouse we'll be repairing this summer.
South Park’s deep blue sky and the Bunkhouse we’ll be repairing this summer.

Stay tuned for more reports this winter and spring — and think about visiting us this coming summer!

Biscuits & Books

Hundreds of people toured Buffalo Peaks Ranch this past summer. They finally got to experience the wide-open spaces and incredible skyscape of this historic South Park ranch, established in 1862. For each tour we had a Porch Library set up at the main house, and plenty of dutch-oven biscuits on hand.

We’ll be at it again next spring, and we’ll also begin our first season of renovation, thanks to our long-running partnership with the University of Colorado’s Center for Preservation Research. Join us in 2015, and experience the unfolding next chapter for this wonderful, too long neglected, high mountain ranch!

We hope you enjoy the photos below, many taken by one of the best young photographers we know, Berry Oliver!

Buffalo Peaks Ranch, with Mount Silverheels on the horizon.
Buffalo Peaks Ranch, with Mount Silverheels on the horizon.
Lambing Barn, with shadows across Reineker Ridge. The future home of the Buffalo Peaks Ranch Watershed Library?
Lambing Barn, with shadows across Reineker Ridge. The future home of the Buffalo Peaks Ranch Watershed Library?
A good view of the ranch complex from the east.
A good view of the ranch complex from the east.
With every public tour we set up a small porch library at the Main House. There's nothing like handling a real book!
With every public tour we set up a small porch library at the Main House. There’s nothing like handling a real book!
The Bunkhouse, with Reineker Ridge on the horizon.
The Bunkhouse, with Reineker Ridge on the horizon.
A classic ranch complex: the bunkhouse, maintenance garage, and horse barn along Red Hill.
A classic ranch complex: the bunkhouse, maintenance garage, and horse barn along Red Hill.
Knotty-Pine interior of the Cook's House, just east of the bunkhouse.
Knotty-Pine interior of the Cook’s House, just east of the bunkhouse.
Sinks for the ranch hands, once a busy place in the old bunkhouse.
Sinks for the ranch hands, once a busy place in the old bunkhouse.
The Horse Barn's hayloft: the future home of our Western & Native American Library??
The Horse Barn’s hayloft: the future home of our Western & Native American Library??
The Abeytas, from just up the road, take a moment to sample the porch library.
The Abeytas, from just up the road, take a moment to sample the porch library.
A new Buffalo Peaks Ranch tradition: Ann's dutch oven biscuits, a real highlight of every ranch tour!
A new Buffalo Peaks Ranch tradition: Ann’s dutch oven biscuits, a real highlight of every ranch tour!

Our friend Sherrie York also took several of the photos above. With luck we’ll have Sherrie back next summer to lead an artist workshop or two. You owe it to yourself to explore Sherrie York’s wonderful website. Stay tune for more on Sherrie’s work!

Life is returning to Buffalo Peaks Ranch! We’ll close with a great photo that Sherrie York took while sketching along the banks of the South Platte:

Sherrie's art pack, with the Lambing Barn (and Mount Silverheels) on the horizon.
Sherrie’s art pack, with the Lambing Barn (and Mount Silverheels) on the horizon.

A Sheepwagon Full of Books

weidel

In 2001, a wonderful Wyoming publisher, High Plains Press, published one of the Land Library’s favorite books, Sheepwagon: Home on the Range. Author Nancy Weidel offered one crisp, concise reason for our admiration: “The sheepwagon is a marvel of practicality and efficiency.”

But there’s more reasons to love this book, with its stories, photographs, and sensitive appreciation for hard lives lived in a starkly beautiful land. This book makes clear that the sheepwagon provided both a bit of warmth, and a touch of home. Weidel: “Designed to provide shelter and heat, mobility, and storage, the sheepwagon was the ideal home for the herder….It could easily be moved by two horses, a most important feature.”

sheep_wagon_opt__full-image

Yes, as you can see, every inch counted, but space also needed to be found for the unexpected. Some sheepwagons had side boxes that “came in handy during lambing, when a weak newborn might be placed there overnight to be revived by the heat of the wagon stove.”

Given Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s tradition of sheep ranching, we would love to see at least a few sheepwagons return to South Park. Of course, being the impractical book people that we are, we immediately lose the point of the story and wonder, what books can we fit in this tiny space? When life is pared to its essentials, don’t we still need at least a small shelf of books? Here’s a few we would pick:

ivan doiggretel9781250060242laxalt
Two classic memoirs of the American West: This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind by Ivan Doig, and The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich, along with a terrific book from the Scottish highlands: The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks, and most definitely this classic Basque story of shepherding in the American West, and the long lost homeland of the Pyrenees: Sweet Promised Land by Robert Laxalt.

florin
from Western Wagon Wheels by Lambert Florin

And of course there’s this classic memoir from the Land Library’s shelves — Archer Gilfillan’s Sheep: Life on the South Dakota Range(1929). Here’s Gilfillan writing simply and eloquently about little known lives:

“One of the popular misconceptions about herding is that it is a monotonous job; or as a friend of mine puts it, ‘Herding is all right if you don’t have an active mind.” But there is really little monotony in it. The sheep rarely act the same two days in succession. If they run one day, they are apt to be quiet the next. They herd differently in a high wind from what they do in a gentle breeze. They travel with a cold wind and against a warm one. They are apt to graze contentedly where feed is plenty and to string out and run where the pickings are poor. Herding at one season is so different from herding at another as almost to constitute a different job.”

Fleece, Fiber, and Good Stories Too

fleece54327ffeab5ba3e3a61f54923ff00977

Natural fibers are part of our culture, our heritage. They have a living breathing animal (or a growing plant) behind them. They often have small-scale farmers or indigenous communities behind them, too — people and cultures whose livelihoods and historic identities can be supported by their continuing work with these fibers.” — from The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

OK, it’s official — we love this book! The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers from Animal to Spun Yarn, by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, is a wonderful blend of history, craft and science. Robson & Ekarius span the globe in their quest for natural fibers — and the stories behind them. Among the more than 200 animals described are sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, vicunas, camels, bison, musk oxen, yaks, and more. Each featured breed is accompanied by up-close photos of their fleece, fiber & yarn, along with helpful tips on dyeing, fiber preparation, and spinning and weaving particulars.

Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius had this to say about their uniquely valuable book: “…our goal is to look at animal fibers in a way that hasn’t been done before. We are looking in more depth…at the animals that have provided handspinners, knitters and weavers with the foundation of their craft and artistry for thousands of years. You won’t find patterns in this book, but we hope you will learn a great deal about the wool and hair fibers that have clothed and served us for generation upon generation, back to the first person who picked a fluff of wild sheep fibers out of a bush and twisted them together.

You’ll learn so much, with each page you turn!

farzul_1595905967500bdb57498f79-89173973_xlarge
A Winter Transformed: “Musk oxen grow several types of fiber, one of which is the animal’s famous underdown, also known as qiviut of qiviuq (as well as a few other spellings). Qiviut deserves its legendary status. This rare fiber has not been readily available for spinning or in yarn form until recently, but now qiviut is making its way into our consciousness (ooh!) and then, if we’re lucky, into our hands (aaah!)….Qiviut’s exceptional combination of fineness, softness, lightness, and warmth make it a delight to work with and wear….About half an ounce of qiviut in the form of a neck warmer — a tiny amount! — transformed our experience of winter.” — from The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

As many of you know, the future home of the Land Library will be at a historic ranch, set in the high mountain grasslands of South Park, Colorado. Buffalo Peaks Ranch has a rich history, including a tradition of sheep ranching. Recently, the Land Library received an extremely thoughtful donation of a fully-equipped weaving studio, which will allow us to hold workshops on a craft strongly in tune with the heritage of South Park. And, of course, we’ll have lots of books to call on for inspiration and advice — books such as these!

naturalshear
The Natural Knitter: How to Choose, Use, and Knit Natural Fibers from Alpaca to Yak by Barbara Albright, and Sheer Spirit: Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns, and Miles of Yarn by Joan Tapper, with fun & perceptive profiles of farms & ranches from Maine to Oregon.

And, here’s one of our all-time favorite volumes among our books on sheep!

mooreshhep sketch
Henry Moore’s Sheep Sketchbook: In 1972, when the packing and crating for a major exhibition made it impossible for Henry Moore to work in his sculpture studio, he retreated to a small shed that looked out on a sheep meadow. Over the course of several months, Moore captured the scene out his window, and upon completion of his Sheep Sketchbook, it was presented as a gift to the artist’s daughter, Mary.

sketchbook

 

Fleece, Fiber, and Good Stories Too

fleecebison

Natural fibers are part of our culture, our heritage. They have a living breathing animal (or a growing plant) behind them. They often have small-scale farmers or indigenous communities behind them, too — people and cultures whose livelihoods and historic identities can be supported by their continuing work with these fibers.” — from The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

OK, it’s official — we love this book! The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers from Animal to Spun Yarn, by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, is a wonderful blend of history, craft and science. Robson & Ekarius span the globe in their quest for natural fibers — and the stories behind them. Among the more than 200 animals described are sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, vicunas, camels, bison, musk oxen, yaks, and more. Each featured breed is accompanied by up-close photos of their fleece, fiber & yarn, along with helpful tips on dyeing, fiber preparation, and spinning and weaving particulars.

Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius had this to say about their uniquely valuable book: “…our goal is to look at animal fibers in a way that hasn’t been done before. We are looking in more depth…at the animals that have provided handspinners, knitters and weavers with the foundation of their craft and artistry for thousands of years. You won’t find patterns in this book, but we hope you will learn a great deal about the wool and hair fibers that have clothed and served us for generation upon generation, back to the first person who picked a fluff of wild sheep fibers out of a bush and twisted them together.

You’ll learn so much, with each page you turn!

musk oxen
A Winter Transformed: “Musk oxen grow several types of fiber, one of which is the animal’s famous underdown, also known as qiviut of qiviuq (as well as a few other spellings). Qiviut deserves its legendary status. This rare fiber has not been readily available for spinning or in yarn form until recently, but now qiviut is making its way into our consciousness (ooh!) and then, if we’re lucky, into our hands (aaah!)….Qiviut’s exceptional combination of fineness, softness, lightness, and warmth make it a delight to work with and wear….About half an ounce of qiviut in the form of a neck warmer — a tiny amount! — transformed our experience of winter.” — from The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

As many of you know, the future home of the Land Library will be at a historic ranch, set in the high mountain grasslands of South Park, Colorado. Buffalo Peaks Ranch has a rich history, including a tradition of sheep ranching. Recently, the Land Library received an extremely thoughtful donation of a fully-equipped weaving studio, which will allow us to hold workshops on a craft strongly in tune with the heritage of South Park. And, of course, we’ll have lots of books to call on for inspiration and advice — books such as these!

naturalshear
The Natural Knitter: How to Choose, Use, and Knit Natural Fibers from Alpaca to Yak by Barbara Albright, and Sheer Spirit: Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns, and Miles of Yarn by Joan Tapper, with fun & perceptive profiles of farms & ranches from Maine to Oregon.

And, here’s one of our all-time favorite volumes among our books on sheep!

mooresheep sketch
Henry Moore’s Sheep Sketchbook: In 1972, when the packing and crating for a major exhibition made it impossible for Henry Moore to work in his sculpture studio, he retreated to a small shed that looked out on a sheep meadow. Over the course of several months, Moore captured the scene out his window, and upon completion of his Sheep Sketchbook, it was presented as a gift to the artist’s daughter, Mary.

sketchbook

For more on sheep, natural fibers, and a very fun film clip of sheepdogs in action, be sure to check out our earlier posts!

Wild Fibers Stitching Us Together

So Focused, So Intent (The Meeker Sheepdog Trials!)

Our World Foreshadowed

railroadedrival rails

When it comes to the American West, there is no other writer like Richard White: a serious scholar with a highly original take on familiar subjects….His subject, the making of the transcontinental railroads, is perhaps the pivotal story of the West, but it’s not the one we know from movies and myth. It’s about the birth of all those things that most trouble us nowadays…” — Rebecca Solnit

It’s always exciting to unpack a new book from leading Western historian Richard White. Professor of American History at Stanford University, White has written several award-winning books over the years, including the ground-breaking “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A New History of the American West.

His latest work, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America is a dramatic reimagining of the railroad’s impact on the Western landscape. White has written a fascinating history that is more concerned about the complex machinations of railroad finances than it is about the triumphal driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point, Utah. The most audacious figures of the Gilded Age take center stage in Railroaded: railroad magnates such as Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, James J. Hill, and Jay Gould.

The transcontinental railroads were truly our first corporate giants, and often their attempts to generate profits from proliferating debt sparked devastating economic panics. As White contends, the railroad’s dependence on public largesse also opened the doors to widespread corruption. As historian Geoffrey C. Ward writes: “Railroaded is a wonderful book, fresh, provocative, witty, filled with foreshadowing of our world but always true to its times…”

Another recent railroad book (also pictured above) is Walter R. Borneman’s Rival Rails: The Race to Build America’s Greatest Transcontinental Railroad — an energetic tale of the “other transcontinentals”, those forging a southwestern route to the Pacific. Recently, we were lucky to have Walter Borneman present his new book for the Rocky Mountain Land Series — a wonderful night!

Here’s a few more recent additions to the Land Library’s railroad collection:

minerharvey
A Most Magnificent Machine: America Adopts the Railroad, 1825-1862 by Craig Miner (a perfect complement to Richard White’s Railroaded, covering the earlier days of railroads in America), Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvery Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West by Stephen Fried.

Slowly, but surely, the Land Library has been expanding its collection of railroad books. Beyond the Iron Road’s impact on the West, railroads are also a major part of South Park’s heritage. South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch will be the future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library — what better place for an exciting collection of railroad books!

south park

For more on South Park’s railway heritage, be sure to check this link!

Getting to know Buffalo Peaks Ranch

classi bpr

As many of you know, the Rocky Mountain Land Library is working with Park County and the City of Aurora to locate a majority of our books and educational programs at South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, near the headwaters of the South Platte River. This historic ranch presents the Rocky Mountain Land Library with the opportunity to establish a truly unique residential land-study center for the southern Rockies. We are also incredibly fortunate to be working with Park County’s nationally recognized effort to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of a truly unique Western landscape.

Buffalo Peaks Ranch will provide both quiet and inspiration for lifelong learners of all types, including artists, writers, naturalists, scientists, and students at all levels. Everyone will have access not only to the Land Library 25,000+ volumes, but also to South Park’s surrounding landscape of high mountain grasslands and alpine summits.

Stay tuned for updates and exciting developments in the months ahead, but for now we wanted you all to get to know Buffalo Peaks Ranch. We hope you enjoy this fun film clip!

corrals
Looking up valley, through the old corrals, toward Mount Silverheels.

far barn
Students from the University of Colorado’s Graduate School of Architecture examine the far barn, and also get a lay of the land.

For more on Buffalo Peaks Ranch and the high mountain grasslands of South Park, be sure to check out our earlier posts!

The Gift of Time and Space

outermost house

From the very beginning, a key element to the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s vison has been the creation of a residential library, a unique place where people can come and stay, prolonging their exploration of the books, and the surrounding lands. Yes, we’ll have workshops, field trips & classes, but we’ll also have quiet spaces for people to pursue the projects of their own design.

Author and naturalist Henry Beston built such a place in 1925 (pictured above). The time he spent at his tiny dune shack was the inspiration for a true natural history classic, The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod. Over the years, literary pilgrims flocked to Beston’s simple shack, until it was finally claimed by the sea in the Great Blizzard of February 1978. The shack was so close to the ocean that Beston once commented on its ten windows and immediate views of the Atlantic — so close that he felt as if he were aboard a ship.

We just came across a wonderful new book to fuel our inspiration to create simple quiet places that give people the gift of time and uncluttered space. Alex Johnson’s Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution is full of ingenious huts from around the world. (For more information, visit Alex’s excellent site, www.shedworking.co.uk!).

We especially loved his chapter on the history of huts for writers, artists, musicians, and the like. Here’s just a few writing huts that we were inspired by. Alex Johnson is a terrific writer, so we’ll let him do most of the describing!

Four Walls, Endless Creativity, and a Scandalous Number of Chocolate Bars:

dahl garden shed
Roald Dahl wrote many of his books in a small hut at his home at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, England. Alex Johnson: “Dahl settled himself into a rather ancient wingback armchair, covered his legs with a rug on which he nested a large roll of corrugated paper and then his writing board. He pinned a variety of photographs and drawings onto the walls and on a table by his side he kept a personal cabinet of curiosities including one of his own arthritic hip bones and a large ball made of used silver wrappers from chocolate bars. Dahl wrote without interruption every day in what he regarded as a sanctuary from the outside world…”

A Philosopher’s Hut in the Black Forest Mountains:

heidegger bookheidegger
Alex Johnson: “Was it the snow that attracted controversial German philosopher Martin Heidegger to his hut? Anybody who is unconvinced that working in a garden office can be life changing should read Heidegger’s Hut by Adam Sharr, in which the author looks at how Heidegger’s wooden hut near Todtnauberg in the Black Mountains of Germany is absolutely central to his philosophy and writings.”

Huck’s Hut: The Writing Shed Where Huckleberry Finn Was Born:

interior mark twain
When Mark Twain moved to Elmira in New York State in 1874, his sister-in-law built him an octagonal one-room shed studio, which Twain loved. Alex Johnson: “‘It is a cosy nest,’ he wrote, ‘with just room in it for a sofa and a table and three or four chairs….And when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the lightning flashes above the hills beyond, and the rain beats upon the roof over my head, imagine the luxury of it!’ Twain wrote some of his most famous works in his shed including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Dylan Thomas’ Wordsplashed Hut:

dylan's sheddylans' desk
Dylan Thomas had a cliff-top writing shed on the Carmartenshire coast of Wales. Alex Johnson: “[Thomas added] an anthracite stove, bookcases and tables, and decorated it with photos and magazine cuttings of Byron, Whitman, W.H. Auden, nudes, items from Picture Post and long lists of words. In a typical working day Thomas would read, visit his parents, nip out for a drink at noon, then work and relax in what he called his ‘long tongued water and tree room on the cliff’, his ‘bard’s bothy’, and his ‘wordsplashed hut’ until 7pm.”

Michael Pollan’s Homage to a Little Cabin at Walden Pond:

pollan's hut
Taking inspiration from Henry David Thoreau, among others, author Michael Pollan set about designing and building a tiny book-lined retreat on his Connecticut property. His journey is told in the following book from the Land Library’s shelves:

pollan's bookshedworkingbeston cover
A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams, and here is the wonderfully informative (and, many times quoted here) Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution by Alex Johnson, along with Henry Beston’s classic The Outermost House.

Forget About the Nobel Prize, This is Good Enough for Popular Mechanics!

shaw & hut
George Bernard Shaw and his whirling dervish of a hut. Alex Johnson: “It had a revolving base which used castors on a circular track. The hut, at his home in Shaw’s Corner, Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, could thus be moved to improve the light or change the view (or indeed just for a bit of exercise). Spectaculary high-tech for its time, it also had an electric heater and a telephone connection to the house as well as an alarm clock to alert the Nobel prize winner to lunchtime.”

Finally, we wanted to share this passage from Alex Johnson’s Shedworking, so evocative of our desire for a room of one’s own, no matter what your age:

“Small spaces in general have a magical attraction on childhood….I loved spending time in the cupboard under the stairs of the first house I lived in as well as in the shed in the garden my parents helped to make using any old bits of wood lying around….I vividly remember the first time I stayed out there during a rainstorm, reveling in my spectacular luck at being able to read Tintin in my own little hideaway and not get wet.”

This post is part of an ongoing series inspired by the University of Colorado School of Architecture’s design work for Buffalo Peaks Ranch.

Nuts for Huts

study to be quietfishing huts

Why fishing huts? Why should I have spent months tracking down these curious riverside structures all over Britain? Why, as a friend kindly put it, am I nuts about huts?” — Jo Orchard-Lisle

As many of you know, periodically the Land Library receives a well-traveled box of books from a British bookseller. Our last shipment included a book that set us dreaming about adding something truly unique to Buffalo Peaks Ranch, the future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library. Given the ranch’s miles of Gold Medal trout streams, what better inspiration can we have than Jo Orchard-Lisle’s Fishing Huts: The Angler’s Sanctuary?

Like many exceptional books, Fishing Huts was sparked by a bit of obsession. Jo Orchard-Lisle: “The idea of making a tour grew on me rapidly. I determined to visit as many as I could, and to learn or imagine what changes they had witnessed over the years. So it was that I set out on an odyssey along the rivers of Scotland, England and Wales. I found huts of every description — old, new, large, small, elaborate, primitive, grand, simple.”

Over 270 color photos accompany Jo Orchard-Lisle’s fun narrative. The cover photo (pictured above) features perhaps the most famous fishing hut of all: Charles Cotton’s Fishing House on the River Dove, better known as “The Temple” –the famous haunt of Cotton and his friend Izaak Walton (also pictured above), the author of the all-time classic, The Compleat Angler.

Here’s three more fun huts:

hut by river

It was a great sadness to me that I never reached the enchanting little hut, poised like an eagle’s eyrie on a crag above the Blackwater, a tributary of the Brora. Its simplicity and its position, miles from anywhere, in the wilds of Sutherland, both seem to me perfect, and I have been lucky enough to get a friend to photograph it.

old hut

The hut of F.M. Halford, author of the classic Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice (1889). “Although recently restored, Oakley, or Halford’s Hut, has remained almost unchanged since it was built in 1906. It is now beautifully maintained by The National Trust, whose volunteers have created the little flower garden alongside.

new hut

The author, inspired by her hut tour of the United Kingdom, built her own angler’s sanctuary along the River Avon. And so with this, Fishing Huts ends: “The hut is full of light but two simple panes have been fitted in the wall on the river side for further views. Work on the interior is still continuing as I write but it’s nearly done and so my journey ends, but with the enjoyable prospect of many happy hours in my hut ahead.

OK, this much is certain. The future fishing hut at Buffalo Peaks Ranch will have four walls, at least four of which will be lined by books. Books such as these that speak to the precious freshwaters upon which we depend for so much:

cutthroatbehnke
Two classics: Cutthroat: Native Trout of the West by Patrick Trotter, Trout and Salmon of North America by Robert J. Behnke.

bugwaterluna leopoldfgt
BugWater: A fly fisher’s look through the seasons at bugs in their aquatic habitat and the fish that eat them by Arlen Thomason, A View of the River by Luna Leopold (not an angling title, but like many of the books featured here, essential volumes for any riparian library!), Field Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by James H. Thorp (just published this past month).

river runs through itriverwalkingstanley crawfordwalton
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Waters by Kathleen Dean Moore, The River in Winter: New & Selected Essays by Stanley Crawford, The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton.

Yes, that Izaak Walton, the one whose simple, enigmatic and inspiring quote we someday hope to carve above the door of a very simple, book-lined hut along the banks of the South Platte River at Buffalo Peaks Ranch: Study to be quiet.

study to be quiet

This post is part of an ongoing series inspired by the University of Colorado School of Architecture’s design work for Buffalo Peaks Ranch.

A Sheepwagon Full of Books

weidel

This post is part of an ongoing series inspired by the University of Colorado School of Architecture’s design work for Buffalo Peaks Ranch, the future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library (and hopefully a sheepwagon or two).

In 2001, a wonderful Wyoming publisher, High Plains Press, published one of the Land Library’s favorite books, Sheepwagon: Home on the Range. Author Nancy Weidel offered one crisp, concise reason for our admiration: “The sheepwagon is a marvel of practicality and efficiency.”

But there’s more reasons to love this book, with its stories, photographs, and sensitive appreciation for hard lives lived in a starkly beautiful land. This book makes clear that the sheepwagon provided both a bit of warmth, and a touch of home. Weidel: “Designed to provide shelter and heat, mobility, and storage, the sheepwagon was the ideal home for the herder….It could easily be moved by two horses, a most important feature.”

interior

Yes, as you can see, every inch counted, but space also needed to be found for the unexpected. Some sheepwagons had side boxes that “came in handy during lambing, when a weak newborn might be placed there overnight to be revived by the heat of the wagon stove.”

Given Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s tradition of sheep ranching, we would love to see at least a few sheepwagons return to South Park. Of course, being the impractical book people that we are, we immediately lose the point of the story and wonder, what books can we fit in this tiny space? When life is pared to its essentials, don’t we still need at least a small shelf of books? Here’s a few we would pick:

ivan doiggretelhomegroundlaxalt
Two classic memoirs of the American West: This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind by Ivan Doig, and The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich, along with a book that provides a vocabulary for all you can see from a sheepwagon’s steps: Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney, and most definitely this classic Basque story of sheepherding in the American West, and the long lost homeland of the Pyrenees: Sweet Promised Land by Robert Laxalt.

florin
from Western Wagon Wheels by Lambert Florin

And of course there’s this classic memoir from the Land Library’s shelves — Archer Gilfillan’s Sheep: Life on the South Dakota Range(1929). Here’s Gilfillan writing simply and eloquently about little known lives:

“One of the popular misconceptions about herding is that it is a monotonous job; or as a friend of mine puts it, ‘Herding is all right if you don’t have an active mind.” But there is really little monotony in it. The sheep rarely act the same two days in succession. If they run one day, they are apt to be quiet the next. They herd differently in a high wind from what they do in a gentle breeze. They travel with a cold wind and against a warm one. They are apt to graze contentedly where feed is plenty and to string out and run where the pickings are poor. Herding at one season is so different from herding at another as almost to constitute a different job.”