March 01, 2023 2 min read
One of our sheep wagons nestled among the Snowcrest Mountains, a temporary grazing zone for our Merino sheep.
Despite the challenges ranching in rugged, raw and unpredictable Montana presents, we have the benefit of some 13,000-years-worth of sheep herding knowledge at our back; priceless lessons and tricks gained from the trials of those who have come before us, essential to passing our craft from hand-to-hand across the millennia.
It fills us with immense pride to know we are carrying such an ancient torch and timeless agricultural storyline, right here in what we believe to be the most immaculate landscapes on earth. And we'll tell you with equal pride that Duckworth - the Montana-Grown and American-Made Merino Wool clothing story of our own nestled within the larger sheep herding saga - is made possible by an adherence to heritage and tradition at every stage.
Our sheep ranching outfit has been tapping sheep wagons for nearly a century. Above, a sheep wagon and horse, circa 1970.
Sheep wagons are but one piece of this honoring of days of old.
But what, exactly, is a sheep wagon?
According to Wikipedia, "The shepherd's hut (or shepherd's wagon) was, since the 15th century and into the 20th century, used by shepherds during sheep raising and lambing...The shepherd's hut was a kitchen, dining room, bedroom, sitting room and storeroom all rolled into one. The designs vary but all were constructed to provide the shepherd with practical and durable accommodation. The old huts had a stove in one corner for warmth and cooking, and a window on each side so the shepherd could see the flock. A hinged stable door, which was always positioned away from the prevailing wind, enabled him to hear the flock, and strong axles with cast iron wheels were used to withstand the constant movement..."
Pictured, a trio of our sheep wagons brace against the cold.
Each of our invaluable shepherds lives in their respective sheep wagon 365 days year, a shelter from the elements but also a tool in providing unparalleled access to their respective bands (flocks) of sheep. It's in the summer they truly fulfill their purpose: In the warmer months, when the sheep are scattered high in the mountains, the sheep wagons will be miles apart (and even further from civilization), their inhabitants keeping mindful eye on their bands as they graze in the mercurial alpine wilds of southwest Montana.
Our sheep wagons are pulled, periodically with the changing of the season and grazing plots, by truck. Above, the sheep follow, knowing food might come from the truck too.
These humble yet hardy lodgings are as essential to our success as the sheep dogs, shepherds, landscapes and sheep themselves. They are inseparable from the premium Merino Wool layers our customers and fans have come to cherish and require for backcountry adventure.
The sheep wagons also serve as a reminder: We do things the old-school way. The right way. Our American-made-quality garments demand it.
A truck pulls a pair of sheep wagons across the prairie. In the distance, a band of sheep grazes between the sage.