Diane Peavey, Trailing of the Sheep Founder, Discusses Sheepherding Culture Book

Diane Peavey

Diane Peavey requested lamb chops on her birthday as a child. He never imagined she would grow up on a sheep ranch in the Wood River Valley and marry sheep farmer John Peavey.

After arriving from Washington, D.C., Peavey stated, “I knew nothing about farming or livestock. I met an impressive man who raised sheep, and I fell in love with the west and him.”

Peavey has always been a passionate reader, particularly of western literature and tales of life and adventure.

“‘Sweet Promised Land’ changed my life when I read it. “This year we decided to host a book club or reading group, something I’ve always wanted to do since we began Trailing of the Sheep so many years ago,” Peavey stated.

On Saturday, October 7, Peavey will host a discussion about Laxalt’s book at Town Center West in Hailey from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The book is available at the Hailey Public Library and The Community Library.

The book is about Dominique Laxalt, a Basque immigrant who travels from the Sierra Nevada desert to the French Pyrenees. Robert, his son, travels with him and tracks their journey, highlighting the difficulties and challenges of his profession.

“I hope that people read the book before attending the conversation and festival,” Peavey said, “as it provides context and connection to our mission before they arrive.” John & Diane Peavey

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival’s stated purpose is “to gather, regard, present, and preserve the history and traditions of sheepherding in Idaho and the American West.”

“I will be so happy if it opens people’s eyes to the beauty of western culture and the necessity of preserving it,” she said.

The Blaine County Historical Museum states the first sheep were brought to the Wood River Valley in the late 1860s by stagecoach owner John Hailey, who named Hailey, Idaho.

The Museum also notes that in Edward Wentworth’s 1948 book “America’s Sheep Trails,” he stated that the number of sheep in Idaho in 1918 was equivalent to six times the population of the state in that same year.

The Wood River Valley has a long history of sheepherding, as John “When the mining business went down, families had to start raising sheep to make a living. “We are grateful to the Basques, Peruvians, and Scots who brought their sheep-herding expertise and methods to our valley,” stated Peavey.

She expresses regret that sheepherding has declined in popularity over time and hopes that Trailing of the Sheep will raise awareness of the value of maintaining sheep pasture and the associated farming.

“Sheep, aside from meat, are highly valuable to the wool industry.” “It has so many applications, especially for us in colder climates,” Peavey added.

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According to the Idaho Wool Growers, it is a highly durable fabric that outlasts cotton and provides cold weather protection by trapping heat and drawing moisture away from the skin.

“The traditions of making wool clothing and tapestries have also been passed down through generations and have a rich history that we love to highlight in the festival.”