A Jolley sheep camp


December might not seem like the best month to pull a sheep wagon from Wyoming through Browns Park down to Maybell, but it's second nature to Dave Jolley.

His wagon is more than 100 years old, and to old timers in the business, it's known as a sheep camp.

"When I was born, I was taken to a sheep camp, where my mom pulled out the long drawer and used it as a bassinette," Jolley said. "You can get the boy off the farm, but you can't get the farm out of the boy. That's me."

Jolley, now hailing from Vernal, Utah, comes from a ranching background. His grandfather H.C. Jolley first ran sheep on Slater Creek during the summers in the 1930s -- a pastime he passed onto Dave's uncle and father.

Dave picked up the hobby after retiring from his Vernal automobile business 10 years ago. That hobby includes driving his sheep wagon through Browns Park each fall.

The more than a century old sheep wagon has been in active service as a working sheep camp with the Cow Creek Sheep Co. in Baggs, Wyo.

"I put in west of Clay Basin in Wyoming and go down to Maybell," Jolley said. "I can make about 15 miles a day."

The trip takes Jolley about a week to complete, stopping at ranches along the way to spend the night in his wagon. The people he meets along the way are accommodating, he said.

"Oh my gosh -- the most wonderful people you could meet," Jolley said. "Helpful and friendly. They let me use their water hoses for the horses."

The wagon Jolley rides on may be old, but it's in good shape.

"It's the nicest one I've ever seen," Jolley said. "It's very comfortable. It's the original home on the range, no doubt about it."

It takes a team

Jolley takes caution when he talks about his horse team. Just saying the horses names, Jim and Jake, causes the animals to begin walking, and they have no problem pulling the load.

The Percheron draft horses stand 18 hands tall and weigh 2,400 pounds each.

They are brothers, born one-year apart and raised on an Amish farm in Ohio.

They easily handle the sheep camp and the trailing trap wagon.

The trap wagon holds saddles and bales of feed, along with hobbles for the team.

Jolley's cow horse, Ramona, follows along behind the wagons.

"I've been going through the park for fun," Jolley said. "Browns Park has got history, and that's why I chose it. It's the ideal place to do a winter camp."

Jolley's wife, Linda, is a Florida girl, he said. She won't ride with him through the park.

When the journey ends in Maybell, Jolley loads up the horses and wagon and trailers the load back to Vernal.

He and his wife spend their winters in Florida, but the thoughts of ranching are never far.

"I made a living with livestock, running steers in the summer," he said. "It's one of those things, being born in the West."

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