Where Sheep Take Over The Streets

The thing that becomes inescapable on your way to John and Diane Peavey's place is the emptiness. It's almost palpable. Driving off the paved road of Idaho Route 75 in Bellevue, toward the Flat Top Sheep Co. ranch, takes you into the lonely foothills of the Pioneer Mountains, dry and brown and awash in the pungent odor of sagebrush. Before you get to the Peaveys' home, a low-slung 100-year-old log house with, yes, a creek running behind it, you must travel 25 miles over a winding gravel road and into the Little Wood River Valley. Here, all is silence, except for the sound of a rabbit skittering across the road or the whisper of wind through the scrub and loose dirt. Few buildings are visible--only those far in the distance where people might live, or a close-by barn or shed that ranchers use. And then, suddenly, turning a corner around a hill, you see them. The sheep. They are perfectly at home in this arid, sunny wilderness. Perhaps 600 of them graze placidly under the wary gaze of a watchdog, a Great Pyrenees. They are serenely unaware that even if they dodge the coyotes, they could still end up as entrees in a local restaurant.

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