By HOUGHTON MIFFLIN
THIS autobiography of a Texas girl who married a Montana sheepman and spent her life learning to love the Madison Valley and to understand sheep is both informative and charming, but it will lead no one into the sheep business. It will convince anyone that of all animals a sheep is the most perverse, helpless, afflicted, and exasperating, and that of all jobs a sheepman’s is the most laborious.
Sheep are preyed upon by coyotes and ticks. Cuts left untreated after shearing get fly-blown. Magpies ride the victim’s back and prey on his living flesh, or come at lambing time to peck out the eyes of the newborn. A herd confronted by gully or prospect hole is likely to pile up and destroy half its members. Ewes must be hog-tied to make them attend to their lambs. Rams are always getting loose and creating a flurry of out-of-season lambing. Like tyrannous infants, sheep demand constant and indefatigable care.
Beside that, they smell, though Mrs. Call does not say so. They blat infernally, drive herders crazy, go wild on loco weed, die of lupin or larkspur. Mrs. Call makes the details of sheep ranching almost too clear, yet manages to maintain her sense of humor. That sense of humor and her obvious love of the Madison Valley counteract a strong streak of sentiment and a certain feminine perverseness. Ranchers’ wives do not, apparently, relish playing second fiddle to the sheep. To be both a sheepman and a husband must require superhuman patience. W. S.