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“The sheep wagon, a familiar sight on many Wyoming hilltops, is distinctly a Wyoming product,” wrote Agnes Wright Spring in the December 1940 issue of the Wyoming Stockman-Farmer and Wyoming Industrial Journal.
    In addition to outlining the invention of the “house-on-wheels,” as we did in the previous “Post Card from the Past,” she also noted, “Sheep were first brought into Wyoming in the late 1860s, but unlike cattle, could not be turned loose on the range to forage for themselves. Because of the constant menace of predatory animals and the inability of the sheep to protect themselves during storms, it was necessary to have a herder with them at all times.
    “In those days of the open, unfenced range, it was not necessary for the sheep owner to establish a ranch as headquarters. It was quite sufficient for him to have a house in town and to hire herders, who could follow the sheep from place to place, depending upon the condition and the amount of forage available. The herder moved over such a wide area that a shack or cabin was not practical, nor did the covered emigrant wagon provide the necessary comfort for an all-time home. Hence the idea of the well-fitted sheep wagon came into being.
    “The sheep wagons could be moved from place to place by ‘camp tenders’ with teams, who in the meantime kept the herders’ wagons supplied with food and transported hay for the herders’ horses.”
    Agnes Wright Spring continued, “About eighteen years after the first Candlish sheep wagon was put into use, the Schulte Hardware Company of Casper employed Marshall Buxton to make sheep wagons. Buxton had for some time been a buffalo and wild game hunter.
    “The special ‘mountain gear’ manufactured by the Bayne Wagon Company of Kenosha, Wisc. was used for mounting the Schulte bodies. These wagons had seat boxes…”
    But, that’s another “Post Card.”
Prior to reading this week’s Roundup, I had a different Postcard in mind. However, the “Sheep Wagon Show” news item reminded of a past article worth repeating about the invention of “Wyoming’s home on the range.”
    A Carbon County blacksmith by the name of James Candlish is credited with building the first authentic sheep wagon in Rawlins in 1884 from an idea given to him by George Ferris, pioneer sheepman, mine operator and businessman.
    Born in 1841 in Canada, Candlish was raised in Montreal where he learned wagon making and blacksmith trades. He came to the United States as a young man and was hired as a blacksmith by the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad. Candlish followed the building of the UP tracks in the 1860s and settled at Fort Fred Steele, 12 miles west of Rawlins in south central Carbon County.
    At the fort, he entered the employ of the U.S. Government and remained there until the early 1880s when the troops were being taken away. He moved to Rawlins and opened a blacksmith shop of his own and, among other things, built sheep wagons for local ranchers.
    For nearly 130 years the sheep wagon, sometimes called a “Home on the Range” or more poetically, “The Ship of the Desert,” has housed the herders who tend the flocks in Wyoming. But, then that’s another postcard.
No matter the occasion—a birth in the family, an illness or death, disaster, graduation, birthday, special event, bake sale or fund raiser—my mother-in-law would bake up a batch of her famous spudnuts and deliver them to those concerned.
    For years, she was famous for the potato donuts with the special glaze. If the church sponsored a bake sale, she had to do a double batch – a couple dozen for the workers and the rest to sell for the fundraiser.
    As generous as she was with the spudnuts, she wouldn’t give out her recipe. However, just before her death she penned the recipe and gave it to her daughter with permission to pass it along.
    Although my wife makes the spudnuts occasionally, they just don’t seem to taste as good as when my mother-in-law baked them.
    Here’s Celia Bomar’s recipe for spudnuts and glaze:
Makes 7 dozen spudnuts
1 qt. milk
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 pkgs. or cakes of yeast dissolved in 1 cup lukewarm potato water
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
 4 beaten eggs
1 tablespoon salt (approx.)
12 cups flour (approx.)
    Boil and cool milk, shortening and sugar. Mix mashed potatoes, yeast, soda, baking powder and vanilla with liquid and let rise until foamy (approximately 30 minutes).
    Add eggs, salt and flour, and let it rise until it doubles in bulk. Roll, cut and let it rise again.
    Fry, as with other doughnuts.
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter or oleo
2 tablespoons vanilla
    As you take the spudnuts from the hot oil, drain a few minutes, then dunk in the glaze as hot as you can handle them.
According to an article in the July 24, 1912, issue of the Laramie Republican, a women greatly benefited from her first bath in the mineral hot springs in Saratoga.
    The news item noted, “[A Laramie man] returned this morning from Saratoga, where he took his wife a few day ago for treatment for a severe attack of rheumatism.
    “Mrs. [name omitted] was suffering so that her screams, when attacked with one of the spasms of pain, could be heard for two blocks and was helped by the first bath. She will remain for a longer visit, taking the baths at stated intervals, and [her husband] expects her to be entirely cured when she returns home.”
    The article prompted The Saratoga Sun to editorialize in its Aug. 1, 1912 edition that, “The above clipping shows one instance only of the great benefits to be derived from bathing in the hot waters of the thermal springs here.
    “While there is occasional mention made of someone being cured of rheumatism by the waters here, there are hundreds of cures that never reach the public print.
    “It is really a calamity to this community and the southern part of this state that the springs here have no good accommodations for bathers, but are permitted to stump along with a small bathhouse. A large hotel would be filled with bathers every month in the year if they could be accommodated, but under the present circumstances patients are driven to other and less efficacious bathing resorts.”

Cousin Leo had an email recently about cranking vehicles, and it got me thinking about starting engines without batteries – by hand, as we used to say.
    If memory serves me right, out on the Pick Ranch, we had a model “A” tractor, about a 1941, with a manual start.
    The crank or starting device was a large flywheel on the left side with finger indents inside around the wheel.
    To get it started was not a job for a weak person. The flywheel required quite a bit of strength to turn, and in extremely cold weather it was even more difficult and could be exhausting.
    To start the tractor, first, disengage the clutch, and if on an incline, lock the brakes. Then, set the throttle to about one-third open, pull the choke to full and open both cylinder petcocks. Next, firmly grasp that flywheel, with your left hand at 12 o’clock and right hand at three o’clock. With all your might, spin the flywheel counterclockwise.
    Very seldom does it start on the first spin, but if it does, run around, put that choke to half way and shut the petcocks. When the engine is putt-putt-putting as well as a two-cylinder engine does, put the choke to off, and you’re ready to start work.
    Usually, the first spin is just practice – maybe the first of many. So, you repeat the process. But be careful, because you must work with the choke and be in tune with it. The choke’s purpose is to alter the air/fuel ratio. Leaving it on too much may get excess fuel in the cylinders, resulting in the dreaded “flooded” condition. Watch the petcock emission to see if drops of liquid are in the usual misty stuff coming out of the cylinder. If so, push the choke to the off position before commencing to spin the flywheel.
    Each person that I observed starting this tractor before I was strong enough to spin the flywheel had a different method to deal with it when it turned defiant and wouldn’t start.
    A ranch hand who worked for my dad many years and wasn’t very tall had a hard time getting in a good fast spin, so he had the most problems. His approach to a reluctant engine was to call the tractor very vile names, and I’ll admit to learning some good swear words at an early age when this happened. He would then get Dad or someone else to help him.
My uncle’s approach was much more sedate and calculated. He would stop after several spins and roll a Bull Durham cigarette and smoke it. Also, a couple of times I saw him take drastic action. In extremely cold weather he would pour gas in a metal five-gallon bucket filled with sand and use this to warm us up. At times he would put that portable heater under the tractor engine to warm the lubrication and make it easier to spin.
    For some reason, which I could never figure out, Dad didn’t seem to have much trouble starting that tractor. Once, I spun the damned thing for a couple hours and was sweating and wore out when he drove up. In two spins, he had that “popping Johnnie” putting.
    We had other tractors over the years but this is the one best remembered. I also cranked several autos to start, but none were as memorable as that old John Deere tractor. Like many memories it’s fun to think about but I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience.