Antelope Island State Park

Ranch Life

Ranch Life By Max Harward


Cattle usually stay on one range each year. If food is not available,-they are either fed hay
and pellets or moved to another range where natural food is available. The range on
Antelope Island would support about 800 head of cattle if the winters were not to severe.
Should the snow get too deep for the cattle to forage for food, they would have to be fed.
Hay was cut and stacked or baled on the island. This was a poor grade of hay found on the
shoreline where fresh water was available for it to grow. The quality was low grade but
better than a snowbank. Alfalfa hay was grown and baled at the Skull Valley Ranch, and
very good meadow hay was baled at the Castle Rock (summer range) Ranch. The alfalfa
and meadow hay were trucked to the island and stored in the event of a bad winter.
Sheep are browsers (shrubs) unlike cattle which are grazers (grasses). Sheep do better
when moved to summer and winter ranges. The summer range at Castle Rock (south-west
of Evanston, Wyoming) furnished an environment with ample food in the aspen, sage, and
evergreen zones. When autumn arrived and before the snow came, the sheep were
moved to Antelope Island about Oct. 1 for a brief rest before they were moved to the
winter range about Nov. 1 on the west desert. In later years, the sheep didn’t go to the
island in the fall but were shipped from Castle Rock directly to Faust in Rush Valley and
then trailed to the desert range. They spent the winter there and were moved again to the
island in the spring for shearing and lambing after which they went to the summer range at
Castle Rock.
Sheep and cattle were trailed from place to place in the early 1930s until the early 1940s.
To move from the summer range near the Wyoming border, the sheep were trailed down
Echo Canyon into East Canyon (about the same route as the Mormon pioneers took), into
the Salt Lake Valley near the present site of the Veteran’s Hospital, through Salt Lake City
by way of 21st south street and onto Redwood Road. From there they eventually made it
into the west desert near Simpson Springs and Davis Mountain near Dugway. The
distance was approximately 200 miles one way. They spent the winter there and then
were moved to the island in the spring for shearing and lambing after which they went to the
summer range at Castle Rock When trucks and trains became available, they were used
instead of trailing.
Following is a time schedule for the movement of sheep:
Late fall (October 1) depending on the weather, sheep were moved from the
summer range to Antelope Island for a short rest. They were then moved to
the west desert to spend the winter months of Nov. – March.
March-sheep were moved in late March to be on the Island by April 1.
April 1- sheep began lambing which took about 20 days.
April20-until finished- lambs were earmarked and docked (tails and testicles removed).
May 1- until finished -sheep shearing, paint branding, earmarking.
May 10- sheep moved to the summer range at Castle Rock.
1952 – All the sheep and stored wool were sold. The cattle were then moved to
Castle Rock. The Island Ranching Co. was out of the sheep business and
raised only cattle. Luckily the sheep and wool were sold just before the
market collapsed on those two items. Wool sold for $1.52/1b. , the highest
price in history. Within a few months later, wool prices dropped to $0.55-
Three thousand sheep were sold to a ranch in the Uinta Basin, and 1500 head
to Nevada. The price for the sheep averaged about $62.00 each.


Antelope Island Ranch- 28,022 acres, 15 miles long and 5 miles at its widest point.
The island ranch easily supported 600-800 head of cattle.
Castle Rock Ranch – 26 sections (640 acres/section), These 16.640 acres supported
about 2 herds (2400 head) of ewes with about 2880 lambs.
The Island Ranching Co. later leased a ranch in the Bear River area.
After the sheep were sold, the range supported
about 000 head of cattle.
Skull valley Ranch- a total of 5 sections (4 contiguous and 1 separate), which equaled 3200
The total for the three ranches (not counting the leased range) = 47,862 acres or 74.77 sections.


Wages were calculated on a monthly basis. This required seven workdays/week, daylight until dark, or whatever was necessary. Board and room, and transportation, and all
necessities were furnished except for personal items like clothing, etc. We were not aware
of medical insurance at that time. The individual had to take care of his own medical
expenses except for job-related injuries.
Max Harward, age 10, 1940- started at $30/month and increased a little with age and
Hay hand and ranch hand- $150/month in the 1940s.
Ranch foreman- $185/month – $200/month after WW11 was over.
Sheepherders $160/my. in the 1940s and raised to $175/month after one year.
Each foreman received an annual bonus depending on the profits. Gene Phipps (general
ranch foreman) said his largest bonus was $4000 dollars.

It is interesting to compare the prices of the early days with those of today.


Brigham Young bought some of the finest horses of the time to raise on the rough terrain of
Antelope Island. They were in demand because of their fine genetic lines and
surefootedness due to the rocky and uneven terrain on the island. Later when livestock
populated the island, the horses were too much competition with the more money-making
cattle and sheep and they were destroyed in the early 1900s. A herd of wild horses in
1948 was considered a nuisance and were sold to the North Salt Lake Stockyards for 5
cents/lb. A saddle horse in 1939 sold for about $35.00.


Early 1940’s -lambs sold for 25 cents/lb. live weight. When all the sheep and wool were sold in 1952, the lambs brought 35 cents/lb. the 6000 ewes brought $60 each.


1934 wool prices were 16 cents/lb.
Black wool has considerably less value than white wool. Black wool from the Hampshire
sheep went for 5 cents/lb. in the early days. One might wonder why black sheep were
kept. They are used as markers in the herd. Being few in number, the black sheep are
easily counted in the herd, and if some become missing, one could be fairly sure a
considerable number of white sheep went with them.