My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pete French's Round Barn

A finger of Malheur Lake as seen from the Princeton-Narrows Road east of the refuge

I spied a pair of pronghorn antelope on the way to the Round Barn
This area has a rich history.  There are links to history all over the refuge and immediately off it. Today I visited the Pete French Round Barn. Peter came here from California in 1872 with several vaqueros, a Chinese cook and 1200 head of shorthorn cattle.  He was opening up a new area for his boss, Dr. Hugh Glen.

He bought what the refuge calls P Ranch from a man named Porter who sold his squatter rights, a small herd of cattle, and his P brand. Pete French built his ranch up to 160,000 to 200,00 acres, covering three valleys.

He broke thousands of horses each year and designed three round barns so the horses could be broken through the winter. Only one barn still exists. (And the refuge owns the P Ranch now.)

The round barn is 100 feet in diameter and thirty feet high.  It has an interior corral made of stone that is 60 feet in diameter. You can see the barn from the highway.  It looks like a huge coolie hat sitting in a field. I was there all by myself and felt a great peace when walking around inside. I could almost smell the lovely warm smell of horses and hear their nickers and stomps. But it was empty except for a raven that appeared to be building a nest on top of the corral wall.

The Round Bard as seen from the approach

The working side is behind the barn.

The horses were worked around this outside "donut"
The center part was used as a corral
This is the 30 foot long center cedar post with the roof supports coming off of it

The gates were built with mortise and tenon joints
I also had a good visit with Dick Jenkins, who owned the barn and a huge ranch.  His son is runing their ranch now and he is running the  lovely Round Barn  Visitor Center.  He sells a HUGE collection of books about the area, about cowboys, area cookbooks, books on natural history and the the history of the area. It was a fascinating place to visit and he gave me lots of information about the area.

I get to go to the Carp workshop for the next three days.  Thursday I'm going on a tour and will record the conversation, then come back and transcribe it. I've been figuring out how to turn carp into various foods.  The hard part is getting the skin off of it and then cutting fillets without bones.  But I'm hoping to become an expert on it.