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Granddad’s Sheep

During the great depression, my grandfather John Bowles had accumulated more sheep than his Pedernales ranch could handle. The ewe’s gestation period is five months, and they can have a lamb twice a year and sometimes two sets of twins.

A small flock of sheep doubles in size every year. Texas was in the worst drought in history during the 1930’s and everyone was trying to sell their livestock.

There was no market for sheep around Spicewood, Texas. He found buyers in Fort

Worth. After the spring shearing was done, he decided to herd them to Austin,

which was the nearest railhead. It was a thirty-mile trip on horseback. My father,

Malcolm and his brothers, LeRoy, and Lester, rounded up the woolly critters.

Leonard East Provisions had a wagon yard and pens on East Second Street, not far

from the Congress Avenue bridge. It took several days herding the sheep down

Bee Creek Road to Bee Cave Road. The last evening, they herded the flock to the

south bank of the Colorado River and camped under the only bridge across the

river. Early the next morning they moved the flock across the narrow two-lane

bridge to the pens. Horse drawn wagons and motor vehicles waited patiently for

the bleating sheep to cross. At the rail yard, they were loaded and shipped north

to the Union Stockyard in Fort Worth.

Granddad was disappointed when he received a freight bill with no check. Inside

the envelope was a note that read. “I am sorry to inform you that the sale of your

sheep did not cover the cost of freight charges, this invoice is for the difference

you owe.” Granddad wrote back that he did not have any money to pay the bill,

but he had found some more sheep that he would be glad to trade for what he

owed. He got a prompt reply from the railroad agent that read “Let’s just call it


It’s interesting that my parents’ generation always made lite of the hard times

they endured. I invite you to read more stories at


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