Today it's still a fairly solitary life for sheepherders. Not many people want to do it, and sheep operators often have to recruit men from other countries to be sheep herders. We see quite a few Peruvians come to this area, spending a year or two watching sheep before they go back to see their families.
Our ranch doesn't raise sheep anymore and hasn't for quite awhile, but we still have this old sheep wagon. The other day I decided to take a peek at it to try to get some insight into what it was like being a sheep herder.
The interior is sort of like an ultra-mini-RV. There's a bed, folding tables, and built in seats with storage space underneath.
One big difference from today's RVs is the presence of this coal/wood burning stove. Because sheep herders are out in these wagons on the desert valleys in the winter, it can get really cold. Sometimes they even get trapped by blizzards for days at a time.
Here's a wider view of the "kitchen/living area" of the sheep wagon. A sheep herder really doesn't have room for a lot of extra stuff.
There are some compartments on the outside of the sheep wagon, like this one for coal. There's a big one under the bed for spare tires, fuel, and other equipment. Often a separate wagon is left next to the sheep wagon carrying hay for the horse.
The wagons are simply built. A back window is a bit of a luxury. There are no shocks on the chassis, so everything has to be well secured before moving the wagon to a new location. Nowadays, the wagon is moved every week or two as the sheep continue moving to graze available forage.
The wagon above is obviously old, and you're probably wondering if sheep herders still live so primitively.