On the Road with the Kidds! travel blog

French's Round Barn - made of Juniper around 1870

The Raafters of the round barn

Inside the round barn

The outter ring

View from the round barn

Only 11 miles...on a dirt road. This means another truck wash in...

Only 11 miles....about 10 to go!

Free range cattle. Lots of babies right now.

Cassins Finch

Mountain Bluebird

Kiger Mustang viewpoint

Kiger Mustangs, living legends

Beldings ground squirrel

Interesting topography

Hail storm coming

Traffic jam. More of those free ranging cattle.

rainbow over a lava crater

Juniper trying to grow through the lava on the ground surface

Lava tube geocache.

Crack in the earth...dont fall in!

More miles and miles

windy day at the ranch...rv park

Young mule deer

Pronhorn Antelope - sproinging

Kestrel

Lots of Mule Deer

More deer

A visit to the corrals, wish I could take one home...maybe it...

Many young foals in the corrals

This buckskin shows a few kiger traits. See zebra stripes on leg?

Juniper reclamation. Mike liked this.


Harney County, where Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located, is a scene straight out of an old wild west movie. There are huge ranches full of cattle, tall mountains, sage covered hills, red rim rock canyons, grassy valleys as well as examples of volcanic activity.

Harney County is the heart of south- eastern Oregon cattle country. It was settled around 1870 by cattlemen and vaqueros. The weather was harsh. Cold winters and hot summers, but they managed. One way rancher Peter French dealt with this was by creating a round barn in 1880. In this barn built primarily of juniper and rocks, horses were trained in the winter. French’s Round Barn is 100 feet in diameter, with an umbrella shaped roof, supported by rafters. It sits on a 60 foot round stone corral surrounded by a 20 foot outer circle paddock. The current land owner, Mr. Jenkins also has a gift shop he built similar to the round barn to help support its maintenance. It has gift items, books, and even a museum inside of his family which includes everything from ranch items, spurs, a doll collection and more. He is third generation owner. He was an interesting character to talk to.

The Bureau of Land Management is also very prominent here. They have a lot of public land holdings. People use this land for camping, off road riding, hiking, and more. Some of the BLM land here is set aside for management of wild horses, particularly the Kiger Mustang. Many still possess characteristics of the original Spanish mustangs. Some of these are zebra stripes on the legs, bi-colored tails, and a dun (buckskin) coloring. We drove up to the top of a mountain along a dirt road to one of the viewing areas but only saw one about a half mile away. When we got to the top of the mountain, we were in a hailstorm. I don’t know why but this has been a very cold week for us, seeing a lot of hail! Brr… the desert is not always warm!

Back near the town of Burns, we paid a visit to the BLM horse corrals. Every year they round up some of the herd, and auction them off. They also will auction wild burros from California and Arizona here. There were plenty of horses in the pens, many mares with young foals. The auction is held early in October if anyone is interested! Beautiful horses.

Another part of the county is the Diamond Craters. This consists of 17000 acres of “some of the most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the nation. A geologist with a penchant for volcanoes would really enjoy this. Different examples of “craters, vents, cinder cones, spatter cones, lava tubes, spires, graben and a water filled maar”. I am not the geologist in the family, mom is….I read the brochure. But it sure did look different from the rest of the valley! You can really tell we are not in New Jersey anymore!



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