Amidst the thick of Utah’s backcountry and the prime February snowfall, a rescue story begins and ends with a strong devotion to the land and community; an inspiring tale that embodies the essence of Victory Ranch. On February 21, 2017, the life of a backcountry neighbor was forever changed. This is the story of Sammie the Sheep.
Those who call Victory Ranch home share an equal commitment to both earth and community, a trait that Victory Ranch members Mike and Peggy Grubbs most certainly exemplified in their venerable rescue of Sammie.
Separated from the herd during the annual grazing of sheep on Victory Ranch’s land, Sammie was born in the Spring of 2016 and has amazingly braved snow storm after snow storm this winter. The Grubbs, who hail from Newport Beach, California, developed an incredible fondness for the docile yet resilient sheep, and have made it a point to take care of Sammie during their time at Victory Ranch, trekking via snowshoe to feed her carrots, celery, and apples.
Throughout the winter, the Grubbs grew increasingly worried about Sammie’s safety out there amidst the elements and wilderness. Peggy reached out to Matt Eastman, Outfitters Director at Victory Ranch, inquiring if he would contact the owner, Dennis, to see if they could purchase Sammie. Dennis was so inspired by the Grubb’s endearment for the sheep, that he, without hesitation, said Sammie was theirs without a cost.
Around the same time, Peggy learned that Jed Millburn, a local real estate investor and builder, was interested in adopting Sammie. Millburn owns a farm in the nearby town of Oakley, and his teenage daughter just so happened to ask for a pet sheep for her birthday. It would be a match made in heaven.
With a home now found for Sammie, next up was the process of transporting Sammie out of the backcountry, an area that grew to be a threat to her livelihood, into a sanctuary where she would no longer be unattended. The morning of Sammie’s transference was compromised by a foot of fresh snow; however, Peggy, along with Victory Ranch’s Matt, Val and Chip, were not deterred.
The team attached a dog crate, which was built for a 90- to 120-lbs dog, along with a non-slip rug, hay, carrots, apples, and celery, to the rear of a snowmobile and journeyed across the snow-covered backcountry to Sammie’s location. Once there, Peggy held out an apple in her hand for Sammie to nibble on, and as Sammie nibbled, Peggy placed the apple inside the crate. As Sammie was about three-quarters of the way in, the team gently nudged the sheep safely into the kennel.
Slowly and carefully, the team then hauled the crate atop a toboggan through the deep, rugged trail toward the Outfitters truck. Sammie was then brought to the Grubbs’ garage at Victory Ranch, where Jed Millburn picked her up to complete the final transit to his farm. His daughter was overjoyed by the surprise; her wish had come true, and the gentle Sammie was finally given a home.
This story is truly a tale of both the support and comfort of our neighbors, even if that neighbor has hooves. When one has such a strong connection to nature, to the land upon which one lives, there is no separation between the pastoral and mortal. The backcountry of Victory Ranch affects a reciprocity between man and nature, a mutual responsibility to both give and receive. The tale of Sammie the Sheep epitomizes this beautiful interdependence.
Watch a happy Sammie settling in at her new home with her new family