Nothing But A Whole Lotta Sagebrush

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

I love poking around old homesteads. I especially like to stand at the kitchen (if there is a kitchen) window and look out to see what the ranch wife’s view was when she cooked. It’s usually a small window and a whole lotta sagebrush. Nowadays, our windows are bigger and filled with glass, but there’s still usually nothing but a whole lotta sagebrush on the other side.

Old homesteads are often located down narrow dirt roads. When you follow a road like this, you know it leads to someplace wonderful.

DIrt road

This road winds alongside the Jarbidge Wilderness, just south of the Idaho line in northern Nevada. If you go through this little draw and hang a right onto a rutted dirt road, you’ll arrive at the Jones Place.

Old homestead

The little collection of two houses and a barn isn’t much to look at nowadays, but can you imagine the pioneers who drove their covered wagons way the hell out West, found a pretty little spot at the foot of a hill by a creek, and made it work?

In my imagination, this is the cabin I would have lived in. A touch on the small side, but easy to clean and has a killer view.

Old cabin

So, the roof might need a little work. I’m not sure the original design is quite up to code, but it has the basic requirement for a pioneer family: a wood stove pipe.

Old rooftop

I love the inside of this cabin. I’m not sure I would love living in such a tiny house with the rest of my family, with cold drafts blowing in through the chinked log walls, and sleeping in the same room that I cook in, but I’m fascinated with the glimpse it offers into ranch life of centuries gone by. Today, we would call living like this “roughing it” or “down on their luck.” But, back then it was “we did this on purpose; we even worked hard to make it happen.” Bam.


Check out the tiny shelf and modest window. I have how many cupboards, an unused hutch, a linen closet, and several chests of drawers in my house. These folks had one tiny shelf.

Inside old cabin

The outhouse is conveniently located close to my – I mean the – cabin.

Old outhouse

It’s even a two-seater! Yahtzee!

Inside old outhouse

I’m not sure I fully embrace the two-seater concept. You’d have to be on really good terms, or have birthed someone from your body and still be wiping his or her bottom, to use an outhouse simultaneously. Things that make me say “Thank You, Lord, for indoor plumbing.”

I love this little tin patch on the exterior of the outhouse. Back then, folks had to use whatever was available for building repairs. Actually, I totally put up a tin patch cut from the lid of a can of stewed tomatoes a few weeks ago on the inside of our house. I guess ranch life hasn’t changed all that much.

Tin patch

Now, these patches are a little more rustic. Luckily, I have never put up cardboard patches in any of the ranch houses we’ve lived in. Just after a quick visual analysis, I’m going to go out on a short, sturdy limb and say that tin holds up better than cardboard over long-term exposure to the elements.

Cardboad patch on building

And now we move on to the barn. It has been patched and repaired so many times, I absolutely love it.

Old barn

Those windows! So cool.

Old barn windows

Upon leaving the Jones Place, you’ll see an old, falling-down wooden fence. Today, it wouldn’t hold anything that wasn’t hobbled, but I bet it was high and stout back in its day.

Old wooden fence

And that concludes this virtual tour of one of the most remote old homesteads in Nevada. From the Jones Place, it’s about 16 miles of dirt road to the pavement leading to Twin Falls, Idaho, and 40 miles of dirt road to the pavement leading to Elko, Nevada. I used to live a few miles from this homestead, and I drove 80 miles to town for groceries. I thought an all-day trip was a chore; I bet it took them four days just to get there. Things that make me say, “Thank You, Lord, for my diesel pickup and its heater/air conditioning system.”

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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