Wallowa County recently played host to a group of five Mongolians at the invitation of Wallowa rancher and international range consultant Dennis Sheehy.
The visitors were Tagma (only first names used), project leader for the Sustainable Livelihood Project of World Bank; Dr. Sodomdarjal, head of the Mongolian Veterinarian Association; Batmunkh, water resource specialist with the Ministry of Fod and Agriculture; Miha, animal breeding specialist with the same ministry; and Batsaikhan, who works in pastoral risk management of the Sustainable Livelihood Project.
The group attended a meeting of the International Center for Advancement of Pastoral Systems (ICAPS), founded by Sheehy, at the U.S. Forest Service visitor center during their visit. Tney also visited Double Arrow Veterinarian Clinic and the Wallowa County Farm Agency office and took a trip out to Cow Creek to get a first-hand look at McClaran Ranch operations.
In addition, the Mongolians - in Sheehy's company - made stops at such out-of-county points of interest as Skye Krebs' lambing operation in Morrow County, the LGW Angus ranch near Hermiston and Oregon State University in Corvallis.
Sheehy has made many trips to Mongolia, including one long stay with his wife, Marci, and children, and has been involved in at least two documentaries about his experiences with Mongolian herders.
The first was "Cowboy in Mongolia," made in 1989 about the Sheehys' three-year mission of friendship in Outer Mongolia to help herders improve grazing practice.
The most recent was titled "Losing Touch," a half-hour documentary filmed by Sheehy's son, Cody, in 2002 about the impact of modern influences on Mongolian herders and their Eastern Oregon counterparts, as -- a world apart -- they both struggle to maintain a generations-old way of life.
"Losing Touch" was shown at the beginning of the ICAPS meeting during their February visit. "This is very much like Mongolia," one of the visitors said. Sheehy agreed that Mongolia, with a diverse range of terrain, resembles Oregon in many ways.
"They were a lot of fun," said Marcie Sheehy about the guests from Mongolia.
She said the veterinarian in the group was thrilled by an unplanned emergency trip to the local vet clinic with a cow in calving difficulty.