|A barn in the process of being reclaimed by nature.|
|The Littlest Barn Hunter squints in the Sask sun.|
|These rolling hills soon drop into the Big Muddy Valley to the south.|
In the past century it was the haven of outlaws like Dutch Henry and the Wild Bunch, the Sam Kelly Gang, and was even stop number one on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's infamous Outlaw Trail, a series of stops modelled on the Pony Express where outlaws on the run could procure fresh mounts and a bit of grub from friendly ranchers.
|Big Muddy Lake, which gave its name to the surrounding region, has long been a landmark in the region, and was used by outlaws to evade Northwest Mounted Police officers.|
|The barn hunting crew found other historic buildings of note, including this one-room schoolhouse, "Big Four" School in the southernmost reaches of the R.M. of the Gap.|
After increased settlement and a stepped-up Northwest Mounted Police force in the area forced the outlaws out of the region, the Big Muddy settled into its new incarnation as the home of pioneer families, most of whom adopted a ranching way of life since the rough terrain is not well-suited to farming. It has always been a sparsely populated area, but still many people call this area home.
|This big beauty of a barn slowly decays in its badlands surroundings.|
The barn hunting crew surveyed the parts of the Gap that lie within the Big Muddy region, and then we explored a bit further afield in the R.M.s of Surprise Valley and Bengough to do a bit of sightseeing not strictly related to barns. As we traversed the badlands, I was struck by how diverse is the landscape within my study area. As I mentioned on a previous post, I am attempting to survey all the existing barns, no matter their current state in the rural municipalities of Laurier and the Gap, an area of 324 square miles. This is a huge area, no doubt, and every time I venture forth on a surveying trip I lament its vastness. But it is still just a small area of Saskatchewan, which demonstrates how diverse this province is, and how much work is out there for would-be barn hunters!
We found just a few badlands barns on this area, and their styles are not unique to the area, but rather indicative of what I am finding to be a fairly homogenous barn style.
|This barn, and the farmstead to which it belongs, seem comfortably nestled in their little corner of the badlands.|
|An exception to the predominant gambrel style, this gable roof barn was no doubt the centre of its farmstead in years past.|
|The crown jewel of the Big Muddy is Castle Butte, located south of Bengough. Though out of my study area, it deserves special mention anyway due to its badlands grandeur.|