Herb and Sally Ford 9.30.2020

Bio: Herb and Sally, Volunteer Caretakers at White Grass, 2019-20
Descriptor: White Grass and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Herb & Sally’s Story: Another season in paradise complete and we’re looking forward to 2021. We just completed our second season as Caretakers at White Grass Ranch and to say it was unique would be an understatement. With the Covid 19 Pandemic in full swing, life on the Ranch was significantly different than the past season. We had NO students or volunteers on site for the season; limited cleaning and no linen service.  All preservation workshops at White Grass were also cancelled for the season. We did have some staff from the Historic Preservation Training Center (National Park Service in Fredrick, MD (Jim, Steve, Brian, Josh, Garrett, and Khyle) staying on the Ranch while doing preservation work at the Rudd House on Mormon Row. Because of the pandemic there was no sharing of cabins. We had to use twin cabins with one side cleared of furniture so we could set up a makeshift kitchen with refrigerators, microwaves and tables to use as residents cooking and eating facilities. We also utilized both the Hammond Kitchen and Main Kitchen but limited the numbers allowed in the kitchen at the same time. Social distancing and use of face masks was a big part of our time on the Ranch, at the Headquarters and in town. When we arrived in May, there were ~1.68M US cases of Covid 19 with 98K deaths; when we left there were over 5.01M cases in the US with 162K deaths. Since that time we’ve reached over 200K deaths in the US. We are hopeful a vaccine will be developed and this will be brought under control in the near future.

There was a full time maintenance person (Joel B.) brought on to help do concentrated work at White Grass on issues needing very skilled labor in which to accomplish. As the major project for this summer, all window and door facings on the property were removed and all external finishing planed off so that a combination of linseed oil, pine tar, and black linseed paint could be applied to protect the wood as well as give the appearance of the look of the surfaces back in 1950. Joel’s mixture and the process we used turned out exceptional and I think those returning to White Grass next season and beyond will be very pleased with the results. I was fortunate to work beside him during this process and be a part of the transformation. Thank you, Joel.

Sally, in additional to normal administrative management of the property, took on the task of inventorying and acquiring new curtains where needed. Since windows are not the same size, measurements were taken, conditions assessed and recommendations made for replacements. This work should put us in good shape for the 2021 season.

Walk-in traffic through the Ranch continued with no decrease from last year. We had approximately 200 people come onto the property to view the cabins and to listen to some historical information of the Ranch and days gone by. While this year was unique, one thing that doesn’t change is the unparalleled beauty and serenity of the Ranch. We still felt the history with every step on the property and the feeling of completeness having experienced another season at White Grass – some things will NEVER change.

Herb and Sally Ford, White Grass Volunteer Resident Caretakers

Elk in the Meadow at White Grass – Spring, 2020
Completed Cabin Facing Rehabilitation
HPTC Staff Removing Chimney and Putting New Roof on Rudd House on Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park
Craftsman Joel B (L) and Herb Ford (R) Rehabilitating Window Trim, Main Cabin
Snow First Week of September 2020, Main Cabin