The Haymeadow

ISBN: 0440409233
ISBN 13: 9780440409236
By: Gary Paulsen Ruth Wright Paulsen

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About this book

Fourteen-year-old John Barron is asked, like his father and grandfather before him, to spend the summer taking care of their sheep in the haymeadow. Six thousand sheep. John will be alone, except for two horses, four dogs, and all those sheep.John doesn't feel up to the task, but he hopes that if he can accomplish it, he will finally please his father. But John finds that the adage "things just happen to sheep" is true when the river floods, coyotes attack, and one dog's feet get cut. Through it all he must rely on his own resourcefulness, ingenuity, and talents to survive this summer in the haymeadow.

Reader's Thoughts


The kids and I loved reading this book. In fact, we took a day off from schoolwork and read the book cover to cover. 14 year old John learns not only about keeping his sheep, dogs, and horses safe, but also what he is capable of. The descriptions were wonderful.

Karla Burke

This book took me back to my childhood and the thousand head of ewes my uncle owned. He didn't employ a sheepherder, but I knew up some. I don't doubt for a second that a 14-yr-old boy who was ranch-raised could successfully take responsibility for a large herd over the summer months. This is a great read for boys and anyone with a ranching background.


I listened to this little book with the kids. This is a quick 3.5 hour reading, but we listened while I was working on another project.I think many boys will love this story of a 14 year old boy called by his father to care for 6,000 sheep high up in the mountains with four dogs and two horses.It's an exciting adventure with a mountain lion, coyotes,a black bear, flash floods and crazy sheep.Lastly, it's a story about a father and son growing closer..finally.My kids say they love all the adventures of young John.


Another good read from Gary Paulsen. Even though I read it with my son, I really enjoyed it.


This story is yet again another coming-of-age novel, with a bit of survival mixed in. A young man is tasked with caring for and guarding sheep for the summer, all the while dealing with his relationship with his father, and his unhealthy obsession with his great-grandfather. This story is relatively more peaceful that some of Paulsen's other works, but there is still a good amount of adventure and challenges to overcome. This felt like a "modern western" to me, so anyone who grew up in the country or on a farm would enjoy this book. Warnings: Violence, blood and gore, mild profanity.

Brandon Gerdes

i thought that this book was very interesting. at times it made me not want to put it down. a 14 year old boy John Barron was very brave, I thought. John had many twists and turns while tending to his sheep. the roles that nature and wild animals played were the main reason that made me want to keep reading this book. at any time he was not paying attention, he took the risk of losing his sheep to coyotes, a flooding river, and a hurt dog. Overall i thought this was a good book, although it was not the best book that I have read.

Dusty Phelps

Dusty Phelps 10/25/11Class: 1st Zach Bales The Haymeadow Review (Gary Paulsen’s book, The Haymeadow, was just another book that was complete success. His western style books excite its readers, every time. Gary Paulsen is a well known author. Mostly due to his book, Hatchet.)The main character, John Barron, is fourteen when his father gives him the task of watching the families six thousand head of sheep up in the hay meadow through the summer. He had nothing besides a wagon full of supply, two horses, four dogs, and all those sheep. In the beginning of the book, you meet some of john’s relatives and farm hands, but Cawley was the main hand we hear about rather than john’s father. Cawley helps john pack and get to the hay meadow. Being that Cawley has done it plenty of times, it goes smoothly.A few paragraphs in we really start to understand by John is having so much trouble. Being alone he had to care for everything that went wrong. The first three nights at the haymeadow, John woke up to coyotes snipping and slaughtering close to 30 sheep. He had no gun because a flood had flipped his wagon and dumped everything down stream. There were a few nights when John didn’t have complete confusion, but that wasn’t often. The worse night john ever had ever endured was the night the bear came. It destroyed almost a hundred sheep. Almost killed one of his dogs, and almost killed John because his horse launched him on the bears back. After that, things went easy. Almost like John had completed the test. But he had, a few days later John was welcomed by his father and Cawley. It was his greatest accomplishment, but he couldn’t have grown into a better man.Reading this book you become overwhelmed with thrill and adrenaline, as each day in the haymeadow is a challenge. I recommend this book to any western genre reader. This book leaves you with a peace of mind, as well as a few safety techniques. The haymeadow is the book for anyone. You just have to start to read!


i read it in my frshmen year.. it was ok but i wouldnt pick it up on my own..


COMING TO TERMS WITH NATURE AND HIS HERITAGEJohn is only 14 the year his father expects him to spend the summer in a distant haymeadow in the Wyoming mountains--alone with 6,000 sheep, 4 border collies and 2 horses. Unsure if he is up to the demands of prolonged living without human companionship in valley pasturage, lacking both experience and a guidebook, the boy psyches himself up by pretending he would do things the way he imagines the Old Man--his great grandfather who founded the spread--would have done. Make him and his distant father proud: how best to honor his Barron heritage than by conquering the wilderness and loneliness with just his wits and his gut instinct! He wonders how he will spend the time during 3 months of long days. Somehow Nature keeps him very busy, as the dangers to sheep, dogs, horses and even himself arrive in waves, without warning. As in other Paulsen stories, this coming-of-age tale includes mental wrestling with ideals of beauty and man's role in nature. Also the protagonist grapples with erroneous conceptions of the family legend and seeming parental indifference. If he can survive what nature throws at him that summer, he will depart the haymeadow a different young man. Experiencing on-the-job training without a mentor (like learning to swim by being thrown abruptly into water), John Barron could write his own Shepherd's Manual after just one week. Despite minimal dialogue this adventure narrative grips the reader; Paulsen's deft and authoritative style make for fast reading--especially enjoyable for kids 12 - 16. (April 14, 2012. I welcome dialogue with teachers.)


Wow! i listened to this in my car on the long commute to school and work. Read by Richard Thomas, John Boy, this was quite a treat. I love Paulsen anyway, but this reading was phenomenal. It brought the rugged story of singular survival alive.


I don't care that it is juvenile fiction... this is one of my favorite books of all time. Very good story. I have read it over and over again.


This is a different sort of story than I would ordinarily read...a coming of age story where the boy is expected to live on his own and take care of the sheep for a summer. Perhaps I am becoming too cynical, but I am not all that interested. However, Paulsen is able to use language that maintains the beauty in the land while also reminding us of the destruction it can bring. I can see how middle schoolers would enjoy it, especially those interested in animals or farming.

Jesus Granillo

The book the haymeadow was a intresting book to read i really liked it.


this book was great it had good detail. I enjoyed reaing it and it showed some realistic events.

Randy Daugherty

John Barron is 14 and is given the job of tending the 6000 flock of sheep in the mountain hay meadow. John is worried how will he ever manage it, no one has told him what to do, he will be all alone and isolated but for the dogs, horses and of course all those sheep. Shortly after being on his own, one dog cuts his foot bad, his wagon is caught in a flash flood, the sheep are attacked by coyotes and then a bear and their is also a run in with a skunk and snake. Through it all John learns to handle each situation and as time progress's starts to relax and enjoy the mountains, the work and the solitude. This was a ya book and a short enjoyable read.The story of a young boy on his way to becoming a responsible young man.

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