Sunday, December 19, 2010

December/Holiday Tidbits....

We're waiting for Christmas with great anticipation, and wish that everyone we know and love has a wonderful holiday!  It's snowing again, but the total accumulation is only about 2 feet now....there were a couple of days temps were above freezing and the snow levels sunk down a bit.  Locals say this is the snowiest November they have seen in years.  We've heard that a herd of 5000-6000 bison are migrating from Yellowstone to the Gardiner area.  I'm excited about seeing hordes of buffalo wandering around town.  We already see deer and elk browsing in the yards.

Here's a photo of Dan clearing off the deck from an earlier snowfall..... yes, we do grill year-round...

And here's an introduction to our new family member!  Pepper is an 8 month old giant schnauzer/border collie mix who's been an absolute gem.  Dan and I both miss Tucker a lot, but he's living a well pampered life in Michigan with his prior doggy daycare sitter.  He's much safer there- at only 8 lbs, there were too many ways to get eaten or killed in Montana.

Pepper came to us named Susie, but I couldn't get used to calling her that- it seemed strange calling her the name of a childhood friend.  We thought the name Pepper fit her well, and so far, she seems to agree.  Pepper is about 40 lbs, and one of the most mellow, calm dogs I've ever met.  We are all bonding well and she's a great fit for us. My deepest thanks to her previous owner for giving us the opportunity to add her to our family.

Dan thinks she looks a bit like a raccoon with her gray face.  I got her a pink snazzy collar along with the other doggy things we needed.  She's a winner!

We're excited about Rachel and Paul coming to visit for the holiday- keep your fingers crossed they get out of the London airport tomorrow!  Right now it's closed, but they are planning a full re-opening tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You Can Have THIS, or You Can Have THAT

The popular commercial featuring hamsters driving a ‘cool’ car to rap music brings to mind the difference in our lives Out West versus our past lives in the the Columbus, Ohio area.  There’re a lot of differences- neither one good nor bad, but very different.  Figuring the current THIS is Montana and THAT was 25 years living in Columbus, here’s a comparison:

THIS:  People never lock their doors, and many even leave their keys in the car at home.
THAT: Our homes had security systems and were always locked; one would never leave their car unlocked, much less leave the keys there.
THIS: There’s lots of snow.
THAT: Little snow, lots of ice and drizzle.

THIS: Few neighbors and wide open spaces.
THAT: No matter how hard you try to get away, you’ll still hear the hum of cars on a road or highway.

THIS: ‘Fast food’ is a 15 mile drive to get a burger in a bar.
THAT:  Fast food has many options, including Chipotle (sigh…)


THIS:  Fancy food is either: a 15 mile drive to get a burger in a bar, or a 65 mile drive to a restaurant (sigh…)
THAT: Your choice of restaurants, style of cuisine, etc. etc.
THIS: Fly fishing can lead to some hum-dingers of trout….
THAT: Fly fishing in the O’Shaunessy reservoir might lead to a couple of carp.

THIS: Wolves can kill and eat an elk 300 yards from your home.
THAT: Your neighbor’s teens could have a wild party 300 yards from your home.

THIS: A traffic jam in Gardiner happens because of deer, elk and bison wandering the streets.
THAT: A Traffic jam in Columbus is caused by cars, not animals....

THIS: Drive to work is ½ mile; drive views include snow and lots of elk…
THAT: Drive to work was all over town; drive views included homes, asphalt and traffic lights.

THIS: Fashion and fun is designer cowgirl boots and a rodeo.
THAT: Fashion and fun was a buckeye necklace and an OSU football game.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cold, Silent, Beautiful

My thanks to Don for these photos-

In the summer, this is a deck.

And this birdhouse defies gravity!  I'm sure the birds are much happier in the climate of the South......

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Snow Measuring Tool

Compare this photo of Dan's grill to the earlier post..... yes, we have more snow!

It's a good tool measurement of the growing amount of fluffy flakes.... at least until tonight.  The ranch managers graciously gave us two hind quarters of venison, and Dan is butchering the meat and freezing the packaged amounts.  Tonight we have venison on the grilll!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Snow Daze

Winter is upon us... we got a good 14" of snow on Sunday, with  a bit more accumulation each day since.  More snow on the way tonight as well.

Here's the views from our back porch, as well as Dan shovelling snow from the front sidewalk:

Yesterday, Dan, Don (the man that works with Dan) and I went to Gardiner over lunch to get chains for our tires (yep, we found out we need them). 

On the way back up the mountain, we ran into a good herd of mountain sheep that had moved down into the valley with the bad weather.  We drove right through them, and they merely looked at us!

Fortunately, Don had his camera with him, and took these great shots:

Now, if only could see some reindeer..... :)

Today we woke to to a good additional 12" and the skies are white again with snow.  PLUS they are talking about another 1-2 feet of snow this weekend.

Since I'm not the one doing all the plowing, I say 'bring it on!'  I've got internet, TV, and a stack of books to read.  I'm in hermit mode.

Happy early winter preview to you and yours!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Kids

'Nuff about me and Dan.  It's time for bragging a bit.

We've got 2 great daughters who are happy with 2 great guys, and they're are tackling Life with grace and enthusiasm.  What more can a parent ask for?  We birth 'em, feed and care for them, listen to their hopes and dreams, wipe their tears, push them when they need it and hold them back when they're ready to fall, scold 'em and love them.... and pray they get launched in life sound and whole, and prepared to find their way.

Rachel and Erika have long ago flown the coop and are flying well.  We couldn't be happier, and proud of their choices and direction.  You go, girls!

I've stolen a couple of pics from their web sites.... I just got to show them off.

Here's Erika involved in her work for the Soil Association in Scotland.  Doesn't she look like she'd fit right in Montana country?

Erika even camped out for an outdoor work event this last year.  Husband Ben came along and shared the cozy tent...

Rachel and Paul are enjoying themselves in-between University classes in Norfolk, England.  A walk at the beach and lessons on making sushi take away the stress of exams and papers due....

Cheers to them... and you!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

All In A Day's Work

One thing I like about living/working/being on a ranch is the never-ending variety of things to do.  Each day offers a new twist.
Today, my job was driving with Mrs. RM (Ranch Manager) to Livingston to pick up a number of things the ranch needed.  It's a good hour's drive each way through the Paradise Valley to reach town.

This is a photo of downtown Livingston.  It's the closest real city- there's even a movie theater (1 movie showing at a time). Actually, there are a number of bars, and restaurants, and even art galleries.  As the 'last hurrah' before heading south to Yellowstone Park, summer tourists keep the place busy.

First off, we stopped off to get sharpened chain-saw blades. I'm guessing there were at least 20 of them, and back at the work barn there had to be more than 40 more hanging on the wall.

The ranch uses a lot of chain saw blades.
Dan gets credit for dulling a good number of them. He's cut down oodles of run-away bushes and shrubs in the 3 months he's been here.....

Next, we picked up 'mineral' for the horses.  For you non-horsey people, that's a tub of tastey salt/mineral/sweetness that give needed nutrients to horses to keep them healthy. (I honestly include myself in the non-horsey set; I just learned this tidbit today.)  We're not talking tiny quantities, either.  We got two 250 lb. tubs and one 125 pound tub, which will last the horses about 6 weeks.

Mmmmm...... yummy.

Then we stopped at the John Deere supply store and picked up a new windshield.  The current one got busted while moving deadfall woods and logs.
It happens.

While we were that far north, we took a short drive north to pick up boxed and packaged elk meat.  Mrs. RM shot a hefty male elk a week or two before.

Big critter, isn't he?  And yes, that's Mrs. RM, thank you very much.  Montana women don't mess around.

After several more mundane errands, it was back to the ranch.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mountainview Update

I've written about Dan's fishing and his lovely rainbow trout catches that he's brought home before.  Here's a few more details about his fun and joy....

The ranch owners also own another large property about 1/2 hour from our home.  Most of this land is high desert and the trail in is pretty rugged (as in, go very slowly in the 4-wheel drive mode and expect to bump around a lot).  There are 3 lakes on this property, each one at a higher elevation.  Above the 3rd lake the trees crowd in and the views are spectacular:

Dan has had his share of fun and relaxation up there, and we now have a good mess of fish in the freezer.  Rachel and Paul- expect a hearty trout dinner when you come to visit! He spent several hours up there yesterday, and is now in the catch and release mode.... no sense in taking fishies and being greedy.  He loves the fly-fishing fight and a 'tip of the hat' as he slips them back in the water.

And last of all, I'm happy to report the Ghost Elk have started to make an appearance!  I got up this morning as dawn was breaking to the music of bugling elk, and could tell they were close.  I looked out back, and sure enough, the party was waning, but the elk were reticent about heading for the hills.

Dan and I spent a half hour watching them.  There had to be at least 150 total- it was fabulous!  We saw at least 8 bull elk in the group(s).  The name 'ghost elk' is fitting.... unlike deer who prance and leap, the elk seem to glide through the grasses.  We think there were several separate groups who gathered for a early morning party.  They wandered off as daylight came, and went in several different directions. 

Here's a couple of pics- they're a bit grainy since the light was dim....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ghost Elk

We have elk around here.

We have LOTS of elk around here, and their numbers are growing daily.

The frustration is, most of the time you don't see them during the day.  Other than getting a view across the Cinnabar basin on the opposite mountain slopes where they look like tiny ticks, the fields are barren of wandering elk.

The only sign of existance is when you hear a male bugling for his ladies.  It's strange to know wildlife is there, but not visible.

At night however, these elk have a party.  They wander all around, gaily leaving their footprints and elk-do as evidence of the merry times they are having under the cover of darkness.

Typical ghost behavior.

I'm told they will become more visible during the winter months, and we'll see them laying around in our back yard.

I can't wait.  It's annoying to hear and not see them.

Last night, I was awakened several times by male elk bugling in the dark.  They were close... very close.  When I got up at 6 am, I knew they were hanging out in our back yard, but it was still dark.

I got the strongest flashlight we have (which isn't really that strong), and quietly opened the back sliding door before turning on any lights. Clicking the 'on' button on the flashlight, I quietly scanned the backyard and adjoining corral. 

All I could see was eyesLots and lots of golden, glowing eyes.  No shapes, only eyes.....

Wily, rascaly critters.....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fatigue, Flies and Featherdusters

There are a lot of things I like about living in Montana.  The ever-changing scenery, the friendly people, the more relaxed pace of life, the wildlife..... it's all good.

But even in paradise on earth, there's got to be some down-side.

The toughest has been fatigue while adusting to the altitude.  You know, the building-up-your-hemoglobin-so-you-don't-pass-out walking up the stairs.  It takes a while, and I've been patient, but every time I have a moment to relax and chill out, my body keeps muttering "go take a nap; go to sleep."  It's not safe to leave me alone in the quiet for very long.  This last Tuesday was a pretty physical day for me- by 8:15 I was in bed falling asleep!
A more manageable irritant are the hordes of flies that seem to exist throughout the area.  These black buzzers took me by surprise; in all the other places we lived, there were a few of the pests, but not the numbers out here.  My guess is between horse, elk, cow, bear and other animal poo, there are above average opportunities for fly repopulation.

I'm finally giving in, and will buy a fly swatter.  I've never needed one before; a nearby book or magazine did the job well.  But in this neck of the woods, I need to become a serious fly killer.

Lastly, it's been an adjustment getting used the the levels of dust that exist.  True, we live up a 7.5 mile dirt/gravel road, and any vehicle will kick up a good cloud of dust.  But down in the Yellowstone valley on the south end it's also high desert country, and a windy day will bring swirls of dust into the Cinnabar basin where we live.

I've learned that I can dust our dark wood end tables on a Monday, and by Wednesday it will look like I haven't dusted for 2 weeks.  Ignore the windowsills for 2-3 weeks, and it's going to look more like I've neglected them for 2-3 months.

My featherduster and Swiffer have become good friends.....

Saturday, September 25, 2010


First of all, an homage to my two daughters, Rachel and Erika.  This was taken Thanksgiving 2008 when we all gathered in southern California.  They did an awesome representation of Charlie's Angels, and they are certainly angels in my book..... :)

Next, photos from Dan's 'nite out' last night.  He went fly-fishing on several remote private lakes he has access to. We had gone up to see them a couple of weeks ago with the ranch managers.... an VERY bumpy ride!  But worth the trip, both in scenery and results.....

One of three lakes up in the hills...

Local scenery shot...

There were TWO waterfalls on this hillside....

BTW, these are Rainbow Trout, and the cutting board is 22 inches long.   Yum, fish dinner!!