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!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Montana: Land of Big Sky and Big Equipment

Everyone's heard about Montana being the land of Big Sky.  There are wide vistas of blue sky and white clouds that seem to go on and on:

What I've come to realize is it's also a land of Big Equipment.  It takes a lot of machinery to keep this land productive.  There's the favorite John Deere line of products, the tractors, the haulers, the bale lifters and trailers, the long lines of irrigation sprinklers, the horse and cattle gates and trailers, the feeders.....

The list goes on and on.  The mountains and valleys are dotted with various forms of metal mechanical marvels, both new and old.

Oh, and did I mention the Big Trucks?  While the rest of the USA waffles over economy cars and hybrid vehicles, Montana is firmly committed to jumbo size, four wheel, gas and diesel spittin' high-rise trucks and SUV's that can pull lots of weight and climb up and down the hills, gulleys and dirt roads.  A machine of necessity.

Yee haw, yippee kiy yiy yay......  :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gerta- Rugged on the Outside, Warm-Fuzzy on the Inside

I christened our home with the name of Gerta, and showed some outdoor photos in an earlier post.  As promised, we are now fairly well settled, and here's a few inside pictures-

Here's the kitchen coming in from the front door. And a couple more shots panning into the living room:

The living room is vaulted, with a set of stairs going up to a guest bedroom....
Down a hallway to the left is our bedroom:

The dresser is built-in.  There's plenty of closet space on the right of the photo.

Last but not least, is Dan's new 'office'.  It's a large space that was originally a garage, then finished off.  In a previous life this was a family room.  Now, it's a work-in-progress as Dan's new woodshop.  He'll keep busy with his own projects as well as ranch repairs:

He's having a good time planning and rearranging his 'stuff'.

Gerta also has a full walk-out basement.  We'll be using a lot of this space for storage, and Dan is at work in a version of his future man-cave with animal mounts, maps, etc.  A large room has knotty pine paneling. Once finished, he'll have a good space to retreat to.

Let the tall tales and hunting/fishing stories begin!

Rainbows on the Ranch

Last night, while driving along on a ranch trail, the most beautiful double rainbow appeared:

Looking down the hillside, this was another good omen- the house with the green roof is our house.  It looks like the rainbow is almost touching it!

The weather and light is constantly changing.  We woke this morning to a heavy fog covering everything.  Dan was out early checking out another trail, and saw this:

If you look very carefully in the center of the photo, you'll see a nice male elk.  Here's a closeup:

And a couple of days ago, this was the sight off our deck as the sun rose:


Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Just What Do You DO All Day?"


Today I did napkins.

People are curious and have asked what I'm doing as part of a 'caretaker couple'.  In simple terms: housework.  But it's housework on a large scale.

Today I cleaned out a large fireplace and detail cleaned a bathroom.  Then I took the entire store of napkins (I'm guessing about 400+) and spot treated, laundered, ironed, folded, and reorganized by color.

Other days I've changed sheets on 6 or more beds, cleaned bathrooms, swept and washed floors, and laundered bedding, towels and linens.  The ranch has a very large main lodge, 3 guest houses, a pool house, an exercise loft in the barn, and a saloon.  All are decorated in rustic western art and decor, and there are many, many edges and surfaces to dust and keep clean.

The summer season will be my busy time.  When there are family members and guests in residence, there will be much laundry, daily sprucing and cleaning, and I'll be involved in dinner prep, serving and cleanup.  During the winter will be annual cleaning projects and maintenance chores.

Dan is the gardener and chief fixer-upper.  His work is much more physical; creating new gardens, cutting down trees and bushes, digging out stumps, transplanting, planting new plants, weeding, mowing, etc.  Winter work will be plowing snow and repairing wobbly chairs, tables, etc.

There is variety and a never-end to things that need to be done.  We get to do this in a place that has stunning mountains and trees, horses grazng in the pasture, and wildlife.  Today I saw about 35 elk on the mountain across the valley, and 7 elk about 100 yards away.  A week ago I saw a yearling black bear 100 yards away (fortunately) going the opposite direction. We can hear elk bugling and coyote howling in the night. Our drive to 'work' takes about 1 minute and Dan and I come back home each day for lunch.

I'm happy.  :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pre Labor Day Grill Envy...

Dan got his grill last week.... and we revv'ed it up today.  Since we grill a lot, we're happy to be 'back in the saddle' again.... and the steaks were awesome!

This is big mountain country, and Dan now has a grill worthy of its surroundings.  We've got one side for grilling, one side for smoking and it's even got smokestacks!!  Yee-haw.

Yes.... what you're seeing is snow.  It was a drizzly day which turned into mothball-sized hail earlier in the day, and then snow.  While it won't likely stay, it's an interesting thought to see the precursor of winter on September 5.......

Here's another photo of the snow:

Have a wonderful Labor Day!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Meet Gerta, Our Ranch House

After Dan and I had been at our home for a few days, I felt we had to give the home a name.  It was definitely a 'she', and after some discussion we both felt the name 'Gerta' fit.

She's strong and sturdy.  A bit weather-worn, but she'll do nicely. She'll keep us warm and dry, and I think we'll be quite cozy here.  We'll get her spiffed up over time...

When you climb up the mountain and through the ravines, you finally see an upper valley/basin open up.  There is one spot where you can see our home; after that the road keeps going uphill, and you can't see her until you've turned the bend.  Here's what you'll view way across the basin:

The brown building to the left houses 2 apartments where the seasonal help stay. Here's a view of ole Gerta at the top of the road:

In the back of the house is a full deck with great views.  Below is a horse corral and a paddock area. She's basically a one-story ranch style house with a walk out basement, except for a bedroom in the front on the second level.

This is our morning view from our kitchen, which is at the front of the house:

I was rushing to snap a photo before the full moon disappeared behind the mountain! 

Here's a couple of views from the back of our deck:

Pretty, huh?

We're getting close to pulling our house together inside, and will take some inside photos once we're done.  Last Saturday, we went to Bozeman to stock up on food, get a few necessities, and buy a grill.  Here's a cowboy doing some serious grill study.....

This Labor Day weekend it will be fun to 'nest'.... Dan will be assembling our new grill, I'll be hanging curtains, and we'll be working at getting Dan's workshop set up.

Yippie  Kiy Yiy Yay!