Category Archives: Montana

Pioneering

“Someone” lived here once upon a time. “Someone” must have worked very hard to make ends meet, cook meals,  raise children, keep warm in an uninsulated house in extremely cold winters, and  keep their spirits up when the nearest neighbour was miles away.

I can’t imagine anyone being that tough, to live out there so isolated and to work so hard on the land, fighting the elements.

I peeked into the house and saw the kitchen stove still in its place. It must have run on propane, as I doubt they had electricity until later years. They probably had to bring the water to the house from somewhere, either with buckets, or from a shallow well that you had to pump by hand.  Either way, it would have been a chore to heat water for a bath.

Most likely the nearest  neighbours were the local birds and other animals like coyotes, porcupines, deer, and rattlesnakes.

The pronghorns must have been a wonderful sight to see then, just as they are now. These antelopes were about half a mile away when I tried to snap a shot of them.

The one in the photo below looks like it might be trying to grow antlers. A young buck, maybe?

 

Another neighbour’s feed house tells the story of the climate in this area. Do you think it’s windy much?

You have to be very tough to live in this country. It’s one thing to visit here, but to actually spend a winter in this harsh place takes a lot of fortitude.

So Much Bull

What’re YOU lookin’ at?

I was just admiring your unique earrings. But shouldn’t they be on a girl cow?

Harrumpf! Come over here and say that.

Oh sorry. I meant to say they’re … ah … er … elegant.

I think that’s a lot of BULL-tweety.

Well, who am I to argue with this guy? I was just trying to be nice, when all I could think of was rib-eye steaks and chateaubriand.

Passing By

Leaving the dreary, rainy west coast behind took a few hours longer than expected, as the wet weather stretched eastward for more than 100 miles.

But on the highway between Hope and Princeton (in BC),  the clouds lifted and the day became quite pleasant. Ruby and Emma were happy to get out of their traveling crates to have a quick swim and a dash along the banks of the Similkameen River.

At Osoyoos we crossed the Canada/US border and headed for Omak and then eastern Washington. The sun played games on the fields, turning them golden when it peeked out over cloud banks.

The pullout after reaching the summit at Mullan Pass in Montana allowed time for a five-minute break and the snapping of a photo.

Winding our way along the Clark Fork and the Missouri Rivers, we ooh-ed and ah-ed at the scenery. Rocky formations on one side, and gorgeous river on the other.

As we got closer to our destination in eastern Montana and the hills were not so pronounced, we saw more coyotes, hawks, and several groups of pronghorn antelope. This bunch allowed me a quick drive-by shooting if I promised not to hurt them as we whizzed past.

Having arrived, I will post eastern Montana photos for the next while. Had to laugh as I wrote that “I have arrived.”

Montana Fields

We try to get out to Montana every year in October for some bird hunting and photography and hiking. This year, we arrived to about an inch of snow. While it is beautiful, it is quite chilly. The good thing about it is that rattlesnakes don’t like cold weather so I didn’t have to worry as much about Emma and Ruby getting bitten.

You may remember Emma as a puppy four years ago. We had great hopes that she would someday become a good flusher and retriever of game birds.

She hasn’t disappointed us. In spite of being quite small, this English field cocker spaniel is full of energy and her cuddly nature takes a back seat when it comes to finding birds. Nothing gets away from her.

If you thought the prairies were only boring grassy fields, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coulees are full of prickly shrubs, birds, and small animals. A fat hare came tearing out of the shrubs here and just as I was about to snap a photo, my battery died.

But later I caught this mule deer running away from all the commotion. I traipsed along behind the Captain and Emma as they did their pheasant hunting thing, hoping for something interesting to photograph, and I saw something the deer had left behind last year — an antler shed. It was only the second time I had ever found one and I was quite happy about stumbling across it.

After the snow from the day before, the mostly clay ground was “wettish,” and while we had heavy clods of mud on our boots, Emma’s feet were getting harder and harder for her to pick up. Besides collecting many burrs in her fur, she had huge clumps of clay on her feet. Here she is getting them soaked off, just before I took the comb and scissors to her curly ears to remove the burrs.

She is usually so energetic, we weren’t sure this was our Emma flaked out on the couch after the day’s outing.

It was Ruby’s turn to go out today, but she is sick. We think she drank some bad water. This has happened one other year and we have given her some meds that we hope will fix her up in a day or two.

PS Now, two days later, Ruby is feeling much better. We are so relieved.

 

Sounds of Autumn

The sun warms my back, the wind cools my hair.

I photograph leaves that soon won’t be there.

Shushing and rustling cottonwood leaves,

Some cling to life in the stiffening breeze.

Others have flown, for the chilly night air

Has sent them a warning. “Oh trees, do beware.

The harsh days are coming; it’s time to prepare.

Your fluttering whispering dresses of gold

Must leave you alone now to suffer the cold.

But fear not, for soon you will warm up again.

New dresses will grow in the coming spring’s rain.”

 

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The video clip is of ten seconds in Montana. The wind is rumbling a bit in the microphone and the Captain is calling Ruby with his whistle, but the main thing I love about the clip is the sound of the wind in the leaves. It’s best if you make it full screen and you can almost feel as if you are there under the trees. Be sure to turn on the sound. That’s what it’s all about.

 

 

 

Turning Seasons

The colours of fall are amazing. As we drove through Montana on our way back to the coast, the brown hills near Missoula impressed us with their brilliant deciduous growth in the valley bottoms.

Even before learning the name of the huge trees with almost black bark, I have loved the look of the black cottonwoods. In Montana’s ever-present breeze the leaves whisper soothingly. It does the soul good just to stand quietly under one of these trees, close your eyes and listen.

I don’t know what the red shrubs are that don’t mind getting their feet wet in the creeks and rivers, but I saw the same shrubs growing in the small waterways of southern British Columbia as we drove home. dscn7290If I were a painter, I wouldn’t hesitate to set up my easel here.dscn7288Or here! I love the white bark on the trees below. Are they birch? Poplar? I don’t know, but they’re beautiful.

Notice how yellow and brown the grass is. It’s usually fairly dry here.dscn7296

Now see how green the grass is in the photo below. We are on the coast and the wet weather reminds us that we’re nearly home. That tree floating in the bay is a Douglas fir that was washed away from the banks of the river and has floated all the way into the estuary. It was a very tall tree, although it may be hard to tell from the photo. I later saw this same tree in a video clip someone posted to the weather network.

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Just a couple more miles to home. We’ve driven past flooded fields and a cresting river. So glad we live on high ground.

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