July 6, 2011

June, in a Rather Large Nut Shell

After a long spring with little time off, real time off that is, June finally arrived and with it came a real break. Well, it was already packed with plans and work before we actually got to it, but it was still a break and much anticipated.

From June, I got:
  • real tan lines for the first time in at least 3 years
  • the loss of about 10 pounds, maybe more, just from activity. Oh the possibilities if I could just get out of the truck!
  • A start on some actual muscles. It's possible that I might be able to saddle my own dern horse again if I were able to keep active for a while, or just pick up heavy boxes all the time!
  • a renewal of confidence in my abilities to do some things I thought I couldn't or didn't know how to do
  • and the list could go on and on, but I'm sure you'd rather see some pictures and hear other details. So here goes....
Our official break began on June 9th. That was our first full day at home, even though we still spent it in the truck. We had arrived at the ranch the night before, and woke to a dreary day that was chilly. It was June, but it was only in the low 40's that morning.
The first official duty of our "vacation" was to haul about 200 cow/calf pairs from my in-laws place down to summer range near Ekalaka. 
The first two loads went great, but between load two and three it started to drizzle rain, which lead to the last load of the day not going so great. We got to within a few yards...YARDS....of the corrals to unload the last load, but the road had gotten just slick enough from the little bit of moisture, that the truck just couldn't do it.
Thanks to that good ole eastern Montana gumbo, we were stuck! Thankfully a neighbor down there was able to come over with their tractor and pull us on up the last bit of the hill, where we were able to get some traction and finish the job.
The girls were happy to be back on their summer pastures and everyone paired back up real fast with their calves. So except for the little slip and slide incident, it all went smoothly and easily, which is always nice. It had stayed cool though, never going over 46 degrees all day and I made the mistake of saying on Facebook later that evening that I hoped it warmed up a little for the rest of our break. Remind me to be careful what I wish for.

A couple days kicked back and piddling around the ranch, and then it was off to Billings for the next phase of our break and the next big job on the agenda...

Carlie Jean, who I'm convinced has a trace of autism, if there is such a thing in the dog world, probably suffered the most during this phase. We turned her little world upside down. And add to that the time she had to stay locked in her kennel and then locked up in an empty bed room while we packed up the last bits and pieces...well the girl was nearly a basket case by the time we hit the road again. Thankfully she was able to settle down once she was in the car with us. Many MANY thanks to Malcolm's Dad who came over to Billings and stayed for 2 days to help us pack and load, abandoning all his responsibilities to his cattle and other needful things at the ranch. The job was overwhelming enough, but without his helping hands, it would have been worth sitting down and crying over.

On June 16th, we pulled up this drive with nearly all of our things in tow, home at last!
I say nearly all our things, because there were a few odds and ends that just wouldn't fit, and since we had to go back to tie up some loose ends anyway, we just left them there for the next trip.

After unloading the truck of all our junk, I proceeded to locate and unpack the bedroom and kitchen stuff and then called the job done. I figured those were the essentials and the rest could wait till another time. I was not going to spend my whole time off cooped up inside unpacking! And that's where the suntan lines came in. There were some more pairs that needed sorted out for moving down south, and then another day we sorted off another few older pairs that someone wanted to buy. Take that along with some colt training time, and I had myself a fine farmer's tan going! My legs are still as white as hotel sheets, but my arms and face have a tan I'm proud of! And I even remembered to use sunblock so I wouldn't get burnt to a crisp! 100spf and I still walked away with a nice tan! Yea me!

Spent time visiting friends and had a special birthday dinner in town to celebrate my birthday and that of a close family friend. And also made a trip into Miles City on Father's Day for groceries and a few essentials. Mother Hubbard's cubbard was BARE! But not after that trip.

The rest of the time off was mostly devoted to working with my horse, Sky, and finding any and every excuse to get outside, even if it was just to walk around the buildings and go back in to let the girls out.

The new view:

The east side of the house is a work in progress. There is a room being added on and then eventually a porch. One day the girls and I will sit on the porch (we do love our porch time) and sip iced tea (cool water for them), and watch the horses and cattle peacefully grazing out there.

The back of the house brushes up against the tree row. I had some concerns about this because I was thinking I'd be disappointed not to be able to look out the windows and see the Montana views. Turns out the tree row is a view in and of itself! I'm picturing my bird feeders scattered among the trees, maybe a bench, a few little shade gardens tucked in here and there. We'll see. But the trees and grasses and blue sky peaking through are beautiful all on their own. The trees are full of birds. Its their refuge on this great open grassland. Our bedroom and my future library/sewing room (which is currently full of boxes) look out onto this shady haven. I love the tree row!
By far, the girls favorite side of the house is the front, which is where they discovered a great big wide open yard with soft grass. Not that prickly, dried up stuff we had in Billings! My mother-in-law and I have discussed the possibilities of a garden some day, and this is where it used to be and where it would go again. But after watching Ella and Carlie Jean running, it will be kind of sad to take this away from them.
The real views open up when you get outside the fenced yard and on the outskirts of the buildings. I could stand and look at it all day long!
And another aspect, one of many, about living at the ranch, is that my horses are literally just across the yard. I can look out the window and see them at almost any time. Granted, I sometimes have to use the binoculars, but they are sitting next to the kitchen window for just that kind of use!
In the middle of our time off, we took another trip to Billings to tie up those loose ends, but we didn't stay any longer than necessary. I have to say I was a little worried about missing my house and missing the convenience of living so close to everything, but it only took a few moments of being in our new home for the few doubts I had to dissolve into thin air. I was happy to wave goodbye to Billings as we pulled out on our return journey home. Granted, where as before everything was 15 minute away, and now the basics are at least 45 minutes down the road (we're 2 HOURS from a Walmart people), you can't convince me that the inconvenience of it isn't worth the gains! And there are so many gains!

We officially returned to work last Wednesday, June29. We loaded safflower seed in Cartwright, ND.
The seed was due in Minnesota the next morning. We had not really planned on such an adventure getting there! But because of the ongoing flooding issues with the Missouri River and other bodies of water, lots of roads were closed. We had to take a detour, and even our detour ended up having a detour. It was frustrating, and took much longer to get there than it should have. This was actually one of the OPEN roads! It was closed down to one lane so traffic had to take turns crossing. And as you can see, the one lane was under water, at least a foot deep! It was a little unnerving since I was driving, and I couldn't really see exactly where the edge of the road was, AND as I watched the oncoming traffic take their turns, the vehicles were noticeably tilted towards the edge, so it was obvious that the road was not level under all that water. But I made it across safe and sound, and afterwards it was kind of neat. Just not fun during the process.
One good thing about all that water we've gotten this spring is that everything is really green and there are tons of wildflowers. Its putting a damper on getting the hay in, but it still is really pretty to look at an electric green North Dakota!
We delivered in Minnesota and reloaded in Devil's Lake, ND on Thursday. This was a load of pea starch heading to Sacramento, CA, but it couldn't deliver till July 5th. So we headed back home for the layover, having to do battle with more road repairs along the way.
Home on Thursday evening, and it was raining when we got there. But the next day was beautiful, and warming up..a little too much! The last two days we were home, it was in the mid to high 90's. But I didn't let that keep me inside. Not a chance! I spent the last two days at home doing some bird watching trying to identify my new friends, exploring some of the boundaries and learning my way around on the 4-wheeler, and visiting with Sky of course. I also had some serious chats with Sky's mama, Dawn. I told her here we were with a second chance, and if she could just see her way clear to deliver that new baby sometime before Sunday afternoon, I'd appreciate being able to see it before I left.
But she didn't want to cooperate with me, and I guess if I'm honest, I wouldn't want that baby to come before its ready anyhow. But the vet looked at Dawn when she was out to take care of Sky (he had to give up the family jewels while I was home) and said she figured two more weeks. And that was over a week and a half ago. So any day now...I'm waiting for the call from my father-in-law, and I assure you I'll be letting you know all about it when it gets here.

The last evening at home, Lucy and I took a walk around the backside of the tree row, checking out birds and flowers and the sunset.
Lucy is...so many things. She's my Father-in-law's cow dog, and she has decided that I'm a cool new friend, especially since I like to prowl around the pastures like she does and also b/c I occasionally give her short rides on the 4-wheeler.

It was a beautiful evening with perfect weather for a walk and we enjoyed each other's company and the surroundings thoroughly.
We returned to work on Sunday afternoon, leaving the ranch around 5:00pm. I got to drive because I love driving in eastern Montana. And Malcolm went to bed because he was exhausted. But he missed out by doing that. We went through a helluva storm just west of Miles City and on past Forsyth. Not real heavy rain, but some nasty wind and lightening that lit up the world and stayed on the ground pulsing repeatedly before retreating to the clouds. It was awesome! And when I got to the other side of it, the sunset turned the sky and clouds bright orange and lit up the world with the most awesome rainbow I've ever seen. It looked like it had been colored in the sky with Crayola crayons, it was so vivid! I was sick that I'd left my little camera in my purse in the back, but I had to do something! So I scrambled and snatched up my cell phone, stuck it out the window, and snapped. The picture did NOT do it justice by any means, but it was still a pretty scene.
By the time I got to Billings to fuel, the fireworks going on were man made. Not as impressive as God's fireworks earlier, but still pretty to look at.

We drove all night, stopped in Reno on the evening of the 4th to rest, and finished the trip into Sacramento early Tuesday morning. After that it was a load of fertilizer back to Idaho, and here we sit, north of Idaho Falls, waiting for a load, hoping one comes up soon!

June was good to us! We took more time off than planned but it was everything we needed and more! We both had a really hard time leaving home, and still would rather be there than out here trucking, but its good to know next time we go home, we'll be going home to the ranch, and not to a town where we don't have many friends, or any of our animals, or anything much to do. It feels so right to be living there, far more comfortable than Billings ever felt. And knowing I have so much to go home to and enjoy, actually is making being gone from home ok. I'm anticipating the summer adventures of the weeks to come on the road, and the homecoming that will be at the end of those weeks.


Louise said...

Your new place is lovely, so open and free. I think you're going to be very happy there. There will be so much to learn about the plants and critters that have lived there for thousands of years. Congratulations!

Have a wonderful Summer, full of profitable hauls, and safe journeys. And, of course, don't forget to show us the world that you see, so that we can see it through your eyes.

Dreaming said...

What a spread! That, compared to the confines of the truck, must seem magical!
Loved the picture of dogs at play!

Meagan said...

GREAT post! I am just DYING to come see you.... I need to start a Montana envelope! lol :-) I loved the pictures, especially the one of Lucy! :-) I love and miss you!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Holy cow to all that! And that last picture...

Shirley said...

Your ranch looks like just the place you need to come home to after all the stress of driving across the country. So pretty and peaceful.
That last photo is stunning, it really needs to be in a painting, with your horses standing looking at the rainbow.

small farm girl said...

Your new place has wonderful views! I could fall in love with a place like that. Be careful with all the flooding! It looks nasty!