September 30, 2008

Our New House

Well, here you are, on a long distance tour of our new home. We closed yesterday morning, and after a few errands in town, headed out ot our new abode. And after a few hours there, realized that a house with no furniture or anything was kind of boring. There was nothing to do. So we pakced our few things back up and headed back to town for some dinner and then back to work. We are currently in Forsyth, MT fixing to load yet another group of cattle.
The girls thought the house was GREAT! They adviced that we just forgo the furniture. Its ever so much more fun without it because you can run in bigger circles without abstructions. However, they did think it was a bit cold in there, and they don't much care for the wood floors on the main level, especially Carlie who couldn't get good traction at all. One great success story on our first day in our new house.....I've been telling Carlie she'll have to learn to climb stairs now since we have two flights of them. Surprisingly, after only one terrifying trip down the stairs with "mommy," she decided there was nothing to it, and spent the afternoon going up and down right behind Paris.
A few points to mention:
a: The yard needs work, so disregard the bare patches. Keep in mind that its fall out here, a dryer area, and they had two big outside dogs that liked to dig.
b: I tryed to take pictures, but its difficult to get pictures of inside rooms. Therefore, the master bedroom looks itty bitty in the pictures, and I didn't even bother to post the pictures of the two spare rooms or the bathrooms which are nothing to speak of.
c: Carlie and Paris managed to walk or run into nearly every shot, but it just demonstrates what a great time they were having.
d: There are a lot of pictures. If you want to see a larger view of one, just double click on it.

The Tour:

This is the view of our house from the front. The shop is on the left and is about 3000 sq ft and cemented floors. In the rear on the right is the "horse shelter" which amounts to a shed open on one side.

The back of the house, featuring a porch, the hot tub to the right of the porch, and the previous owners garden which she quit on mid-summer. It was "the kids project." There is also a clothes line between the house and shop, and the ground beneath and around it is sort of tiled, which I thought was kind of nice. Its more like terracotta stones, but you get the picture.

A close up of the back of the house. Malcolm and I would like to add a porch like this to the front of the house because its so plain on the front. Paris was exploring the yard.

The kitchen and dining area, with the balcony above, which is going to be my library/ office.

The main level living room area. Its more like a small sitting room.
The stairs leading to the second floor (master bedroom and library).
My library.
The master bedroom.
The downstairs living room. There is a tiled entry to the right. The door seen on the edge of the left is the laundry room. There is also a half bath downstairs.
Looking towards the hallway where the laundy is on the right, the half bath is the closed door visable, there is a wood pellet stove seenn that faces the stairs to go to main level. (PS: in desperate need of new light fixture. Actually we're thinking a nice ceiling fan would work, as there is quite a bit of recessed lighting in this room. There are a number of light fixtures that leave a lot to be desired. A project for later.)
The laundry room. Its huge! I love it! I think I might put a table down here for my sewing machine. The washing machine and dryer are in a closet just around the corner there (and a pile of jeans on the floor because even though we didn't have furniture, I happened to have some detergent in the truck, so we did laundry on our first day in our new house!) My only dissappointment in the laundry is that there isn't a sink. I was hoping for a place to wash the girls without having to do it in the tub.
Malcolm's shop and the new home of Johnson Trucking...and all his other "toys".
When they put the new pellet stove downstairs they put the old one in the shop. Eventually we're going to enclose and insulate the front half of the shop and run water out here too.
The entry doors are side by sides that work with a garage door opener, sliding to the left and right, like our barn in Georgia. Then there is a pass door that goes to a sidewalk that goes to the back door.
The view out the front living room window.
The view from the back porch.
Our house warming gift from our realtor. I thought that was sweet.

So there you have it. Our little place in a nut shell. And I hope you all feel welcome to come visit anytime.

September 25, 2008

My Playlist

Ok, I know it might annoy some, but Rocky Top is like a sacred song to those of us who grew up in a Tennessee Vols fan's home. And even though I'm not a big sports person, and almost resented Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday football on TV, as I've aged, I've become kind of nostagic about the stuff. And if I were totally honest, I'd have to admit that I actually ENJOY watching football now, to an extent, but ONLY the Tennessee Vol games and sometimes local middle and high school games. I think it might be more of a sentimental attachment, so don't go so far as to call me a "fan" just yet. I even am considering getting someone to mail me one of those decorative flags you hang on your house, but one for TN, because my new house already has the hanger on the porch for the flag pole. Wouldn't that confuse the neighbors. Reckon they even know who the Vols are? I'm not sure.
Anyway, I heard this song on my Sirius radio the other night when I was listening to my Bluegrass channel, and I got all sappy. And so, I've put it on my playlist, because even though I love Montana and I love living here, I do still get a little teary eyed thinking about all we've left in Tennessee.
So I dedicate the first song on my playlist to all my friends and family and the TN Vols....may they have a great season and not let their first game against UCLA (which my dad was very disgusted over when I talked to him following the game) be an indication of what this years season will be like. When you're all sitting around the living room watching the game, visiting, and eating yummy stuff, I'll be there with you in spirit!
GO VOLS! (I can't believe I'm saying that.....have you fallen out of your chairs reading it?)
And for those who are NOT a Vols fan, or have any affection for the song, it will probably only be on here a week or so, because as much as I like the song...it TOTALLY clashes with the mood of my blog, so it will have to go shortly.

September 21, 2008

"Haulin' Cows"

Yesterday morning (Saturday) we were loading in Busby, MT. This is in southeaster Montana, but more towards central than Baker is. Well its kind of hard to tell you where it is. Anyway, its in Montana, enough said.
So it was a really pretty day, and I was thinking I ought to take some pictures to share with you a little of the charm of "hauling cows."

This is a common scene, though there usually arn't quite this many trucks, and we don't usually stay there waiting for so long. This particular day there were about 10 trucks loading. Its not unusualy to load with 4-6, and we've loaded with many more than that and a lot less too.

This particular ranch is owned by some people out of Texas. We loaded there last year too. Its kind of neat cause a couple of the guys get all dudded out. We're talking chaps, vest, spurs, and a pistol in the holster on the hip. This year one of them had a bull whip he was using too. For whatever reason they wait till later in the morning to bring in the cattle and weigh them etc. So even though we were told to be there at 9:30am, we didn't get loaded and out of there till 1:45 that afternoon. The day before the guys didn't get loaded till 2:00 so I guess we were ahead of schedule.

Usually kind of frustrating, but in this case there was visiting to do, and naps to catch up on, and some quiet peaceful reading time too. Take notice of the picture painted on the back of the trailer above.
Here's a close up. Its cute. "Bull Wagon" or "Bull Rack" is a slang term for cattle trucks. There's a lot of slang in trucking. I ought to do a blog on that. Just give you a little dictionary of trucking terms.

Here's a little shot of some of the people there working the cattle. I'm not sure exactly what they were doing, maybe sorting them into smaller groups for loading. I wasnt' paying that much attention.

I was giving more attention to the herd of horses standing next to my truck and having a dissagreement across the fence. Apparently no one likes this guy, cause they all took turns coming over and fussing with him. And no, its not that he's a stud and they're mares. I think they were all gledings.

There is lots more to "haulin cows." I was going to get pictures of loading, but they had a wind break at the loading chutes that blocked my view of the cattle, etc. And its usually dark when we unload, so no luck there. I'll get to it eventually, maybe tomorrow. We're loading near Baker.

And when I say we're loading there tomorrow, well we will have already done so by the time I post this, cause its Sunday night, just after that tornado, and since I posted that, I'll probably not even post this till Tuesday. So, it will be old news, but maybe I'll have new picutres by then to finish the story of "haulin cows."

In the mean time, the heifers in the shot above were dropped off last night in Kansas at the biggest buffett they've ever seen. They'll be there for 2-3 months. We take them in at 875-1025lbs and they stay at the feed lots till they are 1300lbs, at which point they leave the smorgasbord....and become part of yours.

My First Tornado

I've been wanting to see a tornado for ages and ages. Some would call me crazy, but I like that sort of stuff. I'm the wierdo who things it would be neat to ride out a hurricane, watch a tornado, and blizzards are cool! So today, after years of wishing, I kind of sort of got my wish.

We were driving west in Nebraska. Malcolm was on the phone and I was admiring the storm clouds north of us. You've seen those clouds that hang low

We just entered the area where it hailed. There is piles of it everywhere and the corn field on our left was just stripped of leaves!!! Seriously, just stalks with the corn cobs standing naked in the field, leaves and twigs from the trees all over the road, and the shoulder of the roadway solid white with hail stones.

How's that for live coverage!

Ok...back to my story....

So you know those little clouds that sometimes hang low out of the main clouds, and you think nothing of them. Well I was looking at one of those. Then I suddenly noticed that there was also a small cloud that looked like it was sitting on the ground right below the little cloud that was jutting down.

And then all of a sudden it moved upward and joined the cloud above and there was a (mind youd very disorganized) tornado right there before my eyes! It looked just like what I've heard and seen on TV, though not quite as twisty, a dark blue finger reaching down out of the clouds to the ground. It was on the ground just a few seconds before it disintigrated and I watched it draw back up into the clouds and disappear. I had run to the back to grab my camera, but by the time I got back up to the front it had already broken up and was withdrawing into the cloud. This is all I got of it.

Afterwards, I kept watching the clouds to see if it would drop down again, but it didn't, or at least not on our end of the storm. But the clouds looked rather ominous when we were right up next to them. Now from a distance, it just looks like a big rainstorm.

And then this happened. Just a little reminder of God's promises.

September 18, 2008

We've Crossed the Threshold

Lots of miles covered in the past week and a half since we drove beneath the shadow of Devil's Tower. I should have been more responsible and gotten the pictures posted sooner, but really its been a choice lately between sleeping or doing other things, and sleep has been priority over most other things. Not complaining....and still enjoy hauling cattle....just sharing the facts of how things are going.

We see lots of stuff on the road, and hauling cows is neat because we go to a lot of ranches and out of the way places. This picture was taken in Wyoming, kind of southwest of Rawlins, between Baggs and Crecent Junction. We were out in the middle of no where. Actually I think I posted that day because I remember mentioning that the only sign of human existance was the fence and the road. Once we got up to where we were loading there were a set of run down corals next to these buildings.

If you look around the CB antenna which I couldn't get around (becuase i didn't want to get out of the truck and make a spectacle of taking pictures while everyone else was working hard)... These buildings are whats left of an origanal stage stop station from the old stage coach days of Wyoming. They have put a high fence around them to keep out animals, but from the looks of the fence I'd speculate that the main "animals" they are keeping out are the human variety that like to vandalize, etc. It was neat to sit there and visually explore the setting and wonder if it wasn't a relief to reach this spot, in the middle of a sage desert, where you could finally get out of the bumping bouncing coach, stretch your legs, and have a cool drink before moving along towards your destination. Structures don't dilapidate out west like they do down south where I'm from. I guess its the dryer climate that helps. All I know is there are houses and barns and what not standing around all over the place, and though they are not in livable condition, they havn't given in to the weight of their years and melted into the earth like the older buildings of the southern and eastern United States. I love all the echoes of the past out here. Its so easy to slip into history and live a little brief imagined life there.

We loaded today in Kirby, MT which is south of Billings just near the Norther Cheyenne Reservation. Its pretty down there, hilly and more trees than other parts of eastern Montana. I snapped this picture on the way back east as we pulled through Lame Deer. Proof that we have crossed the threshold of Autumn here in Montana. Though the temperatures have gone back up, into the 70's and 80's, its still visably autumn now. We are wishing the cooler temps would return. They spoiled us for a few weeks, and now it feels hot.

Lame Deer.....what a name. I have found that there are a number of towns in Montana and surrounding states that have these "literal" names. I like them. Here is a brief list off the top of my head.

Lame Deer, Lodge Grass, Red Lodge, Plentywood, Chugwater (must be thirsty when you get there), Grassy Butte, Lodge Pole, Wolf Point....most of them are in Montana and many sound as though they have native american roots.

Well, fair thee well for now. I have stolen a few minutes between stopping for a sandwich and the fuel stop to write you. We're in Rapid City, SD heading east towards Iowa with a load of steers. Its 5:00pm and my turn to drive as soon as he fuels. There are large thunderheads on the horizen. We havn't been in any weather in several weeks. I'm sure the rain will be welcome, as it has dryed up out here quite a bit after our lush summer. However, I'll be hoping it holds off till I've passed by. I have a terrible time seeing at night in the rain. Not much fun. And just so you know, its not ALL driving and sleeping. I've been sneaking in a few moments of reading here and there too. So there is still some relaxation going on too.

September 13, 2008


Well, it finally happened. I was driving north last night on a highway in northern Montana. I was just 30 miles from my destination and bed. I guess I was getting eager to get there and sped up a little without realizing it. Plus I was listening to storm coverage of Hurricane Ike, and so I guess I was distracted. Anyway...I got my first speeding ticket. Oops!

September 11, 2008

Autumn is Here and Winter's Comin'

Ok, I still don't have the Devil's Tower shots downloaded. But I do have these taken while I was home. There's a little bit of a theme here...and that is that it's beginning to look like fall.

In fact it was mostly in the 60's the entire time we were home last week. On Wednesday, when we went too Rex and Sheryl's to move cows, I got up bright and early to drive to Rachelle's. Climbing into the jeep, I looked up to discover my windshield was completly frosted over. That was September 3rd.

You know the saying, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb" (or vice versa). Well I wonder if it stands true for September too, or for cold weather season in general. Somone said its supposed to be a hard winter, but then again...I think someone says that every year. All I know is we went to Belle Fourche Saturday, which was August 30 and it was 103 degrees on the car temp. reader. And Tuesday morning, September 2, my porch thermometer read 42 degrees.

We'd had a little rain the night before. We went to Billings that day to pick up Malcolm who had delivered a load of stuff north of there and to run errands. When we go there that morning, you could see the mountains in the western horizen, snow capped with winters first dousing. They'll be white till June next summer.

I know its hard for all my southern friends and relatives to beleive, but out here the cold weather is upon us and winter is just around the corner.

A Few From the Road

Heading to Baker tonight to load in the morning. We just ran a short load from Three Forks, Mt to Billings. It was too heavy for us to take, cause we have a two axle trailer, and it needed a three axle. So we dropped the cows off at the sale barn in Billings and another truck with a larger trailer loaded them to continue on to Iowa I beleive.

Anyway, I have a few pictures to share, but I havn't downloaded yet.
In the mean time I have these few that I took before we went home. I didn't get to share them with you because of my little spy ware issue.
We drove from Clarkston, WA through northern Idaho along Hwy12, which turned out to be along the Nez Perce Trail into Montana. It was SO beautiful. It has the Columbia River Gorge beat all to pieces!!! It followed through these little mountain passes following the Clear Water River. The river was gorgeous, perfectly clear even at 4-5 feet of depth. I can't even begin to tell you how pretty. It was breath taking.

These two pictures were taken that morning in Clarkston, WA. I decided the geese were enjoying the sunlight playing in the clouds as much as I was.

These two are of a little stream that was pouring into the river at a spot where I stopped to take the girls out, and the river flowing through the mountain pass.

The pictures I'm going to get for you off my camera turned out nicely. Sunday we loaded north of Baker and we were over loaded. Being as such, we had to take the little roads south of Ekalaka and down into Wyoming instead of going into South Dakota. (had to avoid the scale you know?) SO...I enjoyed the ride, though Malcolm and Bill, the guy traveling with us probably didn't like the beating their trucks were getting. And as it turned out, our little roads took us right around the base of Devils Tower in northern Wyoming, something I've been wanting to see.
I'll get my pictures downloaded for you soon.

Goon night!

September 10, 2008


Thats a crude title, but I'm not refering to the bodily function, only to my state of mind and level of energy. We havn't worked this hard since....well since the "fall run" last year. "Fall run" is the phrase used to refer to the time of year when there is a mass movement of cattle from ranches to feedlots and from feedlots to the kill plants.
Let me put it this way...we've run 5088 miles in exactly 4 days. We started Friday night, and ran through till Sunday morning when we stopped at Malcolm's parents house for a shower and quick meal. We actually took a nap in Baker, while we waited to meet another driver. That was about a 30 minute nap. Thats the last time I slept with the truck sitting still. We're averaging over 1000 miles a day, eating about one and a half meals a day, snatching sleep when we can...its WILD! And fun...I make it sound miserable, but hauling cows is lots of fun.
For starers we're running in "convoys." You load along with several other trucks, and usually you travel to your destination together. So we just finished loading and are pulling out for Fort Morgan, CO, where we were last night at midnight. We returned up here to MT, and now we're going back down with another load of steers. This time we loaded with some of the guys we worked with last fall, so we'll have a good time catching up.
Speaking of catching up....I"m going to go do that now...on some Zzzzz's.

September 8, 2008

New Babies and New Changes

My dear friends in Florence, KY have a new baby in their house. Little Rachel Grace arrived early in the morning on August 28. She is such a doll! Angela is doing fine, and she and Greg are both very happy. Who wouldn't be! Too see more pictures of Rachel, you can visit their blog at http://gregandangela.blogspot.com/
I think their blog is neat because Greg and Angela do it together. They both post things on it, which you don't see that often. They are such a sweet family!

Now on to other new arrivals!

While we were home, I of course did not miss the opportunity to go visit the horses. My main intent was to meet and greet our new little filly, born just a week before we came home. Here she is, at about two weeks old. I believe she is probably going to be a nice roan, and hopefully will look a lot like her big brother, Joe. This is Carrie's 2008 foal, Della.She wasn't sure what to think of me and Malcolm. She sure is a high headed little thing! Every time I drive by and see her, she's got her neck straight up and her head way up in the air. She'll not miss out on anything! She's going to see it ALL!

Those are the two new babies in my world. Two sweet little girls! August was a month for girls I guess.

And since I'm on the topic of my horses, which I never tire of, I'll have to go ahead and brag on the others too.
Della, being born a month of more after the other colts, looks so tiny compared to the bigger kids. Its amazing how fast they grow!
Remember this little guy?

What a difference a few weeks makes. Here he is about 6 weeks later. He has shed out his baby fuzz and now you can see he really is going to be a nice blue roan like his brother Reb.

Speaking of Reb, he and Joe are enjoying the whole pasture to themselves. Actually they would prefer to be in with the other horses, but no such luck. Neither of them have been gelded yet, and the studs in with the mares, so I don't want to get them in trouble. They are both getting fat on all that grass.

Other Changes:

After much frustrating and confusing disussion, mulling over, praying, and floundering over what to do, Malcolm and I have made the decision to move closer to Billings, MT. We've toyed with the idea for almost a year now. We love being at the ranch and near his family, and that was the big debate. This has been a really difficult decision to make. However, when it comes down to it, the facts are everything we need for trucking is in Billings, which means anytime we need something we have to drive 4 hours from home to get it, or to have the truck worked on, etc. In addition, both of us are tired of being gone so much, and unfortunatly, the ranch is so remote, its really difficult to get back there frequently, and yet still be at our maximum profit level. Which leads to the other change in our life...

...we've decided to leave the grain hauling off for now, maybe permanently, and return to Steve Nelson Trucking, which is the company we were driving for up until March when we bought our hopper trailer. Driving for Nelson, we were in Billings twice a week or more, often for several hours, and frequently over night. If we move there, we can go home during that time instead of sitting in the parking lot. SO...as sad as it is to leave the ranch, it just makes more sense to do it this way right now. We both hope that we will return to the ranch one day. Time will tell.

A benefit to working for Nelson again, is not just getting home more, but we get to haul cows again, which we both really enjoyed. In fact we're sitting in Wyoming right now waiting to load and I cant' believe I have a signal but actually its working really fast! Seriously, I can see NO human evidence, other than the road and a fence next to us. We're talking complete isolation. So don't ask me why the internet is working so well.

We had looked at properties near Billings last winter, but never found anything we liked. Our criteria is that it must have a shop that the truck fits into, or it must have acreage and be affordable so that we can build a shop for the truck. Also, we wanted room for me to have a horse there as well. This time, looking at properties we found two that worked. The first one we made an offer on refused to negotiate, and he was asking too much for what it was. But thats ok, because I liked the other place better, and we got it at a steal because the owners are in a hurry to move! Yea!

We're supposed to close on the 30th of this month. Its a log house on 9.95 acres on the north side of Shepherd, which is about 25 miles from Billings. Its already fenced for horses, so Reb and Della can come with me, when she's old enough, and it has a really huge shop thats concreted. The present owner is a truck driver also, and so he had the shop built to fit his needs as a driver. How convenient for us! Its in a "community" of properties that are all 10-20 acres, with log houses (mostly) and the way they are deeded, they can't be broken down any smaller than 20 acres. In other words, no one can put a trailer park in next to us or sub-divide it either, which is pretty common in Shepherd. So that's a big attraction. Its definatly not the ranch, but if we have to live in town, it will do. I'll get some pictures posted eventually when I get them.

The house has a great floor plan. Upstairs is the master bedroom and bath, as well as a "sitting room" that is open to the main level below. Its going to be my library. The main level of the house has two guests rooms and a bath, and then the kitchen, dining area, and a sitting room area are all open to one another. And there is a wood burning stove in the living room. Then there is a basement that was finished last year that has a huge laundry room, a half bath, and a really large living room. You'll have to come take the tour.

The other good part of it is, I'm now only 30 minutes from the air port. Makes it easier for all of you to visit. Also, we're two hours from Yellowstone, 1 hour from Little Big Horn, and Billings has quite a bit to offer. Shepherd is situated in a way that if you go a few miles east, your in Montana's grasslands, and if you go a few miles west, your in Montana's mountains. So there's lots to do and see, and I'm still looking forward to showing you all around.

Thats the news with us. A lot happened in the last two weeks as you can see. I decided rather than stretch it out over several posts, I'd just dump it all into one. Hope I havn't kept you away from more important things for too long.