Monday, February 7, 2011

Old Time Cowboys

I got this old time cowboy friend of mine. He is a feisty one. Cantankerous and at most times He aint nice to be around. But He is a what he is and he seen more cowboy ways then I ever will learn. He is retired now.... and has taken to livin in town. A small lil old place... close to all the convinces he can walk to. It's 1/2 a mile to anything he likes... like ice cream at the cafe. And the grocery story. He eats his food straight out of a can... without heating it up. This old cowpoke lived out in cow camps and ate just as he does now. He is use to it.
He talks alot about how things once were..... like the cost of gas... and he can't see a young couple making it these days....... He likes to talk about how he and his Dad use to come to town and how much it cost for gas or for the truck way back then. He will ask me once in awhile what a new truck costs now days. And he is aghast.
He talks about the weather alot too. And about them cows he worked. ... and the horses he rode. This old boy lived the Real West... 
I am blessed to know him... and I am blessed to hear about his glory days.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


 one of the nice things about living in the country is the wildlife we get to enjoy. Just about everyday we see some sort of a critter about. Just today I marveled over a bald eagle that sat on a fencepost with his feathers puffed up. They are magnificent birds and I don't care how often I will see them they will always be a wonderful and awe inspiring sight.
In the winter we see more eagles here in our valley  than at any other time of the year. They come out of the high country and congregate in our valley to feed on roadkill other carrion. And they hang out the open creeks and rivers. And soon it will be lambing and calving time and a Golden or Bald Eagle will not shy away from killing a new born lamb or calve to feed on. Or they just join in on a Wolf or coyote or grizzly bear kill.
But despite all that I am still in awe of the awesome bird.On an average day you can absorb 2 , 10, 20 eagles or more sitting on fence posts or in flight , or sitting on kill along the hwy leading south...
Deer are another bunch that seem to like winter not just in our valley but right here in our town. And let me tell you they are everywhere. in our yards, streets, parks, parking lots.You see them in the alleys and play grounds of the elementary school. On the football field of the high school.And the runway of our municipal airport.  They are literally every where. And it is not uncommon for them to peak into your windows of your home , either. I have a friend who likes to feed a certain doe with twins. And on the days she forgets this doe comes to the window and makes herself noticed so she can be fed.
And another friend of mine has several deer congregate in her front yard and they raid the bird feeders as they do in my yard. These deer are not very intimidated by the town dogs . Which has given my border collie Hickock a complex. After all is a deer not something any dog can chase off? Not these deer. They run our town. There is a little buck with them too. Nice looking specimen , of course he is, he is living in town.
 Speaking of these deer and the mischief they can cause... that reminds me of a incident that happened a couple of years ago. It was early summer. Yes this little herd hangs out all year in town. I guess they must think we are a pretty nice place to live.But back tot he story... It was one of those early summer days that are 'Just right' Early summer in Montana is like spring in other parts of the country. The blizzards had retreated to their home at the North Pole and the sheet of ice on the lakes had melted off. So it had to be like June , maybe later. Anyhow... this story is not about the time a year... but it does help to set the scene. Miss Lope , who is better known to most of us as Auntie Lope. She is a friendly ol soul, and well known around town. She worked for yrs and yrs at the local five and dime . Till she retired. Auntie Lope always rides her bicycle. .. even in winter. She is a hearty Montanan alright. She always made a point to be promptly at the post office when the mail came out. Around 11:30am. That's when the post office becomes the local social club. If you haven't seen someone in a while come to the post office at 11:30am
You;ll find out the weather, what the cow market is , who died or got ill, who's cow or horse is ailing, who's dog ran off, and whats for lunch at so and so's house. And you meet up with folks you been trying to get a hold of.
So Auntie Lope as predictable , you can set your time piece by her paddling that old bike of hers to the post office sharp at 11:30. am. She had just passed the buckaroo bar and Dories Cafe and was approaching the alley between Dories Cafe and the small local food store. When as Auntie Lope later recollects something like a Sherman tank hit her and knocked her of her bike. There where witnesses too , right across the street was the Barber shop Everyone saw what had happened.
Well it was not a Sherman tank... but one of the local deer. It had come out of the alley and knocked Auntie down. These are Mule deer they are of good size. Good fortune was with Miss Auntie Lope she was only skinned up and a good fright put in her. Her nephew who is the is the Sheriff arrived. Jack A. Lope . He was very concerned for his Auntie. Asked if she should get checked out at the clinic . But Auntie being a feisty ol gal that she is... just brushed of her skirt... fixed her hair some and said she was just fine. But she was very insistent on wanting that culprit deer that knocked her of her bike caught. She and by standers and some fellers from the barber shop gave a full description. It was a deer. ... everyone agreed upon. It was eitehr brown, tan or black according to the witnesses. Some say it was a buck while yet another source said it was a doe. While a tourist and his family who had just come out of Dories Cafe asked: Whats a doe or a buck? Which made everyone turn and look at the person and then at their license plate. It was from a state where wild life only exists in books or on tv.  So the folks where very sympathetic. We heard later they had an up close and personal encounter with a deer as they hit one outside of town.
The Sheriff posted a Hit and Run looking for a Mule Deer.
Gender and age unknown, last seen at such and such local and fleeing north toward Skunk Hallow.
They never did locate that deer.
  But deer are not the only wild critter that finds their way to our town. We are in valley surrounded by forests and mountains... so it is not uncommon for a bear to come wandering by. They usually don't linger .. just wanting to make their way through town to get to the other side of the valley. They usually enter town 1/2 block from where I live... on the North East side... and then travel helter skelter across town. Tearing down fences, and whatever is in their way. They don't mean to be destructive , just wanting to get out of town as fast as they can. Who can blame them?

Monday, January 17, 2011

When The Chinooks Blow

Last week the Chinook blew in strong and hard from the western seas. A Chinook might be a fish from where you hail from but in out here in Montana it is a foehn wind that blows in from the Pacific North West & is named for the Chinook People that lived near the ocean and on the Columbia River. When one of them Chinooks starts to blowing it don’t mean diddly squat that it is the middle of winter. In no time at all if will feel like spring. A strong Chinook can bring us out of double didgit below zero temps to 40 F and eat up a foot or two of snow overnight. Chinook winds on January 15, 1972 set a record here in Montana , Loma, Mt I believe it was..... within 24hrs it raised the temperature from -56F to 49 F above.
Now these winds can last anywhere’s from just a few hours to a couple of days and occasionally a week or two. Now those of you who have not the warm , invigorating Chinook winds of this country, cannot well comprehend what a blessing they are. The icy clutch of winter is lessened The earth throw’s off its blanket of snow. And we are able to venture forth to inhale the balmy spring like air. And Human and animals alike rejoice!
But unfortunately it also gets slicker than whale snot around here. As the winds eat up the snow and its moisture evaporates in the dry air of the wind it leaves the sheer blanket of icy below the snow for us to slip and slide on. No walkway, sidewalk, roads, lanes or pastures are immune. It gets right down treacherous. No one is brave enough to walk out their doors without some sort of traction device on their boots. Trying to walk up or downhill though on sheer ice even with cleats or tracks is quite an interesting proposition and becomes a spectator sport. because those of us wise enough not to even attempt such a feat , stand by or sit in our trucks as some poor soul makes an attempt to conquer the up or down hill ice.
But sooner or later we all get our chance to participate in the ice walk. May it be just from the vehicle to the door of a business, or in your own yard or feeding critters.
And speaking of critters. It is sure enough a challenge for them too. Ever watched a dog trying to chase a rabbit or a cat on a sheet of ice? No one is going anywhere fast.
Well with that picture in your mind I sign off.