Forge 4 Hidden Hollow Dr Recluse, WY 82725 307-640-1845 E-mail
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A New Year and a new day
For all of you who are new to our journal this year and to those of you who have read this before, I’ll try to keep it updated more this year.
1/10/12 bright sunshine calls me outdoors, but the need to get several projects – shipping, e-mails, and hunt up my extension cord done first, later I’ll walk and get my spirit renewed, because today is supposedly the calm before the storm if it happens. My hubby went and gathered wood this am, he found some old cedar posts not big enough to make boards from but very cool just the same. I love the Purple Heart wood the wonderful smell that gets in your nose and makes it tingle.
We’re on the southern edge of a front and this afternoon my blue skies turned dark gray and foreboding, the clouds changed the feel of the forest to a dark menacing place, sound now travels differently and the wood smoke from the stove lingers longer in the air, drawing me homeward towards its warmth.
1/11 rain and ½” of snow overnight not much but you never know, very cold but brilliant sunshine so I’ll cope well if the wind would stop, but in the meantime I keep myself busy sewing or weaving or maybe reading since it is a “snow day” after all.
1/12 Cold, cold temps but I know we can have more sunshine coming, however today is not to be the day. Did you know courage comes from taking one small step at a time after you’ve made the mental decision to take do something.
1/13 a new day, sunshine for a change, it seems Jan and Feb are usually dark grey months with lots of clouds, so I rejoice in the sunshine. I wonder what twists and turns this new day will take. Very windy- I have NOT missed the wind and it’s making me crazy today.
1/16 our forecasted storm isn’t working out quite like they said, for one it didn’t snow overnight but this morning we awoke to a new layer of white and the wind isn’t blowing so its quietly falling and in the trees it’s so beautiful almost Rockwellian but better it’s real.
These cold days are so hard on my hubby, he feeds and takes care of the sheep, the chickens, geese, turkeys, and cats with the help of two dogs, but while it may sound simple he has to carry buckets of water to each set as well as feed. We keep buckets of water next to the stove in here so that its warm water when it goes out and doesn’t freeze immediately. He has to remove the ice out of everything, and then he wonders why he hurts at night. We both know why. I think he does a lot of “little things” that may count as drudgery, but God’s creatures sure don’t count them that way. He enjoys this life, with his animals so it’s not drudgery for him.
It snowed again today just consistently enough to continually make a light covering on the solar cell. I spent the day hand sewing a new wool plaid shirt for myself. I enjoyed seeing the shirt take form under my hands in their silent movement, and to feel the sense of accomplishment when I look at the finished product.
1/17 it’s amazing one day it’s so grey and cold, the next the sun shines bright and clear and draws you out into it, chasing the other day away from your memory.
1/18 we awoke today to zero degrees, gray, snowing skies and the demon depression clinging to my mind. I am hoping to go to club tomorrow if the roads allow it and for the moment I couldn’t embrace what God had planned for my day. But as I settled down to my quiet morning time with the LORD my eyes focused on the sheep in their pen, eating their “candy bars” which is actually sheep cake but for its size and shape we call them candy bars, they are enjoying the snow as it layers on their backs, they watch and listen for Rick to come back with hay or maybe more treats, they are not fretting about the weather, or the roads or even their barn. They simply trust that their shepherd will provide their needs, so they watch, listen and wait, enjoying the day. I need to be more like my sheep today and simply trust that my shepherd will provide what I need and go on and do my mundane things and live by faith feeling no alarm.
Another two inches of snow, we’ve never been without snow since the first of it this season. I spent the day with a loom in my lap weaving like ladies of old. I need now to learn to spin.
1/20 more snow overnight, sunshine again today and my kitchen is clean again. My hubby is teaching me to use the chain saw today he is calling it “cross training” for me, I call it survival, as he usually doesn’t let me get near the saw. There are some tricks to it but after you lose the fear that the thing is going to eat you it’s not so bad. You definitely have to take charge of it and not be afraid.
First day of summer 2010
Well we had 2” of rain last night and that guarantees we will have more today. As the mist was extremely heavy this morning we surveyed the damage in the daylight again in hopes that we might be wrong about some of it. We weren’t, the garden is set back another two weeks, while leaves are torn the plants are not dead. However we did have another visit from a critter who took out a bunch of baby turkeys we think it’s a weasel. So I guess we’ll have something else for Thanksgiving dinner this year. As they sprayed for grasshoppers earlier in the month, and the rains from May were excellent and now even Junes’ rains are good, which mean the grass is tall and heavy thick masses, we can only hope that it dries out soon so that we can hay everything and at least get the grass down before the late summer dry storms come through and bring their lightening. The rain has definitely exposed, moved and changed the face of the landscape around here again, as few things are in the same place as last week. Nature sure is interesting to watch up close. So for now we will watch and wait and see what else the summer brings.
3:30 am wakeup call
About 2 weeks ago, we had an early morning wake up call. Our dog went crazy about 3:30 in the morning, from a dead sleep she woke the house, and started barking and growling in the kitchen like the world was coming to an end. My husband and I both jumped up and I headed for the front kitchen window to see what was going on. I caught sight of an ear around the corner of the window I hollered to my husband that I thought it was a cow. He headed out the door, leaving the dog in, in his skivvies, with a stick we keep but the front door just for these purposes. About that time I leaned in and got a closer look at what was outside. I leaned into the window and came face to face with our surprise and hollered “BEAR” at the exact moment he hit the door. He rounded the corner, looked into the eyes of the bear, they stared each other down for what seemed like forever, and then the bear dropped back down, turned around and took off. My husband retreated into the cabin for a gun. Of course, the gun, the bear and the timing did not match up. The Bear had gotten away, leaving chaos and havoc in its wake such as a over turned barrel of dog food, now sporting tooth marks, and very nervous people and animals outside. So after daylight came, we did some investigating, what we had chalked up to a large raccoon, was actually a black bear. This meant that the lids mysteriously coming off, the over turned dog food and other things disappearing were now clearly lying at the bear’s feet. So its bear 6, people none. But the summers now over yet so we’ll see who wins this battle.
Spring has sprung April 2010
Wasn’t yesterday designated winter? Today it’s spring, or so the calendar says. The weather can’t seem to make up its mind, hot and cold, cloudy and blustery, hardly one way all day long. Just the other day, we had clouds, cold winds, rain, snow, sunshine, warm temps and back to cycle through again. Can you say only in WY? That’s what makes this place so special, it’s never dull.
Well since we had snow on the ground from Thanksgiving until Easter, and we now are at the end of April you might think we had a lot of snow. We didn’t only 80” this winter, the only other moisture we’ve had was ½” of rain so far. We are in desperate need of moisture for there to be any grass this year.
Lambing season is just done, we had 8 sets of twins from 10 girls, all are healthy and bouncing around like little monkeys. The bounty however is too much for our pastures so we will have to sell off these darlings to survive this upcoming winter.
We have been busy planting garden seeds in the greenhouse in hopes that there will be a summer harvest. The joys of gardening out weight any struggles there might be.
There have been reports of the Mountain lion again being seen in the area, no real surprise there, we have invaded his or her territory, so we get to deal with it. Thankfully losses have been kept to a minimum. The coyotes on the other hand have been horrible, taking calves and anything they can get. One reason this is so, is that the cover is gone and the rabbits are scarce this year. I know it’s a cycle of nature so we’ll wait it out.
To talk about the economy or the world seems offensive, not that we’re not aware of what is going on, it’s just doesn’t fit in here.
Life is keeping its own pace, blessings come and go, neighbors, help neighbors, babies are born, our cherished elders pass on, trees grow, seasons change, we hopefully change as well. Now let’s see what spring passes onto summer.
That date seems like something from a science fiction novel. But we are really here. The January thaw has set in, the days are 40 and 50 degrees, yet the snow doesn’t really melt, instead it slicks over and makes large lakes of ice everywhere. The outlying fields around us show so much activity, the tracks go this way and that, elk, deer, antelope, fox, coyote, and all sorts of other small critters. To walk one day and comeback the next will show you new tracks.
While the weather maybe trying to make up its mind as to what it wants to do right now, we press on cutting wood, feeding animals, taking care of all the chores that lay before us. We plan for the warmer days ahead and have even started the really hard to start plants like rosemary and some sages, and thyme, in the hopes to get a jump start on spring, and to help us feel like the snow will end one day soon.
2009 Year end update:
Oh my how the days have flown by, I looked up and realized that I haven’t written in the journal since last spring. I am sorry. There must be something about the end of the year for me that make me think over the past days. Well here it goes.
Spring sprung with blizzards and snow, and then one day it all melted away and presto we had green grass and budding flowers everywhere. The early summer rains came late and delayed or stunted the grasses; it seemed to delay the pine trees as well in their making of cones. But it released the grasshopper larvae from their shells (I think) and the result was a very large infestation of grasshoppers eating the plants to nothing. Our chickens and turkeys and geese really enjoyed the grasshoppers and any and all of their cousins that they could get their beaks on so we were spared the infestation around the house and barns, but it was very annoying to walk in the fields and forest around us. Those without the poultry didn’t do so very well. Hay fields were sparse this year so people around here are letting go of a few more cattle than before. The oil and gas fields were laid off and so we weren’t troubled with a lot of the methane’s trucks on the roads which was nice for us but bad for the economy.
The summer’s fire season was early it took a couple of areas around here and a neighbor’s hay yard but it was blissfully short compared to years in the past. The short grass probably helped here as well.
Fall came and went and we had some very cold days in September but that didn’t trouble the hunting season in Oct. However due to a number of reasons lack of grass, grasshoppers and the moon cycle who knows the herds weren’t running in the area and people were frustrated with poor hunts. Since all the hunters are gone now, the deer are back, they must have marked it on their calendars or something but I keep seeing some nice bucks early in the morning all around. Of course it could also be the nice hay bales we have stacked up on the hill to feed the sheep, but I might be wrong.
This has been the year of the roof, we got permission to take the tin off the hall roof when we anticipated finally getting the reconstruction underway in late June, it fell through after we took the roof off and so the saga of the Recluse hall is still continuing unfortunately. Then we got offered and accepted another big old barn to take down for firewood, which we did. This old barn was 80 years old, had a lot of native old lumber in it that we have used in a number of other building projects here on the place, like the rafters and such and then the just general firewood. We were very thankful to get this blessing. So while we took off roofs, and tore down barns there were also a couple of roofs put on as well. We are very glad that the year is almost over and hopefully the roofs as well.
We had lambs for the first time this spring. After being snowed in 21 days in April, and rescheduling the shearing day, we finally got to get the girls wool, we were surprised that we were also blessed with our first little girl that same day. So we sheared, birthed lambs and had a great time. We ended up with 5 lambs that terrorized the place, and actually still are. Some of the lambs are very adventurous and like to crawl fences, go through any fence they can and are generally unrule-ly, but we love them.
We finally got our cistern in the ground and a nice hand pump that works great on top of it. So this winter we will have water when the spring is frozen or it’s too cold to go down there. Deciding, inventing or rather re-discovering old methods that make life easier without electricity is challenging and a lot of fun.
Our garden was huge this year, we grew green, red, yellow, orange, purple and chocolate bell peppers, Hopi, Lakota squash, yellow squash, and several other kinds of squash, as well as, jalapeno’s, dill, basil, tomatoes, romas, Jerusalem artichokes, cabbage, Cherri tomatoes and cilantro. We were doing great! Until July 13 and a freak hail storm came through. I thought we were back in Laramie County at the sound and feel of the storm. It came out of nowhere and could be heard for a mile off as it swept through our area and flattened everything to the grown. The tomatoes were a loss, the squash and pumpkins came back and the peppers were protected so we were lucky but it was very scary there for a while as I stood in the doorway listening to the deafening sound and seeing its destruction. But luckily no one was hurt and the garden came back.
We tried a new farmer’s market this year in Gillette as every time I tried to have some produce ready to go my little market in Recluse it didn’t work. I was highly frustrated, it didn’t help that we didn’t have the hall to use but we hopefully will next year.
We built a new herb greenhouse where we will try out aqua-ponics and will grow herbs in containers rather than in the large beds. Hopefully it will work, but if it doesn’t well the house works wonders as a drying house for herbs and other plants so the building won’t go to waste.
I think that brings us up to date. Which is presently cold and snowy this first week of December, my journal is back up to date, my Christmas cards are ready to go in the mail on Monday, so I guess things are ready to start another year. Hopefully the New Year will be on better finical footing but if not; may more projects come our way to enlighten us in, out of the box or other ways to think and survive in the days ahead. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Blizzards of 09
First let me say that the piece on Night calving was written by my daughter, about her recent experiences this winter.
Last Sunday (March 22) we went to town to get the last little bit of supplies we would need for an impending blizzard that was to start the next day. We went down the hill in 4 wheel drive as has been the habit since Nov 08. We came back up the hill for the first time in 2 wheel drive. It was a nice event, but it won’t happen again anytime soon, as the “blizzard” that came through Monday and Tues dropped 26” of snow and it blew 55 mph. We now are snowed and drifted in. This storm is not as bad as I have seen it in years past down in Laramie Co. but it definitely has its points for being a bad one. For one, our road up here on the hill is snowed under by 3-4’ drifts that are ¼ - ½ mile long. It will take help from the outside and neighbors to get us out. The county was shut down. Gillette was closed for three days in attempt to dig them out and have room for the plows to do their jobs. The mail was not delivered until late Wednesday and then delivered on the rural routes Thursday. We have wonderful neighbors who resurrected the pony express again for us and delivered the mail up the hill on horseback. Bill is the best, and made a wonderful sight coming up the hill on horse, with Red his dog, trailing along behind to faithfully bring us what mail we had.
The days have been peacefully quiet, we split logs for the fire, I bake bread and make meals that are warm and simple. We have read, gotten caught up on things and enjoyed the snow. The sun has thankfully charged our batteries, and the animals all came through just fine, as we have sheds for them all. We have had to dig paths around the place from corrals, to house, to the wood pile, to the chicken yard. It looks funny.
They are calling for another storm to dump 10-12” of more snow and to have winds of 55 mph again this next Sunday so we will have to see what else happens. The blizzard of ’49, was a lot worse or so they say. I will thank my LORD, that we are all ok, and doing as good as we are. It really has been fun. I have found things on the Internet that I didn’t know was there since I have had time to explore it more. Shopping the world is very interesting. Now if I only had money. (LOL). Stay warm and enjoy the upcoming spring.
The next storm brought 12” of snow and then a few days later yet another storm came through and dropped 14” more. So we have had 57” of snow in 12 days. 3 storms.
We eventually did get down the hill on the ATV but that was very interesting as we had to do a relay/cache; we would bring up supplies to a half way mark (a large blue tarp in the middle of a snow bank), then go back for more. Only to have to do the same from the cache to the house in order to get supplies up the hill. It was great fun! And a whole lot of work and the animals were appreciative of the food.
The thing to remember in spring is that the temps get warm quickly and the snow melts just as quickly. So 21 days of being stuck at home isn’t really bad, we had fun and are really enjoying the sunny warmer days that are here.
Thankfully we will have a respite from all the snow for a while and I am sure will be ready for it next winter, so goes the cycle of life. What a hoot!
An Adventure in Night Calving Heifers:
This past month or so, I was a night calver for some neighbors. There were about one hundred twenty heifers. I have been chased around a wheelbarrow by an angry cow, slimmed by wet babies and had more than one long night. The following story is the most memorable of the group.
One night about two A.M. it was about 20 degrees out. I ran three heifers into a smaller corral next to the barn. As I watched one heifer’s water broke and so I walked away for about forty-five minutes. When I came back there had been no progress, so I ran her into the barn alley and locked her into a head gate. It took me about forty minutes to pull the beautiful bull calf.
After settling that pair, I trudged my sweaty self out to check on the other two heifers. I ran the next one in to repeat the process and as I was tiring it took me a little longer. By now, the sweat is poring off of me and my fingers froze if they are not in contact with the animals. A total of fifty minutes later I have two moms and two bull calves settled in straw.
I go out for a third time hoping that the heifer calved or I am gonna be pulling a dead calf. Sure enough, no calf. After running her in and fighting her to catch her head, I am exhausted and really just want a big stick to whoop up on the heifer for being stubborn.
I reached in and managed to chain up one fore hoof, but cannot find the second. Thinking back to Dad’s early childhood instruction I remember that I am gonna half to reach in and find the second hoof or I am gonna have a dead calf.
If you have ever had to do something like that in the dark, you realize it is lots easier said than done.
Just as I managed to catch what felt like a hoof, the calf pulls it out of my hand and I have to start all over. Catching it a second time, my hand was pinned between the calf and the uterus and mom had a big contraction. Cursing the blessed heifer did not make my hand and arm feel any better, believe me. Needless to say I needed a break. But you wait and you could kill the calf. By the time I wrestled the two hooves out and got them hooked up to the puller, my hands and arms were cramping and trembling with fatigue. After that it was a very easy pull and yet a third bull calf.
I managed to settle the pair and picked up all my equipment before the sun was up, but not my much. However, my night was not yet finished. When you pull calves on a cement floor, all of that fluid and blood doesn’t have anywhere to go. So naturally, as I wearily walk through on my way back to the truck, I slipped and fell face first into the middle of the mess. Candid Camera would have had a field day! Nothing could top that experience.
Snow, Ice, Mud, pneumonia, Spring!
Time just sprang forward, spring is just around the corner, and it has snowed yet again, this time only four inches of the white stuff, cleanly covering the thick slimy red mud that we have come to enjoy. How can someone enjoy red slimy mud? Well let me tell you of this last winter and its little peculiarities that occurred.
This year’s winter has been an interesting one. From the everyday adding of snow to the warm temps and rain at the oddest of times, to 8” of solid ice on our mile and a half long road that just happens to have a slope of 40 degrees at the worst part, to the three of us getting pneumonia, to the glorious time with our children home for the holidays. The old timers say it’s been a bad one for ice, and they hadn’t seen ice on the creek like this year for quite a while. I personally will gladly wait a long time before we see any more years with the ice like we have had it this last year.
We still have two feet of snow in the trees, the southern slopes have melted off and been recovered many times, but the northern ones on which we enjoy are still slumbering in their blankets of snow.
December was a snowy and cold month, we had our below zero weather this year during this month, Christmas came and we had about two feet of snow on the ground and more on the way. Of course this snow came in little bits and pieces to begin with, lulling our hearts with dreams of the perfect “Norman Rockwell” experience. That is until the snow fell in batches of ten and fifteen inches at a time. Then it may look pretty but the logistics of getting up and down; out and around become a slight problem. Oh, no one really minds the boots, coats, gloves, hats and scarf’s for a short time That is if the wind isn’t blowing, but there does come a time, when you feel as if you have “lived in” them a little too long, and you long for shorts, and T-shirts. That is to say, if you don’t add rain to the snowy mix. Yes we had rain not once but several times through the winter, and in December. It’s a little scary to see all this snow and watch the rain fall down on it, knowing that rain and snow make a lovely hard ice.
January came with more snow, rain and sunshine, just enough to tease us with the possibility of spring. Then, our daughter caught pneumonia, we worked hard to get her over it, just to have my husband come down with it at the end of the month. Of course the animals and place still needed tended and with both of them either down or recovering, it got a little interesting. I can do a lot, and splitting wood, feeding animals and watering them, as well as tending sick people during the wonderful little cold and snowy covered days, is rough for even the toughest of us. Never fear, I promptly came down with double pneumonia and my husband and I changed places. Only I took a little longer to recover. None of us went to the hospital; we all recovered safely at home, thanks to modern drugs and a good doctor who understands.
So January melted into February, and we recovered, sloshed around, and crept up and down the ice covered road. Oh, I forgot to tell you how it got ice covered. Take ten inches of snow at a whack, run say one truck up and down the road three times a day for two weeks, with the occasional extra trip by odd people continue to add snow, and you get a very thick nicely packed down skating rink that is just wide enough for a four wheel drive truck to go through. Add some rain, warmer days, colder nights, don’t forget to add a little more snow, and now only the occasional trip up and down the road and you get a really fun (and scary) park ride for free that is if you happen to give your truck too much gas at just the wrong moment at which the back end of your truck tries to become the front and you do a 180 degree turn on the aforementioned ice covered road. If the first time wasn’t enough for you then try it again, yet another time. Please remember we are an hour away from emergency help. Adds a little spice to your life don’t you think! And it keeps things interesting, which is why we live where we do.
To back track a bit, the Holidays were wonderful! our boys and the girls came home for Christmas, it was a very special one since our youngest made it back safely from his tour in Afghanistan. So we celebrated like crazy and welcomed them all home where they belong. I will add if you don’t watch carefully grandchildren grow up very quickly and our little granddaughter is certainly doing just that.
Well March has entered like a lamb, and everyone expects it to go out like a lion. But while it is still sputtering and fussing at us, we are busy with 50 new baby chicks, the four ducks and 17 geese are busy laying eggs for their spring clutches. Lambs are still safely in their mother’s warm bodies awaiting the next month and their coming births, and our baby calf is fast out growing his or her mother’s body as well. All of this has been happening while the warmer days and nights have crept in again coaxing us towards spring: which is where all the red slimy mud came from (all of that snow, melting and running down the hillside forming cricks and ponds and streams aplenty everywhere you look). What fun, oozy, gooey, red mud!
The geese have been flying high in the sky and are headed north; we have watched large numbers of them go that way this year, and it does seem a bit early, wonder what they know.
New Years eve we added a wood stove to our little cabin, and what a change it has made, there is nothing like getting warm by wood heat! The garden is even benefitting from the wood heat, as it is warming up the cabin enough to allow us to start plant inside and keep them going early in the season. And speaking of gardening, everyone is looking forward to it. All the plants, and new life popping up, to the harvest time and putting it all away or selling it at the farmers market which I started last summer, it should be great fun. Hope everyone is doing great; enjoy the day, and the ones coming. I will write again soon. Remember red slimy mud means spring is coming!
Journal update 2008 the lost has returned!
It’s an early Sept evening, it is gently raining outside and the temps have dropped yet again in this up and down crazy month. It seems that since Sept 1, this year someone flipped a switch and what was a nice warm summer, instantly turned to fall, with all its craziness. Where has the time gone? I can’t believe that it is fall of 2008. Well let me update everyone on what has been happening here on the mountain.
In January we let it be known that we would be selling starter plants in the spring for anyone who would want them, we took orders and then grew and sold various different plants, from tomatoes, to pumpkins, to peppers, to herbs. That was quiet a little experiment. It went well and we seemed to have happy customers, so we will do that again this next year.
The weather this year has been funky to say the least; cold, rain, snow, you name it we’ve had it. The spring and early summer were cold and wet, and most gardens didn’t do very well here in the area. Unless you had a greenhouse of some sort, you didn’t seem to get too far with your garden. We had a nice garden both inside and outside of our little greenhouse. We grew blue corn, miniature corn, squash (several kinds) tomatoes, onions, potatoes, carrots, dill, herbs of sage, peppers, jalapeños, cayenne’s, raspberries, strawberries, and some other odds and ends. We got a pretty good crop from all of it, there were some “failures” but that seems to be the norm when gardening. It goes without saying that we heavily amended the soil, and work constantly on that here on our place.
We started a local farmer’s market this year in the hopes of sharing our wealth of produce, and of getting our neighbors and friends in the mind of gardening. We have only been able to have 2 of them so far due to the slowness of the gardens which were about 1 month behind, but both were a huge success in the fact that people came purchased produce and other items and were introduced to “local” stuff. We also opened up the farmer’s market to anyone who had any homemade, handmade, or homegrown items that they wanted to share. We were pleased with the response over all, and look forward to doing this again next year.
We saved and purchased 4 new Navajo-Churro ewes and a Ram and a ram friend. Rey our ram is beautiful; he has a full curl of horns and seems to be gentle, as far as a ram can be gentle. Bob, his whether friend is a half breed and also seems to be fairly gentle. The new girls are chocolate in color and seem so little compared to our original 6 girls that they still seem babies, but they have settled in nicely and we are looking forward to seeing and getting fleeces from them all next spring. We have decided to sell some of the babies, and possible fleeces but that will all be decided and put into the works come next spring.
The wild life this year has been good, we have seen a lot of twins and triplets in both deer and antelope, and their coats are looking nice and healthy, which should be since there was plenty of grass for everyone to eat again this year. A strange thing is happening with the bucks, their horns are shooting up straight without a lot of forks in them, and several people have commented on them so we will have to see what hunting season brings. There has been plenty of wild life around this year, as we found a baby antelope out in the pasture and got to take pictures of it, we didn’t touch it, so that it’s Mom would take it back, but it was a fascinating event to watch and see God’s instinct in this animal in how they protect themselves. The baby didn’t even bat an eyelash. Oh if we could get our own children to be that well disciplined.
Our milk cow (Belle) had her calf in Jan, and so we have added to the farm with a new milk cow as the baby was a heifer. She is called Star, but we have to admit that there isn’t a white spot on the girl, we just figured she would be the star of the program in the future. Let me tell you that girl is spoiled! She has a bum calf friend that came to live with us, the baby girl “gator” as we call her, came to us blind and only days old, no one figured she would live long if at all, since no one had seen her eat, she was small and weak and bumped into everything. But with a lot of gentleness, patience and hard work, “gator” is alive and well and not blind. We don’t know what happened, because the obvious cloudiness/blindness on her eyes left as she grew, so she just fell in with the rest of the crew around here.
As to the family; our youngest is a Marine and is serving in Afghanistan currently, so each day and night as we count our blessings here on the mountain we say a special prayer for his safety and welfare, as we are very proud of him and his service to our great nation. He is the reason we can do what we do here on the mountain.
Our daughter went to work for a neighbor this spring and has done everything from fencing, to calving, to branding, moving cattle, haying, planting, plowing, to you name it on a ranch and she has helped. It has been a great experience for her and she has loved all the daily adventures, as well as the beautiful country she has got to explore.
Our Older son and his family are growing strong and healthy, busy with the challenges of life for a young family. Hopefully soon they will be able to come back to the state and make their lives here closer to home. A mom can hope and dream, can’t she.
As to us, we are struggling with life, as many blessing as we have and believe me we have many, there are always trials. The forge has slowed down with all of the many foreign makers of branding irons, and while that is a double edged sword, it keeps life on the edge but we are not going to let the challenge get us down. But who can complain? Not us, as we get to wake up and struggle in heaven so we just keep plowing through.
Well I will close for now and try to get better at adding to this journal.
September flipped the switch up here; we went from upper 80’s and 90’s to 70’s and rain, and more days of 60’s. But while these temperatures seem like summer there was a definite bite in the air. We had our first frost on the 10th of September; it has daily reminded us we are in the fall. The leaves that can turn have; and fruit draw was absolutely beautiful with all of its reds, yellows and gold’s. When I wandered down in the draw the world closed around me and I was in a dream world of color and texture. Life’s lens closed down to the very narrow aperture and only the quiet, subtle, stillness of the draw held my focus. The larger world dropped away and it was fantastic!.
Oct, brings the hunters all vying for the trophy, the touches of florescent orange mixed in the camouflage is brilliant. For me I was busy drying, canning and enjoying the age old feeling of sense of accomplishment as I filled my shelves with nature’s bounty. The simple pleasure of pouring fresh honey into smaller more useable jars is something that seems lost to the business of our day. It truly is a simple pleasure. But I will say I also thoroughly enjoyed all of my neighbors that I only get to see at this time of year. It is a nice change to just walk or go a little way to visit with friends, and the first traffic jam actually happened up here, two of us met in the road, had to pull off so the other could get by, we all laughed about it, it was wonderful.
November is fall, Thanksgiving, a month of elections, Veterans Day and changes of color and focuses, why is it we wait until the end of the year to give thanks, count our blessings or notice the glory around us? I don’t know, but I will take this time and use it well. We still have not had any snow, ok, a light skiff? If you can call it that, this morning, but I don’t’ count it, 25 snow flakes don’t really count even in a weatherman’s book. But now that the hunters are all gone and things have quieted down. The deer and elk are coming back around, even the coyotes seem to be getting braver and coming closer to pass their calls back and forth. The flies are the last remaining vestige of a hot summer, and they are clinging to a tentative life which they know will soon end and they crowd around the doors and anywhere else they think they might find warmth. Only when they slip inside, they find a quick death at the end of my fly swatter, so long to summer!
Summer 2007 update
I know it’s been a while since I last updated this journal. Many things have happened as life went speeding by. Seasons changed, life was renewed, spent, and is now about to go back into its resting phase again. I find myself at the end of August looking back on many things. Nature has astounded me many times again this year. Family and friends have grown and changed, I have grown and changed, and as always life keeps her steady pace . . . one day at a time.
Winter in her glory brought many fierce storms, with equally as many gentle gatherings of snow. The forest quietly stood there accepting each and allowing the changes to happen. I on the other hand did not quietly accept one storm. The storm of my youngest son telling me he had joined the US Marines. While I will proudly say here, I am extremely proud of my son and back him 1000 % the idea of having my son in harms way did not set easily with the mother, and I had to take long walks in my beloved woods to finally come to terms with this fierce storm. His very sound reasoning for joining finally broke its way through my mothers need to protect. That reasoning . . . that “ This country had given him so much . . . he just wanted to give something back his way”., to be the best of the best a US Marine. I could not argue. So I have entered a new season.
Spring burst onto the scene with promise and hope of untold goodness. The spring rains were gentle and the Moe and Joe Club came back hungry for the local quiescence. May saw us the grateful recipients of 14” of rain, fast growing grass and trees perking up with open arms just soaking it all up, we were thankful. We listened to the water gurgling down the hill sides into the spring and watched as Mother Nature took a deep sigh as she gratefully soaked up all the moisture. The roads were muddy and a side of our mountain road blew out due to all the rain, but is can be fixed gradually.
Our pines trees did a curious thing this year they did not set an over abundance of pine cones on, as they did last year, and there was no pollen dispersed this year, but the trees are healthy. We will watch and see how this cycle plays itself out. Summer heated up around the end of June, we went from comfortable days and nights to hot ones with 100+ degrees, summer had arrived and thankfully not with as much force as last year.
The deer, antelope, and elk are all looking great they have had a great spring and summer with lots to eat and they are now proudly showing rich coats and heavy velvets calling out their health.
Summer has flown by, kids have come home and spent time romping through the woods and over the rocks, they have rested, laughed, explored, dreamed, worked, and reluctantly gone back to their lives, as have we now that they are all gone.
We have recently gone down to Cheyenne and picked up our long awaited new girls. This was the culmination of many years of dreaming and work, but it is finally been accomplished. We now have in residence 6 ewe Navajo Churro lambs born this last winter in Oregon. Gracia, Mimi, Panda, Lulu, Justine, Kalia have joined us here, we are ecstatic, as they are small and graceful and bring sheep back to sheep country. These 6 girls will be the foundation of our newest venture. They will provide wool to be spun and used either as rug wool which is what their wool is basically for, or I can combine it with other wools to make sweaters, if I like. But they are another heritage breed that is endangered, like our Toulouse geese which will be their pasture mates. We are slowly adding life to the hills and peace continues to gather around the place, as well as various songs of happiness from the chickens, cats, dogs, sheep, geese and people now. Music comes in many forms, and sometimes the quiet, gentle, contented sounds of cats and sheep are the sweetest music to our ear, if we only just listen.
How did our garden do you might ask? FABULOUS, we have dried over 200 lbs of Roma tomato’s, (that is about 2 gallons of dried tomatoes) we have about 1 dozen Hopi squash, we have a nice patch of Aztec blue dent corn, we grew lots of cherry tomato’s, cucumbers, dill, lemon balm, peppermint, carrots, potatoes, strawberries, onions, peppers, chili’s, comfrey and other small things. While it was thrilling to see the green house come to life after the long winters rest, it is equally as thrilling to see it being put back to bed now that the summer’s harvest is almost over. We only had to plant the dill 4 times this year due to the rain in May but we got enough to have plenty of seed for next year so we will call it a success. We gathered apples from neighbors and gratefully put them aside. We have truly been blessed this summer with a bounty that can help carry us through the winter.
I will close for now and attempt to write again soon.
November is Upon us!
Well the seasons have changed once again here and fall is upon us. Our mountain has gone from warm and inviting outside to warm and inviting inside as the cold north winds have moved in. We awake now to a world all decked out with white crystals, on the windows, the rocks and trees as well as everything else. Slowly the sun peeks over the tree line and gradually warms up the wonderland of white, and it magically disappears to hopefully reappear on the morrow. The Moe & Joe club has gone south for the winter and the antelope, deer, and elk all take their time meandering through the area searching for the last vestiges of tender greens.
I have had the privilege to watch the life cycle of pinecones this last year and can tell you it is not as dull as it may sound. Actually it is very beautiful and inspiring to watch as they slowing change from purple bud to green cone to fully open and ready to spread their seed. You know the song “the Hills are alive with the sound of music” from the movie, well they are, you only have to stop and listen. The mountains are alive in so many ways it is fascinating to watch and I count myself privileged.
We have gotten involved in our local community and have the privilege to help restore a local log hall that is 80+ years old to make it more useable. This is turning out to be quite an adventure and keeps us highly involved in the modern world with all the fund raising, grant applications, and hoops we have to jump through. But it is for a very good cause, and the building is such an important part of the community that we don’t mind at all. The things we are learning are fascinating and are changing our opinions of the civilized world. I ‘ll leave it at that.
We have had yet another encounter with the mountain pack rat. This time the little fellow brought along a friend and decided to make his home in my truck engine. Where he proceeded to remove large chunks of 4 of my sparkplug wires, as well as filling up the compartment with pine branches and twigs and other helpful things like dog food which is only left out during the day, I will gladly say, he or she and their friend no longer reside in my truck engine. But I will not hold my breath, as I am sure the word is out, there is a nice open condo available in the big red and white truck. LOL
As those of you how have ordered from us know Christmas is one of our busy seasons, Yes I am no longer guaranteeing Christmas delivery and people are unhappy with me. Well life is rough all over. But I will say I am looking forward to creating some more new memories this year, and adding to our Christmas Eve bonfire, and feeding of the wildlife that we did last year.
Well here is hoping your Thanksgiving was warm, wonderful and full of family and friends and that your Christmas will be the same.
I can hardly believe summer is here and almost gone, but it is. Oh, the things that have happened so far up here on the mountain. We have seen lots of wildlife, and the Joe and Moe club ( turkey vulchers) came back to us, but not in as large of numbers as last year, they must know things we don‘t. We have watched them soar on the thermals in the evening and enjoyed their antics as they conserve their strength by gliding for great distances on the thermal and then darting in and out with each other. We have watched the new births of the spring come out for all to see, and we have an Antelope that twinned this year, we love to watch them frolic around in the meadows. Thankfully we have not seen our big cat again this spring but I hope she/he is doing great. Our baby chicks and geese that were purchased this last spring are all alive and doing great, we have not lost a one. We can still catch a glimp of the deer in the early mornings, if you are very quiet. They are so majestic that it warms the heart to see them. I must confess we have seen several snakes around, a couple of Racer snakes, they passed the book test and went merrily on their way. However the rattlesnake that came across my path was not so lucky. Although he was only 12” long and didn’t have a full rattle yet, he certainly had the fangs for it and we took no chances with him, and after beheading the booger, with a shovel, and carefully used pliers and a knife we confirmed all suspicions about him being a rattler. He was promptly skinned and after letting his body finish it’s squirming around. Amber skinned him, salted the skin and hung it up on a board as all great white hunters would do. LOL.
We started the summer lush and green and have turned brown and dangerously dry. Yes we are near enough to the Wyoming and Montana fires that we can see and smell most of the mess. We pray daily that a friendly little thundershower doesn’t turn against us by starting another forest fire. Too many people already have lost their homes and ranches to these fires. The trees will take generations to come back to their recent heights and glory. But we fully understand that this is nature that we live amidst and therefore it has a cycle and we must just live with it. Along with all of the fires we have been having we have suffered or struggled with very hot temperatures 100+’s and it has been interesting with no electricity to plug the AC into if we had one. We have managed by keeping curtains closed, leaving windows open all night, cold spring showers and staying out of the sun. It has played havoc with running the forge but we are working early mornings and later evenings with the forge so that we don’t all just melt in the intense heat.
We have been visited by the mountain pack rat that we saw last fall, only this time he has decided to make his new home in my truck engine, neatly storing dog food up inside of the engine, making the sensors and engine go crazy. Tricky little fellow thought he could get away with it, but hopefully we can out smart him, by moveing the dog food, and helping him to find another home. I know I am dreaming but we all need to dream!! LOL
The wildlife has been spectacular! We have 10 elk cow/calves down on the creek, deer, and all of their fawns out foraging for food, and antelope everywhere. The wild turkeys have even brought their little ones around to check out what food we might be willing to share. It has been glorious!
I have taken a lot of pictures of the surrounding areas on my daily walks and have so enjoyed the peacefulness of the forest, I used to take the 4 wheeler to take me farther distances, but I have found the walk in the forest much more serine and helpful so now I just walk. The pictures seem to take on a different story when I don’t have the 4 wheeler and I enjoy them more. Oh modern technologies have their places and I know how dependent we can get on them but it is nice to go back to the old ways.
Our garden has over taken us this summer, we actually grew cantaloupe in WYOMING an almost unheard of thing, but we have shared the proof with others so they can vouch for it. We have a bounty of tomatoes, peppers, squash, onions, strawberries, carrots, watermelon, beets, zucchini, pickles, cucumbers, and other items. All of which we have shared, and enjoyed putting up what we can
I have just finished canning peaches on a grill and they turned out great, it is amazing what a person can do with a little determination and sticktoitness! I now have home canned peaches for the winter. I am starting to put up other garden produce by drying it and canning it as well so we should be set for garden goodies this winter on a number of fronts. So long for now from the mountain!
Well things are moving along. We have had our April snow and rain showers so far and we are definitely beginning to see some of May’s flowers. Our wild crocus are in bloom as well as a myriad of other wild flowers some I have been able to identify as well as others I haven’t – it is time to find another or better book on local wildflowers. The bees are busy as well as the little birds all singing and nesting, I look forward to seeing their new babies. The large supply of baby bunnies that we have seen tell us they are all doing just fine, they most definitely are being bold as brass everyday. My husband and I have been busy setting fence posts along the road these last two weekends and hopefully soon we will be putting up barbed wire. The male wild turkeys are brazen this month as they strut their stuff and call to the females daily. As I write I hear them on the ridge gobbling away to any girl turkey that will listen.
Our building projects are coming along nicely and in truth we think of more daily, so I think if they all come to fruition we will be building for the next 10 years, not something we want to do, so we will have to choose the best projects and do those. We have however been enjoying a small project that will add to our outdoor living space. It will be a small garden behind and to the side of the office cabin that will provide shade and relaxing or entertaining area for the future. This space will be able to hold a picnic table, chairs, be shade and offer a breeze during the hot periods of the day, as well as a place to hang bird feeders and have garden flowers all in a rustic mountain setting. Just north east of this place we will put a cable bridge suspended over a deep ravine that is called fruit draw, this bridge will give us a wonderful view of our spring and the animals that come to visit it on a daily basis. Since I am not a big fan of free moving drop offs, I will withhold judgment on whether I will be crossing the bridge many times but I definitely like the idea and look forward to the vantage point.
Well plans are continually made and changed and things are moving along nicely here on the mountain this glorious spring so I will let you go for the moment and get back to my restful Saturday afternoon and visit with you again next month.
Crazy Branding iron people!
Well it seems every trip to town (about once a week now) sees us coming back loaded for bear with lumber, tin, gas, propane, food, or dirt as the seemingly endless building process continues here on the mountain. We go down the mountain loaded with boxes of orders to be shipped here and there, and come back up the mountain loaded with supplies. I must confess I do not know how the early homesteaders ever made it without there local lumber store or hardware store. Ours maybe only 50 some miles away but I can’t imagine traveling a week to get supplies and then hauling them all back in wagon only to turn around and do it all again, no wonder our ancestors built homes out of what ever they could find, be it sod or wood. Theirs was a life of necessity not frivolity.
The ground is still frozen and we have set posts and beams many a time by lighting a fire in the earth to heat it up enough to be able to dig it out and then set the post. Let me tell you that is not fun, but very hard work. Oh, I know we could go rent or purchase a post hole digger for a tractor or one with a small engine, but to be honest they are costly, noisy and then there is the transportation back and forth. Hand digging brings with it a simple pleasure of doing it yourself, even if your back says “just pay the money you fool”. You see my husband is a bit of a “recluse” and enjoys seeing how long he can go staying on the mountain in a continuous time frame. So as his loving wife, I do much of the travel with my daughter, and being females there are just some things better left done by a man, and man-handling machinery is one of them. Now I know there are some women out there that may say “a woman can do anything a man can” you may be right, but it is ever so nice to have a nice gentleman help you with things like loading and unloading machinery and other such heavy things. I for one intend to let them help when necessary and prudent, and it is just good common sense.
As I said earlier in “end of winter?” the water does seem to flow down the hillside on occasion these days. And in doing so, mud seems to be the rule around here as the ground is soft and slippery just about everywhere. We have brought in bucket after bucket of the shale that is all around here and created pathways and driveways all over, all in the attempt to not swim in the mud coming off the side of the mountain. I have been racking my brain as of lately to figure ways to “raise” our life just slightly off the ground and allow us to trod over the soggy earth without carrying it everywhere with us. I am working on the process but have found little to sufficiently ease the problem without massive amounts of money or time. So I will continue to let my creative juices flow and see where they lead me. After all isn’t that part of homesteading, being creative in what and how you do things?
We have finally located more of our suppliers and are making ourselves and our needs known to them. I will say the same question always comes up, “you make branding irons? There is a need for such things in today’s world?” the answer is always a resounding “yes!”. After all we are just those crazy branding iron people that live up on the mountain and do things a little differently and love doing it that way!
End of Winter?
As winter slowly looses it’s icy tentacles on the mountain, it seems to only tease us in this process. As one day tiny rivers of water flow down the mountain and into the ravines that eventually make up the causeways of our creek, and the next day they lay frozen rock hard as if to never had run before. Such is the incomprehensible mayhem of late winter early spring. Even the plants can’t seem to make up their minds whether it is winter or spring, as early small yellow flowers peek up out of the ground one day and are seemingly buried the next. But it is not to be brooded over as this happens each year all across our great land. Only the wise stop to notice it and enjoy the slow lazy dance that is taking place, each participant knowing the other so very well and being ever so patient. Therefore it is truly a blessing that I have noticed them this year as the lazy days of winter wind into the much hoped for spring days. I have enjoy watching the birds come back from their warm winter homes and begin to make their ways here in the cooler mountain meadows for the spring and summer. Mother nature is constantly on the move here.
Just the other day Amber and I saw a mountain lion go across our path, thankfully we were in the truck, and he went the other way quickly. I know from books that seeing a mountain lion is a rare treasure in the wild, and I am truly thankful for this pleasure. But as his or her majesty was magnificent, such grace, such power, I hope never to have to come into a direct power struggle with such a wonderful creature.
They say winter is the time for rest, and I must agree, as the long snowy days do make you want to stay in by the fire, all warm and safe. They also make you take stock of all that you have been blessed with, the sheer gift of life itself, your family, and friends, the beauty of your home, the many, many other blessing that you might have forgotten. Winter is definitely the time to rest and contemplate the coming days and season that lie ahead of you, not only in anticipation but in thankfulness. So as these few day wane by until the calendar and the weather can both come into agreement that spring is finally arrived I will enjoy the resting time this winter has given me and anticipate what the spring and summer will bring.
Back in the saddle again
Well we have finally gotten back on the Internet. We now have our satellite system up and running and I no longer have to travel 55 miles one way to check e-mail twice a week. That is such a blessing especially since we have had several cold snaps and snow which make the roads treacherous, but on to happier things.
We have been on the mountain for two months now and have enjoyed every minute of it. We have learned to work around power constraints and even enjoyed them. We have also learned to do so many things by hand that we now feel totally comfortable and most of the time don’t even remember to turn the power tools on, oh, I know come summer and the intense building season we will, but for now we enjoy the slower hand methods.
We have built a chicken brooder which is a wonderful octagon building about 5’ tall and has a couple of glass windows in it for us to check on our chicks and for them to see out and drive our dogs crazy. We will heat it with a Coleman lantern this spring when we get the chicks but for now we are still putting on the siding. We have had great fun figuring out this little project.
Our green house has turned out to be a real boon, as it gets nicely warm during the cold winter days and it allows us to work in it as well as take our showers down in the far end of our 8X36’ green house. We hope to start our garden it in during March but will have to wait and see what the day time temps get to be since we are currently in a subzero stretch of weather. Right now we just enjoy slipping in there during the day and warming ourselves in the subterranean little greenhouse.
I will have to say that I do not recommend baking on a gas grill outside in the subzero weather as it is rather hard to keep the proper temp in side the grill, but it can be done and is a true test of patience among other things. I have also learned a great respect for my ancestors who traveled the pioneer trails and cooked outdoors in all weather. The pioneer women and men were a very hardy stock and should be remembered as HEROS in my book as they put up with many things that were never noted in their journals. I am learning mild lessons these days.
Well I better go for now. Enjoy each day for the gifts that they bring and each person for the unique traits they share with you. Each day is truly a blessing.
First Snow Fall; Oct 2005
On the 4th of October the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped and the moisture was heavy in the air as nature all around us showed us signs of changing weather. Since we have lived on the plains of WY for many many years, we could easily read the signs. But this time we were in for a shock. The snow fell straight down, not sideways as we have experience so many times on the plains but it actually fell straight down. WOW. We reveled in this new phenomenon and I quickly went around snapping pictures to record this historic event. We giggled and laughed and acted like little kids seeing their first snow it was glorious. As night fell the snow continued and we were curious as to whether it would continue or not. Morning brought with it the best gift of all. 15” of heavy, wet, glorious, wonderful, perfectly, white snow! What more could any one ask for. As we all got around and suited up in boots, coats, gloves, hats, and bounded out into it to explore and discover all that our perfect new world held, we saw many picture perfect postcard scenes. A world transformed in to a winter wonderland of white, you know the kind in the movies, with trees covered with snow so heavily that the branches touched the ground, perfect snow, even the bunnies were nestled safe in their homes and hadn’t ventured out. But we did, we walked, played, had snowball fights and took lots of pictures and gathered in the memories of this perfect day. The world was surely at peace, at least our world was for that brief time.
The everyday life of moving;
While we live between worlds, things are moving along. Buildings are coming together on the mountain, and irons are being made and shipped on the prairie, life however seems to be taking on a blur as we travel back and forth. Decisions of what to take with us, what we still need to get rid of, and how to move it all are so common place that, they seem to be the everyday topic. Then things like waking up and seeing 10 deer out in front of our cabin early in the morning or watching a flock of magpies come in during the day reminds us that life is not the same old thing it was on the plains by the city. So we decide to enjoy ourselves and work harder to have everything in place asap.
We have found that when we are on the mountain we are in our own world. As we don’t have a TV, and can get radio for news, we find we like our natural sounds. Things slow down on the mountain, meals taste better, evening comes sooner, and in general life is sweeter. Our desire for material things have vanished other than a few necessities. We all love to read, so we keep up with that. But I will say this, life on the mountain, is like what I used to dream life could be like when my grandparents were young, slow, ever changing, hard and easy, sweeter and bitter at times, simpler just plain better as it has it own rhythm, one not usually found in today’s fast paced, stress induced, bigger, better, more and faster world. I know both worlds are needed, and with out the one the other would not be possible. So I am thankful for the technology, and the choices we have in the USA to decide what we want and where we want it.
The Fun Continues
The other night when we left Cheyenne, we had an encounter with a very bold large fox. He decided that since it was a full moon and the light was excellent he would go a hunting. Our chicken house looked ripe for the picking, so off he went! He first showed up about 11 pm, he stirred the pot, got the girls all in a tizzy and then went in for the kill. He was run off by us as we came to investigate all the racket. But ever the bold fellow and not to get too discouraged, he came back again, and this time he was successful, our little brood of hens and 2 ducks were cut in half. Thinking that surely he would not be back again, we all rested for what was left of the night. Early the next morning we got up to leave and went out to survey the damage. As we opened the chicken yard, the gate squeaked and alerted the same bold fellow! This time with full light, he quickly bounced out of the yard over the fence and down the pasture to the neighbors fence line, where he sat for almost 5 minutes looking back at me as if to say “How RUDE”. We may have interrupted his breakfast, but he interrupted our sleep and since the girls he had killed were ours, the problem was his. I will tell you now, nothing happened to him from us, since he was on our neighbors property we did not shoot him like he deserved, but we don’t expect to have any chickens left when we get home either. That’s just the price of living in the country, we will start over again come spring.
Back on the mountain, early one morning our daughter comes in all blurry eyed and tells us of her uncomfortable nights sleep, and her frightful night adventure. It seems that during the night she had felt something small weighing about a pound or so, scamper across her feet and then across her face. After jumping up screaming and grabbing her sleeping bag, her gun, flashlight and pillow she headed for a near by truck and promptly hopped in the back and went to sleep. In the morning after gathering her wits she and her Dad were working in the same unfinished cabin when a little furry rat like creature pops up and looks around. It seems our rat like friend is really a pack rat, and was just looking for some new treasure to relieve our daughter of and squirrel away for itself for later. Unbeknownst to my daughter, her little friend was just saying hello, my daughter while she may be friendly said that our little packrat friend was no friend of hers and fixed the cabin so her friend could not get in again.
We can tell fall is definitely in the air, the trees at our place in Cheyenne, have begun to turn yellow reading themselves for loosing them. The trees up on the mountain are shedding their pinecones as the late summer storms and breezes blow through. Up here everyone watches for lightening from the storms to help prevent forest fires, or at least stop them before they get too big. We are learning to watch and be aware of our surrounding forests, which is new and different from our life on the prairie where we watched for tornados and such. Some of our days have been 98 degrees and still, others have been 70’s and breezy, but all of them have been wonderful which comes from being where you want to be.
I have been going for a little 4 wheeler ride in the afternoons and found wondrous sites and beautiful places that seem to have been hidden from man for years, I know this is not true, however it feels like it at the time when you are standing there looking out over a hillside where there are no roads, houses, telephone or power lines and just beautiful country.
Well we will be back soon in Cheyenne and back to filling orders and taking orders and visiting with customers about the fall and Christmas. It is time to finish up this part of the building phase and get the business back up and going. The forge’s work area is still an open space, that has walls and soon a roof, all we need now is to bring up the benches and tools and get our satellite going for the office and we are back in business. I will be talking to you soon.
Progress is being made!
Well another week has gone by and things are a changing up here at the land. As I am writing this I have my jacket on because it is cold, and am lighting things with an oil lamp. I love it. The weather has been the big factor this week, we have had hot, cold, rain, wind, even a tornado 75 miles away, but our spirits are not dampened. We have made progress this week. The original plan was to bring our already build office and a small bedroom up with us. However, after the first trip and the experience of pulling the trailer, camper and all the loaded down trucks up the hill, we have moved on to plan B. This week we built a small guest cabin, it is now floored, roofed with 2 windows and enclosed where just a week ago it was a knoll. This will become a bedroom and office for us to work in. The corral and barn are coming along nicely, we have to finish the back wall of the barn next week and it too will be enclosed, then we will begin putting the workshops in there so that we can do our work on the forge. We have explored our mountain, found a lot of beautiful picturesque areas and fallen more in love with the area than before. We have met a few of the neighbors and they all seem like very friendly and wonderful people, we look forward to getting to know them. The wildlife is great, there are turkey vulchers, antelope, deer, elk, and turkeys, lots of porcupines, different kinds of birds, cougars/mountain lions, bob cats, and coyotes. So the wild life should be interesting to watch this year. Life is taking on a different pace here, I won’t say it is slower because it isn’t yet, we are all still busy trying to prepare ourselves and this place to meet the winter. I do know we will follow the seasons much more up here as life will revolve around them. For instance, our day starts early when the sunlight begins to come over the mountain, and it ends early when the mountain gets dark. Believe me we all welcome the dark as our bodies are tired, we come easily to the nights rest. In between times it is work, which by the way just walking is work, it is constantly up or down some hill, over downed trees, or rocks, watching for snakes or cactus, or watching the scenery. We have very little flat land.
As I had said we had rain up here and one of our new hobbies is to watch for smoke when it lightning’s, as forest fires are very hard to stop once they get started so we are becoming a part of the watch crew as everyone is who lives around here is.
Well I better close for a while, I will be back in Cheyenne tomorrow and be getting this on the site, answering e-mails, phone calls and trying to get orders out and into the mail. Thank you all for your patience with us as we experience this once in a lifetime joy. I will enjoy visiting with you this week. Have a bless and wonderful week where ever you are!
The Adventure Begins!
Well we have made our maiden voyage up to the mountain. Five trucks, 3 trailers, 3 dogs, 6 adults, and a 7 month old grandbaby all arrived exhausted, a little sunburned, and very ready to get away from the trucks. 13.5 hours after we started we arrived, we all now have a very deep appreciation for what the pioneers went through on their journey west, for which we count ourselves very lucky our trek was only 13 hours long.
We left Cheyenne at 7 am with high hopes, a lot of concern about weighted trailers and had we double checked everything that needed it, which we had thought we had at this point. Once on the road we took it slow only being able to go 45mph to keep the camp trailer from fish tailing on us, which it did quite often when ever a big rig would go by. We took it nice and slow and were thrilled to get to Chugwater in one piece, on to the next 40 mile increment. We made it to Wheatland and were still counting our lucky stars all was well, by this time though we had thoughts of staying in Gillette for the night, if we ever made it that far, so we pressed on. Just outside of Glendo in the hilly terrain of I 25 we hear a frantic call on the radio STOP!!!!! Something is wrong! The trailer!!!! We had lost a wheel on the little trailer the last truck was pulling, my daughter was driving it and after scaring her and the rest of us nearly to death, we found out that the wheel had sheered off and was careening across the interstate into the on coming traffic. But nothing of the trailers contents were damaged. So plan B went into action. We off loaded all of the contents on the trailer, re arranged all the trucks, took apart the now damaged little trailer, loaded it on the top rack of the truck that was pulling it and started off again, an hour and a half later.
We finally got to Douglas WY, stopped and ate some lunch, recollected our nerves and pressed onward toward the rest stop just outside of Bill WY, my husband had found on the map and not knowing how big it was, we headed toward it. We made it thankfully, and found shade, restrooms and cool water to help everyone cool down, by this time even the trucks, and tires were getting over heated in the hot summer day, and stress of everything. Next stop, Wright WY, from there we were headed to Gillette and another break and hopefully supper. We pulled into Gillette at 6pm, rush hour. Traffic was nasty, and of course we had to go straight through Gillette to get to our turn off. After finding gas and a Subway shop we determined that we were not sleeping any where but on the mountain so we pushed on.
We pulled through Recluse, WY about 7:30 pm, and was never so glad to see anything like the mountains and the little Post Office in all our lives. Up the mountain we went, and we pulled trucks, trailers and tired bodies down onto the plateau to make camp for the night. It had rained earlier in the afternoon, and started to rain again as we pulled in, but that didn’t bother us we were where we wanted to be.
We woke the next morning to a beautiful sunrise and the excitement of exploration, which we all did. We found our spring still running, a place for a fire pit, downed trees for benches, stools and firewood. So we set out to deciding just where everything should be placed and started to unload materials, and supplies, and tools. We finished setting up camp and turned to ringing our fire pit, and digging holes for the barn. As I was once told when I was a younger woman, the barn should always go up first, that way the animals, and tools and us if necessary will always have a place of shelter while we build the house. So the barn is going up first.
As I write this I am back in Cheyenne, checking on orders, filling orders, and getting things ready to go back up. So if you need me e-mail me and I will be in touch next time I am down from the mountain.
~The Time is coming near for departure~
As those of you who have e-mailed know, we are moving the business, and our home North into Campbell County. We are very excited and still working hard to get all orders placed in June done and on their way to you all. We are working hard after hours getting things ready to move as we will be building our new homestead from scratch! and can hardly wait. Equipment, supplies, and attitudes have all been checked and double checked. We go with very little really, but so much more than our forefathers had when they settled this land. So while we may not be in a covered wagon, we will have the spirit of their lives to encourage us while we make this daunting move. Four adults, 3 business, 3 dogs, lots of cats, chickens,ducks and household will all wake very soon in the mountains of Wyoming, leaving the plains to those strong enough to withstand the winds and life there. Enough for the moment, I will be writing more as I can, of the progress we make and the adventures we have while we stake out a new piece of heaven for ourselves.
~Homesteading in the wilds of Wyoming~
Forge 4 Hidden Hollow Dr Recluse, WY 82725 307-640-1845 Email
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