Thursday, July 31, 2008

July Summary All At Once

This is an insert using most of what was posted at Wunderground in my Day By Day in NW Montana blog. From time to time, I'll modify this summary to add or correct information.

07/31/2008 - Clear sky again today as I am almost ready to log out another month of Daily Notes and Ramblings. The temperature this morning was indeed as indicated (with some slight editing) by my PWS. Almost touching the freezing mark to end out this month.

Logs Ready to Make the Trip to the Splitter
Logs ready for the splitter

07/30/2008 - Clouds stayed overnight and the temperatures did not drop as low as usual. Wind and clouds moved through during the morning. The breezes continued until early evening with partly cloudy afternoon sky losing the clouds entirely by sunset.

Sunburst Through Clouds Soon After Sunrise
Sunburst over morning clouds

Clouds Over the Horses in a Morning View Southeast
Clouds Over Horses

07/29/2008 - Clear and dry repeating again today, with cool overnight temperatures. (Not as cool as my PWS indicates. Something is amiss in the temperature sensor lately). It was a good afternoon for a trail ride around the ranch.

Morning Sun Across the Pastures in a View to the East From the Deck
The Morning View from the Deck to the East

Trail Riding Around the Ranch
Trail Ride along Fenceline

View From Upper Trail During Ride
Trail Ride View from Upper Fenceline

07/28/2008 - Clear and once again drying conditions all day in NW Montana.

Socks and Stuff Drying during a Mostly Clear Day

07/27/2008 - Clear and dry again this morning. Some clouds with a warm front moved through late yesterday evening and kept temperatures a little warmer overnight. By morning, the clouds had moved through and sunny sky conditions allowed for another warm day. As part of the daily chores, Patti and her mom drove around on the ATV to pickup after the horses.

Daily Chores Around the Ranch
Moving through the paddocks on the ATV

Daily Chores ... Fun For Children of All Ages

07/26/2008 - Sunny and dry days continue. Just a little mix of clouds this afternoon. But no precipitation is likely. Today, we took a little trip to see the Event at Rebecca Farm, a World Class Horse Eventing weekend that takes place each year near Kalispell.

Morning View Across Outer Pasture
View across outer pasture to ranch building this morning

Views Around the Grounds at Rebecca Farm Horse Event
View of Rebecca Farm Grounds and Spectators

Patti, her mom, and Titan at the Event At Rebecca Farm
Patti, her mom, and Titan at Rebecca Farm

07/25/2008 - Mostly sunny and dry. The deer have been sometimes seen at the automatic watering bowls. This fellow was just walking through one of the green areas near the arena.

Buck Moving Through the Shadows
Buck Moving through the shadows this afternoon

07/24/2008 - There were some morning clouds much like those of yesterday evening. The sky cleared for an hour or so but was followed with additional morning clouds. More sun than clouds arrived during the early afternoon and by evening clear conditions became the rule.

Repeating Deck View to the East During Mostly Clear Morning
Deck view east with morning sun and shadows

The Boys Go to Pasture One ... Now that all Grass is Cut and Baled
Boys in Pasture One Framed by Gate

07/23/2008 - Some lingering fog this morning with the clouds hanging around until mid-day. The afternoon is giving decreasing clouds and warming temperatures again. (Weather station note: It looks like my station temperature sensor needs a check-up since the automatic readings are showing unrealistic fluctuations.) The evening sky was alive with clouds and light changes that make a person sing.

Evening Clouds

Lingering Morning Fog Over North Hills
Lingering fog along the hills north of the ranch

07/22/2008 - Overnight clouds kept the temperature from falling too low overnight. Mostly cloudy conditions are continuing through the mid-day period. The forecast calls for an increasing chance of precipitation later today. ... Later ... The forecast was correct, during the late evening a good rainfall took place dropping just over a quarter of an inch. Nice to have the dust settled for a day or so.

Clouds Around Sunrise
Clouds shortly after sunrise

07/21/2008 - Clear and continued dry. With apologies to the original author: 'make that bale, lift that bale, store that bale, eat that bale'.

Tree Frames Bales and Bale Eating Horses in the Far Distance (almost not visible in the image, in fact)
Tree frames distant bales and horses

07/20/2008 - The sun shined. I baled hay.

Baling Hay ... Again (thanks to a neighbor for the use of his baler for the day)
The Baler About to Put Out Another Bale

07/19/2008 - This was another of those regular days at the ranch today. Where, mostly you just relax. I did a few things as needed and it was a good day with sunny conditions, just a bit of a breeze and temperatures that were comfortable.

Orpheus, Just Relaxing (like me) This Evening
Orpheus with Raked Wind Rows Behind Him

07/18/2008 - Some lines of high alto-stratus and alto-cu moved through this morning. The forecast continues to call for dry conditions so I decided to swath the remaining pastures. Now I just need to get the baler to work over the next couple of days so I can bale on Sunday or Monday.

Swathed Rows Back Behind the Swather
Swathed Rows Back Behind the Swather

Swathed Rows in Completed Pasture One
Swathed Rows in Completed Pasture One

07/17/2008 - Clear and cool again overnight. A traditional set of images of the morning view from the deck was taken. Today saw me doing various and assorted ranch chores as my wife and a couple of horses head to a dressage show in Spokane. After the day of tasks, it seemed like the dog days of summer may be upon us already. Later in the evening, the deck view changed as the near full moon was rising.

Slide Show of Views From the Deck Morning and Evening

Dog Day Evening Around the Fire Ring

07/16/2008 - Partly cloudy start to the day after mostly clear conditions overnight. Temperatures dropped to the mid-40's again as a result of the cleared sky that allowed the heat from yesterday to escape. My station history has a missing section due to a loss of the Internet DSL connection from about 6 PM yesterday evening through 11 AM today. After a little work on the baler, it was time for a bit of fun with a late afternoon trail ride. Life is good at the ranch!

Filtered Sun Lights Up the Outer Pasture
Filtered Sun Lights Up the Outer Pasture

Heading Back to the Ranch After the Trail Ride
Returning from the Trail Ride

07/15/2008 - Cloudy morning conditions for the first time in almost three weeks. It is beginning to get a little dry and some dust was blowing around in the dry lot paddocks this afternoon. I spent a good bit of the day cutting down some of the dead trees in the woods area. Since the days are beginning to get shorter, it is time again to think about creating the firewood pile!

Clouds in Daily Morning View from the Deck
Overcast Morning View from the Deck Looking East

Dust Blowing Through the Paddocks this Afternoon
Dust Blowing Through the Paddocks this Afternoon

07/14/2008 - More clear and dry conditions again today. Break day between the swath, rake, bale cycle as yesterday's work gets stored into the barn and shelters. Today I'll probably pull apart the baler to get ready for the replacement parts. In the mean-time, I'll just do some regular ranch chores.

Daily Morning View from the Deck
Morning View From the Deck

07/13/2008 - Clear, cool again with mid 30's overnight (hmmm, might be a low sensor error, that seems a bit low). Somewhat warmer than yesterday is forecast for today with continued clear and dry conditions. A neighbor let me use his baler and about three hours and 130 bales later, the task is done. Now we just need to load the bales and move them to a storage area.

Daniel Posing with Bales in the Pasture
Daniel Posing with the Bales

07/12/2008 - Cool overnight with upper 30's. Nice day for baling hay -- but -- the baler broke down after just 3 bales and was out of service for the rest of the day. The horses didn't seem to care about that and just continued eating grass faster than I can bale it.

Wanita and Corrie Grazing in the Morning Sun
Wanita and Corrie Graze in the Morning Sunlight

07/11/2008 - After the morning walk it was time to rake the windrows that had been cut yesterday together. Flipping the rows also allows the grass that had been in contact with the ground a chance to dry before the baling takes place. Since it is quite dry, I'll probably be able to bale tomorrow.

Taking a Morning Walk Through the Windrows
Walking the Windrows Early in the Morning

The Windrow Rake Ready to Spin Through the Grass
Windrow Rake Ready to Spin

07/10/2008 - Another clear day at the ranch with more of a breeze blowing through the area. Most of today (at least 4 hours anyway) was spent swathing another pasture. Some smoke or dust is in the air again tonight as a string of dry days continues.

Swathing Session Number Two Happened Today
Swather Moving through Pasture Four

Daniel in Pasture Four After the Swathing was Completed
Daniel after the Pasture Four Swathing

07/09/2008 - A day much like yesterday. I took another view from the deck photo this morning and I expect it will look very similar to the one taken yesterday. I'll wait as the day continues to see what other image might find its way into the camera get transferred through the computer to be displayed here.

Morning Sunlight on Fence ... Horses Grazing Further Out in the Pasture
Sun Light on the Fences as the Horses Graze

07/08/2008 - Sunny day with a little more wind than yesterday. Dry conditions and just a bit of haze in the sky this afternoon and evening.

Morning View to the East ... Sunshine ... and Horses Waiting to go Out
Morning View Looking East from the Deck

07/07/2008 - Clear, cool, and calm this morning. The start of the week looks good for bringing in the next pastures of hay. I'll probably let the moisture of last week give the grass a final boost and cut later in the week. The area we finished last week was pretty wet on Saturday, after the flood boards were removed upstream, so, I won't be able to drive into it until the water goes down and things dry out a bit more.

Clear Morning View Across the Outer Pastures
Morning View Across the Pastures

07/06/2008 - There was a quick morning shower just after returning from a walk with the dogs. Clearing conditions moved in during the morning. Partly cloudy sky continued throughout the day. It was a good day for the second day of the dressage testing for Patti and Wanita.

Morning Shower and Sun Rays
Morning Shower and Sunrays

Wanita and Patti after the Second Dressage Test
Wanita and Patti After the Second Dressage Test

07/05/2008 - Mostly sunny with a bit of a breeze to start out the day. The day continued with a mix of cumulus clouds and a continuing breeze. Today was the first dressage riding show for Patti. It was a good event!

Horses Out in the Morning Sunlight
Horses Out in the Morning Sunlight

Wanita, Getting Ready for a Horse Show
Wanita Getting Ready for Show Day

Wanita Looking Good for the Show

First Dressage Riding Test at Rebecca Farm - Patti and Wanita

07/04/2008 - Hazy high cloud sky. Light winds. 4th of July at the ranch. A quick thunder shower went through during the mid afternoon. Mostly clear sky conditions finished the day.

(Link to Red Skelton's YouTube "Pledge of Allegiance" Video)
Ranch View and Flying the Flag ... Always

07/03/2008 - Sunny conditions with calm wind today at the ranch. There is some hazyness in the air again that is possibly from the fires in northern California. The grass and pastures have a renewed greeness after the rain.

Sunny Morning View from the Deck
Morning View from the Deck Looking East

07/02/2008 - Low cloud remnants of the overnight rain hung around throughout most of the morning today. Partly cloudy conditions dominated the mid-day and early afternoon. More sun than clouds appeared in the evening. It was a good day for horsing around in the pond and for stopping to look at the flowers.

Morning Clouds Hanging on After Yesterday's Rain
Clouds Hang Around After Yesterday's Rain

Horsing Around in the Pond
Horsing Around in the Pond ... Friesian Style

Flowers Growing in the Green Grass
Flowers and Green Grass

07/01/2008 - Clouds started the day. A sun and cloud mix was around for the middle of it. During the evening, the dew point met up with the temperature and a bit of thunder along with showers finished the rest of the day.

Evening Clouds Before the Rain Began
Low Clouds Move Through Before Evening Rain

The First Cutting Stacked Safely into the Old Barn
Bales Stacked in Old Barn

Left Over from June ... the NW Montana to NE Minnesota Trip in a Slideshow (Note: The show sometimes begins to repeat before going through all of the images. The entire show should recap the round-trip with Leaving Kalispell at the beginning, and Leaving the Twin Cities at the end. I'm not sure why the early repeat happens.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Relaxing Day at the Ranch

07/19/2008 - This was another of those regular days at the ranch today. Where, mostly you just relax. That was after the morning walk with the dogs. And then, I needed to sharpen the chainsaw and refuel some things. That meant a quick trip to town to get diesel. While I was at it, I also got some basic food supplies. So, back at the ranch, it was time to swath down the last of the pasture grass. While doing that, a doe and her fawn wandered through a nearby pasture(video and images were of poor quality, so, sorry, no images to post at this time). They were probably coming over to the creek for a morning drink. When the swathing was complete, it was time to start the daily chores of picking up after the horses. There was just a short break when a neighbor came over to see if he could help with fixing the baler. I had improvised a fix so that the grass pickup reels were working, so, I decided to try baling in the pasture I had cut yesterday. The pickup worked fine, but when it came time to eject a bale, the plunger pushed, but the twine needles were not in the right place, and they both broke (in several pieces actually ... this was a show stopper for the baler!). So, the baler was pulled back to a resting place. The neighbor and I talked about the extra work that will be needed to fix the problem. He left, and I hooked on the grass rake to continue the relaxing day. I raked for a couple of hours to combine the wind rows I had cut yesterday. After that, I finished the daily chores. Still, relaxing a bit more, I walked out to see how the wind rows I cut this morning were doing. They were dry now, so, I decided I might as well drive the rake around in them for awhile to group them for baling. All went well. Now, it was time to get back to relaxing. I decided to hunt gophers. But, as I was going out to the pasture, I noticed the 'resident buck' was near the west hill (sorry, no good images or video of him either. The video was shaky and the images not well focused). I went through the arena building and watched him for a bit of time. Since he was walking around by the baler and swather, I realized I hadn't cleaned out the swather after cutting this morning, so I took some time to just clean it up a little. That done, I walked out to the pasture and gave a couple of gophers some sand in their eyes as they watched me try to shoot them. (Zero confirmed body count). But that was it. I headed back to the ranch and decided it was time to bring the horses in for the evening. Since they were out of munching hay, I walked down to the old barn with the hay cart and brought a bale up for them. It was bad and moldy, so I took it to the burn pile and went back down to the old barn to get another. It was bad, too, but I checked it in the old barn and just loaded it into the muck trailer to be disposed of tomorrow. I located a good bale and brought it up for the horses. They liked it! And, everything at the ranch was good. I walked up to the ranch house, played with the dogs. And relaxed. Ate a little supper, had a little wine. Later in the evening, a neighbor called to say I could use his baler tomorrow to bale my hay. What a great relaxing day! Come on tomorrow!

Orpheus, Just Relaxing (like me) This Evening
Orpheus with Raked Wind Rows Behind Him

Monday, July 7, 2008

Revisiting the Past

Well, the last couple of days have been a bit of reflection into stored history for me. It all started with a gopher. But, more about that later.

About four years ago, when the major move from Minnesota to Montana took place, a rush packing event also occurred. This was the result of another longer story that might be covered in more detail some other time. The short version is that while on a vacation trip to Montana in March of 2004 I found out that I needed to be in Spokane for the beginning of training for my "maybe", new job on Saturday. The day I found out about this was the Tuesday evening before the Saturday, and my wife and I had just returned from a driving trip to Idaho, after first having driven a u-haul load of stuff to the ranch from Minnesota during the previous couple of days. In any case, this meant that after a plane flight back to Minneapolis on Wednesday evening I would need to turn-it-around and drive back to Montana in order to be able to fly to Spokane on Saturday. So, I had to pack what I could into the van on Wednesday evening (and also vacate the office cube in my at my then "current" job and handle some logistics to tell management I "might not" be back) and begin the drive back to Montana early on Thursday morning. In order to further shorten the story at this point: I did do a 1300+ mile drive in 22 clock hours; make the flight to Seattle; pass the training; get the new job; and therefore not return to Minnesota until about six weeks later. By that time, my wife had done all of the work to put the Minnesota house on the market, sell it, arrange for movers to arrive, and all I had to do was drive back to Minnesota over a long weekend, help pack stuff up, attend the closing activities for the house, and return to the Montana ranch just ahead of the moving truck. So, the second packing event (the stuff that didn't get into the van when I drove out to Montana six weeks earlier) got packed up during a hectic day or so when I went back to Minnesota. This huge paragraph was generated on purpose, just to show how bunched together things seemed to get during that time.

After the moving van was unloaded (a huge truck setup),
the essentials were placed throughout the house as expected, and about 80 boxes of "collectibles", (old books, computers, computer parts, parts of parts of stuff, and whatever someone can collect up during about 35 to 40 years of time and happened to escape the trash hopper during packing for the move -- way more escaped than my wife would have liked to see) ended up being placed into the workshop office area in one of the out buildings here at the ranch. Over the last four years, a box or two has been opened and those things exposed were once again integrated into day to day use. The collectibles remained nicely packed during most of this time. Until the last couple of days. That's when I wasn't able to find what I needed to deal with the gopher.

The ranch has a good quantity of various and assorted creatures, you know about the dogs, cats, horses and other animals that have peacefully existed here. We also have the passing deer, moose, skunk, etc. that can come and go as they please. The most troublesome inhabitant has become the gopher. They have full reign on a section in one of the pastures. And, across the blacktop, quite of number of the little critters stand up tall and chirp out all the time. A couple, and it seems their kids, or maybe some replacement gophers, have started crossing over the blacktop and set up residence in a system of burrows just up above the house. These guys have been thinned out with a shot or two from the .22. But, I think they've gotten faster through the evolution process and lately have been able to dodge the single bullet by detecting the muzzle flash and dipping back into their holes before the bullet gets to them. In order to solve this dodging of the single bullet problem, I decided the larger artillery was needed and got out the 12 gage shotgun. I watched closely the other day, and sure enough, one of the critters popped up, and I was able to snap off a shot at him. He was used to the single bullet thing and didn't expect the extra pellets. Gone! But there, just in a hole below him was another of the critters. (Please, for those who dislike random violence against critters, pardon my insensitivity for a minute and understand that I need to do this because otherwise these critters make holes that can break the legs of the horses. Doing a quick cost analysis: gopher critter value = -$.$$ vs horse value = +$$,$$$.$$ this comes out to be fair trade-off. I could, I suppose try gas, poison, etc. and I have to some degree, but then I worry about the cats, dogs, or other +$$$ animals that might get caught up in dead critter consumption problems). In any case, I knew I'd need another shell to deal with the remaining gopher(s). That's where the revisiting the past comes in to the picture.

I knew, somewhere, back in time, I had a few boxes of shells for the shotgun. So, I decided I'd just have to go in the house and get a shell from one of them. But, after doing a quick search in the logical places (out of reach of children, not in the kitchen cupboards, etc.) I was not able to locate the shells. This lead me to the boxes that had been packed and stored into the workshop arena building (some as long ago as 12 years ago, when we originally moved to Eden Prairie from New Brighton, Minnesota). Unfortunately, not all of the boxes were marked with their exact contents. In fact, it might be safe to say that very few were marked accurately. Maybe none! So, over the last couple of days, I have been opening this fine collection of boxes. There is a lot of history stored in them. Sometimes, I paged through stuff. Sometimes, I marveled at the treasures I had saved. I opened, sorted through things, and in many cases, repacked the boxes and taped them shut again. These treasures would need to be dealt with at a later time. I just didn't have time to place them somewhere, because, after all, I was on a specific mission.

Well, today, I finished going through the last of the boxes. As I mentioned, it was kind of like revisiting the past. I found slides, pictures, film cameras, lenses, cards and letters, travel mementos and souvenirs, lots of race numbers, finisher medallions, radios, clocks, tons of computer parts (now totally obsolete, but still in working condition, so I can't really throw this stuff away), and books, magazines, and reference guides for almost everything I've every purchased in my life. It was an amazing review of my history. So I saved it back into the boxes again.

Oh, and I only found one shot-gun shell.

I think I'll go out and see if there is a gopher around.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Not Keeping Up Lately

So, again a huge amount of time has gone by between entries into this blog. I should probably do a better job of thinking about what I am going to write into this area, but mostly, I just login and start typing. A lot has happened since the middle of June. I finished my training for the running of Grandma's Marathon. Then, I did it! Again! And had no injury or other problems during the run or after. The trip to Minnesota was great but the time went by too fast. Now, I'm back at the ranch again. And, the time is going quickly still. This week, the first cutting of the pastures took place, and we've put almost four tons of hay into storage for the horses. During the next couple of weeks the remaining pastures will be cut and baled. This is such a cycle in the circle of life I live.

I do have more to say about the things that have happened over the last few weeks. Perhaps I'll get better about adding another blog entry that tells about those things.