Monthly Archives: February 2009

My little gal is out on the curb, forced to give her bedroom to her auntie. Ol’ Auntie nearly had the neighbors calling about the noise as she rolled off of the flatbed. She is guarded by a wyrven of mouse ghosts, and the Ford F250 6.5 liter V-10 extended cab, full bed beast of a truck that pulled her all the way from Montana (till my sister claims it to run sheep- a cattle truck’s nightmare, but nowhere near as disheartening as joining the metrosexual city-trucks).
I’ll have my hands full for a bit, getting the old gal feeling pretty again. She may even warrant taking a trip to the spa for some professional monkeywrenching. By spring I hope she feels up to some Sunday driving with the top down…

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Lyle K. Gerhart, 72, a Belt rancher, died February 13, 2009 after an extended illness.  

Lyle was the youngest of William E. Gerhart and Amy C. McCafferty’s six children.  Born in Great Falls on July 6, 1936, he grew up on the family’s cattle ranch near Belt.  After graduating from Belt Valley High School in 1955, he married Jacqueline Koontz in 1957 then spent a short time in Colorado. Lyle returned to Montana prior to their divorce in 1960. Through most of the 1960’s, he owned and operated Lyle’s Appliance in Billings.  Lyle married Zoe Ahl in 1965 and had two children prior to their divorce in 1971.

After the death of his parents, Lyle returned to ranching.  He and three of his siblings formed the Gerhart Partnership in 1981 and bought the upper portion of their father’s ranch at the head of Briggeman Coulee near Belt.  This ranch had been homesteaded by Lyle’s grandfather’s sister and her husband, the Briggeman’s, and Lyle’s grandfather Bill bought it from the Briggeman’s in 1898.  The Partnership leased out the grass from the ranch, and Lyle began raising registered Angus cattle.  Over time, he bought out two of his siblings and became the majority owner of the Partnership.  His outfit, Alpine Meadows Angus, developed a reputation for producing cattle with strong maternal characteristics.  Lyle took pride in raising cattle that did most of the work themselves, requiring little more than good pasture, salt in the summer and some hay in the winter.  Lyle managed his cattle herd with only occasional help, buying old hay equipment and returning it to running condition, and doing all the haying and feeding himself.  He was the quintessential Montana rancher:  frugal, independent, self-reliant, and extremely knowledgeable about equipment, cattle, and grass management. Lyle and his cattle participated in two local tours hosted by The American Angus Association, the second in cooperation with David Anderson of Belt, who began leasing the purebred herd in 2005 when Lyle’s health prevented him from managing it alone.  

Lyle is survived by his two children, Karen L. Gerhart of Dunnigan, CA and Daniel L. Gerhart of Salt Lake City, Utah; his brothers Leonard “Bud” and Richard G. Gerhart, and his sister Phyllis Bardwell.

A memorial gathering will be held at the Russell Museum in Great Falls from 3-5 pm on Tuesday 17 February.  The family requests that memorials be directed to the Peace Hospice of Great Falls.

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Finished this one at last, and since it was still -20 outside with 50 to 70 mph winds, I kept going on the snow theme.

The wind blew hard enough to move the Mustang (that’s usually around 80mph or better) as we made the pass. The tall orange flexi-rod attached to the highway reflector guides the snowplows in ground blizzards and heavy snowfall. As luck would have it, the best shot landed the pole smack in the middle of the composition.

This is from a 67 year old photograph of my dad playing cowboy in his new cowboy getup. Of course, he already lived on a cattle ranch and had a pony…so I guess it would be more accurate to say he was playing Gunslinger. Guess what he did when he grew up…
You may not be thinking “Gunslinger”, but he was a Deputy Sheriff in Yellowstone County and still has his 6-shot revolver and leather holster- much closer to “Gunslinger” than modern law enforcement.

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