Alpine Meadows Summer Expedition

IMG_0046

A nice Charles Russel sunset looking North from the high meadows with Belt Mountain out on the Missouri plain.

IMG_0021

The ranch is nestled a few thousand feet below the high meadows. Here you can just see the house and barn amid the pines and willows.

IMG_1800

First up, moooving cows out of the yard & corral and back to pasture. They shattered the old/broken front gate, collapsed the wooden fence in two places, tore down the barb wire fence, and part of the corral. Way to go cows. After fixing most of that, it is time for yard chores: mowing, hedge trimming, tree pruning, brush cutting, etc.

IMG_0002

When up last winter I measured for a new front gate frame, but lost the measurements. I usually set fence at hip, above the knee, and ankle- so I welded out the frame to fit that scheme back in Salt Lake. It lined up pretty well. Then it was off to Great Falls for 16′ lengths of split rail fit into my 6′ truck bed. Walt and I make the plan come together.

IMG_0003

Dave dug two holes with his bobcat while we were in Glacier, and Walt & I set the two posts (one square and one round), drilled and set the gate supports, mounted the steel gate, and cut the split rail and bolted it in place. Here we are fitting the bottom rail.

IMG_0008

Walt brings the final rail for its fitting.

IMG_0009

“What do you think of that Walt?” “No good.” “Yeah, but other than that its fine right?”

IMG_0023

The new multi-tool gets its chainsaw head added to top off the gate poles.

IMG_0027

No more cows in the yard. Well, not through here… From the front it looks close to one continuous line of fence. If the truck was still with us I’d have brought in more split rail and continued the fence to the right- replacing the two log rails.

IMG_1808

The ladies stay inside for a nice cup of coffee while us lads make the gate.

IMG_0020

A bit of laundry is done by hand and let dry in our Solar-Powered Dryer. The old washing machine died when the house froze back in 2009.

IMG_0034

The corral gate will soon be wrecked if I don’t fix it. It is kitty corner to the yard gate, and the cows had pressed through it as well.

IMG_0042

The span-board had snapped long ago, and the old girl just gets muscled around. Here I have propped up the floating leg till the broken ends of the board met, and removed the lower portion of board for refitting.

IMG_0043

A section of split-rail from the front gate will splint everything back together nicely.

IMG_0049

Clamped in place, the split rail is ready for bolts and nails.

IMG_0051

The traveling tool cache.

IMG_0057

Bolts connect the rail to the upper portion of the shattered trans-board, and I nail the fence panels to the split rail.

IMG_0060

Big lag-screws are ratcheted into the gate hinges, replacing old loose double-nailed triage.

IMG_0062

Now she flys and hangs in the air as she should. Later I add an old cinder block at a slow angle that she slides up and can be lifted to a full stop, then chained in place. No more unintended rodeos.

IMG_0064

The gate inspectors arrive for structural critique.

IMG_0065

I pull the old front gate apart for these two long runs to add to the corral gate.

IMG_0068

As dolled up as she can get. Later I’ll spray coat her with linseed oil to help protect the old dry wood.

IMG_0069

While the cows were in the yard they slipped all over my newly built (last fall) hurricane door to the basement. It held up structurally, but they tore off the tar/sand roofing and stripped off screws holding the steel roofing down. Plus they left blowfish marks on the bedroom windows. We nearly had cows in the house it seems. Here Walt and I gather new rebuild media.

IMG_0072

Metal roof sheeting is tucked away here and there, and we find pieces that will cut to fit. I make a water tight flap, and a new cap for both sides.

IMG_0075

The top panel is later fit with hinges to open first and bar-bolt in place, then I bolt on a sturdy handle so it is easier/safer to open and close.

IMG_0001

Walt and Kaye will fly back to Wichita, so they have their city duds on. Might be time for a nice group photo.

IMG_0005

Stanley asks if we can shoot it again.

IMG_0031

We had a nice Sunday brunch with my second cousin Holly and her husband Greg, and Holly’s mother Sereta who had lived at the ranch while a toddler. This pencil drawing of the ranch is in their living room, done by a talented nice of Sereta’s from a grainy old 35mm photo.

IMG_0033

This feed grinder is at their place outside the town of Belt. It killed my great grandfather when he was in his 80s. The big polished steel spindle is a belt drive that connects to the tractor. The belt grabbed his sleeve and bashed his head against the steel while chewing up his arm. A piece of family history that I hadn’t known.

IMG_0077

A bit of wrestling while napping for the mousers. We lost count at 10, they would display their kills for us and sometimes eat them and some would get away after a good batting around to die behind the furniture. The last few days there were no mice left, but still vigilant mouse patrol all night long.

This is the best method for scraping the house: a feller (my dad) a ladder and a tractor- back in the 1980’s. In the mid 1990’s it was me in the bucket, but without the ladder as my dad would place me on a high spot, then go tinker on the swather/bailer. That faithful old tractor is still in the machine shed, and would likely need some advanced tinkering to get running.

IMG_0053

With the truck in repair limbo 300 miles away, we had a few extra unplanned days on our hands- so why not scrape and repaint the entire house?

sc0020f00cThis is the best method for scraping the house: a feller (my dad) a ladder and a tractor- back in the 1980’s. In the mid 1990’s it was me in the bucket, but without the ladder as my dad would place me on a high spot, then go tinker on the swather/bailer. That faithful old tractor is still in the machine shed, and would likely need some advanced tinkering to get running.

IMG_0056

Its just that simple. Or is it?

IMG_0057

That unfinished spot, way up there behind the tree: beehive.

IMG_0022

House with new gate & paint. I had matched paint for the second floor windows and brought it out from SLC- but we ran out of time. We went to Belt to check business emails at their little bar and it didn’t work. We tried to check our phone messages, which is always out in MT, but the Indian tec support had no idea. So we drove home and there was a tall flat slab of stone in the middle of the lane on the highway, placed just so that it was impossible to go over or miss with a tire. It took out our right front tire and we pulled into a ranch driveway along with a big pickup pulling a large camper- he had tried going over it and it had flipped up into his engine and ripped off belts and who knows what else. Our spare was rusted in place. It was also flat. The camper had an air pump that plugs into a lighter. We limped home, and headed to Great Falls for a new tire. Make that 4 new tires, as it is an AWD sports car with past mid-life tires. It took 8 hours. They screwed up and had to fix their screw up. The didn’t do an alignment, though we told them to- and were grumpy about even looking at it on the rack. The manager gave them a lecture about how it was their fault the work was screwed up in the first place. Still 8 hours though, and no alignment. Great friggen Falls for you. But the truck’s parts were in, so the next day was 300 miles to pick up the truck and 300 miles back. (in repairing the fuel sender they cracked the fuel relay, which they would have known they did- says my go-to shop here in SLC after they found the problem) Then the next day was shut down the house and drive 600 miles home. We will have selective amnesia about this for years.

IMG_0015.JPG

Comparison photo of the house from 2010. Not as bad as it looked this year, but getting ragged.

IMG_0091

Dawn rainbow in our Global Warming forest.

IMG_0083

Double rainbow. All the way.

IMG_0027

Tiny yard bunnies are invisible if they hold really really still.

IMG_0022

Bark beetle flies to screen.

IMG_0013

Finch egg in bushes near creek in backyard.

IMG_0019

Garter snake lives at footbridge.

IMG_0045

It thought about raining tonight.

IMG_0048

We had a John Carter moment of being on Mars.

IMG_0009

The mini-aspens in their tiny grove where we scared up a pair of wood grouse.

IMG_0019

20 minutes after sunset, twilight catches fire.

Advertisements
1 comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s