MoNtaNaMoNtaNaMoNtaNaMoNtaNa

Another trip to Montana for  a week of spring ranch triage. All the copy is getting garbled and mashed, so let’s just call this a photo-journal and I’ll pry in copy as I can over the next while. The bear visited the house again (see his prints and drool on the windows), the bees weren’t there and then were there all at once in a swarm, E & I knocked out a zillion little jobs and a few bigger ones.

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Day before departure. I notice a screw embedded in the L rear tire, the head worn paper thin. I give it a twist with pliers and the tire hisses, so I twist it back in and head to the tire shop at Costco. 3 hours later (@#%!) I am back home making my bed extension / workbench for the ranch.

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10 inches of rain in the last two weeks of May up at the Montana ranch. The trees have just budded out, and the lilacs are beginning to bloom.

E shows how high the grass is, with Stanley disappearing.

E shows how high the grass is, with Stanley disappearing.

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The yard is so laughing at me and my puny little mower.

Everyone is tickled to be at the ranch.

Everyone is tickled to be at the ranch.

The mower has been Kung Fu fasting all winter in preparation.

The mower has been Kung Fu fasting all winter in preparation.

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Like a half-shaved mustache.

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Or a badly trimmed goatee.

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Always save the poppies!

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A good shave needs a sharp blade- and a workbench on the back of the truck for stropping.

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The yard’s victory is making me old and tired, and a cat-pillow.

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Stripping down the bedroom floorboards of many many many layers of ancient paint.

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This is after E used the heat gun to peel the thickest layers away.

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The back side needs tidying up as well.

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The yard’s creek is babbling along nicely.

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The lilacs are just blooming.

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We met an elderly lady from Belt who drove up to harvest some of our lilacs- something my Dad had always let her do.

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Lawn poppies coming up at will.

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.

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Lilacs at sunup, that my grandmother planted in the ’50s

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Pretty in the dawn.

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Night mouse patrol recovery nap.

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The upper bee hive is beeless.

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With the hive quiet, I might as well get on a ladder and trim the tree outside the hive.

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The last time I trimmed this tree I was in my 20’s and just climbed up into it with a little saw. It must have been shorter then…

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There is no way I’m getting up to the big dead branch. Luckily the tree is filling in around it.

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A ladder and a pole chainsaw make this a snap.

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Hardhat and face screen help with overhead cuts into the breeze.

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They got up to trade places.

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Pulled trim from around the kitchen door and the wall kick-boards to refinish them.

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Beaverboard over plaster & lathe is what is back there.

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Bedroom and kitchen boards, waiting in the woodshed.

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Kitchen door boards stripped of paint and refinished.

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Fat baseboard in-progress.

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My workbench with truck parked on the high lawn so I can stand in the dip for a nice bench-height.

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Stanley likes the viewing angle better this way.

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Putting the wall baseboard back in behind the range.

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I’ve got it by a toe-hold.

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I set this one in place, then think I should have redone the wall first on the last one and for this one.

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I refinish the wall for this one, and well, the other one is mainly behind the range anyway.

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Nice and tidy.

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All refinished and refurbished.

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Meanwhile Stanley and E go on walkies for bovine meet & greets.

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Stanley with no collar or leash is a happy boy.

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Bluebirds are nesting in the old garage and perching around the yard.

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Mountain Bluebird neighbor.

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Bluebird nest under the eve of the old garage.

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The male will fly around in the garage and warble, so I stay out and give them their space.

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Up the hill the lid had blown off this old bluebird house, but it had 7 eggs and both parents tending it. I found the roof in the grasses and put it back on, and the parents went right in.

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Wren nest on top of last year’s Robin nest.

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Busy and bossy little Wren.

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The Wren nest keeps growing and growing.

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Robin hatchlings will be huge in just a few more days- they are on the house, just across from the Wren nest on the shed.

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Polesaw and Dan wade into low Willow snag.

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Stanley always supervises power tool use.

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Willow de-snagged.

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Big dumb limb too high for the normal chainsaw is now gone with the pole saw. Only an after picture here, but feel lucky for it.

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Stanley is giving me that supervisor look. The one that says, “Safety comes when?”.

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On the outside of the bedroom window, those grubby smears are bear prints. They continue along the side of the house where he stood on his hind legs and walked along looking up at the bee hive.

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Smeary paw prints on the siding as he walked along looking up.

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He made a try for the lower hive under the deck on the front porch again.

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Water trough on a high hill at sunset.Click on the image and you can see the sunset reflected in the water.

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The sunset almost touches the ground.

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Ranch at sunset is often a bit lovely.

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Things get dark and pink and purple.

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At this far northern latitude the sunset keeps going long after the sun has slipped beyond the horizon.

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Oh no- painting the old parlour room. So weirdly green, that two previous coats of kilz can’t stop the irradiation.

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The parlour is the storage room, and so now the living room is full of junk.

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Cats love to nap at the far end of a mess.

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The mess has extended into the “clean room” of the kitchen. Again.

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Muttered swearing is the most likely thing audible.

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How many times can you look in the same places before the thing swims back into existence? And what was I looking for anyway?

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All that poking around for a good detail brush, and I found it and I’m going with a roller instead.

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That is the new layer of tinted Kilz trying to cover the old green already under two layers. Did the incredible hulk explode in here? Am I David Banner and I’m in deep therapy trying to wash away Hulk?

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It is going to need another layer. Man, this psychoanalyst might just get to meet Hulk after all!

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See the pretty green ceiling light. That radium green must have tinted the room over the years. The idea to paint the room the same color as the light was likely because they thought the light was so pretty. But that pretty little light just disappeared into the green room. Now it shows up and shows off.

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The next morning I’m up early before the sun hits the porch, and up to something.

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The porch is stripped, swept and vacuumed.

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A trim line is carefully hand-painted near the house, in the color from the line below the one I circled on the paint pallet back at the hardware store. Dinks. Anyway- a special paint to fill cracks on old decks with suspended texture beads so it stays grippy in the rain/snow.

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Roller application as sun begins to roast.

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Done. In some weird tope that likely matches some wide array of miserable HOA rabbit warrens.

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Also new is the garden section to the right of the footpath.

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Another packrat- killed clean with a crushed skull. Now resetting the trap.

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The trap is back in its lair. I’ll move it up to the Barn to help protect the saddles.

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I brought the chainsaw to our SLC Stihl repair shop, and the little saw is running strong. Time to take out the big dead willow snag.

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First I cut a wedge from the front angled to let the tree fall into the upslope- the cut is made while standing behind the tree with the saw in its side.

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The wedge needs to meet clean across its face.

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With my “escape rout” cleared behind at a 45% angle, I cut to within an inch of my wedge.

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The tree falls clean, snapping the last inch clean as it topples beyond the danger zone of kicking backward. Perfect.

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Now I cut it into manageable sections.

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Last cut is clearing the stump. The fell-cut is higher for cutting safety.

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The rhubarb in the yard is kaput, but there is more up in the forest up where my grandmother had her raspberry bushes. We put in a few raspberry stalks from our SLC patch, as 1980’s logging wiped out the old group- and found the rhubarb.

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The old gun cabinet hadn’t been used for much but jamming calving medicine into, as the doors no longer hung straight and the cabinets all stuck shut.

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What seemed like one little fix led to a few more, and pretty soon I had the whole thing apart.

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The door back there is clamped and finding square again.

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I had to loosen the bottom to remove the drawers.

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The drawers are heavier stock than the rest of the cabinet, and it shrank around them over the years. I sand them down to where they can slide in their cubbies again.

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I rip them down with a heavy grit, then sand them back to smooth.

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As I take it apart it seems like a project that a high school wood shop may have done, and my dad’s signature on the inside bottom of a drawer lends some credence to the idea. That would make it about 65 years old. He taught the shop class in his senior year, when the regular teacher left.

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Here she is, functional again and with his mother’s rocking chair that I repaired back in 1998- the L rocker leg had snapped off.

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The hive had been empty, then a swarm arrived and moved in over the course of about 20 minutes.

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It took us a minute of gawking before we ran for the camera, and they moved the queen in quick.

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This would have been the year to set up the bee box in the upstairs bedroom…

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Backlit bees- an impressive low drone is winding down.

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There are 100 year old cedar posts holding fence all over the ranch, mixed in with newer pine posts. As posts fail they are brought down and pile up- Dave is hoping to burn all the old wood this winter. E and I dug through the vast post pile made of decades of posts, pulling all the cedar posts. We then set up a chainsaw bed on the back of the truck and cut the dead ends off as firewood. We kept the clean lengths for future use as H bars in gates & corners, or to split down to light weight “stays” that suspend midway from barb wire between grounded posts. They are hidden here behind the tool shed.

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The end cuts and unusable posts were cut and stacked inside the tool shed for firewood. All the newer dead posts that make the majority of the dead post pile can’t be burned as firewood, as they are chemically treated.

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We hauled them from the field in a few truck loads and cut them here in the shade of the willows.

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The back layer is pine, and there are two more layers coming out of cedar, and buckets and boxes of end cuts. Enough to last a few years of ski trips.

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We head up to watch the sunset, and it amps up then fades out quickly.

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The clouds evaporate and sky goes blank.

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The view is far to the North, past the Highwood mountains and straight on to Canada.

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These clouds remained cold and blue throughout. We head out tomorrow…

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