Monthly Archives: June 2016


The ladies drop by for Montessori lessons from the humans.


Today’s Lesson: insights into strangely retentive bipeds. These are two of three closet doors stored out in the woodshed for a few years; scrubbed with 000 Steel Wool to release grime and old paint and etc, then refinished with lemon oil. Finally rehung in the Bee Bedroom.


E & I spend quite awhile pulling old metal scrap out of the lower river, then on to old or abandoned/new fence posts sequestered all about, and some old salt troughs made of car tires. Which led E to brainstorm; why not use those big tractor tires to guard the barn from the horses? So I rolled this one uphill to the barn, with E helping to steady it as the hill grew steeper and my enthusiasms waned.


Why did rolling it up there seem like a fun idea? Tire #2 gets dragged behind the truck, with a few smaller bonus tires in the bed.


 Mostly because I rolled the first tire through a sloppy mess of cow shit.


Horse bumpers. The equine’s love the shade of the barn, and kick out the foundation and rub and rub. These tires guard the refurbishment of the barn, putting an endcap on two long troughs made of split tractor tires. 


The inspectors arrive.


All the tires, and old troughs, get holes drilled through to drain any standing water.


Another round of holes are drilled and wire stitches/threads the tires together. The horses  wond when I’ll get around to filling the tires with grain or salt.


Stanley told me I wouldn’t be able to cut wire that thick with those pliers, but I had to try anyway.


We head out for sunset up onto the high ground on both sides of the valley, zooming about on a lender 4-wheeler.


E spots a windfarm.


I painted this landscape back in the 1990’s; no windfarm back then.


We were just on the sunny spot on the far ridge a moment ago; the other side of the ranch.


E stands in for scale.

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These deer run along with us for a bit.

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The Aspen save up that golden sunset light between them for the autumn.


View to the North, and Belt mountain.


This is where our place blends into our neighbor’s. 

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Belt mountain turns purple at sunset.


Next morning; departure day. Yard is looking spiffy.


Stone trails are all revealed. This one leads to the new footbridge.


All tidied up for summer.


We’ll miss the big bloom of Iris, but this white lady opened early.


She awaits our return.



E & I went up the valley a bit to salvage these two viable cedar planks remaining from the piled remains of a demolished bridge put in by a timber crew who set up a mill to thin our forest back in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s. I don’t think such big cedar timbers can be found anymore. They are the sturdy looking forms spanning the creek in front of the worn old footbridge.


Bridge or Trap? Depends on how you walk across it.


The support rails are a pair of Lodgepole Pine felled from the forest behind the house, seated on rocks/dirt, and severely compromised by rot. The planks are thin, probably from the timber crew’s mill. Affixed with drywall screws, many screws have rusted and sheared making for flip-boarding.


The planks were the only thing holding the lodgepole rail on the left together, and it comes apart as I pull it out. The one on the right is so heavy with water that I use the truck to pull it out.


I use a pickaxe to pull bricks from a grass-mound, where bricks were planted long ago and still sprout. E & I loaded them into the wagon and trailed them down to the bridge. A pair of extra pavers from re-footing the woodstove a few summers back provide an “L” structure that will hold a span of salvaged cedar 4×4.


Bricks disappear into the hole faster than you expect; more trips to the brick mound.


The big salvage planks are a few feet shorter than the Lodgepole, so I clear the area while I come up with a plan.


The first layer is all brick set deep in the mud, then this layer raises out of the creek. 


We jump through all the structural footing, as the camera battery needed a recharge. Here the big rails run inside the pavers, resting on the 4×4 rail and held in place by massive toe screws, and further supported with Redwood end-cuts from the new Pergola back in Salt Lake.


Safer to walk across than the old bridge already. Measuring for planks.


The planks are 2×6 cedar runners salvaged from broken corral panels and an old feed trough.


A few of the planks just fell apart while being sectioned, so E & I scouted out a variety of possible alternatives, many of which also blew apart. Eventually we had enough planks to skin the rails.


I cut a step into the rails at each end with the pole saw- E points out that Safety Comes When Man has suspended the power cord over the creek. I probably should have used the chainsaw for this, as it is easier to establish a level cut with- but I was running low on fuel after all the big willow clean up.


Putting in the first step.


Standing on the step and beginning to skin the bridge. I’m using all-weather deck screws; they won’t shear like the old drywall screws.


I pre-drill all the holes for the skin boards, even though the screws are “self-boring”, to ensure that I don’t lose any to splits. It takes more screws than I have left after triaging the garage, and I have to go through my collections of salvaged deck screws from SLC projects.

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The hawks play on evening thermals over the forested hill beyond the corral.


The last step is cut and outfitted.


Before: A memory of a bridge.


After: Actual Bridge.


E & I headed out with Stanley to make a few bbird fixes we’d noticed on a drive up the road the night before. We headed down an old road that the county no longer serves, and found an ancient world of forgotten bbird houses.


I could fix this one with tools I had laying about in the truck, the one behind (and another we picked up further down the road) needs shop help.


Bluebird’s view from their fixed house (occupied within a day).


Fitting a new roof for this old BBird house is my kind of fun.


Maybe a little too much fun.


Definitely a bit of crazy fun. Or just crazy.


Our Bluebird Trekking Tour set last summer for our anniversary- heading up to the high hayfield.


Every house is as this: nested pair flitted out and watching us or the male out and the lady on the eggs.

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Happy Bbird House.


Carpets of Larkspur.


Galaxies of Shooting Stars.


Alpine Meadows with wildflowers and cattle.

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Male Bluebird leads us away from his nest.


Stanley and Elizabeth share silvered-fairie glances; everyone enchanted by the blue bird trek.


Next morning. My birthday. We are heading up to fix the one house knocked down by itchy cows.


House #1. Cow scratching post.


House #1, back in service. (Occupied within a day.)


This is the Bluebird view out the front door.


I add some chunky stones to stumble up any cows that feel itchy.


Next fix, miles away along the county road; still on the ranch.


That little brown board keeps the roof/lid from lifting in wind and rain from coming in. 


We head back down the old unserviced county road and put the refurbished houses back up. Their roofs are painted white with scraping the buckets of the garage paint.


Kibbey Grade Road leads to lost treasures of BBird houses and views.


Look out for the barb wire, bird nerd.


E starts spotting old houses swept by wind and snow far afield.


This one only needs a new wall and roof. 


I found all the scavenger hunt items my silvered-fairie wife and the bluebirds set out for my 48 Annum Challenge. 


New backing board.


Angled staples provide grippy steps for baby birds to climb from the nest to the hole.


Scoured with sandpaper. Cracks and splits jointed with staples. Ready for new top and side. 


The 48 Annum Challenge required the return of 3 BBird houses. One of the scavenged houses was only good for recovering hardware for future triage of houses with more potential. This meant pulling a prototype bbird house that I had converted for Wrens, and reconverting for Bluebirds.


BBird House graveyard bones.


The green curve of pasture in line with my hat marks the end of the BBird Trekking Tour. We are getting thick with bluebirds up in here.


I found this one in a muddy hole partly covered by road grade push-over. It is now safely on my fence-line, just a bit further along the county road.


We head along the top of Kibbey Ridge Road to set up the field-found scavenger hunt house, finding a nice spot where it has a chance for another 50 years.


View for the Bluebirds on Kibbey Road of Square Butte (with smoke signal cloud above it) and the Highwood Mountains.


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It rained for a day or so. E & I put a fire in the woodstove and worked in the house with the U-Haul load we pulled up from SLC  with the truck (via relocube from Wichita).



The weather breaks and it is on to powerscraping the old garage of it’s old paint down to fresh board. E has to unplug the fridge to bring me another length of extension cord to reach the farthest door.


The last time this garage saw new paint was in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s when I was up for a visit and my dad put me to work with a hand-scraper and a paintbrush.


A cool breezy day that never quite rains is perfect weather for chipping paint at high rpm’s. The hand scraper still saw some use.


The day thinks about clearing up.


The big door is clear. Two seasons ago Dave used his tractor to pull out the concrete footing that was heaved up into the door. Last summer we “fixed” the flip-up door, he and I used our sawzalls to remove an inch of the bottom of the door so it would close against its heaving concrete.


The day really starts to freshen out.


Stanley hears no rabbits in there, just a wren singing from its nest in the rafters.


Leg table. Seemed like a good idea, but the bruises across my legs will be there awhile.


6 hours of steady work and many grinding heads gone.


Super-squeeze clamps tighten the panels and I set about tightening it all up with heavy-duty deck screws. This goes on ’til nearly sunset.


The next morning it is caulk for all the upper seams and borders, still allowing water to escape the bottom of the un-caulked seam.


After a few hours break for bluebird house inspection & triage, the caulk has set and painting can begin.


The sprayer’s last project was the barn, but it is ready to push paint.


Today’s goal: spend as little time on the ladder as possible.


Already onto the second gallon. I thought I had four, but turns out; only three.


Big door gets only one coat, the others are dry enough for a quick second coat before the paint runs out.


Finished! The panel in the grass was for a temporary door on the old grain bin, but no paint left for that so back in the garage it goes.



Painting projects from last summer and now.


Meanwhile; cattle at the front gate.


The cattle have been on the mooove since 10:am at our leasor’s place, in a slow steady 15 mile climb to their summer pasture here on our land.




Asparagus grows wild at the corner of the yard; all good cowgirls have an eye for it.


The support crew on their brave steads.


A little family reunion for the early arrivals in the corral with the larger herd.


Wi-Fi the cowdog lits out to see that everyone has made it to the Airbnb for the night.


Greasy the Cowdog is pretty sure he should get most of the day’s credit.


The next morning the herd is rounded up into the corral and split into their groups for summer pasture.


Which one is the rascal? Trick question. They all are.


This pair and a few more will live up here for the summer. I promise not to paint the Paint barn-red this summer.


Heavy late snow followed by rain and things are green and toppled around the yard. 


Giant willow branch fallen in the yard? Get Elizabeth to do a magic pixie dance, then…


Pixies got mad skilz.


Big hanging branch snagged in the tree over the creek. Let E sit under it and think for sec…


Thinked & Thunk!


Two giant willow limbs have Lyle Rock a bit bummed, Stanley helps think about this one.


Silver-Pixie powers activate! Lyle Rock is happy again.


If you believe in the power of the Little People and the Hidden Ones, stop now.


Safety-Comes-When Man is here!


Pole saw needed to sit in the sun a bit before it decided to work.


Last summer’s giant stumps, with snag removed.


The Widowmaker is de-limbed.


Some big tie-down webbing and a come-along help subdue the rowdy limb.


Like cutting a cuticle holding a whole ripped fingernail in place. 


Safety-Comes-When Man defeats The Widowmaker.


Now on to the real projects.