Montana Bluebirding

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Alpine Meadows brewing storm at dusk.

We headed up to Montana for a stint of workationing at the ranch. On one of our first evenings up we drove over the ridge to check the 20 Bluebird houses along the county road, and old Kibbey Ridge road. A storm gathered and boomed, socking in the mountains.

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Finger of approaching storm over the ranch, with bluebird house in foreground.

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Anniversary Bluebird trek begins here.

Last summer I made 6 B-bird houses and we set them up along the high hayfield. This past June one was knocked off by itchy cows, this time up we found another knocked off and most of them had been well rubbed. This old gal in the corral is at optimal survival height, and is older than I am.

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E holds old nest of bbirds, and a hawk feather.

This is the last house of the anniversary trek. It was perfect, protected by a steep sidehill from the cows. We decided to move the entire group (save this one) up to the high inside run of fence of the hayfield- most too steep for the truck and so much too steep for cows.

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A portion of the upper hayfield; baled.

The new placement for the birdhouses is along the ridgeline, along the skyline of the steep alpine meadow that borders the hayfield & bails.

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Found scrap as rattlesnake; twisted rod, hoe, seed drill.

Walking back down to the house, we stopped off at the old rhubarb/raspberry patch. I brought a giant seed head of rhubarb back to the yard and placed it on the woodpile. A buzzing began at my feet, and as my brain reeled into snake mode and I two-stepped back- the rattlesnake at my feet had coiled up and ready to strike. It was happy with my quick retreat, but continued to coil and buzz its tail under a shelf of cedar post. So the rest of the day was spent mitigating snake habitat or snake-surprise areas.

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Dave helps move the woodpile / look for the rattler.

Dave stops in with heavy welding gloves and a flat snake-shovel and helps me move the woodpile into the woodshed. No snake.

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No snake, no woodpile.

The human brain is hard-wired to interpret any line or curve on the ground as a snake. Usually this lays dormant and unnoticed, but once primal survival instincts are primed they take precedence. So lots of downed Willow branches got double-takes, and our little group of yard-friendly Garter snakes elicited electrical flight response as they tumbled out from under bridges and swam across the stream or sunned on the foundation of the house.

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Kibbey Ridge with gathering blue twilight storm and old bluebird house (on the fence line, not the old building out in the field…).

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E spotted another downed b-bird house out in a meadow on Kibbey Ridge. It needs a roof and some tlc.

This fixer-upper joined the 6 new redwood houses up on the high hayfield, placed when we moved them all to the upper fence line- making 8 houses on the trek, starting with the mid-century unit at the corral.

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Glad to be back in Montana, standing within the ranch looking toward the storm-obscured Little Belt mountains.

Back in Utah it was over 100 degrees all week. We left town as Antelope Island, out on the Great Salt Lake, burned with wildfire and filled the valley with smoke. Our return trip will take us alongside another fire 90 miles north of Salt Lake City, the smoke spilling south and mixing with the massive fires out in CA. more to come…

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