Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Christmas Lift

*Those who've been following along on this blog for a while might recognize this post from a few years back, but due to popular request I've regurgitated it for your holiday reading pleasure. And may I add, this is one of the few stories that I did not have to embellish in the least. In fact, I left out a few pertinent details, including the cup of coffee in one hand, the chewing tobacco and the sheriff. And still we survived. 

One of the traditions I do not miss since moving home is the annual Christmas pilgrimage. I've made the trip from Texas, South Dakota and Oregon, through dark of night and blazing sun, ice and sleet and white-out blizzards, but the wildest ride I ever had was right here in Glacier County.

Our car was packed to the roof when we left Oregon: Christmas gifts, suitcases, extra winter gear. We even remembered to put the tire chains in last, instead of at the bottom of the trunk. There was barely room left for three adults, a nine month old kid and my sister's Shitzu (don't even ask).

The first nine hours went well. The roads were good, the baby slept a lot. My brother hadn't eaten anything that generated copious amounts of methane gas. Then came Marias Pass. As we started up the last steep slope to the summit, we hit a snow squall and Greg said a really bad word. The thermometer indicator had suddenly jumped off the dial, the 'check engine' light flashing like Rudolph's nose.

We pulled to the side of the road, steam wafting from the grill. Two miles back, the sun was shining. Now it was snowing sideways. Greg tugged his hat down tight and ventured out to peek under the hood. More bad words. The big serpentine belt that operated everything on the car--including the radiator fan--was broken. Of course there was no cell phone service. Lucky for us, though, this was Montana. The first pickup that came along pulled over and to see if we needed help.

“Jim Jay in Browning has a tow truck,” they said. “We'll call him from the Snow Slip Inn.”

“Great!” I told Greg. “He’s our cousin.”

Jim Jay showed up in a flatbed car hauler, mounted on a Dodge Ram pickup. Later I would realize we should have paid more attention to the purple flames on the sides. At the time we were so happy to see him we wouldn't have cared if the flames were shooting out of the tailpipe. Besides, we had a more immediate problem: Four adults, one baby, and a single cab pickup. Oh, yeah, and the dog.

Greg volunteered to ride in the car. He climbed up onto the flatbed and into the driver’s seat. My brother and I and the kid got in the pickup with Jim Jay. Nobody asked the dog her preference.

The road had a thick snow pack that turned to slush as we rolled down off the Continental Divide, at a rate of speed that made my cheeks pucker. Both sets. We skidded around curves and flew over potholes, the car swaying and bouncing up on the flatbed. Jim Jay rammed through the gears without bothering to use the clutch.

“I didn’t realize you could speed shift a Dodge,” my brother said, trying to sound casual through clenched teeth.  

“Oh, sure, if you rev it up enough,” Jim Jay said, grabbing a higher gear. “Besides, I have a hard time with clutch since I screwed up my ankle in that last accident.”

Back in the car, Greg tightened his seatbelt. The dog buried her head in a Christmas gift bag. We reached Browning in less time than I could ever have imagined, or desired. When we slowed at the edge of town, I exhaled for the first time in forty miles. Thank God. Still in one piece.

“No sense stopping here, there’s not a repair shop in town anymore,” Jim Jay said. “I’ll take you on to Cut Bank.”

Five miles out of town, the speedometer hit eighty. I knew this because I was sitting in the middle and had a much better view than I wanted. Then I saw the first road construction sign. Forty-five miles an hour, no passing. And there was an ancient Chevy pickup puttering along in front us. We were saved.

“Better get around this guy, he looks like he might actually go the speed limit,” Jim Jay said, and whipped out into the passing lane.

We'd barely cleared the Chevy when the shoulders of the road disappeared, leaving an abrupt, two foot drop on either side. Traffic in both directions was forced to crowd the center, and our flatbed stuck out a foot over the line. Approaching drivers went wide-eyed at the sight of us barreling down on them. I’m pretty sure we left a few spinning off into the ditch in our wake, but when I looked back all I saw was Greg's white face through the car windshield. Then the pavement turned to frozen mud.

“I hate this part,” Jim Jay said. “Gotta practically crawl through here.”

The speedometer dropped to seventy. Back in the car, Greg had both hands clenched on the steering wheel, braced for when the tie straps broke and they went airborne. The dog commenced reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

We arrived in Cut Bank in record time and one piece, other than four sets of shattered nerves (the baby thought it was all great fun, but he couldn't see over the dashboard). Jim Jay slid to a stop, released the tie straps and dumped the car on the street, then roared away before we could ask how much we owed him. Greg staggered out of the car, green around the gills, weak in the knees. 

The dog made the sign of the cross and kissed the ground. And she's not even Catholic. 

Happy Holidays!

**No, this is not the dog from the story, and obviously this is not my son. I have no pictures of that dog, so we're pretending this picture will suffice. Slurp.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Next Big Thing

There is a thing on the Internet called a blog hop. It's sort of like the snowmobiling parties back when I was a kid. We'd ride from ranch to ranch, stopping for snacks and drinks, picking up more riders along the way until the we'd end the day (or night) with a big feed at someone's house. Back then (pre-911 and Homeland Security) our snowmobile hops often covered both sides of the Canadian border, a practice to which our local border patrol turned a benevolent blind eye. Try that nowadays, you'd get a close up look at a Blackhawk helicopter.

Ah, the days of innocence...and blackberry brandy in the glovebox.

In honor of the good old times I'm joining in a writers' blog hop called The Next Big Thing. It works like this: a writer posts the answers to a list of questions about their book, then 'tags' five friends, who tag five more friends, and so on. Follow the links and you get to know my writer friends, and the friends of my friends, and discover a whole lot of excellent books along the way.

I was tagged by the amazingly talented Kerry Schafer, who not only has excellent taste in first names but is one of the handful of my online acquaintances I've had the privilege to meet in person, over coffee in a charming little burg called Clayton, Washington, which is not where either of us live but somehow ended up being the perfect place to converge. I can't wait to get my grubby little hands on Kerry's first action/fantasy novel, Between. (Please do click, I'll wait right here).

Worth the visit, right? Now we move on to the question and answer portion of the program, where I tell you all about the book I'm working on, which we all hope with be the Next Big Thing (you'd think they named it that on purpose, huh?).

What is the working title of your next book?

Given this is the third rewrite, it is most often known as This Damn Book. In order to distinguish it from all the other Damn Books in my computer files, the official title is The Best of Bad Intentions.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

A blog reader forwarded me information on a call for submissions to a new line of western/cowboy novellas set in or around Amarillo, Texas, in which all of the stories would feature scenes in a particular honky tonk. I had a short story with a bar scene that fit the bill, and I thought, Hey! I'll just move it from Oregon to Texas and expand it to a novella. Easy Peasy. Be done in a month. Six weeks, tops.

A year and a half and 100K words later...a Montana girl has herself a book set Texas. Doh.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary western romance. Or Cowgirl Lit, as my agent has been known to call it.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I am so woefully ignorant of current pop culture I am incapable of naming an actor or actress under forty years old, unless you count Jake and his Neverland Pirates. Because I have a son. And a husband. And therefore almost no access to the television remote unless there's football to be watched, in which case they do not mess with Mom.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A hot shot rodeo bullfighter with a bad attitude and worse intentions learns a few lessons about life and love from the only woman in Texas who picks up cowboys for a living (from the backs of bucking horses, not street corners).

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Sad fact: I am too lazy for self publishing. I'd have to learn this thing called 'formatting', and I can't even figure out why the font is teeny tiny in this section or how to get rid it. Imagine what I could do to a whole book. 

Traditional publishing is definitely my goal, although with the leaps and bounds made by e-publishers in the last few years my target market is expanding every day.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Eight months, which will end up being about the same as this current, massive rewrite, which has resulted in about 75% brand new words. So I guess you could say this is my second first draft. Sort of.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can't think of a particular book off the top of my head. My dream is to be compared to Virginia Kantra, who writes ordinary people with such grace and grit. Toss in a comparison to Jennifer Crusie's humor and I'd be in hoggy heaven.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The people behind the scenes who make rodeos happen at hundreds of little towns all over North America (yeah, Canada too, eh?). My heroine's family owns a stock contracting business, providing bucking horses and bulls for the smallest of the pro rodeos in the Texas circuit. This is the grassroots of the sport, the regional shows where future champions are made. More dust and drudgery than fame and fortune, but Violet loves it just the same.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I've competed in rodeos my entire life, and I'm told I write awesome arena action. Plus I have a tendency to embarrass my agent by making her laugh out loud while reading on crowded New York subways.

And now for the fun part: 

I get to introduce you to few more of my friends. As usual, I'm running a bit behind, so I only tagged three people instead of five, but what I lacked in quantity I made up for in All Cowgirl quality:

Stephanie Berget: who lives in one of my favorite places ever to rodeo--along the border of southern Idaho and Oregon. Gotta love that Idaho Cowboy's Association, and Stephanie writes one mean story:  Stephanie Berget

BA Tortuga: My designated "It might work like that in Montana, but that's not how it is in Texas, honey" reader. I have got to meet her daddy some day.  If you're tough enough for Rednecks and Romance go ahead and click.

Julia Talbot: She and BA are partners in writing, in crime and in life. On her own she writes everything from traditional romance to LGBT. If you can't find it here, you don't know what you're looking for:  Julia Talbot

So there you go. Hop, skip and jump through the links, backward and forward, and meet a whole bunch of great people. Enjoy!


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Baa-ad Business

It never fails, you get the family together, the stories start to fly, and the next thing you know your sister is telling everyone about that time we smuggled a goat in from Canada.

I feel safe confessing this to all of cyberpace because it happened when I was in college and I assume there is a statute of limitations on goat smuggling. The rodeo coach at Montana State University had informed me that I needed to pick up another event, so I decided to give goat tying a shot. Unfortunately this required owning an actual goat, a fate which my family had so far avoided. Lucky for me friends in Alberta were kind enough to offer one up for the cause.

It’s also possible they just wanted it off their property.

There are means to legally import livestock from Canada, of course, but it seemed ridiculous to spend fifty bucks getting a health certificate on a free goat, so we stuffed it in the sleeper on the back of the pickup with strict instructions to stay low and keep quiet. We could have saved ourselves a whole lot of nail-biting. Even if it had bleated its presence to all and sundry I suspect the border officer would have developed a sudden, extreme case of deafness rather than risk having to confiscate the goat.

As it turned out, my goat tying career was short-lived. The goat was not. For years afterward it reigned supreme over the Longhorn roping steers, jabbing them in the belly with its sharp, curved horns if they dared cut in line at the feed trough.

I assumed that would be the end of goat ownership for me, but then I met my future husband. Greg’s goat was a billy named Bill. Yeah, I know, but the naming of animals isn't a real high priority for him. This is the same man whose dogs were named Squeak and Yip because that’s all they could say when he got them as puppies. His horse was called the Brown Horse. He did try to call it Vinita after the town in Oklahoma where he bought it. Then his friends changed it to Velveeta so he started just calling him the Brown Horse, which was perfectly logical name for a horse that is actually brown instead of, say, a dark red sorrel. 

But back to the goat, another example of color confusion. Greg bought Bill for two dollars at the sale barn, thinking he’d make a good lead goat for a flock of ewes. Turns out white sheep won’t follow a black goat and Bill didn’t think much of sheep anyway, so he crawled through the fence and moved in with the cows. Summer pasture in the Sisseton hills, winter grazing on fields of corn stalks, where the cows went, Bill went, Lord and Master of the herd.

Then Greg decided to send the cows away for good, to be run on shares by his friend Hollis up on the North Dakota border. They filed up the loading chute and onto the semi while Bill bleated frantically back in the corral. As the last cow disappeared into the belly of the trailer and the door started to roll down, Bill took a wild run, jumped the gate and zipped up the chute, sliding under the door and onto the truck by a hair’s breadth, a move worthy of Indiana Jones.

Greg and the truck driver looked at each other. Then they looked at the truck. Bill had already belly-crawled under the cows, all the way to the front of the trailer.

Greg clapped the truck driver on the shoulder. “Looks like somebody just got themselves a goat.” 

Needless to say, Hollis was thrilled. So was Bill. He happily lived out the rest of his days on their ranch because no one there was man enough to make him leave.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Eat Hearty, Stay Warm

It's looking a little frosty here on Thanksgiving morning, but we've got plenty of food and family to keep us warm. And this year I'm over at my group blog, waxing as poetic as I 'm able about on being thankful for the Simple Things. 

And trees. We are very thankful our new pines are coming on strong because trees are a precious commodity out here on the windblown plain. Except for the one my husband planted where it will block my view of Chief Mountain someday. That tree is not long for this world, or at least my back yard, because of all things I am thankful for, watching the sun rise and set over the Rocky Mountains is very close to the top of the list. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Whiskey Gap

We live near the headwaters of the north fork of the Milk River, which starts in Montana, makes a loop up through southern Alberta, then drops south again to dump into the Missouri River out near Fort Peck Reservoir. To say that the water rights on the Milk are a bit of an international hot button would be a vast understatement. It's northward path out of the U.S. is marked by a long, high ridge which makes up most of the Canadian scenery that's visible from our ranch. The ridge runs unbroken for miles, except for small, rugged draws and what is known as Whiskey Gap.

The gap gets its name from the whiskey that flowed through it and across the border during Prohibition. This was not just north to south as some might assume. Alberta had a prohibition period from 1914-1916, during which the whiskey rumbled north via wagons that traveled through the Gap. Even today the towns of southern Alberta directly north of us are all dry due to the influence of a large Mormon population. The nearest bar from our border crossing at Del Bonita is nearly an hour north. 

Whiskey Gap was also the name of a thriving community on the north side of the Gap. These days it has been reduced to a single, one room church alongside the highway to Cardston. Back in 1976 it briefly came back to life as the setting for the film Days of Heaven.

Never heard of it? That's probably because it was a bomb. Sure had pretty scenery, though. 


Saturday, November 10, 2012

So You Think You Can Run...

...Let me show you some real wheels, Dog.


 Max is enjoying the aftermath of winter storm Brutus. And yes, we do feel much more special now that our storms get names like everybody else.

Friday, November 09, 2012

360 Degrees of Awesome

I love going up to Glacier National Park in the fall, after all the hotels and restaurants are closed and the crowds are gone. It's such a different feel when the place is deserted. Last weekend we drove to the Many Glacier Hotel and it was spectacular as always, even though the day was blustery.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Weanin' Time

All summer long I told myself things would slow down after Labor Day. Then we had a couple of rodeos up by Calgary and a writers conference at Fairmont Hot Springs, a work seminar in Bozeman plus helping my great uncle move to a nursing home in Helena, then back north to the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo finals for four days. All of the sudden it's November. No wonder I never get anything done.

Like the rest of the world, our cattle refuse to sit back and wait for me to catch up. This weekend it was time to wean the first of our calves. We have purebred Angus cows that we run mostly separate from our commercial cattle. We breed them via artificial insemination and keep the best of the bull calves as herd sires. We can afford to introduce extremely good genetics this way because buying semen is much cheaper than buying bulls. We purchase frozen semen from high quality bulls via companies like Universal Semen Sales. Go ahead, leaf through their online catalog. Better yet, check out their clothing line. Christmas is just around the corner, you know, and who wouldn't want to find a pair of Sammy Semen pajamas in their stocking?

The purebreds are the first to calve on our ranch, giving the baby bulls as much time as possible to grow up before they have to go to work as yearlings. Therefore, they are also the first to be weaned. They spend the summer in our far north pasture, the one that butts right up against Canada. Considering it's an international border and all, you'd think the fence would be straighter.

There is a boundary marker along our fence, and as you can see in this picture, where the terrain allows there is also a double-fenced No Man's Land. All four sides of the marker are inscribed. The name and date of the treaty that established the border are on the east and west sides. This is looking east. And just in case you get turned around, the south side of the marker says "United States". 

And yes, the north side of the marker says "Canada".

Max and I decided to be rebels and venture a tiny bit into No Man's Land. Say hello to Tequila (Tick for short since most of the time she's so fat she's just a swollen belly with legs sticking out). Next spring she'll get to test her mettle as my rodeo horse, in yet another attempt to allow Em the Magnificent to enjoy her retirement. 

Then we had to get back to work, trailing the cows into the corral for sorting and weaning. Max and my dad were in charge of watching the gate. 

Definitely weaning time when you can barely tell the babies from the mamas!

The coolest part of having a good dog? Sending her out and around the cows that get into the bog. Our horses are grateful.


Saturday, October 20, 2012


First, a note to the owner of that other maroon Jeep: Sorry about the mud on the floor mat. If I'd realized it wasn't my car I would have wiped my feet. Also, you might want to think about locking your doors.

I have an odd habit of ending up places I didn't intend to be, and not just the interior of other people's cars. More often than not my adventures are due to a certain lack of attention to detail. Usually the result is just embarrassing, but there have been times when it got downright scary.

I am not fond of heights. I vividly recall my first encounter with true vertigo, a moment of head-spinning, stomach-wrenching terror when, on a grade school field trip, I looked off the dry side of Hungry Horse dam. The effect was in no way diminished by the fact that I was too short to see over the safety barrier so some helpful soul hoisted me up and--I'm convinced to this day--almost over. I've never recovered. Force feed me a tofu burger topped with goat cheese, but don't ask me to ride in the passenger's seat of a car clinging to the outside lane of Going-to-the-Sun highway.

In my late twenties I moved to eastern South Dakota and suddenly my fear of heights was a non-issue, because there are none. Zilch. That part of the world is so flat the Aberdeen Central cross-country team did hill training by running back and forth across the railroad overpass. As kids if my husband and his brothers wanted to go sledding their dad either had to haul them to the set of over-sized speed bumps on the north end of Richmond Lake that the locals thought were hills, pile up snow with the tractor, or drag them down the road ditch on a car hood at the end of a long rope. 

Greg spent his childhood trying to find a hill to slide down. I spent mine trying to find one that wouldn't kill me.

Eight years in the flat land numbed my sense of self preservation, so when we moved to Oregon I was unprepared for actual variations in topography. Since we lived at the eastern end of a minor geographical feature known as the Columbia Gorge, this was problematic. After one all day meeting in Portland I thought it would be nice to go for a stroll, so I pulled off at a roadside attraction called Multnomah Falls. A wooden sign said, "Multnomah Creek, this way." 

I suppose it should have been a clue that a couple hundred near vertical yards later my legs were the consistency of micro-waved gummy worms, but no, I didn't realize where I was headed until I stepped onto a tiny, rail-less viewpoint and "OH DEAR LORD I’M AT THE TOP OF A SIX HUNDRED FOOT WATERFALL." 

People stared at me. You'd think they'd never seen a woman belly crawl down a hiking trail.

I soon learned that it wasn't necessary to put out that much effort in order to give myself heart palpitations. In Oregon and Washington you don't even have to get out of your car. There you are, driving innocently across a wide desert plain scattered with sagebrush, you cross a little bridge that says Crooked River, look down and "HOLY CRAP I CAN'T SEE THE BOTTOM OF THIS CANYON." 

I can only imagine the first poor sucker who chanced upon it in his covered wagon. Hope he had a good set of brakes on those ponies.

Then there's the rest area south of Coulee City where you step out of your pickup, cross a perfectly normal sidewalk to glance over the railing and suddenly understand why they call this the Dry Falls. As in down. Way, way down.

Another rest stop just north of Yakima, same concept. I can't fathom this fondness for plunking parking lots on the edge of rocky gorges. For crying out loud, people, what is wrong with standing at the bottom of the cliff and looking up?

After about a year of these unexpected encounters my nerves were shot, so for our next excursion I chose a spot called the Lake Lenoir Caves. I mean, what could go wrong there? As we were tiptoeing along a ledge, hugging the cliff face while a tour guide pointed out divots in the canyon wall that Washingtonians jokingly call 'caves', I officially resigned as travel planner--at least until we move back to the flat land. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Today's weather forecast includes up to 90 km/hr of this (I only get Canadian radio here at the ranch), although last week's Chinook cleared out all the snow:

Personally, I prefer Corb Lund's version:

Pull that hat down tight over your ears, folks. It's October.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

North of Here

We've been off rodeoing for four days in Claresholm, Alberta at the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo finals, so in lieu of words you get a few pictures.

All gussied up and ready to party.
Honestly, is there anything prettier than a perfectly groomed arena? 

Horsepower, Rodeo-style

Also Horsepower, Rodeo-style

Roper's Eye View


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

So Much for Summer

Yesterday it was seventy degrees, an absolutely gorgeous fall day. Today, not so much. This is the webcam at St. Mary's Lake, just twenty miles west of our ranch. As you can see by the date, time, and temperature stamp at the top of the photo, we've had a bit of a change in the weather. The most depressing part? No one around here is particularly surprised. 

Welcome to Montana. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hard on Equipment

In honor of my husband, who has knocked the hide of all his knuckles fixing up the hay swather before putting it away for the winter, while simultaneously installing dry wall on the ceiling of our son's future bedroom BY HIMSELF. The man deserves a standing ovation, but we'll settle for a song from our amazingly talented neighbor just to the north of the border. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Curse of the Missing Man

Among the innumerable addendums to our old friend Murphy's Law is one that reads: Whatever can go wrong will, as soon as your husband leaves for a week.

I don't know about town women, but I guarantee all you ranch wives know exactly what I'm talking about. Every horse on the place will be sound and healthy as a…well...horse, until your husband's truck disappears over the hill. Then one of them will immediately fall over and start kicking at its belly. While you're leading the horse around for the nineteenth hour straight per the vet's instructions to prevent the dreaded colic, one dog will jump up a porcupine and get a face full of quills while the other gets hosed by a skunk, and the wind will blow the satellite dish off the roof so the kid is whining louder than either of them. Right then your husband will call and ask, "Hey, honey, how's it going?"

And that's why we call it a Curse.  

The most recent incarnation was when my husband drove my car out to South Dakota to visit his mother, leaving me his 'field pickup'. This is shorthand for 'pickup consigned to the field because it's not safe at highway speed'. I didn't notice the shimmy until I was almost to town. When I parked at the office I saw a front tire was low, so I drove it straight to the tire shop. Problem solved.

Not exactly. An hour later they called me over to take a look at some big metal brace attached to the front tire and explained that it's supposed to curve down, not up, and wow, they'd never seen one bent that bad. And by the way your tire is shot, your spare is dicey and we don't have anything for under a hundred and fifty bucks that will fit it. Then I wobbled almost home (it was a lovely evening to hike that last mile after the dicey spare went flat) and Dad asked if I could haul a couple of plastic water tanks up to the horses and roping calves because the big stock tank had sprung a leak overnight.

Yep, the Curse had struck again.

Vehicle wise, the worst case was in Oregon on a Memorial Day weekend. My husband had barely cleared the state line when my pickup overheated. I watched in dismay as the radiator puked the last of its contents onto the pavement and a neighbor somberly informed me the water pump had gone out. Know how many auto repair shops are open on the last Saturday in May? Zero. That left me with nothing to drive that didn't run on hay, and I was entered in a rodeo on Tuesday night in Caldwell, Idaho.

I hitched a ride to the nearest auto parts store, bought a water pump and a repair manual for a 1989 Dodge Ram and invested two and half days and all of hide on all of my knuckles doing what would have taken my husband one afternoon. By golly, though, I made it to Caldwell.

The next time he left it was the mainline to our community water system that broke. I showered at the gym and hauled drinking and toilet water for three days while they waited for a backhoe to come and dig up the line. A backhoe just like the one my husband--had he only been around--could have immediately borrowed from his boss, saving me from missing a single flush.

Curses, again.

Then there was the evening I was home alone and heard weird, moaning noises coming from the sagebrush on the other side of our horse pasture and found a woman sitting there in the dirt, high as a kite, singing to the birdies. I don't believe even my husband would have been much help with her. I went ahead and called The Man.   

I can't help but wonder: is there also a Missing Woman Curse? Do things fall apart when I'm gone? I believe they must. In fact, from the looks of the house, it appears the minute I leave the broom and the toilet brush both malfunction. 

Curse them. 


Sunday, September 16, 2012

When Ranchers Farm

There are two kinds of people who grow grain in Montana: farmers, and ranchers who farm a little on the side. Farmers tally their cropland in the thousands of acres. Ranchers have a piece here and a piece there, wherever the grass wasn't too good to plow under and the ground wasn't planted to hay to hold the cows over for winter.

A rancher and a farmer don't look a whole different. They’re both probably wearing a gimmee cap from a local business and grease stains on their jeans. The easiest way to tell the difference is to follow them to the fertilizer store. If everyone drops what they're doing and trots over to see what they need, they're a real farmer. If they're ignored except for a hand slap when they reach for the coffee pot, they're probably a rancher.

Farmer's truck.
A farmer's combines are huge, still shiny, with air conditioning, stereo sound and a video monitor so they don't get a crick in their neck keeping an eye on the moving parts behind them. They offload into a grain cart big enough to hold half a granary's worth in one load. A rancher putts around the field in a combine the farmer traded in fifteen years ago, dumping into a truck that rolled off the assembly line back when Archie Bunker was the most shocking thing on television.

Rancher's truck.

It's purely a matter of economics. Less acreage means less money to invest in equipment, so the rancher skims by on the bare minimum. His truck has both power steering and brakes, though not necessarily at the same time. Air conditioning? That's just crazy talk.

The farmer spends the winter lovingly tending his equipment, cleaning and tuning so it's in tip top shape and raring to go in the spring. Every hose on his air seeder has been checked, the fittings secure, the electric motor humming.

The rancher spends the winter lovingly tending his cows: hauling hay, busting open frozen water holes, and as winter turns to spring, calving. In the rare moments of down time he'd go ahead and tune up his farm equipment but the feed tractor is taking up most of the space in his shop. His seeder is in excellent shape, though, all of the fittings brand new thanks to the crazy Longhorn cow that got out last fall, sprinted across the yard and tried to jump it to make her escape, ripping out every single one of the two dozen air hoses and all the wiring on the motor in the process.

The farmer has a tractor equipped with a computerized GPS guidance system that uses satellite triangulation to ensure his rows are perfectly straight and every pellet of seed and fertilizer are ideally placed for maximum yield.

The rancher's tractor is guided by his wife or whichever of his teenaged children is least proficient at making themselves scarce. The kids have a tendency to wander a bit while driving, thus his grain rows have more of an ocean wave effect. With no electronic alarms to warn them, it's a given the tractor operator will fail to notice they've run out of seed and will leave a big bare strip right alongside the road where the neighbors can drive by and think, "Geez, ol' Bob's not much of a farmer."

Of course he's not. He's a rancher. But I bet the farmer's daughter doesn't know how to repair a granary door with a used Kleenex, duct tape and a busted fence post. 

**Addendum: I wrote this article two weeks ago, for my regular newspaper column. Yesterday my husband attempted to haul a load of barley to the grain elevator in the 'new' truck. It started to pull to the right as he topped a hill on Meriwether Road (named after Mr. Lewis, who toured this area less extensively than he'd planned thanks to the Blackfeet). As he rolled down the other side, his momentum given a helpful boost by two and a half tons of grain, the right front tire went completely flat. 

Times like this brakes sure would come in handy. As would a spare tire. 

***Addendum to addendum: My husband and father would like to point out that it's not like they haven't tried to fix the brakes. They've even resorted to paying other people to try to fix the brakes. The things are remarkably immune to all attempts at repair. And yes, he did manage to get to the bottom of the hill in an upright position. 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Coyote Sunset

It is a little known fact that coyotes can smell a video camera at five hundred paces. We've got scads of them and every evening they howl like crazy--until I try to record them. Part of the problem is they only sing for a minute or two then go dead silent, sometimes for the rest of the night. I finally outsmarted them, though, set up the camera well before sunset then walked away and left it running. Forty minutes of recording to get this thirty second serenade. So here you go, my local choir in full voice. (You will need to crank your volume to high. I also recommend removing all dogs from the room prior to hitting play.)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Trick to It

We don't own a lot of new stuff. Farm equipment, vehicles, campers--pretty much everything has some miles on it by the time it comes into our possession, and with the miles come a few quirks. Or as we like to call it, personality.

Our pickup has oodles of personality. It was born in the era when the ignition and the doors each had a designated key. For reasons known only to Ford Motor Company, the door key is the one with the black plastic casing--exactly the opposite of every other car we've owned. Even better, the door key does fit into the ignition. Thanks to my brother we know it will even start the pickup if you crank on it hard enough. After an hour of crawling around checking fuses and wires, he called to ask us the trick to getting the gages and lights to work.

Well, first you use the right key…

Then you mash the clutch clear to the floor. Or maybe stomp is a better term. As in so hard the floorboard bows out little. Only then will the ignition engage. Usually.  

And there's the backup fuel tank. It has a tube that's supposed to vent air to make room for the fuel as it runs in. Except sometimes the vent tube gets vapor-locked and five gallons into the eighteen gallon tank it suddenly belches diesel, usually all over the poor slob trying to fill it up. Then it refuses to take another drop. Which means instead of thirty plus gallons, you're heading out across the wasteland of eastern Montana with half that much, praying Ingomar has installed twenty four hour CardTrol pumps since the last time you passed through. 

Worse, you assume because your husband fueled up the truck at the ranch you actually have enough in the second tank to get across that stretch from Browning to Hungry Horse in January when everything between is buttoned up tight for the winter. Depending on the mood the pickup is in that day, you could be right. Or not. The trick is to check both tanks every time you climb behind the wheel.

There's more, but I think I've made my point. Of everything we own, though, the most quirky is the only one we got brand new--our child. When he was four, he spent a couple of days with my sister. On the second night she called at midnight, frantic. He was in excruciating pain, wailing that he had a headache. Should she take him to the emergency room? Oh my God, he might have meningitis. Or an aneurysm. What if he was having an aneurysm?

I told her to put him on the phone. "Where does your head hurt?" I asked.

"In my belly," he sobbed.

"Do you need to poop?" I asked.

"Maybe," he moaned.

I got my sister back on the phone and told her to take him to the bathroom. Half an hour later she called to report his mysterious illness had been, er, eliminated. She was relieved, but baffled. "How was I supposed to know a headache meant his stomach hurt?"

I told her not to feel bad. Like my poor old pickup, kid ownership should come with a manual. There is definitely a trick to it. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Em for Magnificent

For all intents and purposes, I've had two rope horses since I started taking my roping seriously. The first was fourteen hands (small, for you non-horsey types), a strawberry roan named Scotty who I got from a family friend in exchange for two old roping calves, the equivalent of $500. The bargain price was due in no small part to her tendency to buck, pull back and be nearly impossible to catch. Five years into hauling her it still took three people to get her into a horse trailer. But hot damn, she could rope. She was my number one mount from just after I graduated from college, through the first ten years of my marriage. She carried me to my first association championship and trophy saddle.

At twenty-two she finally slowed down a gear. We had young horses ready to go, so I passed Scotty on to friends in South Dakota. She carried their daughter all the way through high school rodeo, then they passed her on to friends with a younger kid. As of last fall she was thirty-five and still making their lives miserable.

Enter Ember. She is the exact same size, shape and general temperament except for the bucking, and not by coincidence. Her mother was Scotty's sister. I wouldn't say the transition was seamless, but within three years after the switch I had returned to the competitive level I'd achieved on Scotty. Then we exceeded it. I can say without reservation that the best winning streak of my entire rodeo career was thanks in a whole big heap to Ember. Em is for magnificent. Magic. Roping on her is so easy you wonder how you could ever miss.

Unfortunately, the one trait she didn't inherit from her mother's side of the family was invincibility. Ember is thin-soled and front end heavy which tends to make her get sore-footed easily. Plus early in her career she stumbled in bad ground at a rodeo in Kamiah, Idaho and tweaked something up in her left hip that took her out for the rest of that season and has been a problem off and on since.

A minor problem for her--just a slight short-stride in that hind leg--a huge problem for me. Because she and Scotty are so much alike, I essentially roped on the same horse for twenty years. Switching to a really different horse was not easy, especially when anything else you climb on is taller, longer strided, with more head and neck between you and the calf. Luckily Ember's stints on injured reserve were short--until we moved back to Montana.

Six months after we arrived she came up lame, and this time she didn't shake it off. I started playing rope horse hopscotch. Sweetgrass, Nico, Julie, Vegas. All of them perfectly good horses. None of them Ember.

A year and a half later, in early spring, Ember came sound. I was over the moon. I bought my association card, started mapping out my schedule. Our first rodeo run she gave me a throw so fast and easy I sailed it over the calf's head like a frisbee in my excitement. No worries. Plenty of rodeos to go.

Then the first week in June I came home from work and my husband met me in the yard with the grim kind of face that makes your stomach turn inside out.

"One of the other mares kicked Ember. It looks pretty bad."

It was. Her leg was swollen the size of a fence post from her hock all the way to her hoof. The same rear leg that had always given her trouble. Though we didn't have x-rays taken I'm fairly sure there was a fracture because six months later her ankle was still swollen, with a big lump on the outside. But the day she got hurt? That day I knew she was done for at least another year. Maybe forever. That day I took off walking across the open prairie. I walked for miles and I cried for most of them, mourning my lost season. Ember's pain. All the lost seasons ahead. I was convinced I'd never rope on her again. I'd lost my magic.

For two years it looked like I was right. Her ankle stayed swollen, her stride stayed jerky. We gave up hoping she'd get back to the arena and tried breeding her, but she didn't carry the colt to term. It looked like Ember would be living out her days just hanging in the pasture. In the meantime, my roping had gone down the tubes. I went an entire summer without placing in a rodeo. Tossed my ropes in a corner and quit after the second weekend in July.

The next summer was slightly better. I settled on Julie and we made a couple of decent runs. Then over the winter I got back on Vegas and we started to click. Placed at the first Senior Pro rodeo of the year, and again at a the third. I got a little of my mojo back.

Then this spring Ember made the mistake of letting me see her run.

Well, now. That hitch in her stride? Still there, but a lot less noticeable and given the fact she was going hell bent for leather and showing no sign of pain, obviously not a big problem for her.

Thus began the Return of Ember. We started slow, just leading her for exercise, then easy riding, then after two weeks I tried roping. The very first calf we ran she worked like she'd never had a day off, and I roped like I'd never been on another horse. The magic was back.

We made our competitive comeback at the end of June. First two runs we roped in 2.6 seconds. (With two broken barriers but let's not get picky. Besides, we still got a check on the second one.) By the fifth rodeo we were close to our old form. In a four rodeo stretch after that we got two firsts and a third, and would have had another win if not for that damn barrier. This is one of those runs, at Nanton, Alberta:

So what have we learned from all this? Not much, to be honest. I knew exactly how blessed I was when Ember was at her best, and I knew it would be pure hell when I was forced to change horses. Now she's nineteen years old, a huge chunk of her prime lost to injuries, but there's no sense shedding any more tears. I'm just going to treasure every calf we rope with the full knowledge that she's only got a limited number of runs left in her aging legs. I keep Vegas on reserve, tuned and ready, and ride him at rodeos where I feel the conditions don't suit Em. I'm going to pamper her as much as she'll let me, spoil her as much as she wants.

We're going to stretch that magic as far as it will go.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And So It Begins

As of today, we are officially harvesting!

Here's a close up of what they're cutting. That's barley. Malting barley, to be specific. Which means, yes, what you're looking at is beer on the hoof. 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prairie Thunder

I confess, I've been too busy taking full advantage of every second of our gorgeous summer days to write anything decent to post here. For now, you'll have to make do with more video. I apologize in advance for the unsteady camera, videoing from the back of a horse is dicey at the best of times, and doesn't get easier when a whole herd of her buddies comes thundering up in her face.

Nice sound effects, too!

Friday, August 17, 2012

We Interrupt this Daily Commute....

...because sometimes you've just gotta stop and watch the moose.

This was taken alongside the highway, just a mile north of the Milk River. We get a few moose wandering down out of the mountains every summer, but they're usually young males who've been chased out by the older, meaner dudes. This is the first time I've seen a cow and calf. 

Notice those buildings in the background? That's an abandoned Army radar base out here in the middle of nowhere, left over from World War II. A fascinating story for another time. 


Wednesday, August 08, 2012


In my lifetime I would estimate I've taken at least a hundred thousand pictures of this area, and none of them really does it justice. Still photography has a way of flattening out the landscape, so you can't really grasp the scope or scale of mountains, ridges and coulees. I decided to try a video panorama instead.

I took the video from my driveway, at the top of the ridge above our house. It starts out looking straight south then pans to the west, and ends looking straight north. At the very end, the far edge of the lighter colored grain crop is the Canadian border. That big ridge in the distance is in Alberta.

Now all I need is a better tripod so I can pan a little more smoothly!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

As is usually the case in summer, life has been hectic lately. Between rodeos and visiting family and swimming lessons and oh, yeah, work, things fall through the cracks. Like laundry. And dinner. People tell me to make a list. I've never had much luck with that, but I figured I should give it another shot so Wednesday I jotted down a few things I absolutely had to get done after work. Number one was roping practice, which wouldn't take long because I only needed to run a few to tune up my horse.

When I got home at six o'clock I started right in on my list. No dawdling allowed if I was going to be a better, more efficient me. I headed for the barn, then remembered it had rained over the weekend. I zipped the quarter mile out to check the arena instead. Ugh. Caked and hard and in need of working before I could rope. Back to the yard, then another quarter mile up and around to the indoor arena. I grunted and heaved the big front door open wide enough for the tractor, which actually started for a change even if it was on the third try.

Chug, chug, chug…down and around and back to the outdoor arena, where I spent an hour putting around and around until the ground was sufficiently fluffy. Then chug, chug, chug back to the yard. I parked the tractor, called the dog and hiked over to chase the roping calves from their pen to the arena. Except the steers were in the way so first we had to round them up and lock them in the feedlot, where they promptly trotted out the open bottom gate and disappeared over the hill.

Note to self: Add 'gather the roping steers' to Saturday's list.

When I was done swearing, the dog and I sorted off the bum calf that doesn't get roped and locked him in his separate pen, then chased the rest over to the arena. Then I swung past the house to roust my nephew for chute help and toss a peanut butter sandwich in the general direction of my son. Then back to the barn, where my husband's horse had to be captured so he didn't try to attack the others as they passed through the corral, and my mare needed water before I could take her in the barn to administer her arthritis medicine which of course I'd forgotten down at the house, requiring another quarter mile jog.

The geldings were nowhere to be seen. I grabbed a bucket of grain and trudged half a mile to wrangle them from the far east end of their pasture, and half a mile back with two horses trying to rip the bucket out of my hand. Saddled and bridled, I set off for a trot around the hayfield, riding one horse and leading the other so I could both warm up and exercise at the same time. Efficiency counts, you know. Two hours after I started getting ready, I finally roped. Seven calves. Approximately five minutes of practice.

See, I knew it wouldn't take long.

Then I turned around and began putting everything back where it came from. At forty-three minutes after nine I staggered into my house and scratched off the first item on my agenda. I flopped down on the couch, list in hand, and tried to figure where I’d gone wrong.

I’m still at a loss. I guess some people just aren't genetically pre-disposed to being organized because no matter how hard I try, I never seem to get past number one. 

My well-groomed arena

Addendum: For those of you who've stumbled through here more than once, a follow-up to my previous post on Fender Benders. Two weeks later, a credit to the healing power of horse flesh and Vetericyn. 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Very Short Story

Two years ago we finally put a bathtub in our cozy little bunkhouse on the range. I was thrilled. It did, however, require some training on the part of my boy child regarding the sloshing and squishing of water onto the bathroom floor. Apparently the lessons finally took. And I guess I should have considered it a victory the day he called me into the bathroom and said, "Here, Mommy."

And he handed me a fresh turd.

I screeched something like, "Why did you poop in the bathtub when the toilet is right there?"

"I didn't want to get the floor wet."


Around about that same time we went on a day trip to Lake McDonald. For more on that, check out Spontaneous Confusion.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fender Benders

When you live on a ranch certain realities can't be escaped. One of them is the well known fact that barbed wire and horses aren't a great combination. It would be wonderful if we could keep them separated, but no other form of wire is capable of containing cows. Since the horses share the same pastures, they are inevitably exposed.

Honestly, though, I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference. I had a friend in South Dakota who built all pipe and wood fences around her horse pastures. Religiously scouted every inch of every piece of ground for stray wire or other sharp objects. She had the highest vet bills of anyone in town. It's like the harder she worked at keeping them safe, the more determined her horses were to prove it wasn't possible.

Of course colts are the worst, because they're flighty and unpredictable and still learning what things in their environment bite back. After years of raising babies we've developed an attitude much like that of a new car owner. It's not a matter of when you get the first scratch, just how soon and how bad and pray the thing isn't totaled.

Nearly every horse we own has a visible wire cut scar. Ember's is on her left foreleg from when she was three:

Sweetgrass had a few minor encounters in her early years, but the major damage to her left hock was done when she was eight or nine. Usually this kind of injury happens when there are horses on both sides of the fence, a situation we go to great lengths to avoid if the fence in question isn't solid wood or pipe because they tend to bicker and either strike or kick, resulting in a leg over the barbed wire. That wasn't the case where Sweetgrass was pastured. My sister never could fathom why she stuck her back leg through the fence. She did heal, though, despite slicing the whole front of the joint open and exposing tendons.  

The latest casualty is our new colt, Captain, who had an encounter with a fence while we were gone to the lake over the Fourth of July. Because that's the other given with horses. They generally do the stupid stuff when you're not looking. Luckily this was just a flesh wound, not pretty to look at but no damage below the surface. 

One of the worst episodes was when Vegas was a youngster. Something spooked the whole herd and they ran through a fence, tore down fifty yards of wire (my dad guesses it might have been a moose since one had been spotted in the area and horse are scared to death of them). Several suffered major cuts. Vegas laid his neck wide open, two long, parallel gashes. We couldn't imagine him ever healing, and if he did assumed he'd have huge, disfiguring scars. And now? All that's left is a faint crease and a dimple. 

Oh, and that bumper sticker on the rear door of the horse trailer? That's left over from the days when we lived in Oregon and regularly drove through places like Portland and Seattle to get to rodeos. Back when real fender benders were more of a risk than the equine kind. 


Sunday, July 15, 2012


A couple of weeks ago we drove from Whitehall to Townsend by way of Boulder. For those of you not familiar with the area, here's a map.

Which reminds me…a map would be a nice thing to have in my car. As opposed to, say, in the house on the kitchen table. Not that it would have helped, because the thing is, I meant to go through Three Forks. Really. I just sort of forgot as we were pulling out of town. To take the Interstate instead of the Boulder highway, I mean. I didn't forget I needed to go to Townsend to pick up my kid. I haven't forgotten to pick up the kid in months.

Our little detour was par for the weekend. Everything I tried to do was at least twice as hard as it should have been. I spent all of Saturday just trying to take a shower.

We were staying in the camper at a rodeo in Dillon and sometime during the night we ran out of propane. Lucky for us they were having a heat wave in southwest Montana so we didn't wake up with our noses frosted to the zippers in our sleeping bags, but it did mean there was no hot water for a shower.

Oh well. No rush. I didn't have to be presentable until the rodeo on Saturday night. Besides, there were showers over on the other side of the fairgrounds. I'd just use them. We lounged around the camper until after lunch, then my husband loaded the propane tanks in the car and headed downtown to get them filled. I gathered towel, shampoo and clean clothes and trudged over to the facilities.

Much to my astonishment, they were pay showers. I’d never seen such a thing. I trudged back to the camper only to realize that my wallet was in the car, which was still gone with my husband. I only needed fifty cents, though. There must be a quarter or two somewhere in the camper.

There were. A whole handful, in fact. Every single one of them Canadian.

I gave up, crawled into the top bunk and dozed until the car returned. Then I retrieved my wallet, checked to be sure I had a couple of crisp dollar bills for the change machine, and drove over to the showers.

The change machine was broken. I opened my wallet and rifled through my silver. Half a dozen quarters--also all Canadian. I gave up. I obviously was not intended to use those shower facilities. I drove back to the camper, fired up the hot water heater now that the new propane bottles were installed, and took another nap.

Finally, forty five minutes before the rodeo was due to start, the water was hot. I cranked on the taps and lathered up, which was when I realized two things. First, I had forgotten to shake the moths out of the shower curtain and at least two were now bathing with me. And second?

My towel and clean clothes were still in the car. 


Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Human Water Balloon

We gathered up the whole family--sixteen bodies--and went to Holland Lake for a few days of rest and recreation. More of the latter than the former, which my body is now reminding me every time I move. Hiking, canoeing, water skiing, the works.

Montana lakes are not warm in early July, or late August in most cases, so my sister and brother-in-law who recreate regularly own wetsuits, which they brought along for the rest of us to borrow when we water-skiied.     Considering I literally could not breathe the first time I hit the water even with the wetsuit, I shudder to imagine what it would have been like without.

Or maybe that should be shiver to imagine.

I water ski approximately once every twenty years. Oddly enough, my technique doesn't seem to be improving. I did learn one thing, however. When you skip like a rock across the surface of the lake on your butt, water shoots up the legs of your wetsuit and you become a puffy black balloon with stick arms and legs.

Since someone is bound to ask...Holland Lake is east and south of Flathead Lake, just north of Seeley Lake. It does not show up on any map we own. Those are the Mission Mountains you see in the background. Nice place, huh? 


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Family Fun Time

So yes, the entire family has congregated here at the ranch for a few days of quality time. We thought since we were all together we should go for a little hike, but before setting out my husband-who-does-not-hike figured he should establish some ground rules.

1. Don't get lost (because my cousin did on this very same hike and had to spend the night on the mountainside).

2. Don't get eaten (because I, for one, have never had any desire to become one with a grizzly bear, of which there are many in the area).

3. Don't get struck by lightning (because the forecast is iffy in that department)

4. Don't fall off.

Because we're climbing to the top of THIS:

Yes, that is Chief Mountain. And no, recreating with my family is not for wimps. It isn't quite as bad from the back side as it looks from this angle, but still...if you don't hear from me again, assume something in the range of #1-4. 

And if you really want to know what we're getting ourselves in for, check it out here:  Chief Mountain Hike.

Now if you'll excuse me, I know that canister of bear spray is around here somewhere. 


We were all up and rearing to go at 6:30 am, but due to overnight thunderstorms and cloudy, rainy conditions, our wimpy guide canceled our excursion, to our great disappointment. That's our story and we're sticking to it. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

For a Good Time....

No, I'm not going to pass along someone's phone number. Just wanted to share this information sent to me by the great folks down in Drummond. Seriously. If you're anywhere in the area and want to see some great rodeo action, crack out your road map and head to southwest Montana next weekend. I'll let them tell you the rest.

Drummond PRCA Rodeo Celebrates 70th Anniversary
Historic event includes professional cowboys, parades, a beer garden and street dance.

Sunday, July 8, 2012—Drummond, Mont. will host their 70th rodeo, a professional competition that functions as the sole fundraiser for the non-profit Drummond Kiwanis Club.

This annual event is remarkable, as a hometown tradition and as a Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association (PRCA) official rodeo. Drummond’s American Legion Goldstar Post 125 Rodeo Grounds, off I-90, play host to professional cowboys and lady barrel racers from across the Northwest, who compete to win money and earn their place in the National Rodeo Finals.

This year’s event will feature saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie down roping, team roping and the crowd favorite—bull riding. Tickets are just $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 10. Children 5 and under are free. Outside the arena there are food stands, a beer garden and picnic tables. For most people, the occasion is an all-day event.  

Drummond Kiwanis Rodeo Chairman, Butch Friede said, “I believe this has been one of the best little one-day shows in the state. You see lots of families coming, lots of people cheering and having fun. Come and watch what a professional show in a small community can really bring you.”

The celebration begins with a children’s parade on Saturday, July 7th at 7 p.m. Slack follows at 9 a.m. Sunday morning.  The rodeo parade takes place on Drummond’s Front Street at Noon, with prizes awarded for best dressed cowboy and cowgirl as well as the best float and best car and truck. The main rodeo events begin at 2 p.m., featuring fanfare, audience participation, bullfighters and a 50/50 raffle. Drummond’s Roughstock Saloon will host a band on Saturday night and a street dance with live music after the rodeo.

Drummond resident Paul Greany reckoned the rodeo still offers the type of celebration that is good for first time rodeo goers and seasoned rodeo fans. He said, “People are still riding bucking horses and bulls, same as when I first came to the rodeo.”

The Drummond Rodeo is presented by community volunteers and sponsors. As the sole fundraiser for the Drummond Kiwanis Club, it funds college scholarships, youth leadership conferences, Project Santa Claus family food donation, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, swimming lessons and other youth programs that benefit hundreds of children in Granite County.

Contact: Krista Johnson, klynnejohnson@gmail.com406-691-1459