Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Rhubarb Patch

What a story.  In the late 1800's when the gold rush began here in southwest Montana at Bannack on Grasshopper Creek, "gold diggers" spread out through this area looking to make their fortune.  Several of them ended up here in our Grasshopper Valley.  One of them staked a claim high up on the side of the valley, but was not particularly successful at his gold and silver mining.  Not too sure exactly what inspired him, but he decided that perhaps he could make his fortune out of rhubarb - that is rhubarb wine to make and sell to other miners in the area.  He planted a huge rhubarb patch that continues to flourish to this day.  All the locals know where the "patch" is located and make regular forays up Wellman Creek draw to harvest beautiful, excellent rhubarb.

 This is one part of the patch.  I took this picture today and it is at the end of the season, so the stalks are beginning to lean over, but for the most part the rhubarb is still usable.
 The patch at one time and for many years was maintained and watered by Roger Cox and his son, Stan, but for several years now they have not been able to continue to care for it.  There's now a lot of weeds growing in the patch and I think it is getting smaller, but what is there - in spite of the weeds - is still wonderful.
 Many years ago soon after we finished our house I started bringing down plants from the patch and planted them next to our house.  I now have about 15 plants that are flourishing and I am able to havest stalks throughout the two months or so of the season without making the 9 mile trip up the mountain.
 This is one of my recent harvests.
 Ready to be chopped
 and bagged to freeze or to share with neighbors for all kinds of rhubarb treats - not just pies.
 Today we took Helen and David up to the patch as Helen does the baking for the Grasshopper Inn and loves to make rhubarb pies.  They had heard frequently about the patch, but had no clue where it was.
 She also dug a couple plants to take down to her house to start her own patch.
 We stopped on our way down for a photo op - a spot overlooking the valley below.  Beautiful.
The road up there is not the greatest, so we normally go up on our 4-wheelers, which in itself is a fun outing.  Today was perfect for a ride and a harvest.

These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

And that's just what they'll do!  For approximately 150 miles on two different walks in Ireland.  We're getting ready.  We're walking 6 to 8 miles every day in preparation for this adventure.  We will walk The Suck Valley Way in central Ireland and also The Dingle Way on the coast for 11 days total of walking.  Very different areas of Ireland and should be wonderful and beautiful.  We're so excited.  We fly on Thursday!  Depending on internet service at the hotels and bed and breakfasts where we will stay, I will make every effort to post a few pictures every day.  We will begin this adventure with 3 days in Dublin and will end with a couple days in Limerick.  Can hardly wait!

I figured out how to wear (carry) both my camera in a secure manner and also my daypack.  Certainly can't make a trip like this without my camera (obviously!), and it looks like we're going to need a rain jacket most days.  Just hoping it doesn't get too wet.  And of course, we have to carry water for the 15 (average) miles we will walk each day.  Hope I'm ready for this!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy. . . .

Especially in my summer house!  My dream.  Thank you, Walt.  I love it.

 Chico loves it, too!
 He found his spot!
Gotta watch for the cat!  Then it will be time to play!

Twin Moose Calves - WOW

You won't get to see this scene very often!  We are moving into the days when we see more and more moose coming back into the area (those that haven't been killed by the burgeoning wolf population here in our valley.  The moose population is way down here and in other areas as well.  But that's another story. . . .)

 I looked out my kitchen window about 7 a.m. this morning and I saw these two guys!  So cool!  My mother and her pals were still here, so they got to see them and take pictures also.  Such a treat.  Mama Moose was very nearby - mamas never let babies get very far away.  Moose are so very curious - like deer - very curious.
 These guys wandered around for awhile - they didn't seem to be the least bit concerned.  (I was taking pictures out the window, so they weren't threatened nor frightened).

 Yesterday we had the treat of hearing and seeing a pair of sandhill cranes!  There are actually two in this picture - you can click on it to see it full size.
Their cry is very distinctive - never any doubt about what we're hearing. What a treat.  Moose three days in a row.  A cute, photogenic little dear and sandhill cranes.  Lucky.  Beautiful place to live!


My mother came to visit for a couple days and brought two of her favorite pals with her, Pat Bridwell and Marcia Seitz.  (Both are women from my childhood and our church, so I have known them for a long time - it was fun to have them!)  They just didn't know what I had planned for them.  We started out with a drive up the side of Maverick Mountain Ski Area to one of my favorite places to photograph lupine.  On our way up Pat was paying attention out the window and saw a bear!!!  So we stopped to snap a few photos.

 Now that was something extra on my tour, for sure.
 This is high up on the side of Maverick Mountain.  Often at this time of year this field is full of lupine, but I'm thinking this year it might still be a little early.  But it's a beautiful place to take pictures - something like "Sound of Music."  We can see our house from here.  Love it.  I do think these lovely ladies may have wondered whether or not we would make it up the mountain as I made the wrong turn at one point on our drive up and ended up on the wrong road - a high, winding, narrow road - straight down on one side in some spots....  I think there might have been some white knuckles as I backed down the road!!!  But they were good sports about it.  (I think!)  No screeching or screaming.
 We headed up to the Sawtooth Trailhead and walked in to this tree where I love to take photos.  Cool, huh!
 Marcia Seitz, Pat Bridwell, Lois Thornhill - my mother.
 Now.  On to the REAL adventure.  Four Wheelin' !!!  No.  None of them had ever ridden before.  But they were good sports about even this - even she who was designated novice driver!  Somebody (who shall remain nameless) did mention several times that she was scared - I told her not to cry or pee her pants!  Oh, me of no sympathy - this is an adventure after all!  Live a little.
 They did.  They had fun.  I think they may be telling this story for awhile - there's lots to tell!
 I finally did find a field of lupine and I made them sit in it!  (Oh, me of no sympathy - anything for a photo - right???)
 I gave them a break the next day and I drove them over into the Bitterroot Valley and to Hamilton.  I love that area and it's a delightful little Montana town - lots of fun shopping - and we stopped at the yarn shop.  A GREAT yarn shop.  I will be going back there.  Then I took them to my favorite restaurant, The River's Edge, and we sat outside and had an absolutely delightful lunch.  The waitress even brought out a bowl of water for my little Chico!
 This was our view as we lingered over our lunch.  It doesn't get much better than this.
 Well.  It's pretty nice at our house, too!  We love having guests to entertain (any excuse to set a table, you know!)  We enjoyed wonderful, fun conversation and they taught me to play Hand and Foot (a card game), which I actually enjoyed - especially when Marcia and I won the second evening. . . .  (We sort of got trounced the night before.)

 I'm going to be making this breakfast entree again.  It's peanut butter and banana - yes! -  it was delicious!  With a light coating of maple syrup.  YUMMY.

Beautiful wild flowers this time of year.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


 It's no wonder I NEVER get any blooms from my garden.  If it's not the deer, it's the moose.  (These are taken very early in the morning, in low light, and through the living room window, so the quality is BAD.)
 I recognize this bull - he has notches in both ears and he's been around before!
 As he nonchalantly saunters away from my garden.  I couldn't get him to move on even after going outside and trying to shoo him away.  Do I love them or hate them?
 So the one bull took off and not 3 minutes later 3 more wandered across in front of the house - two cows and one bull trailing behind.  They didn't stick around to eat my garden.  Good thing.
 But within 5 minutes this is what I saw out my window!  If it isn't the moose, it's the deer.  And the deer are not supposed to like the stuff I spray on my plants.  YEAH, RIGHT. . . .
 He's a cute little thing.
 He's just lucky I didn't fill him full of birdshot.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Morning Magic in the Grasshopper Valley

It doesn't matter which direction we walk from our house on our daily hikes, it is beautiful.  We are so lucky to live here.

 Sunrise on the pond.  Faintly in the far side of the pond you can see steam rising off the water.  Wonder what that means. . . .
 This is one of our "sittin' spots" on our property which obviously needs some weed wacker attention, but I couldn't bear to cut down the flowers!  I would rather sit in them.
 My walk yesterday included walking alone the Grasshopper Creek.  Grasshopper Creek is where gold was originally discovered down by Bannack and the Montana gold rush was on.  Here in our valley (above Bannack) it is still beautiful and pristine.
Can't see any fish here, but folks tell me the fishing is pretty good!

Come walk with me sometime!  I'll show you some beautiful places!