Montana Numbers Rising

Montana Covid-19 cases are on the rise–when we came home in early April the state might see two or three new cases per day. Today our numbers rose by 144 cases. This afternoon our governor issued a mandate requiring masks be worn in businesses, government offices, and other indoor spaces open to the public in counties with four or more active cases of Covid-19. The directive also requires face coverings at organized outdoor activities of 50 or more people, where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Do we agree–yes we do and we also think it should have happened a long time ago. In our opinion, Covid-19 is not a political issue, it’s a virus. It’s a virus which gives many people flu like symptoms from which they recover quickly. It kills other people with no rhyme or reason. It’s this part which bothers us–the no rhyme or reason killing part. For that reason we wear a mask and we stay home for the most part. My Cowboy is shy and introverted but wearing a mask is no big deal to him. And it’s certainly no big deal for this ole retired operating room nurse.

We’ve been busy–Tuesday the washer and dryer ran all day. The grass needed mowing after our being gone almost a week. The Cowboy started cutting hay and as of this afternoon it is all cut, raked and baled–hallelujah! I sprayed weeds this morning, made lunch, worked in the flower bed–the list goes on and on this time of year.

More photos from our trip to the Bighorn Mountains–

Although there were no signs explaining these stacked rock towers which were over eight feet tall, the Cowboy said it was common for sheep herders to create these projects. This was a spring bubbling up out of the ground–lots of water!Not sure what these sheep were finding to eat on this snow drift??

Life is good.

Lots Of Fun, Moose, Riding and People

How can it possibly be such hard work to load the RV when all we are adding is clothes and food?? I spent a large portion of last Sunday and Monday making trip after trip from house to motorhome. I did do some cooking–can’t go camping without homemade cookies! The Cowboy worked hard too–he did a little irrigating ditch cleaning for a neighbor/friend then loaded the Can-Am and all his tools, etc.

Tuesday morning the 7th, we were on the road bright and early. As we traveled the interstate we both remarked on how the country side is still green–our summer so far has been cool and wet but then it is only the first of July.

Geri and Larry left Rapid City on Monday to find us a camping spot in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming up near Burgess Junction. It’s a good thing they did! As the waitress in the local restaurant said, “the Bighorns have been discovered.” The spot they found was near a gravel road nestled in a grove of trees–think peaceful right?? Not with literally hundreds of vehicles going by every single minute of every single day. Hundreds!!–ATVs, vehicles, RVs of every shape and size looking for a camping spot. Every spot in the USFS campgrounds was occupied. We were amazed and appalled!

When you are with the best of friends and haven’t seen each other in a long time we made the best of the situation. We didn’t even come unglued when arriving at our campsite after a great day of riding to find a motorhome parked 12 feet from us totally blocking our view of the meadow where the moose hang out. TWELVE FEET!  They were gone the next day and we took measures to protect that spot which wasn’t really even a spot–we unhooked our cargo trailer and parked it in that non spot.

We spent Tuesday afternoon sitting in the sun catching up. The weather was perfect–lows in the high 30’s, highs in the low 70’s. We rode wearing multiple layers every day. At almost 10,000 feet it was downright chilly!

 Emmi watched the squirrels and chipmunks.

The moose were abundant in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming–

We rode over fifty miles on four different days. Larry chauffeured us on evening rides as we looked for moose, ate a couple meals out and traveled a road that seemed built for a 50 inch ATV even though we saw other vehicles!! Larry’s pickup is a newer three quarter ton Dodge–Geri is lucky to have so accommodating a husband! We had coffee in a USFS cabin with a local guy, Mike, who is a retired BNSF railroad conductor and now a cow camp tender. Each day we saw so much “WOW” scenery and here are a few photos from those days.

I took hundreds of photos and will share more in future blogs. The wildflowers were just stunning, the scenery amazing and the company of friends priceless! We were without internet for almost the entire time getting signal only when we rode high enough to catch a brief signal–it was heaven!

Life is good!

 

 

It’s Summer Time

Our temps have increased a bit into the low 80’s but we really can’t complain–no humidity. The afternoon thunder showers are making the haying operation difficult as usual–it happens every single year.

Thursday morning we finished the Cowboy’s portion of the backyard flower bed remodel–we leveled the flagstones. What a chore–those dang rocks are heavy! It looks so nice and now for my portion–getting all those plants I purchased into the ground, run watering lines to each plant, lay fabric and then mulch. I’m tired just typing this much less doing it!😆

Friday evening we had a small dinner party, just seven people total and we were able to sit outside on the new patio. Before people arrived I had to remove all the place settings and pick up the foam padded chairs due to a quick rain shower. Everyone agreed it was so good to get out, see and visit with people. The food was outstanding–everyone contributed something and we provided a brisket I had cooked. And I made a new to me sangria recipe–it was sooooo good! I’m a big Modern Mrs. Darcy fan and every Friday she does a post–this one contains a link to several summer time drinks, one of which is the sangria–Links I Love.  

Saturday I planted all the plants we purchased and Sunday I ran drip lines to them from the existing larger water line. The Cowboy continued with the hay making operation and all the hay is now cut and baled. You see, we were on a mission! Larry and Geri called a few days ago and wanted to meet us in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Cell service is non existent up there so blogs may be sporadic.

Our neighbor’s sainfoin hay field–it’s pink, really pink!  And the elk love it!

Hope everyone had a great July 4 and that you are all staying safe.

 

 

 

 

Our Backyard

When I started this current blog it was June 29, almost July 4th and we had a fire in our fireplace for two days while watching the rain fall–we will take this weather. I so prefer cooler temps to those 80–90 degree days of summer.

A reader asked for the grilled tri-tip recipe. It’s a recipe I found online and adapted to the point it’s not really the original recipe which called for way, way too much salt for our taste! What is the same are the grilling directions–so here goes–

Peel and thinly slice several cloves of garlic. Make many slits in your tri-tip roast with a sharp knife and insert those garlic slices. Generously season the roast with salt, pepper and garlic salt. The recipe calls for a third cup of each of the salts for a 4 pound roast–way too much salt! After you have inserted the garlic and seasoned the roast, I wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate usually overnight.

Refrigerate at least an hour and up to all day. Take the meat out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before grilling. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.  Place the meat directly above the flame for 5 to 10 minutes per side (depending on thickness) to sear the meat and lock in the juices. Turn the grill down to medium heat and continue to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes, trying not to flip it too much. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer. Thermometer should read at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C) for medium-rare. Let stand, covered loosely with aluminum foil, for 5 minutes before slicing. (Allrecipes.com)

It’s very important to use a meat thermometer for this cut of meat–too done and it’s tough–and it continues to cook after removing the meat from the grill. I usually remove mine at 145 degrees even though we don’t like medium rare–by the time I serve the meat it’s more medium than medium rare.

We had appointments in Big Timber on Tuesday–poor Emmi had to go to the veterinarian for her routine vaccines including her rattlesnake vaccine. Our vets at All Creatures Vet Clinic are low key and we love all three of them–I never specify which vet we want to see–we just take the one we get. Usually I go back to the exam area with Emmi but she has become so agitated when going to the veterinarian–she tries to literally crawl up on top of my head. Today, I just let the vet tech take her from me and I went back outside. They said she was very calm which is often the case. Much better for Emmi and me!

Big Timber has an awesome new store–Earth Wise General Store. They have specialty foods, local meats and other local foods, bulk shampoo/conditioner and bulk cleaning supplies. Our local meat processing company was well represented and Jim Meacham–I stocked up on Pioneer Meats stuff. I’m excited–we have two new stores in town and a new owner for Cinnabar Creek–the store I opened with a partner in the late 1990’s. We also have a new emporium–local crafters opened this establishment and sell their creations.

Wednesday was take a drive today–through what we call our backyard–over the Beartooth Highway and through the north end of Yellowstone Park–the Lamar Valley. It was a beautiful day with sun, those fluffy white clouds and even some darker, looming clouds which spit rain. It was cold! at 11,000 feet on the top of the Beartooths–38 degrees!–so we had our picnic lunch inside the car!

The “bear’s tooth.”

After we crossed into Yellowstone the traffic increased significantly and it was a good thing we ate our picnic lunch in the car up in the Beartooth Mountains. Nothing is open in the Park–no lodging, no restaurants, no campgrounds and as a result the picnic areas were overwhelmed with people–no physical distancing going on there!

Pilot and Index Peaks

Baby buffalo

And someone at the post office at Mammoth has a sense of humor!

Life is good!

Planting And A Parade

As if I hadn’t traveled enough miles on Wednesday for all those dentist appointments on Thursday I went back to Big Timber for an appointment. Our friend Jeane has a green thumb; her flower beds and yard always look so nice. After my pedicure I drove out to their house and had a garden tour. With all those flowering plants fresh in my mind, Jeane and I drove out to one of the local nurseries–Blakes–and bought a bunch of perennials and ground covers for our backyard flower bed project.

Now I just have to decide where to put everything. A landscaper friend once told me–more is better–meaning plant many and the plants will fill in–making for a lush flower bed. That’s my goal!

Friday we had guests–Pat and his daughter Julia–the Cowboy’s first and second cousins. They came for lunch and we practiced our physical distancing enjoying a fabulous meal out on the deck. I cooked a tri tip roast to perfection–it was sooooo good!

On April 9th I ordered a Clover bias tape maker via Amazon from a quilt shop in the United Kingdom. Due to all the mask making our local quilt shop and any other online supplier such as JoAnn’s was out of stock on any bias tape makers. I was promised delivery in two weeks but the package never arrived and the shop refunded my money. Imagine my surprise when this was delivered on Friday–I’ve contacted the UK quilt shop and paid for the item. And we just think mail delivery is slow in the US!!

The Cowboy needed generator brushes for his 1958 Ford tractor. Our local parts store–Stephens–usually has literally anything but didn’t have these brushes. Ebay to the rescue and we would say judging from the box these are original parts for this old tractor.

Saturday was Sweet Grass Fest in Big Timber–small town living at its best in spite of Covid. They spaced the vendors, expanded the parade route and limited tickets to the rodeo. Our Montana county does not and has not had a Covid case. Let’s hope that’s still the case after this weekend. Sarge and Sarah met us in Big Timber–the guys took off to look at the cars in the show and the ladies took off to stroll the vendors and a couple of the new shops which just opened in town. The crowds were sparse at 10am which was great and when the crowds increased we retreated to the park.

The Cowboy had one of these at one time in his life–his was a 1941 Lincoln Zepher.

And the Cowboy really liked this Overland–he can’t remember the year,maybe 1914–and yes it was pink.

We found a picnic table in the shade and enjoyed a great lunch! I brought both chicken and potato salad plus some sliced pineapple. Sarah brought watermelon and a gluten free dessert that was delicious–almond cake with sliced strawberries and whipped cream. We really needed a nap after all that food but the parade was starting–

It’s raining in Montana which is a good thing–it was getting rather dry and dry in a Montana summer leads to forest fires. Sunday afternoon after our fabulous Sunday lunch it was cool enough in our house to have a fire in the fireplace! And raining!

I had salmon, the Cowboy had beef–surprise, surprise!

Life is good!

Long, Long Day

There is so much yard work to be done this time of year. The grass grows an inch a day I’m thinking, the weeds grow even faster and then there’s the hay that is almost ready for cutting. We are exploring ideas for eliminating the hay cutting operation in summer but it would involve quite a bit of fence building–never a favorite activity.

Our backyard patio/flower bed project is not finished. Thursday I am going to try and find new plants for filling in the bald spots then comes the work of putting down landscape fabric then mulch. I’m still on the fence about the landscape fabric–I’ve always used it here but oh my is it a tough job to lay when the plants are in place. But I also hate to weed so landscape fabric may be the answer.

Beautiful summer days in Monday–warm, sunny, no bugs although I did acquire a mosquito bite at some time during my yard work.

I completed another knitting project–don’t look too closely–this one has a glaring error that I didn’t see until I had it completely off the needles. As it’s a dishcloth for me, I’m not too worried about the oops.

Wednesday morning leaving the Cowboy and Emmi at home I was on the road by 7am headed to Billings. I had a full, full day of appointments–dental office for a cleaning, mammogram, another dental office to finish up the two root canals started in late May and a haircut. It made for a long, long day but we are finished with doctor and dental appointments for a while–we hope!! I found time for a Costco stop and lunch on the patio at Jake’s. After leaving the hairdresser’s I stopped at Walmart for our grocery pickup. It was almost 7pm when I drove up the driveway–I’m one pooped lady but it’s done!

 

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day! My own Dad has been gone almost 18 years and the Cowboy’s almost two years. We miss them both–greatly!

Nat and the Cowboy–two good Dad’s.

And my Dad–not sure what he is doing but I’m sure it involved work–he was one hard working man and he passed that good gene as well as others to his three children.

When we were traveling this spring from Arizona back to Montana due to this dang Covid mess, I told the Cowboy I was going to use our Montana 14 day quarantine time to teach myself to knit, to organize my photos better and to quilt. Well, two out of three wasn’t bad I’m thinking.

I did quilt using the longarm to finish a quilt–it still doesn’t have a binding and the bunnies still have no facial features which have to done by hand. I started using Lightroom year before last but all my older photos are still a mess–and they remain a mess–that project has not been completed and I realize it most when I’m searching for photos such as these photos of our Dad’s.

But I did teach myself to knit and it makes me happy! Years ago I attempted to knit socks–my first foray into knitting and it was a disaster! The Cowboy said he learned new cussing words when I was knitting–I highly doubt that–but it was stressful and I gave it up. I have a blogging friend–Judy, from the Patchwork Times who knits beautifully and is so encouraging. Judy gave me suggestions for needles and I was off. I completed those two headbands a while back and while in Arkansas I finished a scarf–it’s not perfect, there are mistakes but I am so pleased with it!

I started this little dishcloth while in Arkansas and now it’s finished–it too has mistakes but I’m learning.

We’ve been busy as usual with the normal stuff–spraying weeds, house cleaning, mowing the grass, etc.

I have the handiest husband! Knitting has changed–much of knitting is now done with circular needles on cables. The “needles” are interchangeable. I started a project before leaving for Arkansas and realized the longest cable I had was not going to be long enough to hold all the stitches of this bag I was knitting. I ordered longer cables and they arrived while I was gone. When I started to transfer the knitting from the too short cable to the longer one I told the Cowboy I wished there was some device that would connect the two cables then I could just pull it through the knitting. Instead I had to carefully pick up each stitch with a needle and transfer it to the longer cable. My handy Cowboy to the rescue. Each cable comes with “stoppers” to keep your knitting from falling off the cables if you need to remove the knitting needles for another project. The Cowboy took two of those stoppers and created a “joiner” for two cables. He is amazing! (I later searched for “knitting cable joiner” and found such a device does exist but I will just use my Cowboy created one for now!)

The stopperThe joiner

A needle tip attached to the cables.

Do you like my decorations?? We have this pesky little bird–a yellow warbler–and he has about driven the Cowboy over the edge. He started pecking on the windows while I was in Arkansas and has continued to do so since I’ve been home. I had read somewhere that these pinwheels would deter birds and had purchased some in the past trying to deter a pesky robin. The little yellow bird is on his last two legs and these pinwheels had better deter him!

It’s Good To Be Home

Since publishing the last blog on Sunday night, Mom and I were busy. Eating with family, going to the doctor in Little Rock and packing my bags. Tuesday morning not so bright but it was early Ann took me to the airport where the planes were still crowded but also at least American Airlines was enforcing the “wear a mask” rule. My travel was uneventful and our arrival into Billings was even 15 minutes early.

Mom had another doctors appointment on Tuesday and the neurologist was encouraging saying Mom could improve and get back to her more healthy self. They are blaming the falls and spasms of her legs and arms on a cardiac medication she began taking this spring. That medication, amiodarone has been stopped and she is improving.

The Cowboy and little Emmi were very glad to see me as I was them. We tried to eat on the patio at Rib and Chop as we had Emmi with us but were met with the excuse, “our patio is dirty and we just don’t have enough people.” Hmmmmm. Short stops at Costco for fruit and veggies plus a Walmart pickup order and we were on the road toward home.

It’s spring time in Montana and we are living in a green jungle. The chokecherry trees are blooming scenting the air with their fragrance. The columbine blossoms opened while I was gone. The birds are hungry and the rattlesnakes are out–we haven’t seen one but our neighbors Joe and Tammy have.

On Sunday the Cowboy joined the Montana ATV gang and traveled to the Pryor Mountains National Wild Horse Range. We started going with this group to the range in 2017 and have gone every year. Here is a link to a blog post I wrote about that first trip.  This first photo was taken on Sunday–

These remaining three photos were taken on our first trip to the range in 2017. While we were eating our lunch that day, these two big horn sheep climbed up onto this knoll and stood there watching us for the longest time! What a treat!

I heard a squeal and whipped around with the camera at eye level managing to get a shot of these two trying to prove who was the meanest–I wish it was more clear but I still like it.

It was shorts, t-shirts and air conditioning weather in Arkansas. It has rained most of today and our high was 48 degrees.

Life Is Busy

I’m sure we are busy most days and the days blend together. Niki and her girls have been visiting and Ross stops in a couple times a day. I’ve been taking care of the chickens, the cats and the plants at my sister’s house while they took a much needed little trip. I’m most definitely not a chicken person and the first day, those chickens could tell I wasn’t a chicken person–I made them nervous.

Three days later they’ve decided I’m OK–I bring the food and shut their coop door to protect them from bad things. The chickens can tell time, I’m convinced! The chickens are released from the coop to roam the yard every afternoon at 4:30–in winter, earlier. When I walk over to open the door they are all ready cooing and chattering–let us out, let us out. At 8:30pm, I go over to shut the doors of the coop and every chicken is sitting on the roost, cooing quietly saying, “shut the door, shut the door.” Ann’s chickens are good layers, I’ve gotten at least a dozen eggs every day.

Weed spraying on Barnes Hill just went hi tech–Ross equipped his tractor with a GPS–keeps him on the straight and narrow.

Mom’s new iPhone is working, her data is transferred and I can finish the rest of the Verizon business from home–I hope. It took yet another trip to the Verizon store on Friday but the phone now works and we’ve been practicing!

On the way back from the Verizon store–45 minutes away–Mom and I had a scare. We were on a narrow, winding back road when a Dodge pickup crossed the center line coming halfway over into our lane. I didn’t swerve but I did apply the brakes hard and head for the ditch which wasn’t deep at all, I dropped both passengers tires off the pavement but was able to drive out of the ditch. I had to stop and calm myself refraining but chasing down the moron and giving him a piece of my mind.

On the way to the Verizon store Friday Mom and I had been talking about this exact thing–distracted driving. I have started to really focus on vehicles coming at me on two lane roads–watching for distracted drivers. My Dad taught me to always be aware of my surroundings when driving–look for an escape path–and I usually am doing this as I drive. All those lessons just might have saved our lives yesterday–we were in Mom’s Toyota Camry–no match for a Dodge truck. If you remember when we took this same route on Monday we had to sit and wait for an accident scene to be cleared. We later learned the accident happened as the result of one of the vehicles crossing the center line. A person was killed in that accident.

It’s softball season in the south and every weekend sees Elizabeth on the field for one, two, three, maybe more games. She is going to college with the aid of a softball scholarship. Her mother Niki is my only niece and I adore Niki and her two daughters. They are one of my life’s greatest joys.

Elizabeth is on the left in the sunglasses.

The kildeer sitting on four eggs in the middle of Danny and Ann’s front yard–in the broiling sun for most of the day. Leah and I mowed Saturday–Mom’s yard plus Danny and Ann’s. We mowed around the kildeer. Danny has seen the male fly in to relieve the female and she flew straight to the pond for a drink of water!

Sunday lunch–my brother fried fish, french fries and hush puppies–a most unhealthy meal but oh so delicious! Vicky made baked beans–we dined well! My contribution was this chocolate cake–

And we also had blackberry cobbler!

It’s a hot one in Arkansas today–summer is here. The Cowboy and Emmi went on our yearly trip with the ATV gang to the Pryor Mountains wild horse range–I bet they have a good day.

Danny and Ann’s home–her front porch always looks so southern in the summer time–ferns, porch swings, rocks–southern.

And I finished my scarf–my third knitting project. I am so excited–this was a “learn how to knit different stitches pattern.” I learned the garter, stockinette, basketweave, seed, smooth sand and ribbed stitches. The scarf has mistakes and needs to be blocked but I think it’s beautiful.

 

 

 

It’s Still Tough

It’s still tough to conduct any kind of business. The bank lobby is closed, companies such as Verizon have long wait times for phone calls, and don’t even get me started on the credit reporting agencies such as Equifax. I’m attempting to help Mom arrange her affairs and every step of the way it’s been a struggle due to Covid.

Mom’s phone died during the Christmas season. Her husband Chuck was an android man–the rest of this family with the exception of my brother are Apple folks. Chuck ordered Mom a brand new Samsung Galaxy S9 and she has struggled to use it. With Chuck gone there is no one to help her understand the new phone and we are all clueless as to how an android operates.

I tried calling the local Verizon store but the stores are accepting no calls. I went online and made an appointment for this past Monday. Off we went into tropical storm winds and rain–seriously it was raining so hard! And, the Verizon store was no help whatsoever. If I had been able to talk to someone I would have realized the Verizon store wouldn’t have an older iPhone, they only sell the latest and greatest. They were kind and accommodating but couldn’t help us.

Back home it was eBay to the rescue. I order Mom a brand new iPhone 7 Plus and it will be delivered Friday. We will have an almost new with very little use Samsung Galaxy S9 for sale–at a great price–if anyone is interested.

And the list went on and on–I was on the phone for most of the day on Tuesday. I wrote this blog in 2017 about freezing your credit with the various credit reporting agencies. Parts of that blog are no longer applicable–for instance Equifax does not use pin numbers now–but the gist of the message is still the same and Chuck paid attention freezing his and Mom’s credit. And the best part–Chuck left a file with all the information! I was attempting to create an account for Mom and to do that, credit must be checked by Verizon.

I detest calling companies such as Verizon and try to do all my business with those type companies online. But for this business I needed a person and I was lucky getting to speak with an awesome woman at Verizon. Except the “awesome woman” made an error which caused so many problems I might still be writing about them when I write the next blog on Sunday. Wednesday’s Verizon person was able to discern the issue but now we must wait at least a WEEK for their IT people to “go into the system and remove the error messages.”  You have got to be kidding me! A WEEK???? Wednesday’s Verizon person knew I wasn’t happy and has agreed to call me Friday afternoon to walk me through setting up Mom’s new phone. Then she will call me again once the “error messages” are resolved.

Good grief! So far I’ve wasted three hours of my life talking to Verizon people!

Wednesday was a beautiful day–so nice we turned off the air conditioning and opened the doors and windows. Currently I am in charge of the chickens–I’m not a farm girl even though I grew up on this farm. When I let them out to roam the yard they were nervous nellies–I don’t think they liked me! Now if I just don’t forget to close them in for the night!😁