Winter Arrives On the Mountain

It started snowing Monday and was so beautiful. But the dirt road to the bus stop was really messy and my Adventure Man said he had a hard time in my big car. He was going out of town for a few days and was kind of freaking out. He stocked me up on wood for the fire, but then told me not to use it unless the power went out. As if! He shoveled all the walks only to have snow slide off the roof and cover them all up again. Poor guy! Plus it was still snowing. I was going to drive him to the airport in Big Town, but he decided to just take his pickup. As it turns out, gas would have cost more than the long term parking does. 

When I went to pick up the girls after school I got out of my car to find the bus was stuck! They had plowed the main road and graded our dirt road, but no one had plowed the bus pull off! She had gone off the road maybe two feet and had gotten stuck. 

My girls got in my car with the little ones and I flagged down the first car to pass. Luckily we have lots of traffic (laughing), well for us, because it's hunting season. The hunter had a tow rope that he thought would do the trick! I have a tow rope... but it's really little... I bought an emergency car kit from Eddie Bauer once (hey! It's "City Girl gone Ranch Mama" give me a break!) and the tow rope that is came with would pull a Prius!  Well the first pickup worked on pulling and the bus just spun and spun. We shoveled and dug but nothing. The next pickup came by and I asked if they wanted to push. That was a jackpot pickup because 4 big men got out and pushed and she was out. They said now you can say a bunch of hunters from New York helped!  Well, I said it! I told the bus driver my kids would stay home the next day. 

At first I was wondering if that was such a smart idea. It was pounding when I said it, but shortly after dark it stopped snowing altogether! Then, right when I would have been off to the bus stop it was a total white wash outside. I felt it was the right move to make. The county seemed to be taking it's time in prep for winter.

The next day was a school day. I told the kids not to give me any of that because they WERE going to school. I loaded them all up and we headed out. That was when I realized that the snow had drifted. But that was not when I realized I couldn't drive through it! I got stuck just outside of our gate. That was lucky because I only had to walk back to the house a few yards and Bunny was in the car seat, and Bear in PJ's without shoes on. Here is my parking job at 7:15 yesterday morning!

 It took our maintenance manager (my personal hero), all morning to clear the roads and get my car out so I could try and get down the road to school. I was feeling really down on myself for how quickly I managed to get stuck, but after I spoke to our neighbor I learned that there was a 4 foot drift down the road and there was no way we would have made it out to the school bus stop. We were snowed in! (This is when I thank the Lord for my food storage, no matter how humble it may be!)

 We had lunch and I was hopping that the county had cleared the road by now, so we could at least make it to Faith In God Girls. But then an employee called and said she made a 2nd attempt to come in and this time was following the snow plow! "Yay!" I thought, then she said that the plow couldn't even get through it!!!! So she wasn't coming in and hopefully the county can get the right kind of plow up here. She had called to make sure I was Okay. We were all fine, we have rations if things got bad but for now we are still using up leftovers. (yuck.)

I finally got another call at quarter to seven that night to let me know that the county finally made it through! They had to use a back-how and a dump truck to get rid of it all. We made it to the bus stop this morning. Adventure Man gets home this afternoon and has already made it back to the Montana mud. It is snowing again and raining in Little Town so we are sure to have more road conditions to tell about! Who knows what will happen tomorrow. 

Staying warm on the mountain. Oh, did I mention that we got 3 feet in one storm while Little Town only got inches! 


The Sound of Night

It is dark. Darker than you could ever imagine. The lack of street lights makes that an obvious state. At times it is quieter than you could ever imagine as well. The stillness can feel as if you are the only one on the face of the earth. But tonight it is the sound of ghosts and monsters lashing at the trees. The sound of the ocean trying to claim the ship. It is a wonder that the children can sleep through it. I checked to make sure I had the bottles for the midnight feedings and the howling was of wolves at the window. I had opened the window yesterday to ask Adventure Man a question as he left and had forgotten to latch it. The wind grabs the edges of the pains and pulls. It whistles when it can and this is it's favorite game.  It is alive and far beyond the playful wind who pulls down laundry from the line or knocks over lawn chairs. This wind is mean. It makes work for us. It pulled the rack that holds the pool cover out of the cement. It pushes cars from the road. This wind would strip the forest of it's leaves. It has. Just a few days after our parents were here enjoying the autumn brilliance the color was gone. In one night it was swept from the trees and the forest floors. Where did it go? In it's place was winter's gray in the distance. The Witch's forest.

Each morning I think I will wake to winter's glory, but if he makes an effort it is only to remind us of his chill and annoyance by icing over the cars. There is a powdered sugar dusting over the high mountains. This has brought the deer to our door. They watch me through the window as I watch them. They stand alert and watchful. A wise practice during hunting season. We tossed our Jack-O-Lanterns over the fence to the field and smashed them for the deer. We watch them kick and fight over them. They remind me of my children when they are naughty. But it is the mother's who fight and the little yearlings who eat. What example are we demonstrating for our little ones. As I think on these thoughts I am grateful not to be scrounging for my families food. What would it have been like to be an early settler here in this harsh land? How did they survive the winter?

The wild still whips the sides of our sturdy home. It tries to wake the children, it tries to get in. It tosses the windchime. Trying to sound scary. Trying to make afraid. Now it roars with frustration and the house shutters. It only succeeds in lulling me to sleep. My eyes grow heavy.


Road Sign Randomness

Living on a dirt road is hard on road signs. And I tend to see more of my life emulated in these signs than I probably should. I just wanted to share....

Beware Rednecks with Shotguns
 Every time I pass this sign I think about how closely it resembles life. The path is never straight, it's rusted out and full of holes, but the view is well worth it.

Read Carefully! 
Ever get the feeling your going the wrong way? And of course there is the religious implications...

Read the Signs! xo


Montana BINGO

cow, well, calf in the road 

I'm counting this as one of the many tractor type rigs that go really slow down the road! 

grain silos 
school house

Round bales 

T-rex! Scary!!! 

Horses! These ones are mine. :o) 

Rocky Mountains! 

another cow in the road

road sign with rusty shotgun wholes 

Marshlands at sunset 

a butte (Pine Butte actually) 

Nuclear Missile Silo 

These last two weren't on the game board but are fun so I added them! :o)
a pheasant rooster

goats and their charge, a llama! 

Enjoy! xo


Saying Good Bye

Last week was a busy one for all of us. The wranglers were busy getting the horses out to pasture. The cooks were busy getting rid of all the leftovers. Guest Services were busy cleaning up after the last of the guests and getting the cabins ready to be closed up for the winter. I was busy taking kids here and there for Homecoming week. Yes, my kids are only in elementary school, but when you go to a school that is K-12, homecoming encompasses much more than high school. Here the cheerleaders offer a camp for the kids ages 3 years to 6th grade. The end result: getting to perform in the halftime cheer. My girls had so much fun!

Now our freezer is stocked with leftovers from the kitchen, my crisper is busting with the last of the greens from the garden. The horses are retired for the season. The staff has headed home and this little valley, fresh from the October rain, is once again very quiet. Until next year!


Well, Well, Well: Three Holes in the Ground!

It started with a water heater. I knew something was up the first time I took a shower. I didn't have enough hot water to both shave my legs and wash my hair. My husband even said it runs out of hot water when he's in it, and he showers in the morning before anyone has really run any water. Plus, it's not like he takes very long showers. Me on the other hand, I have very think long hair that takes forever just to get wet. And Oh, I'm not complaining! I love my hair! I realize that many women and almost all men would love to have hair like me. Now I sound like I'm bragging, but trust me I'm not, or at least I don't mean to! I just come from a family of bald men who, as they lost it (in their early 20's), I grew it! It was as if I was sucking the hair right out of their heads. Poor guys! (Tee Hee!) But I digress!

The water heater, right. When we first moved in, right after helping us move all our boxes into the house, the old GM, whom we replaced, informed us that the well is slow and it takes a long time to refill the water heater if you've been running the washer or dishwasher all day. This was never a problem for him as he was a bachelor who was never home all day, but just so we were warned he let us know.  We, on the other hand have 4 kids, two of which are in cloth diapers and all of whom have way too many clothes and use too many dishes!

My husband asked the maintenance manager to check it out. Evidently the heating element in the water heater was broken. So he fixed it. But as soon as we used the hot water again, it broke again. It was fixed again, the wiring was worked on and of course, it broke again. So they ordered a new heating element and replaced it. Finally we had hot water. But as soon as we turned on the water, the pressure started to wain. It wained until it stopped. That is how it all started.

Hole #1
It was at that point when they started looking at the well. First it was the pump. They even took the well pump apart. Then they investigated the well. Hole #1. Apparently it goes dry in the heat of the summer. Well, after hearing me ask the gardener if I could wash the diapers in the irrigation water they hooked us up to one of the other cabin's wells through a hose. We had been without water for 3 days at that point and can I say, storing water in old juice and soda bottles is a very good thing! I didn't have to wash out the dipes by hand. That was also a good thing!

Hole #2

It was decided that they would put in a cistern. So the well would empty into the cistern and hopefully we would have stored enough in it to last us during the dry summers. Sounds good to me! So they dug a nice big hole. Hole #2. And ordered the cistern. And we waited... about a month. And during this time we were using the water from the other well that came through the hose, which was running across the grass in the hot sun. Have you ever drunk out of a hose in the summer and gotten hot water? Well that is what we got. If we let the cold water run long enough, we would get nice warm water! But the hot tap would still start to run cold after I did my dishes. Talk about confusing!

At last the big day came! A flat bed truck came with a cool crane/pulley system thing on the top. I was so excited I ran to get my 3 year old boy to come see but he was watching a Dora video and had a complete meltdown when I turned it off and took him out. He even saw the truck but he couldn't care less! I was so sad! Am I the only one around here who loves large construction vehicles? Evidently! I should have called this blog City Girl Turned Red Neck! Dang, why didn't I think of that? Anyway!

You really just have to see the pictures to see how very cool this was! Check it out!

The truck
Positioning the cistern over the hole!

lowering it down

It's landed! 

Moving the cap

coming down 

It's in place! 
 These last two pictures I took from my kitchen window as it had started to rain. They worked in the mud and rain only taking a lunch break when the real down poor hit. Later that afternoon they worked on turning the water back on which meant the workers came in and out of the laundry room to get to the crawl space. I had gone to town to pick up kids to take them to our biweekly allergy shots. If I had been home I would have removed the throw rug in the laundry room so it wouldn't have been quite so muddy. But I really don't mind as it means water!!! Right?
Now the wiring 

filling in the hole while the wiring is still being done

 Shortly after arriving home my husband came home and announced that we have water! I said, "No we don't." I, of course had checked right away! The workers had gone to clean up for dinner and were done for the day. Scott checked and sure enough there was absolutely no reaction from the plumbing. This was supposed to fix the problem but obviously the well was not the problem. Wait! You mean to say that the ranch just forked over the money for a cistern and that wasn't the problem.  Oh. My. Goodness!

The conclusion to this scenario was simple. There must be a leak in the pipe that goes from the well to the house. So wait! If it's not in the pipe from under the yard, than it would be in the pipe under the house! Oh that would stink worst than last week's diaper pail!

The digging began the next morning. Hole #3. Well first they had to fill in the hole around the cistern, they had to check for wires and mark the wires. Then the holly hocks and grass said good bye. Well, not too many of the holly hocks but most of the grass.

Hole #3
The good news is they found the leak right away! It was under the yard, not the house. Once fixed the water worked without any more problems! The cold is as cold as any good well water should be and the hot... well, the hot still runs cold too fast. The new heating element quite right away and we now think it's the breaker, or

there's a short somewhere. I really have no idea what's going on. I do know that I don't wash my hair any more. This isn't really true, I just don't wash my hair on the days I shave. As long as I don't try and shower while someones washing the dishes I'm fine! But really how often does that happen!?

The real point is that  everyone did an amazing job of closing Pandora's Box!

cleaning up
The End (I hope!)


Bringing in the Sun

Good Morning Big Sky! This was my morning view. Oh yeah, I'm one lucky girl. 

My Kind Of Party

Our Maintenance Manager retired this summer and we wanted to have a farewell party and end of the season party for all our staff. We also wanted to have it in our home. When we moved here last April our youngest child was only a month old and moving with a baby is tough. Having three others adds to the challenges. Having massive postpartum depression doesn’t help. Needless to say, unpacking has been slow. Topped with more laundry than is humanly possible and the desire to actually give my kids a fun summer outside of the house makes for even slower unpacking.  At any rate, we planned on opening our home to all the staff and the few guests who were in-house as well. I didn’t get anything done the night before as I had been in town getting new tires. Scott was picking up and I just had to say, “I’m going to bed so I can have the strength to do it tomorrow!”

I woke bright and early and started the chores. My oldest was an awesome help, cleaning her own room, the cat’s box and the bathrooms. My 8 year old helped the 3 year old pick up toys in his room, interspersed with lots of playtime. She picked up the dirty clothes in her room, but that was about all she could manage with her dwindling attention span.

My plan for me was to clean off the catch all countertop, move the baby pictures to the front of the hall as I had hung them at the end of the hall and my Dear Man wanted all to see them. (It was a good move, everyone commented and enjoyed them!) I needed to sweep, vacuum, and mop as well as move all the unfolded laundry to my room where it would be out of sight. (Dirty little secret!)

My Darling decided he wanted to do ribs for everyone on the BBQ. He comes from a wonderful family, from Santa Maria CA, who has turned the BBQ into a true art form. So he emailed his mom for his cousin’s BBQ ribs recipe (one of the masters).

Scott got started that morning on the sauce. Right away he asked me what “minced” means; it calls for minced garlic. (Laughing to myself) I explained. I proceeded to mince garlic. Now the recipe makes 3 racks of ribs.  We decided to triple the recipe. We were cooking for 30 people and I wish I had counted how many racks we made, but I didn’t! I think it was about 15 or more. We had 3 big pans heaping full of ribs and it was perfect.

The first step was to sauté. I measured the garlic then asked if I should just go ahead and put it all in as I had minced more than needed. Scott’s response was, “No, stick to the recipe!” He was busy rubbing the Suzie Q (The best seasoning ever! Santa Maria Style BBQ seasoning, by Suzie Q. www.susieqbrand.com) into the ribs and clearing out the fridge to store them in. Then he informed me that he needed to do the run to take guests to the airport. He printed up Mom’s email and left.  I should have offered to make the run and left him to get the place and now the sauce ready! But he did get home in time to light the wood chips and have the first racks smelling amazing when the guests started to arrive. So I guess I can’t complain. 

The party was wonderful. Of course it was even better because I didn’t have to cook. The kitchen brought all the food and flat wear and beverages. They even took everything away afterword and the only clean up was to wipe the counter and wash the rib pans. That’s my kind of party!

It was wonderful to have the staff here. One of our wranglers said it was so nice to be in a home again. After a summer of dorm style housing I can imagine. I told her she was welcome anytime. I wish we could have them all over every week! I can’t imagine a more wonderful and talented group. Our kids enjoyed socializing and making everyone laugh. It was said that our 3 year old was definitely an innkeeper’s son!

But the very best part was those ribs! xo


Prayers In the Car

Ever pray in your car? Oh My Gosh! I sure do! Like the time I forgot to fill up the day before and was heading back into little town and the empty bell rings in the car! Boy did we all start praying. The Lord was with us then and we made it to little town and the gas station. Then we all prayed our thanks and that mama wouldn't be so forgetful next time! ;o)

The 18 miles of paved road between us and little town is getting repaved and it's doing a number on everyones tires. My Adventure Man has had 3 flats and finally got new tires, I had one flat and took my car into the place where we bought the tires, just a year ago to have them check the tires out because they looked so bad. (Now this is a long trip as this store doesn't have a branch out here where we live now. I thought it would be worth the 2 hour drive to another branch of this store.... I'm not mentioning the name of said store because I would like to be nice and not bad mouth good people trying to do good work, but...) They told me they were fine and safe to drive on. Oookee Dokee!

Well, last Friday I picked up my ll year old early from school for her first Orthodontist appointment in Big Town. Just before we arrived I started to hear flapping sounds from my tires and thought I had a flat! But the car wasn't cranking one way or the other so I didn't stop. Then I heard a bigger flap-flap and I flipped out and pulled over right on the highway and waited for it to be safe to get out and check. (Rant: Oh MY Gosh!!!! IF you SEE SOME POOR Person on the side of the road with their hazard lights on and their door a jar, GET THE HECK OVER!!!! Especially if the speed limit in your state is 75 miles!!! WTH! ~ Sorry 'bout that.) Well, I jump out and NO FLAT! Not one! So on we go, 3 of my 4 kids and I!

After the Ortho, and groceries we race back to pick up the other child still in school. As I start to speed up on the highway the car starts shaking like the front axel is about to pop off! I pull over, grab my phone and of course the battery is dead. (We don't get cell service where we live so if we leave the phone on it dies really fast.) I plug it in and again pray that the half a second I had it plugged in is enough to get my Adventure Man. It worked! I ask him to call the school and get the 8 year old to get on the bus, and ask him to please pick her up, as it looks like we will not be making it. We decide on trying to make it to Sears because there is no way I can drive all the way home only going 40. (Again, I'm new in town and that was the only place I could think of where I knew right where it was. Plus it's attached to the mall so the kids and I would have something to do while we waited!) The guy at Sears was great. He said it sounded like alinement issues and we went out to look at it. We're talking and walking around the car and all of a sudden he stops cold and says, "Holy Cow!" (Ok, I don't remember what he said, but that's what I said!) The tire had about 6 inches of tread gone. I had been driving on wire! Not only was it about to blow, but it's amazing that I made it as far as I did! Sears set us up with a very nice, very expensive new set of tires that should last us a lot longer this time around.... I hope! And that is why I will always be grateful that the Lord watches over us, even in the car! xo

Oh, and my alinement is fine!