This last week I was in Pondera and Teton Counties. I snapped lots of pictures, though most of them were less than stellar due to the smoke from the fires in Glacier National Park. I come home each week and down load them and use them to help remember the week, where I have been and what I saw. This was one of the best from last week.
Montana breaks the state up into regions. If you are coming here as a tourist there is a booklet for each of the regions, highlighting the history, things to do, places to stay and whole bunches more. I live in the southwest region of the state often called the Gold West region because this is where it all started after Lewis & Clark. There was gold found in the region and it was to be during those early times, people came in search of quick riches. Last week I was in what we call the Golden Triangle. Not because of the gold that you find in southwest Montana, but because of the golden wheat fields that you find in that region. It is a pretty spectacular place to visit at this time of the year, because the wheat is curing and it is gold as far as you can see. The sky was cloudy or full of smoke from the fire in Glacier park so it was hard to capture what I was seeing but here is my best shot looking at what I had to pick from.
I spend a time each weekend mending clothes that get caught up on barbed wire. The young tall fellas that do this job almost literally “hop” the fence. I on the other hand go through the fence most of the time. I am pretty quick at if I pick the spot right. I generally try to pick a fence with only three wires and there are obviously places where the wire is not real tight. If I can find this I slip between the top and second wire and am quickly on the other side at work doing my grasshopper survey. Occasionally fences are five wires and have stabilizers that are between poles to keep the wire tight and the standard equal distant apart. When that happens, I may look for a gate, cattle guard opening, or the possibility of going over the fence.
I had this happen recently. I was running out of places to do a grasshopper survey in that township/range and the fence for the survey had seven strands with a stabilizer wire. It looked like I could slip under the gate closure and get into the pasture as the easiest point of entry. It really looked like no big deal. Silly me. I held some barbed wire that had been wound back onto itself while I moved under it at the gate closure. As I released it the tension of the wire snapped back and some rusty old barbed wire caught my thumb. I was bleeding like a stuck pig. I looked at the barbed wire, and it was definitely rusty old barbed wire. I headed back to my truck and took out my first aid kit and cleaned it up and bandaged it. It kept on bleeding relentlessly. I knew that this was more than a scratch and I needed to file a first report of injury and get a tetanus shot.
I was lucky in that the little town I was in had a medical provider. That cannot be said of many places in Montana, many places have limited access to medical are. I got in and back out on the road in an hour. Thumb cleaned up and taken care and a new tetanus shot. I was anticipating a sore arm from the tetanus I had heard so much about. No such problem.
I now find myself taking a few extra minutes to use leather gloves when handling barbed wire. No matter how easy or simple it looks to get to the other side of the fence things can easily go wrong. I was lucky it was only what it was but I don’t want to test luck too many times.
Chickens start laying eggs when they become adults. Backyard production egg breeds like the red star and the black star can lay as early as 15 weeks, though most lay a little later than that. Heritage breeds, which are the type I raise, can take up to 26 weeks to start laying. I have had some in the past that have taken all of 26 weeks and even a couple more weeks than that. This year I got lucky and one of my gold laced Wyandotte’s started laying this weekend. She is 17 weeks old. It is cause for celebration. Of the original ten I got this spring, I have four left. The buff Orpington is starting to look like she is maturing and could be laying in a couple of weeks. The other two, a silver laced and a gold laced Wyandotte, are still a ways off before I will be looking for eggs. It was nice that it happened while I was home, though I must say RangerSir has certainly stepped in a fill the role of lead chicken wrangler quite well this summer. I missed seeing the stages as they grew, but they likely did not know I was gone.
What do you do with those little mini one use size bottles and bars of soap you get in hotel rooms? Most folks who travel regularly already have a bag with their personal toiletries. We bring from home our preferred personal care products for an assortment of reasons. You like to use the same face cleanser you use at home. You are trying to get the most mileage from your last salon visit and use a special shampoo and conditioner. You may have sensitivities to ingredients or scents. No matter what the reason those little bottles either go unused or worse yet brought home and still never used. There is an alternative. Bring them home and turn them in to a local shelter. You can collect all those little odds and ends in a box in your home and turn them in a couple times a year to a shelter. That is what I used to do when I lived in Minneapolis years ago and traveled lots.
This job has put me back on the road tons and once again. I found myself collecting hotel toiletries. I got to thinking about the local woman’s shelter, and how I imagined many of them left with little and what extra they did take was likely for someone else, their kids. I know that organizations that help folks in these circumstances are prepared to help and work with people who leave with just the clothes on their back. They have donations and supplies that they give out to the folks they help, and the folks they are helping are probably keeping things in garbage and zip lock bags. It inspired me to take a different approach to my travel goodies this year. Rather than just turn them in, I wanted to put together not only a travel kit, but a bag that might be used to keep things together for them. I know how much I appreciated my travel bag that keeps all my personal care products together.
First I had to make or buy the bags for this use. I had some odds and ends of fabric from quilts I had made, zippers from projects planned never finished and some quality vinyl that I had no idea how it ended in my stash. I worked up a design and made personal toiletry bags. Each was unique, some bright and some with more subdued natural colors. All of them were designed to zip tight for storage. One side had the vinyl so that you could see all that was in the bags. It was a little bit of a trial, but I loved making them and seeing all the wonderful fabrics that were sitting around collecting dust take on a new life.
Once I had finished the bags, RangerSir and I loaded them up with the hotel goodies I had brought home this summer. It was then we then we realized that we had several collections of dental visit “prizes.” There were not enough dental kits to do all the bags, but we added them to as many bags as possible. This was the moment we realized it was in our power to make these more than a bag with hotel freebies in them. We headed to the local K-Mart to shop. We got darn lucky in that they had some full-sized toothpaste for $1 each. It was more than the travel size and less expensive. We had gotten nice things for less than we had planned to spend. We were now inspired and on a roll. We stocked up on single package toothbrushes. We found a dental floss on sale. We found multi-pack combs and bought a couple sets so we could tuck combs in each of the bags. RangerSir found travel pack Kleenex that I had not thought to include. Finally we added razors to each one.
These bags will be going to a woman’s shelter here in the local county. I was thinking of lots of other things that could be added to my bags, but we know not if the recipient will be young or old, alone or in the company of family members. So I stopped and hope that this is enough to get a person started and know somewhere out there someone is thinking of them and wishing them the best in what is likely a very bad situation.
My second summer revelation came to me that I should model the behavior I wish others would demonstrate rather than bemoan, get angry, or start judging them because I feel they are judging me, my lifestyle or my “neighbors.”
Recently I was in a motel that was full of people who had come to fish in the the local world class rivers for fly fishing. Each morning I was listening in the breakfast room about how the hotel did not have all the premium channels they had a home, lack of cell phone coverage, that the only Starbucks in the county was a kiosk in the grocery and other perceived lack of amenities in their vacation destination. I listened as they describe the community of the folks who were their hosts while they were on vacation. I found myself thinking lots of unkind thoughts about them. It was then that I realized that I was just like all the people who were frustrating me. I was judging them.
We don’t have a million people yet in Montana, though we are getting close. When you don’t have critical mass most national companies require, they don’t give a rip about providing services to you. A business in in the business of making money. If you live an area that is so sparsely populated that you don’t get mail deliver it is, highly unlikely a cell company can justify the cost of a cell tower, or their will be national retailers available. There are many trade offs we make to live in a place like Montana. Some are obvious and others not so much. Most Montanans have been to your cities and some of us have even lived there for a period in our lives. We appreciated some of what you had to offer in arts, food, and other services. Some of what you live with as normal we can not imagine living with such as traffic, density, noise and other things. All of this just amounts a different point of view. We have prioritized things differently in our lives and are willing to make different sacrifices to have some of those top priorities. Neither is more right or more wrong than the other. No amount of put down or arguing is going to change either person’s point of view. Change never comes in the midst of confrontation.
When I feel folks are passing judgment, I want to remember to not pass judgment on others because I am not them. I do not know what road they have traveled in life to be at the spot they are currently stand at. The best way to do that behavior myself. Let them remember their encounter with me as some one who did not pass judgment and maybe, just maybe it will make a difference on their lives as well.
Note: This was a piece I wrote several weeks ago and had to let perk while and tweak it a lot to hopefully get right. I hope you found it insightful and gave you some food for thought.