There are many places in Montana that are bear country. People have a tendency to think of bear country as the big woods, but in many cases is the open prairies that surround the woods. This summer I carried bear spray in my truck. When I surveyed places where I felt that it was potential bear country, because signs told me or my gut said bears are possible here I strapped on my can of bear spray when I got out to do my surveys.
Not all likely bear places have signs like this.
Only once this year did I feel uneasy about wild animals. It was a place that was not really bear habitat, but mountain lion habitat. They actually scare me more because they are so stealthy. I felt the whole time like I was being watched. I got my business done and got out of there. All the time singing any song I could think of or make up, making my body big and purposeful.
No matter where you go, no matter how short the time there if you are in bear country remember your bear spray.
Last week I was traveling down the road I happened upon Medusa, or at least a rendition of her. It was so amazing I had to turn around and take a picture. This was huge as you can see by the fence in the background for scale. People are amazingly creative and this is another example of that.
You will find this head of Medusa near Hobson, Montana.
Most folks have heard about colony collapse and bees. I had read about how this was going to impact our crops. Everything popped into my mind from berries to nuts and everything in between. Never though did I think about grass, pastures and rangeland needing bees until I took this job. I have seen hundreds, maybe even a few thousand bee hives out on on the open range. Bees impact more than I had imagined in agriculture and our lives.
One of the many bee hives out there on the open range.
Last week I spend a fair amount of time in Judith Basin County Montana. It is an area where there are lots of wind farms. Some had just a few windmills and others had more than I could count. Montana exports more than cattle, hay and wheat. We export energy.
Just a few of the hundreds of windmills I saw this week.
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.
It is the Rocky Mountains rising out of the prairies of of Teton County you can see in the distance.
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.
There are thousands of acres of wheat the golden triangle. The points of the triangle are Havre, Conrad and Great Falls. Lots of wheat is grown outside the triangle as well. I wish the sun had been out so I could capture how golden it was.
This was not the fence I got hung up or tried to hop. This is a favorite fence picture taken earlier in the year. Notice how green it is!
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.