Monday, May 16, 2011

Muffins in the Meadow -- Post 1

We humans seem to have a deep need to search for something greater than what we can possess. For some the search leads to accumulation of wealth; for others it is a search for spiritual enlightenment; and for still others, the search leads to foreign experiences. This list,of course, goes on and on, but rarely does anyone fully gain the sense that they have attained what they have been searching for.
To be successful, the quest to fulfill that need must first begin in a selfish manner to attain what makes us happy, but then the quest must turn to helping others. Only then can we gain a sense of fulfillment, of happiness, and of contentment.

Springtime in Montana varies from one year to the next, but more often than not, we describe it as the muddy season. We have three seasons around here: Dry, snow, and mud; though not always in that (or necessarily any other) order. Right now the creek is flooding (don’t worry, our studio is perfectly safe); the bluebirds are nesting; the early flowers are beginning to bloom; and the grass is turning green. This is no assurance that we’ll have summer, but we can sigh with relief that when it snows, it will melt off within a day or two for at least the next three or four months.
This last winter has been the most windy and dreary winter anyone I’ve heard from around here can recall; so, despite the mud, the flood, the wind and the snow-rain-snow, when the sun shines for fifteen minutes or so, we want to rip all our clothes off and run outside to bathe in the light.
A week ago last Saturday was one of those rare-this-year kind of mostly-sunny days. Ben and I were invited to a calf-branding by Val Emmerson. This was the first branding we’d been invited to since we’ve lived in Montana, so we were very excited to participate. The sun raised the temperature into the upper 50s, so we both thought we were going to pass out from the heat and the wind blew a lot, but it wasn’t strong enough to knock us down, so we hardly noticed. We had a great time. I was given the position of pushing the calves through the chute. Being at the back end of nervous calves, I was expecting to get a little smeared, but that was the most smeared I have ever gotten and I wasn’t really dressed for it.
Val invited us to stay for dinner afterwards. I didn’t have any other clothes to change into, but she said she didn’t mind. Her dog, however, gave me a mighty peculiar look after she sniffed me over.
Val ranches south of Springdale, a small town between Livingston and Big Timber. The area is fairly dry during the summer and doesn’t usually get deep snow during the winter. It’s truly beautiful country and terrific for ranching, so we always thoroughly enjoy visiting. Val was the rancher we bought our two calves from last winter. She runs red angus cows, which I love. They were larger calves than we usually buy, but she offered to deliver them, so we happily took her up on her offer and now that the creek is flowing free and the grass is growing, they’re pretty much on auto-pilot in Roddy’s pasture across the creek until next fall.
Ben and I have had cows almost every year since we’ve been here. We love having livestock to raise our own meat and over the years we’ve tried raising rabbits, ducks, chickens, and guineas.  We still have chickens for eggs, but we decided that a single cow was a whole lot easier to butcher than fifty or sixty small animals a year to sustain us. We do still consider having a few sheep or goats and maybe a pig now and then. Maybe.
We tried goats once before. The problem was that we didn’t have fences for goats and had to move a pen around every day to feed them. We’re not exceptionally lazy, but that extra chore every day did not nurture a deep love for raising goats.
Life on Muddy Creek has been an adventure. I was raised in the city. I’m perfectly at home now, after seventeen years, but the first few years were a learning experience. I couldn’t live in the city anymore. Many of our friends ask how we can stand living so far away from society. We wonder how anyone could live any other way.
Springtime in the Rockies: looking across the valley.
We went snow-shoeing a couple of weeks ago. The sun was shining that day. We didn’t rip our clothes off, but we had a good time.
A northward view of the mountains while we were snowshoeing in them.
Between the wind and a couple of sunny days, the garden dried out enough for Ben to till the garden. The water in the background is overflow from the creek.
Haste often makes waste, but around here, if you don’t make haste when the sun shines, you miss the window of opportunity.
The greenhouse attached to the apartment is full of seedlings anxiously waiting for summer.
The plants in the greenhouse are growing exceptionally fast this year despite the cool and cloudy weather outside.
On the bottom is our spring salad garden.
On the bottom here on the west side of the greenhouse is our winter spinach. We’ve been eating fresh spinach since early March.
Flooding in the meadow.
This is our picnic area. When we first built here, this area was filled with mostly dead willows. One of our first cats was killed down in this area by some wild animal we never identified, but that encouraged us to clean it out to see what we might be able to do with it.
Proof that winter is over: sagebrush buttercups. They’ve been blooming for a few weeks now.
Another wildflower. It’s not very showy, but it’s as reliable as meadow muffins (cow pies).
I thought this was the first shooting star of the season, so I snapped the picture and as I rose with a grin on my face, Ben asked me if I had found the shooting stars. I looked around and found dozens of them all over the north slope of the ridge we built the studio on.
Wile I was trying to take photos of the wildflowers, Ashes thought I should be scratching his ears instead.

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