August 2003 Progress Report

"Firefighters in Gallatin and Park counties were hard at work in many areas Friday trying to control blazes amid record-breaking temperatures, strong winds and extreme fire danger across the region."
Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Gary and Arthur traveled to Bozeman August 7 through 21 to do some work on the property and to attend two one-day forestry classes given by the Montana State University Extension Service.

(click on pictures below to see a larger version)

On the way to Bozeman, we listened to Life of Pi, a rather strange story of a boy who gets stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger. Taking a cue from this book, we kept the area around our camp "marked" and had no trouble with large animals.

We set up camp in a hollow surronded by trees. This site had been too damp to use previously. We added trusses to three sides of the tent to strengthen it, and staked out some guy ropes after the picture at left was taken. There were several thunderstorms, but none were able to do more than rustle the rain fly a bit. We were able to stay at the campsite every night, and we purchased a solar shower to heat water for bathing.

During our stay, we plucked the seed heads off many weeds, did more fire mitigation work below the Main House site, and loosed some thistle-eating bugs in the hopes they would go forth and multiply. We kept encountering a mule deer doe and her two fawns, usually in a peaceful way. However, on one occasion, the two fawns were paniced by workmen at the Carriage House and came bounding over a ridge on a collision course with Gary, veering off to miss at the last instant. Several times, they wandered almost into camp as we were relaxing.

We thought we heard the bear breaking up rotten logs for bugs several times, but later decided that the noises we heard were squirrels throwing pine cones and bark down through the dead lower branches of the trees.

The two forestry classes each consisted of 4 hours of classroom work and 4 hours of field work. At right, we visit the northern end of the 2000 Fridley fire site. The rancher who owned the land where the fire finally died out told of his experiences during and after the fire, which added a real personal touch to the lessons.

The smoke in the air is from several forest fires far away. This made much of the state look like Los Angeles on a good day. It seemed to get worse at night; we were awakened several times by the smell of smoke that suggested a fire might be nearby. However, none was ever near Bozeman.

Based on the courses we have taken, we are now ready to work with loggers to balance out the harvest of marketable timber with the cost of cleaning up problem areas to keep our forest healthy.

There was a fair amount of progress on the Carriage House. At left, Arthur anticipates taking a shower in the lower mud room bath. Since the last visit, the foundation was poured and filled with gravel, the plumbing was roughed in and the slab poured. Of course, we could not resist signing the slab.

Framing was to begin the day after we left. We hope it will be ready for us to stay in for a November or December visit.

Click here to see the architect's front elevation of the Main House.

Parting Shot:

The Carriage House pad, taken from the road to the Main House looking out to the West Ridge