March, 2006

A Very Handsome Moose
(for more, see Tunes for Kids )

March is the month we begin the transition from snow to mud. The snow we do get is usually very wet and melts fast, adding to the mud problems. Plowing is a real hassle, since the underlying driveway is not frozen and great care must be taken not to remove the gravel as well as the snow. Neither do the dogs enjoy mud season; they often must be bathed before they can come back into the house. Without snow, the landscape looks very dreary (compare the three Parting Shots below) because the plants are all dead and matted. This will change in May, when plants start to grow, animals emerge from dens and their new babies are born.

March 19: On a tour of the property, Gary, Neko, Pumpkin, Jake (Kendal's boyfriend) and Pauline snowshoe down in a snow storm to cross Place Creek just west of the Carriage House. Most of the accumulated Winter snow had melted since the first of March, but a storm brought a fresh layer just after Jake and Kendal arrived for their break between quarters at the University of Washington. We hiked on through the continuing storm and pristine snow, but got no views of the canyon or distant mountains.

March 19: Kendal and Jake stand where the Mud Room used to be, with the Garage in the background. The wallboard and doors have been removed in anticipation of using this space as a protected area once construction resumes. We bought the hydraulic dump trailer at the left of the picture so we can haul construction debris away ourselves; that should save enough to pay for about ½ the trailer. We might sell it once the house is done.

We celebrated the first day of Spring by burning remaining wood and timbers from the Main House. The deconstruction crew left most of the remnants of beams in the pit that used to be the crawl space under the North Wing. Here, Kendal and Jake relax after collecting odd bits to throw into the fire. Near center is neighbor George Christie (great grandson of David Christie), who joined us for an hour to help out and see that all was well. The next day, we took a day trip to Yellowstone and spotted some wolves.

This month, we were visited by Flat Ransome, who is related to Flat Stanley. Ransome is in the 3rd grade in Fullerton, California. Flat Ransome travelled by mail to Ohio and England before coming to Montana. We took him to local museums, Lewis and Clark landmarks and skiing. He helped shovel snow (we usually manage to get a little work out of our visitors) and played with the dogs. Here Flat Ransome looks at elk and watches for bobcats, mountain lions, bears, deer, moose, skunks, marmots, eagles, and other wildlife that lives nearby. The elk are in about the same location as the bobcat and moose below.


Parting Shot — Take One
Bobcat!

We have seen signs of bobcats around before, but they are usually quite secretive. Pumpkin was first to spot this one (center, facing away) sitting on the slope about 100 feet north of the Carriage House. We managed to get a few pictures through the window. It prowled around a while, pounced on a mouse and ate it before wandering away. Pumpkin and Neko were incensed that we would not allow them out to give chase.


Parting Shot — Take Two
Moose!

It is four days after the bobcat picture and it has snowed. Pauline spotted this very handsome moose as it ran by the kitchen window. We managed to get a quick shot of it in same location as the bobcat (note the tree trunk above and left of the bobcat in the telephoto shot, versus the tree behind the moose's nose in the regular shot). We have seen moose on the property before, but they are a relatively rare sight.


Parting Shot — Take Three
Wapiti!

The snow has melted and it has snowed again since the moose was sighted. Now the local elk herd has decided to pay us a visit. Note that the tree in the previous two shots is directly right of center. Click on the picture to see a larger version.


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