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October through December, 2008

Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing
... after they have exhausted all other possibilities.
– Winston Churchill

This quote works whether one thinks the country is doing the right or the wrong thing. Either we finally got it right, or we will get it right eventually! At the moment, it is certainly difficult to know which it is.


We got tired of looking at the scar north of the house.

The theme of late seasons continued into Fall. Gary was able to climb 9,000 foot Ross Peak in early October, beating our first big snow by a couple of days. We delayed hydroseeding and other seeding activities to late November. The weather kept the elk in the high country, so hunting season was extended over much of Montana. Our southern exposure keeps the elk away from our property until Winter really sets in, so there was no share of an elk kill this year. In spite of the late season, there was enough cold and snow for Bridger Bowl to open December 11 (one day early). Winter finally set in after mid-December and we had below-freezing highs, with several days having highs below 0°F.

Friends Jon and Karen from California arrived October 11 in the middle of a 3 day snow storm. The wet snow accumulated quickly in the nearby mountains and October 12 brought the first avalanche warning of the season. Arthur's raptor watching duties continued to the end of October. After the mid-October storms hiking up almost 2,000 feet to the ridge to watch for birds was a challenge, but he was able to ski down (he took route BN4).

Deer do not like the plants we have selected for landscaping and the dogs help protect the plants by chasing the deer away. Pumpkin was on guard at the rear (south) of the house when these two deer wandered by the front. The buck and his doe nibbled on a couple of our plants then moved on. From the looks of it, the fat four-point Mule Deer buck gets plenty to eat anyhow. They had better be careful: a 4x4 Mulie is a prized kill.

Elk season was not uniformly extended across the state. It ended the weekend after Thanksgiving for our district, but was extended by 3 weeks for the district immediately across the highway (aka Bridger Canyon Road). Not surprisingly, small herds of elk started showing up at our place shortly after the season ended on our side of the highway.

As we did last year, we cut our own Christmas tree from the huge assortment growing on our property. This year we did not expect a large contingent of family and guests to impress on Christmas Day so we planned to cut a smaller (6 foot) tree. It is difficult to judge sizes when surrounded by a forest of tall trees; we came back to the house with a 10 foot tree. After shortening it by one foot to eliminate irregular branches, the tree was still taller than we planned but there was no reason to shorten it further. The next day was a good day to stay indoors and decorate the tree as there was a 10°F blizzard outside. Thankfully, we could use a shorter ladder to decorate this year's tree!

As with much of the rest of the country, the last half of December brought snow and cold. We had a low of -20°F one night and several days never went above 0°F; it seemed balmy when it got into the 20's one day. On two occasions the low temperature sensor for the Mud Room set off the alarm system and brought Dan and Jennie up to try to restore peace and quiet — we have a klaxon sound at the Carriage House as well as the Main House in case we are away when something goes wrong. Gary had the sensor replaced with one that trips at 40 (rather than 50) degrees and put automatic heat tape on the pipes in the Mud Room.

The large pile of snow to the northeast of the house is one of three piles accumulated from clearing the upper parking area. While living in Canada, Gary learned to push the early season snow far enough away to make room for the end of the season snow. In addition to this pile, there are large piles at the lower parking area, several piles at the very bottom of the drive and snow banks along the length of the drive. The huge piles we have built up west of the Carriage House serve a purpose: they have twice prevented Arthur's friends from going over the edge when they descended the drive too fast.

Each time we plow puts between 6 and 8 miles on the truck.


Parting Shot
Pumpkin and Neko Check Out the Elk

They have to stay indoors when the elk are near.

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