Sunny & Six Below

The bad news:  winter has turned off harder than we had hoped it would this year.  The good news:  we are — though my absence here on my blog may have suggested otherwise — still alive!

Longtime readers may remember that last winter was a worst-in-forty-years kind of winter around here, and I think I speak for everyone when I say we were all a little nervous going into this one — wondering if perhaps a new ice age really is getting underway and terrible winters will be the new norm from here on out.

We were pretty lucky for the first several weeks of Winter 2019, thank goodness.  But right around the first of February it blew in.  Lotsa cold, lotsa snow, lotsa icicles.



The other night we Blakes watched The American rodeo on TV at the home of some friends and after the rodeo, as we drove back home, the thermometer on the pickup read 36° below zero.  What kind of parents are we, anyway, out at midnight with four little kids in 36-below-zero weather?!


A hard winter just ratchets up the pressures of Beau’s job here at the PV.  This winter the ranch is a little better prepared than we were last year (more hay laid in at the cow camps, etc.)… and for sure this winter is not as bad as last winter (here’s hoping it doesn’t get that way)… but in the end cold and snow just plain make everything harder.


Beau’s feet have never been the same since last winter and he spent a couple of pretty cold-feet days last week before I finally relented and let him order those fancy snow packs he’s been pining for.  They’re handmade in Bozeman and they’re supposed to be the very best.  Here’s hoping!


(The UPS man dropped the new boots off yesterday.  The kids all flock to the door whenever the UPS man shows up and they look up at him with excitement and yearning, reminiscent of what a pack of puppies all hoping to be Chosen might do, and for some reason the UPS man has taken to just shoving our packages in the door, ringing the doorbell, and running back to his truck.)

(I hope he doesn’t think we’re weird.)

This morning the kids discovered that the relentless southwest wind last night had forced snow through a few cracks and into our house.  (To be fair, I discerned this window had been closed but not locked.)  Bless this old house — she was built 110 years ago, some say the first house in this part of the Yellowstone Valley, so I suppose a few drafts can be forgiven.


The same drafts froze up our kitchen water last night.  I’m an old pro at thawing out the kitchen water by now.  The funny thing is, I had it thawed out once before 7 o’clock this morning (so I could make coffee), and then it was froze up again about 8 o’clock.


Quick sidenote:  On our way to Miles City we drive past this field in which somebody has yet to pick up last fall’s bales which are wrapped in white plastic.  I always try to convince the kids it’s a marshmallow field!




At home I try to get outside with Baby Muggins at least once a day.  He can run inside the house, but of course can’t navigate the snow (or his snowboots) outside, so when we’re outside he’s still on my back like a little papoose.  He wears grown-up socks on his hands and feet as extra insulation under his snowsuit:




As for Beau, he spends a lot of time on the road in this weather — providing aid to whichever camp cowboy needs help at that moment, guiding snow plows down two-track roads, and generally trying to keep all the wheels turning.


Asher goes with Beau as much as his schoolteacher will allow.  Asher has gotten to be a pro at taking selfies with his dad’s phone:


We call this hat Asher’s “rabbit attack.”

The other day the two of them, Beau and Asher, got stuck on their way to town to get parts and they had to call a tow truck to pull them out!  I thought this was pretty funny, that Beau spends his days navigating remote pastures and then he gets so stuck — a mile from the interstate! — that he can’t shovel himself out.  (He swears some crazy driver in the other lane forced him off the road.)



When Daddy’s away working, the kids and I play!


Sometimes I wonder if my talents shouldn’t be expended in some other, perhaps more glorious, way.  But Beau assures me my work here at home is worthwhile.



Throughout the day I send Beau texts with photos and pleas like this:  “I took off Muggins’ jams this morning and his body is covered with welts.  Can we trade jobs today?”

I sure don’t want Beau thinking he’s the only guy around with a tough job!  Ha!

The good news is that most jobs have their upsides, and mine certainly does.


Like these two girls.  I’m so glad I have them.


And even this little guy.  Sure, he’s a ton of work… but seriously… does it get any cuter?


Just look at that potbelly!


Just look at those curls!



By the time Beau makes it inside from a day working in freezing temps, he’s ready to stretch out in front of the fire.  The kids just want to be close to him, so there’s usually a big ol’ pile-up on the floor.

He and I are both overworked and underpaid.  But more than that… we’re super blessed.

© Tam Blake

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