Filling in at Ridge Camp

Nate (the PV employee who lives at Ridge Camp) and his wife Becky have been gone for a couple days watching their daughter play in the state class C basketball tournament (which — late breaking news! — we just heard was cut short because of the coronavirus scare).

With Nate gone, somebody still needs to be feeding the cows that winter at Ridge Camp… and that’s exactly what our family did today!  Beau was headed up there (Ridge is about 30 miles north and west of headquarters) to feed, and he invited our whole gang to tag along.  We Blakes are always up for an adventure and for seeing a little country, so away we went.  It took us a little over five hours to get there, feed five bunches, and get back home.

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Filling up with cake at Ridge Camp.

In case you had decided the PV was all prairie and hardpan… this is what Ridge Camp looks like:

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Like I said, we fed five different bunches today in pastures around Ridge — including this cute little bunch of almost-yearlings.  Though the rest of the PV calves were shipped to the feedlot here at weaning time last fall, these calves pasture-weaned, which seems like a much gentler approach to me and is always a fun experiment.  We can’t implement pasture-weaning regularly here at the PV because there’s just not enough grass to go around, but it was fun to see these all-natural calves today.  They’re looking great!

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It was cold today, as low as 24 at Ridge Camp, with howling wind and a few snowflakes blowing around.  The kids spent a lot of time in the pickup as we bounced over two-track roads.  We listened to an audio book, we did a lot of reading aloud, we practiced our storytelling… and we took a lot of selfies!

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We did all get out of the pickup for a (very cold) picnic lunch.  Last fall, at the request of one of the guys out of the corporate office in Bozeman who likes to hunt elk down here, Beau and I set up this wall tent in the Cedar Coulee pasture:

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It goes without saying that the kids have never forgotten that we set up this giant tent last Labor Day, and they have wished every day since that we might go back and maybe even move into the tent to stay.  So today was a special treat for them:

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One of the highlights of the day was stopping at this old cabin in the pasture we call Homestead:

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As you can see, the cabin walls are lined with strips of metal.  Upon closer inspection you can see that the strips of metal are actually flattened coffee cans and baking power cans…

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… and here and there the tops and bottoms off of those cans are tacked up for good measure:

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Wow.  Isn’t it amazing, the kind of lives folks lived back then?  We decided these people must have survived primarily on coffee and baking powder biscuits.

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Today, as the rest of the country works itself into a lather over coronavirus, we find ourselves more thankful than ever that we get to be out in these hills with our little kiddos right by our sides.

Two things before I sign off:

  1. Though I was in Billings yesterday picking up groceries, the whole pandemic idea hadn’t totally sunk in for me yet.  And I didn’t get toilet paper!  Now Beau and I are eyeing our supply here at the house and wondering if we will have enough to last to the end of the world.  I already checked costco.com (sold out) and walmart.com (in-store purchases only), and Amazon only has odds and ends left… like toilet paper that comes without a cardboard center and toilet paper that’s printed with jokes and sudoku puzzles.  Fingers crossed at the Blake house.
  2. Muggins’ first words this morning:  “Fweet covvee fo’ meeeee.”  (Sweet coffee for me.)  Yikes.

© Tami Blake

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