here on the ranch…

We are happy to have zero phone service, and spotty wifi. I can’t put up pictures, which is bad for the blog, but man! so far, this is just what I was hoping for- the boys getting away from their daily video games and doing real stuff like milk goats, weed whack, mow lawns, cut wood, play with a slingshot, play with the dogs and cats, shoot a pellet gun, ride bikes, hike, read books, burn dry brush, etc. Tomorrow we have to build a ceiling in the trailer- I’m hoping Allen can give me some carpentry tips.

I will keep taking pictures- it’s beautiful out here in Western Montana. And when I get a connection, I’ll post ’em.

workin’ on my country drawl

Sorry friends, but no photos for a few days. Wifi here in hill country is spotty, so I’ll just post a few words about our second workaway here in western Montana.

We are somewhere between Hamilton, MT and Salmon, Idaho. Passed through Darby to get here; the boys liked that, as it looks like an old west town.

Our generous host is letting us stay in the master suite that she rents out to air bnb guests, as we are the only workawayers here at present. Normally, the workers get the trailer out back. There’s a nice creek running right through the property. Cross the creek and you get to the barn and goat corral.

Today the boys learned how to milk a goat, drive a four-wheeler buggy, and fire a pellet gun. We did some general cleaning and are building fencing around the garden.

You get a nice mountain breeze coming into the room at night, the stars are bright as we’re in a valley with no lights from city or town, and the soothing sound of the creek outside lulls you to sleep. Days are warm and nights are cool. The food is good and the boys are loving it. I’ll take pictures of the place and put them up in about a week.

Short Hike

Go south on the 93 and turn toward the hills to the west at Hamilton and you drive a couple miles to the Canyon Creek trail. We didn’t have time to do the 5 mile hike to Canyon Lake so we just did the 1.5 mile route up the ridge, which offers a great view to the east of the Bitterroot Valley at Hamilton, and the Canyon on the west side.

I call this Triple Half Dome Canyon
Good cracker!
This guy got Allen on the neck. Tick?
Heading back down after lunch on the summit
Looking down into Hamilton
This rock was sparkling with some kind of fools gold in them thar hills.
Rube Goldberg Contraptionland

I thought they were extracting oil with novel pumping systems, but the farmer on the tractor said, “Nah, it’s just art.” The big wheel turned on just a trickle of water.

Much to Allen’s chagrin, we found this place on a Tuesday.
Trevor’s artistic vase and flower arrangement. Lupine and sea shells.

Hey y’all. Thanks for reading the blog. Today we are heading to our 2nd workaway location. The wifi is very spotty so probably won’t be putting up a post until we get back to the Hollingsworth’s next week.

If I manage a post it will just be text only. Otherwise, check back on June 4th for an update.


animals around here

Finnegan is a big, friendly pup- and super strong.
Bernadina looking out back window
Bernadina has a sister, Valentina (but I can’t tell them apart and I think this is another picture of B)
Llamas and alpacas
In this nearby field, five or six buffalo and a lone cow. The baby buffalo follows you all along the fence.

There are also chickens here at the Hollingsworths, and they’ll be getting goats soon. Other animals around the neighborhood- cows, horses, dogs. Tons of birds, prarie dogs, yellow-jackets, wasps, bugs galore- but no mosquitos so far and only Allen has been stung, by a bee when he was on the bike.

So, we’ve cut wood, washed windows, washed cars, cleared old brush, and done some odd things. We’re waiting on materials to do a fence.

The kids here are into cards, board games, insect collecting, and general wandering around the 4.5 acre lot and beyond. The dog has a ton of energy and needs 3 walks a day.

Allen and Owen help me in the morning. Kick back a bit in the afternoon. Play chess or a card game with the kids here; do their homework in the evening after dinner; maybe give their brother, sister and mom a call before bed, etc.

Next: local bike ride

What’s goin’ on here, anyway?

Workaway is a system where tens of thousands of hosts around the world offer food and lodging at their homes, farms, B&Bs, etc. in exchange for work. The idea is, you start in the morning and put in 4 or 5 hours, Monday thru Friday, and you get the late afternoon, evening and weekends off, plus room and board.

I figure that on the guest side of the equation, it’s mainly for young folks looking to travel the world on the cheap. Recent college grads and such. Nevertheless, I signed up and sent out a few inquiries. You can narrow your search to families who don’t mind you coming with kids. The Hollingsworths, of Victor, Montana, responded and said we’d be most welcome. Now we’ve been here a number of days and they are indeed super-welcoming hosts.

The approach to our first homestay, in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana

The East side of the Bitterroot has gentle, sloping hills that lead to higher mountains, like the foothills of the alps. Our side, the west, has deeper, steeper canyons that are wooded, or rocky, and rough. Each canyon has a creek and a hiking trail. The hike a few days ago was in the nearest canyon- trailhead is about 5 minutes from the house.

Rancho Hollingsworth

Right now we’re just doing odd jobs like cutting wood and cleaning windows, and I’m doing some educational stuff with the kids. Everyone’s getting along pretty good, and Finn, the dog, is super-happy with people all over the place.

Next: some photos of Rancho Hollingsworth life, and the pets

Bear Creek Trail

I’ll get into some details and put up some photos of our workaway situation later, if anyone’s interested. For now, here’s a hike we took yesterday.

Bear Creek Trail parking lot. I thought my cousin’s Prius would be rare in these parts, but here’s one right behind Owen. By the way, that’s a pit bull. No leash and he just came right up to us. OK, he’s 13.5 years old and the owner was nearby telling us he’s friendly. He had a beautiful coat of fur and you could feel how solid he was petting him. I said, “He feels awfully strong.” Owner: “Yeah, he could do some real damage, but he probably won’t.”

Obligatory wildlife shot. This one is just for my Japanese readers who will say, “かわいいい!”. Didn’t see any bears or cougars, but there were dogs aplenty. Saw a black mouth cur, which isn’t a variety of bass, but rather another dog breed, which has a grey mouth and looks like a German shorthaired pointer. Also saw a Goldendoodle for the first time. Both breeds were duly noted in my portable journal, a la Muir.

coastal hybrid invaders

When we got back to the parking lot, it was full, with cars parked along the road coming in. About 20 to 25 cars. Only two from out of state, and only two Priuses. I think the NY folks were relieved to be able to park next to their eco-conscious, distant coastal cousins. Or maybe they were just halving the odds of getting keyed.