Last Report Next Report

July through September, 2010

You're a Montanan ...
if your 4th of July picnic moved indoors due to the cold.
– Jeff Foxworthy

Wildlife Camera Picture – July

In early July we placed three motion sensitive cameras hoping to get pictures of bears and mountain lions in addition to the usual deer, elk and moose. In mid July, the six of us (Gary, Pauline, Dan, Jennie, Neko and Pumpkin) saw a young bull moose near the bone pile. Later in July, Gary saw a mother bear and two cubs in the trees below the Main House and Jennie reported a young bear hanging out in the gully east of the Carriage House. We got pictures of them all in the first round, including some extreme close-ups of the moose. In Spring and early Summer, bears feed largely on roots, grubs and whatever meat they can find; we frequently find signs of feeding where they have overturned large rocks or ripped up rotting logs looking for grubs. We expect this to be a good berry season along Place Creek so there may be more bears when hyperphagia starts in August and September.

We started July with a new and improved view. A 225 year old tree damaged by lightning many years ago obscured our view of the Mast Ranch conservation easement to the southwest. Compare the obscured and new views here. We tried to interest several people in cutting the tree for lumber or firewood. It was too crooked for lumber and too big for all but the largest chain saws. We finally hired a logger (lower center of picture) to cut it down and divide it into manageable sections. Loggers are busy harvesting trees killed by the Pine Bark Beetle so there is little market for firewood. We found a neighbor to take the wood away for free.

It was another Montana 4th of July. By dinner time we had our jackets on, then decided to go inside halfway through the meal. The woman who considered this a weather emergency might be new in town. A few days later, Summer arrived and we had highs of 80°F. Still, July is the only month we have not seen it snow (yet).

The Feelgood Ranch camera was temporarily repositioned to include our house. We're in the lower left corner. Visit the site get a fresh view, now looking to the west of the Main House.

Gary took a flight in this 1929 WACO ATO with owner/operator Denny Guentzel. Denny calls his enterprise Place Creek Airways, after “our” Place Creek. Most of Place Creek is on our property, but a portion runs through the Guentzel property where it abuts our northern boundary. Above that it is a swampy, brushy trace and below our property it joins Bridger Creek after a short run through the Christie's property (see below).

A Sandhill Crane couple have been hanging out below the Main House recently, feeding on bugs and mice in the grass. If they get too close, Pumpkin (lower left of picture) tries to chase them off. They usually make a short hop and settle down again, making their strange warbling protests. These birds have impressive claws, so it is good she keeps her distance when they do not fly.

Pumpkin is not so circumspect when it comes to bears, however. During a hike around the property Jennie and Gary did as a dry run for a yearly Weed Hike we host, Pumpkin dashed ahead and started barking at something on the trail. We heard a commotion and caught up to find her at the base of a tree containing this very healthy but frightened Black Bear almost 5 times her size. The bear appeared to be entertaining thoughts of coming down, so we applied dog psychology by pretending not to care about the bear and continued on. Pumpkin soon gave up and rejoined us. During the incident, Neko gave a few obligatory barks and stuck by us. Fortunately, there aren't any known Grizzly Bears in Bridger Canyon, but it could happen; it isn't far to their range north of Yellowstone Park. And, it is good that Pumpkin did not run into the mother and cubs.

We spent the month of September in Iceland, England and France. While we were away, landscapers were hard at work finishing the terracing at the back (south) of the house that had begun one year ago and been interrupted by the early onset of winter. Pauline worked hard to put plants in the completed upper part before work on the lower part was done. Planting the lower part will have to wait for Spring. We also had more top soil spread on the slope north of the house, hoping we can encourage native grasses. The work started two years ago and did help, but we figure it will take several years to get the slope self-sustaining.


⇐ Last Quarter BCL Home Next Quarter ⇒
Post to our Blog Read our Blog