Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pterodactyls Ate our Bridge







In the spring & summer, when the Low Line and the Keughan irrigation ditches give our homestead the name of The Double Ditch, they look like trout streams. For a while, they are. The ditches were dug by hand at the end of the 19th century and meander like a natural stream. When the ditches flow in the spring they fill up with trout from the Gallatin River. My brother Bill caught a 14" rainbow behind this barn. (Click on pics to enlarge.)
   Pterodactyls showed up at 8 AM Monday morning and chewed on the old wood bridge that carried River Road over the Keughan Ditch.  (just say Kew-in.)  


By noon the 50 year old bridge was chomped, the road shut and we were cut off.

 They swung a 8 x 12 x 16 foot steel culvert into the deep wound where the old bridge used to be.

   By noon the next day, they were done.

    Change happens real fast around here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The River Has a Mind of Its Own (Cont.)

Every spring the Gallatin River Floods. We're looking at the blowoff gate of the Gabriel Ditch which you can't see because it's 3 feet under water and clogged with logs. The idea is that the blowoff gate keeps the field below from flooding by acting as a safety valve. But if it's clogged with logs . . .

The logs float in and stick around. Last year we got some heavy equipment to clear it out. It took a few days

This year we may have some help. Beavers built this new dam a little ways upstream from the blowoff. Our neighbor, third generation rancher Joe Axtell who has watched the Gallatin flood since he was big enough to stand up, says he reckons the flood will run right over the beaver dam. He's probably right.

Last month we cleared out the logs with a winch and by hand, under the supervision of the dog.  We hope it'll work.
We have a few more tricks up our sleeve. But you never know. Come May the Gallatin could slink down the middle of our pasture and carve off a new island for itself. (to be continued) 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Wish you were here

Our north pasture (elevation 4,770 feet) was so gorgeous yesterday evening I had to send you a postcard.  Sacajawea Peak just right of the center, is the highest mountain in The Bridgers, 9,665 feet. You can walk to the top in the summer. Click on the picture to enlarge

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The River Has a Mind of its Own


Here's a shot from last summer of a bit of the south pasture with the Gallatin River running alongside and the Bridger Mountains in the distance. The lines  in the pasture are flood irrigation ditches fed by the river.


Last spring. the Gallatin River suggested the possibility of sending a new branch of the river through the pasture and cutting off 20-40 acres


200 yards upstream there was a problem
(to be continued)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Montana Birds of Spring

Hard to tell when spring arrives in Montana. Sunny and warm one day, blizzard the next.  So we look to the birds to tell us when spring arrives. Old Gnarly here was 20 yards away and looked like he was waiting for the dog to come out the front door.

These ring-neck turtle doves beneath the eagle's tree were another possible target. Like so many recent arrivals, they are native to LA and their prospects are not good.


Always a good sign when the Sandhill Cranes arrive with their goofy dignified walk. Sandhill Cranes have been around longer than the Gallatin River and have a pre-historic call. Foxes fear them. This was a sunny yesterday . . .

today it's cold and snowing and the Sandhill Cranes don't care at all. They live on the edge of winter and dance.