Posts From The Past

Character comes with age . . . .

Character comes with age . . . .

The scars on this ancient cedar fence post are reminders of early settlements along Dry Creek.  Many fences, erected by homesteaders, criss-crossed the land where we reside and were built to confine cattle, horses, and sheep in pastures for grazing.  These gnarled old posts are sentinels protecting the past and stand silently along our walking path, growing more beautiful with ancient patina each year.

Last post standing . . . .

Last post standing . . . .

I can hear the bleating of animals, taste the dust from tractors, trucks and trailers hauling hay or grain or animals through the barnyard, coming and going from the corrals and holding pens that once connected this post to many others.  

Gate post holding on . . . .

Gate post holding on . . . .

As we have cleared rusty old barbed wire and rotted posts to make safe pasture for Abe and Tillie, we have been compelled to leave the old soldiers who have endured for so long. Some have born witness to dugout homes built into the creek banks where nearby seeps provided water for the early settlers; others were planted in the ground to divide the open range for the homesteads and small ranches that formed in the early 1900’s.

In the shadow of trees . . . .

In the shadow of trees . . . .

 As we observe the first day of the New Year 2014, it seems appropriate to look back at the bygone days of life here on Dry Creek.  We remember those tough pioneers who came here before us with great fondness, and wonder how they made it through the hardships they had to endure.  Our lives are vastly different in many ways, yet remain the same as we follow in their footsteps.

Drifting Along With A Tumbling Tumbleweed

The ubiquitous tumbleweed . . . .

The ubiquitous tumbleweed . . . .

The ongoing drought during the summer and autumn of 2013 resulted in little grass, but a bumper crop of weeds–tumbleweeds to be sure!  The winter winds have stirred them and set them to tumbling along the roadways and fields, bumping up against fences and just about anything else that gets in their way.

Seems impossible, but the wind has its ways! . . . .

Seems impossible, but the wind has its ways! . . . .

Brief layover in the snow . . . .

Brief layover in the snow . . . .

Flying too close to the fan . . . .

Flying too close to the fan . . . .

Tucked under the tractor . . . .

Tucked under the tractor . . . .

A flurry along the fence . . . .

A flurry along the fence . . . .

Might as well put them to good use! . . . .

Might as well put them to good use! . . . .

Frosty the Tumbleweed Man arrived just in time for the holidays and greeted guests for the winter solstice open house.  What a guy!

Sundown

Just another sundown . . . .

Just another sundown . . . .

Words are inadequate to describe the beautiful Wyoming skies.  We frequently have breathtaking sunsets, sunrises and gorgeous cloud formations in between.  The backdrop of brilliant blue sky creates a startling contrast to fluffy white cloud formations.

A storm brewing . . . .

A storm brewing . . . .

The evening light changes quickly, and often the most brilliant hues are lost before I can grab a camera.  When I am successful, I can capture some stunning beauty at sundown.

Yet another glimpse of heaven . . . .

Yet another glimpse of heaven . . . .

And just one more, before the sun drops below the horizon and darkness arrives.

Last light of day . . . .

Last light of day . . . .

Trying or Tragic?

Tree surgery . . . .

Tree surgery . . . .

The old Dodge truck, lower left, escaped tree tragedy one more time!  We had not yet cleaned up all the downed silver leaf poplars surrounding it from a late September snow storm in 2009.  And October 3, 2013 has proven to be just as disastrous.  We received an inch of rain throughout the day which turned to snow at dusk, freezing the rain drops clinging to the leaves and encasing them in ice.  This is a deadly combination for the trees.

"Help, I'm down and I cannot get up!" . . . .

“Help, I’m down and I can’t get up!” . . . .

This mature chokecherry tree hangs heavy on the ground.  I attempted to shake some of the snow off, but found the branches laden with ice.  This is going to take some new approach.  Avalanche tactics will not work here.

We thought Feed Lot was bad news! . . . .

We thought Feed Lot was bad news! . . . .

Poor little fruit trees have gone from steer assaults to weather extremes.  What makes people think they can grow trees in Wyoming???  In autumn, buck deer scrape the bark from deciduous trees, as well as needles and branches from evergreen trees by rubbing their horns against the trunks to remove the velvet; cattle eat young saplings and strip the low hanging leaves; years of drought with inadequate rain and snow kills mature trees; freezing autumn blizzards breaks branches and limbs full of foliage; freak wind storms can rip trees from the ground; and porcupines can decimate a Ponderosa or Austrian pine in one meal.  And then there are the beetles and bugs, virus and blight, worms and borers to contend with.  Still want to plant a tree?

Autumn colors . . . .

Autumn colors . . . .

The mighty cottonwoods are no match for snow and ice.  Their leaves were just beginning to turn bright yellow when this storm hit–so much for autumn colors this year!

Old Stetsons Hang Around

Dad's old Stetson hats haven't lost their groove . . .

Dad’s old Stetson hats haven’t lost their groove . . .

Dad wore a hat from the time he was old enough to walk.  At a young age he was nicknamed “Hoot” after Hoot Gibson, the cowboy movie star who wore a style of hat that Dad liked as a boy.  The hats pictured here were his dress hats, kept in hat boxes and now stored in the basement, along with much memorabilia from my parents’ past.  The labels inside indicate they were purchased at the New York Store in Buffalo, Wyoming.  Also discovered inside one of them was a yellowed little card that served as a cheerful reminder of “that’s not your hat!”

"Like hell it's yours--put it back!  This Hat Belongs To:" . . . .

“Like hell it’s yours–put it back! This Hat Belongs To:” . . . .

These hats fit fine, and on occasion I drag out one or the other and wear them.  Having a big head helps, as Dad wore 7-3/4 inch hat brim.

A little dusty, but still a good hat!

A little dusty, but still a good hat!

This old hat hangs in the loafing shed above where Tilly the filly has a stall.  Each day as I clean her bedding, I look up at this old hat. During our last blizzard the wind blew threw a crack in the wall and covered it with a fine layer of snow which added to the rich patina of grime.  The hat may have belonged to Dad, or one of the many hired hands who came and went over the years.  I prefer to think of it as Dad’s.

Hoot and his hat . . . .

Hoot and his hat . . . .

Wintry Wonders

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033When it snows in Wyoming, it usually blows  the snow sideways and hard until most of it lands in South Dakota or Nebraska.  Rare is the morning when you find the snow has fallen softly in the night, and is layered like frosting upon everything.  So beautiful this day that it was necessary to rush out the door and record the magic. This wintry wonder of a snowfall makes everything look softer, more beautiful and sets the stage for early December thoughts of Christmas.

Western Frontier Time Share Available

Modern kitchen with wood burning stove . . . .

Don’t wait, demand is great!  This charming homestead cabin, circa 1920, has tons of atmosphere and character.  Constructed of “square” logs (rounded edges peeled off) from the historic Mayoworth sawmill, it has the original chinking and is finished with cedar shingles on the exterior.  It affords the coziest environment for discriminating guests.  Rates are unbelievably low, and guests should arrive prepared to “pitch in,” to use a western phrase, and work for bed and board.

They don’t make ’em like this anymore!

Just think of the family fun as you gather ’round to saw, hammer, haul, nail, pry, scrape and fulfill your dreams of life on the western front.  Evening campfires will be filled with cowboy music and the occasional rip roaring “Powder River, Let ‘Er Buck,” which is a spontaneous eruption from the locals after a few bottles of the finest selection of beverage (Coors Original) and camaraderie that evolves among the “just plain folks” that will be gathered around.

To preserve your little piece of this great Western experience, just show up.  No reservations required.  Dry Fork of the North Fork of Powder River.  Wyoming, of course.

Garden Toil Brings Rewards

The wonders of spring, ahhhh . . . .

Flower and vegetable gardens take an amazing amount of work, but when we lift our eyes to see what grows when we pour in a little love (and lots of water), it becomes clear what we were striving for. I transplanted this bleeding heart from my garden in Colorado many years ago, and it has never failed to bloom in its new home.  Since the deer have been fenced from the yard the flowers and shrubs have been thriving.  A seriously dry spring and early summer could lead to attempts by the deer to “have dinner on us!”  We’ll hope for the best.  A few highlights follow.

Everybody smile now, for the photoshoot! . . . .

Pansies were blooming in April and kept up this glorious color into July.  What precious colors and sweet faces!

We bloomed first! . . . .

A new bed of daffodils was planted, along with some other bulbs, in celebration of the fact that a fence just might work and the deer would have to look longingly from outside.

One of the “old faithfuls” that have grown here forever, this iris never fails to delight.

The Colorado state flower! . . . .

Columbines re-seed each year, and are so prolific they don’t make room for others in the garden if they aren’t carefully selected.  They are hardy, drought resistant and absolutely gorgeous.

What are all these ants doing in my hair? . . . .

Peonies are favorites, and the fragrance of their fresh-cut blooms fill the house with their sweet scent.  They all seem to bloom at once, and a few ants arrive along with a bouquet, but it is worth the wait each year to enjoy them, if only for a short time.

My purple is better than your purple! . . . .

The tall spires of delphinium in the background vie with the lovely lavender blooms in the foreground.  This colorful bounty has been drawing bumblebees and butterflies to the garden, and makes it hard to consider cutting them for arrangements.  Time to get out the watering can, look for spent blossoms to deadhead, pull a few weeds, and do the work required to enjoy this bounty of flowers.