Thursday, May 31, 2007

Brucellosis Found in Montana Cattle Herd

I took this photo!

The big Montana news (although you may not have herd about it) lately is about 7 cows that were found to have Brucellosis, a deadly and very contagious bovine disease. "Brucellosis is a bacteriological disease that causes cows to abort their first calf after infection. It is spread primarily by contact with infected birthing materials," writes Scott McMillion from The Bozeman Daily Chronical

So far, 350 cows are under quarantine. This includes 50 that had already been shipped to Iowa according to this site. If even two more cows in the entire state are found to have this disease, the entire state will lose it's Brucellosis-Free status, requiring all infected herds to be "depopulated" and making exportation of all Montana beef much harder and more expensive. Jay Bodner, natural resources specialist for the Montana Stockgrowers Association estimates that the cattle industry could lose between $5 million and $15 million this year. That's a lot of money riding on the possibility of just two more infected cows.

In response to this, the state plans to kill up to 300 Bison that may be infected with the disease, mainly pregnant females and their calves, according to The Billings Gazette. Conservationists are in an uproar, the ranchers are roaring back, and, if you're listening, this whole debate is getting louder and louder.

We're talking a total of 9 cows deciding the fate of an entire state's biggest industry. It's like saying that because 9 seats at Wrigley are defective, the whole Cubs season is cancelled. Economically this could be huge for our friends and neighbors. Keep an eye on it, if you're interested. I'll try to keep updating you on the cow situation here.

This is Anna-Montana, research reporter to The City signing off.....

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


We're getting ready to come home, putting things in order, eating all the perishable food in the fridge, calling someone to check on the cats (right, Stephan? We're doing that?), when something comes out of the blue to side track us. I thought I had a swollen "limp-note" due to another ear infection, but actually it's something to do with a salivary gland- they think. So we're off to Miles City soon to see an ENT specialist before we leave.

In other news, Stephan talked to the Schwann's man yesterday and ordered up some Chicken Kiev. When I asked him how it went he said...

"I told him I was ordering it for the lady who lives here."
"Well, I didn't want him to know where I live."
"He has a refrigerated truck, so I told him I had to be getting home or my family will miss me."
"You saw Dexter on Showtime last year, you know that people who drive refrigerated trucks are not to be trusted."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rain, rain go ... nowhere!

We had planned to camp a few nights when Travis and Stephanie came to visit, but the weather was just not cooperative. Instead we visited the O'Fallon County Historical Museum, The Big-K drive up restaurant, the Carter County Museum in Ekalaka, Miles City, the Plevna Bar, Reynold's Grocery story ("Be Foxy, Shop at Reynolds!"), and our house a few times.

The temperature stayed right around 55-60 degrees, and it rained the whole time! Whenever I expressed my disappointment in this, people who live here just scoffed. It's beautiful weather, they say. The rain is a wonderful thing! Look at how green things are!

This puzzled me, so I did a few Google searches to find out what the deal is with precipitation.

Average yearly rainfall in Arlington Heights, IL = 33"
Average yearly rainfall in Baker, MT= 14"
Rain in April this year = 4"
Rain in May this year = 5.75"

So, yeah, we're getting a lot more rain this year in Baker. I don't know what this means yet, although I'm sure I'll learn soon enough. It's meant a lot more mowing and gardening than I was expecting, and a lot more mud. More laundry because of muddy dogs, and more trips out to the car with the vacuum cleaner.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Workin for my beer

So, I just finished lawning the mow with our new household appliance. We special-ordered the push mower because we truly are fat hippies. I must admit, although it only took an hour, I did feel like a stud. It also gave me an hour of uninterrupted thinking time. Here's what I realized:

There's a whole new type of feminist out here.

I once got mad when I realized that the stereotype of women staying in the kitchen while the men go play outside is still around. Now that I'm here I've met so many women who do stay in the kitchen, but when the kitchen is clean, they go out to help with the calves. They make breakfast, pack lunches for everyone, raise kids, go to work in town, come home and make dinner, then go out and help with the ranch. I have a friend who went to school for her PhD from 9pm -1am while she worked and raised her children. When it's calving season, they go help with the calves in the middle of the night- then go to work in the morning.

Knowing all this, the kitchen seems almost relaxing.

Please don't misunderstand me. I grew up with amazing female role models. Every day I am in awe of how much my mom did in a day, and I have a grandma who can shoot a gun like nobody's business. Out here it's a different world. And today, while the 'warrior princess' was moving the lawn, she gained a new respect for the kitchen.

I also learned that if you run over dog poop in a push-mower, the poop sprays all over your legs.

Friday, May 25, 2007

FAQ: How was Billings?

Need I say more??

[What I remember from] Bucking Horse Sale, 2007

No no, not just the beer. And it's not because of the beer either. But with the Billings trip, then Bucking Horse Sale, a branding, then Travis and Stephanie's rainy visit here, I'm glad I took the photos last weekend. Here's how it went:

Arrived in Miles City to stay with Karla's family- who were VERY welcoming and gave us a beautiful bit of backyard to pitch our tent in. We settled in, and headed out to watch Bull Riding at the Bucking Horse Sale. Ever seen Bull Riding on TV? It's just like that, but we were farther away, and the rides didn't last very long. These are not professional riders, just local guys, riding bulls that are for sale to other rodeos. As soon as the rider falls off, the auction starts and people sitting on either side of the arena begin to buy them. Bulls sold from $700-$2000. This is the same process for bucking broncos (which can be either male or female, and pregnant!). After a few hours of selling bulls, came the...

Wild Horse Race: 6 wild horses who have never been ridden before are sent out of chutes all at the same time. Teams of 3 men attempt to hold down the horse to saddle it for the first time ever, then one gets on and rides the wild horse around the track. If three men make it out, it's a good time. If no horses die, it's a good time. If none of the men break any bones, it's a great time.

After the sale is the Street Dancing. Three trailers of bands, a street of food vendors, every bar in town is open, and the beer is $2.00 a can. Don't pee in a port-a-potty because someone may tip it over while you're in it. Hold your beers at all times, just put your trash anywhere , or here . I think we were out until 2am. On the entrance ticket it says, "Cowboy Mardi Gras". It seriously is like all of Miles City is on a blind date.

The next day we went to a 2 hour parade, with bagpipes and horses as far as the eye could see, and steam engine tractors. Breakfast out- then some shopping for chaps, more Bucking Horse Sale , and then a movie, instead of the drinking.

It was a long weekend. Fun, interesting, educational, and exhausting. If you're interested, give us plenty of notice before next year's sale and we'll all go together!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Like, a real house!

Branding Part 2

We have a few new branding photos on Flickr from last weekend. It was Stephan's first branding and he really enjoyed it. He wrestled calves, from both the head and tail position, then he picked up a branding iron and branded a few, and was offered a chance to ride and rope, but he declined that offer. They weren't saving nuts at this branding (except a few teenagers who were throwing them at each other), so we didn't have any snacks.

I actually got in on a few calves, wrestling from their heads. It's a hard position, because they're wriggling a lot, and they have to give the vaccine's on the ear and in the neck, so you have to avoid getting an 18 gauge needle in your leg at the same time. We didn't get any photos of me wrestling since Stephan was branding at the same time. Oh yeah, we're cow-people now.

On to try to camp tonight with Stephanie and Travis, although the rain hasn't let up yet this morning. Look out for Bucking Horse Sale photos soon!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Still drinking

Travis and Stephanie are here! It's the middle of a long week of vacation for us- Billings for two days, then Bucking Horse Sale (I have photos and information about rodeo's and "girl bulls" for you), a branding yesterday, lots of sleeping yesterday, and mad cleaning this morning. I think we're going camping for a few days, so the updates on the rodeo and branding will have to wait.

There should be new photos soon too, including ones of the new curtains!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


We just saw this commercial and I jumped to share it with all of you.

Check it out! (You'll have to sit through a commercial for The Office)

Boo unexpected room of evil...
Horray Beer!

The Magic City

We arrived in Billings last night (apparently. I was suffering from pretty bad car-sickness, so I just assumed we were here when the car stopped). It's the biggest city in the state, with all of 89,847 people. Check out the map! We drove around last night for a while to find the Montana Brewing Company for dinner. It was really good. I highly recommend their cider, and the rasberry beer.

Stephan's off at Advanced Cardiac Life Support training, and in a minute I'm going to explore the vast commercial market here that includes a Linens N Things, Best Buy, Wal Mart, The Montana Department of Motor Vehicles, and Barnes and Nobel. It's so urban here, we actually didn't see anyone we knew when we went to dinner last night. It was very relaxing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Temporary Interruption in Service"

So, we had a pretty bad storm the other night- Sunday night to be exact. We were watching the lightening come in for a while, but it got to be too much for us. It looked like someone was playing with all the light switches in the house. From all directions was a strobe-light show that American DJ would be proud of. Seizure-inducing, we decided. At about 9:30pm the power went out, and we went to bed (after I tried to set the fountain on fire, but that's another story).

The fountain spent the night in the sink, and we spent it under one little Scooby Doo blanket (because the dog threw up on the other ones just as the storm hit). In the morning we still didn't have power, and we found out that it would be a few days. Two transformers got hit directly, and about a dozen electric poles were blown over in the 83 mile an hour winds. We spent the night back at Matt and Kayle's house so Stephan could still be on call. It's Tuesday, about 4pm as I write this, and so far the power is still out. If you've been trying to call, sorry! We only have the portable phones set up, and the answering machine is electric too.

We leave for Billings tomorrow afternoon for two days. I don't know if I'll be available via the internet, but I'll be posting photos and stories about the "Big City" and Bucking Horse Sale this weekend soon. Have a safe trip, Travis and Stephanie, see you soon!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Okay, so maybe I am working too much

It's day 8 of 11 out of my work week. When we got home tonight I was so hungry I just started pulling things out of the fridge, naming the leftovers as I put them on the counter:

Me: Pizza... Pot Pie... What's this?
Him: That's the-
Me: Chop stick.

Him: ...

Me: OH! No, no, a pork chop. That's a pork chop. Sorry.

Him: Are you okay?
Me: I'll be fair and blog about that now.
Him: Do you want the chop stick for dinner or not?

Me: No.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Like, Discovery Channel

Only in our back yard...

Seriously, the snakes are here. It's snake time. Snake. Time. People. We passed two dead ones on the highway today- and the one that was just across from the turn-off to our street was big. I'm talking, National Geographic sized. Like, coiled up it was probaby 18" round. And thick. This was a Snake. Capital S- Snake.

And Stephan wanted me to toss the frisbee around in the backyard tonight. What was he thinking?! With Snakes so close?! Capital S- Snakes?

Me: Well, where did humans come from before they came from monkeys?
Him: Other monkeys.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Temporary Interruption

Since I don't want to play Yatzee in the dining room at 2:30, I found this little survey you can fill out in your spare time. Skip any questions you don't want to answer.

And when it asks if you believe in UFO's... consider your answer very carefully!

False Alarm

Last night the Pplevna volunteer firefighter radio came to life just as the lightning and thunder started to roll. Stephan had been wearing shorts and a t-shirt to strap the washing machine to a pallet, but he ran into the bedroom and changed into jeans and a sweatshirt and boots faster than Superman in a phone booth.

He sat by the radio and listened to every word. They were trying to decide if something was a controlled burn of a field, or an accidental fire. I told Stephan to call the fire chief, but he just listened to the radio. About 10 minutes later, they decided it was a controlled burn (although how anything could burn in that rain is beyond me), and they called off the alert.

Stephan pouted the rest of the night. I was sad for him.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Overheard: On the Phone

Him: Thanks for the curtains, they look amazing. But we don't know what we need to hang them up.
Dad: No problem. You'll need a double curtain rod.
Hiim: ... I'll look for that at the Farm & Fleet today.
Dad: (Laughing) You might need to go somewhere else.
Him: Did she tell you? I hung up temporary curtains with an electrical cord.
Dad: (Laughing)
Him: Well, I have to hook up the new washer and dryer, and put the curtains up today.
Dad: Must be your day off, huh?
Him: Yeah, the Honey-do list.
Dad: (Laughing)
Him: I told you when you asked me that I didn't know what I was getting into by marrying your daughter.
Dad: Too late now!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Branding

Saturday morning, while Stephan was at his Firefighter 1 class, I went to the MacKay Branding. It was pouring. It was about 50 degrees. The wind was howling. BUT, they were still branding cattle! The noise was the first thing I noticed. It was rock-concert loud with cows howling and calves responding. The cows were roaming in the pasture, but staying close to their calves, who were kept in two pens. The one, bigger pen was for holding all the calves, the adjecent one only held the next 20 or so. They were 'on-deck' (that's a city word, not a rancher word).

The next thing was the smell. It really did smell like someone was grilling steaks when their hair caught on fire.

This is how it worked- two guys on horseback with ropes (lasso's to us, ropes to them) rode around the smaller pen, roping the back feet of the most available calf. They dragged the calf out of the small pen, and then two young men flipped the calf over. A woman came out with a very large shot of vaccine, and a guy came over with the brand. It was a diamond, that was branded one just at the top of the other, to make a double diamond. If the calf was a bull, one of two experts came over and castrated it.

Castrated it? Here's the part that made me woozy. The castrating man would then toss (yes, toss) the nuts to two 12 year old girls standing by a truck. They would, without hardly looking up, catch the nuts, wip out a tiny pocket knife, and pop the nuts out of the sack. It was a very bloody job. The girls were covered, soaked. But, as they worked, they chatted about school things, life, being cold and hungry. At one point they took a few nuts and put them right on the branding stove to cook. I didn't partake, unfortunately, without Stephan I didn't have any nuts (there's a joke in there somewhere).

The other interesting part was the positioning of the guys who were flipping and holding the calves. I thought they were joking when they told me to cover the poop-hole... but that's what the guys did- they got on the ground, and covered that hole with one foot. It didn't stop the poop, but it kept the poop from spraying. Many of the men were covered in poop.

I have the photos up on Flickr, but some of the more graphic ones are marked as "private" for friends and family only. If you're logged in, and one of my 'friends', you can automatically see them. If you're not, log in, and ask me to be a friend. I'll say yes and then you can see the photos. If you want to.

A word of warning, they are a little graphic- if you have a very weak stomache you may want to just skip it.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Open Mic Night

Last night, we went to Friday Night Open Mic Night at the Miles City Books & News in downtown Miles city. We'd heard about it on our first trip over there, and we'd wanted to check it out ever since. As the owner told us, "sometimes it's even good!" With such a ringing endorsement, we had to check it out.

The book store is outfitted with about half a dozen couches, and a few comfy chairs. There are also a few rows of theater seating in back. A makeshift stage is set up in the front, a few platforms with 4 par cans aimed at the center. The owner started it off with a some folk tunes, one he'd written himself about Jack Kerouac. Next up was the mayor of Miles City. He was pretty good, playing guitar softly, featuring mostly country tunes about Mexico in honor of Cinco de Mayo and a dark-skinned girl he knew in kindergarden. When he started playing Gallo del Cielo, tears sprung to my eyes, and Stephan put his arm around me. The rest of the night was just beautiful. The music was amazing, mellow, funny, charming, sweet, tender. It's been a really long time since I sat and listened to a man with a guitar charm a crowd. Several came up to play that night, and all of them touched my heart in one way or another.

I don't think I'd recognized how powerful live music can be. Last night, it helped me feel at home - and at peace.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Burn Baby Burn

Stephan went to his first practice burn last weekend...

(I typed FIRST, F-R-I-S-T, and Stephan said, "Isn't that a Jewish ceremony?" "No, that's a Bris.")

Anyway, he says, "..."

(He's shaking his head at me. Now he's banging it on the table. Apparently his "soul is sad," although I don't know why he said that.)

"I told you I felt like an Oscat Meyer Weiner."


"I was standing next to a 10 foot wall of flame without my face shield in place and I got a bit singed. I got to fire the water cannons and the hoses. I got to put out an innocent tree from flame, but I couldn't save the electric fence from melting. All told we left the 50 yard by 30 yard patch of scorched earth to mark the day's festivities. Then we went back to the fire house and had a burger and a beer"

"What did you burn?"

"It was an old brush pile left over from a blizzard that knocked down a bunch of trees 2 or 3 winters ago."

"How many guys were there?"

"I think between 15 and 20."

"And how many were working?"

"About 10."

"They set the fire on purpose?"

"Yeah. It was bordered by the... uh... poop pond on the South, the dump on the West and an access road on the North."

"Who brought the matches?"

"Matches? We don't need no stinking matches."

"Does your refusal to answer my question mean we're done?"

Stephan just deleted a whole paragraph of funny things he said to the dogs while refusing to answer any more questions about the fire. I yelled that it was censorship, that he was trampling my first amendment rights. We're having some creative differences right now. I'll post more later when he's not looking.


Is May first. It's May-Day. Do you know what happens here on May Day? Maybe it happens in other places too, but here, on May Day, people give little May Baskets. It's a little mini-Easter basket with flowers or candy in it. Traditionally, you put a May Basket on the door step of a friend and ring the door bell. If you can catch the person as they run away, they have to kiss you.

We haven't given or received any May Baskets today.

Have you?