montana photograph Shear Pleasure

20160612103126

Shannon Kahler isn’t your typical sheep shearer. While most operations are geared to shear hundreds, perhaps thousands of sheep at a time, Shannon caters to the small hobby farmer with just a handful of sheep. She spends double the amount of time per sheep as the commercial shearers, says she’s offering the animals a “spa day.”

20160612093427

20160612092610

The sheep can outweigh her by 100 pounds or more, so she brings along her husband, Robert, when she can.

20150530104739

20160612103018

Shearing is good animal husbandry. For one thing, it shows wounds like this one, likely sustained in an unpleasant encounter with barbed wire, that can then be treated. For another, if left unshorn, the weight of the wool can tear the animal’s skin.

20160612094656

20160612092920

montana photograph Time

20170601082446-4

20170601081734

These are contentious times in our state, our nation and our world. There is a lot of fear out there and that fear is really loud.

Living here, we’re lucky because it’s easy to go somewhere and be quiet with rocks, trees and water. For me there’s comfort there. I see patience, endurance, trust.

They say time heals all wounds. I can see how that might be true. And I hope to God we start healing quickly, because the wounds only seem to be getting deeper.

montana photograph Lasers

Sure, Montana has it’s requisite of mountains, wildlife and people who are connected with the land, but we’ve got tech too.

20161007142223

Zack Cole, director of scientific materials at FLIR Systems, Inc., in Bozeman, peers through a garnet crystal used to build high power laser systems for cutting and welding sheet metal in automotive and heavy equipment manufacturing.

20161007144433

Light travels through a crystal to illuminate the materials from which it was made: a raw powder of aluminum oxide and lutetium oxide, according to Cole, which are then melted into a liquid and re-solidified at a temperature nearing 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

20161007155321

At the Tech Park Facility of FLIR Systems, Inc., laser light travels into a crystal under the watch of Zack Cole. Cole says the process is a way to find imperfections in the crystal.

20161007161849

Crystals made to be used in lasers by FLIR Systems, Inc., stand on a lab table. Cole says the different colors are indicative of different materials used in the making of the crystals and also the differing potential uses of the crystals, which include detection of X-rays, cutting and welding sheet metal and use in space applications like satellites, Mars rovers and International Space Station docking facilities.

 

See these and more on my website.

montana photograph Working Together

I’ve written before about how good land stewardship is a common trait among environmentalists and the agriculture industry. Both want a healthy ecosystem, but there have been problems in the past communicating and working together.

The Gallatin Valley Land Trust is working with local farmers and ranchers to preserve farms and ranches from future development, preserving healthy rivers and wildlife habitat — something many local farmers and ranchers have been doing for generations.

Last summer, I met several of the local landowners that have worked with GVLT. Here’s some of what I saw:

20160608202140-Edit

20160608182904

20160608193144

20160608204007

20160701092215-2

20160701105204

20160701105248

20160701094138

See these on my website.

montana photograph Something Goes Right

These are trying times for all of us. And it’s easy to get sucked into current events that make us feel like everything is going wrong.

Meg Singer of the Montana ACLU gave a presentation about things we can do to improve life on Montana’s Indian reservations the other night here in Bozeman. During the presentation, Ms. Singer talked about the media’s fascination with what she called, “Poverty Porn.”

So often the stories we see about Native Americans are about the despair in their lives. And I’m not saying there isn’t desperation on Montana’s seven Indian reservations. But there are good things happening too.

So it was great to be sent up to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northwest Montana by World Wildlife Fund to cover what’s working up there. I found that most of the efforts center around the bison, which is seen as an anchor for the culture of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, who call themselves the Buffalo People.

Here’s a few pictures:

20150924073301

20150922190130-2-edit

20150921073857

The Fort Peck tribes now have a herd of bison culled from Yellowstone National Park that have been quarantined to be sure they are free of disease. The keep them at a place called, the Fort Peck Tribes Cultural Buffalo Herd Ranch Facility .

That was where they held the Buffalo People Summit, where local school children were bussed in to be introduced to the buffalo’s importance to the Assiniboine and Sioux identities.

20150921113716

20150920192048

20150922130316-5

Also on the Fort Peck Reservation, language skills are being passed on. Young Ethan Three Stars studies with Del First. Three Stars is said to be nearly fluent in the Dakota language.

20150922163853

 

Ramey Growing Thunder and her husband, Darryl, are big parts of the cultural preservation efforts at Fort Peck. Here, they pick wild turnips with their three children on the reservation.

20150611192000

20150611191247-1

20150611191416

20150611191158

20150611195118-2

Family is everything — people within the tribes are rarely just “friends.” They are often referred to as cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The buffalo are also part of their cultural family.

20150923201546

20150924174140

20150920165239

20150923075057

See these pictures on my website.

montana photograph Time

20161109151643-edit

Our daughter, Katie, has moved out and our nest is empty. While this brings Rena and I feelings of new freedom and pride in the person our daughter is becoming, it also brings an unexpected emptiness to our house and a realization that time moves ever forward.

We’ve been very lucky thus far and we’re grateful. May we all have such happiness in the days ahead.

montana photograph Trying Times

20161120152923

We are a nation divided. And in our house, that doesn’t settle well.

I feel isolated, foolish and stupid to be so surprised that so many of my neighbors feel so radically different than I. And when I look to the future, I’m hard pressed to know what to hope for.

It’s scary.

So when my wife suggested we attend a march and rally in Bozeman yesterday, we went and I’m glad of it. It was nice to connect with others with similar feelings. And the only gestures I saw from passing vehicles were peace signs and thumbs up. So that’s nice.

20161120154307

20161120152745

20161120154044

20161120155012

20161120160802

20161120155557

20161120162426

20161120162528-2

20161120155455