I love Butte, Montana. It’s genuine and it’s honestly humble. Butte owns its mining past, good and bad, and it moves forward with friendly grace.
Courtney and John McKee are examples of that. In 2012, they started Headframe Spirits, named for the structures that mark the mine shafts scattered inside the Butte city limits. They distill spirits and also make the stills.
See these pictures on my website here.
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.”
The sheep can outweigh her by 100 pounds or more, so she brings along her husband, Robert, when she can.
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.
See these on my website here.
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.
Sure, Montana has it’s requisite of mountains, wildlife and people who are connected with the land, but we’ve got tech too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
See these on my website.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
See these pictures on my website.
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.