Welcome to starting a small business.
And this is the cleaned up version of the pile.
Sigh. I need a beer.
I’ve got a lot more going for my garden this year. First of all, it’s not in Butte. And that pretty much sums it up. It’s pretty hard to grow veggies in a place where it’s likely to snow in July. This year’s garden is in a very sunny patch of my backyard. My husband spent a few long afternoons rototilling and such and building me one heckuvan awesome deer fence around it, too.
Before we left for our trip to the Midwest, I planted three strawberry plants, two aronia (also known as chokeberry) bushes, and some flowers in pots and in the garden. Upon our return, there was quite a lot of grass coming up that we had to pull and till under again (a temporary solution, no doubt; I have a feeling I’ll be fighting an ongoing war with the grass). Yesterday afternoon while our son napped we planted.
We planted spinach, romaine, ruby red chard, rainbow chard, carrots, acorn squash, pickling cucumbers, slicing cucumbers, sunflowers, and chives. Outside the garden along the perimeter I scattered wildflower seeds. I also planted flax and black-eyed susans in the garden. I would still like to plant some onions, corn, garlic (this fall), broccoli, tomatoes (either in walls of water or pots on the porch since our growing season here is so brief), and some other things. I’ve planted all the perimeter beds and just have the two interior beds remaining. Amazing how fast the space got taken up! I suppose next year I could make my walkways a little more narrow.
On the right is our compost pile along one third of the wooden fencing we found in the field. The other two thirds of the fence are where I planted snow peas and blue lake beans. The fencing is for trellising. What I’ve planted so far is around the perimeter. The big spot in the middle will be two more beds soon.
A few hours after we finished planting it rained heavily for ten minutes or so, complete with thunder and lightning. I’m glad for the rain, but I hope it wasn’t too much. Wouldn’t want it to flood out my seeds. I enjoyed listening to the heavy rain fall, the thunder rumble, and watching the lightning light up the walls. All this while I was feeding Jonathan before his bedtime. I hope he enjoys a good rainstorm as much as his parents.
The strawberries have their own little corner of the garden. I’m hoping they take over that area and we get lots of strawberries every year. I decided to go with Junebearing strawberries as opposed to everbearing, which was the advice of my master gardener instructor. At least in our area, Junebearing strawberries provide a better crop. The variety I chose is called Sparkle. Maybe next year I’ll plant an everbearing plant just to compare.
I’m a little fuzzy on the aronia details. The bush is supposed to grow to about 6 feet tall. I’m not sure when it will start providing fruit and whether or not I can harvest it this year. I’ll need to do some more research. Aronia berries make fab jam.
I’ll be sure to provide frequent updates on the garden status throughout the summer. In addition to my own garden, I’m planning to work on a local farm (possibly two) some this summer in exchange for veggies. Good training for me, and good food. Excitement!
This past weekend Shawn and I made a trip to Polebridge because the ever amazing Polebridge Mercantile, owned by the lovely and fabulous Stuart and Flannery, was opening back up for the summer. Hubs and I just had to go get a huckleberry turnover, which was, as always, fantastic.
Here’s a cherry turnover. I bet your mouth is watering.
Yum, yum, yum. Always worth the drive up the bumpy North Fork Road.
And here’s a photo of Stuart, followed by one of Flannery and Jake, the year-round awesome staff/owners of the Merc.
We had a great weekend, complete with fun time at the swell Showcase event thrown by First Best Place in Columbia Falls. It was nice to see friends and get some work done. I’m putting together a brochure for the Bad Rock B&B, followed by one for the Merc later in the summer.
But now it’s off to unpacking (yes, still) and taping the walls to get ready to paint!
For all you vista gluttons out there:
Shot this photo from Lone Pine State Park above Kalispell. I drove there to cover an event, which I found out when I got there was canceled because of the “possible government shutdown.” But the government didn’t shut down! Oh well, at least the Hubs and I got to walk around on a lovely, sunny day in a nice state park and take in the views. The above is a view of the Swan mountain range, which starts around my town and runs a hundred miles southeast or so. (And in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve cropped out “town” in the bottom of the photo. Remember that nearly 80,000 people live in this “remote” valley, after all.)
Oh, and I need to wish my lovely husband Shawn a happy three years together anniversary today! (Our six months married-iversary is next weekend.)
Saturday night, the Hubs and I went up to our local distillery, Glacier Distilling Company. It’s our friend Nic’s venture and not only do we want to support him, we like drinking good whiskey. And “Glacier Dew,” the distillery’s first whiskey, is just that.
I wrote a story for my newspaper, which you can read here, a while back before the distillery officially opened for business. Nic and his business partner Danny are going to distill not only white whiskey like Glacier Dew, which is obviously polished off in the above photo, but also bourbon. They’ve got a neat selection sitting in barrels in the back, just waiting to come into maturity. It’s a long wait, but it’s going to be worth it.
The distillery has a neat collection of old whiskey bottles. Shawn and I are considering donating our brandy bottle to the cause. Our bottle is shaped like a liberty bell because it was made in 1976 and then sat, unopened, on a shelf in my grandparents’ house until this year. Shawn discovered it and my Gramma gave it to him. It’s got a little less brandy in it than when it was bottled because of the angel’s share, but since it’s 35 years old, it’s a smooth, smooth brandy. Evidently that’s how you get such a divine drink: Put it on a shelf and forget about it.
On Wednesday this past week, us folks in northwest Montana created a new holiday (well, the credit really goes to Hilary at Outside Media): “406 Day.” Wednesday was April 6, so, 4-06. And Montana’s area code is 406, so it’s the new Montana holiday. And to celebrate, we had the Chili League finals.
What’s Chili League you might ask? It’s a bunch of us (upwards of 40 or 50 people) getting together on a Friday to enjoy each others’ company and to put our best chili recipes to the test. In the past few months, we’ve tried probably a dozen different chilis, all fabulous. Some were red chilis, some were green. I think there was even a white chili, too. Some had meat, some were vegetarian (and had squash!). One didn’t have any beans (“true chilis don’t have beans”). Some were fairly simple recipes (like mine – the secret weapon is Indian chili powder) and others took days of experimentation. All chilis were creatively named (ours was dubbed “Afterburn”).
So the winners from each “heat” competed Wednesday.
Buck Fever, Chili Supresa and (well, I’m forgetting the name of the third chili… someone remind me!) went head to head. The competition was fierce. Brows shone with a sheen of sweat (from the competition? from the heat?).
And Buck Fever claimed the victory. A melange of venison, antelope and elk, the bean-less chili took the crown. Its maker, Erik Lorona, is pictured below with his lovely wife Aubrie. He’s holding the Chili League trophy, from which he’s required to eat his chili during next year’s competition.
I also made orange rolls for the event. Here’s a before-I-baked-them photo. I like how you can see the little flecks of grated orange peel in the dough. Alas, there’s no “after” photo because folks inhaled them! But I guess that’s a good thing!
Had a wonderful drive up the North Fork yesterday to do some interviews. Though there was some slush for much of the way, which grabbed the tires of my vehicle and made driving occasionally dicey (especially in my low-clearance Honda Civic), the views were spectacular as clouds rolled in and out, revealed snow-covered trees and the beautiful North Fork of the Flathead, which this time of year seems still and placid. I am beginning to know the bends and curves of the road so well I can let my mind wander through the landscape. And since the drive is an hour and a half one way (and only 40 miles), that’s a lot of pondering!
It’s hard to tell in photographs how really colorful winter can be under its snowy mantle. The wet bark on the trees is a deep mahogany color. The green of new growth pine stands out brightly against the drifts. And the occasional critter you might see is a flash of life and color in the landscape.
After a thoroughly enjoyable day (I am always more relaxed up the North Fork — I think it’s because the pace of life up there is what life used to be like; in the summer, people are busy tending their gardens and working on their homes. But in the winter, everyone slows down and enjoys quiet chats with a plate of cookies in front of the fire while watching big, fat snowflakes drift lazily through the lodgepoles. Every home’s host(ess) you go to offers you at the very least some tea or coffee and frequently you find yourself sitting down for lunch (and second lunch and third lunch… I feel like a hobbit!).
This weekend in northwest Montana was the 33rd annual Cabin Fever Days. What a hoot! Cabin Fever Days is a three-day celebration that gets everyone outside (or in the bar). It generates thousands of dollars for local charities and helps the businesses in the area out, too. The most popular event is the barstool races. There are several classes ranging from your standard barstool nailed to a pair of skis to the show class, which includes all sorts of different “barstools.”
There can be a bit of occupational hazard covering the barstool races. Here, local photojournalist and friend Nate Chute barely avoids a run-in with a barstool. Notice his right hand and the fact that he’s still taking pictures while leaping into the air. Check out his photo blog here.
Journeyed to Essex yesterday for a story. Here are two photos snapped on the way back:
This weekend is Cabin Fever Days up the ‘Line. Get ready for awesome photos and no doubt hilarious tales next week!
This past week, Nic and Victoria of the Great Northern Resort graciously allowed us to stay at the resort. We had an absolutely fabulous time. We ate amazing food made by Meg of Earth Angel Organics (come cook for me every day, Meg!) and went on a really fun (if blustery) snowshoe hike to Johns Lake in Glacier.
Johns Lake was a pretty cold place to be Saturday afternoon, but beautiful nonetheless. I think this photo looks like an old daguerreotype. The snow was really falling (we had quite the blizzard that night), which obscured the view of some Glacier peaks that is visible from the middle of the frozen lake. But it was still worth the hike. The forest is a beautiful place, especially in the winter, when it seems hushed and secluded. Part of a different world. And yet the sound of snow falling on the pines is deafening. Trees sway in the wind, knocking together. Deer bolt from their bedding places and shake the snow from their backs. Everything looks so different from summertime.
We came upon several deer on the hike (none of my pictures turned out – ARGH!). The looked cold, covered in snow, and wary. But they watched us as we watched them, probably loath to leave their warm bedding spot. Deer do have hollow hair, however, which helps them keep from freezing.
After Johns Lake, we hiked down McDonald Creek, which was really rushing for the middle of winter! I guess with the off-and-on melting the past month or so the river’s up. This is an “off” melting week. According to weather.com, it currently feels like 0 degrees (it’s actually 9), and that’s up from feeling like -22 this morning! It wasn’t that cold in the Park Saturday, but it was snowing hard!
I’m always amazed by the ability of trees to grow in the seemingly most impossible places. This tree is growing out of a rock. It grew down, in a curve, and then back up. Talk about a precarious perch!
This is Sacred Dancing Cascade on McDonald Creek. Nic told us that the Blackfeet (Glacier’s original inhabitants) believed that spirits got trapped in the glaciers, and when those glaciers melted, the spirits floated down the creek. It took them a while to warm up and the Blackfeet believed the spirits warmed and escaped back into the air at this waterfall. Hence Sacred Dancing.
Saturday night we went to an Irish whiskey tasting at the Stonefly Lounge in Coram (My new favorite bar, though the Belton Taproom is a really close second…). We tried six kinds of whiskey (Jameson, Michael Collins, Bushmills’ Black Bush, Jameson 1780 — their 12-year-old whiskey — Tyrconnell and Redbreast. I think Black Bush and Redbreast were my favorites. No pictures from the evening though because we were too busy getting our drink on!
There was quite the drift on the path to the parking lot from the chalet Sunday after the wind howled all night (thank you Nic for digging us out!). Here’s me for scale. Standing, the drift came to above my waist.