Sunday, April 25, 2010

April Showers Bring May Flowers!...or not!

How many times have you heard that saying..."April showers bring May flowers." Let's see, last Sunday it was a lovely warm day by the mountains. Today, it is showering but more so in a snowy fashion. Yesterday, the squalls kept coming and going...big fluffy flakes that went right into the ground. April can bring horrible snow storms here by the Rockies or lovely days.

...many years ago when I lived in northern Illinois in the little town of Lake Zurich on April 21, 1967 (my sweet Mom's birthday)...there came some very horrendous weather. The day started out as most April days did it was warm and humid. (The winter of 1966 and early 1967 had been a real doozy! Record snowfalls, sleet/ice storms resulting in no power for a few weeks -- a very bad winter season.) Then along came April 21st as I was saying -- I was working in Barrington at the time, in the afternoon I looked out the window of the office and could see lots of little tornadoes off in the distance jumping up and down across the farm fields. They would hit and debris would scatter then pick up again!

...Everyone was very concerned about the tornadoes. I left work and began my drive home to Lake Zurich somewhere around 4:30 pm. As I was driving down US Highway 12 a short distance from our housing development, I noticed this huge dark black/gray/green mass to the north -- it looked like an upside down top hat and it was moving along -- not in too much of a hurry, but it was moving as a huge mass of darkness. I was headed in the same direction and would have met this dark mass if it had not been for the fact that I remembered my Mother's birthday cake was uptown in Lake Zurich in the bakery. A banana whip cream cake -- one of the best ever! So I turned around and headed to our little town of Lake Zurich, as I came out of the bakery, sirens were going off -- such a sound, rescue vehicles sped by. They were all headed down Rand Road exactly where I was going. What on earth was going on.

I drove to our road into the housing development, Zurich Manor, I did not get far -- I was stopped by deputies -- I explained that I just lived right over there -- right over the hill and my Mom was home alone and I had to get to her. No pleading helped -- I was instructed to go back to Lake Zurich, go to the high school, prove who I was and where I lived and to get a "pass" so I could go into our housing area. I did this, it seemed to take forever to get the "pass".

I finally was able to get to our home -- all was okay, Mom was fine, our home was intact. But just a few blocks away an F-4 tornado had devastated homes, a school and so much more. The tornado was later reported to be 9 miles long and 150 yards wide. It didn't look like a tornado -- it was that awful black mass that I had seen moving ever so steadily into the Manor. There had been 10 rotating super cells in the area that day. Causing horrendous damage to many areas of Illinois and deaths.

If you Google "1967 Lake Zurich Tornado" you can get all the information on that one and the other areas that were hit that day. The clocks had stopped in the buildings at 5:03 pm that day.

I asked my Mom what she heard and felt. She said it was like a group of low flying jets roaring down on her and the neighborhood. She felt this sensation of a vacuum inside the house, like the air had been sucked out and then a big sigh! Then she heard the sirens.

I did not know how much this affected me until many years later as my husband and I were driving through Nebraska. As we were driving, the sky became this gray/green color -- everywhere -- it engulfed us -- I said we are driving into a tornado. No, no said my husband it is only dust flying around from the farm fields. "Dust, my arsh," said I. This is a tornado!

We were now totally inside of the gray/green mass. I kept driving hoping to get out of it soon. We then came out and there was sunshine and rain...and a small town ripped apart by the tornado. People standing around in shock...curtains flying wildly out of windows from walls that did not seem to have anything holding them up. I began to weep, really weep.

From that day on I could not watch a tornado being reported on TV without sobbing. This still effects me to this day.

April was always such a renewing month for me as a young person. It also was my Mom's birthday, April 21st -- My Dad's birthday, April 25th and their wedding anniversary on Dad's birthday -- April 25th.

I have lived here in northern Montana by the Canadian border by Glacier National Park for going on 40 years. I traded the tornadoes for terrorizing winds that roar out of the mountains and rip across the valleys and farm fields. The winds, at first, really terrorized me. We, at first, lived in a very old house. The winds would roar down, slam into the house and windows and then suck back to the mountains only to come back again and again. In the old house I would duct tape the windows because I was afraid they would be taken back to the mountains with the wind. I mean to tell you, I became physically sick when the winds blew like this! Hail is a frequent visitor to our valley. In 1978 a horrific hail storm in August hit our area with hail stones starting very small and growing to the size of big chunks of ice. All the windows in the north side of our little old house were crashed out -- piles of hail were inside piled up high against the wall with the shattered window glass. I couldn't find one of our small sons to get him into a bedroom in the south of the house. I was yelling for him -- I could hear this tiny little voice -- crying, saying "Mom, I am under the bed"...he was already in one of the bedrooms.

My husband had been outside with the milk cows -- he had gone under a hay wagon for protection -- which gave him little.

Weather can be so very beautiful and the next minute be so very destructive. Well, now I must think of happier times and days. What brought all this on were the reports of tornadoes hitting communities across the US today on the Weather Station.

I still weep for all the lost lives and total loss of homes, animals etc.

I hope where ever you are you are safe!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I See Green!!!! Hooray!!!

It is a glorious day here by the Rocky Mountains...65 degrees, blue skies, not much wind...just an all around lovely day.

Don't need a jacket or hoodie...'cause the wind is not howling like it usually does on our windy east side of the mountains.

We had snow last week and it went right into the ground...producing a green glow on our lawn and the surrounding area. We could still get a real doozy of a blizzard but I am in hopes that this is our first day of Spring!

We are calving on our cattle ranch at this time of year. I will have to go "up north" to the calving grounds to get some pictures of the new little calves.

I have a bum calf in our barn down here at the home place that I feed at noon and Marvin feeds in the early morning and evening. We have a Brown Swiss milk cow that gives about four (4) gallons of milk a day -- so having a bum to consume almost a gallon at each feeding helps us to use all the milk. This is the first time the milk cow "came fresh" -- she is just a young first-calf heifer and she lost her calf at birth. The milk cow's name is Jesse and she is very friendly. The barn cats are also enjoying her milk each day. The cats really are not barn cats because they are fed so well, they only grab a mouse or two when they feel like it.

Most of the day, my "barn cats" spend their time on my back deck by the back door lounging on the wooden bench waiting for me to come out and give them a treat. I am very allergic to cats and they cannot be in the house, but I do enjoy them outside. The barn is full of hay and straw and they spend the cold days in there or in the hen house where they stay nice and warm. My cats accompany me on my walks to the hen house, barn, and anywhere else I go. They love to roll in front of me and I am concerned they will trip I have to be careful where I step.

The geese have come back to have their babies and raise them here in our creeks and by the river out back. Ducks are swimming in the creek out the door. I can hear the Sandhill Cranes making that delightful noise that they do as they fly about and land out in our front meadow.

It has been a few days since I have seen any bear -- which is good! I will not walk in the back by the river for a while either.

We are overrun with whitetail deer -- there are probably more than 100 that graze all over us down here by the home place.

I haven't seen the herd of elk that visited a few weeks ago, nor the bull elk that stopped out front on the meadow by the house.

Wishing everyone a great day...........

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Back Yard!

This is part of my "Back Yard". Some have asked how far the Grizzly and her yearling cubs were from me when I took the pictures a week ago. So, I thought I would take a few pictures to show just how close she was to my back yard.

I have taken these two pictures from my back deck on our home. The first picture is where she was walking in the brush (what is left from the beavers removing everything in sight). In the second photo, you can see my lawn and then the little creek and then down into what we call the "old garden". This is where she was when I took the picture of Boo and her and the cubs.

St. Mary River is between the brown brush and the green pine trees.

Today is a cloudy cold day -- it is about 29 degrees. Yesterday was beautiful -- not much wind, lots of sunshine and in the 40's!

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Bears are Out and About!

I was in our home and heard all this barking from our Anatolian dogs outside. I could tell that a bear or bears may be in the area the way they were smelling the air. The wind was blowing very hard, possibly 30 mph at the time coming in from the southwest.

Boo-Boo my young Anatolian was charging towards the haystack to the west and then dashing back.

I went outside to investigate. I saw an adult grizzly then two yearling grizzlies crossing the water to the southwest of my house -- then another grizzly came lumbering down the hill and crossed the creek. I realized that there was a mother and her three cubs -- they are yearling size. They were going down into our old garden area back in the trees.

In one of the pictures you can see Boo barking at them. I was very concerned for Boo's safety and yelled for him to come back. He would come back and charge at them again. Momma did some seem very concerned with his actions at all.

I ran into the house to get my camera and took the following pictures. The bears were about 100 feet or so from me across the little creek that is right outside my back door. I yelled at her a few times and yelled at Boo to come back. She did turn her head but did not seem to be very concerned. The wind was howling and blowing my way -- so my scent was going northeast really fast.

My camera tends to push things away more so than they actually are. We had a group of four male elk right outside our door and my camera made them look as if they were a mile away.

These happenings of bears so very close are the reason I got out of raising sheep those many years ago.

I am wishing everyone a great holiday weekend and safe travels if you are on the roadways.