Ted’s essays

Autumn on our homestead

With four days of rain predicted and reasonable certainty that both the summer and the Indian Summer are history, I saw this morning as my last chance to seed the areas my construction projects this year laid bare. I have been trying to buy or borrow a real harrow to work the seeds under cover, but nothing worked out. So I made my own along the lines of cheap, scrappy farm yard stuff. Old boards. Fence scrap. Screws. Chain. Ingenuity. It worked just fine. It has been almost a decade since I sold off my 20-year business, The Gentleman Farmer with tractors, implements, good-will and customer list. Our Bunkhouse homestead demanded a snow plow so I have a Polaris […]

Bunkhouse flowers beginning to bloom

I wandered around our yard snapping photos of the various flowers blessing our yard. I share here for your visual pleasure. I admit that artfully cropped close-ups do give the impression we live in a super garden. The reality is not quite like that.

summer solstice – this year’s longest day

Today is the summer solstice. Celebrate it. Go dance in the sunshine… Or walk… Or play… We are in it, but few know, having been disconnected from nature and the real world. For most of human existence, people knew seasonal cycles from direct experience. They paid attention because summer, winter, spring and fall mattered. Today experts tell them what they need to know, there’s an app for that covers much of their research, and food comes from grocery stores completely disconnected in their minds from farmers, agriculture, seasons and shipping technologies. In our location, today is the longest day of the year. Tonight is the shortest night of the year. The sun will not set over The North Pole […]

Ma Nature to the rescue

With a year-round creek running through our yard we do have a wasp infestation problem. It was overwhelming with nests all over our house, out buildings, just about any structure in our yard, and the barn/shop rafters were full of them. We hired professional big guns to bring some level of balance to the situation. I put out some wasp traps as soon as the insects began to move this spring (that is supposed to get the queens before they start reproducing), but the intended targets just laughed at me. We scheduled a date for the eradicators next month. As much as I dislike chemicals, I like even less being assaulted as I go about my daily business. This week […]

Bitterroot Mother’s Day Tour

Long on my ‘should do’ agenda was to take the old road from Darby to Hamilton. The ONLY route before the “new” highway 93 replaced it… with a primary north-south artery that at several points is lower than the 100-year floodplain. I wanted to familiarize us with the alternate route if that 100-year-flood ever happened our way. Better still, it was a calm, beautiful trip with hardly another car on the road. See for yourself. Oh, but if you are considering relocating from any USofA socialist population center, be warned that the winters here are brutally cold, snow shoveling is overwhelming, the growing season is too short for radishes, throughout the summers forest fires take out most of the homes, […]

planting moon

The moon over Montana will be full on Thursday, March 7th. Bob Cannard, my organic gardening mentor encouraged us to plant on every full moon. He did not touch on whether or not he believed it cosmically favored the plants themselves. His expressed reasoning was that it organized us to do regular plantings whether that was seeds, starts, bare-root, or transplants. Get something started every full moon and you will always have a good garden. From long before there were computers, televisions and electric lights, people on nature-driven cycles have called the first full moon of May, “The Planting Moon”. Whereas in some environments planting and growing year-round is possible, here our growing season is short, but its days […]

dam story

We live on a year-round creek, but upstream of us are people who may lawfully divert as much of the water as they wish… OR let any fraction of the natural flow roll through our yard. It is one thing to accommodate what nature sends our way. It is another thing entirely to be at the downstream end of humans with unknown (likely tenuous) attachments to nature. Last year I had extended access to a backhoe. Among the projects I knocked out was to build a backwater so Beagle Brain (our beagle/lab cross) could no longer sneak out of the vulnerable spot where the containment fence crosses the creek. I even built a fish ladder in case jumping into […]

honeydew

I enjoy my carnivorous plants a heckuva lot more than flypaper, to understate more than a little. The wonderful folks at California Carnivores provide insect control for me year after year. My honeydew from a couple years ago is still among the living – and presumably happy campers in my home. Officially known as drosera capensis, my honeydew is highly photogenic and wonderful for keeping little flying insects in check. Peter D’Amato, founder and principle at California Carnivores told me the little dewdrops at the end of the leaf hairs are ounce-for-ounce the stickiest substance known to man. Once an insect lands on one of these leaves it’s stuck. The leaf then curls up around, and digests the insect parts […]

Montana spring wheelbarrow

Mid-April has given us a number of beautiful warm days that we celebrated with yard puttering. The wheelbarrow left behind from a clean-up project stands as a testament to the variegates Montana can send our way. Four inches of snow on the heels of a Tee-shirt weather week.

pink super moon shot

At 0400 hours (4:00 AM) this morning Scooter (aka: Beagle Brain, BLAB – Beagle Lab cross) bugged me to let her go outside. Experience has taught me to honor those requests. I saw this big, fat moon and remembered this was the night of this year’s largest super moon. So I shot it. I fetched my trusty Canon SX740HS camera with image stabilization and 40x zoom to take a couple of moon shots. It is pretty hard to hold a steady sight picture with a palm-sized camera, on an object 224,865 miles away, moving at a speed of 2,288 miles per hour, during the day. Harder still in the middle of the night when I would just as soon […]

Spring full moon

My organic gardening mentor encouraged us to plant on every full moon. Not so much that it favored the plants themselves, but because it organized us to do regular plantings whether that was seeds, bare-root, or transplants. Get something started every full moon and you will always have a good garden. In Montana that assumes you have a greenhouse. We simply have too much winter cold to allow year-round outdoor plantings. What a blessed place I grew up in where we could. Lovely Nature was unfortunately taken over by lazy minds. Today, March 9th is a full moon. That is my trigger to consider planting something. Other signals from nature: The little budgies have returned to our neighborhood. The glaciers […]

snow season snapshot

I start here with the pretty stuff. This twelve-second video clip is the view out my studio window when the fat, fluffy flakes fly. Regardless of the work it brings to keep the walkways and driveways clear for safe travel, this classic snow falling look is calm and peaceful to watch from a nicely heated home. Next up is a movie of the work portion this recent storm brought me. On prior occasions I was under-dressed for blowing snow. I geared up with mask, goggles, super mittens and, well, I was quickly overheated and had to shed some of what you see in this video. snow blowing from Ted Dunlap on Vimeo. When we took on this new homestead […]