Scenes from the Ranch: April 23 and May 13

Farming has begun with a four-up team. Jack and Jill are joined by Maggie and Delilah for field preparations before we plant cover crops.

Bear relaxes in the evening light. We are all enjoying a weekend full of sunshine and warmer weather. The snow squall and strong winds of Wednesday seem like a distant memory.

On my way back home from a stroll with Maverick, I saw a Cooper’s hawk catch a bird. It was sudden and swift. I went back to the site later and found a pile of beautiful partridge feathers.

On that same stroll I found a rodent skull amidst the new growth of spring. It had been picked clean, but was still fresh. The contrast between the still-red skull and the new green grass was stunning.

After a short jaunt down to Texas and Colorado to visit family at the end of April, I returned to a warmer and greener Montana. The wildflowers are starting to pop! First up is always the diminutive spiny phlox. Prairie golden bean is leafing out and should be in full bloom soon (photos to come with the next Scenes).

We held our annual branding on May 6 and couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning or a better crew. All went smoothly and some new folks continued learning how to rope with us again this year. I’m very grateful for our community of helpers.

Every spring, a few of our Arcana heritage breed hens get broody and won’t leave the nest. We don’t have a rooster and our eggs have no chance of hatching, so I usually try to break them of the broody habit. But this year I wanted to get some more chicks and decided to let these two hens help out. Our neighbors have fertile eggs so I swapped 18 of our eggs with them. If all goes well, chicks should hatch by the end of May.

Yesterday we spent several hours by the Musselshell River getting our irrigation pump ready for the summer. Maverick patiently lounged on the shores of the river watching us work. There is more water in Deadman’s Basin than last year, and we should be able to get more onto the field if all goes smoothly. Still hoping for a wet, rainy May to give us a jump start though!

Published by Heather Bilden

I live in Montana with my husband Bart. I enjoy working in the garden, taking care of the animals, and exploring the prairie with my dogs, my binoculars, and a reverence for the natural world.

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