Three quarters of an inch had fallen by the time we checked the rain gauge at seven AM on July 10th. Over the next four hours bursts of heavy rain followed by steady slow showers brought the total for the day up to one and three quarters of an inch. Unbelievable for July on the prairie of central Montana! After weeks of continual work (gardening, fencing, tending to the cows, chickens, and much more), I thoroughly enjoyed lounging on the couch while reading a book and listening to the rain cleanse the world outdoors.
Muddy pools of water now dot the brown landscape, dry and parched from the last few weeks of intense heat. In the afternoon, the sun peeks out for a few hours and we take the horses up to the CRP pasture to check on the cows. We find the herd in the southwest corner, farthest from the creek where the grass hasn’t been grazed as heavily. Huge puddles on the side of the road allow them to linger there eating and drinking all afternoon. My horse rides well. He is recovering from a sprained tendon that I’ve been treating with ice and leg wraps since we moved the bulls to pasture with the cows in May. I am relieved at his smooth gait and apparent lack of pain. We take it easy, walking leisurely across the wide rolling plain. That evening when we head to town for dinner, I am surprised at how quickly the puddles on the driveway have disappeared. The thirsty ground absorbed the rain in a hurry!
The next morning we wake to the sound of more rain on the roof, another tenth of an inch has fallen overnight. The air is cool, mid 50s, and moist. I feel like I am back in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, which can be damp and chilly even in the summer. I emerge from our cabin wearing pants, a sweater and down vest. It’s as though I’ve landed in a different world than where I stood just four days ago, sweltering in shorts and a tank top. The garden is vibrant green and thick with mud. Last week I replanted the cover crop in the fallow portion, having determined that the mammoth red clover just wasn’t getting ahead of the weeds. Now the ryegrass will get a jumpstart on life following the storm. The rain wraps the world in cool, comforting moisture as it soothes my mind and body. I’ve been cranky from the incessant dry heat of late. One storm like this every week or two would do the earth and me a world of good!
Lavina School celebrated its 100-year anniversary this past weekend, complete with a parade through town on Saturday morning. Our friends, Ken and Daphne Kuhlmann, pulled their beautiful old wagon in the parade with their horses, Kit and Cash. They invited me and Bart to be outriders for their wagon. Since I’ve gotten to ride regularly over the past year, I’ve become much more comfortable on horses, and felt ready for my first parade. Luckily, it was a small scale, short parade unlike the bigger affairs that Bart has ridden in down in Billings. Bart and I rode into town from the Coulee, just shy of three miles, in order to calm the horses down so they’d be ready for the noise and commotion of the parade. Bart is riding Whiskey these days and I am on Buddy. Last fall, I rode Whiskey because he was considered the horse least likely to buck. Turns out he is also very smart, and picked up quickly on my inexperience around horses. He pushed my boundaries a few times because he thought he had the upper hand. Several times now I’ve been put on horses deemed the least likely to buck. Usually it turns out they have some other quirk that makes them an interesting ride – such as being a gaited horse or just being downright stubborn. I switched over to Buddy this spring, and it’s made a big difference in my riding. He is a lovable, albeit slow, horse who takes good care of me. We lined up for the parade on Railroad Avenue with Ken, Daphne, and a few other riders on Saturday morning. Railroad Avenue is adjacent to the old railroad right-of-way. This branch of the railroad was abandoned long ago when they decided not to continue with the electrified route over the mountains. Turns out this wasn’t the best decision the railroad could’ve made at the time… but that is a story for another day. While we waited amidst the assorted floats, Bart rode up and down capturing some photos.
Here you can see that Ken and Daphne ride in style!
My friend Annie gave me this beautiful shirt, perfect for a parade. We traveled down Main St. from north to south while the sheriff held up traffic at both ends. It is a unique, historic downtown. At the far end of the photo on the right is the old bank building, and then the Slayton Mercantile with the green awning. This is where the dance and lamb barbeque took place on Friday night. I am usually not a fan of lamb, but Friday night’s marinated lamb kabobs changed my opinion. They were so incredibly tender and tasty that I actually went back for seconds! Just out of the photo on my right is the Adam’s Hotel, once a fashionable destination along the railroad line between Milwaukee and the West Coast. Later in the afternoon we toured the hotel, which has been partially restored. I can only imagine how luxurious it was to stay there on the long train ride west.
I am pleased to say the horses behaved well and the parade went off without a hitch. We stopped by the neighbor’s house on the way home and I led the kids around on Buddy’s back. He really is a gentle, sweet horse.