We lived close enough to the Sweetgrass Hills in Montana for my Dad to use them to predict the weather. They also provided a huge expanse for a fertile imagination to grow wild and free. Every coulee in our area of the prairies was a mystery for me to enjoy. Every living creature scraping a living through the dust, the mud, the blizzards and the blue skied “I can see for miles” warm spring days instilled my respect. I loved the prairies and still do. The few miles from our place in Canada across the border to the States held for me lands filled with outlaws, buffalo and ancient peoples all filling my childhood imagination with the magic that only wide open spaces can.
What is that mysterious magnet that keeps me happily stoking the stove and researching what farm critters will eat ticks? What type of chicken will do well against pine martins, weasels, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, occasional wolves, peregrine falcons, great horned owls, huge seagulls, snakes, cold and probably other creatures that I haven’t yet seen? I have lived on farms most of my life and as of today, January 1 of a brand new year, I have no inkling as to what lure keeps me here.
I could catch glimpses of this story as I walked through my dusty little farm; when I went past coulees full of dark moist places scattered with poplars and willow, chokecherries and sagebrush, causing my heart to ache… I wanted to explore that coulee forever. Sorting out the smells while flushing out prairie chickens and partridge. Listening to the wind blow through the fox and coyote smells as a horse snorts scents from his nostrils; I wanted to drink the water from the ever-flowing story well and discover all the moist, fertile grounds hidden in the dry prairie where I lived. So, first we follow the wind…