The 2006 year found us all in good health and fairly good cheer. Calving season (while Darlene worked in town) followed by our annual Bull Sale started the year out as normal. For the first time, the sale was held at the ranch which provided the perfect incentive to clean the butler. Only the yearling heifers were artificially inseminated this spring, with the cows turned out to be bred naturally which really cut down on spring cattle work.
Summer was anticipated as being easier than the past, as the alfalfa fields had been reseeded to spring wheat. Consequently, no hay was put up. However with the heat and drought a lot of time was spent checking water for the livestock, and just trying to keep out of the sunshine. Mike and Darlene did make three short trip to the Beartooths for hiking and fishing.
Darlene, Molly and Damian all managed to meet up with Jason and his caving partners again in the Bob Marshall Wilderness for a short horse pack trip in August. Mike cancelled out at the last minute concerned about the fire danger right before harvest. The big storm that lit fires for about 100 miles hit the first night so the decision was probably wise. He had two small fires on our place, and the 100,000 acre fire south of us burned to within 1/2 mile so we were fortunate.
Darlene had an adventurous fall starting the first weekend in October with a trip to Minnesota for a college friends reunion. The following weekend she went to a quilt retreat in Dickinson, ND, came home and then attended tax school in Billings. In early November, she flew to San Diego to celebrate her birthday with her grand daughter, Athena, whose birthday is the same day. She attended Athena's Christening while she was there. Darlene started working in town again at the beginning of October for three days a week, which will go to full time in January.
Mike finally got to go hunting when Darlene got home. Damian, Troy and he spent several days at their favorite elk hunting location on the Montana-Idaho border. They came home with a yearling which was been excellent eating. Deer hunting then continued at home until the close of the season at Thanksgiving.
Jason with his wife Claudia and their one year old daughter, Athena continue to live in San Diego. Jason still works for Qualcomm while continuing his caving activities. He made a trip to Montana this summer but again only to the Bob Marshall Wilderness for a caving trip. The whole family went to Hawaii before that trip and then to Greece in September where they spent a month visiting her family.
Troy has a permanent BLM position in Pocatello, Idaho as an engine module leader in wild land fire fighting. He also has a permanent girlfriend, Ashley, who has just been accepted into the nursing program at Idaho State University beginning in January. They just adopted a "little one," a Yorkshire terrier named Obie who helped Darlene clean the kitchen floor during his stay at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Molly is back in Rifle, Colorado for the second year "trying to teach" 8th grade math in neighboring New Castle. She came home for two months this past summer to help her dad build fence, but they didn't get too far along because of the drought and heat. She was content however with going water skiing three times. This past fall she moved into a townhouse by herself after having enough of roommates; hence, she has to supplement her income by bartending a couple times a week at a local wing and beer place. She coached 8th grade girls volleyball earlier this fall, and in January will coach 7th grade girls basketball. With the snow falling, she is enjoying the ski slopes yet again.
Damian still works with Mike on the ranch while relieving Darlene of most outside work. He did move out of the parents home and has an apartment in Miles City. He acquired a girlfriend and a pickup in late spring. His girlfriend Amber is starting the nursing program at Miles Community College. He is in the process of branching out to do some custom backhoe work. He has joined an "old man's" basketball league for the winter and also hopes to plan co-ed volleyball.
We wish all of you a prosperous new year with a continued appreciation for all our blessings.
Have a Happy Holiday Season
and a Great New Year!