Merry Christmas

 and Happy

New Year  from

          the Ballenskys  

2007 started by following the yearly pattern of tax season for Darlene and calving for Mike. However in May and early June it deviated by actually raining.  The final rainstorm dumped copious amounts of rain to the south of us and tore out over 16 water gaps in the fences as it tried to reach the Yellowstone River.  That set the pattern of repairing fence in any extra time for the rest of the year and to be continued into 2008.  There has been no significant rain since.

The highlights of the past year seem centered around the kids. Mike and Darlene made the now 5th annual horse pack trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness in July to once again meet up with Jason and his caving partners.  For the second year in a row, the riders were prevented from making the summit with the cavers because of fallen timber on the trail.  Being better prepared than the previous year, almost 30 trees were cut through when it was discovered there were another 80 to clear with everyone exhausted by then.  One of the cavers from Jason's "Tourist Group" wrote an article about the cave which was published in Montana papers.  Here is the link to the Billings Gazette. The picture below is the horseback riders and pack horses coming out.

  The big headline news for 2007 was the engagement of our youngest son Damian to his girlfriend Amber.  The wedding is set for June 28, 2008, and luckily Amber and her family have it almost all planned.  We have been encouraging an elopement, but I'm sure we'll all manage to have a great time.

Mike and Darlene postponed their 30th anniversary trip to Hawaii and instead took three smaller trips from September through December.  They took a weekend and visited Molly and her boyfriend Nick in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. In a short two days they managed to visit Doc Holliday's gravesite, raft the Colorado with Molly guiding, walk to and through the Storm King Mountain fire disaster, tour the Glenwood Caverns where Molly and Nick rode bulls at the Adventure Park, and finally eat at Moe's and drink Moe-ritas!  Two weeks later they flew to San Diego to visit Jason and Athena for the weekend where they went to the San Diego Zoo, the Quail Botanical Gardens, and the Pacific Ocean, (plus different playgrounds in the vicinity).  Then in December they brought 2 inches of rain in four days to Tucson, Arizona. Again meeting up with Jason, they visited the botanical gardens, Tombstone and the OK Corral, the Queen copper mine in Bisbee, the Kartchner Caverns, the Desert Museum, and the Saguaro National Park.  The highlight of that trip was being stopped on the outskirts of Tombstone for driving too slow.  They are definitely ready to do some more traveling.

Winter wheat seeding was completed later than normal while waiting for the fall rains that never materialized, immediately followed by the opening of big game hunting.  They had their Minnesota banking family along with the Vermonters and Californians.  Then Mike could finally leave on his week long horseback elk hunt with Troy in western Montana.  Of course, whitetail hunting at home continued through Thanksgiving.

And life continues as normal!


 Jason brought home our granddaughter from San Diego in mid May and all the other kids also made the trek home to see her. Jason again brought his daughter home for Thanksgiving and once again all the siblings gathered for a family get together.  He continues at Qualcomm and with his caving.

 Troy continues to live in Pocatello, Idaho in his position as an engine module leader in wildland fire fighting.  His girlfriend Ashley and their Yorkshire terrier Obie also live with him.

 After handing in her resignation last spring, Molly reconsidered and decided to continue teaching in Newcastle Colorado for her 3rd year in 8th grade math.  She got a raft guide job on the Colorado for the summer and really enjoyed having an outdoor job that included her daily exercise.

 This past summer Damian took on jobs with the Bobcat while also branching into roofing and cement work.  Mike and he recently purchased a larger backhoe and Damian plans to keep himself busier. He also still works with Mike on the ranch when he's not "Bobcatting".

Have a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Darlene and Mike

2006 Christmas Letter
2005 Christmas Letter
2003 Christmas Letter
2002 Christmas Letter
2001 Christmas Letter