from the Ballenskys

    Damian marries Amber                  

The event of 2008 was the wedding of Damian and Amber Harn on June 28th.  It was held in Miles City with the rehearsal supper at the ranch.  The weather was beautiful and a wonderful time had by all including all of Damian's and Amber's siblings except for Troy who was in New Mexico fighting fires.  Damian and Amber then went on a honeymoon to Glacier Park where the Going to the Sun road just opened in time for them.  After the wedding Damian and Amber moved a mobile home to the ranch and are living there.

Life on the Farm

Work was behind schedule all summer because of the cool May and June.  The winter wheat crop which had started so poorly with the lack of fall rains and winter snow improved greatly with the seven inches of rain in May and June and crops were better than expected.

The Travels of 

                      Mike & Darlene                 

At the conclusion of calving and tax season Mike and Darlene flew to Phoenix, rented a car, ate Mexican food, and explored some of northern Arizona  They toured Montezuma's Castle before heading to the red cliffs of Sedona.  They did a couple of short hikes there, ate Mexican food, and then headed north to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.  After spending a day at all the Canyon viewing points they set off early the next morning on the Grandview Trail, a recommendation from Jason. The Grandview trail is a very steep 6-1/2 mile hike to Horseshoe Mesa.  On the Mesa they viewed old mines, explored a cave and even visited with another hiker from Montana. The following days with muscles too sore to hike anymore, they journeyed back to Phoenix visiting the Wupatki Indian formations, Sunset Crater, Tonto Natural Bridge, ate Mexican food and even followed a very scenic unpaved section of the old Apache Trail to the Lost Dutchman mine just west of Phoenix. 

Mike and Darlene finally made it back to Pocatello in September after two years to visit Troy and Ashley.  While there they did a short hike, bathed in the hot springs. and ate Mexican food.

At the beginning of October Darlene flew to Minneapolis for a weekend visit with her college friends.

In November Mike went elk hunting.  He had drawn a bull elk tag in the Missouri Breaks and planned to hunt for a while.  Inclement weather drove him home the first time, but upon returning later the weather still prevented him from any serious hunting.  He didn't return empty handed though; just with a smaller animal then he wanted.  Deer hunting continued at home with all of the family through Thanksgiving.

   The Lives

 of  the Kids          

 Jason visited Montana three times in 2008 from San Diego.  He and his daughter Athena came for Damian's wedding, he spent two weeks in the Bob Marshall Wilderness hiking and looking for new caves, and he and Athena came for Thanksgiving.  Otherwise he spent many weekends in the Grand Canyon where he continues to find more caves including the largest one now discovered in that area. He's working at Qualcomm when he is not recreating.

 Troy became engaged to his girlfriend Ashley Marsh on July 11th and their wedding is planned for September 19, 2009 in Idaho Falls. They live in Pocatello, Idaho where he is a BLM wildland fire fighter.  His girlfriend Ashley and their Yorkshire terrier Obie also live with him.  Ashley is in her last year of nursing school.

 Molly handed in her teaching resignation last spring after three years in Newcastle, CO as their 8th grade math teacher. For the summer, she was a raft guide on the Colorado River at Glenwood Springs for the second year.  When that ended in September she joined a custom harvest crew in Kansas where she got to experience combing corn and beans. For the winter she is working at Aspen.

 Damian's bobcat business kept him very busy during the summer when he wasn't into wedding plans and helping Mike on the ranch.  For the winter he plans to drive truck hauling grain and calves.  His wife Amber continues to attend school and work as a CNA in extended care.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Darlene and Mike

2007 Christmas Letter
2006 Christmas Letter
2005 Christmas Letter
2003 Christmas Letter
2002 Christmas Letter
2001 Christmas Letter