You know how the Montana license plates say– Big Sky Country? It’s true. Big. Sky. Impressive big sky. I’ve never seen such a big sky in all my life.
So my daughter and son in law live on 8000 acres stretching from the foothills right up the sides of the Crazies. (The Crazies are so named because of the legend of a crazy woman living there all alone.)
One might think 8000 acres can support a herd of Angus cows 8000 strong. Not so. 8000 acres can support a herd of 200-300 heifers and their calves, plus the bulls and horses. Everything depends upon grass. Green grass and plenty of it. At least the area finally got some rain.
But it’s not just the cattle and the horses I love, it’s the wildlife. You see, ranchers in Montana share their land with many other inhabitants. A lone wolf was spotted just a month ago, although I didn’t see him while I was there. Badgers dig holes that can break a horse’s leg and kill an unsuspecting rider. Badgers are cranky. I avoid them. Golden eagles fly alongside pickup trucks. A fox raises her four kits not 200 yards from the back door of the ranch house. Watching those kits cavort at sunrise and sunset is pure delight.
Antelope, white-tailed deer and mule deer graze alongside the cattle. Elk bugle all day long– there are massive elk herds just above the foothills. The ranch is part of a reserve where the male elk are enormous and carry enormous racks. And yes, there are bears. Black bears and grizzly. My second day there I had to drive my rented Jeep waaaaay up into the mountains to pick up the fencing party after their vehicle broke down. When I reached the end of the passable trail and climbed out of the Jeep to search for them, the first thing I noticed were huge bear tracks. The second thing was a female elk with her calf standing not a hundred feet from me.
Yellowstone is a scant 165 miles from the ranch but who needs to visit Yellowstone when you are living in the midst of such wilderness?