Green Paint

6/7/2023 by Tricia Kimmel

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve talked, but how things have changed since our last post!  Springtime in Montana is always a combination of blessed respite from winter and mad chaos as everyone tries to get fences fixed, cattle moved, crops seeded, calves branded, gardens planted, yards cleaned up, and repairs made from winter’s harsh hand. 

This year, we in Turner are feeling especially blessed as the weight of a years-long drought has been lifted.  Heavy snow lasted into April, followed by a slow melt and intense runoff that filled reservoirs in the pastures, soaked into the soil, enough to even washed out a few dams.  Spring rains have been consistent, adding even more life to the land.  As my friend Alan put it, “It’s like God painted everything green with a brush.”  Long days and short nights are rewarded with beautiful sunsets and new life.   I joke that we northern Montanans tolerate 10 months of harsh weather just to enjoy these precious two months of heavenly bliss! 

Spring sunset on the ranch

PJ and I are excited to have grass and water enough to be back in the stocker business after a year-long hiatus due to the drought.  After we got through processing and sorting everything, we enjoyed spending time with our gopher hunters from Idaho who also got to help move some of the yearlings out to pasture.  What a fun time we had with Jim and Mike that week! 

Hiding in the stock trailer from the rain

I have made another attempt at a “feral garden”.  Most years, “feral” translates to “weedy”, and this year is no exception as once I planted it, I got so busy with cattle work I couldn’t keep up on the weeding.  Nonetheless, I am determined not to till it any longer since it seems to exacerbate my bindweed issue, so I have implemented a few other methods of weed control that I hope will carry over into future years, including planting a clover/Sainfoin cover crop, and mowing.  We’ll see how this year goes – fingers crossed. 

Using asphalt siding from a previous project in between my rows to keep weeds down

The drought and grasshopper pressure the last few years was also hard on my lawn, so I am applying regenerative practices there as well.  After spreading some seed to the bare areas, I’ve let it grow up a bit and have turned my horses out on it, adding a little more room to their “range” each day.  I did this a few years back and it did help alleviate the dandelion issue I had at that time.  I’ll report back this fall to let you all know how it worked out!

Ruger, Trump, Smokey and Puzzle

Finally, after a crazy run of work, my horse and I took a few days off to attend a Lee Smith Horsemanship Clinic in Big Timber at the Art of the Cowgirl Montana Gathering.  After too many wrecks with too many horses over the years, I felt I needed to sharpen my skills a bit, and this clinic did the trick.  What a fun time meeting other folks from all over the US and Canada.  Our executive assistant, Cora also attended the Gathering, taking in a photography retreat.  I think you’ll be able to tell how much she enjoyed it from the quality of the pictures she will be sharing with you in the future.

Trump and myself in the arena for our workshop with Lee Smith.

We wanted you to know that we have not fallen off the face of the earth, and we’re excited to move forward on our big goals for improving our lands and bringing quality beef to the discerning folks who want good quality, nutritious beef at a fair price.  We hope to see you around this summer!  Don’t forget that we have a special going right now.  If you need to fill your freezer, this is a rare opportunity to get a quarter beef (about 115-125# of beef) at $150 OFF the regular price.  Just let us know or give me or Cora a call to arrange delivery.   Happy Spring, y’all!

One of the photos Cora captured on her retreat

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