Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31, 2014: Teamwork

Farming is often solitary work, but at times the more the better.  This is especially true if the task at hand is working on a lame, but still very active bovine.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 2014: I Wonder How Many

This is the wood cook stove in the family farm kitchen.  As of this writing, the Old Man still uses it to cook breakfast every morning and keep the coffee hot during the day. Over the span of the 100 plus years this stove has sat here,  I wonder how many pancakes have come off its griddle, or how many eggs have been fried on its surface, or how many quarts of green beans have been canned with its heat.  The numbers would be astronomical.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014: Throw Back

Tucked away in one corner of Conway Feed, it shakes the whole floor.  It's loud, ear drum splitting loud and it belches steam. Unless you know what you are doing, this is not a machine you want to be around when it's running.  The roller mill, a definite throw back to the days of the industrial revolution.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28. 2014: Left Behind

Grass and weeds are slowly engulfing an old fertilizer spreader, left behind, abandoned in the field where it was last used years ago.  This old piece of farm equipment and some rotting barns a mile away are all that remains of a dream gone bust.

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014: 90 Years

My dad, age 92, and his great grandson Cam, age 2.  Bonds 90 years in the making just don't break.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26, 2014: Field Gutted Workhorse

After years of leveling the mountains of the west, one of the workhorses of the Montana Rail Link gives up her parts to keep others moving.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 25, 2014: Rural Canyons

You've heard of urban canyons formed by a city's towering skyscrapers?  Well, there's also rural canyons as well.

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 24, 2014: As the Captians Saw It

Whenever I travel along the Lewis and Clark Trail, I wonder, is this how the Captains first saw it?
The Missouri River at Lombard, Montana.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014: Cutting In

As summer thunderheads gather overhead, an MRL switchman prepares to couple in a helper set for the shove east over Bozeman Hill.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 22, 2014: Ever have one of those days?

Oh shit.......Trainmaster's not gonna be happy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 21, 2014: Everyday's a Picnic

There is nothing more miserable, and often more dangerous than working in a cold, driving rain.  Welcome to railroading in the Washington Cascades, where everyday's a picnic.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014: House Calls

There are still doctors who make daily house calls.  They are known as large animal veterinarians.  Stethoscope to his ears a vet works on a 1660 pound patient suffering from a suspected displaced abomasum.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 19, 2014: Pop Quiz

Question:  How many portals does the Cascade Tunnel have?

Logical Answer:  Two, one at each entrance.

Real Answer:  Four, one at the west entrance, three at the east.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 18, 2014: Stampede Nights

This photo is the result of connecting separate negatives taken of the same train climbing Stampede Pass.  To the right, the train first rounds the horseshoe at the old water tower of Borup.  Looping around behind my position the train passes underneath through Tunnel 4 then continues the climb to the west portal of the Stampede Tunnel.  Give credit for fellow photographer Ross Fotheringham for merging my two negs electronically, (something I only know how to do in the darkroom) into this single view.

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 17, 2014: Railroad Sex Ed

So if anyone were to ask you where baby boxcars come from, now you know.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 16, 2014: Tools of the Trade

An assortment of blocks, a grease gun, a couple of crowbars, a length of drive chain and the handles representing shovels, axes and picks, a few of the tools of farming.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15, 2014: What Would Mullan Think?

For years, this sign straddled the Contential Divide at the summit of Mullan Pass.  I often wondered if Lieutenant John Mullan were alive, what would he think of today's Montana Rail Link, where 4 men can move tens of thousands of tons of merchandise over the route he and his men struggled to construct a crude wagon road.  Would he stand in awe watching 35,000 horses thunder past pulling and shoving 125 cars of coal?  Or would he shrug and say, "let me see them move one wagon across this divide with 4 mules like we did, then I'll be impressed."

With all due respect for the skill required to move a train safely over the pass, in my mind it's a toss up which is the greater achievement.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 14, 2014: Chore Time

A farmer's young daughter carries a bucket of milk in one hand and a smaller pail of grain in the other, preparing to feed the calves.  Peering around the door, a barn cat waits its turn to be fed whatever milk is left-over.  Chore time, where farm kids across the country learned the concepts of husbandry and responsibility.

Every kid should be so lucky.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13, 2014: 85 Years Ago....Yesterday

85 years ago yesterday, the longest snow shed in the United States was opened for revenue service.  Built by the Great Northern Railway, the 8 mile Cascade Tunnel by-passed the old grade up "Avalanche Alley," and the town of Wellington where 20 years earlier nearly 100 people perished in North America's worst snow slide disaster.  Once and for all operating through the heaviest snow zone was eliminated.

These days trains of the BNSF pass through the tunnel at the rate of almost one each hour.  Fun to think;  the commerce of the world is being funneled through this narrow hole drilled through the heart of the Cascade Range.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 12, 2014: The Country Art Scene

On "The Antiques Roadshow" you often see examples of American folk art evaluated for large sums of money.  I don't know if this is folk art, but it sure is an excellent example of American farm art.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11, 2014: The Difference in a Few Inches

Two engines struggle up the last few feet to the summit of Montana's Mullan Pass in a driving rain. Behind them is the Missouri River. When the nose of the lead engine tips over the top and points downhill, it will be headed for the Pacific Ocean. Consider the rain. Two drops leave the clouds simultaneously, one lands an inch east of the divide, bound for the Gulf of Mexico, one lands an inch west, bound for the Pacific. The Great Divide, where two inches turn into 2000 miles.

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10, 2014: Figures of Speech

Have you ever heard or used the old saying, "getting the shitty end of the stick?" On a dairy farm that's not just a figure of speech, it's a way of life.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

January 9, 2014: Having Fun Yet?

Forget the romanticized stereotypes of clean living and lazy afternoons in the shade. Most times farming is hard, dirty work.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January 8, 2014: The Folks

These are my parents. They have been called the greatest generation. They are the last to remember how things were. As they pass that responsibility is handed down to my generation. A job that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January 7, 2014: Small Town, Anywhere

They dot the landscape worldwide. They have the same look, the same feel. Could be one of a million names. It just so happens this one is called Conway.

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6, 2014: Simple Answer

Worried about the quality of your food and where it comes from? Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

January 4, 2014: A Room with a View

The view out the back door of good ol' Conway Feed.

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3, 2014: Tricks of the Trade

There's a trick to stacking feed sacks, be it in a warehouse or on a hand truck. It's illustrated here. Can you spot it?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 2, 2014: One of These Days

Back when I actually made resolutions, getting organized was often on the list.....usually with the "one of these days" rider. A farm office nicely illustrates my degree of success.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 1, 2014: The Salt of the Earth

I could tell you his name, but it doesn't really matter. In fact, I don't have to tell you much of anything about him that this photo doesn't already divulge. He's a farmer, the salt of the earth.