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Snow stories – Pop goes the weasel. December 7, 2012

Filed under: ecology,Musings,wildlife — bisonquest @ 1:41 pm
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Deer mouse tracks

weasel tracks

Weasel tracks

First I saw the weasel tracks – then I saw some deer mouse tracks.


Oh Oh.

Oh Oh.  Weasel tracks on top of mouse tracks.  I bet the weasel was smiling.


Snow stories

Filed under: ecology,Musings,wildlife — bisonquest @ 10:26 am
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After hauling firewood into the house, making fires in each of our outbuildings, plowing roads, slogging through snow to feed the buffs, and sliding across the driveway on ice, some days I have a hard time finding the upside of a snowstorm.  So I take a walk through the meadow covered with a white blanket of snow, watch the white flakes drift to the ground, wrap myself in the hushed silence of a snow filled world, and let the peace of my seemingly empty world envelope me.  Such a peaceful world.

But tracks are all around me – unfolding tales of curiosity and survival, the hunter and the hunted.  They tell of coyotes looking for food, ermine following mice, squirrels scampering from tree to tree, a cottontail scurrying from haystack to chicken house (they know where the food is), dusky grouse nibbling the doug fir buds, even the flight of the great horned owl as her wings sweep the snow.  Activity everywhere I look.  Snow stories.  Reminding me that this isn’t really a peaceful world at all.

One of our resident cottontails who lives by the chicken house.  Safe from coyotes.  Bunnies aren't dumb.

One of our resident cottontails who lives by the chicken house. Safe from coyotes. Bunnies aren’t dumb.


I just love taking walks on the ranch because June 12, 2012

Filed under: Bison Quest camp,ecology,wildlife — bisonquest @ 7:29 am

I see the neatest things.  Last week I forgot to take my camera one day on my walk and stumbled across a newborn fawn.  So this week I’ve been hauling it along.  This western tanager male was busy looking for bugs and very accommodating when I wanted to take his picture!

This guy was in a hurry!


Rainy Day Baby June 8, 2011

Filed under: ecology,wildlife — bisonquest @ 12:56 pm

Today is an “all day rain” type of day and I’m working on the books at the computer.  Coming downstairs to make a cup of tea, I look out my kitchen window and see our “pet” doe walking across the driveway – with her brand new fawn in tow.  She has her fawns in our yard every year.  She even has her own personal guard dog.  Leelee chases coyotes out of the yard, but completely ignores the deer, so it’s a great place to raise a family!

Rainy day baby


It’s a coyote and buffalo morning May 10, 2011

Filed under: ecology,wildlife — bisonquest @ 5:24 pm

Rained all day yesterday – not snow – and that’s something to celebrate.  My walk this morning found a few buttercups scattered around and the pasque flowers have buds.  It’s late for the flowers this year, but we can expect an abundance of them in a few weeks.  I eventually ran into the bison and the moms all looked at me like I was an intruder, grunting to their calves to keep close.  Further on, I watched a coyote trot across the meadow still full of snow, but soft enough that she kept sinking in.  She stopped to do some mousing – jumping into the air and landing front feet first on the mouse, a quick chomp and she was off to find more.  What a great morning!

Coyote video


but the sun was shining and birds were calling – what’s a gal to do? April 17, 2010

Filed under: ecology,wildlife — bisonquest @ 7:07 pm

Yellow Bellied Marmot

I was supposed to be working on our ranch taxes. Yes, I know – I’m late.  I’m always late with taxes.  Extensions were made for people like me.  All the same, I was diligently working on them first thing this morning.  But when I went out to feed the livestock and let out the chickens, I got waylaid.  The sun was shining, a warm southwest breeze was blowing, and I could hear flickers and chickadees and bluebirds and….  I grabbed my camera and mud boots (I said it was a beautiful day, I didn’t say it wasn’t mucky) and just started walking.  I saw the first pasque flower of the year, and startled a flock of blue grouse.  The yellow bellied marmots were out and whistling, the flickers were making their exotic calls, and the bluebirds were courting.  I didn’t get home until lunchtime.  This is what my springs are made of.

Male Bluebird

Blue Grouse


Red Tailed Hawks are back and “nest repairing”. April 13, 2010

Filed under: ecology,wildlife — bisonquest @ 5:13 pm

Ok – despite the fact that we got another 4 inches of snow today (and we didn’t even get rid of all of that last one yet), the red tailed hawk pair is back.  While feeding the buffs, one of them soared over my head carrying sticks to their nest at the east end of the ranch.  The red tails have a couple of nests on the ranch that they alternate their use of (as do many raptors) and this year it looks like they’re going to use their “sidewinder” nest site (we don’t have sidewinders in Montana- the drainage is named for a narrow winding 4 wheel drive road with a steep drop off as it climbs the moutainside.  Those of you who have been here undoubtedly remember it vividly.  It’s an experience.).  Actually, I’m cheating – the pics are from last year -if you look in the nest, you’ll see a chick that won’t be born for a month or two!  I’m so glad to have our “neighbors” coming back – it makes spring seem more real around here!

Red Tailed Hawk

Red tailed Hawk Nest


We’re wasting electricity – turn on the dishwasher! April 8, 2010

Deer and solar panels

Deer and solar panels

It’s a sunny, breezy day here on the ranch, and Craig just came running into the house yelling, “Turn on the dishwasher – wash some clothes – turn on the lights!  We’re wasting electricity.”  Is this an odd sentence to you?  If it is, then it’s obvious that you don’t have solar panels or a wind generator hooked up to your house.  We have both and on sunny, windy days we make TOO much electricity and, if we don’t use it, it has to just be dissipated.  We aren’t hooked up to “the grid” so we can’t “sell” the power back to the power company – we have to just let it go. We’re looking into getting an electric vehicle of some sort so we can use this extra electricity.  Days like today, we just look at each other and say, “why doesn’t everyone do this?”  I guess it just makes too much sense in a country where everyone is used to relying on big corporations to take care of them.


“Earth Hour” at Bison Quest is year round! March 27, 2010

Filed under: About Us,ecology,wildlife — bisonquest @ 7:23 am

Our deer and our solar panels get along just fine!

I mean, what's not to like?

Today World Wildlife Fund is promoting the idea of “Earth Hour” -a call for action on climate change by asking for everyone to turn off their lights for one hour tonight (even the Las Vegas Strip is going dark!) and not use energy coming from climate impacting sources.  As individuals who believe in clean energy, I think it is up to us to take personal action as well as legislative. We run our entire home off of wind and solar and it’s not hard, complicated or more expensive in the long run. We need to learn to think along the lines of energy independence, not just from foreign oil, but from big energy corporations as well. Put thousands of solar panels up in the desert and you destroy thousands of acres of wildlife habitat. Put thousands of solar panels on thousands of homes and you have energy independence!  One of the misconceptions of solar and wind as “clean” energy, is that they aren’t damaging to the environment.  While the individual structures are pretty benign, when you put up thousands over 40 square miles, that makes one heck of an impact.    And they are often hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles from where the electricity is going to be used.  I realize that some of these projects are inevitable, but we could drastically downsize them if we could just get individuals to realize that we don’t HAVE to have a big energy corporation sell all of our energy to us.  We can make our own!


Yellowstone Grizzly bears and Black bears and more grizzly bears and black bears July 10, 2009

Filed under: wildlife — bisonquest @ 6:09 pm

We just returned from Yellowstone National Park where we had the pleasure of escorting some of our guests.  One of our guests was willing to get up early in the morning and go on a wildlife safari with us to see what we could find.  And look at the treat we stumbled upon!  Although we usually can find grizzlies, we can’t always find them so accommodating.  This fella was busy digging up roots and we had a blast watching him for about an hour.  After he left, we went a little further to find a young black bear eating flowers.  When we returned to the hotel to pick up the rest of our guests, they kidded us saying, “Ok, now find us a couple of bears during “decent” hours.”  And you know what was really amazing – we did (we won’t tell anyone that it was totally by accident, of course)!

Grizzly digging for roots

Grizzly digging for roots

Black Bear youngster enjoying a flower salad

Black Bear youngster enjoying a flower salad


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