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zfk55
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
09/03/09 at 08:14:00
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These are the Lost Prairie Chronicles. Storys of the St.Marie children growing up at the Family home in semi-remote Lost Prairie Montana, one room schoolhouse and all.
They were written for my now grown children that they would have a record of their childhood to relate to their own children. I hope they bring back memories of your own.
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #1
I remember how Rosemary and Latigo would wolf down their breakfast, wipe mouths with the backs of their hands and run out the back door in their self-dressed, mismatched clothes....... heading for the back of the place.
Thats where the spring was, near the huge Blue Spruce, out of sight just over the rise near the pasture. Watching them walk home at the end of the day I could only imagine what they had been playing at back there, clothes wet and dirty but with glowing faces I could only envy. How many summers did they do that before the old Blue Spruce and the spring waited in vain for their return.
Now the tall grass returns each year around the spring. Rosemary and Latigo aren't there to keep it trampled down with whatever games they played on the banks.
There are several small Blue Spruce trees growning on the sun side of the old tree now. They're covered with snow this morning, branches sagging with the weight. Winter has returned to Lost Prairie.

I mentioned the spring and the old tree to Lat this morning, and he feigned not remembering those days with Pooh at the spring, but his eyes stayed on mine just a bit too long, and I kinew he did remember. He virtually runs the studio now, but its not hard for me to look at him and still see Pooh and him running out the back door, headed for a serious day at the spring at the back end of the place.

Rosemary looks better these days. She's been removed from being classified as anorexic again. God, how I miss those days when they had nothing more important in their lives than getting up and heading for the spring.

Keep your children close. They're only children for such a short time.

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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #1 - 09/03/09 at 08:14:51
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #2

I don't remember the year. Maybe 1979 or 80, but it doesn't really matter, does it. It was midway through the hunting season and 6 in the morning. I took the 30/30 from the rack and, dressed in a heavy down coat and wearing Sorel boots I stepped out of the back door into the 15 degree air.

The snow was deep and crunched under my feet as I wrapped a woolen scarf around my mouth to temper the cold air I was breathing in. It was going to be a crystal clear day and I didn't really feel like hunting, so I took my pack of dried goodies and walked toward the back fenceline.
We have an abundance of large Blue Spruce around the place, so having crawled through the fence I unrolled my emergency poncho, laid it out and sat on a short log under the low branches of a large Spruce not 20 feet from the fence. I'm sure it wasn't, but it seemed warmer under there.

Funny how odd thoughts go through your head when you're sitting alone under a tree like that. I was thinking of the previous year when I was on the ridge above Lost Prairie doing the same thing......... Sitting under a low tree near a logging road. I had left the truck far below and off the road before walking up the ridge. Now, sitting quietly with my rifle, I could hear low voices coming toward me. Two hunters passed not 40 feet from me and didn't see me at all. Amazing how the human eye seems to see anything moving, but not standing still.
They continued up the logging road and, to my utter amazement, a small doe was following them! This shouldn't be a real surprise as deer are known to walk behind those hunting them, and this little lady was doing just that. I'm sure she was a yearling, but just as smart as any older doe.

She wasn't right on the road, but off to the side. My side. She didn't want her tracks to be seen when they came back down. She came within an easy 10 feet of me and stopped, ears up, well aware that something was there but she couldn't see me. Deer are colorblind and unless you move, they won't see you at all. In this case I was downwind so there wasn't and scent for her to focus on. Its a fact that a deer will stand still, watching hunters move in the distance, but as soon as the movement stops....... they bolt. If they can't see you they will run.

This little lady stood there pitching her ears forward, left, right and sniffing the air, but she still couldn't see me sitting there stock still. I softly spoke a single word.... "hi", and she quivered until I moved my head and she was gone in a flash of scattering snow powder.

I was getting a bit cold sitting there under that tree by the fenceline and I'd just about decided to head back to the house for coffee when I heard a noise up and to my right. A beautiful cow elk came rushing down the hill directly toward me. She stopped not 50 feet from my seat under the tree and began turning in a wide circle.
Crashing down that hillside came a very impressive bull elk! Beautiful rack and all excited as he circled the cow, pushing her with his huge neck. To my utter amazement an elk calf came stumbling down the hillside, running in circles around both the cow and the bull. This is not usual at all. Those youngsters are always gone by this time, but not this one, and he wasn't happy.

Despite the rack and size of that bull I couldn't bring myself to shoot so after watching them for another 5 minutes I crawled out from under the tree, tails went up and the three of them crashed through the jackpines and out of sight. I went into the house and told Lyn what I'd seen, but I'm not sure she believed it. Not a usual ocurrence at all.

The next day we went to town with the kids, and upon returning home I went around the back to unlock the gate and there at an old alfalfa bale were all three of them! Lyn absolutely couldn't believe it. A bull will most always drive a yearling away from a cow, but not this guy.
Looking at the three of them I was very glad I'd not taken that shot.
  
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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #2 - 09/03/09 at 08:18:05
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #3

"Spar Beacon" was a Morgan stud horse. Better yet, he was our Morgan stud stud horse. Gorgeous and exciting under saddle, a deep chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, it took a rider to handle Spar Beacon, but there was a drawback. He came from the Loney Ranch and Lyn had Mischief, one of his daughters. Mischief was a natural pacer and a singlefooter.... A rare combination and we loved riding her.
When I was negotiating the price on Spar Beacon Laurie Loney told me about something I had to do if we were going to keep him. Whoever owned Spar Beacon had to employ a buggywhip to his hindquarters on, or about the first of every month. I stared at Laurie and told him he had to be joking. "Nope. You're going to have to make up your mind to do it if you want to keep him." (I made a mental note to never lay a whip to that stud horse.)
We loaded the Beacon into the trailer and headed home in great spirits. This was a gorgeous animal. Leading him to the barn he danced and came off the ground a few times but that only made him all the more appealing. It was the 25th of April.
The Beacon was given a 1 gallon bucket of molasses oats every morning and then 1/3rd of a bale of Timothy hay. He was in great shape and I couldn't wait to get a saddle on him. I led him out of the barn and tied him off to one of the big "U" rings on the end of a 1,000 gallon propane tank. I tied him there out of pure laziness, not wanting to walk from the barn to the tack room and back again.
At that moment my own saddle horse, Shonkin, walked by in the barnyard. I heard Lyn shout and I spun around to see that the Beacon was upset about Shonk being nearby, but that's not what Lyn was hollering about. Upon a closer look I could see that Beacon had reared up and actually lifted that 1,000 gallon propane tank right off the concrete piers!! The tag lines we used on horses were 1" diameter nylon rope with a heavy steel hasp. Anything lighter would have broken, but I was astounded at the strength of that stud horse. Absolutely amazing.
I did get him saddled and I remembered something else Laurie had told me. The Beacon was a head tosser. Enough so that he had bloodied Laurie's nose more than once until he was rigged with a tie-down.
Stepping on the Beacon was an experience. I tried to get him to line out but he was a natural side stepper. That means he did track a straight line, but at an angle, all the while bowing his neck, snorting, lifting his hooves high and tossing his head against that (damned glad I used it) tie-down. Yep. The Beacon was an exciting ride. Time to unsaddle him and give him a hot rub-down, so I unsaddled him, slipped his bridle (leaving the headstall) and went to the tack room to put up the saddle.
I heard two screams. One was Shonkin and the other was Lyn.
Shonk had walked back into the barnyard and got too close to that stud. Beacon had jerked sideways, snapped that steel snap, grabbed Shonkin by the neck behind the poll and slammed him right to the ground!
Shonkin was 17 hands tall! The Beacon was an average Morgan 15 hands! Incredible!
It took me half an hour to get a rope on the Beacon once I got a very shaken Shonkin out of the barnyard gate. What a day............
Its the morning of the first of May and all of the horses had been given their oats and turned out into the pasture. Time to grain the Beacon. I walked into the barn and toward his stall with the oat bucket, and as I passed behind him he lashed out with the off-side rear hoof! I went to his head and steadied him, stroked him and put his oats in the trough. As I got near his hindquarters he lashed out again! I tested him 3 more times with the same results before I went into the house to call Laurie Loney.
"Didn't pay attention, did ya." he said. You were SERIOUS??? "Dead serious. If you want to keep that horse you're going to have to use that buggy whip on his hindquarters until he stands still and trembles".
I thought *the hell I will*
Three days later and 6 more episodes with the kicking he nearly got me. It was close and as high as my hip. I got the buggywhip. It took some 15 smacks before he did exactly what Loney said he'd do. He stood and trembled. He behaved until the following first of the month when he did the same thing and I couldn't bring myself to whip that horse again, so I sold him back to Loney at a loss.
Lousy start to a spring in Lost Prairie that year, but things were going to get better. Much better.
  
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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #3 - 09/03/09 at 08:18:57
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #4

I'll not be writing about actual hunts here, but a story of my Son, Latigo and his first forage into the woods with me during hunting season many years ago.

It was a cold morning, cold enough to see your breath crystals in the air. I had waited till after daylight on this particular hunt in defernce to my young first timer trudging at my side.
The snow had a brittle crunch to it as we walked toward a way up to a ridge I knew overlooked a deer trail. I had already determined that I wasn't going to take a deer or elk with Latigo on this trip. He was simply too young to understand or witness his first taking of game.
In those early years our income dictated that we take enough game during the hunting season to carry us through the winter. The kids had to be fed, and money wasn't easy to come by back then, but not this time.

Climbing the face of the steep incline toward the ridge, I explained to Lat how important it was to be quiet, and he was as quiet as a churchmouse as we found and sat on a log under the widespread lower branches of a huge Blue Spruce. But then, a whisper...... "Dad! I gotta go!" Ok...... go behind the tree but walk quietly.
Too late I rememberd a habit of Latigo's when using the restroom, and he didn't disappoint me as he unzipped and began humming! Loudly! Oh, well...... It wan't a bonafied hunt anyway, so I simply asked if there was a possiblity he was humming a tune any of the deer or elk within 1/4 of a mile might recognize. His jaw dropped and he stuttered an apolgy, but I let him off the hook.

Lyn always packed munching goodies for my excursions into the woods above Lost Prairie and, with Lat being along, she packed quite a variety of the dried fruits she had put up during the summer. Dried fruits, nuts and hot chocolate in a thermos. Sitting on that log, looking out at the mountainside and the snow what more could one ask?

"Dad?" Yeah? "I'm hungry". Ok, lets see what Ma packed.
I gave him some dried apples, apricots, a handful of almonds and a cup of hot chocolate.

Sitting there, I looked down and, as is not at all unusual, there were some old, dried deer droppings right at the base of the log. I scooped up a dozen or so and asked.........
Hey, Lat. Want some raisins too? "Ok, Dad". I put them into the palm of his hand and waited. As he raised a couple toward his mouth I was ready to stop him when he said.... "Hey! These raisins are awfully cold". He looked at them and realized they weren't raisins at all! "Hey!! This is deer pooh!!"
I laughed at him and explained to him that I now had a pretty good one to hold over his head should I ever need it.

That was the end of our hunt that day, and we didn't see a single deer or elk, but I've always wondered if any of them within earshot had recognized the tune he was humming. "Winnie the Pooh".

  
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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #4 - 09/03/09 at 08:20:29
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #5
I know it was the 5th of July because that's when the first cut of Timothy hay takes place in Lost Prairie. I had been in town that morning and as I came down off the pass and onto the valley floor I could see Mick Rogers out in the pasture of the Loney Ranch fooling around with a hay baler.
I pulled over and slipped through the fence and walked out to see what was up.
He was having a problem with the tensioner on the baler. The tensioneer is that part of the system that pulls the twine tight on the hay fed into the machine. The amount of hay and the tensioner must be balanced to give you a 50 to 80 pound bale with 65 pounds being ideal.
We were just about ready to set up the amount of hay being fed in when I heard a truck coming, but not from the county road. This one was highballing across the pasture right toward us! A brand new white Chevy Crewcab and it literally skidded to a stop right next to the baler, and out stepped Everett Maxwell in all of his white-ery!
Now we all knew the ranch was up for sale, but we hadn't heard about a deal having been made, but there he was. Brand new Levis, a blinding white shirt, a snow white Stetson and brand new Tony Llama snake-skin boots.

He told us his name (without asking ours) and informed us that he was the new owner of the ranch and wouldn't be needing help with the haying.
"I was just setting the tensioner", sez Mick, but Everett interrupted him telling him he knew what he was doing and didn't need advice.
"If you don't set it you'll get 15 to 20 pound bales", sez Mick. "Perfect", sez Everett. "My kids can't lift anything heavier anyway"........ and we both stepped back from the baler as Everett stepped on.
We watched him push pedals and fool with the levers trying to figure out what did what, and eventually he got it moving. We both noticed that the bales feeding back out the shoot were awfully loose, but kept our mouths shut and left. I gave Mick a ride back to the ranch to get his truck and went home.

Two days later I was in town to get a few mineral blocks for the horses and ran into Everett at the Equity Farm Store. I asked how he was coming with the baling and he said "Just fine. The kids are going to load it all this afternoon." I wished him well and went on to visit with Eldon Christianson at his saddle and tack shop. (An interesting story for later)
I headed home a few hours later. Coming down off the pass and across the vally floor I saw a sight I know I'll never see again.

Now the Maxwell family was big. I mean really big. Everett had maybe 6 of his own, but the whole clan lived in that ranch house. Brothers and sisters with their kids and a few cousins thrown in for good measure, and the whole bunch of them were out in that pasture throwing bales on a tractor drawn wagon. I could see those little kids flinging those bales up on the wagon with 1 out of every 4 coming apart! They were leaving the broken bales along side the tractor as they made their way around the pasture. I went home.

The following monday I ran into Everett at the Equity gas station and asked how he was coming with getting his hay in. "Great", he said, "But I had to build a 2x4 framework to keep those stupid bales stacked up. They didn't want to stay together". Discretion...discretion...... I kept quiet and wished him well.

Now a 60 to 80 pound tightly bound bale will shed water in a stack. A 15 to 20 pound bale? Well......... You know what a sponge does when you pour water on it? That following week it rained, and it rained, and it rained.

Two weeks later we saw a double semi loaded with bales headed up the long driveway to the Maxwell Ranch.
But he sure did have a white hat.
  
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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #5 - 09/04/09 at 09:03:05
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #6

Its long been a subject of debate as to exactly what precipitated the exodus of the Maxwell clan from Lost Prairie. My own theory is the few successive events of the summer and fall and the ensuing embarassment, but then again maybe Mother Nature simply kicked them out.

Not long after the Family Haying debacle, Everett decided that the old ranch needed a few horse corrals. The former owner, Laurie Loney, had simply used the 12 stall barn for his horses and the rest of the place was crossfenced for cattle but Everett wanted honest to gosh horse corrals, and so began the setting of the posts.

I wasn't the first to notice, but upon hearing something that defied logic I had to go see for myself. I couldn't quite bring myself to call Everett and ask for an invite to his place because I couldn't come up with a good reason, so I simply got as close as I could on the county road and stopped.
There against the background of the cut pasture were some odd pointy tipped posts sticking up. Everett and his brother and cousins were apparently nailing boards to the outside of those posts.
Wait a minute! "Pointy" posts?? Yep. They had actually put those posts in the ground with the pointed, treated ends up!! Instead of using the post pounder they had used an auger and put the darned things in upside down! They must have seen too many movies about forts! The best part was yet to come.
Those of you who keep horses know the folly of nailing boards to the outside of the posts of a horse corral. Particulary if you keep a stud horse, but these boys must have been more concerned with keeping horses out and not in.
I definitely didn't want to go discuss this with them so I went home and told Lyn about it. I don't think she actually believed me at the time. The next time I saw Everett I did ask how he was doing with his corrals. He glared at me a full 5 seconds before barking "Fine!" at me. Eveidently someone had talked to him. heh............

Maybe a month went by before I saw him again, and this time it was at the Carpenter's Livestock Auction Barn. Lyn and I used to go to those auctions, walk around back in the holding pens and ask a few questions about prosepective horses before we went inside. We'd look for horses that had correctable problems, buy them cheap and, after correcting whatever problem there was, make a few hundred on the turnaround. Most of the time it was correctable behavior problems.
That day Everett had come to town to buy a personal "cowhorse". And he had been talking to somebody.

Someone had convinced him that a true cowhorse was a buckskin. It had to be a buckskin. At that point I didn't know this, but was soon to find out. I told him I'd give him a wave when a good cowhorse came through. There were 3 or 4 decent handling horses in that auction and a friend of mine (Dick Grey, an old cowhand and horse trainer) was there and we'd been discussing a horse for Everett.
Everett paid no attention as we waved at him through three horses, and then..................... yup. A buckskin came through. Beautiful under saddle, one of the Carpenter boys put him through his paces, and he performed flawlessly. Everett was the only bidder, and I'm about to tell you why.
Cash changed hands, the horse was unsaddled, unbridled and a headstall put on him to lead him into the trailer behind that beautiful white crew-cab truck. Everett trailered his prize home, took off the headstall, let him into the large pasture and that's the last time Everett ever set hands on that horse.
The boys at the auction had to throw that horse to get a saddle and bridle on him. Once saddled he was a pussycat, but once loose in the pasture there was no amount of oats that could coax him close enough to get a headstall on him.
We'd see Everett and the others on different occasions out in that pasture with a lead line and a bucket of oats trying to get a hand on that gelding.
Three weeks later two boys from the auction came with horses and roped the buckskin, loaded him in a trailer and away he went. Yup. A real coboy only rides a buckskin.
  
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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #6 - 09/04/09 at 09:08:03
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #7

Fall was upon us before we knew it that year as the Tamaracks turned yellow early and began shedding their nettles. It was time to think about firewood for the winter.
Long ago, before Miss Rosemary blinked her eyes for the first time, Lyn and I cut and split our own Larch, or Tamarack as it's also known in these parts. We'd take the truck into the woods very close to home, drop a huge standing dead tree, cut it into 2' lengths with the old Homelite chainsaw and Lyn would begin tipping them face up.
Swinging a 6 pound split mall...... POW!! One hit on the edge would split that beautiful Larch right in two. Another few hits on the halves, then the quarters and Lyn would begin to load the truck. That's the beauty of standing, dead Larch. Its incredibley straight grained, splits like a dream and burns hot and slow.
A 3' diameter round can be split by a youngster as long as she/he can swing the mall.
There was something about the two of us being alone in the woods cutting and loading our own wood for the winter. If we stopped our own motion it was dead quiet for a few moments, and the silence was so thick you could cut it with a knife, until................. until the angry, scolding chatter of a squirrel assaulted the senses.
Those were indeed, the days. But things and times change. Age catches up wtih you and there comes a time when you have to get younger more flexible bodies to bring in your firewood. I had a young man that was willing to help me, but one day............. early one day, there was a knock at the back door and there, to my utter amazement, stood Everett Maxwell, his brother and both cousins. They informed me that they were cutting firewood and could bring in the rounds for about $45 a cord if I had someone who would split it, and I did.
The following afternoon they showed up with a dumptruck full of Larch! I was astounded at the speed with which they'd found and cut that Larch. Everett hit the hydraulics and the bed tipped up, but as the first round hit the ground with an audible "thud" I suspected what came to be fact.
These boys had cut a live, green tree! I held up my hand to stop Everett from dumping all of the wood and he did stop, asking why.
I stood a round up on end, took my split mall and hit the center of the log with a squelching sound spraying liquid out both sides of the head. He looked at me with a blank stare and I said, "Everett! These rounds are green! They won't burn!" He replied, "Can't you mix them with dry wood?" "No, Everett! You can't! To keep it going you'd have to get that fire so hot you'd burn out your chimney not to mention the incredible buildup of creosote in your chimney! Load it up. We don't have a deal here."
They were angry, but they loaded what had already been dumped back into the truck and sped off.

*Enter Keith Engebretzen.*

Keith Engebretzen is the head of LHC Concrete these days. A very large contractor, but back in the early days he was the Forest Service Manager in charge of the McGregor Lake, Pleasant Valley and Lost Prairie area.
Keith pulled into our place not 5 minutes after the departure of the Maxwell bunch. and asked if I had seen a white dump truck in the past hour or so, and of course I had. Keith was actively hunting those boys, and this is why.

Three hours earlier he had been driving down from Caulx Mountain on the logging road. He said he was looking at the narrow road between the trees ahead but his mind on something else when............... WHAM!!! A 60 foot Larch came crashing down right across the road not 30 feet in front of him! He said his heart was right up in his throat as he jumped out and yelled! He saw a few people running through the trees off to the side and a white dumptruck quickly disappear. Forest Service personnel always carry shovels, buckets and a chainsaw with them in the woods, and it took him some time to cut through the Larch and move it in small pieces off the road enough to get his truck through. Keith was mad. I mean clean through mad. Cutting standing dry Larch requires a Forest Service permit, and cutting a live tree is a quick $2,000.00 fine.
Now it wasn't easy for me to relate my story of the morning to Keith, but I was obliged to do it. No sooner was the last word out of my mouth than Keith spun on his heel and was gone down the road toward the Maxwell place.
  
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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #7 - 09/11/09 at 09:26:11
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #8
During the week I typically rise at 3am to head for town. I get to the studio at 4am to begin working on the artwork and layouts for the day and, during the winter, I load the old firebox before I leave Lost Prairie.
I wake up around the same time on weekends but ususally go back to bed after stoking the firebox. The firebox? well............ for those who don't know, a firebox is the actual working version of a fireplace. Fireplaces are inefficient due to heat loss, but an enclosed steel, freestanding firbox will heat a large home. The point of all this? Well........ there's a story, isn't there.

This old Enan Firebox has seen some 30 winters, and it will take a number of full 2 foot logs inside. It stands in the living room of this 4,400 square foot, 2 level log home. With small transfer fans in the walls and ceiling vents it does heat the entire house during the coldest of winters.

It's glowing warmth has seen a few beloved family puppys learn how to tell us they need to go outside, seen them play with the kids, grow old and pass away. It's constant companions have been Great Danes who, one at a time, stood and slept by it's heat before passing on.
It silently watched the kids grow, watched them play on the big living room floor before it, open Christmas presents, look for their hidden Easter Baskets, celebrate birthdays, shed tears of happiness or sorrow from the occasional sore hind end of disobedience, listened to their excitement about new toys, new relationships, troubles and triumphs in school.
It stood alone, forgotten during the warm weather when the kids played outside but usually had the nightime companionship of the ever-present Great Danes that slept beside it and came and went with age.
Now there's a little Pug snuffling and snorting around it's base, sleeping on the large dog bed next to it sharing the same warmth as the Great Danes before her.
Its still here, crackling and warming the house again this morning with the onset of winter in Lost Prairie. It is, and will remain the Heart of the House.
  
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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #8 - 09/11/09 at 09:30:07
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #9
Latigo LaGeose St.Marie. My son, my pride. The straightest arrow I've ever known, and he's right here in my own family.

Lyn was pregnant. Pregnant and on the verge of giving birth. Her active labour went on for an ending total of 12 days. At first everyone was convinced that "today is the day"... but it wasn't. After the 5th trip to town I made an arrangement with a very old friend and his wife to put Lyn up at their home in town not far from the hospital. With a herd of horses, milk cows and chickens needing tending to on a daily basis I couldn't stay in town with her, so she stayed with the LaGeose's.

Antoine LaGeose... silversmith, engraver, black powder rifleman and buckskinner. Now deceased from a cranial embolism, he and his wife took good care of Lyn and called whenever she was taken back to the birthing center.... that procedure typically being another false alarm. Lyn had a bed in their home comprised of a down-filled mattress and a full blown, cured buffalo hide, much softer than you'd imagine, to cover her.
On "that" day, I had just arrived in town and upon visiting the LaGeose's was told that she had once again been taken to the birthing center. Having become used to the false alarm scenario I drove up to the hospital and went right to the birthing center. Lyn was there in another apparent bout with contractions and I told her I was going down the hall to look at the babies behind the glass in the nursery.

His name was to have been "Justin". Looking at the assorted little critters in the bassinettes I noticed one named "Justin".... then another... and another!! Of all the babies in that nursery there were no less than 5 Justins!!
I went back to the labour room and told her "We can't name him Justin! Ther are 5 of them down in the nursery!" I told her I was going down to the tack shop to buy a new latigo for one of the saddles and would be back soon.
By the time I returned, he was born and she had named him Latigo! Latigo LaGeose St.Marie. His middle name must be obvious by this time and Antoine was indeed honoured.
A "latigo" is the offside billet on a saddle. Its also a type of leather, and his name suits him right down to the ground. I can't imagine him with any other name.
A year after his birth I ran into a guy at the feed store who asked me why we had named him after a comic character. Huh?? What character. "Why, Latigo.......... from the Stan Lynde newspaper strip." We don't get the paper, sez I. Who is he? "He's a nationally syndicated comic columnist with a sunday comic strip. Latigo, Hipshot and Rick O'Shay are his characters and he lives right here in the Flathead!"
Sure enough......... Stan Lynde lived right here in Polson, just south of us by 45 miles. Lyn and I drove down there one sunday, and there right on highway 93 was a large white structure with signs all over the place, naming the characters in his comic strip. He wasn't there, but we were astounded about the names.

Now Latigo has his own son........... Julian Ricochet St.Marie. He changed the spelling so it woldn't sound too Irish. He's told us that if he has another son the middle name will be Hipshot........ and that will complete the circle.
And now you know............ The Rest of the Story.
  
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zfk55
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Re: The Lost Prairie Chronicles, Life in a Not So Long Ago America
Reply #9 - 09/14/09 at 09:32:45
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The Lost Prairie Chronicles #10  Part 1

The time isn't too hard to pin down. Lyn remembers the wildflowers were in the fields and she could still see the snow on Meadow Peak, so it must have been near the end of April. There was new life in Lost Prairie with calves, colts, chicks who were running around in the barnyard. The Barnswallows were in the valley but it was too early for them to begin building their odd, mud nests tucked up under the eaves of the barn. Everything was green and Rosemary was usually outside into everything, everywhere and all at once. At age three, closing on four she was already sitting on her first pony and fearless enough to put her Mother's heart in her throat.

Our stud at that time was a typical stud horse. He tolerated nothing from the geldings and raised a ruckus whenever they got too close to his corral. He had the entire barn and a large corral during the daytime and, after the herd was closed in the barnyard at dusk, he was let out into the pasture through a gate from his corral. He spent his summer nights grazing the green timothy and had access to the barn through his corral should it rain. I don't really remember any of our horses wanting to use the barn for anything other than morning graining. Inclement weather would find them in the jackpines rather than the barn, but then they were Montana horses, not blanket-covered barn-kept horses.

Most stud horses lead a solitary life and he was no exception, but............ he did have a friend, and an odd pair they were. In the barn and in the pasture at night you would see them together. Him pacing or walking, she waddling or running to keep up. She was a two year old goose!.... and they were virtually inseperable. But this one isn't about him or her. Its about Rosemary, Shonkin and the oddest, most heart-stopping incident in our lives.

That morning Rosemary had wolfed down her breakfast and headed for the barnyard. The studhorse had been put in his corral, the horses had been grained and the barnyard gate flung open with the whole herd thundering out into the pasture for a morning run. It was a brisk morning with clear skies over Lost Prairie, and Rosemary was headed for the stocktank to play with her dolls and toy horses. I sort of remember them being called "My Little Pony" or something near that. Odd how little girls in particular are absolutely enchanted with horses, and Rosemary was among the most enchanted of them all.

It was a Saturday morning so I didn't have to go to town. I had done most all of the chores that Lyn would typically do during the week, grain the horses, pitch fresh hay in the barn stalls, gather eggs and fill the stock tank. It was warming up and I went into the house to take a break. I looked out the kitchen window into the barnyard and noticed Shonkin had come back in and was laying on his side in the sun. For those of you who keep horses you know this is a common thing. The rest of the herd was in the pasture somewhere out of sight. I sat in the kitchen with Lyn pouring her tea as I sipped a cup of coffee. As fate would have it I felt the urge and rose to go to the restroom and............ thus began a short series of events neither Lyn nor I will ever forget.

Continued in Part 2
  
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