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Old 03-13-2013, 08:52 AM
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Heart, I forgot to ask, what didn't you like about Polson? I've traveled through and found it lovely but not a place to live in terms of landscape that really attracts me like Boze/Living/Big T. Also, was it windy in Big Timber when you were there? Winter? Summer?
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Old 03-13-2013, 09:20 AM
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We stopped at the Fort on way by Big Timber on Monday & it was as calm as it gets there with breeze of about 15 mph. I remember commenting about how glad I was we did not live where the wind blew as I grabbed my ski jacket.
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Old 03-13-2013, 09:34 AM
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Yikes. 55 mph gusts. But that 61 degree temp looks good.

Big Timber: March 13, 2013


Partly cloudy. High of 61F. Windy. Winds from the SW at 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 55 mph.
Wednesday Night

Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 39F. Windy. Winds from the SW at 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 35 mph.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:52 AM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
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Longing, as long as you are looking and not buying yet, I may have some options for you to look at.

The Shields Valley is 5 miles east of Livingston and runs north along Hwy 89 to White Sulphur Springs.

Clyde Park and Wilsall are the 2 main towns, both very small, under 500 each.

The land is more fertile and as they are on the west side of the Crazy Mountains instead of the east side like Big Timber, they get more moisture as the clouds pile up on the windward side of the mountains.

They don't get as much wind as Livingston and Big Timber because they are away from the Yellowstone River Valley and off to the side of most of the higher speed winds. It can still be windy, but rarely the blasts that occur along the river.

Because of the increased moisture and lower wind speeds, the ground will handle more cows per acre, you could probably lower my rule of thumb estimate to about 10 acres per cow calf pair for most of the area. Both sides of the valley have some excellent grazing/crop land, but it seems the west side is a little more productive, (just a personal opinion).

Clyde Park is only about 20 miles from Livingston, Wilsall is five miles further north.

Nice little communities, limited ammeneties, but a nice school, and Clyde Park has an excellent little cafe attached to the Clyde Park Tavern.

If you found a place in that area, you would have most of the benefits of living in the Big Timber/Livingston area, without the winds, but you would be further from the hospitals at Big Timber and Livingston, but still close enough to be practical.

They have active 4H clubs, the Shields River and lots of small streams for fishing, an excellent area for hunting and wild game, good community spirit, might be a place to check out when you visit.

My wife just called me and we are on the waiting list for a good old time Scotch Collie female from an excellent breeder in Michigan.
We already have a good male, so in a couple of years when the female is old enough, we will try for a litter of pups. Both sides of the family are from working dogs, so we should have some really good animals coming up.

We don't plan on being a commercial breeder, but if it pans out and we can establish a line of good working dogs, (both parents will be registered animals), we may sell a couple if someone wants them.

My family line does have some Scottish heritage, but we are very pragmatic and use what works the best for us.
That is why we have Highland cattle, (diesease resistant, easy keepers, weather tolerant) Scotch Collies, (good herd dogs/guard dogs/loyal/handle bad weather well), and Belgian Draft horses, (extremely strong, easy to train, intelligent and docile).
If we were sticking with the Scottish theme, we would have went with Clydsdales
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Old 03-13-2013, 09:58 PM
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Well you must have read my mind today as we were downloading all of the USGS topo maps and scouring the whole region looking up and down the valleys to see if there were perhaps more sheltered and even lower areas. Much to my disappointment all were higher than Big Timber. Clyde Park and Wilsall both 4896 and 5090 respectively. Too high for right now for us. I used to travel up 89 on my way to Canada from Billings and I love the Shields Valley. Those towns are unfortunately too high and too far from the hospitals for us. If it was up to me and there weren't those considerations I'd leap at the chance to live up there. They are prob a bit too remote and small for my teenager though.

The school in Big Timber is going to be hard to beat. We backtracked to Belgrade, Manhattan, etc. where the elevation is closer to 4000 like Big Timber and the schools seem to be pretty lacking. Not the best reviews. Nothing we saw today can compare to the Sweet Grass High School. There is so much parental involvement and community investment and the size cannot be beat. But the wind.

What about east of Big Timber? I would imagine it continues to dry out (not as good grazing land though) as you head toward Columbus. Perhaps ten miles east of Big Timber. At what point do the winds begin to die down as you leave Big Timber?

I think it's a great idea to get into small time breeding. There certainly is a need and definitely a demand for these rare and good farm dogs. I perused some of the forums and it seems these dogs are few and far between as the collie, rough in particular, is as you mentioned, bred more for show now with pointy snouts and small eyes. Most importantly lacking the herding abilities that had been bred into them over the centuries. Gone are the large almond shaped eyes. Dark and liquid like their forebears. I did notice this in the photos. What is missing on these websites is a good collection of photos of what these good farm dogs actually look like and images of them herding or even videos. There are vids on youtube but not many. You might consider videoing your dogs in action. Do you have any photos of your dogs? Any pictures of your father's rough collie who passed away? I think you would be very successful in the breeding/selling of a small selection of these dogs.

Clydesdales? They come from Scotland? That gave me a chuckle. I got to see the Anheuser Busch Clydesdales when they came into our town when I was a child. I still have the photo of my small foot next to the hoof of one of those giants. Remember the song as the horses trotted in all in perfect livery?

'Here comes the king, here comes beer number one (Here comes the king)
Budweiser Beer -- the king is second to none...
The king is coming, just hear the call,
When you say Bud, you've said it all,
When you say Bud, you've said it all
Ya da da da da da da da da da da....'

Makes me laugh thinking how we belted out that song as little kids not having any idea what we were actually singing about!
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Old 03-14-2013, 07:57 AM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
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There isn't much east of Big Timber until you hit Columbus. ReedPoint, famous for the annual sheep drive, is a pretty small place, and you would still be quite a ways from the hospital.
Greycliff is a nice area, but except for the prarie dog town state park, is pretty much just a wide spot in the road.

There are a lot of little sheltered valleys or draws around Big Timber, some areas that are in a wind shadow as well. You just have to look to see what is available and talk to the neighbors.

I like Springdale myself. Small, (less than 100 population), right on the Yellowstone, Great people, Good farm land. It is about 13 miles west of Big Timber, about 16+/- east of Livingston.
Pretty much anywhere that is on an exposed bluff or in an east/west valley will get the wind along the river.

My parents live 5 miles north of Big Timber and their place is on the bluffs, so they get any wind that hits the area. Kind of a double edged sword because on one hand, it is tough to plant crops as the wind really attacks plowed soil, and it blows snow in the roads too.
On the other hand, It picks up snow from miles away and drifts it into some of our gullies in mini glaciers that take well into May to melt and give us stock water, and if the wind hits right, blows the roads clear of snow Just luck of the draw which one you get.

The peacocks are funny with the wind. If it is blowing hard they don't like to come out of the shed, but if they are out when the wind hits they will point their beaks into it and streamline themselves so they don't get blown away. They look like decorations on old time weather vanes when they are on the roof of a barn or shed, pointing into the wind with those long feathers streaming out behind them

The old time Scotch Collies almost became extinct due to the specialization of breeds and rural populations moving to the cities for jobs after WWII.

There are some out there, and a very dedicated group of people trying to rebuild the breed as a working stock dog.

I have some pictures, I just have trouble figuring out how to post from my files to this board.

BIG TIMBER: wind, ticks, mosquitoes, drugs, etc.-old-shep.png

Lets see if that works. OK, very small but if you click on it it isn't too bad. He was playing with my wife and has his front down and butt in the air. I have to snicker everytime I hear her yell at him, "Stop herding me! I am not a cow!!"
He can't help himself.
He does have the larger eyes and shorter nose, shorter build of the true Scotch Collie, and definately the herding instincts too.
He's a born farm dog.

If it does, that is a picture of our new dog Shep. He is about 8 months old.

Yes, Clydsdales come from Scotland, named for the River Clyde. We have had a couple, nice horses, but the Belgians work better for us.

Good Luck
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:13 AM
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This site has an elevation map of Montana. Sometimes people are surprised to learn Libby in the Northwest corner has the lowest elevation. Did you discard the Thompson Falls area for some reason?

Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed

Last edited by Yac; 01-15-2014 at 07:31 AM..
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Old 03-14-2013, 08:24 PM
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Now that is a dog! Wow. He is beautiful with perfect, symmetrical markings. What a find he is. I am sure the female will be beautiful and they will have gorgeous pups together, not to mention pups with brains and farm dog instinct intact. It seems you are off to a good start. Very funny how he herds your wife. How does he do with the highlanders? He will be even more beautiful as he reaches maturity. You have a keeper there.

When does the sheep drive take place. I would imagine their dogs are right there as well. That must be a sight to see. I have always heard about it but never managed to get over there and cannot remember when it happens. We were very intrigued by your mention of the Clydesdales and Belgians. Did I understand your post correctly that you have 2 clydesdales? What do you do with them? Do they actually plow for you? Clydesdales are known for being very gentle. Are yours gentle. Belgians too are supposed to be very gentle.

The peacocks are comical. I do hope we can acquire a few. I would love for my son to experience them. You really must write a book MtSilvertip. You have a very interesting life and your posts are like reading pages out of a book about genuine Montana living. A forgotten way of life. Your stories are the real deal. The real Montana. We appreciate them so much.

Historyfan, I thought I'd responded to your suggestion regarding Thompson Falls. It's simply too far from Bozeman/Living/Billings. We have family in Billings area. Also the PNW weather is also a factor. It's lovely though. I have driven through though many years ago.

I am certainly having difficulty finding even one rental in the Livingston/Big Timber area. Plenty in Bozeman but too high (elevation) for us even for a short period of time. Would prefer not to be in Livingston at all for more than a few hours at a time as it too is too near the red flag mark for my son: 4500 feet. So I am not quite sure what we will do. If we have to hole up in Billings (3124 ft and many rentals) for a short while that won't be the end of the world. We can acclimate while there and still continue to look for property as it is still very close to Big Timber.

I think you called it correctly MtSilvertip that we will have to talk to people. Look around. Search for those sheltered areas once there. There isn't a lot for sale in Big Timber but we have seen some pretty parcels. It was blowing at around 15 mph today and my son said, well it's pretty windy today, I can handle this. I chuckled and said, oh this is not windy, this is merely the earth softly breathing compared to Big Timber. We will have to make like the peacocks and turn ourselves accordingly so our feathers don't get ruffled.
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Old 03-14-2013, 08:29 PM
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Historyfan I forgot to thank you for the map! We really made use of it today. I think however that we are out of options. We've decided upon Big Timber and if it is too high we will try Billings again while he acclimates. Look for property in Big T. etc. We really love the eastern plains. The dryness. The sunshine. But not the wind that comes with the dry and sun. You can't have it all of course. Many benefits to the wind...mozzies are chased away. If we could just find a place with a bit more shelter I think we could manage.

Thank you again for the map!
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:28 AM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,877 posts, read 5,745,002 times
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I think the sheep drive is in September if I remember right. I haven't been down there in a few years for it, but for a small town they really have a blowout

Street dance, farmers market, big BBQ including pitchfork fondue, lots of fun
It was only a couple of years ago that they had the sheep all in one herd held outside of town waiting for the drive, and the night before the wolves hit and scattered sheep all over the place so the drive was only a few dozen that they could catch.
Yes, there are working Border Collies handling the sheep.

Most of the small towns have heritage days of one name or another.

Shep is pretty good with the Highlanders, but he is still learning, hence the scab on his nose the other day

He works hard to keep them back away from the house and really has the herder instinct. The cows put up with him. They will only take just so much nonsense, and they straighen him out about how many liberties he can take. No major confrontations yet, but they seem to cohabitate pretty well.

We have Belgian horses, and yes we use them as draft stock pulling wagons and plows, mowers etc. Mostly we use them in the timber skidding logs.
The Belgians seem to be a little calmer in the timber than Clydes. Clydes are good horses for open country, but the ones we had weren't real graceful and fall over downed timber and hook logs on trees more often thant the Belgians.

Both are good horses, we just prefer Belgians.

For rentals in Big Timber, look at the Big Timber Pioneer, the local paper. SmallTownPapers - The Big Timber Pioneer, Big Timber Montana

The last time I was down there in January I saw a couple of for rent yardsigns in town. A lot depends on how well the mine is doing and the number of miners that rent in town that determines how may places are available.
Or there are a couple of realtors in town that might handle rentals.

Big Timber has all the amenities, but is a few years behind on social media like Craig's list so you probably won't find much that way.
BIG TIMBER: wind, ticks, mosquitoes, drugs, etc.-sweet-bessie.png

This is my lead cow, Sweet Bessie.
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