Blind Jack, and Other Local History

Went out with an old rancher yesterday to check out some abandoned mines on his place. I knew his ranch was the longest owned by the same family in Montana, I didn’t know his great, great, great, great grandfather was a fur trapper here in 1790 (talk about local.) I also heard the story about Blind Jack and his two old maid, school teacher, sisters who homesteaded and grew wheat near Rock Creek. A story about the guy who pulled 1000 ounces of gold supposedly out of a hole no bigger than a truck. A guy by the name of Bell who lived on what is now part of the ranch and would bring all kinds of placer gold to town every so often but died suddenly with the secret of where he was getting it, and all kinds of other great stories.

Published in: on October 20, 2010 at 11:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Unrecognized Socialism

I received this Email from a fellow firefighter friend:

Rick Moran

A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning.

Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.

The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck.

This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn’t put it out. It wasn’t until that fire spread to a neighbor’s property, that anyone would respond.

Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.

“I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,” said Gene Cranick.

Bottom line: the firefighters were there and they should have put the fire out. Standing by and doing nothing was cruel.

Daniel Foster at National Review discusses some of the issues, including the moral dimension but this is really a simple matter; there are some things government should do and one of them is creating and maintaining a fire department. Voluntary participation in a fire district is stupid and self defeating. The man whose house burned down shouldn’t have been billed; he should have been taxed. And if the town didn’t have the ability to tax him, then the state, or the county, or the township should do so and pass on the money to the fire district.

Libertarianism is a fine thing – until you’re being raped or your house burns down. Then it becomes clear that there are limits to voluntary participation in government.

The following is my Rant… I mean reply.

Until just recently(last 100 years), this was the way all departments were setup. It was the precursor of fire insurance. Beats the shit out of the property tax screwing we now have. The current scheme is nothing more or less than socialism. Why should I have to pay for the equipment and staff necessary to fight the fire at a neighbor’s home because they haven’t taken the safety precautions I have.

Where I use to live some neighbors refused to cut the pretty trees near their homes, in some cases these idiots would build a wood deck AROUND a tree. On the other hand, I created hundreds of feet of defensible space. When the Missionary ridge fire came raging through, most of my neighbor’s homes were lost, but mine wasn’t. However the firefighters wasted thousands of man hours and dollars trying to save these homes that stupid choices selected to burn.

Where we currently live I have cut ACRES of defensible space around our home, I spent big bucks for top-of-the-line electrical equipment, installed my own private high volume pressurized fire hydrant, lightning rod, grounded chimneys, and other common sense fire precautions. I refuse to expect someone else to pay for my own laziness, cheapness or stupidity.

Harsh Realities of Non-Citified Life

I stole this title from a forum I belong to, but it really fits my experiences today. I’ve gotten use to not being able to get things like auto parts quickly and reliably, such as the water pump I need for my wife’s truck. Luckily I was never the type of person who required Prosciutto, sushi or Thai food on a short basis. Things like that (the water pump, not the Prosciutto) I pick up on one of our town trips we take about every month. However, today during my fall plow checks I found out I need about a quart of 90W gear oil for The Kaiser’s transmission, and I also needed four quick links to lengthen a pair of chains for my wife’s truck. Our local auto mechanic was out, the only convenience station doesn’t carry it, nor does the grocery store. I will check the hardware store but I’m not holding my breath, they don’t even have the right size quick link, I know this because the quick links I bought yesterday, for the Dodge were the only ones anywhere near that size.

Just another aspect anyone considering moving to a very small town should consider.

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 8:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Man Cave

The man cave I built over ten years ago, commonly called the “Man Shack”, “Shop” or “Poker Shed” (sometimes bastardized to Poke Her Shed) will be mine again soon.

I let my new neighbor stay in it (he only slept in it and spent all the rest of his time in our house) over the winter. I went down today to do one of my winter projects that I usually do on “shop night” and couldn’t even find my “shop night project box”…..but I’ll get it set back up soon. I didn’t realize how much my sanity relied upon those 120 square feet of my space until I didn’t have access to them this winter.

Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm  Comments (3)  
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A friend of mine once told me a person doesn’t really qualify as a Montanan until they’ve got twenty winters under their belt. He said there was a fifty percent reduction if those winters were spent in what we call “West Dakota” or “The Flats”. I’ve traveled though that area twice and I’d have to say I agree with him. I’ve considered petitioning for a reduction for myself since we live off-grid on the side of a mountain. I haven’t because I doubt that would impress a man who lives off-grid in a seven by seven foot shack. People up here are a tough bunch. My favorite bartender here spent her first two winters in a wall tent. It doesn’t take long for a person to learn to tell the difference between a real Montanan and someone who just has a summer place. A real Montanan will look you in the eye and not rush anything while you talk with them. They don’t use wishy-washy phrases like “I believe” or “I think” or “I hope”. This is a land of absolutes. Hoping doesn’t save the life of a stuck calf at 3:00AM on a subzero February morning. A real Montanan doesn’t “think” a tree will fall in a direction that won’t kill those men sawing around him; he knows. A real Montana doesn’t “believe” the elk will be bedding down during a blizzard, he knows because he’s spent the time to learn the ways of this country, and this country won’t accept excuses.

I have lived here in Montana for five years. I wasn’t lucky enough to have been born here but at least I was lucky enough to have been born in the Rocky Mountains. I came from what I thought of as the sparsely populated corner of Colorado. I didn’t really understand what sparsely populated meant until I got here. There are places here that a person looking hard will get eyestrain before they find any people.

“The Last Best Place” is a phrase often used to describe this state. Some people will add “to Hide” to that also. We have a reputation for having “unusual” people here. I never met Ted Kaczynski or “Uncle Teddy” as he’s called up here, but I know people who have. The same goes for the Trochmanns who founded The Militia of Montana. I never met Elizabeth Clare Prophet, or any of The Freemen but I understand how all these people came to call Montana home.

Ever since people formed clans and tribes there have always been those of us who haven’t belonged. Until recently this wasn’t problem. We would just strike out for “parts unknown” maybe after flipping a bird in the direction we left behind. The places beyond the edge of the maps were where we couldn’t be found. We embodied the wilderness we called home and it shaped us at least as much as we shaped it.

There are no places left for a person to disappear to in this modern world. I fanaticize about a day that private colony ships can leave for astral bodies but I doubt I will live to see it. Those of us stuck here have to make do the best we can. We are, generally speaking, peaceful people who just want to be left alone. If given the option we will relocate to find what we seek before attempting to force our views on others. This just makes sense because having others views forced on us is what we are trying to escape.

Montana is one of the few States left in this union that still has a remnant of the freedom to be different this country was founded on. Our politics and laws reflect this sense of freedom; we have waged more state sovereignty battles than any other state. We have drafted a secession bill, twice, we said “hell no” to the national I.D. plan, we were the first state to declared we could make any firearms we want no matter what the federal government thought, we were the only state to abolish speed limits, anybody can conceal carry without a permit in over ninety nine percent of the state, we told the feds we wouldn’t enforce any laws contrary to our medical marijuana law, our open contain law is a zero point/fifty dollar fine that can be paid on the side of the road while you’re still holding your beer as long as you aren’t drunk, every citizen in this state is issued a de-facto license to have guns within the federal gun free school zones outside of schools, and I know there are even more pro-freedom laws that I’m forgetting.

I like to envision the population of this country like the wine in a brandy distiller’s equipment: the more volatile elements are released as the federal government turns up the heat and we all collect here where it’s cooler. Left behind is an off-flavored inert residue in the rest of the country, and a intoxicating but dangerous mixture here. With the growing number of Rights violating laws being passed at the federal level I expect the exodus of freedom seeking individuals from the other states to continue here for some time. I expect in the near future we will see a show down with the federal government. It is my dearest wish that this is a bloodless revolution that leads to the sovereign country of Montana being formed. However, I also know how dangerous a cornered animal can be and that’s basically what us here in Montana have become.

Hot Date

The lil’ lady and I haven’t been out to movie alone since Star Wars I. So tonight we are going to the Vintage Theater in the next town over to watch Sherlock Holmes after a quite dinner for two.

In other happy news I hear there are hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats in DC stuck in the cold and dark.

Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Free State Project RIP

We have a political activist from New Hampshire visiting our little mountain town this week. Last night while I helped participate in trying to right the latest outrage to take place out there; I came to the happy realization that something like that wouldn’t happen here. That cop wouldn’t be able to show his face anywhere in town without being ridiculed. There is a positive aspect for the small town gossips. It’s not the fact that if you get a thrown in jail for DUI everyone in town knows within twenty four hours, (THIS WAS NOT ME) even if this happened in a town thirty miles away. It’s not the fact that if you get drunk and are playing grab ass with someone weighing three hundred pounds (ALSO NEITHER BEING ME) everybody knows within a few days. It’s not the fact that if you get laid off, have Mono, diarrhea, marriage troubles, erectile dysfunction, don’t kill your elk, go home to the wrong house (I WAS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY OF THESE) or need to put disclaimers after any possible rumor source in a blog post. The nice part of the local rumor mill is that everybody knows if a cop or politician (or anyone) is trying to get away with something. In fact I have a friend who when drunk becomes the meanest ninety pound chick I’ve ever known. Not that long ago one night after the bar closed she took a swing at someone missed and cold-cocked one of the local deputies who was trying to disperse the crowd. The cop didn’t charge her with assault since it was an accident. Or maybe he didn’t like the prospect of having to explain to everybody how a ninety pound girl managed to punch him. Another nice aspect of the small town rumor mill is its primary function of dispersing entertaining stories (like the last one) to all members of the community.

The political activist visiting us is a member of The Free State Project. I also was a member of the FSP until the state vote chose New Hampshire about six years ago. The Project was a brilliant plan to move lots of libertarian activists to one small state and basically take over the political system. I have since evolved to Anarcho-capitalism from libertarianism and can see the flaw in their plan; voting is a use of force. The FSP members wish to force their beliefs upon those living there who may not share those beliefs. I do happen agree that their beliefs (dissolution of most government) are nobler; however, it still doesn’t justify the use of force. Their plan is no better than the plans of those they fight since they all use the method. Spooner said it best:

The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves; a contest, that — however bloody — can, in the nature of things, never be finally closed, so long as man refuses to be a slave.

Putting aside the ethics of voting let’s take a comparative look at their results versus right here where I live.
I went back to 2000 instead of 2004 because of how difficult NH makes it to find results for anyone except the R’s or D’s. Anyone who wants to spend more time than the hour I spent can gather the data and post it as a comment. I also included Ron Paul.

New Hampshire 2000 Harry Browne 2757, 0.48%
Montana 2000 Harry Browne 1,718 or 0.4%

New Hampshire 2008 Bob Barr (Lib.) 2,173 .3%
New Hampshire 2008 Ron Paul 1,092 votes .15%
Total of “Freedom oriented” votes cast .45%

Montana 2008 Bob Barr 1,300 votes 0.3%
Montana 2008 Ron Paul 10,230 votes 2.2%
Total of “Freedom oriented” votes cast 2.5%

I did not save links on these, as I said it took forevar to find the ones for NH. If you think you have a reliable source that differs on the data feel free to post it as a comment.

As the data shows Montana has shown over a six fold increase in “pro-freedom” votes and New Hampshire has shown a .03 decrease in “pro-freedom” votes. If we leave Ron Paul out of the equation both states show decrease in “pro-freedom” votes but New Hampshire’s is almost 20% worse. If we leave Barr out of the equation New Hampshire show a 300% decrease in freedom votes, and Montana shows an almost six fold increase in freedom votes. I hate to say it (not really) but those of us who told them they would be out paced by Taxachusetts statists in NH appear correct.

Just to rub some salt in the wound I’ll post my own counties numbers; in 2000 Harry Browne received 0.88% of the vote and in 2008 Ron Paul received 4.60% and Bob Barr received 0.41%.

Wolf, No Wolf

I’ve found a new author. His name is Peter Bowen, and is a Montana Native. I ran across one of his books at The Book Exchange in Missoula. Since it was The Zoo, one of the most liberal Montana towns, I was a little leery but after a quick skimming figured I would give it a try. It was nice to read a book where all the cops drink and drive, and own untaxed class 3 firearms like most of the rest of Montana. This is a fun book to read and is the most realistic voice of native Montanans on the wolf issue and government interference I’ve ever read.

Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 4:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Spicy Italian Sausage

Spicy Italian sausage, from hoof to pantry:

Start with one whole wether, we used this one’s half brother who was 9 months old.

Reduce to smaller pieces:


You are done and ready to cook when it resembles this:


Mix with ground pork trimmings, salt, sugar, water, fennel, caraway, and coriander. Form into balls and fry until nice and brown:


If you have 40 Italian relatives near you are all done except the pasta at this point. If you live in the city you can now package and freeze them. If you however live in the middle of no-where, where you make all your own electricity this is your next step:


The total yield was 20 pints of 6-8, 2″ spicy Italian sausage meatballs in broth, 5 quarts of trim scraps for dog food, and 8 long bones for doggy treats.

Who Knew

Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg

You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn’t last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he’s done.

The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can’t wipe the boredom out.
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs—
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won’t fall finally down.

Isn’t this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn’t this defeat
so accurate the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don’t empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I’ll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You’re talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it’s mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.

-Richard Hugo

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 4:12 am  Comments (1)  
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