23 October 2012


Yesterday I had quite the treat watching Timmie meet up with three mule deer. I had been told Timmie didn't like the cold and would stay indoors in the winter. Not so. The little dickens can't wait to go out in the cold and snow.

At first light Timmie was at the door whining to go out. After awhile I looked out the window to see if I could tell what he was up to. Sure enough he was hunting. Voles and mice around the house are in for some real trouble.

Timmie on the hunt

The next thing I knew three mule deer, two does and a buck,  have moseyed up trying to figure out the little creature in the snow. As these three huge beasts closed in on Tiny Tim, he paid absolutely no attention. I don't know if Tim was unafraid of them or just so intent on the hunt he paid them no never mind. In any event he showed absolutely no fear. I was scared for him. :)

Three Mule Deer Closing In
Next thing I know the buck is following Timmie right up to the house.

Timmie Brings Bucky Home

Bucky and Timmie at the Woodshed

Unfortunately, these last two photos have window glare and are hard to see. Too bad because they are the cutest. If I had opened the sliding glass door to get a clear shot there would have been no photos at all. The deer would have taken off like rockets, particularly Bucky. It's hunting season and he'd be shot in a minute if a hunter saw him. The deer seem to sense they are in danger and don't calm down until after hunting season. After hunting season the mulies are quite tame.

I have a sneaky suspicion Timmie is going to be my new favorite thing to photograph. He is really quite the card.

©Kinsey Barnard

22 October 2012


This video would be funny if it was a joke but it's not. The caller is absolutely serious.

I often here the phrase "The dumbing down of America" This woman must have been at the head of the class. Scary to think she even has a driver's license let alone gets to vote.

©Kinsey Barnard

21 October 2012


Well, cowabunga! The extended forecast was for snow showers. Looked like that was going to start the first of the week but, heavens to Betsy it happened last night.

When I awoke this morning there was 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground! That's as big a storm as we normally get in the dead of winter. No shower that.

Now the question is, is this a harbinger of the kind of winter we are in for? Or, is nature blowing Her wad early and it will be a mild one?

One thing's for sure about Montana weather ..... it's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.

©Kinsey Barnard

18 October 2012


Along with the mule deer come the fall colors here at Dancing Deer Ranch. A native Californian, I have come to truly appreciate the seasons after ten years living here. Where I grew up, near Santa Barbara, the temperature was pretty much perfect all the time. A winter temperature, on the coast, was forty degrees. Here in Montana the evenings often get into the forties at night during the summers. In winter you are likely to see forty below.

Down in the meadow, in view of the house, are the remains of a homesteader's cabin . I often wonder how anyone could survive these Montana winters in a place like this. It's easy for me. I have electricity, a wonderfully insulated home,  a four wheel drive vehicle to get me up and down the mountain and indoor plumbing. Can you imagine going to the out house at forty below? A sturdy people these early Montanans.

I digress. The extended forecast calls of rain and snow in the coming days so yesterday afternoon I took a walk in my forest to enjoy the fall colors. They will soon be gone. As usually happens I ended up at Walden Pond, my personal rendition of Thoreau's sanctuary. The pond is surrounded by aspen and cottonwoods and whilst it is beautiful any time of year it is most beautiful in the fall. This is the same pond where I had my moose encounter about a week ago.

Below are a few photos of the beauty my eyes begot.

Walden Pond

Aspen in full fall color

How lucky am I that I never have to leave this blessed place to have all that is nurturing and important to me.

©Kinsey Barnard

16 October 2012


There are many reasons Fall is my most favorite season in Montana. The Fall colors are to die for. The weather is sunny and warm with just a hint of a chill. And, the mule deer return.

For the ten years that I have lived here there has been a seasonal dance between the mule deer and the whitetail. In the spring, the whitetail migrate up the mountain from the valley floor and the mule deer head up into the high country. Then in the Fall the migration is reversed.

Once here the mule deer form a regular part of my landscape and become like family as we all try and survive the cold, snowy Montana winter together. Mule deer are very different than the whitetail. Whitetail are skittish and awkward. The mule deer, after hunting season finishes, are tame and graceful.

It is always a special day for me when the mule deer return. Today is that special day.

I hope the young buck in these photos makes it through hunting season, which is due to commence on Saturday.


©Kinsey Barnard

14 October 2012


On September 27th I adopted a new family member. His name is Tiny Tim, Timmie to his friends.

Since all I know about Timmie's birth is that he is around two years old we will make September 27th his birthday. His coming to us was a rebirth of sorts.

Tiny Tim was named Samson by his previous owner, who had also rescued him. The name seemed incongruous to me from the get go. Timmie is one of the smallest adult cats I've been around. I tried to use the name but couldn't. As I was cuddling him, the second day he was here, the name Tiny Tim just popped into my head. I started calling him Timmie. He responded immediately. It was like it had always been his name.

Timmie really lucked out in that he didn't have to go to a shelter. I found him through word of mouth. Timmie's previous owner was returning to California and was unable to take him along. The kennel owner where I take Koty knew I was looking for a kitty, told me about him and, voila!

When he arrived I set Timmie up in my bedroom and bathroom. I put a child gate on the door to give Koty and Timmie a little time to get acquainted. Timmie headed directly under the bed and there he stayed. Throughout the afternoon I tired to coax him out but to no avail. That evening when I went to bed I tried again. Nada.

I read awhile and then turned out the light. It bothered me no end to think of that little creature, in hiding, all alone in a strange place. After about 15 minutes I could take it no longer. I turned on the light and got down on the floor. He was just out of reach. I decided to try a little food as bait. I sprinkled some in front of him and he went for it. As soon as he had nibbled up the bits he slunk off to the bathroom all on his own. It was like the food was the all clear signal.

I could here him scrabbling in is food and scratching in his litter. I turned out the light feeling much better. A short while later I felt a very slight disturbance on the bed. The next thing I knew Timmie had lay down beside me. There he spent the night and every night since.

Timmie was supposed to be alright with dogs but he doesn't much care for Koty's steely blue stare. So we are still working on getting them comfortable with each other. Timmie runs. Koty chases. Timmie hasn't figured out yet that Koty couldn't catch him if he wanted to. Koty, 91 in human years, isn't quite as fast as he once was. Timmie could jump up on almost anything and be out of harms way. For whatever reason Timmie isn't making any effort to win Koty over. As soon as Timmie sees Koty he takes off running, literally flying over the gate into the bedroom.

I'm sure we'll get things sorted out over time. Meanwhile, it's awfully nice to have Timmie with us. He is a sweet an loving spirit and makes our place just that much more special.

Tiny Tim

©Kinsey Barnard

11 October 2012


Yesterday was Montana in her glory. Fall is hands down my favorite season. The days are warm but with a slight chill in the air, foretelling the coming of winter.

I have been working like a dog in the forest trying to cut up the downed timber. I've now gotten all the good stuff in. Good stuff, by my definition, is fir and larch. I've got a lot of spruce and cottonwood down but they have lowest BTU of the lot. Spruce is a witch to split and since I split all my wood by hand that is a real consideration.

I can't help but stop in the middle of my toil and simply revel in the beauty that surrounds me. The warm sun filters through the trees. The larch, aspen, cottonwood and mountain maple are turning golden. My world is so beautiful it makes me weep. Also slows down the work. I can't help myself I just have to indulge in the beauty.  I don't care. The work will always get done and beautiful moments are what I live for. Moments are what my photography is all about. Moments are what life is all about.

Speaking of moments, last night I had a moose encounter. I was walking my sanctuary trying to determine where I would work next. I have a lot of choices. It was just the most beautiful afternoon. As I approached the larger of my two ponds what did I spy but a beautiful female moose standing on the dam reflecting on the surface of the pond. Just an exquisite site. I moved closer speaking softly. She just stood watching me. I stopped about 100 ft away. I didn't want to scare her away. We spent about ten minutes together and then she peacefully ambled off. I called out my farewell. I didn't follow. It was her afternoon to enjoy as well.

I often find myself, at times like this, saying out loud "God you can take me now. I have been given more than my fair share of beautiful moments."

I don't photograph animals here at the ranch except for the deer and smaller creatures. The larger animals are like celebrities to me and they deserve their privacy. I tried to find a photo on the internet but gave up. The world and the internet is just flooded with low quality crap. Everyone is a "photographer". I couldn't find anything that I would post here even if just for the ambiance. Like most things digital photography is both a boon and a bane.

©Kinsey Barnard

10 October 2012


Yesterday I had my well pump replaced.

It's a pretty simple procedure. I was surprised. They just pull up the pipe the pump is hanging on and replace it. In my case that was about 135 feet of pipe. I'm told well pumps last an average of 10 to 15 years. I'm not complaining my pump was 24 years old.

There really wasn't anything wrong with the old well pump. I just started to get a little edgy about it's age. If the darned thing went out in the winter it would be a really nasty job to try and replace it. I'm not even sure it could be done.  Imagine being stuck out in the middle of nowhere in winter with no water. Not a particularly pleasant thought. I did the replacement as a preventative measure.

The pipe we pulled up was steel. That was replaced with poly pipe, a thick wall, plastic pipe. The electrical wire going down to the pump was replaced as well. The net effect of the new pipe was a drastic reduction in vibration. Before when the pump came on you could here it all over the house. Now it's just a quiet hum. That's a nice bonus.

The worst part of the process was all of the clay sediment that got stirred up. It was so thick, 24 years of undisturbed build up, my under house filter was completely plugged instantly. I ran the water for about four hours yesterday and it's not totally clear yet. I reckon I'll hafta run her some more today to get all the gunk out.

Next up will be the pressure tank. Pressure tanks can have an even shorter lifespan than the pump. I'm not as worried about that as it's an inside job.

My mama told me, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And, I believe it.

©Kinsey Barnard

04 October 2012


One of my favorite amusements/escapes is the reading of fiction. I probably average fifty per year. Thanks to Costco I can feed this addiction fairly reasonably.

I recently picked up "Phantom" by Ted Bell in paperback for $5.99.  It's the story of a mad scientist (Darius), working for Iran,  creating a computer capable of controlling the world. Unfortunately, the machine soon achieves super intelligence and turns on his creator. The hero (Alex Hawke) is an English aristocrat, working for MI6, who is so rich he has his own Gulfstream and a sailing ship 320 feet long, masts ten stories high and weaponry the U.S. military would envy. As you might imagine Hawke saves the day with his larger than life toys. The story is pretty simplistic and corny but fine fodder for light escapism.

What I did find very interesting, and got me to musing, was the last part called "Afterward" in which the author talks about this thing called The Singularity which is apparently very real. Scientist are at this very moment working on a computer that will transcend human intelligence. The Singularity is the moment at which this happens. These ultra-intelligent machines will be called "artilects" and will ultimately be a billion times more intelligent that humans. According to the author achievement of the Singularity could be as little as ten years away.

The movie trailer for The Singularity is Near will give you somewhat of a visual what might happen. Naturally, it only shows the positive implications of achieving the Singularity and it's some pretty cool stuff.

To this old duffer this is some pretty scary stuff. Like everything else that has ever been invented such ultra-intelligent machines can be either a boon or a bain. Such a machine could come up with cures for every known illness and end aging. It could also invent a strain of virus for which there is no cure and wipe out every human on the planet. As in this novel, the machines could could break with their masters and all humanity would be at their mercy. We are told that this couldn't happen as safeguards are built into the systems. But,  I say Murphy to that.

Paul Allen, of Microsoft fame says The Singularity is Not Near and I sure hope he's right. Because I don't think I'm ready for it. I love my totally human existence. I love my life in the Montana wilderness. I am quite content to begin and end and my end isn't that far off. If I were twenty I would probably embrace it. What choice would I have?

©Kinsey Barnard