17.11.21

Ground up

Bozeman, Montana

 

15.11.21

Highland Glen and the Kurks

Bozeman, Montana




 It doesn’t take much for Darrell and Sandy Kurk to get their cows moving down pasture. In a chorus both practiced and improvised, they yell “c’mon girls!” For percussion, Darrell shakes a bucket of grain. “They’re spoiled,” he said.

As the annual parade — this year it was held on Oct. 1 — crashes through the colorful foliage in the creek bottom, runners, hikers, and bikers pause to watch and listen from well worn trails above.

Darrell and Sandy Kurk have found themselves in the center of the venn diagram of old and new West. The Kurks lease the grazing rights for the Highland Glen Nature Preserve, the 430-acre block of land owned by Bozeman Health since 1959.

For much of the Kurk’s history working the land, they shared it only with wildlife.

In 2013, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital teamed up with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust to dig a network of trails throughout the property, and the pasture became a playground.

“Ninety-five percent of people here aren’t a problem, it’s the 5% that cause you headaches,” said Darrell as he untangled strands of a barbed wire fence that were likely twisted together by a trail user looking for a shortcut.

People build bridges and dam the creek, or trespass on the old homestead at the north end of the property. The Kurk’s phone numbers are posted at trailheads in the event a gate is left open and a cow escapes. 

The cows have names like Hannah and Jellybean, and the Kurk’s recognize all 26 of them. Their calves, futures to be determined, have not yet been named. Some will be raised for beef, some to one day raise their own, but whatever their futures hold, their summer in Bozeman has been productive. Darrell estimates the calves put on 400 pounds since he dropped them off in June. The cows and their calves will spend a couple more weeks near Bear Canyon before moving to the Kurk’s place in Billings, where they will stay for the winter.

LINK: Seasonal Shift: Moving cows on the edge of Bozeman

10.11.21

Volleyball

Bozeman, Montana

8.11.21

In the driver's seat

Bozeman, Montana




 The wheels on Brenda Barrett’s school bus start going ’round at 6:30 in the morning.  

The first handful of stops yield no passengers, but when Barrett sees children on the horizon, she welcomes them aboard with a wave. “You’re really one of the first people they see in a day,” she said. School buses now have seat belts for every passenger, and children squirm to get theirs clicked around their bodies.

Barrett’s route twists around the foothills below Sypes Canyon. It’s a great place to see change in real time, be it the seasons creeping up and down the Bridger Mountains, the batches of new houses under construction or even the development of an adolescent horse, born last year.

Over the course of a day, Barrett says she might drive 100 miles, “mostly in circles.” Now, in her fourth year of driving, she says she’s only missed two days. “The kids and parents rely on you,” she said. “You’re providing a serious service.” 

It’s a service that’s becoming harder to find. Paralleling staff shortages in schools, bus routes around the country are finding themselves without drivers. In Massachusetts, 250 National Guard members were recently deployed to serve as drivers. First Student, the national bus chain that contracts with Bozeman School District, sent drivers from Tacoma, Washington, to cover for shortages in Bozeman this year. Barrett’s route added a couple stops to make up for fewer drivers, but she hasn’t really noticed much of a difference from before. It never felt like there were enough drivers.

When the school day is done Barrett reverses her route, returning to the bus barn to park in neat formation alongside dozens of other buses once scattered to every corner of the city.

7.11.21

Hop ons

Bozeman, Montana

 

6.11.21

Evening soccer

Bozeman, Montana


 

5.11.21

Well...

Bozeman, Montana

3.11.21

Downtown

Bozeman, Montana

 

2.11.21

3 generations

Bozeman, Montana

 

22.10.21

PPE

Livingston, Montana




 LINK: Health care workers deal with burnout, shortages amid latest COVID-19 surge in Montana



19.10.21

Gallatin Speedway

 

Belgrade, Montana




Charlie Hirst had hardly driven his 1998 Toyota Celica before he lined up at the Gallatin Speedway for the first time in early June. He had bought the car for $500, installed a roll cage and painted the number 411 on it. Before he knew it he was careening around the quarter-mile dirt track, gas pedal slammed to the floor, with no idea what was going to happen. 

“It was terrifying,” said Hirst. “When I got in the car I thought I was gonna throw up.” He placed third out of three drivers in the sport compact class that day, yet left the speedway empowered and inspired.

The track at Gallatin Speedway is filled weekly in the summer by big, loud machines whose sole purpose is to go really, really fast. There are generally a handful of different classes of cars competing on any one night, and most of these cars have little in common with the standard passenger vehicle, save the four wheels and a driver’s seat. The sport compact class was introduced this year to make track racing more accessible. Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars to buy a specialized racing machine, Hirst was limited by rule to spend less than $1,500 on his.

Still, starting a racing career from scratch isn’t easy. “In your head, you might think you’re a good driver,” said Hirst, “but you get humbled. And you go back next week, and you go a little faster.”

Hirst found the seasoned drivers in the bigger classes to be supportive, yet his biggest challenge was having enough competition. Because the sport compact class is so new, people just didn’t have time to put a car together this year.

In the last race of the season, Hirst placed second out of two drivers. Despite the loss, he returned home to Ennis motivated to come back next year, and go a little faster.

LINK: Photo Essay: A little faster

13.10.21

Mammoth Hotel

Mammoth, Wyoming

 

12.10.21

Radio tower

Bozeman, Montana

 

9.10.21

Wild art

Livingston, Montana