raised in the west

Meeting the Demand

Town & Country Supply Association fertilizer plant is open for business One of the largest buildings constructed in Yellowstone County in recent years is a sight to behold, but it’s a good bet that it has been seen by only a tiny fraction of the people who live in the county. That’s because it’s located…

Longmire’s Craig Johnson

Author weaves his crime drama novels in the hills of Ucross Wyoming Not far from the “T” in the road that leads you to Buffalo, Wyoming, off US 16 East, author Craig Johnson’s log-cabin home sits nestled among foothills of the commanding Big Horn Mountains. It’s one of the most picturesque of backdrops. Cattle roam…

Ripe for the Picking

The oh-so-sweet Flathead Cherry season From the time the blossoms appear in the spring, fans of Flathead cherries dream of this summertime delicacy. And while “Flathead cherries” are, in reality, a number of different sweet cherry varieties, the unique growing conditions along Flathead Lake make for a quintessentially Montana treat. Originally, these cherries were raised…

Fit for the Working Cowboy

Babione’s Wilson Boots, one of the few custom boot makers around With rolls of leather by his side, a wall of shoe forms, known as lasts, to mold a cowboy boot for the perfect fit, and all the leather-crafting tools at his fingertips, Virgil Babione starts his day at the helm of a fading art…

Faces & Places: Crow Agency

Culture, clans and ‘cayuses’ The story of Crow Agency — often called “Crow” by the locals — is the story of two different communities. From the interstate, high-speed travelers get only a glimpse of the place: some well-worn buildings, a dog or two strolling the frontage road and horses of all colors dining on rich…

For Bull Riding Champ, Family Comes First

Family, friends & working on the ranch keep Jess Lockwood grounded People in Montana have good reason to be proud of Jess Lockwood. Last November, at the age of 20, he became the youngest person ever, and the first from Montana, to win the Professional Bull Riders World Championship in Las Vegas. But we have…

Miles City: Rooted Like Grass

The kind, young traveling nurse from Chicago was busy tending to the hospital patient I was visiting. She paused for a minute to answer my question: What do you notice most about Miles City? “You all are just a lot tougher,” she said. “It takes a lot to get someone in here.” The reputation of…

A Foreign Affair

The rise of the H-2A Program on Montana Farms & Ranches All over farm and ranch country, it’s getting harder and harder to find workers — whether to herd sheep, process potatoes, pick cherries or milk cows. “It’s hard work and it’s long work and it’s hard to find people to do that,” says John…

Holding Out for a Hero

Cowboys design rope saving breakaway device With the skill of the cowboy and fast action of the horse, team roping is the fastest-growing sport in rodeo. But while spectators watch competitors launch from the chute and race into the arena to catch the heads and heels of a steer, it’s easy to forget the countless…

A Wild Ride

The high-flying fun of ski joring makes a comeback Sometimes you find adventure and sometimes adventure finds you. This is a story of the latter, and of how two adventurous Red Lodge women, Kristen Beck and Monica Plecker, found themselves at the helm of the National Finals Ski Joring in Red Lodge, one of Montana’s…

Getting Enough Fiber?

It’s woven deep into Montana’s agriculture If you look at the Montana landscape, you’ll see fluffy animals grazing on pastures far and wide. Many of these creatures are being raised for meat, but ranchers are also supplying an indispensable product to  fiber artists worldwide. Fiber — of all varieties —  is woven deeply into Montana’s…

The World Famous Bucking Horse Sale

When the wild west takes over Miles City, Montana The third weekend in May. In Miles City, Montana, it’s an “official,” unofficial holiday weekend. Or week. Depending on how serious you are about commemorating the town’s signature event: the World Famous Bucking Horse Sale. Those who have been to it, get it. Those who haven’t…

Ben Thomas: Growing the Right Agricultural Climate

Montana Department of Agriculture Director celebrates a year at the helm Montana and agriculture go hand in hand, which means taking the reins to assist producers in this multi-faceted industry is no small feat. Never swayed by a challenge, Ben Thomas stepped into the job a little more than a year ago as the newly…

It’s a Family Affair

Columbus Family helps N.I.L.E. celebrate 50 years Fifty years ago, history was made at a Billings Chamber of Commerce meeting when a vision was created to host a livestock exhibition, showcasing all breeds and promoting the agriculture industry. It was the birth of The Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE). Since that idea sprouted with its…

Places & Faces: Sheridan

The ‘Best of the West’…only better There’s something extra special about Sheridan, Wyoming. But then again, I’m biased. Years ago, I was drawn to Sheridan by its Western charm. I would probably still live there if life hadn’t dragged me away. Though decades have passed, that Western appeal hasn’t tarnished a bit. Sheridan is still…

Home Grown Goodness

Yellowstone Valley Food Hub helps keep local food local As you walk through farmer’s markets across the state, locally-sourced produce and meats are showcased with bounty, adorning tables, and filling up baskets and bushels. It’s a vibrant display in shades of rich ambers, vibrant greens, bright yellows, deep reds and soft browns. The goods are…

Milking an Opportunity

How Kalispell Kreamery landed on the Montana Dairy Map Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. So when Hedstrom Dairy of Kalispell faced a dire situation nearly a decade ago, its owners could either reinvent themselves or sell off their cows like most of the dairies in the same situation. The Hedstroms chose…

Hollenbeck Ranch

Molt rancher pioneers a new way of “branding” Sara Hollenbeck owes a lot to Mr. Totes MaGoats. He was the little orange goat that her husband, Henry Hollenbeck, bought for $5 and jokingly gave to her as a first-anniversary present. Sara, who moved from California to marry Henry, had already been using social media to…

Big Sandy’s Bob Quinn

Renaissance Man of Organic Agriculture There’s more than one way to utilize a safflower plant or industrial hemp for that matter. And while most farmers shudder at the lack of rain for weeks – even months – at a stretch, Big Sandy organic farmer Bob Quinn takes it in stride. For Quinn, problems are opportunities…

The Lodgepole Complex Fire: After the Ashes

Communities rally to come to farmers and ranchers aid Through much of August, Lori Murnion’s cell phone rang 10 to 20 times a day, which is a lot for someone who says she is “sort of retired.” Lori is the point person for feed and fencing supply donations coming into Jordan after the Lodgepole Complex…

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