50 Caliber Artifact
Most of the artifacts I find on the place are historical instead of archaeological. Two, found about a half-century apart were cartridge cases from the Sharps “Big Fifty.” Both were probably not just ejected, but rather discarded. Each had a split along the sidewall, suggesting that they had been reloaded and re-used at least once past their “best-used before” date.
It is hard to figure out the story behind this brass. The “Big Fifty” was introduced in 1872 as the 50-90, but with differing bullets these old empties could have been 50-100 or 50-110 cartridges. Sharps Rifle Company folded its tent in 1881, the last of the great buffalo herds was slaughtered in 1884 (Standing Rock, North Dakota) and, by 1890 the rifle and cartridge were obsolete. Both were found in wooded areas that overlooked spots where long shots -a bit over 200 yards- might have been possible – but the only solid inference I can make is that each was discarded after the shooter noticed the split.
Another empty from a “buffalo gun” showed up maybe 25 yards from one of the big fiftie empties. This one could probably still be reloaded safely. The 45-75 Winchester was the original chambering for Winchester’s 1876 rifle. It was found in a spot that was unwooded, and coming from a lever gun, might well have been ejected for a fast second shot. The rifle was produced until 1897, and the cartridge until 1935. I suspect there were two different hunters using buffalo rifles long after the herds were gone.
I have never encountered a 32 special empty – despite it being the only centerfire rifle my Grandparents used here. I suspect they carefully hoarded each piece of brass – but on the other hand, the empty case is small, and every acre has 43,560 square feet for the years to conceal all evidence.
I still encounter haywire artifacts in the woods. I started moving bales in 1960, and worked with twine-tied square bales. The first incarnation wire-tie bailer was developed in 1879, so it’s hard to pin a date on that. Occasionally tangling a foot in haywire along an old logging trail suggests that bales were brought in for a lunch for horses that were skidding logs out. I haven’t ran across much haywire in the fields – but my explanation could be out to lunch. Still, I think the baling wire came after the cartridge cases.
The orange artifacts are Dad’s – it’s amazing how long orange baler twine can last when it becomes one with the ground. It’s equally amazing how long I have had to lie on the ground with a Kabar cutting it out of the rototiller. I had to sharpen the knife 6 times before I got the last of the bailer twine cut out of the tines.
Low Carb Potatoes
As the garden becomes better established, I’m researching low carbohydrate potatoes. I like potatoes, but part of surviving cancer included type II diabetes. It isn’t a big deal – but potatoes and apples are high in carbohydrates, carbohydrates convert to sugar, and I have the ability to find the low carb varieties. If I can’t buy them in the stores, I can grow them in the garden.
Spud Smart and Potato Grower both have articles on the new varieties of potatoes that are low carb. The Spud Smart article starts with
Potandon Produce unveiled its first low-carbohydrate potato Oct. 19 during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention in New Orleans. The Idaho Falls-based company boasts its CarbSmart potato has 55 percent fewer carbohydrates than rice or pasta.”
Boise isn’t that far away, Idaho produces a lot of potatoes, and I have hopes of being able to find their CarbSmart potato in the grocery store.
Potato Grower describes a world where many different low carb potatoes are available – though it’s a long drive to get Lotato in the Netherlands or New Zealand. Still, the Sunlite variety is listed as available in supermarkets ranging from Florida to Minnesota – and the drive is getting shorter.
Montana State University has developed a variety named “Huckleberry Gold.” For a change, it is easier to find data online from the seed potato sellers than from the university. The common description is “MSU researchers have found that Huckleberry Gold has a low glycemic index. This variety does not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar like most starchy foods. Great potato for diabetics!
It appears to need a slightly longer growing season than Trego offers – more suited to Eureka or Rexford. Still, there are ways to work around this – a dark cold frame to warm the soil early and protect from late frost will help me. I can mix a bit of sand into my silty clay to come up with a small plot closer to a loam and better suited for potatoes. I am looking forward to raising potatoes that do not spike my blood sugar.
Huckleberry Gold produces round to oval small to medium sized tubers with purple skin and yellow flesh. Resistant to common scab and verticillium wilt.”
“Researchers in the Sands’ Research Lab at MSU’s Plant Science Department have found low glycemic index potatoes that do not cause the rapid spike in blood sugar that comes with eating starchy foods. Sugar spikes can be dangerous for diabetics who lack the insulin to handle it and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and other conditions.”Ag Update
On the Road and Around the Pond
Oh the Road & Around the Pond
This is an exciting time of year as we await the appearance of babies. We have does with rounded bellies. We have yet to see a fawn. The fall burning of tree stumps around the yard resulted in holes and burrows that were not always filled before winter set in. An opportunistic skunk moved into a burrow created by the removal of a tree root. Looking out the kitchen window we spotted 4 baby skunks. The babies are really cute but not particularly welcome.
He goslings are starting to color. The ducks paused to finally get their portraits. We have spotted only a handful of tadpoles. Those tadpoles are steadily growing. The turtles are on the move and on the road. We noticed a neighbor stopping to carefully remove a turtle on the road to the safety of a grassed area.
A pair of whopping cranes are occasionally stopping to hunt in the field. The coyote is hunting in the field and along the road. The feral cats are making regular treks along the road. -Patches
Error in Eureka Elementary School Board Election resulted in many extra ballots being mailed
An error in the Eureka Elementary School Board Election resulted in many extra ballots being mailed. Registered voters in Trego, Fortine and Stryker recently received ballots for the Eureka Elementary School Board Election.
While Trego, Fortine, and Stryker are part of the LCHS high school district, none of the three communities are part of the elementary district (Trego and Fortine both have their own elementary school districts- Stryker is part of Trego’s School District). Consequently, residents are not eligible to vote in Eureka Elementary district elections. With a large number of people ineligible to vote receiving ballots (some of which may already have been sent in), it seems likely that this year’s election is going to be a bit complicated.
We don’t know yet how the district is going to handle this (if they’ve started opening the ballots they’ve gotten back, it’s going to be difficult to sort the valid votes from the invalid).
How did we hear about this? We (Mike) asked:
Greetings – I have received the official ballot for the school trustee election of May 4, 2021. I would appreciate your assurance (your email is listed on the enclosure) that I am permitted to vote on the candidates for school district 13.Mike McCurry (email to Onna Escobar, Eureka Public Schools)
As a Trego resident, the elementary district in which I vote (and serve as a board member) is 53. I recognize that Marcie Butts represents my area in the LCHS district, and that her election is by acclamation.
I may not understand (the explanation I recall is at least 50 years old) but before casting my ballot, I would like to know that I am doing so correctly. I know that we don’t vote on Eureka elementary levies, so I would appreciate clarification – I can figure out justification both ways, but I suspect only one is correct.”
What we’ve learned: This error originated with the county election department, which provided address labels to the Eureka School District. The error was not caused by the Eureka School District. (Eureka Public Schools and County Commissioner Josh Letcher were very helpful in providing information about the situation)
What probably happened is that ballots were issued to the registered voters in the high school district, instead of just the Eureka elementary district.
At any rate, we ought to learn more as the school decides where to go from here. In the meantime, we suspect that residents outside of the district can make life easier for the folks who have to handle this by not mailing in their (invalid) ballots.
TFS Volunteer Fire Department Held Annual Meeting
This past Wednesday night (24 March 2021), the TFS Volunteer Fire Department had its much-delayed annual meeting at the Trego Civic Center. The evening included a discussion of the expenses of the fire department, the activity of the department, appointment of new board members, a bylaw change, and a mention of a proposed fee increase that will be taken to the commissioners. The meeting ended with a reminder to everyone to take bread home with them.
A much delayed meeting:
The annual meeting requires at least 20 members to attend. Conventionally, the annual meeting is held in November, however there were not enough people in attendance to hold November’s meeting. Members of the department expressed their disappointment at poor attendance. Twenty-one members attended Wednesday’s meeting, making a full quorum.
- Purchased Fire Station Software Program for Record Keeping (c. $1,300 initial cost, and $200 in yearly upkeep).
- Upgraded the electricity to the Trego Station (the lights flickered and occasionally went out when the wind blew).
- Purchased 4 new SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) packs without bottles. Each SCBA pack cost about $4000, a considerable savings without new $1000 bottles. This brings the department to a total of 12 full packs and 4 spare bottles.
- Acquired a 2008 F-550 type 6 fire engine on lifetime loan from the DNRC
The department attended a greater number of calls, since the ambulance was attending fewer (due to fear of exposing the ambulance crew to Covid). From November of 2019 to November of 2020 the department had a total of 36 calls. Seven were aid calls, one of which was actually a cat in a tree.
The department set up WEX cards for tax-exempt fuel purchasing, ran first-aid and CPR classes, and taught emergency drills. They also passed pump testing on all three engines with no issues – to some acclaim from their testers.
The department’s raffle was postponed due to Covid. The firearm being raffled is a Henry 45-70. The business and firefighter to sell the most tickets will each receive a Henry 47 HMR. The department will be selling tickets at Rendezvous Days.
New Board Members:
Of the current board, three positions were up for election. Those held by: Wayne Nowacki (representing the area at large), Josh Helgert (representing Trego) and John Menke (representing Fortine): John Menke and Josh Helgert were reappointed and Dan Schenkram of Trego replaced Wayne Nowacki.
All three alternate board members positions were up for election (terms are yearly). Jacob Chrestensen of Stryker, Matthew Kelley, Justin Menke, were nominated to the at-large, Trego, and Fortine positions, respectively.
Section 2. Qualifications of Members. Any person shall be qualified to be a member of the corporation if A. he or she is (1) over 18 years old, (2) is assessed a fee by Lincoln County for fire protection within the TFS Fire Service Area, andTFS Volunteer Fire Department By-laws, as amended.
(3) is not a member of any other fire department.“
The amendment, which was approved, removed part 3 of the membership qualifications, so that residents of TFS Fire District that are part of Eureka’s fire department can still be voting members of TFS Volunteer Fire Department.
Proposed Fee Increase:
With the departmental budget rather tight, fee proposals are being discussed. At this stage, it’s discussion only. Later, they’ll go to the commissioners, and folks will have a chance to vote.
Currently, the department collects about $45,000 annually. The proposal is to double the fire protection fees. The current fee is 50$ for homeowners (it was raised from $25 to $50 in 2010), businesses pay more. Another suggestion was that the fee be based on taxable value, so that folks with larger houses and outbuildings would pay more for fire protection.
The public is welcome to attend training nights, as well as the TFS VFD’s monthly board meetings.
Trainings happen on Monday nights at 7 PM at the Fortine Fire Hall, between the Fortine Mercantile and the greenboxes on Highway 93.
Meetings are held the Second Tuesday of each Month, at 7 PM, also at the Fortine Fire Hall.
BackPack program begins at Trego School
What is a BackPack program? In essence, students are sent home with a “backpack” of food for the weekend. The premise is that while students receive meals at school (indeed, meals are free to all students at Trego School), they may need some supplementation on weekends and holidays. Thus, a BackPack program. Students are given a pack of food for the weekend to take home each Friday.
BackPack programs are typically supported by Food Banks and other sponsors. In Lincoln County, Libby and Troy schools both have BackPack Programs on the state map.
The program is starting out big, with a large bag of food going home with each student. North Valley Foodbank has provided Trego School with the initial bag, and with the “BackPacks” for several weeks.
Trego School-More About the Building
Since the state was kind enough to go through every K12 school in the state (back in 2008) and evaluate the condition of the buildings, there’s a fair bit of information to play with.
The general facts- as taken from the Facilities Condition Inventory.
|Building||Year Constructed (according to the state’s report)||Deficiency Ratio||Renewal Cost (estimate as of 2008)|
|Trego School (the school building proper, including the portable classrooms on the East end)||1967||30.1%||$594,743|
|Bus Equipment Shed||1960||1.8%||$104|
|Fuel Storage Unit||1960||1.8%||$104|
Evidently, then, the problem was (and given the comparatively low costs of the other repairs, surely still is) the school itself, with a deficiency ratio of 30.1%. With the report estimating the total cost of repairs of the school building at $594,743, the school board will have to prioritize the necessary repairs (surely some of them have been addressed since 2008).
Many of the complaints in the report were reasonably straight forward; Windows should be double paned rather than single and window frames should have thermal breaks. Simple, though the renewal cost is quite spendy ($86,107 in total for windows). Another big ticket item is the two “portable” classrooms on the east side of the school. The report observed “Floor sagging or showing other similar such failure”, and estimated $88,058 to renew.
While the school board did pass a permissive levy which will amount to around $25,500, that’s not going to be sufficient for some of the costlier repairs the school is going to need. With the budget tight (enrollment has gone up, but the funding received from the state is based on a three year average), the school board is going to have to prioritize spending very carefully.
Damage to the Civic Center
This newest hole isn’t the only damage to the entry- that post alongside the ramp is pretty twisted as well. It’s a common place to back vehicles up to when events are happening, and that puts the entrance at risk of damage.
Trego’s Civic Center is due some expensive repairs- with insurance premiums already high, filing a claim with the civic center’s insurance may cost more in the long run. Since the damage appears to be associated with backing up towards the hall (odd, since there were no events held at the hall near the time the damage occurred), the Civic Center is considering how to keep this type of damage from happening again.
How can we help? Buy Raffle Tickets. The Civic Center is still selling raffle tickets for the upcoming drawing. Win an American Flag Quilt or a Firearm (see picture).
Rent the Civic Center. The Civic Center is allowed to open for events once again. On a related note, Bingo should be resuming soon -keep checking the Civic Center’s Board.
If anyone has any extra sonotubes for pouring concrete, the Civic Center can use them!
Trego School Enrollment Soars
Enrollment at Trego School continues to rise, in defiance of the historical trend. For the last few decades, school enrollment has been fairly steadily dropping. How low did enrollment actually get? The lowest official ANB (Average Number Belonging -i.e. the official state count of students) that I can find is seven, in the spring of the 2018-2019 school year. Enrollment actually continued to decline after that date, but didn’t make the official state count which is used to determine the district’s funding.
The most recent data, using the spring and fall ANB count provided by the state looks like this:
|Time Period||Number of Students|
This data for this school year (2020-2021) isn’t available from the state yet, so the best way to find out about enrollment is to call the school and ask. Back in November, we reported the exciting news that enrollment was up to 23 students and we shared the following graph which incorporated that data.
This January, enrollment reached 26.
Now, enrollment is up from January’s 26, to a total of 31 students. A 35% increase from November of 2020. This fall, Trego school optimistically began with three teachers. Now, with 31 students the average class size is slightly over 10. The school has been working to improve its enrollment, and has seen an amazing turn around. Even if we use the lowest official ANB number (which is decidedly higher than the lowest number the school reached), the school has more than quadrupled enrollment in the past two years.
Well done, Trego School. Where will you go from here?