Waiting For a Chinook

We finally got a little luck. A chinook blew in and blew away the snow and cleared our road so I can get out. I’ve been here at the ranch since Tuesday and I need to talk to a person in person.  I always wonder where the snow blows. Probably to Fargo.  So thank you Miss Chinook.  Now I can go in search of Arborio rice to make a lovely mushroom risotto.
A chinook is a warm wind from the South/Southwest. It has a warmer sound to it too. The shrill howling of the frigid northern wind screamed like some sort of trapped  mad as hell spirit. The sound of the chinook is at first a gentle hum that increased in loudness and intensity like a thousand cowgirls and cowboys riding that wind and having a hell of a good time. But mere mortals should stay inside even if the wind is warmer.

Charlie Russell, the renowned Montana artist, painted the famous and disturbing “Waiting for a Chinook”. It chronicled the devastating winter of 1886-1887 when 362,000 head of cattle perished in Montana. 60% of the Montana Territory herds were gone. Small operators had grown hay and many of them survived.  But the big beef speculators lost most of their herds.  Their investors demanded payment and so many of the big outfits sold out their cattle.  This was the beginning of the end for the open range cattle ranching.  It also saw the rise of sheep raising since sheep had fared much better than the cattle in the brutal winter.

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