I never dreamed our family would be living in south eastern Montana. I figured if we came back we would be living more in the central part of the state; a more populous area. I remember the first time we came to Montana; as far as you could see were rolling hills of luscious green waving grass. After a change in direction and several hours later, we were right below massive snow capped mountains. I was in awe of all the beauty that my Lord created and placed where many could enjoy it. Over the last four and half years, I expressed I think I would rather live on the eastern side; if we were placed back in this state. It never crossed my mind the Lord would be taking into consideration of my rathers. Life here is not like it is on the other side of the state. Believe it or not there is a HUGE difference in the lifestyle and hospitality of the people between the two areas. On the western side of the state you will have a lot of transplanted Californians and others from around the country. These are people who search out a luxurious lifestyle in the many mountainous towns and cities. There are also several mining towns that speckle the mountain side. The western side of Montana is known for tourism.
Here in the eastern side of the state, you will find families who have been here for one hundred years or more making a living in farming. These are people who are up before there is even a hint of morning sun light working to care for their cattle, and other farm animals. They are the ones who pray for cooperative weather when it comes to wheat, corn and sunflowers. These are the people who depend on their farming skills to live. These are the people who will wave when they meet a passing vehicle. They are the people who have worked to instill a strong work ethic in their children. These are the people who will stand beside their neighbors and do what they can when the neighbor has hit a rough spot in their lives.
In our area you will also find oilmen. There are some who have grown up in town and worked many of the odd jobs that are begging for people to come and fill. These people have seen the affects of oil and made the decision to leave their familiar jobs in search for a better life for their family. There are also many outsiders who have come in and set up a temporary home and will work in the oil fields to make a living for their family. Once their job demand slows down, they will move on to another area and another oil field.
The small town we live in has a population of less than 150. All the local stores, garages and original “city” folks have either closed up, passed on or moved away. The once active grain elevator still stands as a reminder of a day not all that long ago. This town was founded by Russian and German railroad workers and many of their descendants still farm the surrounding area.
From reading books about this area, this was a homesteading community. There were enough people to have seven churches; which four are still active. I visited with one of my neighbors who are up in age and own a cattle farm. They decided to move to town and allow their children to live on the farm. Hearing some of the stories of their childhood made me wish I could have been around to see how all the school aged boys would take a day off from school during the spring to go out and pick up bones from the cattle that died during the winter blizzard and sell them as a “fundraiser” for the local school. If you've ever been hammered with the bothersome fundraiser newsletter, can you imagine sending your child out to pick up bones? Yeah, me neither.
The nearest city is about 15 miles and many of the people in our town work in this larger city and grocery shop. Unfortunately, the grocery store prices have seen the affect of the oil. Our closest Walmart is about 70 miles away and our nearest mall with major stores like Sam's, Lowes, Hobby Lobby, and Hancock Fabrics is 224 miles. I was a little surprised to hear how many people in this area actually drive the 224 miles so they can stock up on much needed items while saving money. We've not driven the 224 miles yet, but we’ve driven the 70 miles several times so we can save money.
I had a friend tell me she could not imagine living so far out from everything. When I think about all the conveniences we left behind when we moved; two Walmarts within ten miles, countless grocery stories and of course, the ten malls within 80 miles. We are saving so much money by not having the “oh, I need to go here” moment. Living here is definitely a lifestyle change; a change that I love, a change that I’ve experienced once before, a change that we can quickly adjust to it.
Just as soon as my husband finishes up editing some pictures, hopefully, I'll be able to post some of them.