Chill Bumps in Butte, MT

I just got back from a week of training in Butte, Montana, for my new job as outreach coordinator for the Gulf States Region with the National Center for Appropriate Technology. The whole experience gave me chill bumps — literally and figuratively.

First was the incredible ride over the Rocky Mountains, looking down on snow-capped peaks.

Flying over the Rocky Mountains to the Butte, MT, headquarters of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (ncat.org) was breath-taking. Photo by Jim Ewing, c. blueskywaters.com

Flying over the Rocky Mountains to the Butte, MT, headquarters of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (ncat.org) was breath-taking. Photo by Jim Ewing, c. blueskywaters.com

To say the view was breathtaking would be an understatement.

But, once we landed, the view remained stunning — maybe even moreso!  Behind the headquarters building is the Continental Divide. That’s right. The actual backbone of the North American continent is in NCAT’s backyard, so to speak.

The east flank of the Continental Divide is literally at the back door of the National Center for Appropriate Technology. The face of the mountain is a living presence in the city of Butte. Photo by Jim Ewing

The east flank of the Continental Divide is literally at the back door of the National Center for Appropriate Technology. The face of the mountain is a living presence in the city of Butte. Photo by Jim Ewing

I could (and did!) spend hours watching the mountain as clouds drifted over the peaks, and the sun dappled shadows across the tree-covered flanks. Its face always changing, the mountain is a living presence in the town of Butte.

One of the highlights of our trip was learning more about hoop house farming — a technique to extend growing seasons at an affordable cost. Carl Little, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Communities Program Manager Carl Little (center), gave us some tips about SIFT farming. The Small-Scale Intensive Farm Training program was created to help every community increase their food security by producing their own healthy food. SIFT, with NCAT, is developing a working, sustainably managed, demonstration farm on five acres. Pictured (left), Felicia Bell, Gulf States farming specialist, and (right) Gulf States Regional Director Rockiell Woods. For more, see: http://sift.ncat.org/ Photo by Jim Ewing.

One of the highlights of our trip was learning more about hoop house farming — a technique to extend growing seasons at an affordable cost. Carl Little, NCAT
Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Communities Program Manager Carl Little (center), gave us some tips about SIFT farming. The Small-Scale Intensive Farm Training program was created to help every community increase their food security by producing their own healthy food. SIFT, with NCAT, is developing a working, sustainably managed, demonstration farm on five acres. Pictured (left), Felicia Bell, Gulf States farming specialist, and (right) Gulf States Regional Director Rockiell Woods. For more, see: http://sift.ncat.org/ Photo by Jim Ewing.

Of, course, we were there to learn a few farming techniques, among other things (hoophouse growing is pictured; something Butte needs even this time of year in midsummer for some crops like tomatoes).

While we were in Butte, we were treated to the unique experience of watching green grass grow while it was snowing in the background. Green grass and snow? The week before Summer Solstice? Photo by Jim Ewing

While we were in Butte, we were treated to the unique experience of watching green grass grow while it was snowing in the background. Green grass and snow? The week before Summer Solstice? Photo by Jim Ewing

While we were in Butte, on June 13, as the temperature was 93 degrees with high humidity back home in Mississippi, it was misty at its numerical opposite 39 degrees in Butte; I could see it snowing in the mountains overlooking the city.

I have to admit, it was an usual experience. The last day I was there, I got up at sunup and went outside with a cup of coffee. There was heavy frost everywhere, temps in the 30s, but since I was standing in the sunshine, it didn’t “feel” cold! Just wearing a t-shirt and a jacket. The city is a mile high and the humidity hovered around 20 percent, with highs in the low 70s.

The StoneFly Fly Shop in Butte, MT, is a very cool place. If you are a fly fisherman, it's a center of the universe! Photo by Jim Ewing.

The StoneFly Fly Shop in Butte, MT, is a very cool place. If you are a fly fisherman, it’s a center of the universe! Photo by Jim Ewing.

Of course, while in Montana, I had to do a little personal scouting, and found this incredible fishing shop — The StoneFly Fly Shop (https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-StoneFly-Fly-Shop/116061955126376). Had a great time talking with Chris, co-owner and outfitter. Check out their Facebook page, with tips on what’s biting.

If a fly fisherperson, come to either spend or drool at Butte's shops (display pictured in The Stonefly Fly Shop). I did both! Photo by Jim Ewing

If a fly fisherperson, come to either spend or drool at Butte’s shops (display pictured in The Stonefly Fly Shop). I did both! Photo by Jim Ewing

I also hung out some at Bob Ward & Sons Sporting Goods and Fran Johnson’s Sport Shop. Both have tons of fishing equipment and supplies, too.

It was a great time, but I’m a bit pooped — arrived home after midnight last night.

I plan to return with my fly rod!

Read more about NCAT, where I now work, at: http://www.ncat.org/

A lot of what I do helps the ATTRA program – the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. Farmers and ranchers can call in toll free for information about sustainable agriculture. NCAT has specialists who will answer questions, for free. Call 1-800-346-9140; or en Espanol, 1-800-411-3222.

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