The Vollum family moved here from Portland Oregon and have never looked back. They enjoy the property they purchased in the hills of Big Timber where they are raising Highlanders and Herefords.
Being new to the cattle world, keeping bulls, steers, cows and heifers straight is confusing. Even though I once thought that “cow” was a blanket term used for all cattle in all situations, I have begun to catch on quickly to the correct terminology.
Although records on Highland cattle first brought to this country from Scotland are rather obscure, due to the fact that there was no registry for them, we know there were small importations, made from time to time. Highland cattle may have been brought to the east coast states in the 1920s.
The Highland breed has lived for centuries in the rugged remote Scottish Highlands. The extremely harsh conditions created a process of natural selection, where only the fittest and most adaptable animals survived to carry on the breed.
Highland cattle provide the opportunity to produce a premium quality beef with less cost and effort. They fit into a variety of operation styles, from the small farm to large commercial beef operations.
One of the most celebrated events, the traditional 4th of July Parade follows a route through historic downtown Big Timber. Horses, floats, marching bands, and classic cars highlight the annual event which draws crowds in the hundreds to the Main Street shopping district.
If you want to experience a piece of authentic Montana and have a good time, head to a local rodeo like the one in Big Timber. As a spectator, you can reminisce of times long ago and the tradition of the cowboy that lives on in Big Timber Montana. You’ll feel the raw emotion and marvel at the athleticism and passion in every event.
Cowboys, Cowgirls, Cattle, Horses, Sweat, Dirt, Mud, Blood and Guts. In a word, rodeo, no other spectator sport comes as close to the real-world hardships and triumphs of working people. The people have spoken, and there are 30 million rodeo fans in the United States, according to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
Roping calves, racing barrels and taming wild horses and bulls are common job duties that naturally lend themselves to the rodeo. A love of animals is also commonplace. Ranchers and rodeo performers alike know how to read animals and often can predict their behavior.
What I found at the Big Timber Rodeo was like all sports, you have to train. But in rodeo, training is just the beginning. Then there’s the equipment. First, there’s the truck and horse trailer. Then there’s the horse. And you’ve got to get a really good horse. That doesn’t even count the clothing, the food or the gas. And even after you’ve bought all of that, you still have to pay to get into the rodeo. I found dedicated people to a sport that has deep roots in Montana and the Big Timber Rodeo was no exception.
The mission of the Sons of Norway is to promote and to preserve the heritage & culture of Norway, to celebrate its relationship with other Nordic Countries, and to provide quality insurance and financial products to its members. Over time, the mission of Sons of Norway has expanded to include the preservation of Norwegian heritage and culture in our Society.
Today I had the chance to join in on a celebration of the Sons of Norway in Big Timber. One of the items on the table for sampling was Lefse, a thin potato pancake. This was cooked on the griddle until bubbles formed and each side was browned. The lefse was then placed on a damp towel to cool slightly before serving. YUM
Dan and Ann Vollum’s Highlander Ranch sits just outside of Big Timber atop a hill that overlooks the road from Big Timber to Mcleod. I had the chance to spend the day photographing them branding a new load of cows they picked up in Billings.
Built in 1890 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Grand Hotel has been restored to her original dignity. This is Montana’s finest cuisine in The Grand tradition, you can stay the night in their beautiful turn of the century decorated rooms, or have a beverage at the 1890 saloon.
The Grand Hotel Restaurant serves locally raised beef and lamb and fresh seafood flown in daily, which our acclaimed chef Amy, prepares to world accolades.
There is wonderful lore that makes the downtown Grand Hotel a rich part of Montana’s heritage. There’s the tale of the desperado, who after being shot in a gunfight underwent emergency surgery on the hotel’s pool table. There were many handshake land deals brokered by cattlemen in the bar. And there was a Chinese laundry in the basement that some say is still haunted.
The first Saturday of the month at the Hospitality House Senior Center there is a Jam Session and potluck. Everyone is welcome and dancing and music is played from 2pm to 6. The senior center swings into spring with food and fun and you don’t have to be a senior citizen to eat or join in the activities.
I had an appointment today to meet Harold Wilcoxson and his fiends at the Grand for lunch. Harold is 93 and lives in the same house he was born in, in Livingston Montana. Harold also runs the Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream Company. His friends, Dr. L.M. Basket, was a physician in Livingston for over 60 years, Doug Grieve was Harold’s plant manager for over 50 years. But the most interesting part of our lunch conversation was how Harold, Doug, Dean, Randy and Dale met in Livingston in the late 50’s and how each of them had a race car. Yes, the common denominator here was what car and who was driving the fastest as they raced the streets of Livingston, Montana. They spoke of a Mustang Mack 1 and how it never beat the 1970 Chevy Chevelle that had a 454 engine and 450 horse power.
Then in 1966 they all took up drag strip racing and this took place in Belgrade, Montana and to this day Doug Grieve is racing the Salt Flats of Utah at the age of 74.
This was a fun afternoon and here are some images of Harold and his 2014 Porsche Ceyenne Turbo S one of three porsche’s he owns.
I spent the day at the Big Timber Museum meeting lots of locals and hearing some amazing stories. I did get a minute to take a few images that will give you an idea how Memorial Day is celebrated here in Big Timber.