Beer, Ralph. In these hills.

Author:Boardman, Edna
Position:Brief Article - Young Adult Review - Book Review

Univ. of Nebraska Press. 180p. c2000. 0-8032-6209-4. $14.95. SA

Add this collection of essays to the proliferating literature about ranching in Montana. Beer is a fifth-generation rancher, a descendent of Welsh immigrants who came to America, then to the Helena Valley, to find freedom and a livelihood. They found these, but paid a high price in unrelenting labor, isolation, and the need to cope with a harsh environment. Current in their line is Ralph Beer, who went off and got a college education then found, in his life on the ranch, a rich mine of material for writing. In his essays, which are not arranged in chronological order. Beer evokes the work of the ranch: fencing, fixing, cleaning, and animal care.

He also deals with and sometimes even loves machines: the Power Wagon he reconditioned and uses to clear snow, pickups of a certain age, and the motorcycle "that smoothed out around eighty." He is a dreamer and philosopher (and sometimes a hard drinker) as well as his own best ranch hand. He reflects often on the ancestors who, no...

To continue reading