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Petals and peanut brittle in a Blacksmith Shop

Quackgrass Sally
Ranch Wife & Trail Gal
The Edwards Blacksmith Shop building in Fromberg, Mont.

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When I stepped inside the narrow rear door of Edwards Blacksmith Shop, I stepped back through time. A resounding ring of hammer to steel and the roar of the forge-fire fill my ears as my eyes adjust from daylight to the darkness of the workshop. There, a 60-some-years-old man, welding cap snugged to his head, worn jacket and heavy gloves on, works. Everett Edwards of Fromberg, Mont., bends a glowing red-hot horseshoe into a perfect S shape on a huge vice. He turns, iron tongs in hand, to return the cooled shoe to the fire, nods a greeting and I get my first chance to look around.

The low ceiling is hung with metal pieces shaped into a myriad of curls and twists. Pipe and angle iron encompass every inch of wall space down the long turn-of-the-century building. Giant metal presses, shelves heaped high and boxes filled with every imaginable kind of bolt or nail surround me, leaving only a knee-wide, scrape-littered path down the middle to negotiate my way to two stools Everett has offered. I jump as an air horn sounds and Everett shuts off the fire, answering the phone, which was tacked up somewhere on the wall amid the zillion note pages, hand drawn patterns, and business cards. His phone conversation is quick, firming up that he will be teaching the Ag Class at the Fromberg High School in making iron roses, one of his specialties.

As Everett sits on the stool across from me, he grins, offering me an opened zip-lock bag. “Care for some peanut brittle? It’s my own home made recipe.” Between delicious candy crunching, he inquires if I’ve taken out my horse and wagon on any adventures, has calving season started and that he heard they’d dug out the dinosaur bones my husband had discovered out in the hills.

“Heard they found a 45-inch-long Diplodocus rib bone near here not long ago.”

Seems that Edwards’ Shop is a hub for swappin’ local information and not much slips past this tall, humble man’s attention, especially when it comes to dinosaurs or rock hounding. Pulling out a tattered cloth bag from a wooden box, Everett hands me a fist-sized smooth stone, dark red in color and scuffed on one end.

“That is a gullet stone … made of petrified wood … fun to think it may have been inside a huge, crested duck-bill dinosaur and those marks on the end are from it being used by a native as a hammer eons ago.”

Fascinated, I listen as he tells of dinosaur digs and rock formations, tiny bird-like bones imbedded in rock, and the details of a helicopter lifting a huge rock slab containing a giant leg bone, preserved and encased in foil, that some college students had helped excavate nearby. Seems that Everett has helped on many digs, a quiet local expert.

All the while he is talking, I am aware that I am surrounded by tons of scrap iron and dusty antique plow parts hanging everywhere in the dimly lit shop. Noticing a beautiful heart-shaped piece of scrolled iron-work hanging beside me, I ask what interesting project or farm repair he is working on. “Gone are the days of fixing bean drills, tumble bug plows and cultivators,” he said, “but I keep busy with welding and such. I’m still an EMT on the volunteer ambulance crew so I never seem to run out of things to do … have you seen my chickens and roses?”

Maneuvering carefully down the cluttered narrow trail through the shop I follow Everett to a stacked pile of iron-pieces on which are lying several long stemmed roses. They are gray in color but look as if they would smell as sweet as a fresh cut red rose, unbelievably beautiful.

“I have to put the leaves on them yet, but they are kinda interesting to make.”

I am amazed that they are made from metal, a perfect flower. There are several lilies and daisies in among the nearby scraps and a funny unfinished rooster cut-out peeking out from behind a stack of iron hammers.

“I’ll make a rose bud if you want to see how its done out of one continuous piece of rod?” … and the roar of the home-made brick fire forge starts up again, its heat filling the room instantly.

I am mesmerized as one end of an iron rod turns glowing red in the fire and he removes it to a nearby vice, hammering it flat in strong even strokes of a well practiced arm, until it has cooled too much to work. He returned it to the fire, heated, then re-hammered, repeating the process many times until he had about an 8-inch piece of flattened and notched iron on the end of the rod. While still pliable, Everett curled the flat onto itself, creating a tight swirl, returning it on and off to the fire to keep the metal supple.

On the last time out of the fire, I watched as the red hot flower cooled … slowly turning gray from the out-most petals, inward. When there was just a blush of red on the inside curls Everett said, “I wish they could stay that color … it would be wonderful!” I could only smile my agreement and quietly marvel at how this man could take a solid straight rod of metal and turn it into the fluid soft petals of a rose.

Squinting in the sunlight, I stepped back out through the rear door of the shop, iron rose in hand and my pocket filled with peanut brittle, feeling as if I’d touched a bit of local legend in the cluttered blacksmith shop along highway 310.

When I stepped inside the narrow rear door of Edwards Blacksmith Shop, I stepped back through time. A resounding ring of hammer to steel and the roar of the forge-fire fill my ears as my eyes adjust from daylight to the darkness of the workshop. There, a 60-some-years-old man, welding cap snugged to his head, worn jacket and heavy gloves on, works. Everett Edwards of Fromberg, Mont., bends a glowing red-hot horseshoe into a perfect S shape on a huge vice. He turns, iron tongs in hand, to return the cooled shoe to the fire, nods a greeting and I get my first chance to look around.

The low ceiling is hung with metal pieces shaped into a myriad of curls and twists. Pipe and angle iron encompass every inch of wall space down the long turn-of-the-century building. Giant metal presses, shelves heaped high and boxes filled with every imaginable kind of bolt or nail surround me, leaving only a knee-wide, scrape-littered path down the middle to negotiate my way to two stools Everett has offered. I jump as an air horn sounds and Everett shuts off the fire, answering the phone, which was tacked up somewhere on the wall amid the zillion note pages, hand drawn patterns, and business cards. His phone conversation is quick, firming up that he will be teaching the Ag Class at the Fromberg High School in making iron roses, one of his specialties.

As Everett sits on the stool across from me, he grins, offering me an opened zip-lock bag. “Care for some peanut brittle? It’s my own home made recipe.” Between delicious candy crunching, he inquires if I’ve taken out my horse and wagon on any adventures, has calving season started and that he heard they’d dug out the dinosaur bones my husband had discovered out in the hills.

“Heard they found a 45-inch-long Diplodocus rib bone near here not long ago.”

Seems that Edwards’ Shop is a hub for swappin’ local information and not much slips past this tall, humble man’s attention, especially when it comes to dinosaurs or rock hounding. Pulling out a tattered cloth bag from a wooden box, Everett hands me a fist-sized smooth stone, dark red in color and scuffed on one end.

“That is a gullet stone … made of petrified wood … fun to think it may have been inside a huge, crested duck-bill dinosaur and those marks on the end are from it being used by a native as a hammer eons ago.”

Fascinated, I listen as he tells of dinosaur digs and rock formations, tiny bird-like bones imbedded in rock, and the details of a helicopter lifting a huge rock slab containing a giant leg bone, preserved and encased in foil, that some college students had helped excavate nearby. Seems that Everett has helped on many digs, a quiet local expert.

All the while he is talking, I am aware that I am surrounded by tons of scrap iron and dusty antique plow parts hanging everywhere in the dimly lit shop. Noticing a beautiful heart-shaped piece of scrolled iron-work hanging beside me, I ask what interesting project or farm repair he is working on. “Gone are the days of fixing bean drills, tumble bug plows and cultivators,” he said, “but I keep busy with welding and such. I’m still an EMT on the volunteer ambulance crew so I never seem to run out of things to do … have you seen my chickens and roses?”

Maneuvering carefully down the cluttered narrow trail through the shop I follow Everett to a stacked pile of iron-pieces on which are lying several long stemmed roses. They are gray in color but look as if they would smell as sweet as a fresh cut red rose, unbelievably beautiful.

“I have to put the leaves on them yet, but they are kinda interesting to make.”

I am amazed that they are made from metal, a perfect flower. There are several lilies and daisies in among the nearby scraps and a funny unfinished rooster cut-out peeking out from behind a stack of iron hammers.

“I’ll make a rose bud if you want to see how its done out of one continuous piece of rod?” … and the roar of the home-made brick fire forge starts up again, its heat filling the room instantly.

I am mesmerized as one end of an iron rod turns glowing red in the fire and he removes it to a nearby vice, hammering it flat in strong even strokes of a well practiced arm, until it has cooled too much to work. He returned it to the fire, heated, then re-hammered, repeating the process many times until he had about an 8-inch piece of flattened and notched iron on the end of the rod. While still pliable, Everett curled the flat onto itself, creating a tight swirl, returning it on and off to the fire to keep the metal supple.

On the last time out of the fire, I watched as the red hot flower cooled … slowly turning gray from the out-most petals, inward. When there was just a blush of red on the inside curls Everett said, “I wish they could stay that color … it would be wonderful!” I could only smile my agreement and quietly marvel at how this man could take a solid straight rod of metal and turn it into the fluid soft petals of a rose.

Squinting in the sunlight, I stepped back out through the rear door of the shop, iron rose in hand and my pocket filled with peanut brittle, feeling as if I’d touched a bit of local legend in the cluttered blacksmith shop along highway 310.


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