Saturday, February 15, 2014

Special Valentine's Day......

Wow what a week last week was  with temps in the -30.  So glad it is behind us and now we deal with the wind and ice. But oh the temps in the 40's are nice. That rhymes.....Valentines Day was a pleasant reminder of how I am surrounded by special family and friends. Starting with an early morning visit from a friend with a beautiful Valentines card and well wishes for a special day. From neighbors helping me with a plumbing problem, to Chinese take out brought all the way from Billings and shared with an awesome family, and roses delivered in person to my door by a special young couple from here in Lavina, who we have watched grow up. Also a girl friend going out of her way to stop by the house and give be a strong hug and a special Valentine wish and letting me know she has been thinking of me.  And to top off the day a bear hug from my Kit-Mister and long phone calls from Miranda and Heather. It was a day I can say I was not looking forward to but as I crawled in to bed and as sleep came I ended my day with a smile and a realization of how blessed I am.  Thank You so much everyone.......... 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Morning chores-4 legged friends

I thought sleeping in on a quiet, dark Saturday morning sounded like a good idea, but my two, four legged friends thought different.The clanging of the cow bell on our back door has brought me instantly awake. George trained our dogs to ring a bell mounted near the back door when they want to go outside. They have rousted me at 5:45am, made their first trip out side to do the business they do first thing in the morning. Then they let me know that breakfast was next on the schedule. Gus ( 15 year old Weimaraner) when finished with his meal proceeds to the kitchen and standing in front of a certain cupboard  does his low howling bay that reminds me he is ready for his 3 morning pills lathered in butter. Out side one more time to do important business and chase a neighborhood cat that visits early each morning. It is now 6:15 and both dogs are  sound asleep on the couch close to the warm crackling wood stove. I would love to go back to bed but sleep would not come after this early chore detail. I would tease George that I did not really like dogs. I do not know many people who loved dogs more than George. He would say that dogs are always glad to see you, always want to do what you want to do and have this unconditional love for their master. But George was very good with dogs. He had a calmness and patients that animals picked up on right out of the shoot, and he felt that animals deserved all the patients a person could muster. I miss seeing George taking his afternoon naps on the floor with the dogs. I think Gus and Rascal do too.  This picture brought tears to my eyes and a feeling of overwhelming love as I know what a special time this was for all involved. Memories are truly one of the greatest treasures we have.    Have a special Saturday....Charlotte

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Warn Winter Meal....

It has been several days since I have put my fingers on the key board. Time slows for no one.  Tonight I baked one of our favorite Mexican dishes called Sanchos. When George and I were first married and he was working for the National Park Service in La Junta Colorado we experienced some of the best Mexican food ever. One of our favorite restaurants was in a private home that was only open for evening hours. The business was run by a family and there was always a line waiting when it opened. Sanchos was a favorite on the menu. We both enjoyed them so much, that through trial and error we learned to make them. Sanchos are one of those meals that are even better as left overs the next night. Easy to make and delicious .

1to 1 1/2 pound game burger - browned
1 medium onion- finely chopped and fried
2 garlic cloves-minced and fried with onions or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tablespoon  chili powder 
1/4 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
Dashes of salt and pepper to taste
1  4oz can chopped green chilies 
1  19oz can green chile enchilada sauce
1   Package soft tortillas. 6-8
1   12oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix the spices, onions, garlic and green chilies with the browned game burger. Spread enough of the mixture on the tortilla shell so it can still be rolled up. Before rolling put several tablespoons of green chile enchilada sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese over game burger. Place rolled tort in shallow roasting dish.  We use a cast iron casserole dish that helps hold the heat during serving. If you like you can also make room on your dish for a can of retried beans.  Lastly pour enchilada sauce over the whole outfit, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35- 40 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. A dollop of sour cream when served can't be beat....ENJOY....

Prep time:  45 minutes

Serves : 6

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Son

This morning I rise with a light chill in the house. As I stoke the wood stove( in our house that means put some wood in the stove) I remember back 18 years to the day our last child and only son Christian Kelly Ainslie was born. Both George and I were in our mid to  late 30's when I went to him one day and said what do you think about having another child? I remember his tilted look and eyes that said "What"....his concerns were the same as mine so we decided to table it for now. But as time went by I just had this funny feeling that there was some one out there that we needed to meet. The day I approached the topic again of another baby - Yes or No - he turned to me with that tilted look and said " fine with me as long as you think there is only one somebody out there that we need to meet". It was so George, in after thinking on something, decision made, let's move on. We were not set on a boy or girl, but when he was born Dr Olson's exact words were "Oh a little blacksmith". We had a family joke for years that the first year of his life he was never put down. He was very welcomed and loved by us all and still is to this very day.   Off to Billings we go this afternoon to meet up with family to celebrate at Kit's favorite restaurant and enjoy one of his favorite pies (peanut butter cream). I have thought a lot about your dad today , how much he loved you, and know how proud he was of you and excited for your future he was. Have a special day.  Happy Birthday Dear Kit....Love Mom... 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Beginnings

The day has come for me to begin where some one left off. I can honestly say it is a bit scary to think that I will be blogging to the world and with the help of my children and friends writing a biography and cookbook. It is a project my late husband (wow do those last two words come with a wave of emotion) George Ainslie had stated over 20 some years ago. He would be thrilled that I would take on the project of completing his cook book, but would not think his story was worthy of being told. Just like him to think that. See he did not think he was anyone special, but I know different. As you follow me through this journey (as I went on many with him) you will see and get to know, as I have been told by many friends, a modern day renaissance man. He was the writer and story teller in our family not me. But as I said earlier I will begin where he left off. Wish me luck and George in your very special way guide me.   Charlotte 1/8/2014

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Black-Smithing Seminar Now Available!

Although I have given numerous Blacksmithing Seminars over the 35 years I have been Blacksmithing, I am now offering Beginning and Advanced Seminars in my home shop. These Seminars will be scheduled according to the whims of demand, and my work schedule. Maximum participants at this time is two per week. Check out the Seminar information below, as well as a few photos from my latest Seminar.

 I combine demonstration, clear drawings of the operation and patient coaching
 to explain complex processes to a participant.
 Here you are looking at a participants personal tools, along with a few items he made during the Seminar. Participants are encouraged to bring their own favorite tools to the Seminars, if they have them, otherwise all necessary tooling is provided by Prairie Elk Forge.
A participant hot cutting iron on the Hardy tool.
An example of items made by last weeks Seminar participant! Scroll, meat fork, trunk handles, trunk hings, scroll wall bracket, and forged rivet.
Here is a link to a video on You Tube that my Son made that shows a little of my teaching style.


George Ainslie,  BLACKSMITH  
Prairie Elk Forge
P.O.Box 234
202 First Avenue East
Lavina, Montana  59046  

Facebook us at Prairie Elk Forge or George Ainslie                                                     

Participants fee covers the full five day session, all instruction, access to all tools and materials, and the complete design library. Your fee also includes room and board. We have two nice guest bedrooms available, one for each participant. If you choose to bring your spouse (for an additional fee), double beds are also available.  Three square meals a day will be served, please let us know if you have any special dietary needs. Wi-Fi computer service is available here.
It is required for you to bring the following items: Heavy cotton work pants and shirts, good solid work boots, and cotton or wool work gloves. It is suggested that you bring a hat or cap, and a warm work sweater or jacket and long underwear in cold weather. The shop has an exhaust fan, which runs whenever forges are lit, this fan brings in outside air at the ambient temperature, cold when it’s cold, hot when it’s hot outside. Avoid any polyester clothing as it burns and melts to your skin.
Plan on bringing a good quality notebook and pens and pencils for note taking and doing your design work during class.
Prairie Elk Forge will provide hearing protection, non- prescription safety glasses, or full face shields which must be worn at all times in the shop. If you need prescription glasses, full face shields can be worn over them, but it is not convenient, if you have prescription safety glasses, bring them with you!
Minor cuts, abrasions, and burns are part of Blacksmithing, basic first aid supplies are here for your use, plan on bringing any prescription or over the counter medicines you may need.
Prairie Elk Forge, the Ainslie Family, or anyone associated with this Seminar, does not assume any liability or responsibility for accidents or injuries, or personal loss while participants are attending the Seminar.

George Ainslie has been a professional blacksmith for 27 years, and has been privileged to work on a multitude of prestigious projects (a partial listing is included at the end of the enclosed CD). He has demonstrated in Canada and Japan as well as run seminars in various parts of the continental U.S. He has also taught a number of protégés in his workshop. His experiences as an historical interpreter in the National Park Service, Montana  Hunter Education Instructor, and teaching ‘smithing, guarantee your experience will be a positive one.
This seminar will serve as your introduction to traditional blacksmithing methods and techniques. Each participant will have access to a forge, anvil and post vice, as well as all necessary tools and materials. Participants can expect to leave the seminar with several finished items.
Seminar cost 1250.00 for 5 shop days, 2 additional nights for arrivals and departures.
Seminar costs include transportation  to and from Billings, Montana to the PEF facility, lodging and meals family style in the Ainslie home, access to all tools and materials needed, and a complete design library for many styles of ironwork.
Seminar plan includes 5 days in the shop. Additional days can be scheduled on an individual basis. Participant numbers limited to 2 per Seminar to allow for maximum individual instruction. For students so inclined, a weekend retreat to our  cabin in the nearby Mountains is available for a $25.00 charge. Spouses are welcome for $35.00 per day, charge for room and board.
Advanced Seminars will focus basic skills on specific projects. Participants who take the Advanced Seminar can expect to learn to apply advanced techniques to produce one or more advanced items.

The art of Blacksmithing consists of 10 basic skills, which when mastered can be combined to make most items. The basic seminar will concentrate on these skills, and the participant will move forward to producing items using these skills.
1). DRAWING IRON DOWN: Reducing the cross-section of iron by hot forging.
  a. ½  inch square  drawn to a point
  b. ½ inch round iron drawn to a point
  c. Use of the anvil horn, hammer peen, and fuller to spread iron wider and thinner.
2). BENDING: Change the shape of iron by bending hot, or cold as appropriate.
  a. Free hand bending iron into a curlique.
  b. Freehand bending into a scroll.
  c. Forging a bend in square iron that measure 90 degrees inside and outside of the bend.
  d. Use of bending forms .
  e. Bending sheet metal in a shop made brake, the design of which comes from ancient times.
3). PUNCHING HOLES: in hot and cold iron.
  a. Hot punching holes; round, square, slot shaped.
  b. Drifting holes larger using a drift.
  c. Punch a ½ inch round hole in ½ inch round bar.
   d. Cold punching slot shaped holes using shop made tools.

4). UPSETTING IRON: To increase the cross-section of iron by hot forging.
  a. Upset a ½ inch round bar end to ¾ inch diameter.
  b. Freehand forge a rivet head.
  c. Upset a ½ inch bar in it’s center( applies to punching section).
  a. Hot cutting with Hardy.
  b. Hot cutting with a hot set.
  c. Cold cutting with hardy and hot set.
  d. Shop made rivet shear.
6). FORGE WELDING: Ancient method of joining iron and steel.
  a. Back weld.
  b. 2 piece weld.
  c.”T” Weld.
  d. Welding “tricks”; securing iron to be welded.
  a. Simple twist of hot square iron.
  b. Advanced twists: composite, pre-forged, manipulated round and square iron.
8). HOT COLLARING: Joining two or more bars by applying a hot collar that wraps around them and shrinks into place.
  a. Simple hot collars, how to measure, pre-forge and apply.
  b. Decorative collaring

9). DIE FORGING: Ancient technique of forging multiple identical items using forging dies made by the blacksmith.
  a. Developing a design to be die forged.
  b. Making a master piece.
  c. Building the forging die.
  d. Forging the die cavity.
  e. Using the die to forge multiple pieces.
10). HEAT TREATING TOOL STEELS: How to normalize, anneal, harden and temper tool steel.
 a. Details of proper hardening and tempering in one step.
  b. Details of hardening and tempering in multiple steps for complex tools, i.e. knives, specialty steels for tool making etc.

Participants in Advanced Seminars can expect to perfect skills and techniques learned in the Basic Skills Program, or on their own, if they are already skilled in basic blacksmithing techniques. Participants will utilize these skills, and learn advanced techniques to produce items from Specialty Areas listed below. This program level will allow for Participants to customize their experience beyond the scope of Specialty Areas listed below. If you have other areas of interest beyond the scope of those listed, you can consult with George before committing to the Seminar, to customize your experience.
Seminar will be scheduled in 5 day blocks with weekend retreat option at the Ainslie Cabin if desired at a cost of 1250.00 per 5 day Seminar, including 2 additional days, for arrivals and departures. Advanced Seminars are also limited to 2 Participants for maximum efficiency.
1. CUTLERY: Knives, axes, tomahawks, wood chisels
2.ARCHITECTURAL HARDWARE: Door latches, hinges, trunk handles, nails, and decorative bolts and nuts
3.HORSEMAN’S HARDWARE: Bits and spurs, buckles, saddle rings etc.
4.HAND WROUGHT LIGHTING: Electrified lanterns, wall sconces, or chandeliers.
5. CANDLE LIGHTING DEVICES: A variety of working candle holders of various decorative and functional style.
7. BULLET MOULDS: Seminar will take participant through the historic method of forging all the tools to produce a 18th/19th Century round ball mould for muzzleloading firearms.
8. FRONTIERSMAN ACCOUTREMENTS: Folding lead ladles, fixed lead ladles, folding and fixed handled skillet, gun worms, pliers, flint strikers, campfire irons etc.

Our home, shop, and cabin in the Mountains are the result of 20+ years of hard labor. As an Artist-Blacksmith, and outdoorsman all my life I have a deep appreciation for natural materials, and rustic spaces. We could not afford the kind of custom homes and cabins I have spent so much time building ironwork for. As a result, we built our own!
You will have the opportunity to see lots of custom ironwork installed in our home, and can  learn how the designs fit into their surroundings in appropriate ways. Every phase of ironwork is represented here from kitchen utensils and fireplace tools to hardware and electrified lighting both interior and exterior. It is my hope that this will serve to inspire you during the Seminar.
Our cabin in the Mountains is a very comfortable, primitive, custom built log building. I built the entire building and all the ironwork with the occasional help of my family. Each Stone and Log was carefully carved and placed with an artist’s eye, the setting is beautiful and remote.
It is a one room facility complete with propane lighting, wood cookstove and propane hot plate, and a nice odor free outhouse. We would welcome you to a night in the cabin if you are so inclined to finish off the Seminars.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Packing Horses into the Park County Electric Power Line

     We all know the Recession has been hard on the construction main customer base for the past 18 years has been the construction industry and national historic sites. Happily for me my shop was employed way over 40 hours per week filling orders for hardware, lighting, firescreens and other custom articles which fall under the heading of housesmithing. Prior to that the historic reenactment participants throughout the Country kept me busy. Hats off to those boys and gals for they fed my family for the first seven years of business, and have been helping take up the slack during this Recession. Thank-you for your patronage.
    Having said all that, for the first time in 25 years the shop work has not been enough to keep me as busy as I am accustomed after completing our house remodeling projects, cutting and splitting 10 cords of wood to heat the house and shop, staining the house and log blacksmith shop...I found I still had time to fill after filling the blacksmithing orders the shop produced.
    So for the first time in 25 years I took a job helping a freind of mine in his business which mostly involves treating infestations of noxious weeds on rangelands. In a nutshell we ride ATV's over incredibly rough terrain spraying species specific herbicide to treat foreign invasive weed species that threaten to destroy habitat for wildlife and livestock. At first , I have to admit, that it was an adjustment to take a job after being self employed a quarter of a Century, but that sense of embarassment was quickly replaced with a sense of fulfillment that rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself and waiting for some governemnt bureaucracy to bail me out, I was ,as always, taking resposibility for myself.  If I had to find a part time seasonal job to help take up the slack, this one was perfect for me. I got to spend up to 12 hours a day outside in beautiful Montana landscapes, improving wildlife habitat.We treat everything from private ranch lands to Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and Wildlife Refuges. The nature of the work still allows ample time to fill my blacksmithing orders between projects.
     Last week I was able to fill an unusual contract for Prairie Elk freind who owns the business had a project to treat weeds on the Park County Montana electric transmission line  right of way into the mine South of Big Timber and McLeod Montana.  The terain required the use of horses to get water and herbiced to the weeds. I rode Char's old gelding"Senior" and packed herbicide and water on my riding mare "Whitney" to backpack sprayers who mixed and applied the herbicide to Spotted Knapweed, Canada Thistle, Musk Thistle, Ox Eye Daisy, and Houndstounge. All these weeds destroy habitat for wild ungulates such as Deer, Elk, and Bighorn Sheep, which of course impacts all the carnivores. This is very steep mountain side country with stumps and down timber criss crossing erosion washouts and boulders, stirrup deep grass, and young fir and pine trees on slopes greater than 45 degrees!
    I wish I had some photos to go with this blog, but I decided not to bring a camers as I already had 8 equine legs to worry about not breaking in that challenging terrain, and the possiblity that a Grizzly Bear could show up at any time and make my life more entertaining than it already was! I carried a .44 magnum pistol on my hip all the time, while we had one pistol and two cans of Bear Spray with the backpack crew so everyone was covered even when the horses and I were on the trail picking up or delivering water jugs and herbicide to the crew.
  There were times I was off the power line riding back to the trucks to pick up more water, and lunch, cigarettes etc.needed for the manpower doing the spraying. The road was much easier and safer for the horses, so I used it to intercept the powerline and packed loads to the tops of the ridges the powerline crossed to supply the crew, as much as possible, with downhill spraying.
    The horses and I shared the road with logging trucks, contractors vehicles, mine trucks and busses hauling miners to and from work, as well as a few bowhunters looking for Elk. I have to tell you everyone I met was very polite to the horses and I, and slowed down or stopped til I waved em by.
    I left that project so very proud of my horses, they did what I asked of them, and performed beautifully in a very challenging landscape...even if I occaisionally had to ask the a couple of times.