Somewhere Beyond Lewistown


Somewhere beyond Lewistown, MT is the heart of “Nowhere” in a quaint little town called Winnett, Montana.  And just beyond the hopping town of Winnett is a simple little sign that says, “Flat Willow”.  It’s definitely not the metropolis of Winnett…nope, Flat Willow doesn’t have a bar or a post office.  It simply is a sign, a cemetery and the historic Flat Willow Hall, which plays host to weddings, funerals and other important gatherings for the folks in that area.  It is literally in the middle of nowhere…completely surrounded by wheat country, old homesteads, oh and a few hundred head of cattle!


While many families are hustling out of town to head to the lake, a bigger city or the beach my family quietly headed to this little slice of Montana heaven last week.   Many people have already said to us, “What in the world is in Winnett?”  “You went where?” and the classic, “Wow, you guys are weird!”  Well, let me tell you…escaping a busy life to a place where there was no cell service, no internet and no people needing anything was pure paradise for us.  When life is simple, you connect more with each other.

Winnet 1My family loves farm and ranch life, we love the big beautiful skies of Montana, we love the history of our state and the idea of homesteading.  All of these loves brought us to Winnett, Montana.  Our friends have a family ranch a few miles past the Flat Willow Hall which their great grandparents homesteaded in the late 1800’s.  Family lived there until the late 1980’s and now it serves as a base camp for hunting trips and get-aways for the family …and a few crazy friends!

Winnet 2

We spent most of our time at the ranch, surrounded by rolling prairies and vast blue skies.  Our sons commented more than once that they now understood why Montana is the Big Sky Country.  When you stand in the middle of the prairie and gaze out in any direction, all you see is never-ending blue sky.  You feel so small standing there yet there is such power in breathing in the fresh, country air and being so free from the confines of modern life.

Winnet 5

One afternoon and evening, we wandered into the town of Winnett.  There were two places for us to eat, we chose “The Cozy Corner”.  The steaks were great but what struck me most was the friendliness of the people.  My boys commented that everyone who drove or walked by looked at you in the eye…something we’ve lost in Western Montana, I fear.  They were right, people weren’t afraid to have eye to eye contact with us and greet us.  We sat down on some older, worn out picnic tables in the front of the place.  In our “big city” way, we had staked our claim, by putting our belongings on the table.

Winnet 4We went inside to order and when we came out there were a couple of locals sitting at our tables.  We stared for a moment and then began shifting our belongings around thinking they would realize we were sitting there.  But they simply looked up and greeted us.   Pretty soon they began including us into their conversation, bought us some beers and before we knew it, it was like we’d known them for a long time.  Welcome to Small Town, USA!

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When it was time for our vacation to end, we had a hard time pulling our boys away.  They had grown to love the freedom of the prairie, the excitement of looking for rattlesnakes and the closeness of nature. I was sad to leave the connection to the past behind.  Being in a place where you could so clearly visualize the pioneers and homesteaders of our great State, was endearing to me.  I would venture to guess this little piece of Montana heaven will forever remain in our family’s hearts.   When asked if the boys would rather vacation in Mexico or in Winnett, Montana they replied, without a moments’ hesitation, “Winnett!!!”  Congrats, Winnet…you reached into the depths of our souls and won us over!

Winnet 6

If you want to escape it all and show your family the beauty of Montana, I highly suggest getting off the interstate and taking the back roads of Montana this summer!  You might be completely surprised at what you will find!  And believe me, a simpler and slower pace of life is exactly what everyone needs to get back in touch with what is important in life!



Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.  Read more of Erin’s blogs about homesteading, farming, homemaking and other fun things at

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