Kootenai Country Montana gives back to Shop with a Cop

Submitted by

Shae Monroe

The Kootenai Country Montana Foundation donated $1,000.00 to Shop-With-A-Cop this year to help provide a great experience for local children.  The funds were provided through The Venture Inn and Restaurant’s monthly giving program, which provides 10 percent of the restaurant’s proceeds during the last week of each month for charitable giving.

Officer L. Hauke graciously came to accept our donation from Troy Douthit and Shae Munro of Kootenai Country Montana. We cannot wait to hear about how much fun the kids had during this special time.

Bull Valley Forge for original gifts

By Brian Baxter


Chris and Sharee Miller run the Bull Valley Forge business together. Sharee takes care of communications, such as their ETSY account at: and their facebook account at Bull Valley Forge. The couple live and work out of the Troy area, and their email is:, with their phone number being 406-295-5800. And Chris is the blacksmith.

In the 1860 to 1870 time period, U.S. Census showed 20% of all people on record were blacksmiths. One of the most ancient skills, the term blacksmith is reported to come from the black layer of oxides that form on metal as it is heated, and the  Old English word smythe meaning to strike. It’s controlled strength really, as the blacksmith uses a forge to heat, tongs to hold, and a sledge or hammers to hit the metal. The artistry comes in as the individual uses anvils and twists, edge, point, pein, and draw out metal to create a functional and artistic piece of work. The smithy, is the place where the blacksmith works.

Chris began to blacksmith when he attended Farrier School at Walla Walla Community College back in 2001. A farrier is a blacksmith who shoes horses. He learned to shape horseshoes, and to configure metal into tools. Over the next 16 years as a full time farrier, he dabbled in blacksmithing and found creative ways to re-cycle his growing pile of used horseshoes. In 2017, he and Sharee harvested trees on their property, and while living in a canvas tent built an off grid log home. Chris began taking custom orders for pan and towel racks, as well as door handles like the ones he made for their cabin.

Bull Valley Forge have original gifts for Christmas, home, barn, stables, and they include dinner bells, stocking holders, campfire tools, hooks, handles, curtain rods, toilet paper holders, log peelers, tools, and their new pine tree handles that have creative punches that make up the pine tree design. When asked by The Montanian what attracted him to this particular skill, Miller said, “I really like being able to keep the old ways alive. Everything I do is different, nothing is alike because none of it is machined.” When this reporter asked Chris what his own special touches were and what makes him most proud of his work Miller said, “I always make sure my metal work has a very clean careful finish. I enjoy making useful things and knowing the stuff I have made is in peoples homes all over, even in France.”