This morning, I said to Tractor Dave, “If it was ten degrees cooler, we could have snow!” He said to bite my tongue. While it is untypically cool today, we did have some really hot mid 90-degree weather earlier this week, and of course, those were the days we decided it was dry enough to bale hay.
It was really hot working out there. Dave said it was even ridiculously hot inside Babe, despite the air conditioner. He was sitting there under all that glass. Joey was dying in the heat in his thick black coat and I poured cold water on him about every 30 minutes. He is not quite four months old and hasn’t figured out how to sit still in the shade! Linda and I were burning up in the hot sun, but we knew we were expecting rain and we had to get the hay in the barn. We just kept raking and stacking while the men were baling and stacking!
This year we thought we would try to make it easier on ourselves in the bale-stacking process. We put pallets all over the field and loaded the bales onto the pallets. Then Cowboy Dave used his tractor and loaded the pallets onto the hay wagon. Last year we moved each individual bale multiple times, but this year, we just took the hay wagon up to the barn at the High Lonesome, and used the tractor to lift the bales into the hay loft. I credit my brilliant husband for his ideas in hay efficiency.
Late in the hot afternoon, we were finally done moving bales up to the barn. Funny how we picked the hottest day of the year so far to do all the hard work! We had a few cold Keystones to reward ourselves. The next day, it was about 20 degrees cooler, and we took advantage of the cool weather to finish moving the hay into the hayloft.
The mask helps me with my allergies!
Cowboy loading up to lift hay into the loft
A view from the loft
Dave surveying his stacking skills
Then I got a lesson in baling.
Later, we did get the forecasted rain. It has been raining all weekend and we are happy about that. Not only is it great for the remaining crops in the field, but we get a little break from haying! We will continue when things dry out again, although that looks like it won’t be for a few days.
In other news, the barn project will begin sometime this week, weather dependent. We are also dog-sitting for Vito. Joey and Vito ( the dog mafia) are full of energy and play and wrestle and run continuously. This goes on for about two hours at a time, and then everyone passes out from exhaustion.
The house is a muddy mess and smells like wet, dirty dogs. That is country living though! The weather drives our schedule and we just try to keep up. Every day is completely different and beautiful in its own way. You just have to appreciate the sunshine and the rain!
13 June 2018 – Cloudy and 53 but warming to mid 80’s
We are nearly two weeks into June and wondering, where does the time go? Since the round-up, Dave and I have been busy preparing for winter. Yes, it is June, but that’s how ranch life goes. We literally have to make hay while the sun shines. And get firewood while the sun shines. This doesn’t really feel like a job, though. The long winter really helps you appreciate the warm weather and sunshine, and nothing beats working on your own stuff outside in the sunshine.
We had a great visit with my brother, Bill. He only stayed for a couple days, so we made sure he worked the whole time….ha ha! Last year, Dave limbed and stacked a ton of rounds and we let them season in the sun since then. While Bill was here, we drove around the Holler and loaded them all up restacked them in the wood shed.
Rancher Dave and Bill working together
Bill at work
Wood shed is half full or half empty depending on if your’e an optimist or pessimist
That is a lot of wood, and it would have taken Dave and I three times as long without Bill’s help! Thanks, brother!
Next up, the barn plans are going into motion. The gentleman we hired to clear the lot for the barn showed up with his heavy equipment and went straight to work. He cleared the large area for the barn and believe it or not, found nothing but rocks!
Some heavy equipment needed for the dang rocks
A cleared area
Looking from the barn site to the house
There is no way we could have cleared this area on our own. That big equipment really made the difference, not to mention the expertise of the operator. The barn will start going up on the 18th. More on this in the near future.
Last weekend, my Mom turned 80 years old! All of her kids decided to surprise her and show up at her house in Iowa so she could be surrounded by family. She was definitely surprised and happy. It was great to see my whole family together, too!
After spending the weekend in Iowa, I drove back to the Holler and I have to say there is no place like home. When you’re out here in the country every day, you become accustomed to the quiet, the fresh air, and the lack of traffic. It only takes a short trip to a city to realize how much I like the country. One big difference is the traffic. Out here I don’t sit at traffic lights. I do have to wait for the occasional herd of cattle or flock of turkeys to get out of the road, but somehow my road rage is much more manageable.
I returned to the Holler just in time for haying season. While I was gone, Cowboy Dave mowed one of his fields. Yesterday, he used the tractor-pulled rake to make some big windrows. In the afternoon, after the hay had a chance to dry out, Rancher Dave and I went out and raked in the corners to make sure the baler could pick up all the hay it could get.
Windrows after raking
Cowboy pulling the rake
That’s a nice windrow!
We baled one small field and were slightly disappointed that we only exceeded last year’s production by three bales….that was until we tried lifting those bales.. Last year we averaged about 45-50 lbs. per bale, but this year these bales are between 60 and 70lbs.
Babe pulling the baler
Rancher and Cowboy looking over their work
Get to work, Babe!
It seems all the fertilizer and moisture are paying off so far!
On the agenda this week: more cutting, baling, and stacking. I’m also planning on opening the beehive today to see if the ladies are ready for another super (bee box with frames) to expand into. They fill up their lower boxes with honey and are forced to move up through the hive to continue to produce more brood and young bees. This year, the sweet clover is blooming which gives the bees a lot of potential for gathering nectar and producing honey. I’m hoping to harvest some of the gold stuff!
That is the mid-June update. We hope everyone is having a great summer out there! Don’t forget to spend some time at the swimming hole!
Last week was really busy here on the Holler, and over at the High Lonesome. On Memorial Day, we began getting ready for our round-up. We have a small herd, but the cattle all need to be worked to ensure they stay healthy and happy.
We had intended to use a neighbor’s corral because the cows wouldn’t have to move that far and they already had a chute, head gate, and calf table that they said we could use. The weather had other plans and we had about 3 days of heavy rains. While the rain is really needed and great for oat and alfalfa growing, it made that neighbor’s corral impossible to work due to the deep mud and muck.
Our alternative plan was to borrow a calf table from our friend, Ned, and set up over in the High Lonesome corral, which was still muddy but workable when we put down some pallets, plywood, and pine shavings. We strive to be solutions oriented.
So after gathering all the parts and pieces, we went about setting up over at Cowboy Dave and Linda’s. While the guys used the tractors to set up the calf table and alley, Linda and I cleaned off some of the equipment. I used their hose to wash off some of the gate pieces, and I hadn’t anticipated how strong the water pressure was. Lucky me. When I set out to spray one of the most manure-laden pieces of the gate, the powerful water pressure ricocheted all the poop right back in my face and all over my shirt and jeans. It was disgusting and I was happy I at least was wearing sunglasses and didn’t have my mouth open. Covered in crap, I ran over to give Pilot Dave a hug and he ran away. Cowboy Dave said it was because he didn’t like my new cologne, “Corral #5”. Ha ha!
Then, we all went to go round up the cows and bring them back to the correct pasture. They seemed excited to be coming back home.
The day of the roundup, the vet was going to show up around noon so we spent the morning sorting cows. We separated all the new calves from their mothers and put them in a pen. The calves did not seem to care but WOW, those moms were pretty unhappy. We could barely hear each other over all the mooing.
The vet showed up with her assistant and we got to work. Linda worked the gates, Cowboy and I pushed individual calves through the alley, and Pilot Dave worked with the vet to catch them in the calf table.
I have to brag a little (and I know he’ll protest) about Pilot Dave. He is really evolving into Rancher Dave. He ran the calf table. He branded all six calves. He tied off the legs of the two bulls that needed castrating. (This is done to hold the leg out of the way while the vet goes about her business.) He held a calf’s head completely still while the vet de-horned the little guy and used the branding iron to cauterize the wound. He worked side by side with the vet and her assistant to get everyone done and he looked like he’d been doing it his whole life.
Rancher Dave working the table
Rancher Dave branding
The calf working went pretty smoothly, but the cows were a little more difficult. They did not want to go through the alley so we all had to team up and push and prod and entice with cake. All the girls got fly tags, they were poured with de-wormer, and the heifers were given Preg-guard shots in preparation for summer breeding.
Big ole Marzee in the chute
Getting a fly tag
Mommas and babies reunite
“We’ve had enough of this…we’re outta here!”
The actual vet visit took about two hours and we were all beat afterward.
As tired as we were, we drank a few Keystones in the shade and congratulated ourselves on a successful roundup. No one got hurt, we accomplished all we needed to, and we all felt pretty proud of ourselves for a job well done. While we are still trying to feel out our way here in the Wild West, we feel like we have come a long way for a couple of city slickers. And, our cows weren’t too mad afterward either.
23 May 2018 – Rainy with a forecast of sun and 78 degrees!
It is impossible to describe how quickly things have greened up around here. One thing you can say about the South Dakota weather is that is definitely dynamic!
Dave and I are so happy to be sleeping with the windows open, and waking up to look out at green grass instead of snow. We have had a lot of work to do this spring, and the list of things to do never ends, but the weather has been just perfect for working outside so we are taking advantage.
Some things we have been working on include planting the garden.
Milk jugs over little plants to prevent hail damage
Little plants just waiting for sunshine
Last year we had some success and are hoping that the compost we put down this winter will make this year’s garden even better. The dream list includes lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions.
I opened the beehive to see if there were any glaring problems. The girls were pretty docile and I was able to see they definitely still have a queen. There were eggs, healthy looking larvae, and already some capped frames of honey. I am so grateful they survived the long, cold winter!
Dave helped out our neighbor, Ned, with cattle round up. This is the time of year when the ranchers separate all the new-born calfies from the mommas and give them the required shots, castrate them if required, and brand them. OUCH!
Cattle round-up on horseback
Sorting the cattle
Everyone in their proper place
Sending cows down the alley
Ned had two calf tables going and Pilot Dave was ear-tagging all afternoon; he became quite the expert as he tagged over 150 calves. For all you non-ranching Hoten Holler Follerers, a calf table is pictured below. The calf is herded up an alley and caught around the neck in the table. The table then can be flipped on the side so the rancher can brand, give shots, ear tag, and have easy access to the back end to accomplish castration.
Calf in the table
Tilted to be worked
My parents came to visit, as I asked them to come for Mother’s Day but the weather was nasty that weekend, so they came the next. We had one day of really nice weather and one where it was in the 40’s and rainy. Still, we went out to check the herd and my Dad made friends with some of the cows.
Yesterday, we went to our neighbor, Sheri’s, and worked on the corral, alleyway and head gate. We will be holding our own round-up on the 30th, and since we do not have the infrastructure here on the Holler, we will be running our herd through her corral. We will be doing the standard ranch stuff as well; shots, branding, castration (for Dude since we didn’t catch him and get him banded at birth), and pouring the cows for fly and worm protection.
We also received our branding iron yesterday, and Dave couldn’t wait to try it out. Joey and I are glad he tried it on a piece of wood and not one of us!
Speaking of Sheriff Joe, he has really settled into ranch life. He loves riding in the mule and checking cows and fence. He has made fast friends with neighbor dogs, Herc and Arrow, and Sheri’s dogs Kiki and Ellie. I’m hoping not to jinx myself by saying he is housebroken, as he hasn’t had any problems inside for about 10 days. He is growing and eats and sleeps a lot. He likes to chew but hates getting in trouble, so if he is chewing on something he is not supposed to, a quick “NO!” will send him onto something else. He is a really good puppy. I keep waiting for the evil puppy side to show up, but so far he is quite sweet. Dave and I refer to him as “Discount Puppy” or “Jeb Bush” because he is LOW ENERGY.
Meeting the lovely lady dobies Kiki and Ellie
There’s that evil puppy
Today’s plans include drilling some holes for a fence we are fixing for a neighbor. We may make a trip to Hot Springs to the Black Hills Meat Market to pick up a brisket for Memorial Day. If the garden is not too wet, I will try to get a few more things planted there. The yard needs weed-whacking and mowing. The list of things to do never really ends, but we can see the slow progress of everything we do and we are really loving the ranch life. Happy Wednesday, everybody!
We have a new hire at the Holler. Meet the newest ranch-hand Sheriff Joe. (We call him Joey!)
It has been a few years since we had a dog and over 10 years since we had a puppy and we had forgotten how much fun they are. So far, Joey has been pretty good with the potty training and he already knows sit. “Stay” is not quite clear to him yet. He also thinks it is pretty cool to be wide awake at 4 AM after sleeping all afternoon. He can get away with anything now because he is so dang cute.
To tired to stand and eat
“Helping” till the garden
In other news, we completed the fence in the northern pasture.
We also had a big MOOOving day as we wrangled the herd from a leased neighbors pasture to another pasture to the south. Fortunately, our docile girls (and now some boys) didn’t cause any trouble and went right where they were supposed to go.
The weather is just about perfect now, and the herd seems to love their new digs. This morning, they were all hanging out all fat and happy.
Dave’s girlfriend watching him mend some fence
Joey meets Frita
Honey falling asleep in the sunshine
Rose sound asleep in the warm weather
This afternoon, we helped our neighbor, Ned, do some cattle round up so the vet could preg-check about 50 or so of his cows. It was really fun, and Joey did great as well. Dave did most of the rounding up and squeeze chute operation. I got to use the hot-shot cattle prod to force the girls into the head gate.
Dave took this from the rear of the squeeze chute….pushing the cows down the alley to the head gate
Cows mulling around waiting for preg checks
More from the squeeze chute
Joey and I making sure the cows go down the alley to the head gate
The vet was great. He would say, “This one’s open” meaning not pregnant, or “This one will calve about the first week of June.” He would say, “This one is between 120-150 days pregnant.” And he even asked Ned if one of the cows had been a twin. Ned didn’t know as she was not born at his ranch but was purchased elsewhere. I was wondering how the heck the vet could tell if a cow had been a twin. I learned that if a cow has twins and one calf is a bull and one calf is a heifer, the heifer can end up infertile. The term is a free-martin. Cattle ranching really has a language all its own!
That about wraps it up for Monday. We hope everyone out there is enjoying May so far. We are loving it after the crazy long winter.
28 April 2018 – Sunny with highs in the upper 60’s
Nature has really done some showing off for us in the last eight days. I just reread the previous blog post and it is amazing how much things have changed in a short amount of time.
Everything is greening up here like you would not believe! The days are getting longer and the weather is perfect for springtime ranch work! This week we have been cross-fencing the northern pasture. This is always fun in South Dakota because there are really very few rocks…..ha ha ha ha ha…..actually, it is almost all rocks and pounding in T-posts and augering the holes for the H’s has been challenging.
Still, the fencing team persevered and the progress is definitely noticeable.
A Corner H
A gate H
The gate will hang between these two H’s
The bees have really been venturing out of the hive, too. There are little white flowers and other blooms popping up all over. I am so grateful they seemed to have survived the winter in tact. The weather is not supposed to be as warm next week, so likely I’ll open the hive and check for a queen the following week. I wanted them to enjoy the warm days this week with little disruption.
The calves are really enjoying the spring weather, too. They are so full of energy, bucking and kicking, and running. They are really curious about us, too, but they are obedient to their mothers’ warnings…..”Don’t get too close.”
And just like that, April is almost gone! May plans include more fencing, some landscaping, getting the garden up and running, and possibly some relaxation before haying season.
20 April 2018 – Cloudy and 40 with snow showers in the forecast
The Holler is showing all the signs of spring, but Old Man Winter just won’t go away. We have little sprouts of green grass all over the pastures, the blue birds and the meadowlarks have returned, the tulips are trying to come up, and the bees have ventured out of the hive on several warm days this week. Still, we have to head out for morning chores in our snow pants and parkas because the dawn temperatures are pretty low and the wind makes it feel even colder.
The past two weeks have been really busy, so I’m giving advanced warning about the length of this blog post. We have been disking, harrowing, and planting with unwavering faith that the growing season must begin soon.
Disking the south
Dave in Babe, disking the rocky north
Filling up the broadcaster
The days fly by when you are in the field all day, but it feels great to come into a warm house at night and be tired from all the work. It also feels great to look at the field you just plowed and planted and believe….really believe….that it is going to produce some good hay. You gotta have patience out here on the ranch.
Disked, harrowed, and planted
Bring on the rain, the oats are thirsty
The bovines have been busy, too. Last week, Cowboy Dave had made a trip out of town to see an old friend. Linda remained and was keeping a close eye on Frita, a cow who looked imminently close to calving. On Saturday morning she called to say Frita was having her baby. Dave and I went over to the High Lonesome and met Linda in the pasture to watch Frita go through her paces.
You may wonder why we make such a big deal about watching these cows give birth. In all likelihood they would be just fine, or even better off if we minded our own business. But the counterargument is that if there is a problem, those dang cows refuse to grab a cell phone to call or text for help. We think they have trouble dialing because the numbers are too small for their big hooves. Calves can be anywhere from 50-75 lbs so there are many things that could go wrong that would require our assistance. A breech position calf would require a person to help reposition the calf in the birth canal. A very large calf may require pulling. A calf that is born and not breathing immediately, or one that won’t eat right away are both situations that would require a human assist. Not that Pilot Dave or I have done any of these things before, but Cowboy and Linda have, and we are trying to learn everything we can to be the best stewards of these animals that we can be.
Back to Frita – we watched her in obvious labor pains for nearly two hours, but then she got up and walked back to rejoin the herd. We decided to give her some space and time, and when Dave and I started heading up the driveway back to the Holler, I caught a glimpse of her going up over a hill by herself again. I said I wanted to stay and see if I could keep an eye on her for awhile. Dave went back to get some chores done on the Holler and Linda went back to the ranch house on the High Lonesome to get on with her day. I hiked a short distance up over the hill with my field glasses and I could just see Frita in the distance lying under a tree. I spotted her with the glasses and realized she was calving! This was probably only 5 minutes after Dave and Linda had left, so I called them from my cell phone (since Frita refused to use hers!) and they came back to the pasture about two minutes after the baby was born.
We got a little closer and watched as the little calf struggled to his feet and started nursing. Phew! Another healthy calf. Later that day we took Frita some hay and got a better look. It is a little bull, and we decided to refer to him as Chips – Frita Chips….like Frito Chips. This is Cowboy and Linda’s bull, so they will obviously name him as they please, but with so many calves running around, Dave and I like to give them a name so we know who is who.
Frita and new-born Chips
Chips the very next day!
Cowboy Dave returned the following day and was pleased about the healthy addition to his herd. We decided that we would move calves to one of the northern pastures because it is already mid-April and we needed to move them out of the current pasture to prepare the field and let the alfalfa and grass start growing. First, we had to catch Heidi and Chips and tag them while we could still use the paddock gates to keep the frantic mothers at bay. First thing Monday morning, we got the calves tagged. It was relatively uneventful, as the two Dave’s are getting pretty good at grabbing the little calves and getting right down to business as Linda and I try to distract the Moms with cake and hay.
Next, we rounded everyone up and herded them along the fence that borders the National Forest toward the northern pasture. The cows are pretty good about this, but of course, there is always one troublemaker. Puzzle’s calf, Heidi, decided to crawl under the barbed wire and take off on her own into the National Forest. While Linda worked the gates and Cowboy drove the cows onward with his mule, Pilot Dave and I tried to get that little dogie back to the herd. She was only six days old, but she could run! A horse would have been very helpful at this point, but since the horses remain on the “Future Purchases List”, Pilot Dave and I ran all over hell’s half acre trying to push Heidi back toward the herd. Finally, after a lot of exercise, we got her out of the forest and on the right side of the fence, but of course, she turned the wrong way and headed south back to the place everyone had just left. Heidi, Come Back!!! Cowboy Dave and Linda returned to the chase on their mule and eventually we got her headed the right way. She was reunited with her mother, who didn’t seem too concerned that her daughter had been running around like a wild child. Lady, get control of your kid!
Next, Pilot Dave and I hooked up the round feeder ring to Babe and delivered it to the northern pasture. It was a slow process, manipulating the big ring and tractor through all the fences and gates, but Dave has gotten pretty good on the tractor.
Yesterday, Pilot Dave and I checked cows in the morning. Everybody looked good and all the calfies were running around, jumping and bucking and feeling good. We gave Honey and Muzzle the once-over because they are the two remaining pregnant ladies. They looked normal, well, normal in the pregnant cow sense. We left them in the pasture intending to check everyone again around noon.
We are out of hay and since the weather hasn’t been warm enough to produce sufficient grazing grass, Cowboy Dave took his trailer south to Edgemont to pick up some round bales from the feed store. Meanwhile, Pilot Dave and I took our trailer north to Custer to pick up a disk and an auger that were in the shop being welded. We all met back on Stagecoach Springs to continue the daily chores.
Pilot Dave drove Babe up to the northern pasture to get the big bale of hay off of Cowboy Dave’s tractor. This was just another incident where we are so grateful to have a big tractor, and I am so happy that I married a good tractor driver!
I went and got Linda in the mule and we decided to do the mid-day cow check. As we approached the pasture we could see Honey way off by herself under a tree. As we got closer, we could see what looked like a big red rock next to her, but as we got even closer we realized it was a calf!
Honey gave birth to a beautiful little bull. He is the Hoten Holler’s second calf so he gets the #2 ear tag if we can catch him today. He looked healthy and was already up and nursing, so we returned to the task at hand, getting the big bale into the feeder.
The day was only half done, though, so the two Dave’s finished up the disking and planting over at the High Lonesome.
Out here, you literally have to make hay while the sun shines. Although we are done with the snow, we hope we get some precipitation today to get the oats off to a good start.
11 April 2018 – Cloudy and 42 with a high forecast in the low 60’s!
It has been a busy week on the Holler. Saturday afternoon, we met Cowboy Dave down at the High Lonesome, where he had just witnessed his cow Pat-Z’s water breaking. Pat-Z seemed pretty confused as she kept calling after and chasing Lilly, who at the time was the youngest calf in the herd. Every few minutes, she would lay down, clearly having agonizing contractions, and then she would get up and go find Lilly. She must have been thinking that was her baby. This went on for about an hour and as it began to get dark, the herd moved up toward the paddock. We took advantage of this and turned Pat-Z off into the barn corral so she could have a little peace and quiet.
Soon enough, she laid down and gave birth to this big baby bull.
He is huge, or YUGE, so Cowboy decided to call him Hugo. Hugo was up and nursing pretty quickly, and we kept him and his mother inside the barn corral away from the herd that evening because it was supposed to get pretty cold. The next day, before morning chores, we let Pat-Z out to go eat and Pilot Dave and Cowboy Dave grabbed the little guy and tagged him. They did not band him because lucky Hugo is not related by blood to any of the other cows (except his Mom). If he turns out to have nice conformation (that’s rancher speak for a good body frame) then Cowboy and Linda will keep him as a bull for a season and sell him as a bull the next. If he doesn’t turn out to be too nice, we can always castrate him at a later date.
While the two Daves were tagging Hugo’s ear, Pat-Z took off to go eat. About half way to the feeder she realized, “Holy cow! I left my baby!” and she came sprinting back to the corral where the men were working the calf. Fortunately they had shut the gate and were protected from the completely panicked mother. When they were done with Hugo, they opened the gate and Pat-Z stormed in to see her calf. She ran in, saw him, and screamed…MOOOOOOOO!!!! “I didn’t say you could get an earring!” It was really crazy and so loud that the little guy kind of shook and cowered. “Yikes! Mom is Mad!” It reminded me of one of the last scenes in Jurassic Park, when the T-Rex busts into the museum and kills the velociraptors. The T-Rex roars and it is almost as loud as Pat-Z yelling for her baby. Watch the link below to see the scene.
We spent the next few days still following around cows and waiting for the remaining four girls to calve. In between cow-checks, Pilot Dave and I have been busy preparing for planting season and fence building. There are always rocks to pick up, trees to limb, slash to drag, etc. Yesterday, Dave hooked up the disc to the tractor and prepped the southern pasture. Today he is disking the north. Last year we put in oats on the 16th of April, and we plan to try to match that schedule this year, weather permitting.
Disking the south
We plan to plant oats here
Dave in Babe, disking the rocky north
This morning, Dave and I went to feed the cows and we did a quick count to make sure everyone was there. We had one more than we did at the last cow-check! Puzzle decided she was going to be sneaky and headed off into the woods in the wee hours of the morning and had this beautiful and BIG baby girl!
I used to think it was a great morning surprise if someone brought doughnuts to work, but my perspective has changed out here on the ranch. Keep your doughnuts, I’ll take a brand new healthy baby calf that is already up and running around with the other babies.
We are expecting three more calves. I hope they come today as we are also expecting a winter storm on Thursday night.
It has been awhile since I’ve written, as I was hoping to report on the arrival of more calves. I can report on the birth of only one.
This is Lilly. Easter Lilly. Born to Cowboy and Linda’s Moo-lah on Easter Sunday.
Dave and I had Cowboy Dave and Linda over for Easter brunch, we all enjoyed some good eats and mimosas and it was a beautiful, sunny day. In the early afternoon, Cowboy and Linda headed home and immediately called from the High Lonesome. “She’s calving right now!” said Cowboy.
Pilot Dave and I jumped in the mule and headed over to the southern pasture on the High Lonesome. Cowboy had tried to isolate Moo-lah to give her some peace and quiet while she delivered, but Nosy Rosy and Frita decided they wanted to hang around. Then Rosy and Frita got into a full-on brawl, head butting and hoofing at the mud and trying to kill one another. Cowboy Dave and Pilot Dave chased them away with whips while Linda and I kept an eye on poor Moo-lah. Moo-lah headed off to a corner of the pasture where she laid down, stood up, laid down, and then finally pushed out a little girl!
The calf was so cute and after trying several times to get up, she figured it out quickly and went right to nursing immediately. Cowboy wanted to call her Ester Williams because it was Easter, but Linda vetoed him with Easter Lilly.
She’s so dang cute, and T-bone is super excited to have someone to run and play with. When she was just one day old, her Mom took off to go eat. She was wandering around the paddock, bumping into things and then tried to crawl out under the barbed wire to the National Forest. Pilot Dave went and got her.
The other cows are still looking like they might pop, and every day we check them multiple times. Every day we say regarding one cow or another, “She looks like she’s going to give birth today.” Every night we check again and the cows all lay down and look at us as if to say, “Get a life, people!” Nothing to see here! Moooooove along.”
Dave and I like looking at the cows, but the weather has not been very nice this spring. It is snowing again today despite the near 50 degree weather we had yesterday. The day before that it was snowing. Tomorrow we are expecting more snow and the low temperature is going to be in the single digits. Ugh, winter, just go away! We are so ready to put away our winter coats, hats, and mukluks, and just be able to throw on boots to go outside. Just like waiting for calves, waiting for springtime weather really has nothing to do with what we want.
Maybe we should just relax and enjoy what remains of the winter. We do have many things on the docket for spring projects and when the sun comes out and it is no longer a muddy, mucky mess, we are going to be busy! We went to Rapid this week and bought all the materials for our fencing project in the north pasture. That will be several days of post pounding and wire stringing.
We got ready to move the cows across the National Forest to the April pasture, although we probably won’t move them until they are all done calving and at least when the snow melts.
We also bought oat seed that we are going to be planting very soon. As a trial, we bought some very expensive alfalfa seed that we will attempt to grow with the oats as a cover crop in one little area of our southern pasture. Dave is champing at the bit to get out there and sew these seeds, but it is difficult to do in the snow and the mud. We did spend one day “harvesting” rocks. Actually just picking up rocks. The field we cleared last year produced several large piles of rocks over the winter. Too bad we can’t find a market for rocks, we can sure grow ’em here in the hills.
We celebrated two years in South Dakota on the 4th. We can hardly believe all the things we have learned, seen and done since we arrived here. We have met some really great people and have made friends for life. We have seen some amazing changes of seasons. We have learned so much about building fences, painting cisterns, feeding cows, building chicken coops, cutting firewood, maintaining gravel roads, removing snow, planting crops, fixing tractors, starting and putting out fires, cooking on a wood stove, living off grid, keeping bees, building furniture, and the list goes on and on. This has been an amazing ride where the highs and lows both go to extremes, and we love it. Our only regret is we didn’t move sooner.
That’s it for now. We will continue waiting for the calves to come and the weather to improve. Time to go scrape the snow off the solar panels!