Hoten Holler!


April 2016

Timber Frame Subcontractor

Here’s a link to the company that will be doing the timer framing for the house.


Bodensteiner Beamworks

Camping In the Snow

It’s April in the Black Hills, and if you judge by the reaction of most of the locals, snow is not out of the ordinary this time of year. IMG_1092

Even 7 days of snow in a row, which you can see is the forecast.  Believe me, we are not complaining.  There is nothing quite so beautiful as the big fluffy white stuff weighing down the boughs of the pine trees.  It is peaceful, lovely, and yes, it is cold.  We are happy to be living in the trailer, as there are some hearty souls here that choose to tent camp despite the snow/sleet/rain mix.

Still, there are some adjustments to camper living in the weather.  First of all, when it gets below freezing, the outside hoses must be disconnected to prevent ice freezing the hose and backing up into the piping in the trailer.  So nearly each day, Dave goes out to refill our fresh water tanks to ensure we don’t run out of the water that is normally supplied directly from the campground spigot.  Second, it is imperative to ensure the propane tanks for the heater have some gas in them.  We don’t want to end up freezing in the middle of the night.  Fortunately, as work campers, we get propane at cost and we have two tanks, each lasts several days depending upon how much we use them….this week they have been used quite a bit.  Third, it gets quite messy in a little space going in and out of the snow.  Boots pick up snow and mud, and there is no sidewalk so directly out the door there is no good place to clean them before coming in.  We have a rug to wipe our feet on, but have resorted to putting down plastic bags to place our muddy boots upon when we take them off so we don’t track up the whole place. 

The last and most interesting piece of camping in the snow is how often we get bombed.  Hold on now, I’m not talking about drinking ourselves silly, I’m talking about the constant barrage of snow bombs and the noise they make on the camper roof.  We are really camping in the forest.  The trees surrounding the trailer are tall and green, and they collect a ton of snow.  When the wind starts blowing, that snow falls out of the trees and onto the roof of the camper. The metal roof of the camper makes it sound worse than it is, but it really sounds like we are being attacked with bombs.  We are getting bombed hourly….ha ha.

Dave really must have angered the Snow Gods because as we were getting in his truck this morning, he got snow bombed right on top of his head and down the back of his coat.  I have to admit I laughed a little….but he did too so we are doing good! 

Warm weather is in the forecast too… Thursday!  Ha!    

Black Hills Aerial Adventures

Yesterday Dave had orientation for the touring company near the Crazy Horse memorial and got to fly 3 of the 6 routes they fly tourists.  Seeing the massive carving up close was amazing!  The other routes are around Mount Rushmore and the Badlands which he will see sometime later when construction of our house allows more time with this company.

When you visit this area, a flight with Black Hills Aerial Adventures is a must!

Click here for their web site


Spring in the Black Hills!

We woke up this morning to this.


Our Builder’s FB page

Storm Hill Fire

We saw this fire yesterday on the way to Rapid City.



“Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam…..” 

We started off the day with some light work-camping duties.  On the agenda, set up the covered wagon that people rent to camp in here at Fort Welikit.  We put the frame together, strung up the canvasses, and Westward Ho…we have a covered wagon.   It does not look too bad, although we prefer to sleep in the comfort of the Happy Camper. 

Next, since it was our 2-week anniversary of living in said camper, we decided to give it the old spring cleaning.  We did laundry, washed and reorganized dishes, cleaned the bathroom and shower, washed sheets and remade the bed, reorganized the outdoor storage, and finally swept all the dang rocks, dirt, and pine needles out the front door.  The weather was just beautiful today so we opened all the windows and aired out the camper.  It is fresh as a daisy, now!

We planned on doing a short hike around Stockade Lake in Custer State Park, but discovered we would have to pay $20 entrance fee, so instead we just drove through the park where we saw these beautiful and fearless antelopes on the side of the road.

IMG_3034 (1)


 After a few photo ops with the antelope, we continued driving through the park and down Highway 79 to Hot Springs.  It was a gorgeous day for a drive; we returned via Hwy 385 through Wind Cave National Park.  This proved to be a good decision as we saw many bison, some grazing so close to the road that when we pulled up to take a picture, we could have opened the door and given them an ear scratch.  Instead, we just took these pictures….there are many signs along the road warning not to approach the buffalo, and many harrowing tales of people being mauled by these giants.  After seeing them up so close it makes you wonder what is wrong with people that they would feel comfortable enough trying to pet the animals.  They are huge, the size of a Volkswagon…..I mean the Volkswagon Bus!!!


We returned to Fort Welikit and a clean Happy Camper, and had a few beers with the campground manager in our “yard”.  As usual, we watched 5-6 does chomping away in the campground.  We really like our wilderness life.  So far there haven’t been too many other campers but tourist season is coming. 


Cattle Auction

Another day in the adventure of moving to South Dakota – we were invited by neighbor Cowboy Dave to go with him to the Crawford, Nebraska cattle auction.  Cowboy Dave explained this was a “feeder” auction, so the cows were being purchased to go to another lot where they would be fed and fattened up to later sell for beef.  He had two heifers and one steer that were born in September that he was taking to sell.


We went to Cowboy Dave and Linda’s place where they had already separated and corralled the three calves that were heading to auction.  They have quite the set up where they send the calves from the corral down a tight little alley and turn them right into the back of their cattle hauler.  We got to help, although they have mastered this task between the two of them.  I should say, they let us help and of course we had fun and learned a thing or two.

We drove the 89 miles down to the Crawford Auction, stopping shortly in Edgemont, SD to pick up the required paperwork to transport cattle across state lines.  The drive was beautiful; the first part in the southern black hills was stunning, and then we headed out across the flat prairies of Nebraska.  We went through miles and miles of National Grasslands and saw thousands of cattle, a few antelope, and maybe 4 other cars! 

Upon arrival at the auction, we pulled into a corral area and Cowboy Dave let out his calves and they were penned next to hundreds of other sets of cattle that were to be sold at the auction.  We went into the auction house which was really something to see.  It was set up like an auditorium, the auctioneers high up on the stage, and the lower part of the stage was actually a scale where the groups of cattle were corralled and displayed for ranchers and farmers to bid on.  There was a handler on the left side of the scale/stage who would open the door and the cows would rush in and run around while the auctioneer started his bid calling.  Sometimes it was just one calf, sometimes there were more than 30.  The larger groups always seemed to herd themselves into a tight little circle and keep going round and round, much like a cow tornado.  (Maybe that could be the next sequel to “Sharknado?”)


It was hard to keep up with the fast pace, but with some guidance from Cowboy Dave and a little time to settle in, we were able to follow along. ­­­­­ There was also an electronic “Score board” which showed the total weight on the scale, and the average weight/cow.  The next board showed the previous sale, how much each head went for and what the price was per pound.  Pilot Dave almost bought a calf when he pointed out the score board to me!  Cowboy Dave said “Don’t point, that’s how I bought my first calf!”

There was some deviation in prices, but I would guess the average calves went from between $800-$900 apiece!  The calves were sold on price per pound, ranging from $1.42 to $2.05.  That means if Pilot Dave and I were sold as a pair at auction, we might bring in somewhere between $500 – $600 dollars…..I’ll leave it up to you to guess our weights and do the math! 

We stayed a little while, but left before Cowboy Dave’s calves sold, as he was near the bottom of the list and thought it would be late before they made the stage.  We thanked him for bringing us to the auction;  it was quite an enlightening experience for us and Cowboy Dave said it was important for us to see if we plan on doing our own herd one day.  These auctions occur across the country nearly every day of the week, and this is how meat gets to the grocery store.  It is so easy to take it for granted, but each Big Mac is the result of a rancher’s hard work and careful tending to his herd.

So we headed on back up the road to the High Lonesome Ranch (Cowboy Dave and Linda’s place) where we were greeted by the wagging tails of Hercules and Arrow.  Linda met us at the door with some cold Keystone Lights, and we drank them down and told her about our adventures.  Pilot Dave and I had to run out shortly after that because it was raining and predicted to start snowing.  We had to rush back to the “Happy” camper to disconnect the water hoses and prevent our pipes from freezing.  After we got home we popped a frozen pizza in the oven, had a glass of wine and talked about the day.  We slept great in our cozy little camper and woke up to just under an inch of snow!  We love it here!!!


Work Camping


For 26 hours per week, (13 hours each), we are provided by the campground full hookups.  This includes electric, water, sewage, cable TV, and WiFi.  We arrived here at this site on Friday 8th and started working the next day getting the campground ready to open for the season.

Today we woke up, had breakfast with coffee before starting our chores.  First we went around the 19+ wooded acres picking up fallen branches using a golf cart (dubbed Uber) to transport to the burn pile.  This took about two hours and working in the fresh mountain air was just what we needed.  Then we had a break for some snacks and water before tackling the pine straw.  We raked 13 campsites clearing out all the pine needles that had fallen since last season, more work than that sounds like.


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