Todd and his crew started installing the foundation panels yesterday. Starting to take shape!
6-18-2016 Sunny and a hot 91
After a trip to the Ranchers’ Feed and Supply store in Edgemont to pick up a mile of barbed wire, slick wire, clips, and treated posts for the corners and gate, we were eager to get started on our fence project. We knew the digging would be a challenge so we rented an auger that would fit on the Bobcat and got started today. We both have a new appreciation for all the fences we see along the road!
Today’s goal was to get the corner and gate posts in, we came up short so we’ll be back at it tomorrow. We are realizing that every time we undertake a project we say, “It shouldn’t take us that long.” Then we end up working hours longer than we anticipated, but only if it is on a day when the temperature is soaring and the South Dakota sun is high and unforgiving. That was today! We are not complaining, though. The humidity is so low here (24% on a high humidity day) that you can work out in the heat and not sweat to death. Plus, what could be more fun than working on a project for yourself?
The big obstacle today was the rocky soil or should I just say rocks. We were using the auger to dig 24″ post holes for the corners for our fence. We have 3 timbers in each corner plus four at the driveway gate, so that equals 16 holes. It sounds easy enough, but the Black Hills can be very rocky. Some places we put the auger in the ground and it easily went down four whole inches before it hit flat, impenetrable rock. Other places, we put the auger in and it easily drilled the 24″ through soft sand. There is no way to tell from the surface what lies beneath, so our original plans for where to place the posts had to move at times, but moving one post affects the whole operation if you want to keep the corners square. Square corners are important because the corner posts provide the tension to keep the barbed wire taut.
We successfully put 8 posts in the ground so you could say we are half way there. Back at it today!
Update: 6-19-2016 Sunny 83
We got 8 more posts in today.
Update: 6-22-2016 Sunny 75
Great day to finish setting the corners, clear skies, a light breeze and a mild 75 degrees. We had four poles to set and one to pull and reset because we hit solid rock at about 18 inches and that turned out not deep enough to be a sturdy support post for the H. So, we pulled it up, dug out all the rock and dirt we had packed in and used Quikrete to set the post. We had the same issue on another post on the SE corner.
Wednesday, 8 June 2016 – Sunny, HOT, Upper 80s
One perk of being a work-camper is that we are issued a VIP card for local businesses. The idea is that we will visit them and when people come to our campground and ask us what’s fun around here, we can actually tell them. The VIP card allows us free admission to many places, discounts at restaurants (and wineries!!) and discounts at some of the local shops.
A local riding outfit, Hollingsworth Horses, offered a free ride to VIP card holders. My friend and cohort work-camper Vicki wanted to go so we went riding. This was not a nose-to-tail trail ride, but a really unique experience. We got to the office and the wrangler, Kristin, went out on the four-wheeler to herd in the horses. As we stood by the corral we could hear the thundering horse hooves coming up the canyon and then they appeared! It was a beautiful herd of horses and she corralled them to pick out the best ones for us to ride.
I got BlackJack, and Vicki got to ride Li’l Darlin (which is a gelding with an ambiguous name!). Both were very calm and steady. We were allowed to help tack up the horses and then they took us in the round pen to ride. The owner, Cowboy Lynn, came in with us and after he decided we could both handle our horses with minimal instruction we were off. Lynn let us ride abeam or in trail, whatever we felt like, and he led us around his 120 acre property. We rode through meadows, through marshy water, up craggy cliffs and down steep slopes. His property is in a beautiful valley here in the Black Hills and you will never see grass so green as it is in the summer here. It’s amazing the horses didn’t just stop and eat….but they were good boys and they took good care of Vicki and me!
We had a blast. Cowboy Lynn was such a good host, not bossy and very informative about the area. He just let us ride and do as we pleased. If you like horses and you come visit then this is where we will go to ride!
5 June 2016 – Sunny highs in the upper 70s
Neighbor Kathleen and I decided to participate in the Crazy Horse Volksmarch. I think Volksmarch is German for “Hike up a super steep hill.” The Volksmarch is held only twice a year when the public is allowed to the top of the monument so we thought we would participate in the 6.2 mile hike and get up there and see the view from the top.
We arrived at 0730 and paid our admission which was 3 cans of food donation and $3. Then we hopped in line and at 8AM proceeded to hike through the forest and trees, down into valleys and finally up the long road to the arm of Crazy Horse. After 1 hour and six minutes we reached the top. The view was incredible and the sheer size of this monument is astounding. Crazy Horse is a work in progress and will likely not be finished in my lifetime. I wonder what it feels like to undertake such a project. “Hmmmm, I think I’ll carve that mountain into a historical figure riding a horse….it might take a while but it will probably be pretty cool!” It is quite impressive and any readers that come visit us in the future will definitely get to see this monument.
9 June 2016 – Sunny- Upper 80’s, DRY and HOT!!!
In rural South Dakota you build fences not to keep cattle in, but to keep them out. Hoten Holler butts up to some National Forrest which is leased by some ranchers, and consequently there are “Cattle At Large” roaming around. Our dirt road has two cattle guards on it, and both have been there for quite some time and filled full of dirt and gravel making them unintimidating for the roving bovines and a few have started down our road. They must be interested in the long grasses that have turned a brilliant green in the last few weeks, or they may be interested in Cowboy Dave’s cattle that are fenced in to his pastures on the west side of the road. Either way, they need to stay out! They especially need to stay away from our “build site” which is currently a giant crater in the earth. The last thing we need is a big hole in the ground full of injured cows….then again, BBQ anyone?
To remedy this situation, we decided to dig out the dirt in the cattle guards. The two Dave’s completed the northern most one with no problems. Last week, Pilot Dave got a little shovel and just excavated the garbage out of that thing in an hour and a half. He worked his butt off and he was tired and sore, but he could have won a gold medal in the digging Olympics for both pace and style points.
Yesterday, we both decided to tackle the southern cattle guard. This proved to be a bit of a different animal. The bars in the guard were too close together to get a shovel into the dirt so we decided we would have to pull the whole thing up and dig it out. The southern end of the road is considerably more rocky than the northern end is and what we thought would be a 2-3 hour job ended up taking us all day! Did I mention that yesterday was the warmest day we have had this year, with almost no clouds and highs in the upper 80’s? About 2 in the afternoon we were kicking ourselves for not completing this project back in April when it was much cooler.
So, we borrowed the builder’s skid steer and chained up the guard and pulled it down the road. Then we dug, we used the “spud” to loosen up dirt and rocks and we dug them out. We dug all dang day. We were digging machines, channeling our inner prairie dog or gopher, there was no stopping us!
Cowboy Dave came up with his tractor to try to dig out the hole, but there is an enormous rock in the middle of the hole and it just would not budge. So we kept digging and dug around the rock and started shoveling dirt into the bucket of Cowboy Dave’s tractor. He used the excess dirt and rock to smooth out some of the holes down the road. Linda brought us iced tea and cold water and even got in there with a shovel for some time despite our protests.
Finally, in the heat of the late afternoon, we decided we could put some railroad ties in the hole to support the cattle guard and provide some more depth to keep the dang cows out. Then, Dave jumped in the skid steer and maneuvered the cattle guard back into position. Success! Right about the time he got it back into place, another neighbor decided to return from town and they got to test out our work. Their pickup cleared the guard no problem and we decided to bolt it back into place and be done.
This morning, Dave and I are both sore. We are both sunburnt and tired but we agree that we would much rather be working outside doing things for ourselves than slaving away at any other job for someone else. Still, we won’t be doing any digging for a while!
Our woodstove is complete and ready to ship. Here are a couple of pictures from Woodstock Soapstone before it was crated.