Hoten Holler!


August 2016

More Progress

Friday 8/26/16

Foggy and a light rain in the morning, sunny afternoon.

What an amazing and productive week!  The Hoten Holler Homestead is rising up out of the ground, thanks to the amazing efforts of Todd and his crew.  Here are some of the latest pics:


Todd’s crew


Septic tank/system approved!
Looks like we have two driveways, Greg is trenching the waterline


Water line from Stagecoach Springs to the House….Looks like we have giant moles!


A view from the SW corner of Hoten Holler
Possible retention wall material

Homestead Update

Monday, 21 August, Hot and highs in the upper 80’s – Tuesday 22 August, highs in the upper 70’s (PLEASANT!!)

We are super excited to see all the work that has been completed on the house.  You can see the solar batteries have been installed and now the builders are working off power provided by the sun.  Thank you GenPro and thank God for the sunshine!

Big Kudos too to Todd and his hard workin’ crew!  Look at all the walls and progress.  Woot woot!!

And one more big thanks to Greg the excavator for his amazing work and persistence in busting through all of this rock.  We have a septic tank and a cistern for water.  Nice job, Greg!!

This Ain’t Our First Rodeo….Well Actually….

Saturday August 20th, Highs in the mid 70’s and down to the low 50’s at sundown

We took advantage of our Black Hills VIP cards since we have been working so hard (13 hours/week) at the campground, and went to the Mount Rushmore Rodeo at Palmer Gulch. The event was held at the campground KOA nearest to Mount Rushmore, and it was the perfect setting.  The arena was smack in the middle of outcroppings of black hills rocks, with an abundance of ponderosa pines and fresh air.  As we drove up to the venue we were greeted by an attendant.  We told her we were here for the rodeo and she said, “Are you watching or participating?”

We had to laugh at this question.  Several weeks before, Dave and I had a discussion about bucket list items.  The conversation was after a long day of gathering firewood and was likely influenced by too many glasses of cabernet, but both of us agreed our bucket lists should include riding a bull. As we pondered the rodeo attendants question, we looked at each other and seemed to mutually and silently agree that this would not be the day for this bucket list item.  “We’re just here to watch”, Dave said and I breathed a little sigh of relief!

We arrived before the rodeo started and the pre-event included Mutton Bustin’.  For those of you that are not rodeo followers, Mutton Bustin’ is an event where little kids jump on the back of a sheep and hang on as long as they can.  This is so fun to watch.  The kids are hanging on for dear life and the sheep look pretty irritated.  They run and buck and the usual result is a kid hanging on the side and eventually planting themselves in the dirt.  Nearly every time, regardless of an easy or violent dismount, the little buckaroos would jump up with big smiles, wipe the dirt and hoof prints off of their clothes, and wave or victoriously pump their fists in the air celebrating their brave feat of riding the sheep.  The crowd loved it too.


Not my pic, but a good demo of Mutton Bustin


Then the real rodeo began.  It started with the crowd reading a “Cowboy Prayer” and of course the National Anthem playing while a rodeo chic rode her beautiful horse around the arena carrying an enormous American Flag.  We love the patriotic heartland.

The events came one after the next, bronco riding, steer roping, barrel racing and of course, bull riding.  If you have ever seen these events on RFD TV or at the movies, they just don’t compare to seeing them through the fence in person.  You can feel the reverberation of a bull kicking the steel gate before it opens; it is loud and gives you a sense of apprehension you won’t get from hearing it on TV.  The perspective of seeing how high the broncos actually jump and kick with the ragdoll riders on their back would not convey through the screen.  You have to be there in person to really get it.

Another highlight was the “Boot Race” for the kiddies at intermission.  The announcer said, “Any kids out there who want to participate in the boot race, come out to the arena….you don’t have to find a gate, just climb over the fence!”  There were hundreds of kids climbing into the arena.  They looked like ants swarming on a discarded piece of food, or the zombies in the movie Apocalypse Z as they climbed over the walls…they just kept coming.  All the kids were instructed to remove their shoes and put them in a pile, we are talking a mountain of shoes.  Then they went to the opposite end of the arena and the rodeo clowns threw their shoes in all directions.  The announcer said, “Go!” and they ran around trying to find their shoes.  The winners found their shoes the fastest and were rewarded with…..wait for it….toy guns that shoot rubber bands.  We are pretty sure there are many places in the country where parents would NOT approve of guns as prizes, but here in cowboy country nobody griped.

The sun went down and the mountain air turned cool very quickly.  The real rodeo players returned to the arena and the main event, bull riding, took the stage.  The condensation of the bulls’ exhalations made it look like they were angry and breathing fire.  The cowboys were undaunted and many of them held on for the full 8 seconds. Some did not and one rider was almost launched over the arena side into the crowd.  It was crazy, exciting and fun to watch.

As we drove home, we both decided to edit our bucket lists, changing “Ride a Bull” to “Ride an electric bull in a Honkey Tonk Bar.”

Thunder in the Hills

Wednesday, 17 August 2016….hot and clear with highs in the upper 80s

Last week the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was going on here in the Black Hills.  All summer we have been hearing about how crazy the traffic is, how busy the towns are and how completely miserable the locals are during the rally (other than those that run businesses and probably make a large percentage of their profits during this period).  Last year was the 75th anniversary of Sturgis and the attendance was approximately 739,000 people.  The population of South Dakota is only 858,000 people so this was a big influx of tourists to a very small area of the state.  This year the numbers aren’t in, but the estimate is 40% smaller than the big anniversary year last year.  Dave and I did not think it was too bad. 

Downtown Custer
Bikes in Custer during the Rally

There were a lot of motorcycles in Custer and in the campground, but the bikers are cool. Most of them are quite jolly, enjoying their true American vacation and their chance to visit the Harley Davidson Mecca of the world in the Black Hills.  Many of them fly American flags from their bikes.  They play hard on their vacation but they are not disruptive, and they pick up after themselves.  We really liked the biker crowd.

The Sturgis Rally wasn’t the only Thunder in the Hills this month.  Wednesday we were getting cleaned up and ready to go down to the build site when we heard a loud and consistent roar of diesel engines.  This continued for several minutes and we went outside to check it out.  There was a huge parade of tractors going North on Sylvan Lake Road, right next to the campground.  I ran up to the road to snap some pictures and spent the next 30 minutes or so watching farmers drive by on their machinery…..New Holland, John Deere, Farm-All, Allis Chalmers, Case, Massey Ferguson, Ford, old, new and everything in between.  Many of the tractors had a passenger seat attached for Mom and kids to ride along.  Everyone was happy and waving and flying the Stars and Stripes in true South Dakota fashion.

Later we ran into one of the tractor drivers stopped at ShopKo…he said they were doing a 100 tractor parade and they meet up every other year to tour the Black Hills.  They went up to Needles Highway all the way to Mount Rushmore.  It was the 2016 Southern Hills Tractor Ride and it was spectacular.  We love it here!  Never a dull moment.

Main Floor Panels!

Todd and his crew have been busy setting main floor panels, here are a few pictures of the progress.






Yesterday Todd delivered our woodstove to the build site.  We purchased the stove before we even left Florida because of a great sale price we couldn’t pass up.  The problem was we had nowhere to put it.  We could have had it shipped to Florida and then moved it here but Todd was kind enough to allow us to ship it to his office, where it has been until yesterday.  Now this 700lb beast is out of his way and sitting in the Hoten Homestead.  Thank you so much Todd!


Expecting a Colder than Normal Winter???

Saturday, 13 August 2016, Sunny with highs in the upper 70’s

Here is the progress on the house….

Dave on the Main Floor
Inside the Framed Basement
Dave and Vito (Todd’s Dog)

You can see there is a floor (main floor) or ceiling (basement) depending on your perspective.  The view from the main floor is pretty dang good and the construction crew has framed in the basement rooms.  Thanks, Todd!  Things are looking good and solid.  Dave and Todd were walking on the main floor and Todd started jumping up and down to show how solid the floor is, then Dave started jumping up and down and I had to yell at both of them, “Not in the house!!!”  Ha ha.

We spent the day splitting wood and stacking it to prepare for the winter.  The farmer’s almanac is predicting the following:

“Annual Weather Summary: November 2016 to October 2017

Winter will be colder than normal in the north, warmer in the south. The coldest periods will be in early and late December and early and mid- to late January. Precipitation will be slightly above normal in the north and below normal in the south. Snowfall will be above normal in the north and below normal elsewhere, with the snowiest periods in late November, mid- to late December, and mid- to late February.”

We figure we better get some wood together while the weather is nice, and the weather is NICE!!!

Decisions, Decisions

Thursday, 11 August 2016, Overcast and highs in the mid-70’s followed by lots of sunshine

There has been a lot of progress on the house.  Our builder, Todd, and his crew have been busy framing in the basement.  It is fun watching the progress as the house starts to come together!IMG_1603IMG_1602

With the progress comes lots of decisions.  We have to start picking lots of materials as Todd needs to order them in the near future.  Some things we have to decide:

  •                 Siding, type and color
  •                 Fascia, type and color
  •                 Soffit, type and color
  •                 Gutters, type and color
  •                 Windows, color
  •                 Timber-framing, stained or not stained
  •                 Driveway location
  •                 Kitchen cabinets, drawers, pullouts, cabinets, shape, color, finish, hardware
  •                 Kitchen countertops, type, color
  •                 Kitchen sink, faucets
  •                 Bathroom cabinets, type and finish, faucets, hardware
  •                 Bathroom countertops, sinks
  •                 Roof, material, grade, color

    Pilot Dave looking at siding samples in the Happy Camper

These are all decisions that will affect the overall look of the House of Hoten, so we are trying to be deliberate, practical, and stay within budget.  It can be quite overwhelming since there are thousands of color samples, options, pictures etc. to choose from.  I have joked with the builder that he should just give us two options, and then our decision making process would be streamlined. 

On a separate note, we spent the afternoon sorting cows with Cowboy Dave and Linda.  It is time for the steers to be weaned and then go to auction, so we went out to separate the Mama’s from the babies.  This was quite the adventure, the cows seemed to know something was up and a few were not being very cooperative.  Frosty, the boss cow whose calf is being taken to auction, assessed the situation and decided that she was not interested in being herded toward the barn.  She leaped (all 1600 lbs of her!) over a four-wire barbed wire fence.  She should have been in Rio running the hurdles in the Olympics for Team USA! If we didn’t actually see it, we would not quite believe that enormous bovine could jump the fence….but it worked out because we were able to easily get her calf separated after she left.


After splitting off the 3 steers/calves and two of the Mamas (since Frosty didn’t want to play), Linda drove the mule down the path and Cowboy Dave tossed cake out the back to get the cows to follow up to the corral.  Pilot Dave and I acted as wingmen keeping them from bolting away from the fence line out into the pasture. Some quick maneuvering of gates in the corral and the three steers were penned away from the two mamas.  The Moms were loaded up in the trailer and hauled back up to the pasture with the rest of the herd.  The babies bawled, but were satisfied with some tasty hay served up by the Cowboy.  Another exciting day on the High Lonesome.

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