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October 2016

Unlimited Menu Options

14 October 2016, Partly Cloudy and 77 degrees

Things are changing rapidly here.  On Tuesday we woke up with a little over an inch of snow on the ground and solar panels.  It got down to 22° that evening, but today, 3 days later, it is going to be 77°.  They are expecting 85° in Rapid City, which is really crazy for this time of year.  We will take it, as long as we are camper living the warmer weather makes everything quite a bit easier.  Fortunately, the 24th of this month we are having our outbuilding put up and we will then park the camper inside of it.  That should help with the colder weather which is inevitably right around the corner.

The house is really coming along as well.  Todd and crew have been diligently putting up soffit, fascia, and timber frames on the western deck.  Once the deck is done, the ceiling can be dried in. 

We also have doors and windows!

Yesterday, the electrician came for the walk through.  Dave and I thought we had a decent plan about outlets and lights, but we were woefully unprepared for all of his questions.  It is difficult trying to make decisions about where all the outlets will go, the light fixtures, ceiling fans, the phone and cable jacks, etc.  Especially since we don’t have furniture (we sold most) and don’t know where it will sit. For example, “Where would you like your floor fixtures in the living room? You should place them near where your lamps on your end tables would go.” Or, “Do you want a lamp over the dining room table?  And where will that be placed?” Dave and I look blankly at each other, both knowing we don’t even know where the sofa will go, never mind we don’t have a sofa yet!  I told Todd I felt like we showed up to class without our homework complete.  He assured us there really is no good way to prepare for this.  So three hours later, walk through complete, we have a good idea of where light switches and everything else will be located.  They started wiring immediately after the walk through, so I hope we chose wisely!

Speaking of unlimited options, we also had to pick out faucets for all the water fixtures this week.  Shower heads, bathroom and kitchen sink faucets, drain caps, bath inserts, and the list goes on and on.  Up next, pick out the toilets…..seriously if anyone has any suggestions on how to pick out a good toilet, please let us know!

Referring to the title of this post, “Unlimited Menu Options”, you should see the number of deer and rabbit we have around here!  This morning I felt like Snow White, surrounded by wild life.  We also herd elk bugling so we hiked up the hill north of the build site and we could see elk off in the distance in the National Forest.  We didn’t see any bulls, but there were several cows and there was lots of bugling.  An elk bugle is not what you would expect it to be.  I would have thought they would sound something like a cow, but they have a high pitch nasally call that really sounds like someone playing an instrument.  It is loud too!  Click the link to listen to what it sounds like:

Elk Bugling

There have been several other cow chasing adventures and great neighborhood events since the last post.  Our neighbor, Kathleen, invited the ‘hood (3 families on Stagecoach Springs) to her house for supper last Saturday night.  She made awesome fried chicken, mac ‘n cheese, green beans and pumpkin cupcakes.  We also drank some pumpkin ale.  When we arrived at her house, Cowboy Dave’s herd was lined up at her back fence waiting for some cake.  We had planned to move them across the street to our property the next morning, but since they were all there and hungry, Cowboy Dave and Pilot Dave grabbed a bucket of cake and walked them across the road.  We have cows on the northern property again, yeah!!

We also helped Cowboy separate some more cows to send to market.  Frosty is the boss cow and while the other two easily came through the gate and down the fence line, she again knew something was up.  If you recall from a past post, Frosty is the 1600 cow that jumped the fence to avoid being herded with the rest of the group.  Well, she was just as feisty this time, and Cowboy Dave, Pilot Dave, Linda, and I ran all over hell’s half acre trying to get that girl to go where she was supposed to go.  Finally, we just let a whole bunch of cows through the gate and separated them closer to the corral.

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Frosty’s name is due to the fact that she was born on a very cold winter day.  Her previous owner didn’t know she had been born and by the time he found her, her ears had been frostbitten.  Note her pointy little ears.

Well, that is about it on this front.  Stay tuned for more adventures from the Holler.  We are doing what we can to keep posting.  Thanks for reading!

 

SNOW!!!

6 October 2016 – Cold morning, snow, followed by sun and upper 40’s

The last few days have been pretty eventful.  Wednesday, Cowboy Dave called to see if we might want to participate in catching, ear-tagging, and banding their 3-day old bull that was born to Moo-lah earlier in the week.  Of course we wanted to be part of this because it is good education and training for us when we get cows of our own.  Also because we like hanging out with Cowboy Dave and Linda and we like the cows. The last time they had a bull, way back in the spring, he was so docile.  The mom was easily distracted and he just laid down and Cowboy ear tagged him and banded him just like that.  This time was a completely different story.  (Cue the circus music!)

Moo-lah and calfie were out with all the other cows in the pasture.  We showed up and she knew something was up, so she took calfie with her and ran up over the hill.  We followed in the mule and Cowboy Dave threw his lariat to rope the calf but instead roped Moo-lah.  Then pilot Dave took the lariat to try to help and dropped the whip as he was being pulled by Moo-lah across the pasture, calfie running right behind.  Pilot Dave had to let go of the rope and Moo-lah and calfie were gone….so was the whip, and the lariat was on Moo-lah’s neck.  We needed the whip to keep Moo-lah away from the calf while we tagged his ear and banded him, but now we spent about ten minutes driving all over the pasture to find the whip.

Whip located, we were off again to catch momma and baby.  They took another lap around the pasture, Nascar style as they wanted no part of us. This time, Pilot Dave snuck up on Moo-lah and released the lariat.  He then was able to lariat the calf, although he got the rope right around his head.  This was not ideal and the calf began to pull and try to asphyxiate himself while Moo-lah became very irritated and angry.  She ran at Cowboy Dave, and she ran at Pilot Dave.  Her aggression sent Arrow (Cowboy’s dog) into attack mode.  Arrow ran at Moo-lah and Moo-lah threw her head down and charged Arrow who was in full defense mode, teeth bared and growling and barking.  Meanwhile, calfie was trying to hang himself while Pilot Dave was trying not to let him go. This all happened over a period of about 30 seconds, but it was very exciting.  Like we always say, “Never a dull moment!”

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Let me take a minute to explain why it was important we got this calf tagged and banded on this day. Calves grow rapidly and become strong and tough to handle in a matter of days after their birth.  If the little bull calf is not banded by day four of its life, it becomes very difficult to catch him and dangerous to try to castrate him.

 As Rush would say, “For those of you in Rio Linda”, banding is the act of putting a rubber band around the little bull’s testacies so they die and fall off.  The alternative is cutting/castrating which is obviously bloody and may lead to infection.  Cow-folks argue the positives and negatives of both methods, and I won’t pretend I know enough to pick one way that would be better for the calf or the cowboy.  I do know Cowboy Dave has been doing this a long time and he bands his calves and has had great success with this procedure.

So, back to the pasture.  Cowboy Dave got Arrow calmed down and used the whip to get Moo-lah far enough away from her baby that Pilot Dave could loosen the lariat/noose around the poor guy’s neck and force him to put one front leg through the loop.  Now that the calf was properly roped, Pilot Dave was able to tag his ear.  Moo-lah worked her way around to get back to the calf and Pilot Dave was forced to retreat.  He swapped jobs with Cowboy Dave and kept Moo-lah at bay while Cowboy banded the calf.  However, the calf was squirming and kicking and the band didn’t get properly placed so we had to start over.  Moo-lah escaped Pilot Dave and came back after Cowboy Dave and he stepped away from the calf.  Cowboy said, “We gotta have a better plan, and let’s let them both calm down.”  So we walked away and Moo-lah licked her baby (who was still roped) and they seemed to gather their composure.  Cowboy sent me back to the barn to get some cake….again for those of you in Rio Linda, cake is a treat for cows.  I drove back and picked up Linda and a big bag of cake and more bands, just in case.

Linda and I drove back to the pasture and Moo-lah was on guard next to her calfie.  She mooed at us as if to say, “Get away!  Do not touch my baby!”  But then Linda shook the cow-cake container and Moo-lah said, “Oh nevermind, Cake!”  and she hustled over to us where we distracted her with goodies.  The two Daves were able to successfully lay down the calf and turn him from a bull into a steer.  He was fine, and they released the lariat from him.  He was exhausted and lay there as we drove away; his Mom gave up on the cake and went back to take care of him.

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We then went to get cow-Shirley back to the corral because she had come up lame again.  She was much more cooperative than Moo-lah and followed Pilot Dave right down the fence, with Cowboy Dave directing her from behind.

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After all of this excitement, we were having an afternoon refreshment discussing the day’s shenanigans and Linda said, that little calf was a pain, he makes us need another beer…we should call him Keystone!  And Cowboy Dave loved the name, and strangely enough the calf is exactly the copper color of the autumn line Keystone Lite beer can.  So Keystone it is, and he is a cute little guy!

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It is a good thing they got the calf taken care of when they did, as Wednesday was sun-shiny and the temperature was mild in the high 60’s.  But, as is typical here, things changed rapidly.  Thursday morning we woke up with near freezing temperatures and ominous dark grey and purple clouds creeping over the horizon.  By 10AM it was snowing….full on snowing with big fluffy flakes and cold westerly winds. We hunkered down in the happy camper and felt like we were having a snow day from school.  Then by 2PM it had stopped and it was just cold and windy. By 3PM it was sunny and warm enough to work outside wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.

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Pilot Dave fired up the Bobcat and Cowboy Dave brought over his tractor and we went to work putting down the gravel for a level spot for the outbuilding.  I supervised, or more accurately was a gopher for these guys trying to direct to low spots and pick up large rocks that didn’t belong.  The men did a great job and we should be all set for the outbuilding planned to go up 24 October.

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Halfway Around the Sun in South Dakota

2 Oct 2016 – Sunny highs in the upper 70s

Yesterday was laundry day, and thanks to solar power we were able to do several loads right here on Hoten Holler without any laundromat hassles and without spending a single quarter.  img_0658

Around 2PM, Linda called and said that the neighbor had found Red Butz, their renegade bull that escaped into the National Forest in June.  She and Cowboy Dave were going to round up the replacement bull, (B.C. – or Baby Cakes, or Butch Cassidy, or Buster Crab….no one knows his real name for sure!) and take him to Ned’s for the exchange of Red Butz.  This sounded like great fun to us so we went along to see if we could help, or at least help more than we did last time when Red Butz escaped!

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Up in the pasture with all the ladies, there stood the big beefy beastie, with his pinkish looking eyes and curly white hair on his face.  B.C. is a Hereford bull and weighs about 1600 lbs.  He looks like he may just kill you, but he is really very sweet.  He lets all the cows lick his head and groom him, and he will even let Cowboy Dave pet him.  Cowboy Dave and Pilot Dave just walked up behind him, and Cowboy hit him lightly in the back foot with a whip and off he went.  It was like walking a dog as the two Dave’s walked him a half mile down the fence line back to the corral.  Linda and I rode in the mule, providing cow cake (a treat for cattle) and beer as requested during the journey. 

Cowboy Dave could not believe it.  He said he had never seen a bull be led away from the lady cows so easily.  He went right into the corral and right into the trailer.  What a good bull!  Linda called Ned to tell him we were on our way, and Ned said they had been chasing Red Butz since 10AM trying to get him into the corral.  Pilot Dave said she should tell him we had to do the same, and we were exhausted!  Ha ha.

We drove the trailer over to Ned’s ranch and as we approached the gate we saw two cowgirls on horseback riding towards us.  They were herding up two stray calves that had gotten in the forest and away from the herd.  It was really like we were back in an old western movie, but this is just daily ranch life for people out here.  Pilot Dave held the gate for them so they didn’t have to open and close it on horseback and they waved and smiled, and rode off to water their horses. 

Next we unloaded B.C. and he sauntered off like the easy going bull he is.  Then, we uploaded Butz.  He was a jerk and ran at Ned.  Ned hollered at one of the cowgirls, “I need a horse!”  and since they had their horses already saddled and ready to go, one brought him Rosie.  Rosie knew just what to do, and Ned, (who is in his early 80’s!) easily jumped up in the saddle and they chased Butz right up into the trailer.  It was exciting for Pilot Dave and me, although I think it is just ops normal for the ranchers.  We talked to our neighbor Ned a little more, and we both agree that people in South Dakota are just awesome.

We have been reflecting on the last six months, realizing we have been here half a year…halfway around the sun.  Dave and I agreed that this has really been the best summer of our lives. It has been a huge adventure and our only regret is we did not get here sooner.   

We have been getting up with the sunrise and listening to elk bugling nearly every morning.  We also see many white tails and hear coyotes, and some strange creature we cannot identify.  We are far too northern for a chupacabra, so could it be a Yeti?  Probably just an owl or strange bird. In the evenings, after the construction crew is gone, we sit in our future living room and watch the sunset.  We can hear cows mooing and coyotes yipping, and when it is dark, the stars are so bright we can hardly believe it.  So far, the autumn has been mild but we know that can change quickly.

The progress on the house has been great this week.  Todd and crew have been working very hard and the ceiling panels are on.  The windows arrived and we can’t wait to see what they will look like installed.

We know the posts are coming infrequently, due to our lack of internet, but we hope you are enjoying our story and we appreciate the views.

 

A Trip through the Valley with the Valleys

22-25 September 2016

Cold, Windy, rainy highs in the upper 50’s

Dave’s Mom and John came to visit us last week.  The weather had been beautiful and the first day they got here it started getting cold, rainy, and windy of course. Uninhibited as we South Dakotans are by the weather; we still gave them the grand tour of the property.  First we introduced them to our awesome neighbors, Cowboy Dave and Linda. Cowboy told them all about this area, and how we are right in the middle of the old Stagecoach route from Deadwood to Cheyenne.  Then, Linda and he insisted we take the mule (Kawasaki) to drive the area instead of just tromp around like we had planned.  It was very nice of them, and it made it easier on everyone considering the rocky/hilly landscape.  Thanks Cowboy and Linda!  img_0587img_0585

After the grand tour, we drove them up through pleasant valley to Custer and had lunch at the Buglin’ Bull.  Considering they were weary from traveling and we had plans the next day, we left them at their hotel in Custer with plans to meet up early and work.

We had originally planned to put them to work with some tree limbing and slash pile dragging, but the weather was wet, leaving the build site a big muddy pit.  We decided to take them to go pick up 30 bales of hay that we would use as insulation for the camper. 

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After this we took them on the not-so-touristy trip through the Red Canyon, where Cowboy took us months ago.  We showed them the old mining shafts and the site of the Metz Massacre, then we continued down to the town of Edgemont and picked up old Hwy 18 to drive up by Rocky Ford Road where we almost had bought property, but are glad we did not.  We continued the scenic drive up through the town of Hot Springs and through Wind Cave National Park where we got to see tons of bison grazing in the cold, dreary weather.

The next day, we were up early in Custer for the much more touristy drive through the Needles Hwy.

We continued down through Rocky Mountain National Park and we watched the “Spirit of Tatanka” movie at the visitor center.  They really enjoyed it and then we took the backroads off of the Wildlife Loop to see herds and herds of buffalo, tons of antelope, and of course, prairie dogs.  We ended up in the booming metropolis of Pringle at the Hitchrail Bar for a buffalo burger and some chili.

We had a great visit with Mom and John, we only wish the weather would have been better.  It was great to see them both and we hope the next time they come we can host them in our home and they won’t have to stay in a hotel.

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