Hoten Holler!


December 14, 2016

December Babies

12 December 2016  – High of 28°, Low of 5° – Sunny and beautiful

We have been learning from Cowboy Dave and Linda about calving in the winter.  On December 3rd, Linda went outside to check on the herd and discovered that it had grown by 1!  She and Cowboy knew that they had 3 calves coming due this month, but they were expecting Frita to calve first.  They kept Frita in the corral with some warm hay, expecting her to give birth any day.  But LaVern surprised them by delivering early out in the pasture! The baby came a couple of weeks early and LaVern was not showing any signs of labor so Linda was quite surprised to see a beautiful red little bull underneath his beautiful big red mama in the cold winter morning!

Fortunately, LaVern is a sweet and gentle cow and Cowboy Dave and Linda were able to get her and baby up to the corral and into a shed for shelter.  The little bull is so cute and they named him Vern, after his mother. We went over to help tag and band on the 5th of December. Our friend Matt, who is very strong just picked up the calf and held him like a baby and Cowboy Dave and Pilot Dave completed the tasks.

Little Vern getting an ear tag

The 5th turned out to be a rather busy day as Frita finally decided to deliver her little bull.  Cowboy and Linda named him Fred, and he had a much easier time of it being birthed in the nice warm barn shielded from the wind and cold.

To complete the trifecta, Frosty, the ornery old boss cow of the herd, held out for the coldest of nights to deliver her baby.  You may remember from previous posts how Frosty is suspicious and refuses to be herded anywhere.  We have spent several days this summer chasing her around pastures and on two separate occasions, this 1600lb lady leaped over a four-strand barbed wire fence to escape us. She must have known she was about to deliver because she hardly gave Cowboy Dave and Linda any trouble and walked herself right up and into the loafing shed.  This was Friday afternoon, December 9th, and it was bitterly cold.  The temperature was sliding into the single digits and the wind chill was already below zero.  Sure enough, right as the sun was setting, Frosty delivered a little heifer – dubbed Dairy Queen.  DQ got up right away and after about 5-10 minutes started nursing.  She was so wet from birth and almost immediately covered with frost and shivering and shaking.  We left her alone with her mother in the shelter and went inside to warm up.  Cowboy said he would have to check on her in an hour or two to determine if she needed to be brought inside. This was not ideal since Frosty is so ornery and would not make it easy for us to separate her from her baby. She is a good mother though, and she licked and cleaned that baby right up.  Before Pilot Dave and I returned to the camper we went with Cowboy to look at DQ and she was still covered in frost and shivering, but her head was up, her ears were responsive to noise and she was nursing.  She and Frosty were in the warm loafing shed and that’s where they spent the night.

The next day, Pilot Dave and I got to tag the little Dairy Queen. Frosty had decided to leave her and go down to the salt lick and pick a fight with another cow, so we took advantage of the situation and I got to hold her down while Pilot Dave tagged her ear.  She didn’t even struggle, and when she got up she let out the most pathetic little “Moo”.  Linda heated up a towel in the dryer and Pilot Dave gave her a scrub down since she was still slightly wet from birth and covered in manure.  I helped him grab her and I subsequently was covered in manure.  Ahhh…the glamorous life.

Calves are the most amazing creatures.  Yesterday we went to see how everyone was doing.  Frosty had Dairy Queen laying in the grass in the sun and everyone was doing well.  Fred was running around and headbutting Keystone, who was born in October.  Lavern was laying in the woods with Vern right next to her and when we went to check on her, Keystone and Fred decided to come see what we were up to.

Cowboy Dave and Linda aren’t expecting any more calves until springtime.  We are so grateful to them for letting us participate in their ranching activities and see what we may be in for once we get our herd going.  They are excellent stewards of their animals.

Cowboy Dave petting Honey the Heifer

Nature’s Home Depot

14 December 2016 – Cold and Sunny – High of 15°

The last time we were in Rapid City (or just “Rapid” if you’re a local) Dave and I stopped by the National Forest Service Office and applied for a permit to harvest slate from the forest.  The permit is good for one calendar year, it is free, and you are allowed to remove one ton of slate.  They give you a list of places you can take it from, and ask you to be honest about the amount as no one actually weighs what you remove.

We are planning on using the slate for the base of our wood burning stove.  Obviously, we can’t just set the stove on the floor and we thought it would be cool to use something we retrieved ourselves instead of just going to the store and buying some tile. We can also use it for walkways and landscaping around the outside of the house.

We drove up north towards Hill City and then drove around for about 45 minutes looking for the Forest Service Road that we were allowed to remove slate from.  The Forest Service, while extremely helpful, has some useless maps. They also do not mark their roads very clearly, at least not the ones that are designated for slate removal.  As we were driving about we discussed how nice it was for them to allow us to harvest slate for free, but then again, maybe it was just a big joke to get people to go out and get lost on the unmarked roads! We eventually figured it out and got to the desired location.img_2315

We took a sledge hammer, an axe, and a shovel and hiked up the hill to find some pieces that we thought would be useful.  It was cold, in the 20’s, but we both lost our winter coats pretty quickly from all the hiking up the hill and carrying slate back to the truck.  I forgot to mention, they don’t allow you to use any equipment to gather the slate, so you’re stuck with hand tools and/or buckets.  We stacked what we gathered in the back of Truck Norris and headed out of the forest.  On the way out we saw the biggest, most beautiful bald eagle circling very near.  I reached for my phone to snap a picture and Dave said, “No, just enjoy it!”  and he was right.  I could never have gotten a picture to do that bird justice and it was just a brilliant end to a morning of hard work and fresh air.  We watched him fly away.

Then we thought we would treat ourselves and go to lunch in Hill City.  Appropriately, we ate at the Slate Creek Grille.  Tourist season is long gone and we were the only people in the place, but the food was good and it was nice to sit down in a restaurant, even though we both looked pretty rough in our snow pants and dirty sweatshirts.  The locals didn’t seem to mind, as is typical of most people around here they were very friendly and didn’t judge our ratty appearance!

We returned to the Holler to discover that the guys have nearly finished the decks, the sheet rock and taping is mostly done, and we had several samples of wall texture to pick from. Ahhh, ,more decisions!

Today we are heading into Hot Springs to do laundry and load up on propane.  We are supposed to get an arctic blast again, and this time it is supposed to be accompanied by several inches of snow.  You never know when you may get snowed in so we are prepping in case we are stuck out here for several days. Wish us luck!

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