Hoten Holler!


July 2017

The Road to Nowhere……YET

The Road to Nowhere…..Yet

27 July 2017 – Sunny and Highs in the Upper 70’s

Last Thursday was a busy day on the Holler.  We decided to piggy-back on Cowboy Dave’s gravel delivery he had scheduled and order a few loads of gravel for the road that will go around the front of the house to the future site of the barn.  Because we procrastinated (if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute!) we were rushing around trying to get the big rocks that remained from the house build to make a base layer for the road.

Pilot Dave used Babe to scoop all the rocks and move them to the site.  Cowboy Dave used Bob to smooth out his piles. 

A few hours later, the gravel-man showed up with a truckload of rock.  We explained what we wanted to do and he said, “No problem.”  He drove to the gate and started dumping gravel and about 5 seconds later we had a road. 

We think it looks pretty darn good!

The New Road
Another View of the New Road


We spent most of the afternoon doing what we always do:  picking up and moving rocks.  Dave used the tractor to add some “curbs” to keep the gravel from spilling out of the low spots.

I have been working on a stone pathway that goes from the west porch to the front porch.

Rock Path


Dave isn’t too happy with me moving all these heavy rocks.  He is still on restriction from lifting anything over 30lbs and expressed his concern that I shouldn’t be doing so much heavy lifting.  I told him not to worry, my Indian name is “Strong Like Bull.”  He said it should be “Stubborn Like Goat.”  After working in the hot sun moving rocks all day we both agree my name actually should be “Smell Like Goat.” Anyway, I have the path in the order I want, I just need to put in some leveling sand and shift the rocks over to their permanent location.

To top off the busy Thursday, my new Bee-Mentor, Peyton, came over to look at my hive and tell me if it was going well or if I was screwing up royally.  Fortunately, he said the bees look good and healthy.

 I was a little disappointed when­­­ he said I probably won’t get any honey this year, but that is normal for a first-year hive.  He said I could take some honey but the bees probably wouldn’t survive on what they have so far.  If that was my intention I would have just bought a bunch of honey and not bothered with the bees.  My hope is to get them through the winter and if all goes well I can harvest a mother-lode of the golden stuff next year.  Until then, there is always something new and exciting to do here at the Holler.  Don’t forget to holler at us if you find yourselves up this way!

And Then There Were Five

19 July 2017 – Sunny and high of 95°F

Dave is feeling really good and almost 100% himself.  Thanks to everyone for the phone calls and emails, we appreciate it.  It’s difficult for him to stay in low gear but he still needs to take it easy for 3 more weeks so his internal stitches don’t come apart.  They will dissolve on their own, but meanwhile he isn’t supposed to lift anything heavy or do anything too strenuous.  We have been keeping busy with typical household chores, some gardening and light yardwork.

Our neighbor, Shari, had to work on Monday evening.  It has been really hot so she asked us if we could make sure her cows had enough water between 7PM and 8PM.  We were happy to do this, although we went over to her pasture around 6:30 thinking this wouldn’t affect the cow schedule.  The stock tanks were nearly full so we proceeded to top them off with the hose. 

At 7PM on the dot, her cows came running from the eastern pasture, through the underpass of the road, and right up to the stock tanks.  They pushed and shoved each other to get a good spot at the bar and in about ten minutes both tanks were nearly empty.  So, we stood there with the hose and tried to keep up with the water demand from the thirsty girls! 

At about 7:45 we had refilled both tanks and the cows had their fill and wandered back through the underpass and off into the other pasture.  We got in the truck and drove home.

When we pulled into our drive, Dave looked down the hill at the back yard and said, “What is that?!?”

There was an enormous hawk, really about the size of a standard laundry basket, hunched over beside the garden on top of a huge pile of black and gold feathers.  The hawk was eating our chicken, Sabrina.  Dave ran for the gun and I ran to see if she was still alive.  The hawk flew off and Sabrina was dead.  It looked like he got her just before we got home.  From all I’ve read the merciful thing is a hawk will kill its prey pretty quickly.

I looked in the coop and there were no chickens.  Dave and I proceeded to search and he found Farrah Fawcett under a small tree not far from the murder scene.  I found the four other chickens in a bush about 30 yards away on the other side of the fence.  They were terrified and I thought they were all dead because they wouldn’t move until I picked them up and set them on their feet.  They all ran back to the coop and up into their house. 

Dave and I are kicking ourselves because we knew the risks of free-ranging here in the country.  We just got cocky and we left them out while we were not here. Nearly everyone we know that has kept chickens has lost a few to predators, even those that keep theirs cooped up have lost a bird or two.  The poor chickens really are defenseless to hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes, etc.

The best solution we could come up with is to move the coop closer to some trees for more cover and to only let them free range when we are close by.

New location under trees
Five Remaining Girls

Regarding the hawk, neighbors and family both say, “He will be back!” In fact, he was sitting next to the garden the next morning but flew off as soon as we opened the back door.  I guess he thinks we are KFC or something now.  He’s welcome to come back.  We are ready for him this time.



On a lighter note, the garden is doing great.  We have been eating and giving away lettuce and spinach.  The turnips are delicious and we already have harvested a few banana peppers.

The potatoes looked pretty good but the yield was, well, small potatoes.  Each plant had a maximum of ONE potato, and some had none.  Plant a potato, get one potato?  Hmmmm….

Small Potato Yield…..We should have just bought a bag at the store!


The tomatoes are looking good so far, but you never know if they will get bugs or rot.  We’re hoping for a bumper crop to make salsa, tomato sauce, and of course BLTs!

Large but unripe tomato


The beets, corn, and cucumbers don’t look too bad either.

We will do some planting of more potatoes in the next few weeks, as well as some lettuce, spinach, and turnips in hopes of a late fall harvest.

That’s all on this end for now.  Hopefully everyone is enjoying the summer and keeping an eye on their flocks!

IMG_2538 (2)
R.I.P. Sabrina


One Day You’re Fine, the Next, Your Appendix Tries to Smote You

13 July 2017 – Sunny and high of 85°

So how was your Wednesday?  Ours was pretty exciting.  Here’s the story:

Monday, we baled and bucked hay bales pretty much all day for our neighbor Shari.  She is the one that leased us her baler and cutter in exchange for having her property cut and baled.  It was a warm day and we put up over 170 bales.  The bonus was we found a hay rake in her junkyard and she said we could take it.  Cowboy Dave pulled it over to the south pasture and he and pilot Dave went to work to get the thing functional.  We planned on cutting and raking on Tuesday……BUT….

Tuesday morning, Pilot Dave woke up with a bit of stomach ache and no real appetite.  This should have been a huge red flag because with all this farm work he always has a big appetite.  We figured he may have eaten something bad or got too hot on Monday and decided to hide inside from the heat most of the day until he got to feeling better.  However, the burning, aching stomach pain would not go away and he went to bed about 6PM Tuesday evening.

Wednesday morning at 2AM he woke up and said, “I think I need to go to the hospital.”  I said, “Let’s go.” But he wasn’t quite ready to commit to that and said he felt he could wait until dawn and wanted to try to sleep a little.  Dave’s stomach ache was like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.  “I WILL NOT BE IGNORED!!!!”  At 4AM we headed to the ER at the Hot Springs VA medical clinic, about 20 minutes away.  We stopped once so he could get out and contemplate throwing up, but he did not.

At the VA they ran Dave through all the tests for stomach pain, including an EKG, CT Scan, and blood work. Initially they were thinking it may have been severe acid reflux, a hiatal hernia, or even possibly heart related.  At shift change, a new doctor came in and started pushing on Dave’s stomach.  He said, “I think he has acute appendicitis.”  After pushing on his abdomen, Dave’s stomach pain shifted almost immediately from high center to the lower right portion of his abdomen.  The CT scan revealed he did in fact have an inflamed appendix and the only treatment for this is surgery.

The VA does not have a surgical facility so at 11AM they decided he should go to Rapid City Regional Hospital for the appendectomy.  Meanwhile, Dave had been laying around in the ER with severe and intense stomach pain since 5AM (not including the pain the previous night)!  They gave him a few small doses of painkillers, but they didn’t want to “mask the symptoms” as he was being transferred to a new hospital and they wanted the surgeon to be able to see his symptoms when he palpitated Dave’s abdomen.  Dave put on his war face, but I could tell he was quite miserable.

At noon, the ambulance finally showed up and drove Dave to Rapid City, about an hour away.  I took the truck and came back to the Holler for some overnight bags and met him there.  I was flying up Hwy 16 thinking I needed to hurry to get there before he went into surgery.  At the hospital, I found him in a room in the ER, quite happy and sleepy.  They had given him a large dose of a painkiller named Dilaudid and he was feeling no pain.  Dave’s spirits were up and he charmed all the nurses with his sense of humor.  He kept referring to his hospital gown as his kilt.  When asked if he had any drug allergies he replied, “No but I haven’t tried them all yet.”  And he was happy to have acute appendicitis as opposed to “an ugly appendicitis.”  Gotta love narcotics, or as the nurses called them, “I don’t care” pills.

Anyway, after a long, long day they finally took Dave into surgery at 7PM.  The surgeon was confident it would all go well and even gave me his prescriptions and wrote his discharge papers before they started the surgery.  Dave doesn’t remember any of the surgery, he was just happy they gave him a banana nut muffin, some tapioca, and some long-awaited water when he woke up. 

While they operated, I drove to Walgreens and filled his scripts and inhaled some fast food.  I was back at the hospital in 45 minutes and they called my cell and said Dave was in recovery.  They said if he was doing well he could go home in an hour.  That’s right – GO HOME IN 1 HOUR!  After being in the ER since 5AM (16 full hours) they finally got out his appendix and booted him right out the door.

Dave was raring to go an hour later and I picked him up in the front of the hospital and back to the Holler we went.  We got home around 10:30PM and he ate something and went to bed. 

This morning we slept in until 7AM and already Dave is feeling ready to go.  Doctor’s orders say no lifting anything over 30lbs for four weeks.  It looks like Dave’s summer of bucking hay bales and pounding fence posts is put on hold until late August.  Maybe I should have thought of that, an appendectomy to get out of haying! Hmmmmm…..

That’s it from the Holler this week.  I didn’t post any pictures because nobody wants to see the inside of the hospital and Dave didn’t want to be photographed in his kilt.  We are grateful for the VA and the Rapid City Hospital and all the great people that defeated Dave’s evil appendix, that stupid no-function piece of tissue is gone for good.

Here’s hoping Thursday is better than Wednesday!    

Freedom, Baby! Heck Yeah!!!

4 July 2017 – Sunny and highs in the upper 80’s

Today is my favorite holiday. I love reading about the Founding Fathers and the enormous risk they took to throw down that Declaration and say, “We don’t want a king, we want to be free from your rule and here’s why.” And the list is honest, eloquent, and timeless.  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  This is what it means to be American and this is what we celebrate today.  If you really want to refresh your patriotism and appreciate your freedom, here’s a link to the Declaration of Independence.  Read it out loud and you cannot help but be moved.  God Bless America!

Declaration of Independence

Out here in the free, wide opened spaces of the great state of South Dakota, we are celebrating today by going to the Veterans’ Parade in Custer.  It is a small town Fourth of July parade and will likely be full of locally built floats, fire trucks, horses, and the high school marching band. Oh yeah, and we get a B-1 Bomber low pass to start things off.  Cool!

We are cooking out this afternoon for some friends, likely drinking some Keystones and eating some burgers and dogs and watching the cows and chickens from the south porch.  What’s everyone else doing out there?

Now for the Holler update.  We finished bailing Shari’s property with 171 more hay bales.  Now all we have left is the oats once they get tall enough.  That is unless we get some incredible moisture and we hay again in August?  Here’s hoping for that…sort of!

The bees have been extremely busy.  There are so many wildflowers that I had to add another “super” or house on top of their main hive body.   Then, 7 days later, that box had 6 frames full of honey so I put another super on top of that!  I hope they can make enough honey to sustain themselves throughout the winter.  I read they need 70-90lbs; that is about one full deep box.  Anything they make beyond that I plan on keeping.  If they are successful and survive the winter I will probably get another hive next year.  Two hives won’t be much more work than one.

Two “deeps” and one honey super…bees at the front door!

The garden is going gangbusters.  Dave and I have been eating spinach every day and giving some away as well.  Pretty soon we are going to have Pop-eye arms!

Carrots to the left, spinach in the middle, onions to the right.

We are also harvesting lettuce for the burgers we will serve later today.

Lettuce amongst the relentless weeds

We pulled this turnip out of the garden yesterday.  This morning the breakfast menu consists of “Hashtag-Hash” which is a diced turnip, spinach, onion, and bacon with a fried egg on top.

The corn is not quite knee high at the 4th of July, unless you have really short legs!

Shin-high corn

The chickens are free ranging (under supervision) most of the day.  We like to sit out and watch them in the evening.  Chicken TV is better than anything on cable.  They truly are bird-brains and they have a lot of self-induced drama.  They are getting big and FAT, or we could say fluffy if we don’t want to hurt their feelings.

The Islanders and Charlie’s Angels (Farah Fawcett is inside) mingling outside the coop.


Yesterday was branding day. We took 7 calves to the Vet and they got their vaccinations and their brands.  Cowboy Dave did the branding and Pilot Dave worked the calving table while the new Vet in town (an ISU grad!) administered the meds.  I got to work the gates and take pictures.

A steer in the calf table
Does anyone else smell grilled burger?
Little Bugger says, “I hate Mooooo-ndays!”

Well, that’s all from the Holler for now.  We are wishing everyone out there a Happy Independence Day!  Freedom, baby!  It’s what it’s all about!

Three Amigos at the Independence Day party.
Rainbow from the back deck



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