Hoten Holler!


October 2017

October Update

26 October 2017 – Highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the teens tonight!

Hey out there!  And HAY out there!  It has been awhile since I’ve written.  Things have been busy on the Holler and to be honest, we have been spending as much time outdoors as possible enjoying the autumn weather.  The last thing I have wanted to do is waste these beautiful days indoors on the computer, especially since winter is coming. It is coming tonight!

Pilot Dave and I have been busy doing some landscaping projects around the house, especially since he got the front of the tractor (Babe) re-rigged with hydraulic connections.  Now Babe can operate a snow plow, a grapple, and any other implement that can go on the front.

Dave has been leveling out some of the rock piles left over from construction.I have been lining the road to the future barn with rocks.  That’s what I do now, pick up rocks.  I bet you thought I was going to write “Pick up rock stars”  but that was the old me ….ha ha! Plus there are no rock stars in South Dakota. (Except for Pilot Dave, of course!)

There is always limbing and slash dragging to do.  It’s always nice when the cows come around to supervise.

“Is any of this slash edible?”

We have been prepping for colder weather by adding some insulation to the chicken coop and wrapping tar paper around the beehive.

Tar paper to keep the bees warmer, the top is the feeder which will come off in the next few weeks.

There is always fence to mend.  We fixed some wire on the northeastern H after what appeared to be elk broke it down. We assume it was elk because we saw two different herds for several evenings up on the hill on the opposite side of the H.  I tried to get a picture but the distance and the low-light were unfavorable for my I-Phone camera.  Here’s the best I could do.

Elk in the evening

We also mended the northern neighbor’s fence because her cattle kept breaking out to hang out with Cowboy Dave’s cattle in our northern pasture.  It’s where all the cool calves hang out apparently.  We added some T-posts and stretched the wire so they weren’t able to escape and mingle with the calves on the wrong side of the fence.

This morning, we fixed the southern neighbor’s fence.  He had called a truck to pump out his septic system and they cut through some wire to find an easy place to approach his tank.  We were releasing the cows back out on our property and needed to ensure they didn’t wander up to his house, so in the 30 knot winds and 30 degree temperatures, Dave and I went up and stretched and spliced five wires back together. We’re getting the hang of this fencing stuff!

On the rainy/windy days this month, Dave put his carpenter skills to work and completed this awesome coatrack for the mud room.

I sewed up some carpet remnants from the build and made some throw rugs.

The last few days, we have started doing cattle chores for Cowboy Dave.  We are doing winter feeding and watering for him and Linda in exchange for some heifers.  Two days ago, we separated the calves from their moms so they could be weaned. The cow-calf separation operation was really easy by luring the moms using cow-cake.  We chased the whole herd up the pasture toward the corral. The moms came running through the corral and we closed them off in the opposite pasture.  The babies were following as quickly as they could but we shut the corral gates around them and now they are isolated from their moms.  This is important because the moms are all pregnant again and they don’t need to be nursing the calfies anymore.  They need to conserve their energy and calories for their future babies, and the calves need to get off the sauce, I mean milk.

At first the moms just went into the new pasture and started grazing, happy to be in a new place.  We filled a feeder with “creep” for the babies, which is just supplemental feed for calves, and they went right for it. One of the little heifers even jumped right into the creep feeder and we had to scare her out.  We also put a bale of oats harvested from our field into the troughs and they liked that too. (We will be putting HAY out there for the rest of the winter.)

But then, one of the moms realized there were no babies around and started BAWLING, “MOOOOOOO!  MOOOOOIIIEEEEEEEE!  MOOOOOOO! MOO! MOO!”  And then the babies started bawling.  And then all the cows and babies were bawling.  Then Cowboy Dave, Linda, Pilot Dave and I all started bawling!  Just kidding about the people, but listening to the cattle crying was very sad. But it is necessary.  We will reunite them all when the moms’ milk dries up in about 3 weeks and when the babies will lose interest.  Meanwhile, it has been quite noisy around here for the past few days!

The big news is that we have made our first cattle purchase.  We bought these three heifers and will be adding to the herd several more next year.

#113 Black Cherry
#114 Little Bugger
#115 BooHHaaa

Overall, it has been a busy and successful October.  We hope everyone is doing good out there in civilization.  Dave and I are dressing up as Jolly Ranchers for Halloween this year, same costumes we wear every day!

The Perfect South Dakota Weekend

 1 October 2017 – Partly Cloudy and 57°

Dave and I got to witness something on Friday that I doubt you can see anywhere else in the world.  A real-live buffalo roundup! We got up pretty early and drove through Wind Cave National Park as the sun came up.  We were quite pleased that there was not very much traffic, but as we crossed into Custer State Park, we turned a corner and all we could see were miles and miles of tail lights!

We were expecting a crowd, as Custer State Park’s annual Buffalo Round-Up hosts up to 20,000 people each year.  Our town, Custer, has a population of 1,860, so that is quite an influx of traffic! Still, everyone was in a fantastic mood and people were polite, allowing others to merge and not throwing any big-city road rage fits.  We finally arrived to our parking destination and hiked probably a quarter mile to the north viewing area.  There were quite a few people in the north viewing area and we were directly facing the south viewing area where the crowd was equally as large.  The gate to the buffalo corrals was directly between the two viewing spots.

View of the crowd at the southern viewing spot.  Buffalo corrals are out of the picture on the right.


So we waited, anticipating buffalo between 9:30 and 10 AM.  At around 10:15 someone in the crowd spotted a herd of something on a faraway hilltop.  But it wasn’t buffalo, it was the wild burros that live in the park and they appeared to be looking down at the large crowds saying, “What’s all this about?” 

“What a bunch of jack-asses!”  Dave joked, and I responded that was probably what the burros were thinking.

Suddenly the southern viewing area began cheering and from the north we could see the beginning of the giant herd (1000 head in all) cresting a hill and running down to the valley directly in front of us.  Horseback cowboys and several trucks pushed them down the hill and toward the corral gates.

Here they come!


It was awesome.  The sound of the buffalo running, the crack of the whips from the cowboys, and the cheering crowd made for a very exciting morning.

Rapid City Journal Video of the Roundup

After the roundup, guests are given the opportunity to go down to the corrals and watch the buffalo be “worked.”  They are given their inoculations, and they separate the oldies and the sickies for auction.  The herd is managed to be sustainable within the park and that means once a year they  cull it for the healthiest population. 

We opted out of this part because we just wanted to get away from all the people!  It took us about 45 minutes to get out of the parking lot due to traffic and we were routed north through the city of Custer to get home.  On the way we passed the State Game Lodge, which used to be the “Summer Whitehouse” for Calvin Coolidge.  They were hosting an enormous Arts Fair themed for the round up.  It looked pretty cool, but again, we had reached our crowd quota for the day so we drove on home.

Saturday, we decided we had goofed off enough on Friday and we better get back to work.  We tackled a stand of trees in the northern-most pasture.  Dave limbed all the trees and I started dragging slash and stacking firewood.  Then Cowboy Dave and Linda showed up as reinforcements and made the work go much faster. Of course we were being cheered on by Hercules and Arrow.

Hercules and Arrow


Chainsaw Dave took out the limbs, Linda and I drug the slash into piles, and Cowboy Dave picked up those piles using the grapple attachment on his tractor.  He moved the little piles into two big piles and we will burn them once we have snow on the ground and get the required burn permit.

Chainsaw Dave wanted to get some of the higher-up limbs on several trees so we did the old redneck trick of putting him on the tractor forks and hoisting him up with the chainsaw in tow.  Probably not the smartest move, but we went slow and it all turned out well.

Redneck chainsaw moves!


After we cleared the area, we thought it looked pretty nice.  We were grateful to our helpful neighbors and went down to their ranch, the High Lonesome, and brought some Keystone Light.  Typical paybacks for farm labor in these parts.

Cleared trees and piles of wood drying out for next year


So today, Sunday, Dave and I were playing tourist again.  We went to the annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch.  The weather was quite iffy this morning, and there were dark and menacing clouds rolling in from the west.  We decided we were going to go for it anyway and drove up to the parking lot for the monument and prepared to hike the 6.2 mile round trip up to the face and back.  About 30 minutes into our hike, the sun came out and we enjoyed a beautiful fall day.

We made it to the top, no problems, although we will both probably be a little sore tomorrow. The top of the monument is about 6500’ and the last part of the hike was pretty steep!

The trip down was much faster.  We poked around in the museum for just a little while and then headed back to the Holler.  It is “hotdog Sunday” after all and we were ready to eat after all that hiking and fresh air.

The finish line….time to eat!

All of the activities this weekend put a nice little punctuation mark at the end of summer and tourist season around these parts.  Typically, we can expect a little snow in the beginning of October and I see it in the ten-day forecast.  That means our outdoor projects will be completed as weather permits. 

We both commented today how much we like the change of seasons.  This year, we are really grateful to not be looking down the barrel at winter from the inside of the camper.  Instead, we are enjoying the cooling evening temps with a warm fire going in the wood stove.

Happy October, everybody!IMG_3036

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