3 February 2018 – Cloudy and 33 with 3 – 5 inches of snow in the forecast
I cannot believe we are already into February? What happened to January? Well, here’s what happened. January was cold, then warm, then cold. There was snow, sunshine, and more snow. It warmed up enough that I could wash the truck. The next day, I realized it was a waste of time.
We had a magnificent snowfall of around 8 inches. We had to use the snow rake and clear the solar panels.
Since we had enough snow, Tractor Dave decided this would be a good opportunity for me to learn to plow the road.
It is harder than you might think because if you get the blade too low, you mess up the gravel and the road can become really rough. Gravel isn’t cheap to replace at about $250 a load, so when plowing, you really don’t want to create any holes or rough patches. On the other hand, if you don’t get the blade low enough to scrape up the snow you are basically just burning diesel fuel. The snow plow’s blade can be rotated up and down, right and left, as well as elevated in relation to the ground, and it is difficult to find the best position to clear the road. Our dirt road is crowned in some places, level in others, and there are multiple hills and valleys, which only complicates the plowing process.
After 2.5 hours in the (thankfully) heated cab, Stagecoach Springs was open for business. I really enjoyed plowing and I think Dave and I are going to have to play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who gets to scoop up what we have coming today. Funny, we never have this argument over scooping poop out of the stalls, though.
In other news, the Black Hills Stock Show has been going on in Rapid City over the last 2 weeks. I spent an entire day walking around checking it out and I could have easily spent a week looking at all they had going on. There were tons of vendors that were marketing a wide variety of goods including western furniture, art, cattle feed, tack, prairie dog exterminators, pesticides, seed for alfalfa, tractor equipment, trailers, ATVs, feeders, stock tanks and the ever-popular bull semen! Artificially inseminating cows is big business. Some of the events included rodeos, cattle shows, horse riding clinics, and all sorts of seminars for ranchers. It was so western, so cowboy, and so much fun. Everyone was wearing boots and hats, and you could just tell that all those cowpokes were the real thing. I barely saw a single person looking at a smart phone.
I really liked walking through the prep area for the Hereford bull show. This part of the stock show is basically a beauty pageant for cattle, and the prize winners take home some big money and bragging rights for the quality of their bovines! The best part is most of the ranchers showing are young kids in 4H. I saw two kids, probably 9-10 years old, hanging out in the stall next to their bulls and eating lunch. The bull decided to do his business and as soon as he pooped, the little girl jumped up and ran to get a pitch fork and cleaned up after him. No one told her to, she didn’t complain, and then she went right back to eating lunch. Ranch kids have initiative, that is for sure.
Our cows are getting bigger. The May-Flower heifers are still super friendly and the one we call Black Cherry especially likes Dave to scratch her head. That will be pretty interesting when she gets to be about 1600 pounds!
The other cows are about 50 days out from calving. They are LARGE and IN CHARGE! They can put away some groceries and go through many gallons of water too. We stay busy feeding and watering them, but it is still so much fun for us. We have been battling with ice in the pastures and the corrals. The pregnant cows know it is slippery and they walk like old ladies across the slick spots. We try to route them around the icy patches because if one of them wipes out it will be a big deal trying to get her back on her feet!
We applied for a brand for our cows. The process of getting a brand is pretty complicated if you are looking for something specific. Originally, we wanted three H’s for Hoten Holler Homestead, but the lady at the brand office said that anything with double or triple letters is nearly impossible because they are already taken, and the H’s are even more difficult because they can be read as I’s if rotated. She said if we design a new brand it takes 6 months for them to approve, if they approve it. However, there are expired brands to choose from that we could have approval for in two weeks if we found one we liked. We chose this one.
It is an H with an inverted R, or in brand-speak, a CRAZY R. It will go on the right hip of the cows and it stands for Hoten Ranch. Or, Hoten CRAZY Ranch if you prefer.
And here we are in February. The days are starting to get longer and we are planning for spring projects, primarily disking the fields, planting oats or alfalfa, ordering a branding iron, and getting started on a barn. Once again, as I wrap this up, it is starting to snow.