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Hoten Holler!

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June 2018

Oh, Bull!!!

28 June 2018 – HOT and sunny – 86 degrees

It has finally stopped raining, but we haven’t been haying because it is supposed to rain again Saturday.  Consequently, everything is growing like crazy! I think it looks like something out of a fairy tale.

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Field full of sweet clover, smells as nice as it looks!

 

We are expecting more rain Saturday, and then a dry out for the next week.  Our plan is to let the ground dry and start cutting on Tuesday. Let the cuttings dry for a couple days, rake and bale by the end of the week.  We have a betting pool going to determine how many bales we might get this year.  We’re hoping to outdo our performance last year because we put down nitrogen in the fall, and the unusual amount of rain has really helped things grow.

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Haying is going to be some real work this year!  If you look close enough, you can see the top of the fence we built.

 

In other news, we took delivery of our bull this week.  We sorted out two mature cows, and the 1.5 year old heifer (Dairy Queen) so he could have some company. We are holding off putting him in with the other heifers because we would like them to be just a little bigger before they get bred.  We did think he needed some company since there are plenty of range cows in the National Forest and we don’t want him to pull what the old bull, Red Butz, did two years ago and bust out of the corral to see those lovely range ladies. Also, there are several bulls out on the range now and we don’t need to see how well he can fight. We’re hoping he’s a lover, not a fighter!

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Koozy the Bull.

 

He walked right off the trailer and after everyone sniffed him over, he started eating grass and acted like he has been here his whole life.  We should put on some Marvin Gaye music and light some candles, he needs to go to work!

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Well, Hello Rose!  I’m your new boyfriend.

 

He is an Angus Bull from the lineage “Kosi”.  Like horses, these fancy bulls all have fancy names if they are registered.  Read any cattleman’s newspaper and you see names like:  Young Gun, Bushwacker, Bodacious, Prime Time, etc.  Since this bull comes from the “Kosi” line, we’re going to call him Koozy, like the device that keeps the beer can cold.  We like Koozy and we like cold beer!

Other additions to the Holler are the beginnings of the barn.

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As of Saturday afternoon…..

 

The builders were a bit stymied by all the rocks, but they build in the Black Hills so they just kept digging and digging.  It currently looks like a bomb went off, but we are assured it will look better once the building goes up.

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Glad we aren’t digging this with a shovel!
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Got rocks?

 

In between haying days,  we will be celebrating Independence Day just like last year.  We’ll go to the parade in Custer and then have a cook-out for some friends at the Holler. We really hope everyone has a great Independence Day.  It is my favorite holiday because I love my country, freedom, the flag, the anthem, and all things USA. God Bless America!

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The Sheriff on a stake-out in the tall grass.

 

 

Hay Day From Hay-Dees

18 June 2018 – Raining and 49 degrees

This morning, I said to Tractor Dave, “If it was ten degrees cooler, we could have snow!”  He said to bite my tongue.  While it is untypically cool today, we did have some really hot mid 90-degree weather earlier this week, and of course, those were the days we decided it was dry enough to bale hay.

 

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Bwahahahahaha…..

 

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One wagon load of hay

It was really hot working out there.  Dave said it was even ridiculously hot inside Babe, despite the air conditioner.  He was sitting there under all that glass. Joey was dying in the heat in his thick black coat and I poured cold water on him about every 30 minutes.  He is not quite four months old and hasn’t figured out how to sit still in the shade!  Linda and I were burning up in the hot sun, but we knew we were expecting rain and we had to get the hay in the barn. We just kept raking and stacking while the men were baling and stacking!

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Linda rakes in the corners that the baler can’t reach
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The two Dave’s stacking hay

This year we thought we would try to make it easier on ourselves in the bale-stacking process.  We put pallets all over the field and loaded the bales onto the pallets.  Then Cowboy Dave used his tractor and loaded the pallets onto the hay wagon.  Last year we moved each individual bale multiple times, but this year, we just took the hay wagon up to the barn at the High Lonesome, and used the tractor to lift the bales into the hay loft.  I credit my brilliant husband for his ideas in hay efficiency.

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A pallet of hay on the wagon

Late in the hot afternoon, we were finally done moving bales up to the barn.  Funny how we picked the hottest day of the year so far to do all the hard work!  We had a few cold Keystones to reward ourselves. The next day, it was about 20 degrees cooler, and we took advantage of the cool weather to finish moving the hay into the hayloft.

Then I got a lesson in baling.

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I got to pick up the scraps missed from the first baling.

 

Later, we did get the forecasted rain.  It has been raining all weekend and we are happy about that.  Not only is it great for the remaining crops in the field, but we get a little break from haying!  We will continue when things dry out again, although that looks like it won’t be for a few days.

In other news, the barn project will begin sometime this week, weather dependent. We are also dog-sitting for Vito.  Joey and Vito ( the dog mafia)  are full of energy and play and wrestle and run continuously.  This goes on for about two hours at a time, and then everyone passes out from exhaustion.

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Joe chasing Vito through the field
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Vito and Joey resting up for the next wrestling match

The house is a muddy mess and smells like wet, dirty dogs.  That is country living though!   The weather drives our schedule and we just try to keep up.  Every day is completely different and beautiful in its own way.  You just have to appreciate the sunshine and the rain!

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The field after haying – beautiful!

 

Home Sweet Home

13 June 2018 – Cloudy and 53 but warming to mid 80’s

We are nearly two weeks into June and wondering, where does the time go?  Since the round-up, Dave and I have been busy preparing for winter.  Yes, it is June, but that’s how ranch life goes. We literally have to make hay while the sun shines.  And get firewood while the sun shines.  This doesn’t really feel like a job, though.  The long winter really helps you appreciate the warm weather and sunshine, and nothing beats working on your own stuff outside in the sunshine.

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Working the fields

 

We had a great visit with my brother, Bill.  He only stayed for a couple days, so we made sure he worked the whole time….ha ha! Last year, Dave limbed and stacked a ton of rounds and we let them season in the sun since then.  While Bill was here, we drove around the Holler and loaded them all up restacked them in the wood shed.

That is a lot of wood, and it would have taken Dave and I three times as long without Bill’s help!  Thanks, brother!

Next up, the barn plans are going into motion.  The gentleman we hired to clear the lot for the barn showed up with his heavy equipment and went straight to work.  He cleared the large area for the barn and believe it or not, found nothing but rocks!

There is no way we could have cleared this area on our own.  That big equipment really made the difference, not to mention the expertise of the operator. The barn will start going up on the 18th.  More on this in the near future.

Last weekend, my Mom turned 80 years old!  All of her kids decided to surprise her and show up at her house in Iowa so she could be surrounded by family.  She was definitely surprised and happy.  It was great to see my whole family together, too!

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I can only hope I look as pretty as my Mom if I make it to 80.  She really is a rock star!  Dad is lookin’ pretty nice, too.
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Mom making cookies with her Grandson

 

After spending the weekend in Iowa, I drove back to the Holler and I have to say there is no place like home.  When you’re out here in the country every day, you become accustomed to the quiet, the fresh air, and the lack of traffic.  It only takes a short trip to a city to realize how much I like the country.  One big difference is the traffic.  Out here I don’t sit at traffic lights.  I do have to wait for the occasional herd of cattle or flock of turkeys to get out of the road, but somehow my road rage is much more manageable.

I returned to the Holler just in time for haying season.  While I was gone, Cowboy Dave mowed one of his fields.  Yesterday, he used the tractor-pulled rake to make some big windrows.  In the afternoon, after the hay had a chance to dry out, Rancher Dave and I went out and raked in the corners to make sure the baler could pick up all the hay it could get.

We baled one small field and were slightly disappointed that we only exceeded last year’s production by three bales….that was until we tried lifting those bales.. Last year we averaged about 45-50 lbs. per bale, but this year these bales are between 60 and 70lbs.

It seems all the fertilizer and moisture are paying off so far!

On the agenda this week:  more cutting, baling, and stacking. I’m also planning on opening the beehive today to see if the ladies are ready for another super (bee box with frames) to expand into.  They fill up their lower boxes with honey and are forced to move up through the hive to continue to produce more brood and young bees.  This year, the sweet clover is blooming which gives the bees a lot of potential for gathering nectar and producing honey.  I’m hoping to harvest some of the gold stuff!

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Yellow sweet clover blooming in the field
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Busy Bees in the hive.

 

That is the mid-June update. We hope everyone is having a great summer out there! Don’t forget to spend some time at the swimming hole!

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Joey’s first swimming lesson from Hercules and Arrow

 

 

“Don’t Try to Understand ‘Em, Just Rope ‘Em, Throw, and Brand ‘Em”

5 June 2017 – Sunny and highs in the upper 80’s

Last week was really busy here on the Holler, and over at the High Lonesome.  On Memorial Day, we began getting ready for our round-up.  We have a small herd, but the cattle all need to be worked to ensure they stay healthy and happy.

We had intended to use a neighbor’s corral because the cows wouldn’t have to move that far and they already had a chute, head gate, and calf table that they said we could use. The weather had other plans and we had about 3 days of heavy rains.  While the rain is really needed and great for oat and alfalfa growing, it made that neighbor’s corral impossible to work due to the deep mud and muck.

Our alternative plan was to borrow a calf table from our friend, Ned, and set up over in the High Lonesome corral, which was still muddy but workable when we put down some pallets, plywood, and pine shavings.  We strive to be solutions oriented.

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Cowboy Dave surveying the set-up for working cows

 

 

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Alley way to the calf table in the mud, before the pallets and pine shavings.

 

So after gathering all the parts and pieces, we went about setting up over at Cowboy Dave and Linda’s.  While the guys used the tractors to set up the calf table and alley, Linda and I cleaned off some of the equipment.  I used their hose to wash off some of the gate pieces, and I hadn’t anticipated how strong the water pressure was.  Lucky me. When I set out to spray one of the most manure-laden pieces of the gate, the powerful water pressure ricocheted all the poop right back in my face and all over my shirt and jeans.  It was disgusting and I was happy I at least was wearing sunglasses and didn’t have my mouth open.  Covered in crap, I ran over to give Pilot Dave a hug and he ran away.  Cowboy Dave said it was because he didn’t like my new cologne, “Corral #5”.  Ha ha!

Then, we all went to go round up the cows and bring them back to the correct pasture. They seemed excited to be coming back home.

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Bringing the herd home

 

The day of the roundup, the vet was going to show up around noon so we spent the morning sorting cows.  We separated all the new calves from their mothers and put them in a pen.  The calves did not seem to care but WOW, those moms were pretty unhappy.  We could barely hear each other over all the mooing.

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Six babies in the pen

 

The vet showed up with her assistant and we got to work.  Linda worked the gates, Cowboy and I pushed individual calves through the alley, and Pilot Dave worked with the vet to catch them in the calf table.

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Looking through the alley at the back of a calf in the table

 

I have to brag a little (and I know he’ll protest) about Pilot Dave.  He is really evolving into Rancher Dave.  He ran the calf table. He branded all six calves.  He tied off the legs of the two bulls that needed castrating.  (This is done to hold the leg out of the way while the vet goes about her business.) He held a calf’s head completely still while the vet de-horned the little guy and used the branding iron to cauterize the wound.  He worked side by side with the vet and her assistant to get everyone done and he looked like he’d been doing it his whole life.

The calf working went pretty smoothly, but the cows were a little more difficult.  They did not want to go through the alley so we all had to team up and push and prod and entice with cake.  All the girls got fly tags, they were poured with de-wormer, and the heifers were given Preg-guard shots in preparation for summer breeding.

 

The actual vet visit took about two hours and we were all beat afterward.

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Arrow rests in my lap after the round-up
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The Sheriff takes a nap.  Working cows is exhausting!

 

As tired as we were, we drank a few Keystones in the shade and congratulated ourselves on a successful roundup.  No one got hurt, we accomplished all we needed to, and we all felt pretty proud of ourselves for a job well done.  While we are still trying to feel out our way here in the Wild West, we feel like we have come a long way for a couple of city slickers.  And, our cows weren’t too mad afterward either.

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Look at that nice brand – a High Lonesome calf
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Another nice brand on T-Bone – a Hoten Holler calf
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Cows still love Dave, as long as he brings the cake!

 

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