25 August 2018 – Sunny and 86 degrees
The weekly blog post has fallen completely off of my weekly to-do list. Probably because Dave and I have just been sitting around eating bon-bons, watching our stories on the TV, and drinking wine while the sun sets. Ha ha, I wish! We FINALLY got done haying the second week of August (just over a 1,000 bales for us) and over 300 bales for the neighbor, Sheri.
We separated calves from mama cows and sent the bull and the older ladies up to a northern pasture. The calves are penned up over at the High Lonesome, where Cowboy and Linda have the facilities and fence to keep them from their moms. The first week, the babies bawled and bawled so much that the mamas broke out the northern pasture three times and came back to find their kids. So we rounded them up and sent them north again and again. Finally, they decided they weren’t going to get to see their babies anymore and stayed put. The calves decided they like living the high-life at the High Lonesome, since Pilot Dave feeds them a bucket of creep twice a day and makes sure they have hay and water.
I am pretty sure I wrote this last year, but creep is a supplement to help wean the calves from milk and onto grass. It basically looks like grain and they love it. So we will keep them on creep for another week or so and then they should be good with grass. These calves are all going to auction in October, so rather than reunite them with the herd, we plan to just keep them separate and make our lives easier when it is time for them to go. I don’t want to think about it.
Other than calve creeping and watering, we have been working on putting a fence around the barn. Once that is complete, the herd (minus calves) can come over to the Holler and graze our pastures. We thought that building a fence around the barn would be about a ten day project, and I’m sure you can guess why it has taken us over 2 weeks…..that’s right, ROCKS.
In typical South Dakota style, some fence posts went right in the ground, and others required Pilot Dave and I to pound, chisel, dig, and even rent a jack-hammer. When Dave went in to get the jack-hammer, the guy at the hardware store said, “Last time, you told me not ever to rent this to you again!” After a day of pounding away, we remembered why.
Dave and I were discussing how we feel like we are tired all the time, but we both feel stronger than when we first moved out here. In 2016, I could barely hold the jackhammer up, but this summer, I actually got in there and worked on quite a few holes. He said it didn’t seem as tough as the first time for him either. Ranching makes you thick! (Or thick-headed!)
So after getting the corner posts in and lined up, we went to work lining up T-posts, then stringing wire, stretching wire, tying off wire, and clipping wire to the posts. We are done with that part this afternoon and enjoying a cold Keystone for our work. The only thing left is to hang the gates, and we will do that after a quick trip to Rapid to buy them on Tuesday.
We decided with all the hay in the barn and the impending fall weather, it was time to get some barn cats to keep the mice out of the hay. This morning, Linda and I went to the humane society and picked out two potential mousers.
Goose is really sweet, social, and friendly. She does have a feisty side and will bat at you if you come at her a little too quickly. We hope this means she will hunt. Maverick is really stand-offish and shy. That’s why I haven’t got a picture of him yet. We let him in the barn and in half a second he disappeared into the hay bales and we haven’t seen him since. I’m hoping he will warm up to us, or not. As long as he can find his food, water, and get some mice it is all good! The plan is to keep them in the barn for 4-5 days while they figure out it is safe, they have beds to sleep in, food and water, and a target rich environment. Then they will be outdoor/barn kitties. Happy hunting!
And finally, sometime over a week ago, I harvested honey from the bees. Both hives are going strong and I saw evidence of queens in each. I left the new colony all the honey they have made (which I’m estimating is around 70lbs) since they will need it this winter. I harvested a little over 2 gallons from the original hive as the two deep supers I think have about 70-80 lbs of honey for them this winter.
This harvest, the honey was more yellow, not as perfumey, and just a little sweeter than last. I think they got more nectar from wild flowers as the sweet clover is almost all gone. Either way, those magnificent little bees just keep working away! I will open the hive only two more times before winter; once to put in a mite treatment, and another to take the mite treatment out. Then the hives get wrapped in tar-paper and we will wish them luck.
Oh and one more thing. Remember the giant piles of rocks left from the barn excavation?
Dave put an ad on Craig’s List and wrote, “Free rocks!” and about 10 days later, a gentleman called and said he was putting in a driveway and needed the rocks for a base. We said, “Come and get ‘em!” And he came for 11 loads of rocks, using his own Bobcat and dump trailer to load and haul them away. Hooray for Craig’s List!
That’s the August wrap-up. We hope everyone is doing good out there in the real world! And P.S. at the time of this post I have seen Maverick the Cat. I went up to the barn and hung out drinking my morning coffee and the little guy got brave enough to come out and say Hi. Then Goose smacked him around a bit and he ran back into the hay bales. Cat Drama!