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Hoten Holler!

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September 2018

Hey! What About Autumn?

28 September 2018 – Snow (wait, what?) Snow and 31 degrees

Last week it was hot.  This week it is not.

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September Snow

It seems we went directly from summer to winter. But next week is forecast to be much more typical fall temperatures, highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s.  That’s about perfect weather, but Mother Nature’s little swipe at us last night didn’t sit too well with most of the critters on the Holler.  The cows came out of the woods this morning and were extremely loud and rude, crabbily mooing at the house until Rancher Dave went out and fed them some bales.

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Rancher Dave putting bales in the feeder

The bees are probably in shock.  Fortunately, I did get all the honey supers off the hive and the mite treatments out, so they should be all set for winter. Goose is warm in the barn and Maverick is over at the High Lonesome, where he spends about every other night.  That little punk digs his way out of the barn at night and sometimes hunts over there or steals the cat food Linda puts out for her barn kitties.

The Sheriff, for one, is very excited about the snow.  He hasn’t seen snow yet in his life and he went out first thing this morning and growled and barked at his surroundings.  Shortly after discovering that the white stuff wouldn’t kill him, he tried to eat as much of it as he could.  Then he went bananas.  He started sprinting around in circles, rolling and jumping in the snow.  He acted like a little kid that heard he got a snow day off from school.

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Blurry picture of a crazy dog

In other news, the Hoten Holler ranch made its first cattle sales last week. Cowboy Dave and Rancher Dave loaded up the spring calves and took them to the cattle auction in St. Onge, South Dakota.

 

 

We had two steers for sale, T-BONE and Dude.  Cowboy and Linda had 2 heifers, Lilly and Heidi, and one steer, Chips.  They kept Hugo, Patsy’s calf, as a bull and plan to replace Koozy with him in a couple of years.

 

Both Dave and I thought it would be hard to sell these calves since we have known them since their births.  We told ourselves that these steers have had it made out here all spring and summer on the Holler.  They have been so spoiled to live in these beautiful hills with no shortage of food or water and plenty of supplemental treats from the garden and cake and creep.  They have been handled gently and well cared for, but it was time for them to go.  We also reminded ourselves that if we were made of hay or grass, they would have no problem eating us!

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Rancher Dave and Cowboy Dave smoke a celebratory cigar in honor of the calve sales

The sale of the calves was bitter-sweet, but now we can move forward to the next cycle of life in the cattle business.  We are hoping that we have 14 bred cows this fall that should calve in late April or early May. In between now and then, we will take the best care we can of the cows (and the two bulls) and make sure they are spoiled, fat, and happy.

Speaking of spoiled, fat, and happy, I have a pot of chili cooking on the wood stove for supper. It’s warm and cozy in the house and it feels like a perfect winter day…..except it’s September!!!

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Chili on the stove and Sheriff Joe warms himself after a morning of crazy running through the snow.

 

Shorter Days and Restless Nights

19 September 2018 – Foggy and 57 degrees

It has been somewhat of a stressful weekend here on the Holler.  This follows a really nice week of travels and leisure.  Dave and I looked at each other last week and he said, “The wood shed is full, all the hay is in the barn.  The fences are all up except for the gates into the barnyard.  Let’s go somewhere for a couple days.”  We settled on Billings, Montana.  So off we went for a 3-day vacation.  The drive through Wyoming and along the Big Horn Mountains was spectacular. We had perfect traveling weather and Joey just rode along happily in the back seat of the truck, occasionally sitting up to check out the scenery.

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Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming

We stopped just North of Gary Owen, MT (I wonder why Gary got a town named after him) and went to the National Cemetary and the site of Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn.  It was really a beautiful cemetery and Dave and I both appreciated being there on September 11th.

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Flag at half staff on September 11th, Little Big Horn National Cemetery

After visiting the cemetery, we drove through the battlefield and saw the monument to Custer’s Last Stand as well as multiple US Soldier markers and Native American markers. Dave and I really enjoy these historical sites, and we always try to educate ourselves before we get there.  This time we watched a couple of National Geographic videos on Amazon about the battle, and it really helped us appreciate what we were looking at.

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Zoom in to see all the grave markers along the trail.  A beautiful day to explore the battlefield.

We continued to Billings and enjoyed some big-city cuisine including delicious New York style pizza the first night and German food the next.  During the day we hiked along the Yellowstone River and explored the downtown Billings Brewery district.

 

It was great to just get away and not feel the weight of the endless list of tasks that need to be completed here at home. On the way home, however,  we stopped and picked up the gates we needed to enclose the barn. We returned home on Thursday night and were so happy to be back on the Holler.  It is really difficult to explain how un-citified we are now, and although we’ve only been here two and a half years, we have become completely intolerant of traffic, crowds, city noise, and having to keep the dog on a leash. Nothing in Billings could compete with the freedom, peace, and quiet of home so we were happy we went, but happier to be back.

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A Northern Flicker on the southern deck

Then the weekend came and things got a little hectic.  Friday, we installed the gates to prepare for the Cows to be let out in our pasture. Rancher Dave has gotten pretty adept at hanging gates, which is harder than it sounds.  You have to make sure they are centered, level, and when there are two that meet in the middle, they have to match up so they don’t overlap or leave too big of a gap.  I think he planned and executed pretty well.

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Enclosing the barnyard
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Notice how level the gates are and how nicely they meet up.  Not easy, unless you’re Rancher Dave.

Friday night, poor Joey showed up with a golf ball sized sac on the right size of his throat. We thought he got stung by a yellow jacket because of the size and speed of which the lump came up, and by Saturday morning it was the size of a tennis ball and as hard as a rock.  I gave him some Benedryl, still believing he had some sort of sting, but he just vomited it up and started to seem really lethargic and sad.  Of course, dogs only get sick on the weekend in between normal vet office hours.  By Sunday morning Joe had a mass the size of a softball sticking out of his neck, just under his ear.  He was really listless, obviously sick, and Joey can do sad eyes really well.  Poor puppy!  While debating a trip to the emergency vet, the fire department pager went off.

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Joey’s swollen throat

It was definitely my turn to respond, so I spent all of Sunday “fighting” a wildfire.  I actually did drag some hoses, dig some trench, and put some water on fire, but fortunately it wasn’t that big of a fire and the winds weren’t too strong so we contained it relatively quickly.  The time-suck of fire fighting is the “mop-up” phase where you have to make sure the fire is completely out.

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Mop-up

Returning home Sunday evening, Dave and I determined Joe was looking about the same but needed to go to the vet first thing Monday morning.  We have an incredible Vet Clinic about 24 miles south of here in the town of Edgemont, and they are always busy but said to bring him in and they would work him into the schedule.  Joey has an infected abcess and now has three holes in his jaw to drain out the pus and blood.  Oh the glamorous side of ranching!  He got sent home with the cone of shame on his head and some strong antibiotics.

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Sad Face
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Still swollen on the right side and punished with the cone of shame.

He has had a rough couple of days, but this morning he is back to his normal happy puppy self. His face is still swollen, he looks like he got into a boxing match.  Despite the cone, he wants to run and chase rabbits and is continually dragging the cone through the dirt and grass making it nearly impossible to keep his neck clean as his abcess drains.  We are so pleased that he didn’t have some rare fast growing tumor and that he should make a full recovery. Also completely grateful for the amazing vets and staff at the Cheyenne River Animal Hospital.

Meanwhile, back at the barn……I went to check on the cats the morning before we took Joey to the vet and I found Goose, but no Maverick.  I was really worried all day because Maverick has been digging his way out under the barn door and exploring at night AND we hear coyotes every night!  When we returned from the vet, there was still no sign of Maverick and Goose was looking worried and lonely. Linda put my mind at ease a little, because she believed there was a strange new critter living in her barn.  Her barn cats were throwing a fit and she could hear some cat noises, and she thought it might be Maverick.  We went to bed for another restless night of worrying about a sick dog and an eaten cat, only to find in the morning that Maverick had returned. Hooray for the little devil. Maybe he just wanted to make friends with the neighbor cats.

Finally, on Monday, we rounded up all the cows from the neighbor’s northern pasture and drove them down Stagecoach Springs to the Holler.  They seemed to know exactly where to go and when we opened the gates, they began kicking and bucking and running after the Mule, and then around the Mule, and in front of the Mule.  We were smack dab in the middle of a stampede, dust, cow manure, snorting heifers, kicking cows and all the fun stuff that comes with them.  Typical Monday.

 

Today, Dave loaded up the wood box and put it on the front porch.  Summer is almost over and the last two years, we have had a sprinkling of snow by the 10th of October.

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Rancher Dave doesn’t look too excited about winter

The days are getting shorter, the nights are cooling off, and the elk are bugling at dusk and dawn.  Despite a few worry-filled days, things seemed to have settled down and worked out for the best. I’m sitting here writing this with Joey’s cone-head on my feet as he snores away.  I know the two kitties are safe and sound in the barn and I can see 15 cows in my yard, happily munching away on what is left of forageable grass.  Rancher Dave is settled in for the night, watching Youtube videos for his next wood-working project. It’s not cold enough for a fire in the wood stove, but there is just a hint of chill in the air. I am so relieved that my dog and cats are okay, and a little mad at myself for worrying so much about them. I guess sometimes I just need to remind myself in the words of that great poet, Kenny Chesney, “Everythings gonna be alright!”  Cheers, everyone!

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Happy cows on the Happy Holler

 

Garden Goodies

7 September 2018 – Sunny and highs in the low 80’s

I bet all you people down south have already harvested your tomatoes, but up here where the growing season is SHORT, the tomatoes are just coming in.  I’m super excited, nothing tastes better than a tomato on Dave’s homemade artisan bread with some Duke’s mayo.

The garden was pretty productive this summer.  We did get some sugar snap peas, which I froze and have been using in stir-fry and salads.

We got around 20-25lbs of potatoes.  This is Friday, so tonight we will have the traditional “Death-Row Dinner” which will consist of a rib-eye, a fresh baked potato from the garden and a salad.  Don’t forget the Franzia!

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Counter full of taters

We had 3 cucumber plants and harvested enough to make 14 jars of pickles.

 

In between the haying, picking up rocks, and fence building, two of my neighbors were picking fruit from their trees.  Linda had two choke-cherry trees full of beautiful, dark red cherries.  We picked them and she taught me to make jelly.

Sheri brought over two giant buckets of crab-apples.  Using my newly acquired, mad, jelly making skills, I attempted to make crab-apple jelly too.  It didn’t turn out as good as the choke-cherry jelly, but it is still pretty good.

We have some butternut squash coming in now, too.

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Anyone for squash?

We have been eating quite a few poblano peppers in chilie rellenos, enchiladas, soups, etc.  We also have harvested a ton of jalapenos.

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Delicious peppers

And I have enough onions to make the whole state of South Dakota cry.  Now if the dang maters would just ripen up we could can some salsa.  Last year we ate all the salsa we made (and what we didn’t give away) until we ran out in March.  Then it was back to the store-bought stuff which just isn’t as fun.

The other cool thing about the end of gardening season is sharing with neighbors.  Linda is picking more corn than they can eat so we are reaping the benefits of that in exchange for some cucumbers and honey.  Sheri has been supplying us with zuchini and squash, also in exchange for honey.  Every time someone pulls into the driveway it is like a special visit from the farmer’s market.  Keep your Blue Apron and Hello Fresh delivery services….we’ll take the South Dakota food share program!

That’s it for the harvest news.  We also had some fun catching the bull and sending him to Sheri’s to take care of her ladies. Rancher Dave, Cowboy Dave and I loaded up some cattle panels in the trailer, went to the pasture and set them up in a circle with an opening on one side leading into the trailer.  We herded the girls and the bull into the circle and started leading the ladies out with cake.  The bull finally figured out that he was the only one left in the circle and he got a little upset.  Rancher Dave was not afraid and told him to get his big bull butt in the trailer, so he did.

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Rancher Dave directs Koozy, the bull, into the trailer as Cowboy monitors the situation.

Then the two Dave’s took Koozy, the bull, off to the neighbors to meet some new girls.  We are hoping he got all of our girls pregnant and if so, we should be expecting 14 calves from the herd in April and May.  (Seven of ours and seven of Cowboy’s and Linda’s.)  So if anyone wants to visit in the spring, be prepared for some sleepless nights!  And if the bull didn’t do his job completely, he will come back to the herd in October and have a chance to “clean-up”.  (That is a real rancher term, I’m not being silly.)  If he gets anyone pregnant in October that will mean July calves, which aren’t ideal because you have to feed them part of the winter. Still, it is better than having open cows.  Oh, the things I’ve learned in two years!

One final note about the barn cats.  They are doing great.

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Maverick (left) and Goose (right) hanging out in the barn.

Neither of them has ventured too far from the barn, even though I leave the door open for them all day.  They are afraid of Sheriff Joe, and haven’t figured out that if they just give him one or two good swats he will likely let them be.  Still, they are happy to see us every morning and any time we are in the barn.  If you sit down, Goose will immediately jump in your lap and start purring.  Maverick is a little stand-offish, but if you bring treats he warms right up.  I haven’t seen any signs of mice either, so cheers to the kitties.

The days are getting shorter and the nights are a little cooler.  We are loving the change of seasons and feel much more ready for winter than we did last year.  But, if summer wants to hang on for just a little longer, we’d be okay with that!

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Triple Sticks, the heifer, in the North pasture….she’s been eating!

 

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