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Hoten Holler!

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August 2019

Squirrels and Turkey and Elk – Oh My!

30 August 2019 – raining and 47 degrees

Yep, it’s raining again so I am taking advantage of the weather and blogging this morning.  We have mostly caught up on haying.  We spent yesterday finishing a couple areas that are difficult to maneuver the tractor in and trying a second cutting in some lush areas in the south pasture.

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Mowing the stock dam

Overall, we had a stellar haying season, putting up well over 1500 bales.  When it stops raining and we bale the stock dam and the second cutting we will be DONE and Dave and I have vowed that we will do something to celebrate.  We will probably just go to the local bar in Pringle (The Hitch Rail) and have a burger and a beer, but it will be a celebratory supper nonetheless.

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Mowing in the clover
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Lots of bales

We were fortunate to have some help for a week this month.  Dave’s good friend from the Coast Guard, Mike, came to visit and “experience” ranch life.  He got to check and water cows, put fence posts in the ground, jackhammer some rocks, drive the tractor, cut and haul slash, and of course he got to rake, bale, and load hay into the barn.

Mike said it was so fun for him, like going to a Dude Ranch and that he really enjoyed the work.  We said, “Tell all your friends about haying season next year!”  Ha ha.  Anyway, we were extremely grateful for the help and we accomplished a lot while he was here.

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Thanks, Mike!  We hope you come back!

And it wasn’t a complete working vacation for him.  Dave took him through Custer State Park where they got stuck in “buffalo” traffic.  They toured the Needles Highway and went to some brew pubs in Custer.  Most evenings we drank wine and fired some rounds off the back deck.  One evening, while we were eating dinner, a herd of about 30 elk decided they would go to the oat buffet in the southern field.  As the sun set, we enjoyed watching these magnificent creatures and listened to their haunting bugles and elk noises.  It was a great South Dakota experience.

Of course, we saw tons of deer and turkeys enjoying the Holler while Mike was here, too. When you come to the Holler,  you’re going to experience some wild life! Not that we’re that wild, usually we are in bed by 9PM.  Sad.

Yesterday, while checking cows, Sheriff Joe decided to leap out of the Mule and pursue an offending jack rabbit.  The jack was huge and the Sheriff didn’t stand a chance as the rabbit shifted into high gear and ran east, possibly all the way to East River. (That’s South Dakota speak for east of the Missouri)  Upon returning from checking cows, I was working in the garden and nearly stepped on a snake!  Yikes!  Later, Dave and I were putting fence posts in the ground and we heard a strange pounding noise coming from the direction of the house.  The Sheriff and I went up to investigate and discovered a squirrel had fallen into one of our rain barrels.  The little guy was throwing himself against the sides in an attempt to escape.  I distracted the Sheriff by throwing a stick which completely worked.  In his absence, I tipped the barrel over and the squirrel ran out and up the nearest tree.  He then began angrily chatting at me, as if it was my fault he had been stuck. Ungrateful rodent.

In between all the crazy projects, we have put up more pickles.  Three cucumber plants yielded 25 jars of pickles this year, and that doesn’t include the cucumbers we have been eating in salads and giving away to neighbors.  Now the peppers and tomatoes are starting to come in so we also canned some of Dave’s famous corn relish.

The last two days we have also harvested honey from the bees.  There were three medium boxes full of capped honey and we harvested two full ones and left part of the third for the bees to ensure they have enough honey to make it through the winter.

We haven’t figured out how much we will actually get to bottle yet, because it takes awhile for the sticky stuff to run through the filter and get out all the wax and bee parts.  So far, it looks a lot like last year’s honey and the basement smells like flowers!  It is also a giant sticky mess which we will probably tackle today if it keeps raining.

One last thing, I forgot to write about in July.  Dave and I were having coffee one morning and we heard what sounded like a tornado, or giant gust of wind off the west deck.  We quickly discovered that a giant hot air balloon was about to land in our back yard!  We watched the beautiful balloon go down in a field just across the road.  I ran to get the Mule so we could see if they were okay, and Dave yelled to the pilot, “Are you okay?”  He yelled back that everyone was good.  We drove down and discovered they had taken off from Custer and were surprised by 30 knot winds that took them on a wild ride a lot further than they intended to go.

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Never a dull moment on the Holler

Despite the velocity and the distance, the balloon crew arrived in vans almost immediately and picked up the passengers and the pilot.  They packed up the balloon and they were gone, nearly as quickly as they had arrived.  Of course we didn’t let them leave without asking if they wanted to pick up hay bales.  Maybe that’s why they left so quickly.

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Balloon Landing
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The chase crew arrives – notice the square hay bales just begging to be picked up across the road!

Well that is it for August.  It definitely is starting to look and feel like autumn.  September promises to be just as busy for us as we continue the paddock fencing project and we will have to separate and wean calves from their moms. We haven’t even begun to gather firewood for the winter.  It’s all good but it is all going so fast!  Happy Labor Day Weekend, everybody.  We hope summer 2019 was as fun for you as it was for us.

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It stopped raining.  Time to get back to work!

 

Hay for Days…….

11 August 2019 – cloudy and highs in the upper 70s

Hey out there!  We’re still alive, but we have been working outside all summer and that hasn’t left much time for blogging.  I will try to do better but the amount of work we still have to complete before the snow flies is a little overwhelming.  We keep trying to get all of our hay cut and baled and loaded.  It has been hot and rainy (unusual for here) so the hay keeps growing and rain daily means it has been too wet to cut.  When we get two dry days in a row, we mow the hay, and then it rains again so we have to let it dry another day before we rake and bale.

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Dave mowing one of the pastures

We are slowly getting through the haying season, but it just doesn’t want to end.  We still have the north pastures to mow and bale, and our neighbor’s yard.  Then, it looks like we might get a second cut in some of the southern pastures!  Meanwhile, the hay loft is slowly filling up with hay.

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Putting hay in the loft, one pallet (9bales) at a time

To make our lives easier, we stack bales on pallets and let the tractor do the work lifting it into the loft.  We use a pallet jack in the loft to position the pallets of hay.  Over 1000 bales of hay moved so far this summer and possibly another few hundred to go has led Dave and me to believe we need to invest in a round baler. This point was not so subtly emphasized by our UPS driver who said to me, “You’re still picking up those idiot cubes?”  His point was that square bales are a pain, and while in small quantities they are useful, picking them up and stacking them is a lot of work. Anyone out there got a round baler for sale?

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A loft full of “idiot cubes”

In the midst of haying season, I abandoned the ranch and went to the Grand Canyon to pursue a bucket list trip with my brother, Scott.  We hiked the whole canyon, north rim to the south rim in two days.  It was 24 miles of incomparable beauty and stifling hot temperatures.  As one hiker said, “Both God and the Devil live in the canyon.”

It was a great trip and while Scott and I were both worn out at the end, it was an incredible journey and we had a great time.  We ended up sore and tired but thankfully neither of us suffered from any blisters, heat exhaustion or any other injuries.

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View from the South Rim

The canyon was great, but I was ready to get back to the Holler and to my favorite rancher and of course, the Sheriff.  We were back at work the next day picking up hay bales.

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One of many loads of hay
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Sheriff Joe was happy to see me

Summer is coming to a rapid close and we still have a lot to do, including finishing the hay.  We are also trying to get in a new fence around the paddock.  We haven’t even begun to gather firewood.  Meanwhile, the garden is producing lots of goodies, and Dave and I canned 20 jars of pickles this week. Don’t worry, we won’t eat them all but they usually go into goodie baskets for guests and family.

Soon the tomatoes should be ready for canning. Like last year , the peppers didn’t do so good, but I still plan on canning some salsa. The bees are going gangbusters and we should be harvesting Hoten Holler Honey in the next few weeks.

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Bees prepping for their morning sorties

The calves are getting huge and after the hay is up, it won’t be long before they get weaned off of their mothers.  The bull has been in with the cows since mid-July and we are hoping he has been doing his duties.  It appears he is a little worn out, too.

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Koozy, the bull laying down amongst his harem

Tonight, it is raining again which means we won’t be able to do anything with hay until mid day tomorrow at the earliest.  Dave and I are watching the storms roll in and Sheriff Joe is passed out on the floor after a long day of chasing butterflies.  Life is good on the ranch.

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A beautiful August day

 

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