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Hoten Holler!

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September 2019

Long Shadows

29 September 2019 – raining, windy and 41 degrees

It’s the perfect day to stay inside and write a blog.  It is cold, rainy, and pretty miserable outside.  Dave built the first fire in the wood stove of the season and he, the Sheriff, and I are taking a lazy Saturday morning inside where it is warm and dry.  We did manage to sneak out for a quick morning walk but it looks like we will be housebound for the rest of the morning.  That’s okay with us, because we have been working a lot outside this week, trying to put posts in the rocky barnyard to set up a corral for our herd.

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One telephone post….hole dug, filled and set with concrete.  About 2 hours work.  Phewww.

We got these corral panels from a seller off of Craig’s List.

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Coral panels are portable fence.  It makes more sense for our rocky ground than setting tons of posts.

We are hoping to organize our corral so we can have a place to load cows and a separate alley to send them through the squeeze chute.  Our ground is so hard and rocky that every post we put in takes a lot of effort and time to dig the holes.  We have a new neighbor that has lent us his jack-hammer.  He also asked us to take 28 telephone poles off of his hands.  He wasn’t going to use them and didn’t want to dump them, so we moved them to our place and are using them for the corral as well.

We are also consulting with another local rancher and friend.  Yesterday, I put together some garden goodies and some honey and Dave went over to the Spring Valley Ranch and dropped off the box for the rancher and his wife.  He told them, “I’m bribing you to see if you can come over and help us plan our corral.”  They were super excited about the goody box and the rancher will come by this week and discuss our plans.  He also asked us for some help with his fall roundup next month.  We really like the community support of the ranching community.

We have been busy fixing fences almost every day since the elk have become much more rambunctious as the rut continues.  It really is quite beautiful to hear them bugle us to sleep in the evenings.  The last few years we haven’t had near the elk activity as this year.  We’ve seen them almost every day for a month, and nearly every morning we wake up to loud bugles and elk right in our backyard.

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Breakfast!

As I posted last time, the only drawback to getting to see these wild creatures every day is that they are destructive, taking out trees and barbed wire wherever they decide to go.  I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

A lot of people ask us if we can shoot one, but unfortunately the answer is no unless we get an elk tag.  There are ranchers with much bigger operations than ours that have enough acreage to get a “reclamation tag” where they can harvest an elk to repay themselves for damage to their property.  We do not have enough land to qualify for this, and in South Dakota, you have to apply for a regular hunting tag in a lottery.  It is pretty tough to get one, we hear.  I think the elk have heard this as well and consequently decided to continue to hang out on the Holler.

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The elk keep getting closer to the house.

In other ranch news, we moved the wood box back to the front porch in anticipation of colder weather.

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Moving the wood box back to the porch….a sign of impending snow!

Also, we decided to invest in a wood splitter.  Dave says when he was growing up, he didn’t know what a wood splitter was.  If someone mentioned “the wood splitter”, he thought they were talking about him and his axe.

We discussed the fact that splitting wood by hand is fantastic exercise…..if you’re in your twenties.  But in your 50’s, splitting wood by hand is a fantastic way to injure yourself.  The machine arrived yesterday and Dave assembled it.  We are champing at the bit to get out there and put it to use, but dang it…it’s raining!  Ha ha.

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Joe took up residence in the crate the splitter arrived in.  He is splitting his own wood (sticks) in there.

We had a fantastic September, but the weather is changing and the temperatures are starting to drop.  The mornings and evenings are beautiful, and the shadows are growing longer.  One year ago today we had the first snow of the season.  We’re sad to see summer go, but getting ready for another winter and actually looking forward to a few down days.  Happy rainy Saturday from the Holler!

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Sheriff Joe making sure the calves don’t get out of line.

 

Fall Harvest

19 September 2019 – sunny and 75

Autumn harvest season has arrived.  We have been busy on the Holler putting things up.  First we put up the hay.

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A barn full of square bales.  It’s the cow’s version of the Golden Corral.

Then we had about a million cucumbers so we put up pickles.

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One of many batches of pickles in process

The bees really went to town this summer and we have been spending several days harvesting and putting up honey.

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South Dakota Liquid Gold

Now, it is starting to get a little cold in the evenings, but the tomatoes are coming in like crazy.  Every day for the last week I have picked about 15 tomatoes, and it looks like there will be at least 3-4 more days of picking that many.

Dave and I made salsa.

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Super Fresh Salsa

We canned and put up more tomatoes. After finally getting the tomatoes canned I found the most amazing thing on the counter in the spot where they had all been sitting.  Counter space!  I hardly recognized my own kitchen.

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Endless tomatoes

Nothing tastes better than a late summer tomato.  We have been eating so many tomato sandwiches it’s kind of getting old.

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A change up to the mater sandwich….Caprese salad and a glass of Franzia!

Dave has given me a new nick-name:  The Mater Queen of So. Dak.  I think this enormous tomato would have won a prize at the state fair, so I’ll embrace the new title.

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That tomato is almost as big as that cow!

We have done so much canning this year that we decided if we get snowed in this winter we will probably not bother plowing out.  Instead we will stay in and eat pickles, tomatoes and honey.

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We’re starting our own grocery store.

We have also been gathering firewood.  Here is the pile that we will split and stack that we hope will keep us warm for a few nights…ha ha.

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Trailer full of wood
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This looks like a cool fall day project

Another fall task has been putting up the haying equipment for the winter.  Dave and I spent quite a bit of time reorganizing the barn lot and Dave did a lot of greasing and maintaining on the mower, baler, rake etc.  We think the barnyard cleaned up pretty nice.

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All the equipment in a neat little row

And finally, we have been entertained mornings and evenings with tons of elk.  In past years, we have heard and seen a few herds, especially in the fall rut.  This year, the elk have decided that our south pasture is the best new nightclub in South Dakota.  Nearly every evening, right around sundown, the bugling begins.  In the low light, you can only make out the giant forms of the herd in the distance, but you can hear them bugle and snort.  It continues late into the wee hours of the morning and tapers off around 3AM.  Then, right before sunup, the bugling begins again and we get a good look at the herd.

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Evenings at the South Pasture Nightclub
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Elk

We also get a good look at whatever damage they have done to our trees.

I wonder who was responsible for the death of these trees?

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Game-cam images
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He’s a big bull, and it looks like he’s been fighting because one of his antlers is broken.

This morning, there were about 25 cows and at least one big bull shutting down the south pasture night club.  They decided to head east and jump the barbed wire fence.  As they ran it sounded like a herd of horses running, except the rhythm of their hoof-falls was a little different than horses. How can I explain this in writing?  I’ll try by explaining that running horses sound like the beat of the William Tell Overture or the Lone Ranger theme song.

“Da da DAA da da DAA da da DAA dum dum”

The elk sound more like a car on a bumpy road.

“Ducca ducca ducca ducca ducca ducca…..”

Okay, if you read that out loud you may  get the idea.  I wouldn’t recommend reading it out loud if you’re at work or somewhere in public.  You might get some strange looks. Back to this morning, we saw the elk start running east and heard their trampling feet:

Ducca ducca ducca ducca ducca…..

One by one they began to jump the barbed wire fence and then we heard:

Ducca ducca ducca ducca TWANG!!!!!

Dave and I looked at each other over our coffee cups and he said, “I guess we’ll be fixing fence today.”  Never a dull moment out here on the Holler

That’s about it for this time.  We are working outside today, enjoying the unusually warm autumn weather. We are hoping for a long, mild autumn, but in reality we could be less than 1 week from the first snow flying.  We better get out there and split that firewood!

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How is your September?  Hmmmmm?

 

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