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.