10 June 2021  – High of 90 – severe weather again tonight!

It has been awhile, and my excuse for not blogging is the standard old, “We’ve been busy!”

Drone shot of the Holler

We have been doing a ton of work, as spring/summer is the busy season on the ranch.  Once all the calves were on the ground, Dave and I began feverishly preparing for our round-up/branding party, or muster as they say in Australia!

Fresh posts and rough cut lumber to seal up the alley leading to the chute. Dave added some benches if we need to look over from above.

We improved the alley way to our squeeze chute by putting in wood posts and boards on the north side.  Previously we had used cattle panels, which worked fine until some cow became unruly and tried to bust out or climb over them.  We thought we could beef up the operation, no pun intended.

Alley complete. Looks like a good way for the cows to go, right?

We had a great friend come visit from Florida and he was an enormous help around the ranch.  When he got here, we put him right to work planting millet hay in a southern field.  We disked, fertilized and planted, then harrowed. It took almost two days but we are hoping we will get some good rain and it will grow.  

A cold one after a harrowing day!
Disking the southern field to plant millet-hay

Meanwhile, the weather has been better than last year for growing.  Of course we could use more rain, but we have been getting a thunderstorm here and there which really helps.  The oats are looking pretty good so far….fingers crossed!

I installed two new bee colonies.  My bees died last year for reasons unknown, much like many bees in the area.  This year I put up two hives.  So far they seem to be thriving, there are bees everywhere!

Bee hives! Trump Tower up on the hill with Queen Melania, and The Governor’s Mansion down the hill with Queen Kristi Noem.

I finally got some plants in the garden.  I tried to plant some seeds as well, but so far they haven’t shown much promise.  I’ve got potatoes going in buckets and herbs in a planter by the barn.  This is the time of year where we get severe weather and hail so hopefully they can survive to produce something by the end of the summer.

Speaking of growing, dang those calves are getting big!  We have moved them up north into green, green grass and all they do is nurse, eat, and sleep….and GROW!

Trouble Makers!
Round ’em up, Sheriff Joe!

Last year we had problems with a neighbor’s bull jumping in, but we are trying to prevent that this year.  We have been busy stringing hotwire around the top of the barbed wire hoping that it will deter him, or at least make him think that while our cows are quite attractive, there are easier access cows on his side of the fence.  

Rancher Dave tying off the hot wire. This field is locked up like Fort Knox and our cows are the gold.

We plan to lease Moscow (the bull we leased last year) again this year.  He threw some nice calves and we will sell all of his offspring, but we liked him, his demeanor, and it makes much more sense for an operation our size to lease or borrow a bull than worry about keeping one year round.

On the first of the month, we held our round-up/branding party and things went pretty well.  We had some great help from our Florida friend and a good neighbor.  The vet and her assistant are true professionals and once things started going, they went rather quickly.  The weather was perfect and the calves all did great.  The cows mostly behaved, although a few weren’t too keen on going through the new alley.  At one point, Dave said, “Can we grab the cattle prod?”  I went to get it but after hearing Dave’s request, the reluctant cows went through the alley without a complaint.  I swear they can speak English and did not want to get zapped!

Cows and calves separated before the vets arrived and we started working.
Calf in the calf-table, two big cowboys pushing them through, Rancher Dave on branding duty and the vet administering shots etc. I was off somewhere drinking a beer.
Shadow, our oldest calf, was almost too big for the table, she had to stick one leg out for branding.

So here we are on the 10th of June and expecting another round of severe weather.  I would say the weather this year has been extreme, but this is South Dakota, so it is always exciting!  We had some big storms two nights ago but fortunately got mostly rain and not a lot of hail.

Angry clouds over the Holler

Finally, I hate to write this part but I have decided to quit updating this blog.  We really, really appreciate all the feedback and the support, but it seems I have run out of new things to write.  Looking back over the last five years, I realize that we have come a long way since we were city folk moving out here from Florida, and I am so glad I have had this media to document the journey.  Now it seems we have fallen into a bit of a routine, and my posts mirror the year before:  calving, planting, haying, firewood, etc. So we are signing off.  We’ve got nothing but love and appreciation for all you Hoten Holler Follerers. Thanks for joining us on this crazy adventure.  From Rancher Dave, Sheriff Joe, and me: God Bless all of you and keep it free out there in the real world!

Fatz saying goodbye!