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The Lazy Days of Summer

25 August 2018 – Sunny and 86 degrees

The weekly blog post has fallen completely off of my weekly to-do list.  Probably because Dave and I have just been sitting around eating bon-bons, watching our stories on the TV, and drinking wine while the sun sets.  Ha ha, I wish!  We FINALLY got done haying the second week of August (just over a 1,000 bales for us) and over 300 bales for the neighbor, Sheri.

We separated calves from mama cows and sent the bull and the older ladies up to a northern pasture. The calves are penned up over at the High Lonesome, where Cowboy and Linda have the facilities and fence to keep them from their moms.  The first week, the babies bawled and bawled so much that the mamas broke out the northern pasture three times and came back to find their kids.  So we rounded them up and sent them north again and again.  Finally, they decided they weren’t going to get to see their babies anymore and stayed put.  The calves decided they like living the high-life at the High Lonesome, since Pilot Dave feeds them a bucket of creep twice a day and makes sure they have hay and water.

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The mamas and the bull up in the north pasture’s pond
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The calvies having creep for breakfast

I am pretty sure I wrote this last year, but creep is a supplement to help wean the calves from milk and onto grass.  It basically looks like grain and they love it. So we will keep them on creep for another week or so and then they should be good with grass.  These calves are all going to auction in October, so rather than reunite them with the herd, we plan to just keep them separate and make our lives easier when it is time for them to go.  I don’t want to think about it.

Other than calve creeping and watering, we have been working on putting a fence around the barn.  Once that is complete, the herd (minus calves) can come over to the Holler and graze our pastures. We thought that building a fence around the barn would be about a ten day project, and I’m sure you can guess why it has taken us over 2 weeks…..that’s right, ROCKS.IMG_6995

In typical South Dakota style, some fence posts went right in the ground, and others required Pilot Dave and I to pound, chisel, dig, and even rent a jack-hammer.  When Dave went in to get the jack-hammer, the guy at the hardware store said, “Last time, you told me not ever to rent this to you again!”  After a day of pounding away, we remembered why.

Dave and I were discussing how we feel like we are tired all the time, but we both feel stronger than when we first moved out here.  In 2016, I could barely hold the jackhammer up, but this summer, I actually got in there and worked on quite a few holes.  He said it didn’t seem as tough as the first time for him either.  Ranching makes you thick! (Or thick-headed!)

So after getting the corner posts in and lined up, we went to work lining up T-posts, then stringing wire, stretching wire, tying off wire, and clipping wire to the posts.  We are done with that part this afternoon and enjoying a cold Keystone for our work.  The only thing left is to hang the gates, and we will do that after a quick trip to Rapid to buy them on Tuesday.

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Northwestern corner of the barnyard
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Southwestern corner with the barn in the back

We decided with all the hay in the barn and the impending fall weather, it was time to get some barn cats to keep the mice out of the hay.  This morning, Linda and I went to the humane society and picked out two potential mousers.

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The (Grey) Goose

Goose is really sweet, social, and friendly.  She does have a feisty side and will bat at you if you come at her a little too quickly.  We hope this means she will hunt.  Maverick is really stand-offish and shy. That’s why I haven’t got a picture of him yet. We let him in the barn and in half a second he disappeared into the hay bales and we haven’t seen him since.  I’m hoping he will warm up to us, or not.  As long as he can find his food, water, and get some mice it is all good!  The plan is to keep them in the barn for 4-5 days while they figure out it is safe, they have beds to sleep in, food and water, and a target rich environment.  Then they will be outdoor/barn kitties.  Happy hunting!

And finally, sometime over a week ago, I harvested honey from the bees.  Both hives are going strong and I saw evidence of queens in each.  I left the new colony all the honey they have made (which I’m estimating is around 70lbs) since they will need it this winter.  I harvested a little over 2 gallons from the original hive as the two deep supers I think have about 70-80 lbs of honey for them this winter.

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Filtered honey dripping into jars
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The bright yellow stuff going into the filter

This harvest, the honey was more yellow, not as perfumey, and just a little sweeter than last.  I think they got more nectar from wild flowers as the sweet clover is almost all gone. Either way, those magnificent little bees just keep working away!  I will open the hive only two more times before winter; once to put in a mite treatment, and another to take the mite treatment out.  Then the hives get wrapped in tar-paper and we will wish them luck.

Oh and one more thing.  Remember the giant piles of rocks left from the barn excavation?IMG_5328

Dave put an ad on Craig’s List and wrote, “Free rocks!”  and about 10 days later, a gentleman called and said he was putting in a driveway and needed the rocks for a base.  We said, “Come and get ‘em!”  And he came for 11 loads of rocks, using his own Bobcat and dump trailer to load and haul them away.  Hooray for Craig’s List!

That’s the August wrap-up.  We hope everyone is doing good out there in the real world! And P.S. at the time of this post I have seen Maverick the Cat.  I went up to the barn and hung out drinking my morning coffee and the little guy got brave enough to come out and say Hi.  Then Goose smacked him around a bit and he ran back into the hay bales.  Cat Drama!

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Sheriff Joe takes a nap after a hard afternoon of fencing.

 

Oh, Bull!!!

28 June 2018 – HOT and sunny – 86 degrees

It has finally stopped raining, but we haven’t been haying because it is supposed to rain again Saturday.  Consequently, everything is growing like crazy! I think it looks like something out of a fairy tale.

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Field full of sweet clover, smells as nice as it looks!

 

We are expecting more rain Saturday, and then a dry out for the next week.  Our plan is to let the ground dry and start cutting on Tuesday. Let the cuttings dry for a couple days, rake and bale by the end of the week.  We have a betting pool going to determine how many bales we might get this year.  We’re hoping to outdo our performance last year because we put down nitrogen in the fall, and the unusual amount of rain has really helped things grow.

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Haying is going to be some real work this year!  If you look close enough, you can see the top of the fence we built.

 

In other news, we took delivery of our bull this week.  We sorted out two mature cows, and the 1.5 year old heifer (Dairy Queen) so he could have some company. We are holding off putting him in with the other heifers because we would like them to be just a little bigger before they get bred.  We did think he needed some company since there are plenty of range cows in the National Forest and we don’t want him to pull what the old bull, Red Butz, did two years ago and bust out of the corral to see those lovely range ladies. Also, there are several bulls out on the range now and we don’t need to see how well he can fight. We’re hoping he’s a lover, not a fighter!

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Koozy the Bull.

 

He walked right off the trailer and after everyone sniffed him over, he started eating grass and acted like he has been here his whole life.  We should put on some Marvin Gaye music and light some candles, he needs to go to work!

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Well, Hello Rose!  I’m your new boyfriend.

 

He is an Angus Bull from the lineage “Kosi”.  Like horses, these fancy bulls all have fancy names if they are registered.  Read any cattleman’s newspaper and you see names like:  Young Gun, Bushwacker, Bodacious, Prime Time, etc.  Since this bull comes from the “Kosi” line, we’re going to call him Koozy, like the device that keeps the beer can cold.  We like Koozy and we like cold beer!

Other additions to the Holler are the beginnings of the barn.

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As of Saturday afternoon…..

 

The builders were a bit stymied by all the rocks, but they build in the Black Hills so they just kept digging and digging.  It currently looks like a bomb went off, but we are assured it will look better once the building goes up.

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Glad we aren’t digging this with a shovel!
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Got rocks?

 

In between haying days,  we will be celebrating Independence Day just like last year.  We’ll go to the parade in Custer and then have a cook-out for some friends at the Holler. We really hope everyone has a great Independence Day.  It is my favorite holiday because I love my country, freedom, the flag, the anthem, and all things USA. God Bless America!

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The Sheriff on a stake-out in the tall grass.

 

 

Last Weekend of the Summer

17 September 2017 – Sunny and currently 32°F at 7AM – High of 67 forecast today

What the heck happened to the summer?  As all good times, it went way too fast. Here we are looking at autumn and prepping for snow. So long, summer! We have come a long way since last year, and an especially long way from two years ago.

This year I have a lot less apprehension about winter. Last year in the camper was pretty tough but this year we have a warm house, a wood stove and a wood shed full of wood.  I feel like we are much better prepared, and actually even a little excited for the change of seasons.

We have been busy, not only getting firewood, but winterizing the garden.  Overall, the garden did pretty well for us, yielding a ton of tomatoes, jalapenos, and cucumbers.  The corn and the potatoes were total busts.  Mother Nature must be telling us to cut out the carbs.  Anyway, here are some of the ways we have been trying to put up tomatoes.

Yesterday, we knew it was going to be near freezing so we pulled out all the remaining plants.  There were tons of green tomatoes but they all got tossed over the fence for the cows.  It only took a short amount of time before Mar-Z, a huge hippopotamus looking cow, came looking for food and ate all of the tomatoes she could find.

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Mar-Z found the Mater Plants
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Picking off the tomatoes

We have been composting food scraps and chicken waste and will dump that in the garden over the winter, hoping that the soil will do even better next year.

Dave has been working on a coat rack/shelf for the mudroom.

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Installing wood dowels to connect the boards

 

I have been avoiding the bees, trying not to disturb them as they are getting ready for winter.  I will open the hive one more time and treat them for Varroa Mites.  In November, I will probably wrap their hive in tarpaper and put on a hive top feeder with sugar water just to help them if they need more food. 

The chickens seem pretty happy with the cooler temperatures.  All of the Islanders are laying eggs and we get three nearly every day.  One of those poor girls is laying gigantic ostrich size eggs that usually have two yolks.  This one was so big I couldn’t even close the egg carton! 

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Big egg in the middle next to two regular sized eggs

 

Fresh eggs are the best.  I don’t know if we could ever go back to store-bought eggs.  Meanwhile, the Freeloading Faveroles still haven’t produced a single egg. 

Tractor Dave and I are slowly tackling our list of things to complete before winter.  We are enjoying the cooler temps, the blue skies, the yellow aspens, and the wild turkeys that wander through the yard.  It is quiet and peaceful here and life is good on the Holler. 

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Typical September Day

 

 

The Road to Nowhere……YET

The Road to Nowhere…..Yet

27 July 2017 – Sunny and Highs in the Upper 70’s

Last Thursday was a busy day on the Holler.  We decided to piggy-back on Cowboy Dave’s gravel delivery he had scheduled and order a few loads of gravel for the road that will go around the front of the house to the future site of the barn.  Because we procrastinated (if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute!) we were rushing around trying to get the big rocks that remained from the house build to make a base layer for the road.

Pilot Dave used Babe to scoop all the rocks and move them to the site.  Cowboy Dave used Bob to smooth out his piles. 

A few hours later, the gravel-man showed up with a truckload of rock.  We explained what we wanted to do and he said, “No problem.”  He drove to the gate and started dumping gravel and about 5 seconds later we had a road. 

We think it looks pretty darn good!

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The New Road
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Another View of the New Road

 

We spent most of the afternoon doing what we always do:  picking up and moving rocks.  Dave used the tractor to add some “curbs” to keep the gravel from spilling out of the low spots.

I have been working on a stone pathway that goes from the west porch to the front porch.

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Rock Path

 

Dave isn’t too happy with me moving all these heavy rocks.  He is still on restriction from lifting anything over 30lbs and expressed his concern that I shouldn’t be doing so much heavy lifting.  I told him not to worry, my Indian name is “Strong Like Bull.”  He said it should be “Stubborn Like Goat.”  After working in the hot sun moving rocks all day we both agree my name actually should be “Smell Like Goat.” Anyway, I have the path in the order I want, I just need to put in some leveling sand and shift the rocks over to their permanent location.

To top off the busy Thursday, my new Bee-Mentor, Peyton, came over to look at my hive and tell me if it was going well or if I was screwing up royally.  Fortunately, he said the bees look good and healthy.

 I was a little disappointed when­­­ he said I probably won’t get any honey this year, but that is normal for a first-year hive.  He said I could take some honey but the bees probably wouldn’t survive on what they have so far.  If that was my intention I would have just bought a bunch of honey and not bothered with the bees.  My hope is to get them through the winter and if all goes well I can harvest a mother-lode of the golden stuff next year.  Until then, there is always something new and exciting to do here at the Holler.  Don’t forget to holler at us if you find yourselves up this way!

Everything is so Green!

27 May 2017 – Cloudy and highs in the upper 50’s

I haven’t posted in a long time, but as I mentioned before….Spring is for working!  We have been really busy working on a ton of spring projects.

First, we built two H’s, one on each end of the southern property line,  and put in a gate at the southeast corner.

Then we put in T-posts. 

Then we strung barbed wire using a spinning-jenny on the back of the mule. 

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Spinning-jenny on the back of the mule stringing out the barbed wire.

We clipped the wires to the T-posts and now we have a new fence.  It all sounds so easy and it really isn’t complicated, it just takes time and effort.

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1/4 mile of fence complete!

We also put a fence around the garden. We used left-over 14 gage wire from the chicken coop and t-posts from the fence project.  We found an old gate in the junk yard and the garden, railroad ties and all, has not cost a single penny.  We have potatoes and turnips and wild onions growing!

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New garden gate. (Not snow, but ashes in the garden to balance out the pH.)

The builders returned to put the final touches on the house.  Now that we have steps on the front and side porches, Dave and I did some landscaping. We also stained the steps.

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Stained steps and a lot of smoothed out dirt.

In full disclosure, it has not been all work and no play around here.  We did go to a rancher’s dinner in Edgemont, which was sponsored by a cattle-drug company representative.  We learned all about inoculating and “pouring” de-wormer on cattle to keep them healthy and make sure they reach their full growth potential. We also learned about hormonal implants which are injected into the ears of cows to help them get big and fat.  It was really interesting and of course they fed us beef!

Yesterday, Dave and I went to Hot Springs for their Wine and Putt-putt golf walk.  We paid $10 for a souvenir wine glass and strolled around the town in and out of the shops sampling wine and appetizers, and some of the shops had putt-putt golf holes that you played for prizes. It was pouring down rain the entire evening, but this is South Dakota, so the locals were undeterred and there was a nice sized crowd.  We splashed around town and had a few sips of wine, and enjoyed a fun night out after so many days working here on the Holler.

The weather has been cool and rainy. March and April were pretty mild, but May has been chilly and wet!

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Storm cloud over the house.

The payoff is the stunning green grass and wild flowers. The oats are sprouting and the field looks amazing!

The bees have been enjoying the rocky mountain irises, Indian paint brushes and the “butter and eggs” wild flowers.

Summer is coming and it is going to be beautiful! 

Chicken on the Menu

25 April 2017 – Snowing and high in the low 30’s

The last three days, Dave and I have been busy building a mobile chicken coop. Our intention was to make a simple and economical home for the future Hoten Holler Hens, but several trips to the hardware store and 3 days later, we still aren’t completely done. We are really close, all we have to do is put on the tin roof and the wire, and dress it up with some left-­­­over siding from the house. Oh….and just add chickens.

We started out with some plans we found on the internet and perused our scrap pile for the materials we could use.

Then on a trip to Rapid, we picked up the foundation 4×4’s and other materials we were lacking. We started with the foundation and the frame.

Then we built the house.

Then the ramp.

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Chicken Ramp

Then the door.

Then we put wheels on the back so we can tow it around. This will allow the chickens access to different parts of the yard, and allow them to also fertilize patches of ground at a time.

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Wheels for Transportation of the Chicken Wagon

We hooked up the coop to the truck to pull it out of the garage and were thankful we cleared the garage door!

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Almost didn’t clear the ceiling!

Note to self: ensure all building projects commenced inside will fit out the door.

We pulled the tractor to the north side of the house where we will put on the finishing touches. In the meantime, hopefully no random critters will try to move in.

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Truck pulling coop
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Mostly Finished

The last three days have been beautiful here. We were working in short sleeves in the garage and enjoying the summer-like temperatures. We are not working on the coop today because it is snowing! What a difference from yesterday!

While we have been primarily focused on the HUD (Hens Urban Development) project, Dave got to use Babe the Tractor to move a 1300lb hay bale into Cowboy Dave’s cattle feeder.

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Up and Over!
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Nice shot, Tractor Dave!

And Patsy the cow had a little bull, so we had to go visit the baby!

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Patsy and Baby Bull
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So Sleepy!

Today we are happy and warm inside the house in front of the wood burning stove. I am using it to cook up some poblano-pork chili for supper. Happy Tuesday from the Holler!

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Poblanos and onions browning on the stove

Super Bowl Monday

7 February 2017

Sunny and High of 47°F

We are still without cable or satellite television so we decided to head to the nearest bar to watch the big game.  That would be the Hitch-Rail Bar in Pringle, SD.  Pringle is probably the smallest town I have ever seen.  There is the Hitch-Rail, the Mercantile (which is fairly new), and the Post Office.  There is also a giant bicycle sculpture, a car up on the cliff over-looking the little town, and a stuffed mountain lion on one of the Main Street Buildings (sorry no pictures of the latter two at this time).

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The HitchRail!
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Bicycle Art

 

Pringle is the closest town to the homestead; it is about 6.5 miles north of here and you can run there on the Mickelson trail, provided you keep an eye out for mountain lions. Any of you readers that visit us will definitely get to dine at the Hitch-Rail and try their fantastic burgers and hand cut fries. If you really want to experience the local culture, you can try the buffalo burgers or the Rocky Mountain Oysters! 

Anyway, we drove up there to have a burger and see the game.  The parking lot was packed and we walked in the bar door and were lucky enough to grab two seats at the bar.  The barmaid said, “What can I get ya?” and we ordered some beers and said we were probably just going to have burgers.  She said, “The kitchen is closed.”  And we were really disappointed….for just a second.  She said, “There is plenty of food in the other room, help yourselves!”  We walked over to the restaurant side of the building and saw a gigantic buffet table set up with tons of Super Bowl food.  It turns out, the Hitch Rail hosts the Super Bowl Potluck for the town of Pringle and surrounding areas.  All the locals (except us!) brought jalapeno poppers, chili, wings, lil’ smokies, cheese, sausage, crackers, macaroni salad and even lasagna.  Dave and I were a little hesitant to partake as we hadn’t brought anything besides our appetites.  We expressed this to the barmaid and asked if they were taking donations or anything.  She said, “Are you kidding?  Go eat, enjoy yourselves and have fun!  It’s the Super Bowl party…duh!” So we did and next year we will know better.

The bar was full of locals, and while not the most outgoing, everyone was friendly to us and we enjoyed the atmosphere and the game. We left at halftime to avoid the dark drive home and the deer.  It was a really fun way to spend the evening and at $3/beer….not an expensive night out!

Today, Todd is testing the air tightness of the house.  We came in at a 0.6, and while I don’t know what that number actually is, from what I understand that is pretty good for the industry standard.  It is not his best, however, because we have a big hole in the roof for the stove pipe.  Consequently, his number isn’t as low as he would have liked but it exceeds most peoples’ expectations and we are quite happy.  We have no questions about the insulation of this house  as we have been plenty warm on the coldest of nights.

The guys are moving their hot house, the bobcat, and the rest of their heavy equipment to their next build site.

We are sad to see them go, but it is time.   And it isn’t a complete goodbye yet…they still have some little things to do here.  Dave and I also want to host the construction crew at a little party in the future to say Thanks!  Also, we think it would be really cool for the guys’ wives and/or girlfriends to get to come and see what they have built here. 

So here we are, Super Bowl Monday, and off to another great week.  Since it was so warm, Dave and I cleaned out the camper completely.  We dusted everything, vacuumed, swept, and cleared out every last remnant of our existence there.  Unfortunately, there were two dead mice in the traps…gross!  At least it has been cold so they probably just froze as soon as they were trapped, and there was no bad odor.  I guess we will have to keep checking the camper for mice now that we are no longer in there every day.  Or we could just put a very hungry cat and a litter box in there. Hmmmmmm…….

PS – Arrow (Cowboy’s dog) says Hello!

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Country Livin’

30 Jan 2017 – Sunny highs in the upper 40’s

We are still in the long, long, long process of what feels like an eternal move from Florida to here.  We are in the house now and have some spaces that are finished so we have been travelling back and forth to Rapid City to drag what we can out of storage.  Our first trailer load consisted of whatever we could grab from the front part of the storage unit.  We also maneuvered and wrestled our way toward the back of the unit, over the gun safe and heavy furniture to fish out the futon pieces and mattress so we would have a place to sit other than lawn chairs.  When we arrived home, and unloaded the trailer we were quite disappointed to find we didn’t retrieve two key pieces to assemble the futon and were stuck again with lawn chairs.  We also laughed at the contents of the boxes we retrieved as none were full of things we had been missing or couldn’t live without.  We had one box full of beer glasses, while quite useful they are hardly a bare necessity – especially since Keystone comes in its own glass (aka beercan).  We had one box full of random kitchen tools including a big cheese grater, a small cheese grater, a meat grinder, BBQ spices, fancy dishware that we never use, vases, and various other items we hadn’t seen in 10 months.  So if you came to visit after the first haul out of storage we would’ve given you a beer in a cool beer glass, but you’d have to sit on the floor….just like college!moving1

We returned to Rapid yesterday for haul #2.  We successfully retrieved the essential futon pieces and two bar stools.  We now have several places to sit and are quite happy about that!  We also hauled more of the easily accessible boxes out of the storage unit.  Unpacking boxes is much like Christmas morning, you never know what you’re going to find! This time we retrieved about 150 ammo cans, gun cleaning equipment, office/work clothes, flight suits and helmets, and the two end cabinets for the office desk.  Hmmmm…..Dave and I are both wondering why the heck we moved all of this stuff?  It is strange how living a minimalistic lifestyle for the last 10 months has changed our perspective as to what kind of things are important to have around the house.  Hindsight is 20/20, but if we could go back I’m sure there would be less boxes of random stuff that made the journey across the country.

On a related note, Dave and I were chatting the other night about how much our lives have changed since we have been here. One funny thing that happens when you are living in ranch country without a TV is that the appearances of people in corporate America or on TV become quite striking.  We are used to seeing our neighbors, friends, and each other in work clothes, sans makeup, nobody has fancy hair or nails.  We dress up on occasion but dressing up now means good blue jeans and boots.  After this becomes the norm and you finally watch the news on TV or see people dressed up in the big city, they look quite alien in all their fancy fluff!  Alternatively, we probably look like rednecks to the city people now, but we love it.  We went to town and I was wearing mud boots, a camouflage coat, a baseball hat that said “LaRue Tactical” on it, and a flannel shirt. I asked Dave if he thought I should have dressed better for our trip to the big city.   He laughed and said, “Look at me!”  And he was also wearing camouflage mud boots, a brown barn jacket, old jeans and a La Rue Tactical baseball hat. We laughed even harder when we returned from storage and I opened a box of “work clothes” including skirts, jackets and high heels.  Not much need for these things out here in the sticks!  The cows would probably not be impressed.

We also become quite used to the lack of traffic.  Even Rapid City seems crazy-busy compared to The Hills.  Here we worry about cows and deer in the road, not people texting while driving and not paying attention.  Both are equally as dangerous I suppose, but I feel the cows and deer inspire less road rage.

Another thing we appreciate about living out here is the real genuine niceness of people in this part of the country.  Our UPS delivery driver keeps some of his customers’ phone numbers in his cell just in case their driveways are too icy for him to make a delivery; in which case he calls or texts them and asks if he can drop their package at their church, at work, or with their nearest neighbor.  This just doesn’t happen anywhere else. 

Last week the electricians were here hooking up some of our fixtures and they didn’t have enough of one type of wire.  Dave and I were going to Custer anyway and asked if we could pick it up for them.  On the way to Custer, we stopped at the small mercantile in Pringle.  We doubted they had the required wire but thought we might ask and it turns out they did have some!  Dave went to check out and they said, “We don’t take credit cards.”  We didn’t have any cash so we thought we would have to make another trip but the clerk said, “You’re locals aren’t you?”  and we said we were.  She said, “Don’t worry about it, take the wire and just settle up with us the next time you come through.”  Again, this just doesn’t happen everywhere. 

When neighbors are burning slash, they call and say, “Don’t worry if you see smoke!  We’re burning slash.”  If you don’t call the neighbors when you’re burning slash the neighbors call and say, “Are you on fire?”  The Community Watch Program is in full effect out here. 

We are not saying that living in the country is better than living in a city or a neighborhood, it is just a nice change and since it is relatively new to us we are enjoying it immensely.

On the homebuilding front:

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Chimney braces on the roof

 

 

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Dumbwaiter in the mudroom

 

 

 

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Barn door operational!  Bring in the barn animals!

As always, thanks for reading.  The Hoten Holler Homestead is almost up and running and we appreciate all the readers for sharing this crazy journey with us.  Oh by the way, it is still cold here and we have plenty of snow!

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Snow drifts nearly over the top of the barbed wire fence posts
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Real life Christmas Card on Hoten Holler!

 

We Are Basement Dwellers

19 Jan 2017 – Sunny and high of 47°F!

We moved the mattress out of the camper into the basement bedroom on the 17th and spent our first night in the house.  It was awesome!  We were able to do this after all the work that has been completed on the house in the last two weeks.

First, they put in the carpet.carpet1

They also are almost completely done with the trim. The flooring is complete except for the stairs to the loft.

Bathroom cabinets are in.  Most of the lights have been installed.

And the grandest, most stupendest-est, awesome, bestest thing of all….. the wood stove is in and operational and heating the house!

Thanks to Todd and crew for the big and scary effort of installing the stove.  They had to climb all over the steep roof in the cold weather to make this happen and we definitely appreciate it.  The stove is a Woodstock Soapstone model with a catalytic converter and it burns wood all night, holding the main floor of the house at 75° easily.  If we aren’t running the ceiling fans, the loft could be converted to a sweat lodge. Todd has also installed transfer fans to circulate the heat to the basement and it has been about 65° at 5AM, which is warmer than the warmest nights in the camper this winter. Although it has been warmer this week during the day, the temperatures outside at night have been in the low 20’s.  The stove is working as advertised and we are quite pleased.

The southern facing windows provide a ton of passive solar heat and the construction crew has had to open windows during the day to stay cool enough while they are working!

On other fronts, the Stagecoach Springs posse has been busy doing normal ranching chores.  All the babies born in December are getting big and strong and eating a ton of hay.  But HEY, that’s what they do!

It has been a long journey living in a camper for 285 days, the last 50 or so that have been frigidly cold, but we survived and now look forward to the final touches being completed on the house.  The next project will be moving all of our things out of storage.  That sounds fun, but God willing, this will be our final move.  

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