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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

 

Flying By

21 June 2019 – Sunny and forecast to be 60

Happy First Day of Summer! This is my favorite season and I am really looking forward to some warm weather and some hot working days. It feels like we skipped spring altogether because of the late May blizzard and the cool temperatures we have had in June so far.  Still, the oats are growing, the calves are growing, the weeds are growing!!!  Spring flew by!

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Happy and Fat Cows

We woke up this morning to four bull elk in our back yard.  Got to love South Dakota!

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Elk like oats for breakfast.

My sister and her son and my Mom came to visit last week.  We had fun driving the tractor, shooting guns off the deck, checking cows, and doing some touring.  We went to Keystone where my nephew got to go into a gold mine and pan for gold.  We all had ice cream and enjoyed the boardwalk. We also went to Sylvan Lake and hiked the mile around it.  My Mom did great, despite some very rocky and steep trails.

 

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Family at the Lake
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Hiking the rocks
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Needles Highway

The weather was perfect and we drove along the Needles Highway on the way home. We went to the infamous Hitchrail for a burger for supper.

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Two Iowa girls in a tractor

Of course you can’t come to the Holler without doing a little ranch labor.  We put the crew to work at building an H for a gate we’re putting in between our pasture and our neighbors.  My sister especially liked breaking rocks out of the post hole using the 30 pound spud.

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Spudding the hole

My nephew and Mom did a great job picking up rocks to fill in around the post and again, my sister enjoyed tamping the rocks back into the hole using the spud, her new best friend. I offered to let her take the spud home with her but she graciously declined.

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She left the spud here for me.

Their hard work helped us get a good start on this H.  Dave and I dug the post holes for the H on the other side this week, and today we finished the wire gate.

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The new wire gate.  Nice H’s on both sides.

Thanks for the help, family!  We’ll try to find something more fun for you to do when you come back.  Throw hay bales, maybe?  Anyway, their visit flew by!

Dave and I have been busy just keeping up with the yard and weeds, cleaning up the barn, maintaining equipment and of course, checking the cows.  Our herd is grazing on the neighbors very large pastures while we grow oats, so checking cows takes a bit more time.  We spend the early mornings driving around looking for them.  When we do finally find them, I have a list and take “roll call” so we can make sure everyone and their babies are present and accounted for.

Three days ago, we found everyone except for one of Cowboy’s girls that was STILL expecting.  After driving around another 15 minutes or so we saw some of the neighbor’s herd.  Rancher Dave shut down the Mule and I hiked down into a ravine where I heard some strange mooing.  Sure enough, there was Diamond with a brand new little heifer calf that was still steaming.  She must have just been born and she was a big bright eyed girl.

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Diamond and her baby in the ravine

I stayed to make sure she would get up and nurse while Rancher Dave went back to the Holler to call Cowboy and Linda and let them know they had a new calf on the ground.  About 15 minutes later, I heard a Mule (Cowboy and Linda have one as well) and I ran up the ravine to show them where the new baby was hidden.  I must have been 30 feet from them and I was yelling and waving my shirt over my head, but they didn’t hear me over the Diesel engine and went flying by!  Another ten minutes went by and I heard them coming back on the other end of the ravine.  I ran down to the bottom but it was pretty tree covered so again, they didn’t see me, and again they went flying by!  Finally, Rancher Dave came back and they saw his Mule and followed him to put eyes on their newest herd member. Never a dull moment out here.

Switching gears, I have been doing a lot of running and hiking to train for an upcoming bucket list trip.  My brother and I are going to hike the Grand Canyon, North Rim to South Rim, in August.  The time of year isn’t ideal, but somehow we secured reservations at the very hard-to-get dorms at the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon. See the link below for some fun information about the place.

Phantom Ranch

The only dates we could get were in August, so we will brave the heat and do this once in a lifetime trip. It is 24 miles of hiking so I have been trying to put in some miles. The other morning I was running on a trail near the Holler.  I heard something go flying by my head and saw it was a diving black bird.  Then it came back to reattack.  If anyone was watching me from a distance they must have thought I was having a seizure or was being possessed by some evil dancing spirit as I tried to shoo the crazy bird away from my head.  The bird followed me for about a quarter mile, swooping and attacking the whole time. I thought about picking up a handful of rocks to defend myself but eventually it left me alone.  The only thing I could think was that I was wearing a bright yellow shirt and that bird had some sort of vendetta against Sesame Street and mistook me for Big Bird. Things flying by….ha ha!

This week I also hiked to the top of Harney Peak, the highest point east of the Rockies in the continental US.  It was a beautiful day and a tough hike, but I wasn’t hurting too bad the next day so I feel like I’m making some progress in my training.

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Harney Peak.  You can see the lookout tower on the top which was 1700 feet up.

That’s about it for now on the Holler.  We are looking forward to cutting, raking and baling hay in the next few weeks.  The oats are getting tall and the alfalfa looks like it could bloom at any minute.

We are expecting some normal summer weather, high 80’s, in the next week and that will really make things grow.  We are about to get really busy, and I’m sure we will blink and say, “Wow, summer really is flying by!” And shortly after that, “Look at all that snow flying by!”

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The Sheriff conducting some concealed surveillance in the tall grass

 

 

Have a great summer, everybody!

 

Lots to Do and Not A Lot of Spring Left to Do It

9 June 2019 – Sunny and forecast to be 65 (but it was 33 this morning!)

It has really greened up on the Holler since my last post.

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Looking at the house from the South Pasture.  The oats are really green and about one beer can high.

The calfies are getting BIG!  Especially the ones that were born in early April.

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The big calves, and in the front with the white face is Moonshine aka Shiner.  He was the one that was so sick and we thought might not make it, but he is a tough guy now!

And here is the newest edition to the herd.  Smudge had a cute little bull and Linda is calling him June Bug.

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JuneBug and Mama-Smudge giving me a look that says, “Not too close!”

Our calves are spread too far out in age to hold a single roundup, so we elected to drive the first 10 to the vet for branding, castrations and inoculations.  We had already moved the herd to the pasture we call the “Hide Out”  so we had to drive them back to the High Lonesome where we have the ability to separate and load the calves.

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Moms outside the corral and babies inside ready to be loaded up for the vet.

Our herd is pretty gentle and we really didn’t have much trouble doing this.  Rancher Dave and Cowboy Dave took the babies to the vet and Linda and I stayed behind listening to the Mamas pitch a fit for about 3 hours.  They did NOT want to lose track of their babies.

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There goes the trailer full of calves.

The vets did a great job, and the two Daves did the branding.

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Shiner in the calf table
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Rancher Dave giving Andie a brand

They all reunited later that afternoon as Cowboy Dave and Rancher Dave drove the trailer of babies back to the hideout.  The moms heard their babies mooing and ran after the trailer back into that pasture.

Other than moving cows around too many times, we have been busy working on farm equipment and keeping up with the landscaping.  At the last post we had nearly a foot of snow, but here we are the 2nd week of June and we have already mowed the lawn twice in one week!

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Trying to get the mower guides in line so we can get the blade back in it.

The garden is planted (VERY LATE) and we are hoping that there is still season enough left to get some good tomatoes and peppers.  It’s pretty cool still, so the lettuce seems to be doing the best so far.  I’ve also got some flowers going in this cool planter Dave built for me.

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I love yellow flowers around the red barn.  Cyclone colors!

The bees don’t seem to be thriving like they were at this time last year.  There are plenty of wildflowers for them to visit, but when I opened the hive, there were just not that many bees in there.  I don’t hold high hopes for a lot of honey this year, but the things I don’t know about bees could fill up the Grand Canyon.

And so it goes, the spring is almost gone and we will be cutting oats in the very near future.  Then we will be baling and stacking hay.  By the way, we got the hay loft in the barn completed.

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Hay loft complete.  The idea is to drive the tractor up to it with a pallet of hay for stacking.  We still need a staircase, though!

And before I go, I wanted to write a blog on D-Day, but we were busy and it didn’t get done.  Let me just say how grateful I am to be an American and for my freedom.  Thank you to all the veterans, and especially to those brave men that stormed Normandy 75 years ago.  The only thing we can say is Thank You.

flag of u s a standing near tomb

 

It Ain’t Over Yet

22 May 2019 – SNOWING AND 32 DEGREES

Hey out there!  It’s Throw-back Tuesday.  Here’s a picture of winter on the Holler.

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May 22 2019

Oh wait, that picture is from today.  That’s right.  We are in the middle of a late spring blizzard.  We already have eight inches of snow on the ground and are forecast to get at least eight more tonight.  Winter just won’t quit. We did have a little taste of spring last week with a few days in the upper 70s and low 80s.  Stupidly, I washed and put away all of our winter gear.  Mother Nature must have taken this as a taunt and now I’m paying for it.

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At least the Sheriff is happy about the snow

But that is just how it goes.  Mountain weather in the springtime.  Meanwhile, the cows are still requiring hay because they can’t forage through all this white stuff.  The woodshed is definitely a lot more empty than we expected it to be by now.  Also, I am praying the one remaining beehive survives this bout of cold and moisture.  The moisture should be very good for all the oats we planted, though.

Since I last wrote, two more calves have been born.  Puzzle had her baby, a bull named Riddle. And of course, in the middle of the snow storm yesterday Freida decided to calf.  She also had a bull named Freddy Prinze.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get a good picture of either of them yet because the Moms have been hiding out from the snow storm.

One warm day last week I went for a hike down Sunday Gulch near Sylvan Lake.  I had read on a trail review that it was rated “difficult” and I assumed that meant it was really steep.  I was up for the challenge but now realize now that “difficult” means very rocky with lots of streams to cross and boulders to climb.

 

Add a lot of melting snow and running water to these obstacles and it made for a really adventurous hike. The trail is a big loop with the two trailheads beginning at the lake.  I hiked it in a clockwise direction and I didn’t see a soul until I neared the end back at the lake.  When I got to the trail end which would have been the counter-clockwise trailhead, I had to climb under a barrier that said, “TRAIL CLOSED”.  That’s me, the accidental rebel.

Today, Rancher Dave, Sheriff Joe and I are holed up in the house watching the snow.  We’ll venture out a few times to check on cows and to fill up the wood tote so we can keep the stove going.  Fortunately, the days are getting really long so our solar power is doing great.  We had to scrape snow off of the panels this morning, but it is not cold enough for the snow to stick to them now so we aren’t worried about power.

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Clearing the panels
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The woodshed is far more empty than we expected

Coming up, we are looking forward to some warmer weather and a chance to get back to work.  We have to do some mower repairs, some corral repairs to get ready for round-up, and before you know it we will be cutting and baling hay. I’m just hoping we don’t have to shovel snow off of it first!

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….And two days after the snow!

 

Get that Bull a Cigar!

10 April 2019 – Freezing rain and 24 degrees

It appears our bomb-cyclone-avoiding luck has run out.  We are sitting in the middle of a nasty winter storm today, complete with freezing rain, snow, and 40mph winds. The snow isn’t really sticking so it doesn’t look that bad in the pictures, but it is fairly unpleasant outside for April.

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Cows eating on a cold day

Despite the weather, Rancher Dave is out in Babe, the tractor, disking up the fields.  He said it is actually the perfect temperature for disking since the ground is kind of wet, but the dirt is too cold to clump up on the disks.  He is pretty cozy in the tractor cab and said he even has to keep one of the windows cracked to prevent from getting too warm.

We had such fantastic luck with oats last year that we decided to plant more this year.  Rancher Dave called the seed store in Rapid and went down there to buy a pallet of Goliath Oats.  When he got there, he paid the guy and went down to the warehouse to pick up the pallet.  Unfortunately, they had made a mistake and didn’t have any oats in the warehouse!  They made it right and delivered the pallet to our barn to make up for the trouble.  This all happened on April Fool’s Day so Rancher Dave thought he could pull a good joke on me about the whole debacle.  When he got home from Rapid I saw his truck coming up the drive so I went to put on my boots and work gloves so I could help him unload.  When I got up to the barnyard, I saw him standing next to the empty trailer with his head in his hands and he said, “I lost the pallet!  It must have fallen off somewhere between here and Rapid!”  Normally I would not fall for these shenanigans but I was completely caught off guard that day.  I said, “Oh no!  I’ll go call the Highway Patrol and see if they’ve seen it!”  My fear was that it would have killed someone if they hit a giant pallet full of oats, and also my mind began racing about how in the heck we would reload it if we did find it.  Then Dave said, “April Fools!” Ha ha…nice one Dave.  Just remember paybacks are hell!  So my plotting begins,  Bwahahahahaha.

We were hoping to get the oats in the ground before this big round of moisture, but they were just delivered yesterday afternoon, so it will have to wait.  Last year we got them planted on the 16th of April so we aren’t too late yet.

Meanwhile, calving season has commenced.  On the 5th of April, and exactly on schedule, Dairy Queen calved a cute little bull which we named BlackJack.  He is the 21st cow we have out here now thus the name.

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Dairy Queen and BlackJack

DQ is a fantastic first-time mom and is constantly licking and grooming the little guy.  He is super strong already and every morning goes zooming and kicking around the pasture.

Three days later, Rosie calved a little bull in the wee hours of the morning.  This is her 5th baby and she snuck off in the early AM to give birth by herself.  He brings the herd total to 22 so we named him “Catch 22.”

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Rose and Catch

We have separated the new moms and babies from the rest of the herd for a couple of days, and now that the weather is so awful, they are in one of the barn corrals where they have some shelter from the freezing rain.  We also corralled Honey because she really looks like she could have her baby at any moment.  The rest of the herd has access to a big loafing shed and another covered pen.  We are really hoping no one decides to calve until Friday when the wind and moisture will subside and the warmer temperatures will return. According to our records, no one else should calve until the 24th because they weren’t exposed to our bull before that.  There were a few “traveling salesmen” bulls that wandered through our pastures last spring, and if anyone calves in the next few days the timing could mean that one of those bulls was the responsible party.  We did have Rosie and Dairy Queen in with our bull, Koozy, when we first bought him last summer, so we know for sure that Black Jack and Catch are his kids. Nice job, Koozy! Get that bull a cigar!

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Catch trying to catch some Z’s

Time keeps speeding by and we can hardly believe we are already in the middle of April..  I wanted to write a blog post on the 31st of March because it was the three year anniversary of the day that Dave and I left Florida with the U-haul full of our things and headed out toward our new lives here in the Black Hills!. I missed the date because the weather was too nice to be inside writing a blog.  Dave and I did celebrate with a fancy box of wine.  We are both amazed at the amount of things we have learned and experienced in just three short years, and our only regret is we didn’t start this adventure sooner.  We can’t wait to see what will happen in the next three years. I’m sure it will go by in the blink of an eye, and I can tell you I am already looking forward to the next April Fool’s Day.  Look out, Dave!

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The Holler 2019

Sun and Water

21 March 2019 – Sunny and highs in the upper 50’s…  WOO HOO!

Everyone on the Holler is in a good mood.  The sun is shining, the snow is melting, and there is water everywhere.  We have water in the stock dam which would be really great if it held all year.  We have a river running through our front yard and another in the northern pasture.

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So much water in the stock dam. If only it would last all summer!
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A river running through the northern pasture.
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Sheriff Joe hunting in the snow next to the stock dam.

 

The cows are fat and happy.  They have been soaking in the sunshine in the afternoon and laying in the fields.

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Fat and Happy Cows relaxing in the warmer weather.
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Patsy off laying by herself….is she getting ready to calve or just annoyed with all the other ladies?

The bees are buzzing.  Despite my doom and gloom attitude of once again believing they did not survive the winter, both hives have been exhibiting a lot of activity since the temperatures have warmed up.  I was worried several weeks ago when there was so much snow on the ground and the temperatures had been so low.  When it finally warmed a bit, I went to check the exterior of the hives and it looked like someone had vacuumed all the bees out, killed them and dumped them in the snow.

I am assuming they had just been hiding so long from the cold that they had to take advantage of the warm day and dump out all the dead.  I really hope that we have some good foraging for them this summer. In about 6 weeks I will begin planting things, including some plants especially for them.

None of the cows have had their calves yet, and we are truly grateful that no one decided to give birth during the bomb cyclone that went just south of us.  We really just had a lot of wind and a little snow, but the wet and windy conditions aren’t good for new babies.

The Stagecoach Springs gang has a pool going on which cow will be the first to calve.  The ante is a six pack of beer.  I bet on Rosie today….so if she doesn’t calve today then I’m out a six pack. Linda and Rancher Dave picked Marzee on the 23rd and 27th respectively.  Cowboy has his beer on Rosie but not until the 27th.  Rosie did look pretty fat and happy this morning but does not appear to be bagging up yet so it is not looking good for my beer bet. I still may have a shot at the bonus beer which is a bet on the sex of the calves.

The barn is nearly out of hay.  Maverick is quite ticked that his furniture is all gone, but I think he is enjoying the warmer weather as well.

The only one that isn’t happy about the melting snow is the Sheriff.  He will go out and find the only patch of snow left and roll all over it.  Then he will lay there and refuse to move.  He loves winter!  I think he is considering moving to Alaska for the summer.

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Sheriff Joe finds one of the remaining spots of snow to cool himself.

That’s about it for March so far.  We hope everyone out there is enjoying spring as much as we are!

 

 

In Like a Lion

4 March 2019 – Frigid and negative 15 this morning

I’m eating my words for bragging about the last polar vortex missing us.  This morning the wind chill was -23 and nothing would start.  Rancher Dave went out to start the gas generator which he uses to heat up the tractor, but the generator said, “Um, NO!  It’s too cold!” We use the generator because our house is completely on solar power so it would not work to have a block heater plugged in all night.

Unfazed, Rancher Dave plugged the tractor block heater into the house once the sun came up and we were harvesting as much solar energy as we could use.  He also went to start the Mule, but the Mule was on strike too. About an hour of heating the tractor started right up, but the Mule would not participate.  Rancher Dave drove the tractor to the field and the Sheriff and I loaded up in the pickup which started without protest. Out to the field we went and Joey and I were quite happy to be inside the warm pickup cab instead of the open air Mule.  Rancher Dave was nice and cozy inside the cab of Babe, too.

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Dave unrolls a bale of hay, he’s hard to see but he’s by the trees in the background.

After unrolling the bale of hay, I let the cows out from the adjacent field.  They looked miserable.  One of the cows that we call Dirty Dozen had so many icicles on her mouth I wondered if she would be able to eat.  They came charging through the gate and I was happy to see the Dirty Dozen chowing down on her breakfast.

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The herd waiting in line for breakfast
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Icicles on the Dirty Dozens chin

As the cows walk through the gate I try to get a good look at each one of them because we are about four weeks away from our first expected calves.  I try to look at their eyes, ears, and feet, and since all the ladies are very pregnant I try to get a good look at their udders (bags) and their backsides as well.  Under the careful tutelage of Cowboy Dave and Linda, we have learned a lot about calving.  The best indication of impending birth is a bag full of milk and teats pointing straight out.  Second, we  try to look at the underside of the tail for any mucus. Linda says, “Get a good look up their address!”   Also, a cow with labor pains will spend a lot of time licking her belly and you can tell if she’s been doing that by her fur.

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Fat ladies coming through!

After Rancher Dave gets the hay rolled out, he gets out of the tractor and walks amongst the feeding herd to give them the once over as well.  Two sets of eyes are definitely better than one, but it is also nice for the cows to get used to us walking around them.  That way, if they do have any problems birthing they won’t panic because the ranchers are right up in their business.

We are really hoping that nobody calves in this weather.  A lot of local ranchers are already calving and could really use a break from these unusually low temperatures.  A wet calf in minus 20 wind chill doesn’t have much of a chance.  Cowboy Dave and Linda told us that one unusually cold spring they lost 3 calves in one day to the bitter cold.  Ugh.  Hang in there ladies!  No babies yet, please!IMG_E8159

Next we go about breaking the ice and filling the water tank.  You can see we have really only been able to keep one big hole open on this tank.  This proved to be a blessing in disguise the other morning because Muzzle, one of the pregnant girls, decided she wanted to get water and no one was going to stand in her way.  Our little bull, Hugo, was trying to get a drink when Muzzle came up beside him and head butted him in the side so hard he came off his feet and landed right in what would have been the middle of the stock tank.  Fortunately there was so much ice there he just slipped right off and back onto solid ground.  Mean old Muzzle.  It’s not just her, all the cows seem to be cranky and headbutting each other.  They are sick of the cold too!

Once everyone is fed, we put up all the equipment in the barn and head into the nice warm house.  It feels so good coming in out of the cold, and Joey immediately passes out.  From our windows we can see the cows eating for about two hours and then they go to the stock tank for a drink and up into the woods for some shelter.

It’s getting to be pretty routine, but this will come to an end once the calfies come.  When the snow melts and there is green grass to graze the feeding chores (and hopefully chopping ice) will come to an end.  We will still have to fill water and check cows daily, but the focus of the day will shift to disking and planting next year’s hay crop.  Of course many other outdoor projects will take over when the weather warms up and we will probably be spending most of the days outside.  I can’t wait!  Meanwhile, it is going to be a warmer night, forecast only to get down to zero. Maybe some of the equipment will start in the morning!

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The Sheriff waits next to the tractor while Rancher Dave and I inspect the herd

 

Hey Winter, We’re Done!

17 Feb 2019 – Snowing and a high of 10 degrees

Remember back in November when I wrote how much I like snow.  That was definitely a November comment.  By the time February rolls around we are ready to see some sunshine and some green grass.  The weather gods don’t seem to care about what we want.IMG_8095

I guess we will appreciate the spring that much more if it ever warms up! Meanwhile, we are plowing through February, literally.

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Rancher Dave plows Stagecoach Springs Rd.

We decided to take advantage of a relatively warm and sunny day and stock up on some hay in case we run out.  We had a great hay season last year, but we ended up with four additional cows to feed so we may end up short depending on the weather.  When it is really cold like it has been, the cows require more food because they are burning a lot of energy to just stay warm. We figured we could buy them all coats and mittens, or we could just feed them more. Cows are really fussy about their fashion choices, so we opted to increase the feed.  We bought hay in April last year because of a late spring snow storm and it was pretty pricey, so this year we think we are ahead of the game by buying it in February.  Plus, we can store it inside the barn if we don’t use it all.

 

I think Maverick, the barn cat, was excited to see some hay coming in instead of all of it leaving.  He is running out of hiding places as we keep feeding all of his “furniture” to the cows.

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Maverick lounging in the sun on top of the hay bales

We have taken pity on the poor little guy  because the temperatures have been dipping below zero at night, Dave and I let him sleep in the mud room.  Dave grabs his box and I grab him and bring him in the house quietly so that Sheriff Joe doesn’t suspect anything.  The first few nights he was so quiet and didn’t make a peep.  The 3rd night we brought him in he decided he would meow all night.  The Sheriff didn’t care for that behavior and decided he should stay up all night monitoring the situation.  The animal drama never ceases around here.

Speaking of the Sheriff, his first birthday is in two days! The amount of growing a puppy does in one year is pretty amazing.

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The Sheriff today after rolling in the snow…he’s pushing 90 lbs now!
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The Sheriff in May, barely tall enough to get to his bowl.  He weighed less than 20 lbs here.

He definitely loves being a rancher, riding in the mule, chasing cows, playing with the neighbor dogs, and rolling in the snow drifts. (Oh, and we definitely love him too!) Happy Birthday, Joey!

The amount of snow and cold temperatures allowed us to finally get some of our slash piles burnt. There is always a little anxiety associated with lighting these large piles, even when they are surrounded by snow.  Fortunately, they all burned down really well and without incident.

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A big burning pile of slash

That’s all there is going on here on the Holler.  We are anticipating calves in about six weeks so we hope winter gets all it wants to get done before then.  We hope everyone is staying warm out there in civilization.

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Cows headed back to the High Lonesome after feeding and watering in the snow

 

February Freeze

5 February 2019 – Cloudy, snow flurries, highs in the teens

Brrrrr….It is cold out there. Although we skirted the edge of the polar vortex we are experiencing another cold snap, expecting below zero temperatures tomorrow night and highs in the single digits for the next few days. It is February in South Dakota, so we roll with it, or slide with it when you consider all the ice.

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A wintery view down our driveway
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From the top of Stagecoach Springs

Anyway, it is the first day of the Chinese New Year celebrating the Year of the Pig. We celebrated by eating bacon for breakfast. So Happy New Year everyone!

We have been busy chasing cows around, feeding, chopping ice, scooping stalls, and all the other usual hijinks that happen out here on the Holler.

We spent one day last week visiting the Black Hills Stock Show. This is a really neat event that showcases all things cowboy, rancher, and western. There are a ton of booths where vendors are selling everything from cowboy hats to branding irons. Rancher Dave and I bought a cowhide rug and a matching coffee table for our living room.

When we left Florida, we sold as much stuff as we could, including most of our furniture. Since then we have been slowly trying to decorate the house in a western theme. We thought these pieces class up the place a bit and make it look less like two college students live here. Ha ha.

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New coffee table
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Cowhide rug

We also attended the “Free Style Bull Fighting” event. I have never seen anything quite like this and I’m convinced this sport was invented by some ranchers after a long day of haying and too many Keystone LIghts. Anyway, the idea is that a bullfighter (not traditional red caped Spanish guy, but a young cowboy in running shoes) gets into the ring and signals the gate keeper to let out the bull. The enormous and enormously hacked off Mexican Fighting Bull charges into the ring bucking, snorting, and looking for someone to kill. The bull immediately spots said bullfighter and the game is on. For 60 seconds, the bullfighter tries to get as close to the bull as possible without getting killed. See the Youtube video below for an idea of what this is like. The bullfighter is judged on his ability to stay close to the bull.

Freestyle bullfighting link

The rounds we watched were incredibly exciting and had both Dave and I on the edge of our seats. Dave took a video, but I won’t let him post it because it is terrible for two reasons. First it is incredibly stressful watching the angry bull pushing around the young bullfighter. Second, you can hear this crazy lady in the background shrieking, “Oh NO!! Run! Oh my gosh, make it stop!….Oh no oh no oh NOOOOOOO! Arggghhh” Okay, the crazy lady is me. I have always hated my voice on tape; I sound much cooler in my head. But this recorded bit of anxious drama is just too terrible to share. You’re lucky I told you about it at all. Now let’s all forget this ever happened.

Anyway, we had a fantastic day at the stock show shopping, people watching, and looking at all the beautiful show cows. As usual, we were even happier to get back to the Holler.

We took another trip today to the booming metropolis of Edgemont, South Dakota. We had to go to the ranch store and load up on cow cake. We also stocked up on calving supplies. We bought a few bags of colostrum, some scours treatments, plastic gloves, disinfectant, a giant baby bottle, some electrolytes, syringes of nursemate ASAP that stimulate a calves desire to eat, and other random things we want to have on hand but hope to not need. We aren’t expecting any babies until the first part of April, but you never know.

We are hoping things warm up a bit before the first calf arrives. Meanwhile, the cows don’t seem too hungry and are not running at us when we feed. On the cold nights, they head up into the woods and huddle together to emerge with icicle coated whiskers in the morning. It’s cold but it’s beautiful and impossible to describe how much we still like chores. They haven’t become “chores” to us yet.

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Feeding time at the High Lonesome

Again, Happy February everyone. We hope things are going well out there in the real world!

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J.C. Brae

Country Music Artist

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