Hoten Holler!



A Hot and Dry June

19 June 2020 – Cloudy and 56

I cannot believe it has been nearly a month since my last blog.  We also haven’t had any rain since the last post, and we are hoping and praying we get some today because our beautiful green barley is starting to look a little thirsty!

Several dry patches show how badly we need rain

It has been a really busy month for us.  We decided to cross fence and close in the south pasture and put in two gates to make sure we had access from the north and south side and we could get our haying equipment in and out.

If we ever do get any more rain and we actually get to cut some hay this summer, we decided it would be much easier if we had an extra little run-around tractor. This will save so much time preventing us from having to come back to the barnyard and swap out implements every time we switch tasks from cutting to raking to baling to hauling.  We found this old gem on Craig’s List and are excited to see what it can do.

Rancher Dave testing out his new ride, Sprout

As is our tradition, we had to name the tractor so we’re calling it Sprout.  It is a John Deere 3010, and so far my Dad, who is a red tractor guy all the way, has not disowned us for buying a Deere.  This tractor was made sometime between 1960-1963 and it is gas, not diesel.  It has functional hydraulics and a good PTO so it should really help us streamline our process during haying.  At the very least Dave and I can both be working at the same time.

We finished shoring up our corral just in time for some visitors.

Visitors at work moving cows

My sister, her son, her best friend and her best friend’s daughter came to stay and help with the annual round-up.  We have the vet come out and innocculate the calves, pour the cows to protect against worms and parasites, and brand and castrate the babies.  Our guests had fun and they all helped immensely, so we felt the day went rather smoothly and were grateful for their help.

Branding Party
Making new friends
Practicing for round-up

We didn’t make the guests work the whole time they were here, they did get to visit Sylvan Lake, Devil’s Tower, go to a rodeo in Wyoming, and of course they went to see the Big Heads at Mount Rushmore.

View from the Needles Highway

Fun was had by all and we hated to see them go, but I think they had fun and enjoyed the fresh air and wide open spaces.

Dave and I kept the herd nearby in the maternity ward for the last couple of days.  We like to keep an eye on the babies after branding and castration in case someone develops an infection or a problem.  They all looked pretty good this morning, so we marched them back up the road to the big pasture we’re leasing.  I think they were happy to get out into a bigger area.

Now that the round-up is over we can disk and plant the very last field, which is the maternity ward.  The next big event will be the arrival of the bull (which we moved up to the beginning of July).  I’m sure Valentine will be ready and waiting for him right by the gate!

Of course the next big ranch event is haying, but again, we need rain!  As we wait for the crop to grow we will be busy prepping and greasing hay equipment, killing noxious weeds, and taking care of the lawn and garden.

The corn is growing but the garden needs weeding!

That’s about it from the Holler.  We hope everyone is having a good summer out there in the real world, despite all of the unrest and bad news.  Keep safe and keep yourselves free!

Sheriff Joe getting a drink from the watering can


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!

Happy and Fat Cows

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

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.


Family at the Lake
Hiking the rocks
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!”

The Sheriff conducting some concealed surveillance in the tall grass



Have a great summer, everybody!


Home Sweet Home

13 June 2018 – Cloudy and 53 but warming to mid 80’s

We are nearly two weeks into June and wondering, where does the time go?  Since the round-up, Dave and I have been busy preparing for winter.  Yes, it is June, but that’s how ranch life goes. We literally have to make hay while the sun shines.  And get firewood while the sun shines.  This doesn’t really feel like a job, though.  The long winter really helps you appreciate the warm weather and sunshine, and nothing beats working on your own stuff outside in the sunshine.

Working the fields


We had a great visit with my brother, Bill.  He only stayed for a couple days, so we made sure he worked the whole time….ha ha! Last year, Dave limbed and stacked a ton of rounds and we let them season in the sun since then.  While Bill was here, we drove around the Holler and loaded them all up restacked them in the wood shed.

That is a lot of wood, and it would have taken Dave and I three times as long without Bill’s help!  Thanks, brother!

Next up, the barn plans are going into motion.  The gentleman we hired to clear the lot for the barn showed up with his heavy equipment and went straight to work.  He cleared the large area for the barn and believe it or not, found nothing but rocks!

There is no way we could have cleared this area on our own.  That big equipment really made the difference, not to mention the expertise of the operator. The barn will start going up on the 18th.  More on this in the near future.

Last weekend, my Mom turned 80 years old!  All of her kids decided to surprise her and show up at her house in Iowa so she could be surrounded by family.  She was definitely surprised and happy.  It was great to see my whole family together, too!

I can only hope I look as pretty as my Mom if I make it to 80.  She really is a rock star!  Dad is lookin’ pretty nice, too.
Mom making cookies with her Grandson


After spending the weekend in Iowa, I drove back to the Holler and I have to say there is no place like home.  When you’re out here in the country every day, you become accustomed to the quiet, the fresh air, and the lack of traffic.  It only takes a short trip to a city to realize how much I like the country.  One big difference is the traffic.  Out here I don’t sit at traffic lights.  I do have to wait for the occasional herd of cattle or flock of turkeys to get out of the road, but somehow my road rage is much more manageable.

I returned to the Holler just in time for haying season.  While I was gone, Cowboy Dave mowed one of his fields.  Yesterday, he used the tractor-pulled rake to make some big windrows.  In the afternoon, after the hay had a chance to dry out, Rancher Dave and I went out and raked in the corners to make sure the baler could pick up all the hay it could get.

We baled one small field and were slightly disappointed that we only exceeded last year’s production by three bales….that was until we tried lifting those bales.. Last year we averaged about 45-50 lbs. per bale, but this year these bales are between 60 and 70lbs.

It seems all the fertilizer and moisture are paying off so far!

On the agenda this week:  more cutting, baling, and stacking. I’m also planning on opening the beehive today to see if the ladies are ready for another super (bee box with frames) to expand into.  They fill up their lower boxes with honey and are forced to move up through the hive to continue to produce more brood and young bees.  This year, the sweet clover is blooming which gives the bees a lot of potential for gathering nectar and producing honey.  I’m hoping to harvest some of the gold stuff!

Yellow sweet clover blooming in the field
Busy Bees in the hive.


That is the mid-June update. We hope everyone is having a great summer out there! Don’t forget to spend some time at the swimming hole!

Joey’s first swimming lesson from Hercules and Arrow



Ranch Happenings

23 May 2018 – Rainy with a forecast of sun and 78 degrees!

It is impossible to describe how quickly things have greened up around here. One thing you can say about the South Dakota weather is that is definitely dynamic!

View of the Holler in the morning
Double rainbow after evening rainstorm

Dave and I are so happy to be sleeping with the windows open, and waking up to look out at green grass instead of snow.  We have had a lot of work to do this spring, and the list of things to do never ends, but the weather has been just perfect for working outside so we are taking advantage.

Some things we have been working on include planting the garden.

Last year we had some success and are hoping that the compost we put down this winter will make this year’s garden even better.  The dream list includes lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions.

I opened the beehive to see if there were any glaring problems.  The girls were pretty docile and I was able to see they definitely still have a queen. There were eggs, healthy looking larvae, and already some capped frames of honey.  I am so grateful they survived the long, cold winter!

Busy Bees!


Dave helped out our neighbor, Ned, with cattle round up.  This is the time of year when the ranchers separate all the new-born calfies from the mommas and give them the required shots, castrate them if required, and brand them.  OUCH!


Ned had two calf tables going and Pilot Dave was ear-tagging all afternoon; he became quite the expert as he tagged over 150 calves. For all you non-ranching Hoten Holler Follerers, a calf table is pictured below.  The calf is herded up an alley and caught around the neck in the table.  The table then can be flipped on the side so the rancher can brand, give shots, ear tag, and have easy access to the back end to accomplish castration.


My parents came to visit, as I asked them to come for Mother’s Day but the weather was nasty that weekend, so they came the next. We had one day of really nice weather and one where it was in the 40’s and rainy. Still, we went out to check the herd and my Dad made friends with some of the cows.

Dad meets Puzzle

Yesterday, we went to our neighbor, Sheri’s, and worked on the corral, alleyway and head gate.  We will be holding our own round-up on the 30th, and since we do not have the infrastructure here on the Holler, we will be running our herd through her corral.  We will be doing the standard ranch stuff as well; shots, branding, castration (for Dude since we didn’t catch him and get him banded at birth), and pouring the cows for fly and worm protection.

Rancher Dave fixing the head gate
Cowboy Dave shoring up the alleyway

We also received our branding iron yesterday, and Dave couldn’t wait to try it out. Joey and I are glad he tried it on a piece of wood and not one of us!

Hoten Ranch Brand

Speaking of Sheriff Joe, he has really settled into ranch life.  He loves riding in the mule and checking cows and fence.  He has made fast friends with neighbor dogs, Herc and Arrow, and Sheri’s dogs Kiki and Ellie.  I’m hoping not to jinx myself by saying he is housebroken, as he hasn’t had any problems inside for about 10 days.  He is growing and eats and sleeps a lot.  He likes to chew but hates getting in trouble, so if he is chewing on something he is not supposed to, a quick “NO!”  will send him onto something else.  He is a really good puppy.  I keep waiting for the evil puppy side to show up, but so far he is quite sweet.  Dave and I refer to him as “Discount Puppy”  or “Jeb Bush”  because he is LOW ENERGY.


Today’s plans include drilling some holes for a fence we are fixing for a neighbor.  We may make a trip to Hot Springs to the Black Hills Meat Market to pick up a brisket for Memorial Day.  If the garden is not too wet, I will try to get a few more things planted there.  The yard needs weed-whacking and mowing.  The list of things to do never really ends, but we can see the slow progress of everything we do and we are really loving the ranch life.  Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Toothless the bull and baby-daddy for all the calves born this spring



A Long Way From North Carolina

18 August 2017 – Sunny and Highs in the mid-80s

Dave’s sister and her husband came to visit us all the way from Mt. Airy, North Carolina.  We were super excited to show them the beautiful Black Hills and all the fun stuff we have to see and do.  We took it easy the day they arrived, but the next day we took them through Wind Cave, Custer State Park, Iron Mountain Road, Mount Rushmore, Sylvan Lake and the Needles Highway…..ALL IN ONE DAY!  That’s right….come to South Dakota and we will take you on the Roman Death March and the Trail of Tears.

  We didn’t completely run them into the ground (we hope) and took it easy the next few days just working on some projects here on the holler and taking mule rides through the National Forest and meeting up with neighbors and friends. We put them to work setting up our new lawn ornaments.

On Wednesday, we took another fun road trip up to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.

Dave and I had not been there yet and we were really pleasantly surprised by the size of the tower and the strange magnificence of this strange piece of geology standing up in the middle of eastern Wyoming. Cue the Close Encounters music.

We detoured through the town of Deadwood for a taste of the old West on the way home.

We spent the remaining days of their visit with a little less hectic schedule, but we did take them down the Red Canyon and the old Deadwood-Cheyenne Stagecoach Trail to the Hat-Creek Grill in Edgemont, SD. They found an old cabin they might want to “flip”.  Ha ha.

A real “Flipper” piece of real estate in the Red Canyon.  Probably 140 year old homestead.


Dave’s sister and I also spent a morning canning about 10 pounds of cucumbers from the garden. 

Bread and Butter Pickles….and there are more cucumbers out there already!!!


Sadly, they had to get back on the plane and head back home to North Carolina, but we hope they had fun visiting and hope they will come back again real soon!

The lookout from the National Forest just on the west side of our property.


Meadows in the Black Hills

25 August 2017 – Sunny and highs in the upper 70s

My cousin Keith and his wife Cindy came to visit last week, all the way from Boerne, Texas.  By now, all you Hoten Holler Follerers know the standard tourist itinerary:  Custer State Park, Iron Mountain Road, Mount Rushmore and down the Needles Highway.

On Monday, we participated in the cattle round-up and moved Cowboy Dave’s cows from his pasture onto ours.  Keith and Cindy road along and made fast friends with Hercules.

Everybody loves Hercules….note the cow sneaking up behind Keith


Ahhh…..cows back on the Holler again!


Then we watched the eclipse from our back porch.

A bunch of nerds at the eclipse party.


While we were in the 97% zone, we were not completely in the Path of Totality so it just got sort of dim outside.  We did get to view the eclipse with some eclipse glasses and it was pretty cool.  Also, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees during the event and that was pretty cool, too!

Later that day, we went on a horseback ride just down the road at Sage Meadows Ranch.  Keith rode Amarillo, Cindy rode Ocho, and I got to ride on Frito.

It was idyllic; a beautiful non-humid day for an old west horsey ride through the southern Black Hills.  We ended up on a hill overlooking the Red Canyon where we could see 100-year old ruts in the ground from the old Deadwood to Cheyenne Stagecoach Route. The guide was super nice and informative and we didn’t have to ride nose to tail, we just got to cruise along with our horses and enjoy the day.

Sage Meadow Ranch riding guide and cowgirl extraordinaire….Holly!


On Tuesday, we went up to Hill City and poked through the western art galleries.  This was especially fun for me because Keith is an artist himself, and he is really knowledgeable about painting.  We saw some incredible works and enjoyed another beautiful day of weather.  That evening we ate at the Hitch Rail Bar and Grill in Pringle.  It was a really nice way to wind up their visit before they had to head back to Texas the next morning.

We really had a good time and hope they did too, and then we sent them back to Texas to enjoy the hurricane!  Hope you guys stayed dry and we’ll see ya real soon!

Mid-June Already?

14 June 2017 – Sunny and high of 70°F (Currently 47 at 6AM!)

I can’t believe it is already the 14th of June.  The months, weeks, days, and hours are going by at the speed of light.  Actually, the days are getting really long as the sun came up today at 5:12AM and won’t set until 8:38PM.  That is about 16 hours of daylight which is really nice compared to less than half that in December. I have been waking up about 4:45 and I always think,”Rats!  I slept in and missed the best part of the day, it’s so light it must be 8 o’clock!” But then I realize how early it is and Dave and I go about morning chores (feeding chickens, checking bees, etc.) and we are done with breakfast and are more than ready to get to the day’s work by 7AM.

The weather has been really nice, windy, and cool.  That means we have had several good days to cut wood.  We had two really large bug-trees that needed to come down.  The bug trees have been infested with pine-beetle and are easily identifiable by their brown needles compared to all the green-needle trees next to them. We needed to remove them so the beetles won’t proliferate and take out neighboring trees.

Dave cut them down, and while he bucked them up I dragged slash into large piles. We will use a grapple on the tractor to pick the piles up and move them to a good burn spot away from other trees.  Next winter, we will burn the piles when we have enough snow on the ground.  It’s quite a process.

Because we are in the habit of naming things, we are calling these trees January and February.  We think we already have enough firewood stored for November and December so once these two get split and stacked we hope we will be set through February next year for heating the house.

We are dog-sitting Vito again.  He is a very good dog, but not so much help at dragging slash.  Every time I would grab a branch and drag it to the slash pile, he would grab the other end of it and try to play tug-o-war with me.  If I picked up sticks and threw them into the pile, he would fetch them and bring them back.  When he got tired of these games, he tried to eat every stick in the forest. I think he had fun and he slept for a LONG time last night.  Tired dog.

My Mom and Dad came up from Iowa for a short visit for my Mom’s birthday.  We drove to Deadwood to do some gambling.  It was a beautiful drive through the Black Hills. I made her a cake and Dave made homemade pizzas.  The next day we did a ranch tour, they got to meet Cowboy and Linda’s friendly herd, and then we had a picnic in the National Forrest.  It was great to see them and I think they had fun too!

Finally, the latest addition to the ranch is three new chickens.  We found pullets on Craig’s List that were about the same age as Lovey, Ginger, and Mary-Ann and we drove to Rapid to pick them up.  Going with the 70’s TV theme, we are naming them Charlie’s Angels: Sabrina, Jill, and Kelly. Casually we are referring to them as Sabrina, Farrah Faucet, and Smithy which is short for Jacklyn Smith.  Those names just seem to fit them better.

Sabrina is dark chicken in front, Farrah Faucet hiding in the middle, and Smithy is the salmon color in the back


Sabrina is a Golden Wyandotte and will lay brown eggs.  Farrah Faucet and Smithy are both Faverolles that will lay light tan eggs.  The Faverolles are really feathery, they even have feathers on their feet and they have beards.  They have 5 toes on each foot as compared to 4 toes for most other breeds. They are all cold-hardy and easy-going chickens.  

We were nervous about bringing home new chickens since the Islanders (Lovey, Ginger, Mary-Ann) were just getting used to the coop and the run.  We heard adding new hens to the flock can be quite violent as the pecking order gets established.  Usually the larger chickens will pick on the docile ones and sometimes even draw blood.  Fortunately, all of our girls are about the same size.  There was some pecking from the Islanders on the littlest new hens, and the Islanders would not allow Charlie’s Angels into the coop so Dave had to shove them in there at night.  We have a lot of coyotes around so they definitely need to be cooped up at night.  We were happy in the morning to find that the Islanders were all sleeping comfortably up in the roost and the Angels were in a pile sleeping on the floor.  Several days later, they all seem to be getting along and the whole flock is going into the coop at dusk, which is the norm for chickens.  They are so fun to watch and we are looking forward to some fresh eggs when they get old enough.

Tune in next week, we expect to complete more fencing, get a mower and baler operational for cutting oats and alfalfa, and we would like to complete the walkway with stone in the front of the house.  What will actually happen depends on the weather, the wildlife, and the functionality of equipment.  Every day is a surprise.

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Storms rolling in from the West



Happy Easter and Hoten Holler Happenings

18 April 2017 – Cloudy with a chance of rain, 62°

Wow, it has been an eventful 9 days since I last posted to this blog. I read the last post and realized we accomplished everything I had written on our to-do list….and then some more.

We were super happy that the bolts came out of the tractor frame and we picked up the tractor from the welder in Custer and Dave drove it home. The next day, Cowboy brought over his tractor and we put the loader back on the tractor frame. We were thinking this wouldn’t take too long, but it ended taking us the whole afternoon.

The loader was just really heavy and it sets down into the tractor frame on two little cylindrical bars that parallel the ground. It has to be the right angle and height to fit onto these and tilted just slightly up so the holes line up and the pins can be inserted to hold them together. Sounds simple, and it would have been if the loader was small enough and light enough to maneuver. Plus we were trying to coordinate the effort of two tractors over two loud diesel engines. We finally got the thing in place. Then the men had a lot of fun trying to reconnect the hydraulic lines to the correct connection points.

At the end of the day, Babe is up and operational. Cowboy Dave and Tractor Dave were covered in hydraulic fluid and dust, but happy to have accomplished what needed to be done. Nice job, guys!

I set up the beehive. We are picking up bees the first week of May and I found the perfect spot to put them. They have a nice southerly facing location that is shielded by trees and the top of the hill to the North and West. They are only about 50 feet from one of our rain barrels that will serve as a good water source, and they don’t have too far to travel to the garden (which is just dirt now anyway). They do face a grove of trees and a grassy, wildflower area so I hope they will be happy. They are Italian bees so if they aren’t happy I will try playing some of the Three Tenors music over a speaker and set out a carafe or two of chianti.IMG_3047

My good friend and neighbor, Linda, gave me a bunch of raspberry plants. I put them on top of the cistern.

It kinda looks like a grave, and knowing that I do not have a green thumb, but rather the black thumb of death, I hope it doesn’t turn into a raspberry cemetery. Linda promised to forgive me if they all die but so far they seem to be looking pretty good.

The two Dave’s took Frosty, Laverne, Keystone, and Doreen to market. It was sad to see Frosty go after all the adventures we have had with her but she actually loaded with no issues this time. We also of course were sad to see the other three go but that’s what happens on the ranch.

Tractor Dave has been busy planting oats and harrowing the field. He ended up using his truck to harrow so he could really pick up some speed and bust apart some of the clods of dirt.

He decided to do this on Saturday and Sunday because we were supposed to get a ton of rain today and most of this week. Even though it was Easter weekend, he got it done because he wanted to beat the rain. Of course it hasn’t rained a drop yet. The bonus was that my parents were here visiting and Dad got to ride along for the harrowing. Dave enjoyed the company and Dad enjoyed the farming memories.

While the men were farming, Mom and I made food for Easter. We had ham, potatoes, corn casserole, homemade rolls, asparagus, carrot cake and tiramisu. Cowboy and Linda joined us for dinner and we had a great time.

Mom and Dad didn’t stay very long, but they finally got to see the house and all the work we have been doing around here. Last time they were here there was just a hole in the ground.

And that catches us up since the last time. We really hope everyone out there had a great Easter. It is a great time of year!

Happy Easter!
Elk on the north property
More Elk


A Trip to Iowa

30 August – 2 September, Perfect mid 70’s and sunny – and of course 30 knot winds on the return trip across South Dakota

We went back to Iowa to visit my folks for a few days. They had a trailer that had just been sitting at my Aunt Kay’s house for 20+ years and earlier this spring my Mom and Dad said we should take it.  We offered to buy it but they said, “Happy Anniversary!” and insisted we take it.  We shipped some tires to Iowa and planned to be there for a few days to get it fixed up to drive back here.  Mom and Dad had different plans, however, and packed the wheels and put on the tires.  My Dad and brother Bill rigged up a light bar so we would have brake and turn signals.  A day or two before we left, Dad called and said, “Your trailer is ready to go!” 

So we drove to Iowa and went to Kay’s place where we met up with my sweet Aunt and my cousins, Dave, Patty, and Bruce.  They helped us get the trailer hooked up and we went to lunch at the Beef ‘n Brew in Mapleton, Iowa.  Kay recommended the hot beef, which was a huge open-faced beef and mashed potato sandwich… dang good!  We didn’t stay long and I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture of my aunt and cousins, instead I took a picture of their cows.  I can’t help it, my phone likes cows!img_1864img_1863

We towed the trailer down to Council Bluffs and went to Mom and Dad’s house.  The drive through the western Iowa Loess Hills was beautiful.  The trees were in full summer bloom and the corn was super tall and looking good.  When we got to my folks’ house, my Mom made an apple pie with apples from the tree in their back yard.  It was so good, it would have definitely won a blue ribbon in the Iowa State Fair, but we ate it so there would be no fair entry this year!  It was great to hang out with my folks and catch up at their house.  The weather was perfect and we sat in the backyard enjoying the sunshine.  img_1865

The next day, we met up at the Ameristar Casino and had breakfast with Mom, Dad, and Bill.  Bill looks great and it was fun catching up with him, but the visit was too short.  We did hang out with Mom and Dad the rest of the day and for dinner we took Dave to Christie Crème, a local joint that makes a traditional Iowa favorite:  fried pork tenderloin sandwich.  Dave was impressed. Oh, and my superstar Mom made a ton of chocolate chip cookies for us and for the workers building our house.  Some of the cookies made it back to South Dakota and the construction guys were very excited….I’m not sure what happened to the rest of those cookies.

Are you noticing a trend here?  I just want to warn anyone planning to visit Iowa that you should not be on a diet! And if you’ve never been to Iowa, late August/early September is the time to go.  It is really beautiful and you will understand that line from that Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams:  “Is this heaven?” “No, this is Iowa!”

So after a much too short trip, we headed back to the Black Hills.  We had clear skies and a 30 knot wind out of the south all the way across the great state of South Dakota, but we love it here and it felt like we were coming home.  It was a very successful trip.

What can we say; we are so lucky to be related to so many nice people. Thank you Mom and Dad for the trailer.  We will definitely use it!  Thanks to Kay, Dave, Patty, and Bruce because I know you all helped them get that trailer road-worthy, and you stored it forever.  It was really nice to see you all and we hope you will come visit us when we have a place to host you!  Thanks Bill for helping Mom and Dad, and it was great to see you too!  Come up here and help me figure out how to set up some bee hives!  Mom and Dad, we love you and hope to see you soon!img_1868img_1867

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