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Haying

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

 

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

 

We Didn’t Have the Winning Ticket

27 October 2018 – Sunny, windy and highs in the 60s

I have to say that I am not immune to Lotto-fever.  Normally, I won’t buy a ticket, but when the jackpot is $1.6 billion dollars I figure it is worth a shot.  Not that I wouldn’t be happy with a mere $1.6 million dollars, but a girl’s gotta have her standards.  We did not have the winning ticket, so I guess if we want to be billionaires we will have to go back to work for about 500 years.

Despite our pitiful luck in choosing lotto numbers, we have a lot of luck in other areas, so we are counting our blessings.  First, we are having a really nice October. Any evidence of the early snowstorm is long gone.

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Cows in the south pasture headed for the water tank

We have been enjoying some really nice temperatures during this “Elizabeth Warren” Summer (or Indian Summer).  Ha ha. Several days in a row, it has been nice enough to go for a swim.

 

Rancher Dave and I have been working outside, mostly prepping equipment for winter. There is always something that needs the oil changed, Zerks greased, tires inflated etc. We also have been clearing tumbleweeds.  This is an especially fun job when the wind is 20 gusting to 30 knots.

 

The cows have been mostly low maintenance until Wednesday. Cowboy Dave noticed that Honey had a big bloody mass on her ear. Rancher Dave and Cowboy separated her (along with Muzzle for company and Muzzle’s baby, Mac) from the other cows and  our whole crew worked until we finally got her into the corral.  She went in the chute, but she refused to go in the head gate.  We prodded and poked her but she would absolutely NOT move forward.

Linda set to work washing her ear from over the top of the chute. She used warm soap and water and a washcloth and was able to get most of the blood off of her ear.  We used multiple tools, scissors and pliers to pull hair and debris out of her ear, which was not easy because she was not contained by a head gate. Honey is really a nice cow and it seemed like she knew we were trying to help her.  Linda was quiet and patient and eventually used some pliers and pulled out a giant mass of cactus bristles that were covered in blood and hair.  After she removed that, we were able to get a close enough look and see that the fly tag we had put on her ear in the spring was squished way up into her ear canal.  Rancher Dave cut the back side of the ear tag and Linda was able to reach in and pull the tag out. Teamwork.

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Linda, the cow-whisperer

Honey seemed relieved, but she didn’t like the next part of the process which included flooding her ear with hydrogen peroxide.  We finally got her all cleaned up, at least the best that we could do and let her back out with Muzzle and Mac. During the process, I called the vet in case we needed to bring her in and they gave me a tentative appointment for Thursday.  After we got her ear clean, we decided we would probably take her anyway, because her ear was obviously infected and smelled really bad.  It actually worked out pretty well because the calf, Mac, hadn’t had any of his shots yet so the guys took Honey and Mac to the vet.  Honey got cleaned up and an antibiotic, Mac got his shots and branded.

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Honey at the vet – actually in the head gate
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Little Mac at the Vet

Here we are staring down the barrel at November already.  Although we didn’t win the lottery, it kinda feels like we did because we are both healthy, most of the animals around here are doing great, we have good friends, nice weather, cold Keystones, and no complaints really. What would we have done with all that money, anyway?  We already live in paradise.

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Sunrise on the Holler
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Sunset on the Holler

 

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.

 

Christmas in July

10 July 2018 – HOT and sunny, highs in the mid 90’s

Last week, Linda and I were looking at the new bull, Koozy, and the other ladies he had been paddocked with for company.  We put him in with the two “open” cows and an 1.5 year old heifer.  This was because the cows with calves need to stay away for awhile, and the yearling heifers need to also hold off on breeding as they continue to grow for a couple weeks.  Plus, we don’t want a bunch of heifers calving in March as the weather can be pretty snowy and cold. Anyway, Linda said, “Look at Muzzle’s bag!”  Muzzle is one of the cows that we thought was open.  Muzzle’s bag was blown up and her teats were pointing straight out.  She was full of milk and that could only mean one thing.  Muzzle was about to calve!

This is a strange event for Stagecoach Springs.  The bull was not in with Muzzle or any of our cows nine months ago (cows gestation is 283 days, nine months). This would have been the end of last September, and the range cows, and bulls that border our properties were also gone.  Somehow, Muzzle got pregnant at the end of September….hmmm….I think she snuck out and went to the bar one night! Either that or the new bull works really fast!

On the 7th of July, Muzzle gave birth to a little bull calf.  He is beautiful with a white face, like Muzzle, and a red coat, unlike Muzzle.  Whoever the baby-daddy is, he sure made a cute little calf.

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Muzzle and her new baby

 

I said it was “immaculate cow-ception”.  Christmas in July.  Rancher Dave said we should name him “Mack” for im-”mack”-ulate conception.  Clearly we have been getting too much sun lately.  Linda and Cowboy liked the name and were quite pleased that they have another member to add to their herd.  A July calf is not ideal, but he should be big enough and weaned and ready to go to auction by November.  Meanwhile, he gets to live his young life in paradise. And Muzzle will be starring in the next episode of “I didn’t know I was pregnant.”

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Time for breakfast
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Post breakfast nap in the paddock

 

Yesterday, Monday, at 6AM, Rancher Dave, Sheriff Joe and I headed up to the north pasture in the truck with a trailer full of empty pallets.  We began driving through the pasture dropping off pallets in locations to stack the bales of hay we had baled the evening before.  Cowboy Dave showed up shortly after in his tractor and as he drove the tractor around, Rancher Dave and I stacked bales on the pallets so we can easily move them into the barn when it is complete.

 

154 bales later, we were done with the north pasture.  We stacked the pallets close together and put tarps over them in case it rains before we can put them up.

At 8 AM, we headed over to the high lonesome, hooked up the cattle trailer and moved the bull and Dairy Queen out of the paddock and up to the middle pasture, which we are calling Pebble Beach because after haying it looks like a golf course.

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Dairy Queen and the bull checking out their new digs

 

We decided to move the cows and the bull from the paddock up to the field, first because the haying is complete, and second, because they have been inundated by flies in the paddock. With a new baby, the flies can cause quite a problem as the big cows are constantly stomping and  kicking and could injure him.  Also, flies can cause problems to his exposed umbilical cord and his eyes.  Up on Pebble beach they can graze, they have tons of shade, and they can catch a nice breeze to keep the flies away.  Next, we went back to the paddock and loaded up Rose, leaving Muzzle and Mack behind because we didn’t want little Mack to get squished in the trailer.

Then, we separated momma and baby and the two Daves went to work on the calf.  Rancher Dave tackled him, I held his head and Cowboy Dave tagged his ear and banded his you know whats.   Mack is no longer a bull, but a steer.

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Rancher Dave tackles Mack and Cowboy Dave gets his gloves on ready to work that calf

 

We then moved Muzzle and Mack up to Pebble Beach.  We will round up the rest of our herd and move them all up there next week sometime. We then had to move a water tank up for them and fill it with water.  Logistics are maddening!

Typical Monday morning…..then we had lunch.

That afternoon, the two Daves decided that it wasn’t quite hot enough to guarantee someone had a heat stroke, so they would go ahead and mow the southern pasture. They finished up around 4PM.

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View from the back porch of the southern pasture while the men mow

It looks like some good hay and we will let it dry today and rake and bale tomorrow, hopefully, if it doesn’t rain.

 

In between typical Monday ranching shenanigans, we had two loads of gravel delivered for the inside of the barn.  We are hoping the barn will be done today so in between typical Wednesday and Thursday ranch shenanigans we can start spreading it on the barn floor and then start moving hay in there.  Then we can continue with the typical weekend ranch shenanigans.

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More barn progress…..is it time to get barn cats yet?

 

On the docket for next week will be more haying.  We are actually going to get two cuts out of Cowboys field at the High Lonesome.  This is incredible for South Dakota but it looks like the nitrogen fertilizer and the many days of rain in June really paid off this year. Then we will cut and bale our neighbor Sheri’s yard and pasture. When we finally get done with haying this year, it will be time to shovel snow!

We will also be rounding up our cows from a neighboring pasture and putting them in with the bull.  That will mean we won’t have babies (except possibly Rose and Diary Queen who are with him now) until the 28th of April.  That is unless we have any more July surprises. I am planning on trying to extract honey for the first time in the next couple of weeks.  The bees have been really busy!

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Bees cooling off on the porch

 

The garden is in full bloom as well. This is the part where I am kinda holding my breath hoping there isn’t a giant hail storm or an infestation of bugs or who knows what.  I really am hoping to get a lot of tomatoes, onions, and peppers for salsa.  I want to can pickles again this year and I am really looking forward to a lot of potatoes.  Every day I give bags of lettuce away, and Rancher Dave is getting really tired of eating a salad with every meal.  The lettuce won’t last much longer with the heat and then we’ll have to find something else to eat.

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The garden

 

The days are flying by, as they typically do when there are lots of things to get done.  Hopefully everyone out there in reals-ville is having a great summer. As I write this, Rancher Dave just came in and said it is hot enough that the mowed hay from yesterday is dry and ready to rake and bale, so I guess it’s time to throw on the old hay clothes and get out there and get something done.

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The Sheriff gets tired during hay season!
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View of the barn and the house from Stagecoach Springs

 

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.

 

 

Hay Day From Hay-Dees

18 June 2018 – Raining and 49 degrees

This morning, I said to Tractor Dave, “If it was ten degrees cooler, we could have snow!”  He said to bite my tongue.  While it is untypically cool today, we did have some really hot mid 90-degree weather earlier this week, and of course, those were the days we decided it was dry enough to bale hay.

 

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Bwahahahahaha…..

 

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One wagon load of hay

It was really hot working out there.  Dave said it was even ridiculously hot inside Babe, despite the air conditioner.  He was sitting there under all that glass. Joey was dying in the heat in his thick black coat and I poured cold water on him about every 30 minutes.  He is not quite four months old and hasn’t figured out how to sit still in the shade!  Linda and I were burning up in the hot sun, but we knew we were expecting rain and we had to get the hay in the barn. We just kept raking and stacking while the men were baling and stacking!

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Linda rakes in the corners that the baler can’t reach
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The two Dave’s stacking hay

This year we thought we would try to make it easier on ourselves in the bale-stacking process.  We put pallets all over the field and loaded the bales onto the pallets.  Then Cowboy Dave used his tractor and loaded the pallets onto the hay wagon.  Last year we moved each individual bale multiple times, but this year, we just took the hay wagon up to the barn at the High Lonesome, and used the tractor to lift the bales into the hay loft.  I credit my brilliant husband for his ideas in hay efficiency.

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A pallet of hay on the wagon

Late in the hot afternoon, we were finally done moving bales up to the barn.  Funny how we picked the hottest day of the year so far to do all the hard work!  We had a few cold Keystones to reward ourselves. The next day, it was about 20 degrees cooler, and we took advantage of the cool weather to finish moving the hay into the hayloft.

Then I got a lesson in baling.

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I got to pick up the scraps missed from the first baling.

 

Later, we did get the forecasted rain.  It has been raining all weekend and we are happy about that.  Not only is it great for the remaining crops in the field, but we get a little break from haying!  We will continue when things dry out again, although that looks like it won’t be for a few days.

In other news, the barn project will begin sometime this week, weather dependent. We are also dog-sitting for Vito.  Joey and Vito ( the dog mafia)  are full of energy and play and wrestle and run continuously.  This goes on for about two hours at a time, and then everyone passes out from exhaustion.

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Joe chasing Vito through the field
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Vito and Joey resting up for the next wrestling match

The house is a muddy mess and smells like wet, dirty dogs.  That is country living though!   The weather drives our schedule and we just try to keep up.  Every day is completely different and beautiful in its own way.  You just have to appreciate the sunshine and the rain!

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The field after haying – beautiful!

 

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.

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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!

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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.
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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!

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Yellow sweet clover blooming in the field
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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!

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Joey’s first swimming lesson from Hercules and Arrow

 

 

Spring Has Sprung!

28 April 2018 – Sunny with highs in the upper 60’s

Nature has really done some showing off for us in the last eight days.  I just reread the previous blog post and it is amazing how much things have changed in a short amount of time.

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The Herd….Fat and Happy

 

Everything is greening up here like you would not believe! The days are getting longer and the weather is perfect for springtime ranch work! This week we have been cross-fencing the northern pasture.  This is always fun in South Dakota because there are really very few rocks…..ha ha ha ha ha…..actually, it is almost all rocks and pounding in T-posts and augering the holes for the H’s has been challenging.

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Team DaveX2 looking for a spot without any rocks
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Fence in progress

 

Still, the fencing team persevered and the progress is definitely noticeable.

 

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Laser straight!

 

The bees have really been venturing out of the hive, too.  There are little white flowers and other blooms popping up all over.  I am so grateful they seemed to have survived the winter in tact.  The weather is not supposed to be as warm next week, so likely I’ll open the hive and check for a queen the following week.  I wanted them to enjoy the warm days this week with little disruption.

The calves are really enjoying the spring weather, too.  They are so full of energy, bucking and kicking, and running. They are really curious about us, too, but they are obedient to their mothers’ warnings…..”Don’t get too close.”

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Dude trying to get in on Chips’ lunch from Frita

 

And just like that, April is almost gone!  May plans include more fencing, some landscaping, getting the garden up and running, and possibly some relaxation before haying season.

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Hercules is exhausted after a hard day fencing!

 

Happy Spring, everyone!

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J.C. Brae

Country Music Artist

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