Hoten Holler!



Not Leap Year

27 February 2021 – Cloudy and 30 degrees

Oops. I guess it isn’t Leap Year. I could blame that mistake in the last post and title on multiple things, including accounting for cow gestation dates and hay supply in 2020 and carrying over the days. Actually, maybe I just want a do-over for 2020. Anyway, it isn’t Leap Year. Sorry for the confusion! Happy Saturday (it is Saturday, right?) y’all!

So Long, 2020!

30 December 2020 – Sunny and 30 degrees

Hey out there!  Sorry I have been absent for far too long, but we are still here and still livin’ the dream. 

Feeding Hay with the tractor

The last time I wrote was in October so I wish I had a lot to tell you, but our last two months have been (thankfully) very uneventful.  We did finish the shed with the drain tile and the fill dirt.

Cow shed complete, but the cows have refused to spend the night inside so far.

We spent more than a few days cutting down trees in one of the northern pastures. We dragged the wood splitter up there and split and stacked firewood for next year.  It looks like we probably have enough to fill the shed.  

We really haven’t had much snow so far this year, so we haven’t had a chance to burn the slash piles, but we’re expecting winter to come callin’ anytime now.  We currently have a little snow on the ground, but not enough to do any big slash pile burning.

A little late December snow on the Holler

We decorated for Christmas and had a nice quiet time here.  My mom and dad did get to come visit for a few days before the holiday and it was so great to see them.  We ate a lot, mom brought a ton of Christmas cookies, and we took them out shooting one afternoon.  We also drove over to Hermosa where we picked up a second load of square bales along with a famous Lintz Bros. pizza.  It was great to see them and I hope they come back soon.

Sorry I don’t have any good pictures. But if you do make it to the Black Hills you cannot miss Lintz Bros Pizza.

Lintz Bros. Pizza | Pizza Restaurant

At Christmas, it was a balmy 52 degrees here.  Unbelievable!  So we grilled steaks and drank some beers on the deck and laughed at all of our relatives that live south of here and had much colder temperatures than we did.  HO HO HO!

Toasting to a not white Christmas

But two days ago, Old Man Winter came callin’ and we dropped into the single digits and got a few inches of the white stuff.  We really cannot complain as it is December in the Black Hills and we are desperate for moisture in any form. The cows actually didn’t seem to upset either, as they often do during the early snows in the season.  They are all fat and happy.  Hard to believe we are only three months away from the start of calving.

Lucky is looking like she’s ready to calve already. Hang on, girl!

Some close-by neighbors set up a game camera bordering the east of our property and caught these two prowlers out on Christmas Eve.  

Photo courtesy of Bison Pines at VRBO in case you find yourself up this way. Mountain Lions not included. Bison Pines! Beautiful Country Setting on 51 acres! Enjoy Peace and Quiet! – Hot Springs (

I hope they weren’t hunting reindeer! If they were they didn’t get them until Santa got to visit the Sheriff.

That about does it for the Holler Happenings in 2020.  It has been a strange year for our country, but we still have a lot to celebrate as we ring in the new year.  We’re toasting you all tonight and hope everyone has a wonderful 2021.  Hang on tight to your liberties and God Bless!

Sunrise from the deck

Running With/From the Bull

30 May 2020 – Rainy but 67 and sun later today

All kinds of craziness is going on out there in the real world, rioting, looting, pandemics.  All kinds of craziness has been going on here at the Holler as well.  The weekend before Memorial Day, we moved our cows from our northern pasture up the road to a neighbor’s pasture we are leasing.  We did this so we could plant and hay our northern pasture.  Fortunately, my parents were visiting and they got to join in the fun.

Martin Van Buren, Mom, and Dad in Rapid City

Mom and Dad drove the Mule up the road shaking the cake bucket. We chased from behind.

It went very smoothly, and though a few cows decided to stop and chow on the fresh green grass on the roadside, Mom and Dad kept calling them with the cake bucket and Dave and I ran “outrigger” herding them up the road from behind.  Then we moved the lick barrels and water tanks to the new pasture.

Herd settling into their new digs

Moving the water tanks

It was great to see my parents, and while they were here, we continued to disk, plant and harrow the northern pasture. My folks went home on Thursday and Dave and I continued tackling some of our other large projects.  We put some more posts in the barn corral and painted some boards for the alley. It is really starting to come together, although every inch of post digging is hard-fought due to the rocky terrain.  South Dakota Rocks!

View from inside the corral

We are looking forward to testing its functionality at round-up

The Sunday before Memorial Day, we were feeling pretty good about our plans for rotating cattle, haying, and getting more of our infrastructure complete and THEN this guy shows up!

The Black Plague

This bull has been wandering around here for the last three years.  We previously referred to him as “O.J. Simpson” but now we are going to call him the Black Plague.  He is huge, probably close to 2000lbs.  He is usually in a foul mood, and he has an affinity for our cows although he lives a few miles away he always finds himself here. We saw him Sunday night growling and grunting and howling, making all the typical romantic bull noises while pacing outside the five strand barbed-wire fence that contained our herd.

This is a problem this year because we have yearling heifers.  We have arranged to lease a bull in July when they will be old enough to breed.  The bull we are leasing is a “heifer bull” who is small enough to not hurt them and will hopefully throw smaller calves so they will have easier first time births next spring.

We are desperately trying to keep the Black Plague bull away because he could break one of the heifers legs or backs if he tries to breed them.  They are currently too young to breed anyway, and if he breeds them now we will be calving in February which we really do not want to do! As a temporary fix, Dave and I led our herd away from the big bull to the opposite corner of the pasture, hoping none of our girls were in heat and he would move on down the road.

You may ask, “Why is there a random bull roaming around in South Dakota?” And we would answer, “We don’t know! But it is total B.S.!” Because South Dakota is a “Fence-out” state, it basically means if you don’t want at-large cattle on your property it is your responsibility to fence them out.

As mentioned, the pasture the herd is in is completely fenced in (or out) but the Black Plague Bull has demonstrated that he will not be stopped by a barbed wire fence when he is looking for love.  On Memorial Day morning at 5AM the neighbor called to tell us that that bull was in the pasture with our herd.  Dang!  Dave and I drove up to that pasture in the Mule and there he was, grazing right in the middle of our girls.  Fortunately, all of our cows looked calm and relaxed and nobody seemed too interested in the bull so we believe and hope that no one got bred or was in heat.

We decided that we needed to do something to protect our herd.  Early Monday morning, Dave and I tried our hands as bull-fighters, or more like rodeo clowns.  Our cows are so bucket-broke that it is easy to lead them anywhere using cow cake so we easily sorted our girls out of the pasture through one giant gate.  The problem was that the four young calfies decided they would rather hang out with their new big uncle, the Black Plague. All we could do was take turns trying to distract the bull away from the gate while one of us ran around trying to scoot the calves through.  They were uncooperative, of course, and the Black Plague seemed to be getting more and more irritated with our antics. He began pawing the ground and grunting, snorting and seemingly blowing smoke and fire out of his nostrils!  It was quite frightening because we knew he had no problem going through the fence. Finally, Dave had had enough and took off his coat and threw it over the bulls giant head.  Then he jumped on his back and rode him right out of the pasture which took just a little longer than eight seconds. Yee-haw! Just kidding, about the coat and the bull-riding, but we did have some intense and exciting moments trying to work around this big angry beast.

About 45 minutes later and a lot of running, sweating, and yelling, we were able to get all the calves out the gate and leave the big bull in the pasture. Dave led the herd down the road to another pasture south of our house and I ran behind as outrigger, making sure everyone kept heading the right direction.  I could hear the Black Plague running behind me but on the other side of the fence.  He was snorting and grunting and I was praying he would not bust down that fence to follow the herd as I really had nowhere to go to get out of the way.  Thankfully he gave up when the herd disappeared over a hill and he has since wandered off into the National Forest.

We are now keeping our herd in a separate pasture that we had planned on grazing in July, but it is really the only thing we know to do to keep them safe from the bull for now.  There are several ranchers that will be letting their large herds out on the open range to graze on the 1st of June, and we hope that thousands of other cows will be a good distraction for the Black Plague and he will leave our herd alone.

Meanwhile, the barley we planted has been growing and the fields are really greening up.

Fields of Barley

There is a lot of bee activity which I hope continues throughout the summer.  I opened the hive and was happy to see there were eggs so the queen is still doing her job. The garden is planted and the greenhouse is full of peppers plants so we are definitely ready for summer.

Garden looks pretty sad right now, but warm weather coming soon!

The next project is to fence in our south pasture so we will have more alternatives for grazing and moving cows.  As usual, the biggest obstacle is the rocky terrain but we’ve faced down that beast before.  One summer we won’t have any more fence to build and I bet Dave and I will look at each other and say, “What should we do now?”  But that will not be for several summers so we will continue to dig post holes, pound t-posts and string wire.  What are you doing to work out lately?

That is about it for May.  We hope everyone is doing well out there and staying safe and more importantly staying free and living their life without fear and dread. God Bless! Oh by the way, if you’re looking for a way to entertain the children in your life, my brother wrote and illustrated a new children’s book.  Here’s the link, it is available on Amazon and it is a very fun book for young kids with lots of rhyming and cute pictures.

Book by my brother Bill!

Maybe she will read us that book?

Life and Death on the Holler

30 April 2019 – Snowing and blowing, and 29 degrees

Advanced warning:  a long blog ahead due to a lot of happenings and a long time since the last post. In the words of Mark Twain, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”

April has been a really, really long month at the Holler.  After the first two calves were born exactly on time, the calving season took some strange and awful twists.  I wrote in the last blog about BlackJack #21 and Catch #22, so I will try to summarize what happened since then.

The next cow to calve was Hunny, and she gave birth with ease to a beautiful little heifer which we named Andie. Hunny calved like she always has; with ease and overnight without supervision.  She is an excellent mother.

Meet Andie, she’s our 3rd baby!

We had been checking cows several times a day, keeping a close eye on the remaining heifers that we hoped wouldn’t calve for a few more weeks, but as I previously wrote, there had been a random bull wandering through our pastures and we couldn’t be sure of their breeding dates.

On Monday, Tax Day, April 15th, Rancher Dave and I were up early and out the door to feed and check cows.  We put out the food and noticed that we were one cow short.  Almost immediately after noticing this, we saw Cherry Bomb (one of the questionable heifers) running down out of the woods to eat.  From her backside, it was obvious that she had calved but we didn’t see a baby anywhere.  We drove through the woods and found a barely breathing little calf.  There was no way to determine when she was born but two things were clear:  1.  She was struggling.  2.  Cherry Bomb was more interested in breakfast than anything we did to the calf.

Dave tried his best to dry her off while I tried to push Cherry Bomb toward her and away from the herd and breakfast.  I was completely unsuccessful.  Meanwhile, Cowboy Dave and Linda came out to see if they could help. They brought a shot of Vitamin B that gives newborn calves some energy to get up and eat.  They also brought a sled to drag the calf inside if necessary.  The shot didn’t do anything.  The poor little girl bellered a few times but did not jump up and look for food as we have seen calves do in the past.  We put her in the sled and drug her in front of Cherry Bomb, hoping she would follow her newborn away from the herd and give her some much needed attention.

After a lot of trying we eventually got the new baby and Cherry Bomb into a warm shed in the barn.  Unfortunately, the Mom didn’t seem to care too much about the baby and seemed confused and in horror about the whole birthing incident.  We decided  to bottle feed the new calf some colostrum since her Mom would not do it.

As a side for all of you Hoten Holler Follerers that are not cow people, colostrum is a compound found in cows’ milk immediately after they give birth. A calf needs this in at most 2 hours after being born to ensure that they have a solid immune system.  Two hours after birth, the calf’s stomach lining improves to the point that the colostrum won’t be absorbed and they will have a compromised immune system for their whole life, which means their whole life won’t be very long!

So we mixed up the colostrum and put it in a bottle and I held that baby in my lap as Rancher Dave tried to squeeze the mixture into her mouth.  Her mouth was cold and dry.  She was minimally responsive, giving a very weak moo here and there but unable to hold up her tiny head.  We rubbed her and rubbed her and tried to get her to swallow, but she just didn’t make it.  It was so sad.

Moving forward, we decided to keep our remaining heifers in a paddock where we could keep a close eye on them.  We assumed 2 hour shifts throughout the evenings.  Since all the cows are at the High Lonesome, Cowboy and Linda would do the midnight shift before going to bed and I would go at 2AM, Rancher Dave would go at 4AM and Cowboy was always up at 6AM which is after feeding time normally.

On the 18th, at 2AM one of the Heifers, #111 which we call Triple Sticks, seemed in intense pain and went off by herself.  I watched her for about 10 minutes and convinced myself she was about to calve.  I radioed Rancher Dave and said, “I’m coming home to get you, I think she’s about to calve so let’s watch together in case there is any trouble.”  Sleepy Rancher Dave got up and we returned to the High Lonesome by the light of the almost full moon to keep an eye on Triple Sticks.  We took turns napping in the truck in the 30 degree weather and checked on her with the spotlight about every 15 minutes.  At about 3:30 AM, Dave turned on the headlights of the truck and we could see a little white face next to the big white face of Triple Sticks. She had calved and immediately the little bull calf was up and nursing.  Fantastic! We named him Moonshine.  We call him “Shiner” because he has a white face and one big black eye.

Moonshine (Shiner) with his Mom, Triple Sticks

The next day, the 19th and Good Friday, another heifer  #112 which we call the Dirty Dozen, went into labor in the middle of the night.  At the 2AM shift she looked pretty uncomfortable so I watched her until about 2:45.  She hadn’t moved or got up or seemed like she was in pain so I went back to the Holler, knowing Rancher Dave would be out there in an hour or so.  At 4AM, Rancher Dave went back to check on her and she had calved a beautiful baby heifer.  It was Good Friday so we called her Goody.  In the daylight the next day we noticed she had two white back feet so we revised the name to Goody Two Shoes.

Goody and her Mom, the Dirty Dozen

Goody seemed just fine.  When Rancher Dave saw her at 4AM she was up and nursing on her Mom.   The next morning, Saturday, at the morning feeding and cow check, we once again noticed a missing cow.  Domino, an older cow with plenty of birthing experience, was laying off in the woods with her newborn calf.  It was a heifer and we named her Fatz.  She was doing great and Domino is an old and experienced mother.  We looked in at the heifer’s and newly calved mothers in the paddock and all was well. Goody and Moonshine were both nursing in the morning and up and bouncing about like new best friends.Goody was still a little bit wet so Rancher Dave toweled her off and her mom, the Dirty Dozen just stood there watching him and waiting for her own head scratch.  These are some very tame cows.

Rancher Dave toweling off Goody while scratching the Dirty Dozen’s head.

We were still watching #114, Valentine.

Saturday afternoon, while Cowboy Dave and Rancher Dave were disking and planting one of the fields, I took Sheriff Joe to the High Lonesome where Linda and I were going to let all the dogs go swimming in the pond.  When I arrived, Valentine was beginning to calf.  I radioed Rancher Dave and he and Cowboy came right down to the pasture where we watched Valentine pace around in labor. Poor Valentine really seemed to be struggling and eventually she laid down and pushed with all her might.  The calf was huge so Rancher Dave ran into the pasture and gave it a good tug.

Valentine says, “Thanks for the help, Dave!”

Valentine had a beautiful little girl which we dubbed “Cupid.”


Cupid was up and nursing in no time and feeling relieved about all the heifer births, Linda and I took the dogs to the swimming hole.

It was warm enough for a swim, but today it’s snowing!

Life was great and beautiful on the ranch.  It was a fantastic and extremely warm day and when we returned from the swimming hole all the calves were resting with their respective mothers. That was around 2PM.  At 3:30 PM Rancher Dave and I returned to the High Lonesome to check cows and feed for the afternoon.  We went to the paddock to count our three new calves but Goody was dead.

We were all in shock. This was a terrible event that was completely unpredictable. Considering that we had already lost Cherry Bomb’s calf, Rancher Dave and I decided there must be something wrong and called the vet.  Our Vet is incredible and even though it was the Saturday before Easter, she agreed to meet us at the clinic at 7PM and do a necropsy to help determine what may have killed the calf.

We loaded Goody into a large cooler and iced her down per the Vet’s instructions.  The vet did the necropsy right there on the tailgate of Dave’s truck and immediately determined that Goody’s lungs were full of foam indicating pneumonia.  She had a full belly of milk so her Mom, the Dirty Dozen had been doing her job, but she had acquired pneumonia and it killed her.

Rancher Dave and I returned to ranch in the early evening hours.  We had to divide and conquer.  On the vet’s orders we had to quarantine the two calves that had been in Goody’s vicinity, so I drove to the High Lonesome to close some gates and isolate them. Meanwhile, Rancher Dave had to take the calf carcass to an area on the ranch we call the boneyard.  He had been there two days earlier to drop off Cherry Bomb’s calf and had to return to the somber scene to leave Goody.  It was awful.

Our Easter Morning was ridiculously busy.  Per the Vet’s recommendation, we decided to vaccinate the rest of the calves against some pneumonia causing bacteria with a vaccine that we had to inject up their little noses. The catch was you had to mix the vaccine and administer it within one hour after mixing or it would not work.  At the time, we had the two remaining heifer calves in the paddock, Moonshine and Cupid. The rest of the calves were in the field and needed to be rounded up.  To complicate matters, Moonshine and Cupid were to be quarantined and any nose to nose contact with the other calves was prohibited.

We all went to work.  Rancher Dave and I set up cattle panels to prevent any nose to nose contact.  Cowboy and Linda worked to make sure there was water in every separate location for cows and calves.  Once the facilities were set, we discussed the plan. First we would isolate all the cows from their mothers so we could vaccinate them without interference and before the vaccine expired.  The only problem was the old cow, Domino, who had calved Fatz out in the field was not willing to come into the corral.  We considered that Fatz was one day old and Domino is extremely tame so we planned on just tackling her in the field.

We corralled up the rest of the herd and separated Black Jack, Catch and Andy from their moms who were not real happy with us.  Then we captured Moonshine and Cupid in a separate pen. We decided to give Cupid an antibiotic shot since she looked very low energy and the vet had recommended if either her or Moonshine looked dull that it wouldn’t hurt them and protect them from the possible bacteria that had caused pneumonia. . We mixed the vaccine and administered it up the little calf noses of everyone without incident except for Catch 22.  That little bull was not having it, and he repeatedly charged head first into the gate that was containing him.  This may sound silly since he was only about 10 days old but he could have easily broken any one of our legs.  He is STRONG!  Cowboy decided he would rope him and Rancher Dave tackled his front while Cowboy held his back and I shoved the vaccine up his angry little nose!

The next obstacle was getting to Fatz in the field before the time was up.  Cowboy, Linda and Rancher Dave sneaked up on her from three different directions while I lured away her mother, Domino, with a bucket of cow cake.  Domino is so tame and she was hungry so she came away with me without a thought about her baby.  Meanwhile, Cowboy roped Fatz’s leg and Rancher Dave tackled her and they not only vaccinated her but put in her ear tag!  Now that’s a rodeo.


All the calves were vaccinated and the four of us congratulated ourselves because of our performance.  We had over 30 minutes left on the clock. It wasn’t a typical Easter egg hunt, but it was a memorable Easter morning.  I had planned to cook Easter supper for all of us and Linda said, “Let’s just do Easter supper on Monday.”  I said, “No!  The house is clean, it probably won’t be tomorrow!  Let’s just do it tonight!”  And we did, and we had a great Easter supper and mourned our little Goody together and celebrated the victories we had had that week and that life is mostly good on the ranch.

The next day, we immediately noticed that Moonshine, one of the quarantined calves, was pretty dull.  While the other young calves were up and running about and kicking and bucking, he was lying quietly off on his own and not nursing. We watched him all day and while he did nurse, he just seemed sick and laid around with no energy.  In the afternoon he began panting which is a tell-tale sign of pneumonia.  We took his temperature (which shouldn’t be easy to do for a young calf, but he gave not dispute) and he had a little fever.  We administered him an antibiotic shot, once again without any sort of battle or even protestation….not normal.

Sleeping Moonshine.

We watched him lay around and it appeared he was going to die because he was just laying there audibly wheezing..  Of course this all happened late in the afternoon and our vets were no longer in the office.  We called one of our neighbor’s vets who made house calls. The doc came out and took his temperature and listened to his lungs.

He said he did NOT have pneumonia.  He thought his trachea was swollen possibly from eating grass or dirt, and that it could be the lead-in to diphtheria.  UGH!!!  He gave him an anti-inflammatory and said to keep an eye on him. Every day that little guy just lays around panting, but in the mornings and evenings he gets up and nurses and bucks around a little, but not like the other calves.

Rancher Dave went out and watched him one morning and said he doesn’t nurse like the other babies.  Instead of latching on to one teat, he goes from teat to teat to teat and tries to get milk from each.  We decided to put him in with Dirty Dozen, the mom that lost Goody, since Dirty Dozen’s bag is still large and full of milk.

Trying to get Shiner to nurse off of Dirty Dozen

She protested at first but then we watched him nurse her bag dry.  We did this for several days in isolation and in the hopes that eventually she would nurse him in the open.  This had not happened after about two days and we discovered that instead of nursing him, the other baby in the quarantine, Cupid, was nursing off Dirty Dozen and not off of her mom, Valentine!  So in another attempt to get that guy some more nutrition, we mixed up milk replacement and bottle fed him.  He did not go for it and finally showed some signs of life and ran and started nursing his true momma.

Trying to get Shiner to drink from a bottle

After the quarantine was up we released all the new moms and babies out with the rest of the herd.  We were at our wits end about what to do about that dull little Moonshine, but he obviously is getting some food because he is getting bigger and stronger every day.  It seemed like being in the herd was exactly what he and Cupid needed.  Both calves were more energetic than we had seen them when confined, however, their lazy mothers went off and left them one afternoon and both of them wandered back to the paddock and were mooing looking for their moms.  Moonshine even escaped under the barbed wire and wandered out into the National Forest.  Rancher Dave and I shooed him back onto the High Lonesome and this time he bellered and his mother finally came to see about him.  These cows are driving us nuts!

The day we released the quarantined girls out into the herd, Marzee, our giant red cow decided to calve.  She was a champ calving in the afternoon (not 3AM!) and getting her gigantic baby out and up and nursing in less than an hour.  This is her baby, a heifer we named Lucky because she is number seven.

Lucky at birth, Marzee is the big red hippo in the back and Nosey Rosie, the big black cow licking the calf, will not stay away from a new baby.  

A day later, we tagged Lucky and watched again in the afternoon as Patsy decided to have her calf.  She was not the pro that Marzee was and walked all over the pasture, but once the baby was born it was up and nursing and also a strong little heifer.  Cowboy and Linda named her Countess because her tag is #123….counting  1, 2, 3. Sorry, no pictures of Countess yet.

Today, we rounded up the two new babies and separated them from their mommas to give them the nasal injection vaccination to prevent pneumonia.  It is a rodeo every day out here separating cow/calf pairs and tackling these strong babies. This part is still fun for us, as long as nobody else gets sick!

1 May 2019 – SNOWING and 30 degrees!

I am finishing this blog up this morning, mostly because it is wet and miserable outside and there isn’t much work that we can do.  We did find Moolah at 6AM this morning after she had just calved.  Her baby, Mitzy, was laying in the snow so we put her in the sled and drug her to the barn with Moolah following right behind.  Moolah is a good Mom and was nursing her baby shortly with no incident.  We are keeping them inside for shelter.

Moolah standing guard in front of little Mitzy, hard to see on the ground in the shadows.

We are pretty tired because in between all the cow chaos we have been disking and planting, trying to get oats in the ground for our short South Dakota growing season.  I guess we should be grateful for the snow and moisture, but we are so worried about our herd that it’s hard to appreciate it.  We remind ourselves that there are many surrounding cattle ranches where the cows are out in the field without shelter and they do just fine even in this late spring cold weather.

Rancher Dave sewing his oats


We have seven calves to go, if all goes well. It is supposed to be in the 50’s and 60’s for the next week.  Smooth sailing, right?

8 May 2019 – Cloudy and snow flurries

Here I am again, delaying getting this blog out.  Although it is snowing and blowing, all of our calves seem to be doing really well, even Moonshine.  We are still waiting on the seven remaining calves.  In other news, we finished disking and planting all the fields.

One more sad piece of information.  One of the beehives did not survive the winter.  I thought we were home free since there was a lot of bee activity in both hives at the end of April, but I guess there was just one cold snap too many and I discovered a giant pile of dead bees in front of my original hive.

RIP my little bees

I am still witnessing activity in the newer hive, although this current round of snow is preventing any of them from venturing outside.  If they can just hang in there, spring is coming! Everything is turning green and there are lots of little flowers and dandelions for the bees to harvest.

Filling water in a northern pasture

I’ll try to do better about posting this month.  We hope everyone out there in the real world is having a great May so far!

Starting to feel like spring!


The Barn Door is Open!

4 August 2018 – Sunny and highs in the low 80s

Please excuse the title of this post, I couldn’t resist.  Anyway:  Woohoo!  We have a barn!

Barn under construction in late June

The big red barn

The barn was actually completed mid-July, but I haven’t had a chance to write about it because we have been busy filling it up with stuff.  After the building was complete, we had several loads of gravel brought in.  Cowboy Dave and Rancher Dave used Cowboy’s tractor (since it is a little more maneuverable than Babe) to spread the gravel inside.


This all happened at the same time we were still haying, so we immediately began stacking hay in the barn.


We also have been using it to store equipment, and are especially happy that our tractor, Babe, has a sheltered place to stay.  The intense South Dakota sun, and the frequent hail storms can really do a number on equipment that is constantly outside, so we are hoping to prolong the life of our tractor.

IMG_6758 (1)
Bob and Babe protected from the elements

We are planning on putting up a hay loft.  The builders engineered it and put in four support beams, but in the interest of time and money, we have elected to do this ourselves. Clearly, we have a lot of free time…ha ha ha ha ha!  Once haying is finally done and autumn sets in we will get to work on the hay loft, stalls, equipment racks etc.

The other big barn project is all the rocks that were displaced for construction.  Does anyone want any?  Really, come and get them, they are FREE ROCKS!  And they rock.  (Sorry, again I have been spending too much time in the sun.) Rancher Dave and I have been slowing digging out and picking up the big boulders, primarily with the use of Babe.  Our ultimate goal is to have gravel around all sides where we can drive a truck and hopefully have enough space in the front to turn around or back a trailer.  We have mostly completed the front side.

Moving more rocks

The front nearly complete with gravel and the road back to the house

We also completed a road from the house to the barn. It’s kind of ironic that we have all these rocks and we keep purchasing more rocks in the form of gravel.

We are really happy to have so much space to store hay. Speaking of hay, we were hoping to get 1000 square bales out of our properties this season.  Last year we got around 600, and this year we got exactly 1002!  Goal accomplished.  We need about 1050 to feed our cows for the winter, so we will end up buying some round bales anyway, but not nearly what we bought last year.  Also, it is good to have a contact you can buy hay from and the best way to keep that contact is to buy hay each year, so we really don’t mind buying a little.  Hay is a lot cheaper now than it will be in April.

Our haying season is not complete yet.  We are having the wettest summer on record in Custer, and it just keeps prolonging our work.  We did complete our fields and all of Cowboy Dave’s property, including a second cut of his alfalfa.  This is almost unheard of in these parts.

Jeff driving Babe and baling the 2nd alfalfa cut

Kana loads the hay onto the wagon

Notice we had some extra help doing Cowboy’s field.  Our good friends, Jeff and Kana, came all the way from Florida to visit the Black Hills and we put them to work.  Jeff did some baling, and Kana drove Cowboy’s tractor to stack hay bales.  Rancher Dave and I sat around and drank beer.  Just kidding.  We really did have quite an efficient operation going with two extra people, we baled and stacked and loaded all the bales in about 90 minutes.

We didn’t ask our friends to work the whole time.  While we weren’t haying, they enjoyed Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Deadwood Rodeo, Devil’s Tower, horseback riding, and of course the Red Canyon and a burger in the booming town of Edgemont.  We had a great time while they were here and we were sad to see them go.  I hope they come back, especially during next haying season….ha ha!


Back to haying season.  While we have completed this side of the neighborhood, we still have two fields to complete for our neighbor Sherri.  She is the owner of the mower and baler, and in exchange for their use, we use our tractor and Cowboy’s tractor to hay her yard and one pasture. We are on hold for haying her fields due to rain!  It will get done, though, and we will have a big post-haying season glass of wine to celebrate. Or maybe we will have one tonight, in hopes it gets done soon.

Everything is happening all at once. In the next couple of weeks, we hope to complete Sherri’s haying, clean and put up the haying equipment for the season.  Also, we will be harvesting more honey.  We have another load of firewood to pick up from our friend who wants to get rid of it.  The garden is going to need some attention too.  I canned pickles this week, but I will be doing more real soon. I also picked, cleaned, blanched and preserved sugar snap peas. The tomatoes are starting to come in and I am hoping to make some salsa sometime in the next two weeks as well. The peppers are starting to come in and Rancher Dave will be using the hot ones to make his famous corn relish. Linda has picked buckets of chokecherries off her trees and she is going to teach me how to make chokecherry jelly. I better stop writing and get to work.

Happy August, everyone!

The Holler with the barn

The Sheriff supervising the gravel smoothing activity from a comfortable hay bale.



12 November 17 – Sunny and highs in the upper 40’s

We seemed to have made it through the cloudy days and the sun is shining again on the Holler. 

Sunrise over the Holler


The snow has mostly melted and while we are still breaking ice off of the water tanks in the mornings, the chores have become a muddy, poopy mess. 

All the animals seem to be enjoying the warm-up, though.  The cows are back to grazing and we have cut back on the supplemental hay as there is plenty of grass left for them to get.  The calfies are still eating creep and should be reunited with the rest of the herd in the next 10 days or so.  Since they are getting old enough, Dave and I decided to take them out for shots, I mean their six month vaccinations!

First we hooked up the truck to the trailer.  Then we corralled the calves and put a little gentle pressure on them to load up.  They were so sweet and easy going, and they got in the trailer in no time.

We wanted to be sure the mother cows would not chase us up the road and across the cattle guard, so Cowboy Dave and Linda lured the rest of the herd away from the road with cow cake.  Those cows are definitely in love with cow cake and one shake of the bucket brought them all stampeding across the pasture and down over a hill where they couldn’t see or hear the trailer loaded up with their babies.

Then, when the moms were not looking, we drove up the road with their babies and snuck out for the trip to the vet.  The babies barely even mooed in the trailer; I think they were scared.

Trailer loaded with 5 heifers.  Don’t judge the dirty truck….we live on a dirt road!


Dave and I made it to Edgemont without incident.  We unloaded the calves in the vet’s corral and we had to push them one by one into the shoot where they received their vaccines. Most of the girls were easy to move around, but the last two heifers refused to go through the shoot.  The vet had to get out the “hot stick” and give them a little electric buzz to get them moving.

In the vet’s corral

Boohaa waiting for her shot

  The state of South Dakota and most states require cattle to be inoculated with a “BANGS” vaccine.  This is to prevent brucellosis which is a super contagious and deadly disease.  They administer it to young calves not less than 2 months because their immune system is not ready for it until that time.


We were quite amazed that everyone was vaccinated and reloaded onto the trailer in about 45 minutes.  Even more amazing is that it only cost $34 for five heifers.  Cows are definitely cheaper than dogs when it comes to vet visits!

We drove back home and unloaded the calves back into the corral.  Then we grabbed the hose and spent more time hosing out all the poo from the trailer than it took to even go to the vet.  The calves were exhausted from their big adventure and one even decided to lay down to eat.

That was exhausting!


The rest were rewarded with some creep and they were hungry!



And that was an exciting Friday here in the Southern Black Hills. 

On Saturday, after morning chores, our friend Matt came out to do some welding work on the tractor implements.  These rings were added to the snow plow and grapple to keep the hydraulic hoses from getting squished during operation.

While the guys were working on the tractor, the nosey bovines decided they would have to come hang out and see what was going on.

What’s going on here?

We see you’re working on the tractor, but would you happen to have any cake?

Pilot Dave and I then took the rest of the afternoon off and went to Hill City to celebrate Veterans’ Day.  We had a flight of beer at the Miner Brewing Company, and we brought home a growler of their seasonal spiced ale called “Light Weight Sweater.”  Personally, I don’t think the name is too compelling, but the beer is really good!

A flight of beer and a growler to go!


Then we went to the Hill City Diner for a late lunch. Due to the time change, it is getting dark around 4:30 so late lunch turned into early dinner.  Dang daylight standard time!  It has me falling asleep around 8PM and this morning I am writing this at 4:30 AM!

Anyway, we are really grateful that our trip to the vet with a trailer load of heifers was successful.  We are also really grateful to live in the United States……God Bless all the veterans and their families.IMG_4751


Chicken on the Menu

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

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

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

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

Then we built the house.

Then the ramp.

Chicken Ramp

Then the door.

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

Wheels for Transportation of the Chicken Wagon

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

Almost didn’t clear the ceiling!

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

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

Truck pulling coop

Mostly Finished

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

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

Up and Over!

Nice shot, Tractor Dave!

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

Patsy and Baby Bull

So Sleepy!

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

Poblanos and onions browning on the stove

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