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February Freeze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New coffee table
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Cowhide rug

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

Freestyle bullfighting link

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

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

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

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

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Feeding time at the High Lonesome

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

January Wrap-Up

3 February 2018 – Cloudy and 33 with 3 – 5 inches of snow in the forecast

I cannot believe we are already into February?  What happened to January?  Well, here’s what happened. January was cold, then warm, then cold.  There was snow, sunshine, and more snow. It warmed up enough that I could wash the truck. The next day, I realized it was a waste of time.

We had a magnificent snowfall of around 8 inches.  We had to use the snow rake and clear the solar panels.

Since we had enough snow, Tractor Dave decided this would be a good opportunity for me to learn to plow the road.

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Jenny plowing the road

It is harder than you might think because if you get the blade too low, you mess up the gravel and the road can become really rough.  Gravel isn’t cheap to replace at about $250 a load, so when plowing, you really don’t want to create any holes or rough patches.  On the other hand, if you don’t get the blade low enough to scrape up the snow you are basically just burning diesel fuel.  The snow plow’s blade can be rotated up and down, right and left, as well as elevated in relation to the ground, and it is difficult to find the best position to clear the road.  Our dirt road is crowned in some places, level in others, and there are multiple hills and valleys, which only complicates the plowing process. 

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A close-up of the plow

 

After 2.5 hours in the (thankfully) heated cab, Stagecoach Springs was open for business. I really enjoyed plowing and I think Dave and I are going to have to play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who gets to scoop up what we have coming today. Funny, we never have this argument over scooping poop out of the stalls, though.

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Clearing the road

 

In other news, the Black Hills Stock Show has been going on in Rapid City over the last 2 weeks.  I spent an entire day walking around checking it out and I could have easily spent a week looking at all they had going on.  There were tons of vendors that were marketing a wide variety of goods including western furniture, art, cattle feed, tack, prairie dog exterminators, pesticides, seed for alfalfa, tractor equipment, trailers, ATVs, feeders, stock tanks and the ever-popular bull semen! Artificially inseminating cows is big business.  Some of the events included rodeos, cattle shows, horse riding clinics, and all sorts of seminars for ranchers. It was so western, so cowboy, and so much fun.  Everyone was wearing boots and hats, and you could just tell that all those cowpokes were the real thing.  I barely saw a single person looking at a smart phone.

I really liked walking through the prep area for the Hereford bull show.  This part of the stock show is basically a beauty pageant for cattle, and the prize winners take home some big money and bragging rights for the quality of their bovines!  The best part is most of the ranchers showing are young kids in 4H.  I saw two kids, probably 9-10 years old, hanging out in the stall next to their bulls and eating lunch.  The bull decided to do his business and as soon as he pooped, the little girl jumped up and ran to get a pitch fork and cleaned up after him.  No one told her to, she didn’t complain, and then she went right back to eating lunch.  Ranch kids have initiative, that is for sure.

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A beautiful Hereford getting groomed for the show
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Some bulls laying around before the show, notice the fans keeping them cool.  Spoiled!

 

Our cows are getting bigger.  The May-Flower heifers are still super friendly and the one we call Black Cherry especially likes Dave to scratch her head.  That will be pretty interesting when she gets to be about 1600 pounds! 

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Dave giving Black Cherry a face rub

 

The other cows are about 50 days out from calving.  They are LARGE and IN CHARGE!  They can put away some groceries and go through many gallons of water too. We stay busy feeding and watering them, but it is still so much fun for us. We have been battling with ice in the pastures and the corrals.  The pregnant cows know it is slippery and they walk like old ladies across the slick spots.  We try to route them around the icy patches because if one of them wipes out it will be a big deal trying to get her back on her feet!

We applied for a brand for our cows.  The process of getting a brand is pretty complicated if you are looking for something specific.  Originally, we wanted three H’s for Hoten Holler Homestead, but the lady at the brand office said that anything with double or triple letters is nearly impossible because they are already taken, and the H’s are even more difficult because they can be read as I’s if rotated.  She said if we design a new brand it takes 6 months for them to approve, if they approve it.  However, there are expired brands to choose from that we could have approval for in two weeks if we found one we liked.  We chose this one.

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I over-cropped.  We will be branding Cattle on the right hip, not Cats.

 

It is an H with an inverted R, or in brand-speak, a CRAZY R.  It will go on the right hip of the cows and it stands for Hoten Ranch.  Or, Hoten CRAZY Ranch if you prefer.

And here we are in February.  The days are starting to get longer and we are planning for spring projects, primarily disking the fields, planting oats or alfalfa, ordering a branding iron, and getting started on a barn. Once again, as I wrap this up, it is starting to snow.

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Arrow likes to help with chores, especially the feeding of round bales.

The Perfect South Dakota Weekend

 1 October 2017 – Partly Cloudy and 57°

Dave and I got to witness something on Friday that I doubt you can see anywhere else in the world.  A real-live buffalo roundup! We got up pretty early and drove through Wind Cave National Park as the sun came up.  We were quite pleased that there was not very much traffic, but as we crossed into Custer State Park, we turned a corner and all we could see were miles and miles of tail lights!

We were expecting a crowd, as Custer State Park’s annual Buffalo Round-Up hosts up to 20,000 people each year.  Our town, Custer, has a population of 1,860, so that is quite an influx of traffic! Still, everyone was in a fantastic mood and people were polite, allowing others to merge and not throwing any big-city road rage fits.  We finally arrived to our parking destination and hiked probably a quarter mile to the north viewing area.  There were quite a few people in the north viewing area and we were directly facing the south viewing area where the crowd was equally as large.  The gate to the buffalo corrals was directly between the two viewing spots.

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View of the crowd at the southern viewing spot.  Buffalo corrals are out of the picture on the right.

 

So we waited, anticipating buffalo between 9:30 and 10 AM.  At around 10:15 someone in the crowd spotted a herd of something on a faraway hilltop.  But it wasn’t buffalo, it was the wild burros that live in the park and they appeared to be looking down at the large crowds saying, “What’s all this about?” 

“What a bunch of jack-asses!”  Dave joked, and I responded that was probably what the burros were thinking.

Suddenly the southern viewing area began cheering and from the north we could see the beginning of the giant herd (1000 head in all) cresting a hill and running down to the valley directly in front of us.  Horseback cowboys and several trucks pushed them down the hill and toward the corral gates.

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Here they come!

 

It was awesome.  The sound of the buffalo running, the crack of the whips from the cowboys, and the cheering crowd made for a very exciting morning.

Rapid City Journal Video of the Roundup

After the roundup, guests are given the opportunity to go down to the corrals and watch the buffalo be “worked.”  They are given their inoculations, and they separate the oldies and the sickies for auction.  The herd is managed to be sustainable within the park and that means once a year they  cull it for the healthiest population. 

We opted out of this part because we just wanted to get away from all the people!  It took us about 45 minutes to get out of the parking lot due to traffic and we were routed north through the city of Custer to get home.  On the way we passed the State Game Lodge, which used to be the “Summer Whitehouse” for Calvin Coolidge.  They were hosting an enormous Arts Fair themed for the round up.  It looked pretty cool, but again, we had reached our crowd quota for the day so we drove on home.

Saturday, we decided we had goofed off enough on Friday and we better get back to work.  We tackled a stand of trees in the northern-most pasture.  Dave limbed all the trees and I started dragging slash and stacking firewood.  Then Cowboy Dave and Linda showed up as reinforcements and made the work go much faster. Of course we were being cheered on by Hercules and Arrow.

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Hercules and Arrow

 

Chainsaw Dave took out the limbs, Linda and I drug the slash into piles, and Cowboy Dave picked up those piles using the grapple attachment on his tractor.  He moved the little piles into two big piles and we will burn them once we have snow on the ground and get the required burn permit.

Chainsaw Dave wanted to get some of the higher-up limbs on several trees so we did the old redneck trick of putting him on the tractor forks and hoisting him up with the chainsaw in tow.  Probably not the smartest move, but we went slow and it all turned out well.

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Redneck chainsaw moves!

 

After we cleared the area, we thought it looked pretty nice.  We were grateful to our helpful neighbors and went down to their ranch, the High Lonesome, and brought some Keystone Light.  Typical paybacks for farm labor in these parts.

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Cleared trees and piles of wood drying out for next year

 

So today, Sunday, Dave and I were playing tourist again.  We went to the annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch.  The weather was quite iffy this morning, and there were dark and menacing clouds rolling in from the west.  We decided we were going to go for it anyway and drove up to the parking lot for the monument and prepared to hike the 6.2 mile round trip up to the face and back.  About 30 minutes into our hike, the sun came out and we enjoyed a beautiful fall day.

We made it to the top, no problems, although we will both probably be a little sore tomorrow. The top of the monument is about 6500’ and the last part of the hike was pretty steep!

The trip down was much faster.  We poked around in the museum for just a little while and then headed back to the Holler.  It is “hotdog Sunday” after all and we were ready to eat after all that hiking and fresh air.

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The finish line….time to eat!

All of the activities this weekend put a nice little punctuation mark at the end of summer and tourist season around these parts.  Typically, we can expect a little snow in the beginning of October and I see it in the ten-day forecast.  That means our outdoor projects will be completed as weather permits. 

We both commented today how much we like the change of seasons.  This year, we are really grateful to not be looking down the barrel at winter from the inside of the camper.  Instead, we are enjoying the cooling evening temps with a warm fire going in the wood stove.

Happy October, everybody!IMG_3036

A Working Vacation

5 September 2017 – Sunny and 39° at 6AM – Highs in the upper 60s

Our friend and Dave’s former co-worker, Andy, came to visit all the way from Pensacola for the last part of August.  We had a few other visitors at the time of his arrival, and while we set about exploring the Black Hills, Tractor Dave and Pilot Andy went to work.

They finished the fence on the southern pasture that had been put on hold due to Tractor Dave’s appendix blowing out.  They did a great job figuring out how to get the fence to go around the cul-de-sac.

Then, they set about building a woodshed so we can move our firewood out of the garage and have a place to keep it dry this winter. These guys were not messing around, and even had to do something we vowed we would never do again: rent the jackhammer.  The ground was so rocky in places it took a ton of work to get the posts set.

Seriously, what a nice wood shed!  This is a YUGE improvement from last winter where we were storing wood under tarps and forced to dig it out from underneath the snowbanks.  Plus, as the neighbor said, it is nicer than some places where people live.  I love our fancy wood shed.  Thanks, Andy and Dave!

We convinced Andy to take a few days off and did some touring of the area. We watched the eclipse, and on another day, we went to Mount Rushmore to see the Big Heads, of course.

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Obligatory Mount Rushmore Picture

 

We also spent a day in Rapid City and touring the multiple wineries of the hills.  Our favorite, surprisingly, was Stone Faces Winery, which offered a frozen peach wine slushie.

We went to Hill City one day and ate German food at the Alpine Inn on the patio. You can’t eat German food without drinking German beer.

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Cheers at the Alpine Inn in Hill City.

 

Andy also got to participate in some typical ranch work.  He helped with the cattle drive from Cowboy Dave’s to the Holler. He also added the job title of “Chicken Wrangler” to his resume.

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Cow cocktail hour at the Holler.
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Not croquet, but chicken wrangling.  Important to get the girls in their coop before going touring!

 

We went down the Red Canyon to the Hat Creek Bar and Grille in Edgemont, SD….mandatory tourism for anyone that visits the Holler.

Then it was back to work.  Dave and Andy set out to make a giant firewood box so we could fill it every 8-10 days at the woodshed, attach it to the tractor bucket, and deposit on the porch under cover.  This also is YUGE so we don’t have to walk outside in the snow to get wood for the stove in the winter. 

We had a great time with an old friend and were amazed by how much work was accomplished in a short period of time.  Beyond that, Andy felt like he needed to give us a house-warming gift which was an awesome A-Salt Rifle to kill flies. See the link below for a YouTube demo.

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Tractor Dave Preparing to Kill Flies on the Porch

 

A-Salt Rifle for Flies

Sadly, Pilot Andy had to head back to Florida.  As has been the trend for our guests this summer, after visiting the Holler they return to a hurricane.  We hope you will stay safe.  Thanks for all the work, Andy!  We hope you come back real soon, Stumbles Off Porches.  I’m sure we can find some more projects for you! Also the Hill misses you.

 

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.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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

 

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Ahhh…..cows back on the Holler again!

 

Then we watched the eclipse from our back porch.

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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.

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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!

Ideal Camping Spot for the Great American Road Trip

29 July 2017 – Cloudy and raining, highs in the mid 80’s
This week we had some old friends of Pilot Dave’s visit on their way home from camping in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. By old friends, I don’t mean they were old, just that Dave has been friends with them for a long time. They go way back to the early 80’s, which their kids all thought was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Anyway, there were two couples with two kids each in two campers. The families were really fun and they were all very nice. And they brought one sweet little dog.

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Tiki – Champion of the Multistate Camping Trip

 
They parked next to the driveway which was the most level place we could put them. They had been camping in the National Parks and we think this was a welcome reprieve for them from the crowded campgrounds. They did have some noisy neighbors, though (Cowboy Dave’s cattle!) but were able to get some peace and quiet. We were also grateful they brought rain with them each night, which we desperately needed.IMG_2613IMG_2601IMG_2598
The first night when they arrived, we gave them the tour of the property in the mule and by foot. They spent the next day enjoying the Black Hills and seeing Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave, and the beautiful secret jewel that is Custer State Park. After their adventures, they returned to the Holler and we grilled burgers and dogs. The boys enjoyed some time shooting guns off the back porch, and one of the young girls showed them all up with her Dead-eye abilities and plinked a barrel 150 yds away with only the 2nd shot she had ever fired….EVER.
Their visit was short and sweet and we were happy to have the company. It always makes us happy to see dear friends, but especially to see families taking their kids to see the Great American West. There truly is no match to the beauty of the country out here. Photos, TV, or even virtual reality will never do justice to this beautiful place or the amazing parks that are not that far from the Holler.

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Buffalo in Custer State Park

 

Freedom, Baby! Heck Yeah!!!

4 July 2017 – Sunny and highs in the upper 80’s

Today is my favorite holiday. I love reading about the Founding Fathers and the enormous risk they took to throw down that Declaration and say, “We don’t want a king, we want to be free from your rule and here’s why.” And the list is honest, eloquent, and timeless.  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  This is what it means to be American and this is what we celebrate today.  If you really want to refresh your patriotism and appreciate your freedom, here’s a link to the Declaration of Independence.  Read it out loud and you cannot help but be moved.  God Bless America!

Declaration of Independence

Out here in the free, wide opened spaces of the great state of South Dakota, we are celebrating today by going to the Veterans’ Parade in Custer.  It is a small town Fourth of July parade and will likely be full of locally built floats, fire trucks, horses, and the high school marching band. Oh yeah, and we get a B-1 Bomber low pass to start things off.  Cool!

We are cooking out this afternoon for some friends, likely drinking some Keystones and eating some burgers and dogs and watching the cows and chickens from the south porch.  What’s everyone else doing out there?

Now for the Holler update.  We finished bailing Shari’s property with 171 more hay bales.  Now all we have left is the oats once they get tall enough.  That is unless we get some incredible moisture and we hay again in August?  Here’s hoping for that…sort of!

The bees have been extremely busy.  There are so many wildflowers that I had to add another “super” or house on top of their main hive body.   Then, 7 days later, that box had 6 frames full of honey so I put another super on top of that!  I hope they can make enough honey to sustain themselves throughout the winter.  I read they need 70-90lbs; that is about one full deep box.  Anything they make beyond that I plan on keeping.  If they are successful and survive the winter I will probably get another hive next year.  Two hives won’t be much more work than one.

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Two “deeps” and one honey super…bees at the front door!

The garden is going gangbusters.  Dave and I have been eating spinach every day and giving some away as well.  Pretty soon we are going to have Pop-eye arms!

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Carrots to the left, spinach in the middle, onions to the right.

We are also harvesting lettuce for the burgers we will serve later today.

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Lettuce amongst the relentless weeds

We pulled this turnip out of the garden yesterday.  This morning the breakfast menu consists of “Hashtag-Hash” which is a diced turnip, spinach, onion, and bacon with a fried egg on top.

The corn is not quite knee high at the 4th of July, unless you have really short legs!

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Shin-high corn

The chickens are free ranging (under supervision) most of the day.  We like to sit out and watch them in the evening.  Chicken TV is better than anything on cable.  They truly are bird-brains and they have a lot of self-induced drama.  They are getting big and FAT, or we could say fluffy if we don’t want to hurt their feelings.

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The Islanders and Charlie’s Angels (Farah Fawcett is inside) mingling outside the coop.

 

Yesterday was branding day. We took 7 calves to the Vet and they got their vaccinations and their brands.  Cowboy Dave did the branding and Pilot Dave worked the calving table while the new Vet in town (an ISU grad!) administered the meds.  I got to work the gates and take pictures.

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A steer in the calf table
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Does anyone else smell grilled burger?
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Little Bugger says, “I hate Mooooo-ndays!”

Well, that’s all from the Holler for now.  We are wishing everyone out there a Happy Independence Day!  Freedom, baby!  It’s what it’s all about!

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Three Amigos at the Independence Day party.
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Rainbow from the back deck

 

 

Super Bowl Monday

7 February 2017

Sunny and High of 47°F

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

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The HitchRail!
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Bicycle Art

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS – Arrow (Cowboy’s dog) says Hello!

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