Saturday, May 19, 2018

What Do You Hear?

It was another crazy busy week here at the farm. I don’t think we had one day shorter than 12 hours. Busy planting, rolling and running trucks to and from the field. Barb went to Minnesota for a few days for some planned surgery and spending a few days with my sister. She is now back recovering and is getting better every day. The last of the crops went into the ground on the 17th which Bob said was the earliest they have ever had them in the ground. Not bad when you are planting 4500 acres! Just in time too as the next day brought much needed rain to give the crops the moisture they needed. There are studies that show that your yield increases by up to 1 ½% for every day you have your crops in early (or decreases for every day late) so hopefully getting them in early will yield great results!
Chris did manage get stuck in one of the low spots......
Stuck in the mud!

Pulling it out with the 325 
With only a few days until Mother’s Day I had to decide what to get Barb as a gift. She said she wanted a camera but I kept having a reoccurring dream that she wanted a new spotting scope so she could see the deer better while sitting at the rig at our property in South Dakota. She already has a perfectly good camera. Sure it has dust on the lens and sure it does not focus all the time and maybe the zoom gets stuck once in a while, but other than that it is perfectly functional. And the spotting scope, well the one we have was fine when we got it many years ago but now they make such nicer ones and I really think she deserves one of those! And this reoccurring dream must mean something right? 
As it ends up she got neither, I made her a cake. Well, I kinda made her a cake. We have been working so much at the farm I had not had a chance to go to Minot to look at cameras, spotting scopes or get her a card or anything else. We have literally been busy from 6:00, 7:00 in the morning until 8:00 to 10:00 at night. In the meantime Barb has been on line looking at cameras and talking to B&H Photo on the phone trying to pick out the perfect camera. I have not seen her or heard her researching spotting scopes, I can only assume she is doing that when I am out in the field. 
Thursday before Mother’s Day I started to panic and was resolved to the fact that she was not going to get a camera or a spotting scope so I texted Holly at work and asked her if she could pick up a cake mix and frosting. The least I could do is make her a cake. With cake mix on the counter I walked by it the next two days trying to figure out when I was going to make it. Finally Saturday morning I found the time…..when Holly offered to make the cake for me. All I had to do was frost it! Barb loved the cake but when, Mother’s Day came and went without a camera or a spotting scope making an appearance Barb said she wanted a “do over” sometime in the next few weeks when we had time to go out to dinner.
Speaking of diner, we get out three times; once with Dan and Jeannie and two times with time with Bob, Deanne joined by Dylan on one of those outings. We went to Ebeneezer's Irish Pub in Minot with Dan and Jeanie. We caught up and made plans to get together this winter in Florida. The food was excellent, and would highly recommend it! Our other dinner was at the Hitching Post in Benedict a small town bar where the special of  the night was a hot roast beef sandwich. We were so full by the end of the meal we all about fell asleep on the way home.
Barb and I with Dylan and Bob (Deanne took the picture)
Our second adventure with Bob and Deanne included some sight seeing to see the one and only railroad tunnel in the state of North Dakota. Given the fact that the state is so flat there is not a lot of need for tunnels in the state. Even more amazing is the fact that this tunnel located in the Sundheim Park and Recreation Area was never used. At just under 1500' the tunnel was built in 1913 using mules and built entirely of timbers.

Adjacent to the tunnel is another interesting attraction. The Fairview lift bridge was built at the same time as the tunnel to accommodate steamboat traffic on the Yellowstone River but like the tunnel it never really went into use. It was lifted just once for testing in 1913 as steamboat traffic stopped on that river before the bridge was ever completed!
Photo compliments of Ghosts of North Dakota

Bridge Selfie!
On the bridge with the Yellowstone in the background
Since these sights were only a few miles from the Montana border, we drove down the road just to say we went to Montana!

We ended this adventure with one more one and only (well maybe only). Bob and Deanne's first flight of beer. These beer tasting newbees are not big fans of beer but after reading our blog for the past few years wanted to give it a try. So we stopped by Stonehome Brewery in Watford City where we learned a couple things.....Neither Bob or Deanne like dark or sour beer but they did find a couple of lighter and fruitier beers that they did like. In fact their favorite along with mine was the Dakatoh Zen while Barb's was Teddy.

Beer Tasting Newbees!
I did have a couple more interesting encounters. The first was a moose sighting in one of the fields nearby. Although not common there are several living in the area.
Chris took this picture from the cab of the tractor
The second encounter involved the Air Force. I was picking up some trash in the ditch when a military helicopter flew by very low, just above the power lines. A little while later a truck pulls up to me with Federal Law Enforcement written on the side in large letters. It pulls over to where I am and asks me what I am doing. “Picking up trash” I explain. The guy driving then says that they have “sensitive” cargo coming through and to stay away from the road. Sure enough a few minutes later here comes 12 Humvees and another helicopter which all surrounded at long semi-tractor trailer. They must have stopped traffic in both directions somewhere down the road as there was no other traffic either way for a while. With all the missile silos in the area it does not take a rocket scientist (ya, I just said that!) to know what they were moving.

The ever present wildlife made for some great photo ops. Too bad Barb's camera is on the fritz, she could have taken some!

American Widgeon
Blue-winged Teal
My biggest revelation came yesterday when all the T.V and radio stations were abuzz with this whole Laurel/Yanny debate. If you haven’t heard it, here is a link. Apparently some people hear the word “Laurel” while others hear the word “Yanny”. No matter how many times I listen I hear the word “Laurel” and cannot imagine how someone hears “Yanny”. I thought it was a bunch of bologna until I told Barb to listen to this stupid thing on TV. She proceeds to tell me that she does not hear “Laurel” at all and clearly hears the word “Yanny”. It certainly explained a lot and magnifies why men hear things differently and do not always understand their wives as anytime she says she wants a new camera, all I hear is spotting scope! I'd better go order it now......

Thursday, May 10, 2018

We're Back!

We left Pringle on May 1st and evidently passed the Jordan’s on the highway as we were sent this picture from their dash cam!
Headed to North Dakota!
We arrived at the Finken Farm in Douglas North Dakota on May 2nd about noon after spending the night at a quiet little free campsite on Isabel Lake just outside of the town of Iasbel, SD (population 144). We found this campsite on Free Campsites.Net and it served our purpose just right for an overnight stay.
There was still ice on some of the larger bodies of water and pockets of snow in some of the shady spots when we arrived but those did not last long as the temperatures over the next few days reached well into the 70’s and even the 80's!

They were only 2 days into their planting season so there was plenty to do. Planting can take anywhere from 20-30 days depending on weather, soil conditions and mechanical issues but this year they bought me a new toy. With the purchase of a seeder, tractor and seed/fertilizer cart they now have two rigs in the field at a given time usually going 12 – 20 hours a day. Of course they don’t let me drive these rigs so it is a more of a look but don’t touch type of toy. I put together a short video showing it in action. It also give you an idea of what find of terrain is in the area and why the duck hunting is so good in the fall!

Chris and Bob do most if not all the planting as this is the most important part of their livelihood. If you don’t get the seed in the ground right you don’t have a crop. Their two air seeders plant 60 and 72 rows at a time and if one or more of these tubes gets obstructed that means nothing was planted leaving an unsightly field and a loss of income so they have to carefully watch the monitors and seeder to make sure everything is working properly.

So far they have planted chick peas, wheat and field peas. But even within each of these they are planting different varieties of wheat and peas as each may have different yields, growth rates or other characteristics.
Untreated Wheat
Treated Wheat
Untreated Peas

Treated Peas

Chick Peas

With those two seeding that leaves Dylan and me to make sure they have everything they need in the form of fuel, seed and fertilizer to keep them up running. Since they are also seed dealers they are busy prepping and loading seed for other area farmers as well. Prepping seed consists of looking at the days needs for both their customers and their own field work and orchestrating the trucks, carts and seed treater to make sure everyone has need when they need it. This year they added a seed treater to their list of equipment which allows them to treat some of their seed with fungicide saving them money and allowing them to offer this service to their customers.
Their new treater!
To treat the seed you have to set up the grain conveyor which dumps the grain from the bin into the hopper of the treater. The treater has a reservoir which contains the specific fungicide for that grain. Then you set the ratio for that specific seed. 
This seed is dumped into another grain conveyer where it is lifted into a grain cart or directly into a truck for delivery to the field.  Loads can vary greatly from just a few thousand pounds to 30,000 pounds or more depending on what is needed. Then everything is broken down and moved to another grain bin for the next order. Between each order we have to “sanitize” the treater, cart and conveyor making sure not even on grain of seed remains in each piece of equipment
From bin to conveyer to treater to conveyer to cart

Treated peas being dumped into cart
In addition to the seed we have to deliver fertilizer to Chris and Bob as well. So far we have used 3 types of fertilizer; Urea, S-10 and inoculant. Urea contains a ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and is produced naturally in animals and humans.
Loading Urea at the elevator
S-10 is a starter fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur that are fused into one nutritionally balanced granule and helps the plant get a good start to their growing cycle. Inoculants are an interesting product as it is basically alive. It introduces a naturally occurring bacteria making the plant stronger and increases yield.
When all that is done you have to roll the peas in order for them to start growing, This entails going over the pea field with a giant rolling pin to push down the ridges, reducing moisture loss and increase seed to soil contact.
The giant rolling pin
Other farm activities this week included using the rock picker to clean up a few rocks, putting out a fire along a fence line.

The mighty rock picker!

The funniest thing of all....watching Chris get his arm stuck on a trailer. He was wiring the lights and put his arm through an narrow opening to get at the wires and could not get it out. Dylan and I just sat back laughed and took pictures as it took him a minute or two to wiggle it out!
Now that's funny!
In addition to all the farm stuff we have been working/experimenting with Daisy and Dakota on couple of things. Daisy is a finicky eater. Well, that is not true, what I mean is that different foods affect her in different ways. She can’t eat chicken as she breaks out and constantly scratches and chews on her paws. We have tried a variety of different foods trying to find one that she likes and does not make her itch. A week or so ago Barb stopped by a small pet store in Hot Springs trying yet again to find the perfect food. Barb was explaining our dilemma to the owner who prompt gave Barb about 20 different samples and told her to try these and see which one works these works best. So the experiment began!
Barb would open three of the samples placing a small amount of each in three compartments on a tray. It is hilarious to watch her! When Barb would be preparing the tray Daisy would be jumping up and down watching her and when Barb would set down the tray Daisy would run over and systematically go down the row of food smelling each one. Sniff, sniff sniff. She would repeat this “sniff test” no less than three times before deciding which one to eat. Barb would note which one she ate first, which one she ate second and which one she totally snubbed and would not eat at all. Her next feeding Barb would change the order in the tray using her first and second choices and adding a new third choice. 
Every single time she ate Taste of the Wild Prey Trout mix first and Taste of the Wild Roasted Lamb second and totally snubbed the third choice she was given. It did not matter where on the tray each was placed, that is how she ate them. And, she did not scratch or itch at all so we have a winner! Of course it had to be one of the most expensive dog foods but Barb went to the store and purchased a big bag of Trout mix she liked the best.
Daisy doing the sniff test
So how is it going? She won’t eat it! Now she walks up, smells her dish and totally walks away. Barb has to add a tablespoon of gravy before she eats it. Talk about spoiled

We have been working with Dakota (by “we” I mean Barb) on hand signal and whistle training and I am told it is going very well.
Someone is having fun!

Week one is in the books here in North Dakota and it is good to be back!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Why Do You Blog?

This is a question that I think every bloggers ask themselves at least once a year if not more often. Why do I “waste” 2-3 hours every week or so putting myself through the stress of having to get a blog posted? I will tell you right now if that is your approach, blogging may not be for you. The answer to this question varies from blogger to blogger but we started blogging for two reasons; to maintain a personal diary of where we went and what we did and to keep our friends and family informed on what we are up to. It is a great way to maintain a historical record and pictures of our travels that we can refer to at a later date and there is no doubt that our friends and family await our posts with great anticipation (not) each week. I think for the most part this is working and why we continue to do it. I have thoughts that maybe someday our kids, grandkids and maybe great grandkids will read back long after we are gone and think “Wow, they were really cool”. By the way, in reality I think our kids are the last ones who read our blog. We will talk to them on the phone and they will ask questions that leave you with no doubt they have not been reading our posts.
There are definite pros and cons to blogging. The record of where we have been is great, we will often refer back to a post to remind ourselves about how blessed we are, what we did in a certain area or find a specific picture we are looking for. It can also be a curse as every once in a while I find myself stressing that I need to get a blog post out or do something “blogworthy”. Actually that can be a good thing as the fact that we blog has pushed us to do things we would not have normally done or push ourselves to “up” the adventure level a little. Something we have never regretted.

At some point you also ask yourself why do people read blogs and how can you get more readers. To answer this question I reflected on why we read them. When we first started reading blogs it was for the information gained from the writer. What to do in a certain location, sights, attractions and things to do when we travel to a new location. Blogs can be a great resource what to do in a certain area. What hikes are there? What are our “must see” attractions”? What are the best boondocking or campgrounds in the area? We have specific blogs we use for each of these topics. For example, we always look at Oh the Places They Go! whenever we want to know what the best hikes are in an area. These two always find the most incredible hikes in an area for their “lunch with a view”. Or we will look at Living The Dream or Down The Road if we want to know what breweries to hit in a certain area as these four always seem to have a beer in hand! Now that I think about it, this very well could be the reason some people read our blog!
The most thought provoking blog we read is Two Lanes of Freedom as it is well written and takes the reader on a journey as if you were actually there. I tend to avoid blogs that are political or negative, we get enough of that in real life and really don’t need to seek it out. But as time has progressed I find that we are reading other blogs to keep up with the day to day life of friends we have met on the road and live vicariously through them via their writing.

So what brought on this subject this week? Well, this week we might, just maybe hit 500,000 page views on our blog! A big deal… absolutely no one at all…… except a little ego boost for me. But it did make me think of why I put myself through this.
So what were this week’s blogworthy adventures? Well, our long awaited shed finally arrived! If you recall, we ordered this shed last September when Jim and Diana were visiting. It was originally to be delivered in late November so we could store our jeep and 4 wheeler in it when we traveled south for the winter. Well, November was delayed to December which was delayed until January. But then it got too cold and we had to head south and called and asked for them to wait until our return in April. Luckily our neighbor was nice enough to let us store the jeep and 4 wheeler in his shed for a few months. So when the weather warmed and we knew when we would be back in South Dakota Barb started calling asking for an early April delivery. Early April turned into late April when we finally got a call that it would be delivered and installed on April 25th between noon and 5pm. Woohoo, we had a date!

Then we got a call on the 23rd saying it would be delivered and installed the next day between 7am and noon. The next day we stayed home watching the driveway….8:00, 10:00, noon….then we got a phone call that they would not arrive to the next day. So we went about doing our thing and what pulls into the driveway at 5pm? Yup, our shed!
Call it 5 months late or a day early, it has finally arrived!
They worked until 8:00 when it got to dark but they got the frame up.
After laying it out they started putting it together
Three hours later the frame was up
The next day they worked 13 hours straight from 7am to 8pm with only an hour break but they got it done!
15 hours later, we have a shed!
Barb has not been out turkey hunting again. Since her last adventure the turkeys have been pretty much nonexistent. Maybe they got wise to her intentions and headed the other direction. The deer on the other hand have been everywhere! They are taking advantage of the lush green grass and have been around almost constantly. We counted 13 at one time Thursday night after coming home from dinner. They are getting really used to our presence just watching us from a safe distance as we would working around the yard. We thought that was pretty cool until we got a picture from the Jordan’s who had to “one up” our deer tales with a tale of their own.
Jim was outside working when a group of curious deer started getting closer and closer to him. Jim turned around to face them and eventually one walked right up and smelled his hand!

Jim Jordan, the Deer Whisperer!
But Barb has been “hunting” so to speak as she continues to get the prairie dog population under control. In fact she made quite the impression on the neighbors one day they will not soon forget. I was over at their place next door helping Doug put siding their cabin when we notice their young son looking over at our property with a look of horror on his face. That is when we noticed that Barb has taken this whole prairie dog thing to a new level when we saw her running through the prairie with a shovel over her head chasing, you guessed it, a prairie dog! I have to say, I was impressed with her skills, the prairie dog would weave left and she would go left, the prairie dog would dodge right and she was right on top of him. I know you are all wondering if she got it. I will leave out the details but will say, if you are near Barb when she has a shovel in her hand, don’t piss her off, her aim is very accurate!
Don't mess with Barb when she is carrying a shovel!
We have been continuing to explore the area restaurants taking our neighbors Doug and Lisa to Wooley’s in Hot Springs as a thank you for letting us use their shed. We also went to Mac’s in Custer and our Thursday night dinner with the gang was at Buglin Bull. This week Vicki and Harry, the Jordan’s were able to attend along with Rudee, Phil, Sue and Larry.
We got together with Vicki, Harry, Jim and Brenda once again as we hosted a happy hour at our place Saturday. It was a bit windy but the temps were up in the 60’s so we were able to enjoy a nice afternoon of burgers and beer. Vicki and Harry were able to bring their two dogs so everyone had a great time visiting and running around. Well, Daisy, Sadie and Buster had a good time, Dakota, not so much.....

We went to get doctor check ups the other day. We found a doctor in Hill City that was covered under our medical plan and bonus, it was the one that Phil and Rudee recommended! It had been a few years since I have been in and with the exception of my cholesterol he said I was an exceptional example of a human being.....well maybe I am stretching the truth a little.  Barb has had vertigo for since our Alaska trip 2016 so this doctor sent her to a physical therapist who had her do some movements with her head that he said would help. She returned home that day sicker and dizzier than she has ever been. She said the treatment was horrible and described how dizzy and nauseous she got as the therapist manipulated her head. Since that session did not work she was asked to return two days later. I drove her to this treatment in case she experienced the same results but when she walked out 45 minutes later she was all smiles and said she was cured! She is now able to lay on her left side for the first time in almost 2 years!

The biggest surprise of the week was when Kevin arrived from Wisconsin with his girlfriend Cheryl. It was great to finally meet her. We had heard a lot about her from Kevin but this is the first time we had the opportunity to meet face to face. We hung out for two days taking a drive through Custer State Park where we got some great wildlife pictures.

This is the first Mountain Goat we have seen since we have been here
Herd of elk hanging out on a hill side

They released the burros 4 days ago after they recovered from injuries sustained from the recent fire. 3 burros suffered fatal injuries while the remaining 6 were burned. After many weeks of rehabilitation they (along with 2 that were previously sold and donated back to the park) were back wandering and enjoying the green grass. 

You could tell a few of the burros were still recovering from their burns
While we were on this adventure we received a text from the Jordan's saying their rig were getting pounded with hail. For those of you who are familiar with this area, you know that hail is very common and evident in all the dented vehicles and steel buildings. Our building did not sustain any damage but I fear it is just a matter of time.  

We also went into Keystone where we went to dinner at Guadalajara Mexican restaurant. We were joined by Hill City friends Richard and Cheryl we had a great time over a great meal and great conversation.

But the biggest surprise of the weekend was when Kevin and Cheryl returned from walking his property. We never realized it but there are precious stones on his property but when they returned Cheryl had a new diamond on her left hand! Congrats guys!

Thanks to everyone who reads this and got us to 500,000! Our next goal is 100 followers, we are at 65 right now so we have a ways to go. Well, this pretty much wraps our first visit to South Dakota as we head 8 hours north to the Finken/Sobieck farm for the next month to visit and assist them with their spring planting activities!