Friday, November 19, 2021


With Barb gone to Arizona for over a week now my life has changed. Oh, the basic schedule is the same…. Get up somewhere between 4 and 5am, go hunting…work on the porch (and a few other things)… go hunting again then supper and bed. Except I have two dogs to care for and I have to scrounge up my own food. My main goal for the week is to have two dogs here when Barb gets home. Preferably the same two dogs that were here when she left!

I created a list of things I wanted to get done while Barb was gone. Besides working on the porch roof, I wanted to install outside lights under the porch, do some trim around the doors, finish taping/mudding the bathroom and get it primed, ready for painting.

Meanwhile, while I am working my @ss off here I keep getting pictures from Barb, Jessica and the grandkids who enjoying fun in the sun down in Arizona.

They are spending their days hiking the Saguaro National Park, visiting Kartchner Caverns, eating ice cream and spending lazy days at the pool. 

Kendall (Baby K) and Barb at Saguaro NP

Kendall, Dylan and Barb 

Barb and Jessica conquering a hill
Oh yeah, and they went out to eat constantly!
And ice cream!
And pool side drinks
Meanwhile I am toiling away here at the jobsite. Barb left a week ago last Thursday and when I went to the store this past Thursday I realized it was the first time I left the property since she left! Oh wait, I take that back, I did go to Kevin and Cheryl's on Sunday for supper and to watch Yellowstone. (Thanks guys!) But besides that I did not go anywhere. I did not even go to burger night on Wednesday, life without Barb is just not the same!

I was able to get quite a bit done though. I finished taping, mudding and sanding the main floor bathroom. I even got it primed! Don't tell Barb though as it is a surprise for when she gets home tomorrow. I am not afraid that she will read this as I think she only reads the blog when I ask her to proof read it. 

I could have painted it too as we had some leftover paint from one of the bedrooms but I was not born yesterday, as a matter of fact it has been just over 21,500 "yesterdays" since I was born. I am leaving the paint color decisions to the CDM (Chief Decision Maker) of the house. 

Bathroom ready for paint!

It turned out really nice and the mirror in the picture is the one Barb made the frame for, it fits in perfectly! We are waiting for bids on the glass for the shower. That will really finish it off. 

And FINALLY, I got the porch roof done! A good two weeks behind schedule but weather delays (mostly wind), and issues with my knee prevented me from working on it as much as I thought I would. 

It turned out great and really transforms our big rectangular house into something else. Something with a little more character. 

I also installed a security system that included a water sensor, temperature sensor and a couple of cameras. As many of you homeowner travelers know there is a certain level of anxiety every time you leave your house wondering if everything is alright. Now I can look in and see what is going on at home when we are away. Even when I am deer hunting, I can see what the dogs are up to while we are away!

Apparently this is what Dakota does while I am gone. Not sure where Zoey is. I could have talked to them but did not want to scare the deer or them!

What am I going to do now that that big project is done? Sit back and relax? I wish! Now that the porch roof is on I can finally finish the siding on the two corners at the end of the porch that have hips. Then I have the corner trim. We have all the door and window trim done inside but have yet to start the base trim. Then there is the scratch coat on the 135 or so feet of the house that is going to get stone on it. Once that is done then comes the stone. So as you can see there is no rest for the wicked. We will work on the trim on the inside but the scratch coat is weather dependent, ideally you want the temperature over 40 for 24 hours after doing the scratch coat. Not sure we are going to see that for a couple of months. 

As far as deer hunting goes, I am seeing lots of deer. Just not TBO. I actually have never seen him, I don't know if he even exists but he does in my imagination and that is what keeps driving me to get out there! 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

A Day in the Life at the J-B

The past two weeks have been like ground hogs day. Day after day after day after day. Don’t get me wrong, we are enjoying our days it is just that they are basically the same. We get up about an hour before sunrise, have breakfast, watch the news and get terrorized for the day. It is amazing we are not all dead yet based on the perception the media put out.

Then I head to the deer stand for 2 hours to decompress from being depressed by the news and wait for TBO (The Big One) to come wandering by. TBO has not made an appearance but I have had some pretty cool experiences. For example, this guy walked but just before dark one afternoon. A nice one, but not The One.

Then there was this guy who not only walked by but stopped by to say hi. I had just enough time to slowly get the camera and make a short video before he decided that he was late for a meeting.

After the morning deer hunt it is time to work on the house. I have been working on two projects; the porch roof and taping and mudding the sheetrock in the main bathroom. Both projects are time consuming but are going well. 

I have the entire east side of the porch done and am now working on the south and east. 

Once the porch is done we can finish the siding!

I hate taping and mudding but it is going well,  A couple more coats and some sanding and it will be ready for primer and paint!

Barb (the overachiever), has been working on 3 projects; trim for the doors, staining the posts and beams on the porch and building a frame for the mirror in the bathroom. 

The mirror is almost done, I will save the picture for when the bathroom is done and it is hanging on the wall. 

Of course while we are working the deer taunt us by standing out front. 

Or they just stare at Dakota through the window...

We are in somewhat of a time crunch because Barb wants certain things done before Forrest, Somer and Lily come and visit on the 21st. Seems like a lot of time but Barb is leaving me for 10 days on the 11th to vacation with Jessica and the kids in Arizona. Meaning we have less than a week to get some of these things done.

Come about 4:00 it is back to the deer stand for 2 more hours of therapy.

Barb takes the 4 legged girls for a walk for a little therapy of her own. Then at night (when it is cold out) the girls hang out by the fire. Zoey has become quite the freeze baby. We often find her in this position…..

Or this one….

Or even this one…

Speaking of "cool" dogs, Zoey's mom recently had another litter. If you are interested in a puppy or just want to see some puppy pictures click here foe Foster Lake Frenchies website

Except for Wednesday night when we head to Pringle for burger night, and last Thursday morning. We kinda over did it. We had a great time dinner, music, pool….when we left we were the last cars in the parking lot. Barb was moving a little slow the entire next day. I managed to get some work done but at a much, much slower pace.

Amongst all this we had a special visitor when my sister Carol came out for 4 days to spend time with us. This is.... the 3rd? year in a row that she has come out to visit us.  It is always great to see and spend time with her. She knitted while Barb and I worked. She did not want her picture taken but I was able to sneak one while I was in the scaffolding working on the porch.

Then I turned around and took this picture of Barb as she was chucking some logs from behind the wood shed.

We did take one afternoon to drive the Needles Highway, just Carol and I. We spent so much time talking we did not take one picture! 

Day by day the cycle continues, little by little we are getting things done.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Oh, Deer!

After returning from our 8 week sabbatical we were excited for two things; getting back to working on the house and deer hunting. Archery season opened September 1st so we were well behind the curve on getting out there trying to fill the freezer for the winter. One of the first things we did when we got home was check out trail cameras to see what kind of activity we had while we were gone. 

I scrolled through the pictures eagerly looking to see a picture of a monster buck. There were hundreds of pictures but not a single picture of a buck! How can that be? There were two pictures I thought were blogworthy however.....

A fawn jumped in the water tank getting the last of the water we left them

Then there was this guy, (well a gal actually) who snuck up on the camera, jumped up and spread her wings trying to scare me!

Although the bucks were scarce, there were plenty of does and where the girls are the boys will show up eventually, Especially since their rutting season begins in late October, so I set up our deer blinds and hit the woods to soak in some of the nature that we have been missing. 

It was so nice to get back out in the blind and see our local creatures. There were lots of deer, mostly does doing their antics. 

I spend a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon in the blind reading a book, taking pictures and just enjoying the outdoors. One of the coolest things that happened I did not get a picture of. A tiny little nuthatch flew up and perched on the window of my blind staring in at me. Then it jump up and flew onto the arrow of my bow about a foot in front of me! I just sat there silently and watched it as it looked around the blind. After a minute or so, it flew out the window and was gone. 

Of course there are the turkeys. We usually see them everyday. A flock of 20-30 frequent the area and are always roaming around. 

But one day we had some surprise visitors at the house when these random guinea hens showed up to see what was going on at the Nelson's. They belong to a neighbor about a 1/4 mile away. 

Then one morning I was sitting there reading and looked up and saw a buck! Not only one but two walked into the area to check out the local does. 

A couple of nice bucks but not ones I would harvest, I am hoping to get something a little bigger. Then one morning I come home and Barb shows me a couple of pictures that she took with her phone out the  living room window! Now this one is a shooter!

Maybe he will stick around the area and walk by me sometime when I am out hunting!

On the house front we have been busy working on the porch. We had ordered the steel for the porch roof before we left for Pasha a couple of months ago and it was ready for delivery when we returned. Kevin came over to help us get started. 

We had 4 pieces of 18' steel left over from the roof of the house so Kevin suggested that we use them to create a covered wood storage area on the side of the house so we put up a couple of posts and started there!
12' done, 137' to go!
Once Kevin got me started I carried on the next few days and worked my way north towards the driveway. 

 Another couple of days and we should have the whole east side done! One thing you might not notice is that the concrete is dry under the new steel and way down on the end it is wet. Every morning dew and condensation drips off the house roof onto the sidewalk, now we have a dry sidewalk!

As cool as that is the coolest transition accomplishment took place inside and we did not have anything to do with it. While we were gone Kevin tiled our shower!

He sent us pictures of the progress over the 4 days he worked on it. 
Working his way up the walls!

He used sticks to hold up the ceiling tiles

We could have a party in that shower!

How cool is that?!?! We still need to order the glass panel and I need to finish the taping, mudding and sanding of the sheetrock but then that room will be done!

Over the next few weeks we are going to continue on with the porch roof. I expect that to take a week or so of us working 4-5 hours a day as I still need to make time to get out in the deer stand!

I thought I was done with the blog, had Barb proof read it and she said that I needed to include a couple of pictures of the dogs for Pam. It just so happens that we did take a couple of pictures of them this week so Pam these are for you....

A picture of Dakota enjoying our first fire of the fall....

And a picture of Zoey with a treasure she found on one of her walks....

There, now I am done, time to get to work!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Age Experienced

For the first time in my life, I felt it this year. After 40 years of hunting, age is catching up with me. The less than ½ mile hike on my first day to the duck blind seemed like 2 miles. Granted I am carrying a 20 pound pack, wearing waders and have 5lbs of mud on each boot but as I trudge across the farm field I see the flashlights of my younger and longer legged hunting companions getting dimmer and dimmer ahead of me.

I finally make it to the edge of the marsh where they are already busy setting up decoys. Wanting to pull my weight (no jokes necessary), I grab an armful myself and head to the edge of the water. As I near the edge I feel the grip of mud around the boots of my waders. “No worries” I think, “I have done this for years”. I continue out into the water struggling to pull my foot out of the mud with each step. Once I reach my desired depth and location I stand in place and start tossing the decoys around me. Satisfied with the set up I turn to head back to shore…. but my feet do not come with me. I almost fall, but regain my balance. To fall while mired in the mud would be the ultimate humiliation with a group and deadly if I were alone. Once you fall, there is no way to right yourself in the mud if you fell face first or even sideways.

Luckily, it is still dark so the others cannot see my dilemma. I stand there in the darkness trying to will my foot out of the mud. My foot cooperated but the boot of my wader does not. Finally, after 30 seconds I manage to pull my foot with my boot out of the mud and take a step. But I have two feet and now the other one is stuck securely in the mud. 30 seconds later I get that boot out and take another step but by now the other foot has encased itself again. I repeat the process over the next 5 minutes making it back to the blind with my companions clueless to my struggles.  

I am too exhausted to assist with the concealing of the duck blind so I just stand by and idly watch the others do what I used to do without breaking a sweat. That’s when I notice my much older friend Bob (a whole 19 days older) is doing the same thing I am. Just watching the younger lads go about their routine. Except he has his jacket open to cool off in the 40 degree morning. Apparently I am not alone in my struggles. We give each other knowing looks as the boys continue with the set up. At least they are none the wiser.

View from our blind

Once all the chores are done, we are ready to get into the blind and wait for sunrise. “Age Experienced guys on the ends”, one of them says. Well, so much for them being none the wiser. The ends of the blinds are the prime spots as you usually get the first crack at the ducks are they come in. Maybe being aged experienced has it benefits after all!

Our blinds are on the right

Slowly, they skies went from black to gray and eventually light. The ducks started flying, and the shooting began. Singles, doubles and larger flocks would come in and we were dropping ducks on almost every opportunity. We were taking turns letting the dogs retrieve. Dakota was doing great and having fun. Bob was working a young 14 month old lab who was doing great as well. 

Dakota retrieving a duck
Bob and Ember
Both Chris and Brian’s older dogs were working like the old pro’s they were.

Brian and Kimber
I was starting to feel better about myself. My shooting was on for the most part, both Bob and I were matching the young’ins shot for shot. Then Mother Nature played a cruel trick on me. We had dropped a duck maybe 60 yards from shore and Dakota did not see it fall. No problem I thought I will just throw a rock near it, Dakota will see the splash and know where to swim. I have done it dozens if not hundreds of times in the past. I pick up the perfect sized rock, get Dakota’s attention, wind up my throw and release the rock. In my mind it was going to be a perfectly arcing throw with the rock splashing within feet of the dead duck. What actual happened was me throwing a rock about 10 feet in front of me and well to the left, not even to the water! Dakota looks at me like “What the hell?” and I hear a chorus of laughter behind me. Humiliated I grab another rock and throw it, again, nowhere near the duck but luckily close enough that Dakota sees the downed bird floating in the water and promptly retrieves it.

Even Dakota was struggling with the mud
We went out every day chasing birds. Ducks in the morning, pheasants in the afternoon. Despite the drought, the ducks were plentiful in the potholes that still did contain water.  The pheasants were plentiful as well but a kink in my right knee prevented me from going out as much as I would have liked to and made for a painful experience with each step I took when I did go out. Luckily Farmer Bob had a knee brace he borrowed me and that helped. 
Bob and Ember pheasant hunting
The strangest thing that week happened when Bob had shot a duck that landed on shore. Then Ember was running to get it but a hawk in a near by tree saw it as well and the race was on! Bob and I sat there and watch this hawk gliding towards the duck arriving about 5’ in front of Ember. The hawk grabbed the duck and attempted to fly away but could not get off the ground quick enough and had to drop the bird in order to get away from Ember! Very cool sight.  

3 Hungarian Partridge, a pheasant and 4 ducks  
My favorite day duck hunting was also the most miserable. For those of you who are duck hunters out there, you know what I mean. The nastier the weather, the better the duck hunting. While all the young’ins stayed at home tucked into their warm beds. Bob and I ventured out into weather forecasted for 2+” of rain and sustained winds from the Northeast at 20-25mph. We were cold and wet but not miserable. After 2 hours of hunting, “5 more minutes” was the phrase of the day but the birds kept coming in. The dogs teeth were chattering, our fingers were getting numb but we kept said “5 more minutes” 5 or 6 times until we could not feel our fingers at all and we had to take our aching, age experienced bodies back to the truck. It was a hunt I will remember for the rest of my life….or at least until I start really losing my memory….

Wet and rainy day!

Everyone was cold and wet!

That's a pile of birds!
When we were not hunting we managed to get out to eats a couple of times with Farmer Bob and DeAnne. Plus she made us her infamous fleischkuechle one night and no trip to the farm is complete without Barb making a couple of apple crisps either.  The crops were all in, one of the poorest harvests they have had in years, maybe decades, due to the drought. So for for the first time in several years I did not work while up there. That did not stop Barb from working as I was out hunting, she was busy cleaning the outside of the camper. What a difference that made!

The least fun event of the week was when Zoey went into heat. Let me tell you right now, having a dog go into heat is no fun, having a dog going into heat in a 100sf camper is even less fun! Holly was nice enough to donate a Onesie so she could wear a diaper for the week we were there. She was so miserable, the poor girl would just sit there, stare at you and whine.

Poor Zoey
That pretty much sums up my week of duck and pheasant hunting on the North Dakota prairie. Lots of birds, both pheasants and ducks. Lots of laughs, lots of memories, lots of aches and pains ….many reminders that I am not 20, 30 or even 40 anymore. 

So now after 8 weeks, 4,780 miles, 5 states and one province, it was time to head home. South Dakota is calling us and we have a lot of work to do!