Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Ever Changing North Dakota Weather......

If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes, it will change. That should be the slogan on the North Dakota license plate. This past week we have experienced everything from 70's to 20's, rain, high winds, even snow and sleet!

When we arrived at the farm last week and it looks like they were expecting us!

There are several things we love about coming up here; seeing Bob, DeAnne, Chris, Holly and Dylan, hunting and getting some tractor time in. Truth be told, Barb would probably agree with one of those three.... One of the first orders of business was to pay off a bet with Bob earlier in the year. He bet that he could lose 12 pounds before we returned. Not only did he achieve this goal but he smoked it and blew right past it!
A well earned case of Diet Mountain Dew!
They were about 75% done with their harvest when we arrived; wheat, field peas, canola and chick peas were all done. Luckily for me, they still had about 1,000 acres of soy beans left in the field so it looks like I will get some farm work in!

This week I was able to get some tractor time in but the weather wreaked havoc on the fieldwork so it was not as much tractor time as they would have liked to see me have. A first for me was when they asked me use the Landoll Highspeed Disc to break up some former CRP ground that is going to be planted next year.
The Quadtrac and Landoll all folded up ready to head out to the field
This piece of equipment uses a series of disks to break up the ground preparing it for planting. Since this ground had not been farmed in years I had to go over it several times in different directions to get it broken up. It is not ready for planting yet but with a little more work it will be ready for next year.

The Landoll in action!
We only got out in the field to harvest soy beans for two half days as the moisture has to be just right for harvesting but they made the most of it and got 285 acres done. Chris, Bob and Dylan operated combines while I ran the grain cart emptying the beans into the semi and then drove the semi back to the farm and emptied the beans into the grain bins.
The beans go from the semi into the auger and up the auger into the grain bin. 

Out of the truck and into the auger
Of course before you can put the beans in the grain bin you have to clean it out to make sure there are no remaining seeds from whatever was in there last. It is a dirty little job but not too bad. You basically clean it out with an air compressor and work out any seeds that are stuck in crevasses with a pick. It is hard to take a picture of the inside of the bin but here is my best attempt.
This bin will hold truck loads about 5 semi loads of grain
The upside to wet, windy and cold weather is that it is great for duck hunting so we took advantage of that and got out in the field several times. We scouted the night before to see which fields the birds were frequenting and set up in those fields at 5:30am the next day putting out about 10 dozen goose and mallard decoys as well as setting up layout blinds to conceal ourselves.
Sun is up and we are ready for the birds!

Chris in his layout blind with a few geese at his side
The birds start returning right after sunrise and we were there waiting for them! Between the four of us, the first day we got a limit of mallards and 5 geese, the second day we 15 mallards and 6 geese.
Bob coming back with a couple geese
This is Dakota's second duck season and although she did not go out on the field hunts we did get her out to a couple of waterside hunts. Since she is a mama's girl and only been out hunting a couple of times a year ago, Barb came along to help her feel more comfortable. I have to say she exceeded my expectations as she was not gun shy at all and in fact was excited every time I shot as she knew she got to go swimming after I shot.   Well, not every time, in fact she would look at me disdainfully whenever I missed a bird! Throughout the hunts we got mallards, scaup, ringbills, teal, pintails, gadwalls and the ever present shoveler.

Dakota ready for action!

With all the muddy water she is playing in I would not be surprised if we ended up with a black lab rather than a white lab by the end of the season!

We also had our first ever Finken Farm visitors when Jim and Brenda stopped by as they are making their way east from Teddy Roosevelt National Park to Indiana. We visited for a few hours and I even got Jim out in the field to load a semi and bring it back to the farm and unload it. We hope to see them sometime this winter in Florida, if that does not work we will not see them until we return to South Dakota in April. 
Jim watching the beans unload
Not to be outdone Barb, DeAnne and Holly went out to have some fun of their own by attending the 5th Annual Tying for Support (which DeAnne hosted) event at the Douglas Senior Center. It is a blanket tying event where the completed blanket are donated to  Pink it Forward . Barb said it was a great event and met some very nice people. 
Holly and Barb cutting

The finished product!
Last post I left you with a screen shot of the upcoming weather forecast thinking how cold it was going to be, little did we know that those were going to be the warm days as this week looks even colder and snowier! 
Doesn't look like we will get in field this week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Rolling Along in the Hills

Barb has a new friend! He is off limits when it come to hunting
Whenever we are faced with daunting and seemingly unachievable tasks we try and do the same thing; break it down into manageable parts and take it slow and easy. Eventually bit by bit you whittle away at it and you are closer to achieving your goal......then there are the times you have to jump right in with both feet work like crazy and hope for the best.  

We had a little bit of both this past week……
But let me back up. At the end of our last post I mentioned that my sister Carol was going to visit us. We had not seen her since she visited us in Ontario over a year ago so we were looking forward to seeing her again. It was a wonderful week, we loved having her out and showing her our little slice of heaven.
Sister Carol
We spent the week visiting and getting a few projects done. I was finally able to hang the shed doors, they turned out great!
Now I just need to do the other side!
One of the things I was looking forward to was taking her on a jeep ride on the wildlife loop in Custer State Park and then over to Mount Rushmore. 
Our nemesis!

Burro looking for a handout
Then one afternoon we got a message from one of Barb’s friends from Wisconsin who was vacationing in Colorado and was coming through the Black Hills on their way home. It had been years since we had seen Jim and Melanie and we spent the afternoon catching up and rehashing old adventures. We had a great time and it was fun afternoon.
Barb and I with Jim and Melanie
The next day Barb drove 1½ hours north up to Belle Fourche as another one of her Wisconsin friends was there for a barrel race. Barb and Lori used to go to a lot of barrel races together and again had not seen each other in several years.
Lori (on the right)
On the way back home she went through Deadwood where she again ran into Jim and Melanie. Coincidence?  I think not…..She stopped and had beer with them and watched a reenactment of the Wild Bill Hickcock gunfight. 

A few days later Kevin and Cheryl arrived and the work began. The plan was for Kevin to finish the concrete at his place and to get the house concrete and footings done at our place. But first he had two goals. The first was to take Cheryl on a balloon ride for her birthday.....
That looks like fun!
…. and the other was to get the new sign up at their ranch!
Last time Kevin came out to do concrete he brought his crew out to help. A total of 5 guys who were experienced in concrete work and one guy (me) who had never done it before. This time Kevin had his work cut out for him as it was him, me, Barb and Cheryl. It would be an understatement to say that Kevin was dreading this week but hey, you got to work with what you have! 

We spent one day getting his site prepped. The section we were to pour at Kevin's was 40' x 38' for his garage and horse stall area. The first step was to put some poly down, lay the rebar and set the leveling stakes. 
The weather was iffy on the pour day, it started out drizzling and overcast but it was supposed to clear up throughout the day. We called the concrete company to confirm our delivery and they said a lot of people were canceling due to weather. Well, we did not have a choice and just went for it.

Looks like a dream concrete crew to me!
When the truck arrived, the driver got out looked at the 4 of us and said "Where is the rest of your crew?" When we said, we are it, he had a skeptical look on his face and started putting the chute together. 

There are basically three jobs while pouring; running the chute, raking and screeding. Barb, Cheryl and I took turns with the chute and raking and Kevin did the screeding. 

During the pour it is an hour of backbreaking work, there is no slowing down, there is no time for conversation, just time to listen to Kevin and follow direction. There was barely enough time to stop and take pictures!
Looks like Barb is doing it all by herself!
Kevin screeding while I run the chute and Barb rakes
At the end of the pour the driver said he was impressed and that his wife would not even know what end of a shovel to use!
Last corner!

Once the concrete is down and the trucks gone the pressure is off..... a little bit. Kevin worked the bull float while the rest of us worked the edges with hand trowels.
Kevin floating the slab
The last step is to finish the concrete with a power trowel. There are several steps to this and takes over an hour to get it just right. 

Next up was our place! Our pour was going to be 30' x 38' plus footings for a 30' x 50' garage. We spent one day getting the rest of the forms down, using the laser level to make sure everything was level, laying the foam under the house section and installing the tubing for the in-floor heat. 

Setting foam in the house section
Foam down and heat tubing in!
Because of all the plumbing pipes we had to work around we decided to break the pour into two sections and two days so we ran a form board down the middle. 
Broken into two sections
Ready for concrete!
On pour day we again had our dream team along with the help of our neighbor Doug. Luckily there was enough room on both sides of the foundation so the truck was able to drive right down the sides and there was no wheel barrel work! Again, it was intense work but overall it went very smoothly.

Today I got a lesson on the power trowel. That helped speed things up so Kevin could move on to finishing around all the pipes.
The next day we did the other side as well as the footings around the garage. We again had help from our neighbor Doug as well as another friend, Richard from Hill City. The two extra hands really helped!
Here it comes!
Me, power troweling

Barb working on the footings for the garage
Before we knew it we were all done. Exhausted but all done!

Ready for framing!
What Kevin was dreading since the inception of the idea did not turn out bad at all. Although there were a few intense moments on each of our parts, he said it could not have gone much better; the weather cooperated, the pours went well and we all remained friends through the entire project. What more could you ask for?!?!?

Our goals for this year on our house was to get the concrete down and that in itself was a huge accomplishment. We will concrete the garage at a later date but for now we are just keeping it gravel.

Work done, visiting done, deer hunting done, it is time to move on. We are headed north to the farm in North Dakota where the 10 day forecast shows lows in the 20's!

Are we nuts? If you know us at all you already know the answer to that one!