Saturday, October 31, 2020

Big Purchase at the J-B!

It’s been two weeks since my last update on our lives. It seems like we have been busy all day every day but I cannot think of one big accomplishment with the house. Well, that is not entirely true. Now that I write this I can think of a couple.

The first of was the completion of the loft floor. This has been a long time coming months at a minimum. You see the house was originally designed like this…

Then one day Kevin said “Why don’t you square it off so you have more space up there?” So then the conversation began on how to exactly do that. Seems simple but one thing is tied to another and you cannot finish the loft floor until 3 or 4 other things get done. We cannot do the loft floor until the stairs are reset, the diagonal set for the railing and then the post at the bottom of the stair is set and anchored. Speaking of the post at the bottom of the stairs, one of the bonuses of extending the loft floor was the fact that we could extend that post all the way up so it is secured at the bottom and the top. Anyone who has installed a post on the bottom of a stairway can appreciate how much difficult it is to secure that post. All of that got done in the last few weeks so now I was ready to tackle the loft floor.  It took about (3) half days to get it done. Why half days? More on that later.

Loft floor all done!
But at least it is done so now we can move on to other projects that we could not do until the loft floor was done. Like putting the T&G on the hall wall and ceiling. We were just getting ready to do that when Kevin said “Let’s pour concrete in the garage next week.” Well, when he makes an offer like that everything else stops. But it is not like we can just pour the next day. We have a couple years of construction material and junk to move out of the way in the pour area let alone have room for the cement truck backing into the other bay so we can pour.
This mess is a little overwhelming!

It took Barb and I 3 more half days to get that all cleaned out and organized. Part of which was digging up the RV waste sewer like so I could put a T in it for a sink drain. A sink drain you ask? Well, now that we no longer have the big rig we are putting a woodworking/hobby shop in the garage on the side behind the camper. It will be something like 18’x14’. We are not quite sure yet. That is a project for much later.

Garage cleaned out and plumbing pipes in!

Being later October/early November we really had to watch the weather. As you know we got snow a couple of weeks ago and it had not warmed up enough to melt it for most of the past two weeks, In fact there were a couple of days that the highs were in the teens and the low was…….

Yup, that says -13F totally ridiculous for October. Since Daisy and Dakota cannot go outside and play in the cold, they opt to play tug of war inside...

But the forecast for the following week looked like this….We are scheduled to pour on Tuesday, I will let you know how it goes!

We had a surprise visitor of sorts last week. We knew he might stop by but when we received this photo we knew he did! Chad, the owner of Pasha Lake Cabins stopped by for the night on his way home from hunting in Wyoming. We were not home but when we received this text with him and his son Cavin…… and Daisy? Chad arrived and made himself right at home!

Due to “The Sickness” (that is what our granddaughter calls it), we had not seen Chad in over a year. In fact he was only able to get up to his own resort once this year as the border was closed. As you can imagine it has been a tough  year for Chad and his family as their sole source of income is the resort providing the income not only for them to live on but to pay the mortgage on their house as well as the resort. Both he and Michelle took jobs in Wisconsin and are getting by but they are sitting on a huge inventory of Pasha Lake clothing so if you are in the mind to help someone out and get some great clothing just in time for Christmas and help someone out at the same time click on this link to get to their website. If you do buy something, tell them Jim sent you!

You know you live in the right place when you run into a buffalo jam on the way to the grocery store. How many people can say that!?!?! We were headed to Hot Springs to do some shopping and went through Wind Cave NP when we ran into this....

Which turned into a new sport. Buffalo Weaving! We weaved our way through the buffalo and were quickly on our way. About 1/4 mile down the road we saw two hikers standing a few hundred yards off the road just standing there. We could not figure out why they were just standing there in the middle of the field and not walking until we saw why.  They were headed back to their vehicle which was parked properly in a parking area for the trail they were on. The problem was was that their vehicle was surrounded by buffalo who were licking the salt off their car! I don't know how long they had to stand there waiting for the beasts to move along but my guess is it was quite a while!

Now, several times during this post I have mentioned working “half” days, that is because it is prime time for archery deer hunting and I have been getting out as much as possible in the afternoons. The last two weeks I have been able to get out 10 of the past 14 days. I am seeing lots of deer, a few bucks but not “The” buck. 

Lots of does and fawns out there

Cute, but not Mr. Big!

This guy is very tempting but I think there is a bigger one out there!

The peak of their mating season hits in the next couple of weeks so hopefully the big one will make an appearance!

Our big purchase of the week?

A 1954 Ford NAA tractor! What am I going to do with a tractor? Well, I don’t know, I just wanted it! Actually, once I get the right implements I will use it to level the driveway, clear snow, haul logs, drag the fields…..the list goes on and on. I have been looking for one for quite a while and was lucky enough to find this one less than 2 hours away in Chadron Nebraska.

Our big news for the week is that we sold and closed on our 30 acres in Wisconsin! I had not been writing about it as I did not want to curse it but we received and accepted an offer a couple of months ago with a closing date of October 29th at 2:00pm CST. Since we did not attend the closing in person we watched our bank account to see if it went through and all of a sudden there were the funds! We have been trying to sell this property on and off for the past 3 years so we are very excited that we were able to sell it. We now have the funds to finish the house the way we want it! (and pay for our truck).

Speaking of our truck, we stopped by there this past week. They have all the parts and it being worked on as I write this. Depending on how it goes it will take 3-4 day so with luck we will have our truck back next week! We are so thankful to Kevin and Cheryl for borrowing us their truck or Jeep whenever we need it!

Last but not least we wanted to include this picture to taunt Farmer Bob.....

Barb made an apple crisp this week with the last of the apples from the farm. case you were wondering, it was delicious!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Being a Trophy Husband is Exhausting

It’s a burden I have had to live with for some 34 odd years. Well, not all of them have been odd years but the most of them sure have!

The major role of a Trophy Husband is to make his wife look good and for those of you who know Barb know that I have been doing that aspect of my role very well! I make her look like a great cook by eagerly eating everything she cooks. I make her look like an excellent housekeeper by giving her plenty of opportunity to clean up after me and I make her look like an genius when it comes to finances by always giving her challenges like blowing up truck engines. Honestly, I think she would be lost without me.

But this week I learned a new role which is equally as exhausting. It requires a skill set that I did not even know that I had but apparently I came about it quite naturally. What is this new role? In addition to being a Trophy Husband, I am a Trophy Friend constantly making Kevin look good while we are working together. Who knew there was such a thing! Whenever we are working together he goes about it like he knows exactly what he is doing while I on the other hand look like the total opposite of that. 

This week was all about concrete. Barb and I have been waiting a long time for this week. The week where we pour 151’x8’ of our porch on 3 sides of the house over 3 days. 88’ along the east side, 46’ along the south side and 17’ on the west side. This entire area will someday be covered by a covered porch but for now we will be happy just to have a solid surface to walk on. The first day was spent prepping/leveling the ground, drilling holes for the porch posts and setting form boards.

Leveling and setting forms

Most of the post holes went well, drilling down 48” or more. But with the rocky terrain there were a few holes that only went down 24” or so. The east side has 9 holes. The south side 5 holes and the west side only 4 holes.

This would be the 4th pour with team Jim, Barb and Kevin having already poured at Kevin’s and twice at our place. The first pour was 77’ along the east side. Our 79 year old neighbor Owen volunteered to come over and help and I tell you what, he kept up with us shovel for shovel throughout the entire pour!

Owen helping bore a hole

The truck straddled the forms and backed in

Barb and Kevin hard at work!

The weather and the pour was great, in the mid 50’s. The truck backed right down the side of the house and pulled forward as we poured. Barb handled the chute, shoveled and edged. Owen stood on the outside and shoveled along the edged as we went. I stood by, took pictures and generally made everyone look like they were working harder than me. 

Whew, I am exhausted but I am making Kevin look good!

Later in the day Barb had the camera and was constantly taking pictures whenever she saw me doing nothing and just watching Kevin. Hey, that’s what Trophy Friends do, they make their buddy’s look good!

Dig a little deeper Kevin
The next day we spent forming up the next pour which was to take place two days later on Friday.

Thursday Kevin and I took a road trip to the Yankton area to get a load of hay from a friend of his. Although that side of the state does produce some fine hay, it just was not worth the 16 hour trip. We left at 5:30am and finally got back to Kevin’s at 9:30pm. The trip itself went fine but it is one we will never do again! About 2 hours into our trip Kevin got a call from Cheryl saying that her horse had opened the gate and was gone! Kevin’s horse Willy was still in the pasture but Blondie was nowhere to be seen!

We were too far in our trip to turn around so I called Barb to see if she could go over and help. The gate that Blondie opened was the one that led to miles and miles of National Forest property. Both Barb and Cheryl spent the next 4 hours driving and walking around looking for Blondie. Barb walked and walked the hills behind this house. She and Cheryl were in contact via handheld radios as cell phones are hit and miss in that area. 3½ hours later Cheryl was driving the road she had been driving all morning when she came around the corner and there was Blondie standing along a fence. She was able to walk right up to her but she was over 3 miles from home in rough terrain. The radios were not working this far away so Cheryl flagged down a passerby who drove to Cheryl’s house catching Barb just as she was coming back to the house. Barb hooked the horse trailer to the Jeep (which was way too heavy a load for the Jeep) and headed over to where Cheryl was standing with her horse. They then loaded it up and returned Blondie to the pasture. It was a few tense hours but it all turned out well. Bonus, Barb even found a really nice elk shed on her walkabout!

Barb's elk treasure!

Friday was pour day again. This time it was just Barb, Kevin and I. This pour did not go quite as well. First it was tough to get the truck into position on the south side of the house. The truck was on an angle straddling the form boards and we poured as we went across the front of the house. All was going well until the truck slid sideways taking out the form boards! Ugh! We kept pouring with the intent to pour up to where the form boards were taken out. Then when I was manning the chute I too was standing on an angle outside the form when all of a sudden there must have been more concrete in the chute then my weight like maybe like160# or so, okay maybe a little more than that. Anyway, the chute full of concrete just shot me down the hill on my butt so instead of the concrete dumping in the forms it was dumping on the ground all around me. The truck operator turned off the flow but not before we had a nice arc of concrete outside the form! Funny how you never think of taking pictures when everything is going wrong. 

So as we got to the area that the forms were crushed, the truck moved out of the way and Kevin continued to level out the concrete. Barb was on the shovel and I was frantically ripping the crushed form boards off the bent stakes, measuring, putting in new stakes, leveling and putting new form boards ahead of him. We barely missed a beat and soon we were carrying on with the rest of the pour! They all can’t go perfect right?!?! Once all the concrete is poured Barb and I do the edging while Kevin floats and works on the main sections. Once the edging is done there is not much left for Barb and I to do so I just stand around, watch Kevin work and make him look good!

Front side all done as I again make Kevin look like he is working harder than me!
"You missed a spot to the left Kevin"
That night it got down to 49 with rain which is not a problem, we just covered it so the concrete with poly which helps retain the heat and continues to cure. We had added accelerator to the concrete mix at the plant to get it to set up quicker as we knew the weather was changing. The next day the rain turned to snow as the temperature plummeted into the 20’s and teens. 

We are keeping the concrete covered for now, I am sure it is all set but it does not hurt to keep it covered for a few more days.

Cold and snowy but it is all done!
This week we also put our camper to bed for the time being by winterizing it and getting it ready for the colder weather. I love the Lance campers and how easy it is to winterize them. 20 short minutes and I am done!

Our big purchase of the week was the delivery of our antler chandelier. We had been looking for just the right one when we saw this one on Black Forest D├ęcor. We have it hung and are just waiting to get to town to buy some bulbs for it!

Cannot wait to get bulbs and light it up!
No big projects planned for this week. Maybe work on the loft floor, varnish some windows and generally work at making Barb look good....which is exhausting enough!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Updates from the J-B and 7 Bulls Ranch

We have been back now for almost two weeks and the most significant thing we have noticed is how dry it is. It rained less than 2” in both August and September. 

Our pond went from this….
Dakota swimming in our pond. It was 4-5' deep in August
To this….. in just a few short weeks.

I would venture to say that water is the most important thing to the wildlife right now. In fact a review of the trail camera on the water tank showed a variety of wildlife visiting throughout the day and night. The first 4 pictures are a sequence showing a Redtail hawk landing on the tank, jumping in the water, getting out and drying off then flying away. If you look at the clock on the bottom of the picture you can see that it was there for about 45 minutes!

Taking a bath....

Drying off.....

And away it goes!

 Of course there are the ever present deer. This one got right in the water tank and was taking a bath! 

Not sure what scared these guys but they were getting the heck out of there!

Then there are the creatures that go bump in the night like this bobcat...

 This flying squirrel looks like he was going to land on the camera!

Ahh! There's a camera!

We have been busy as ever. The first 4 days or so were spent over at Kevin’s place putting up fencing for a much anticipated event. The arrival of the Filip horses! Kevin’s horse was arriving from Wisconsin delivered by longtime friends Craig and Paulette and Cheryl was to pick up her horse a few days later!

Craig and Paulette

Kevin and Cheryl were very excited to get their horses home and start riding them.

Speaking of Kevin and Cheryl’s house, they got a lot done in the 6 weeks that we were gone. They got the roof on both their covered porch and car port. They used T&G 2x6’s so it had a tight fit and the T&G is visible from below.
Carport all done!
Front porch with the T&G ceiling

They also put up the majority of the bug wood on the ceiling in their living areas. The finished product looks great and they are well on their way to creating their forever home!
He got the wood on his east wall and elk up!

Dining room area

Bug wood on the living room ceiling
Progress has been a little slower at our place. I redid the stairs as we did not love the way they felt from our first attempt. They are now level and more evenly spaced and feel great walking up and down them!

We also cut the wall down along the side of the stairs. This was the plan all along and we are now to the phase where we could cut the wall diagonally and start putting up posts for the railing. It is slow and tedious as each post has to be cut and notched to fit in its location but we are loving the end result!


After....Diagonal cut done and 3 posts set!

Barb snapped this picture because she was amazed that I knew how to use a vacuum cleaner.
We also spent a couple of days fencing the west line of our property. This line is a little over a ¼ mile through mostly rocky and wooded terrain. We have set the line several months ago now we needed to set all the T posts and run wire. Like a lot of the other fences on our property, setting the T posts in the rock is quite the challenge. We use a hammer drill and a generator set in the back of the ATV to drill a 2” hole every 25’ or so. This allows us to set the T posts directly in the rock and not have to hunt for softer areas where we can hand pound them.

Hammer drill in action!
We got about ½ way done in the two days so another 2-3 days and we should be done.

The highlight of the week was the arrival of my sister Carol from Minnesota. The oldest of my 4 sisters, she was 11 when I was born and basically raised me and my younger brother. This is the 3rd year in a row that she has been able to visit us in the fall. She spent 3 days with us visiting, 4 wheeling, sitting out and enjoying the nature while we worked on the house.

We saw a couple of nice antelope on our ride

The view from the edge of Rim Rock Canyon
She even got out deer hunting one day! A first for her. We spent several hours in the deer blind one afternoon. Although the “big guy” did not walk by, we had a great afternoon watching the other deer in the area.

Carol and I in the blind

We saw a few does

Wednesday night we went to the Hitchrail in Pringle for burger night. Last Wednesday night we celebrated Cheryl’s birthday and this past Wednesday we celebrated Bonnie’s birthday! How old are they? Well, Cheryl turned….do you really think I am that stupid? Don’t answer that…  

Princess Bonnie
Cheryl with her tiara and scepter 

On the truck front, we decided to go with the new engine rather than a rebuilt. Although this is the more expensive option, it comes with a 3 year warranty and with a rebuilt you are just dealing with too much unknown. We had to put 1/2 down to order it. Once it arrives it will take 3 weeks to get it installed so it looks like we are without a truck for the next month or so.  

We also had a visit from longtime virtual friends Ron and Mary who were in the area site seeing. We had been following each others blogs for several years and this is the first time we have been in the same area. Ron and Mary stopped by our place for a few hours of visiting and getting to know each other. They are great people and we are looking forward to seeing them again soon!

I pretty much had this week's blog done and was ready to post it when we had an event in the neighborhood. Barb and I were out on the west line putting in a few T posts when we heard sirens pretty close by. We jumped on the Ranger and came out of the woods to this......just a mile north of our house. 

 So like all curious retired people we drove the Ranger over that way to see what was going on. We later found out that the rancher over there was mowing his pasture when a hot wheel bearing ignited the grass. The end result was about 50 acres being burned. Three fire departments responded as well as a helicopter and were able to keep the fire out of the forest and contained to the grasslands. 

This coming week we have lots of plans on the house, if we get them all done we will have lots to update next week!