Saturday, November 21, 2020

Barbie Bags a Big Buck!

Some people laugh and think it is silly that I call Barb Barbie but I have been doing it for over 30 years and to me it is just natural, you know kinda like how she always calls me dumb@ss, it is just what rolls off the tongue when we address each other. Me calling her that has nothing to do with the doll, everyone knows she is a princess!

If you are looking for a lot of pictures, you will be sorely disappointed. There is a grand total of 2 pictures in this entire post. Proof that what matters is quality, not quantity.  

It is deer season here in South Dakota, archery season actually opens September 1st through the end of the year. With an archery tag you can harvest any deer; whitetail or mule deer, buck or doe. I have trail cameras throughout the property looking for the big one and get out hunting as often as possible. I would venture to guess that I have over 500 hours in the woods looking for "the one".  Conversely I have been buying Barb an archery tag for the past few years. Some years she goes out, some years she just does not feel like it. Over the past three years she has less than 50 hours in the woods combined. This year she decided she wanted to go out. So I got out her bow, dust it off, found a few arrows and we went outside to practice. After a dozen or so shots at 20 yards we were confident that she would do well given the opportunity. In fact she ruined one of her arrows but hitting it with another arrow. 

She did not go out for two days but then on the third morning she decided to go out. She came back 40 minutes later saying she shot one! I was happy for her but also thought "Oh great, she is going to one-up me again!". We waited about 20 minutes and went out to look the deer. We tracked the deer, not a lot of blood but enough to pick our way through the woods. About 100 yards later Barb looks up and screams like a 6 year old getting her favorite present on Christmas morning. It was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. There laying in the pine needles is a big mule deer buck! She just put her hands to her mouth stared at the buck and kept repeating, "I got him, I got him!". 

Now, I realize that hunting is not for everyone and I totally get that. But for us, it is how we were raised and a part of our culture. In fact when we lived in Wisconsin our kids' school closed the week of the gun deer season because no one showed up anyway. I could not be happier or prouder for Barb, her biggest fear when using a bow is making a bad shot and this one was absolutely perfect, I am guessing the deer was dead within 5 seconds of her shot. And yes, although I have shot several mule deer in my life, I have never shot one with my bow and I have never gotten one this big so I was "one-upped" once again!

The rest of the week was spent moping around working on projects inside and outs. The weather was great for mid-November with highs up into the 40's and even 50's. One last chance to get some projects done outside.  These included installing the oven cooktop vent outside the house, working on fencing, installing some outside lighting and wiring for a hot tub. Yes, a hot tub!

We have been wanting one for years. We had one in Wisconsin and used it almost daily, summer and winter. So when we got the concrete done around the house we were ready to order one. When we went shopping we were in for a shock in two ways. We had not shopped for one for a while and whoa! they went up over the years and were more than I had thought! The second shocker was availability. We went to and called several stores asking about models we were interested in. We even went as far as calling Casper Wyoming (3 hours away) to see what they had. Most of them said if we ordered now we would get our tub anywhere from 4-6 months. Then we stopped by one in Rapid City and walked through the showroom. When we asked the salesman about a particular one he said he had one coming on the truck "next week" that was not spoken for. After a little negotiating, we bought it on the spot! 

"Next week" turned into 3 weeks but that gave me time to get things ready at home. I had put conduit under the concrete from the house to where we wanted the tub so on one of our warmer days I ran wire through the conduit to the disconnect we had installed when we wired up the house during the summer of '19. The big day finally came when they called to deliver the tub! The delivery guys arrived, put it in place and hooked it all up for us!

So at least I have the hot tub do drown my sorrows in, literally and figuratively. My only hope is that my time in the woods pays off and I able to throw my big buck on the kitchen table and once again reclaim my manhood!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

We Got Our Truck Back!!!!

I want to start off by saying a big “Thank You!” to Shawn and Kim and anyone else who took the time to order clothing from the Pasha Lake websiteI know Chad and Michelle really appreciate it! Shawn and Kim have an interesting story, they started out fulltiming in an RV then switched over to a sailboat that they now live in fulltime. You can check out their blog here. We too ordered a couple of shirts and sweatshirts, they are very comfortable!

Now, onto the truck…..Six weeks and three days since we were driving through Rapid City and the engine blew on our 2013 GMC 6.6 liter Turbo Diesel, we finally got it back! They ended up replacing the long block with a brand new one complete with a 3 year, 100,000 mile warranty. As you may recall, we had a couple options when it blew; 1)  Finding a rebuilt engine and someone to installed it. 2) Buy a completely new long block, and 3) Buy a new truck.

We looked into all three options pretty seriously. Finding a rebuilt is not as easy as one would think. Then there is the issue of having it shipped here and also finding a reliable mechanic to install it. We were very tempted to buy a new truck but have you looked at the price of them lately?!?!? To replace the model of truck we have with a new one was upwards of $80,000! We barely have that into our house, (well maybe a little more) it was hard to imagine spending that much on a truck especially when we are trying to finish the house and still have several big expenses left. The salvage value of our truck with a blown engine was about only $5,000-$7,000 meaning we would have had to come up with $70 something thousand. No thanks. So we opted for the new engine through Accelerated Diesel in Rapid City. They had worked on our truck before and we trust them and it was the only option they gave us to fixing it. They said they had too many issues with rebuilts and would only fix it if we went with the new engine route. So that is what we did! In the end it cost us almost $20,000 but it should last us forever now and if we ever do get the itch to buy new again we will get a lot more for our truck than we would have otherwise.

As I have said before, we are just thankful that it happened where it did and not a thousand miles away where we would have been stuck in a town we did not want to be relying on a mechanic we did not know. We know people who have had to deal with that very scenario and it did not sound pleasant!

With our truck back, our life feels like it is returning to some normalcy. A special thank you to Kevin and Cheryl for borrowing us their Jeep for the past few weeks!

Back at home we have been busy as ever. The biggest house project in the past two weeks was pouring 8 yards of concrete in the garage. We poured a 30’x17’ section which is roughly 1/3 of the complete garage. We are planning for a 18’x14’ future enclosed workshop in the area we are pouring. The shop will serve as a deer processing area/workshop. For some reason Barb does not want me dragging the deer in the house and processing them on her kitchen island. Hmm, what’s up with that!?!?. So, my first order of business was to install plumbing for a future sink and a floor drain (pictures in last post). This was easy and hard at the same time. Easy, given the fact that we had a 4” waste pipe in the area for our RV dump. Hard, because the ground was very hard requiring me to chip away at the gravel. I had to completely tear up the 4” to put an elbow into it then create a hole deep enough for the P-trap for the floor drain then trench a path to the 4” for both the floor drain and the sink. It took (2) ½ days but I am glad we did it as now we will have everything we need in that area for both processing and doing whatever else we want!

Next up was installing the form boards and leveling the entire area to a consistent 4” with a slope to the floor drain in the shop area. Once that was done I laid plastic down (this prevents the concrete from sweating on humid days). Then came the rebar in a 2’x2’ grid throughout the entire area. All of this took a day and a half but now we were ready for concrete!

On the big day the cement truck arrived at 7:30am and left at 9:30. The pour itself went very well with a crew of Kevin, Barb and I. Kevin did the majority of the work while Barb and I just pushed the concrete where it was needed getting it all leveled off. 

Sure is nice having large garage doors!

Once the truck was gone Kevin got to work finishing off the entire area. This is really an art and requires a lot of skill.

We had intentionally over ordered concrete and had about 1 yard left over that the truck just dumped on the ground. At $142/yard we did not want that to go to waste so while Kevin was finishing the inside of the garage Barb concreted an area around our outside water hydrant and I scrambled to build a form in front of our wood storage area. 

Barb working on the hydrant area

Kevin even took a break to watch me dig out the area for the forms and practice being a trophy friend and making me look good. I hope he does not get used to it!

Once the forms were set we scooped up the remaining concrete with the skidsteer and shoveled it into the form at the wood storage area. When it was filled in and done we had two unexpected bonus projects completed!

Now Barb can get wood without getting her feet dirty!
It was a long tiring day. Whew, I got tired again just writing about it!

Although getting our truck back was very exciting, our most exciting news of the week was some visitors that stopped by for a couple of days. Farmer Bob and DeAnne came down from North Dakota to spend two days with us! Well, it was not entirely to see us as they were in the area to buy a collector tractor that Bob wanted. Apparently, 4 collector tractors is not enough so Bob picked up this Farmall B tractor up in Belle Fourche. Update..... I got a message from Bob today, he is going to look a Farmall Super MTA tractor today. I guess even 5 is not enough!

Bob's latest addition
No, that is not a picture of Bob dead on our living room floor. He recently had knee surgery so he had to do some exercises a couple times a day.
We had a great visit working on fence, installing a cattle guard and just plain visiting. It went way too quick and before we knew it was time for them to leave.

Other projects this week included Barb varnishing a couple of doors and windows and me installing snow stops on the roof. I installed 88’ of snow stop on the east side and 20’ on the west side so no more snow sliding off the roof in those area threatening to kill us or the dogs!

Hard to see the snow stop on the roof but it is up there!

We also had to renew our health insurance this week. We are very fortunate to still get health insurance through Barb’s former employer. Each November we have to renew our coverage by reviewing the options and picking the one that suits us the best. Luckily Barb’s former employer covers about 2/3 of the cost but even with that we have to pay anywhere from $700-$400 a month depending on which option you choose. One nice thing they do is provide scenarios on how much something would cost with each option such as breaking a leg or having a baby. After reviewing each of the options Barb and I have decided that we are not going to have a baby this year. We just cannot afford it!

I have continued to get out deer hunting as often as possible and still have not seen the “Big Guy”. I don’t even know if he exists as I don’t even have pictures of him on camera yet but I am still hopeful and enjoying my time out in the woods watching the other deer, squirrels and birds in the area.  I did not take my camera to the blind this week but here are a few pictures of our non-huntable deer.

This picture has whitetail, mule deer and a couple of turkeys in it!

Our resident mule deer buck

But I was not the only one to have some fun this week. Barb and Cheryl took advantage of a really nice day to go horseback riding!

Our big purchase this week was one to go along with the tractor we bought last week (see last post). We got a wagon to haul our firewood from the woods back up to the house!

Last but not least I would like to thank all the veterans out there for their service. Where would our country be without them?
What will next week bring? It is anybody's guess at this point!