Sunday, April 25, 2021

Farm Life Spring 2021 Edition V1 a.k.a. Zoey Meets Dakota!

Dakota and I left for North Dakota in the early morning hours of April 11th. It was a week earlier than previous years but with the lack of snow, drought condition and other projects, Chris said there was plenty to do until the ground was ready for planting.

If you want to skip the farm stuff and get right to the Zoey stuff you can skip the first half of this post.

I set up in the shop as the morning were still in the teens and the shop is set at a comfortable 60 degrees.

They had very little snow this winter so they were desperately waiting any type of moisture. The National Drought Monitor shows pretty much the entire state of North Dakota at a 3L level is means Extreme Long Term drought.

So when they got some snow this week they were thrilled. It only amounted to about 0.5 of an inch of precipitation but at this point they will take what they can get.

They got a couple pieces of new equipment since I was here last. One was a new cart of  hauling grain in the field or yard. This beast is huge and holds over a semis worth of grain!

Look at the size of those tires!

The second item is a new red combine. They had bought one last year and their salesman called and said they got another one in and gave them a price they could not refuse!

 Farm life begins sometime between 7:00-8:00 in the morning and ends between 8:00 and 9:00 at night. to say you are exhausted at the end of the day would be an understatement. The first few days were spent on a 135 acre field they call The Pivot. The reason for that name is obvious enough as the field contains a giant sprinkler known in farm lingo as a pivot. They had upgraded the tires, controls and nozzles this year. Our task for the next few days was to replace the nozzles. 146 of them if my memory serves me correctly. There are specific length hose assemblies for specific locations on the pivot as well as specific nozzles for each location. My task was to assemble each of the nozzle hoses and bring them to Chris and Dylan who were taking off the old ones and putting in the new ones while Farmer Bob installed the appropriate nozzle on each hose. Slow and tedious but over a 2 ½ day period we got them all done!

Day 1 had snow on the ground as Chris and Dylan were in the lift

Day 2 had a little less snow. You can see the old sprinklers on the
trailer and the new one hanging off the pivot

Farmer Bob working on putting the hoses together

Dakota came with on two occasions. The first day she just hung out and watched us. The second day she explored and found one of the many ponds in the area. She was a mess!

Dakota hanging out when I was in the lift

She required a bath after playing in the mud!

Once that was done the snow had melted and the ground was dry enough for what Chris calls “Go Time” which is when everything else stops and we get the seed in the ground as soon as possible. When the conditions are right you need to take advantage of it. What little moisture this last snowfall did bring needs to be taken advantage of!

Our first field was 220 acres of peas. The seed drill needs to be set up for the specific crop you are planting which means seed spacing as well as laying in urea (for wheat and canola) and fertilizer. These planters are so sophisticated now a days they know the dry areas, moist areas and lay seed accordingly to make the most out of the ground you have. It uses historical data from previous harvest as well as overlay maps from satellite imagery. Beats the heck out of what they use to do back in the day when they just planted everything the same and hoped for the best!

While Chris was seeding, Dylan and I took out a 1/2 mile fence row of 3 strand barbed wire between  two of their fields. 

That's a lot of fence posts!

Removing it would allow them to farm right across the entire field instead of having to go around it. My job was to pull clips and staples off the posts on a 3 strand fence line and finally the posts themselves over a ½ a mile stretch.  It was a mix of sand and North Dakota mud so I think I have a pound of mud on each boot. I walked back and forth along that section 5-6 times so I would guess I got my 10,000 steps in for the day! Not once, not twice but three times I was walking and next thing I knew I was on the ground with one leg down a badger hole hidden under the snow. Talk about a good time!

If  you look closely you can see my butt impression on the right side

The intriguing thing for me as I pulled the fence was wondering who put it up and when was it put up? Some of it was obviously quite modern as it had plastic electric fence clips on it while other sections had old twisted nails. 

This fence post has probably been there for over 50 years

Barb was scheduled to come up on day 7 of my stay, so day 6 consisted of cleaning the camper and doing some laundry. It is amazing how quickly a camper can get dirty with just one dude and a dog living in it. The fact that the melting snow made it super muddy did not help. Well, that and the fact that Ms. Dakota loves the stinky, muddy potholes!

She is impossible to keep clean in these conditions and more than once I have caught her on the bed when coming in from working. She left so much sand and dirt on the bed at times I thought I was sleeping on a beach!

A snow storm in South Dakota prevented Barb from coming when expected but she did arrive a few days later with her little puppy prize! Barb said Zoey was quite the traveler on the 8 hour drive sleeping most of the time....

I would love to say that Dakota was thrilled to have another sister and welcomed her with open paws but sadly that was not the case. The first thing Zoey did was jump up and grab Dakota by her lip to which Dakota responded with a snarling growl. Dakota does not nip at her but she does growl when Zoey invades her personal space. Luckily Dakota's spot under the table is a "safe zone" as Zoey cannot get up there.

Zoey trying to get at Dakota

Dakota is slowly warming up to her. Although they do not play, Dakota tolerates her pulling on her lips and ears now and will even let Zoey jump on her back when she is laying down. It won't be long before Zoey will be laying on her Daisy did.

Daisy and Dakota

Zoey is full if energy and antics. She loves to watch TV and play with her friend in the mirror.

She also loves to chew on my book as I am reading!

She will run around the bed like a wild animal and then she will just plop down on Barb's pillow and fall asleep in about 30 seconds.
She loves to wrap herself around Barb's head like she is a puppy mate. One time Barb woke up and did not know what the heck was going on as she opened her eyes and could not see, only to find Zoey was fast asleep on Barb's face! How Barb did not wake up when she had a puppy on her face is beyond me!

Barb spends most of her day reading on the floor of the camper with Zoey on her lap, but is now starting to leave Zoey alone in the camper (with Dakota). We were fearful that since Barb has been with her 24/7 Zoey would develop separation anxiety so we are purposely leaving her alone for a couple hours a day. I am impressed by two things; one that Barb is doing this and two, that Zoey is does not mind at all. We put her in her crate and close the door and she is quite content to just lay there, sleep and look around. 
Zoey is adjusting well to farm life but we watch her closely as there are a lot of things that should not go in her mouth!

Mishaps of the week included my forgetting to open the tarp before filling the truck with fertilizer. Somethings just become routine and your mind misses a step in the process. 

Luckily it did not rip the tarp and it was cleaned up with minimal spillage. 

The second one was when someone got stuck seeding (not mentioning any names). We tried several times to pull it out but almost got the other tractor stuck in the process. You can see the spinout marks from the other tractor in this picture as well. 

We finally got pulled out and he avoided that area for the rest of the seeding. 

The third mishap was the most intense. Bob and I were working in a field and saw a semi coming down a section road towards the railroad tracks. This section of track has a severe grade at the track and we do not take trucks over it for fear of getting stuck. Bob and I were about 1/4 mile away as we watched the truck approach the tracks, start to go over and stops......with the truck right in the middle of the tracks! 
This truck has a conveyor under it and if you look closely you can see it wedged on the tracks. 
I blocked out their logo to protect the innocent

Pretty soon one of the guys comes over to us and asked if we can help pull them off the tracks. We get there and I said to the guy "I sure hope a train does not come". He replies "I just called them and they said there are no trains in the area". About that time we hear a train horn a mile down the track at the next crossing. I ran (okay, I walked fast) about a 1/4 mile down the track and was able to flag the train down before he came barreling around the corner.

The train waited as it took over an hour as we stacked blocks under the back wheels of the semi tractor and Farmer Bob drove his tractor about 4 miles around the section so he could pull the semi from the back. After the 3rd or 4th attempt we were able to get it off with minimal damage to the truck. We broke off one of the trailer jacks as it got stuck on the track but we at least got it off!

You would think with all this time working we would not have time for happy hours but we managed to fit it in a few when we did not work too late! 
DeAnne holding Zoey during one of the HH's

Farmer Bob enjoying a cooling refreshment

Dylan in the camper for a late night brew!

With a little over 1300 acres seeded we are about 1/4 of the way done with seeding. These last two weeks have flown by. We are hoping for rain mixed with warm calm weather, not sure if we will get either or both, only time will tell!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Welcome Home Zoey!

It is amazing how something so small can bring such a big smile and joy to someone but I had not even met Zoey yet and I knew I loved her. Not because she is cute as could be or because she looks at me like I mean the world to her, hopefully that will come later. I already love her just because I can see and hear the joy she is bringing into Barb’s life.

I know that some of you may find this hard to believe but Barb does not have it easy. One would think being married to me is enough for her but I will reluctantly admit that maybe, just maybe I can be a handful at times and she needs a little bundle of joy in her life. Since losing Daisy, we have both felt an emptiness. We still miss her every day and look at her picture often. If she could read this we would want her to know that Zoey is not here to replace her, that is impossible and not what we are trying to do but Barb is ready for a Zoey in her life right now. 

To be honest when we first decided to start looking we were not totally ready for a new pet. But knowing the search would take weeks or even months we started the search. The first step was finding reputable breeders. Sadly there are a lot of scammers out there who prey on people looking for dogs. You need to do your research before sending a deposit. There are horror stories out there where people have sent deposits, flown out to pick up their puppy only to find out it was a fake address and the puppy never existed. Luckily for us Barb found Foster Lake Frenchies. Amy and Eric were over the top with emails, pictures, videos, posts on Facebook and even Facetiming with us more than once. It did not matter how many questions we had, they answered each and every one of them. We felt very confident that we were dealing with not only a reputable breeder but one that loves and cares for their pets as well. 

Barb flew from Rapid City to Portland (via Dallas) last Thursday to pick her up. There were more direct flights with other airlines but due to their pet restrictions she chose American Airlines which meant going through Dallas. Delta required pets to be 9 weeks, United was 16 weeks. American only required pets to be 8 weeks so American it was!

After checking into her hotel, she anxiously awaited the arrival of Zoey. Amy, Eric and their daughter arrived with Zoey. Barb was going to get some pictures of everyone but Zoey was their favorite of the litter and it was an emotional exchange. When Barb sent me this picture my heart burst with joy, just seeing the smile on Barb’s face and the sparkle in her eyes. Worth every penny!

Amy and Eric even brought a little "Puppy Pack" which included everything she needed to get Zoey home. 

After they left. Barb took Zoey to her room where they played for hours and got to know each other. Barb of course had to dress her up in her piggy pajamas!

She is saying "Seriously, piggy pajamas?

She said Zoey just zoomed around the room, especially liking the mirror which I am sure she thought was one of her pup mates! There are 2 videos in this post, all of which are very short. 

The next day they took the shuttle to the airport for the flight from Portland to Dallas. She had Zoey in her dog carrier which fit under the seat in front of her. Her connection in Dallas was tight with just 50 minutes between flights so when they announced a 2 hour delay before even leaving Portland she knew she was in trouble. She called and I looked for other options but there just was not any so she just had to go with the flow. They finally boarded and had another delay before finally taking off.
Tucked in under the seat

She said the plane was packed but Zoey was an angel on the flight, just staring out of the carrier and not making a peep.

When they got to Dallas she found out there her connection to Rapid City had also been delayed and was still there! Talk about luck! This was a smaller plane with two seats on either side of the aisle. Barb’s seat mate was a women who grew up on a ranch about 2 miles from our place, what are the odds of that!?!?!

In the Jeep on the drive home

It had snowed (again) since both of us had left so there was 6” of fresh snow on the ground. I don’t think Zoey had ever seen snow before and was tearing around it like crazy!

Barb slept on the floor with her the first night fearful that Zoey would jump off the bed and break a leg or something. That had to be good for her back! 

Crashing with momma on the floor

Now the fun begins.  House breaking, potty training....Hope we get that pretty well under control before our flooring is installed! Barb says she tears around the house like a wild thing and is already trying to chew on everything in sight.

 Luckily our house is pretty much puppy proof so there is not a lot to chew on or so we think, I am betting Zoey will show us otherwise in the next few days! 

I will chew up your house!

For those of you who missed how we came to decide on getting a Frenchie, you can click this link and catch up with this post right here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Welcome to the Sh#t Show!

Get cattle they said, it will be fun they said….. Whoever “they” are, I would like to push them down in a pile of cow sh#t right now.

Don’t get me wrong, we have had cattle before and know some of the challenges they bring with them but I guess we have a selective memory and forgot some of the more challenging parts.

We finally got the 3 yearlings home at 8:30pm after a 15 hour road trip. Because we did not want to let the cattle out after dark in a strange pasture we decided to open up the rest of the trailer and let them spend the night in quiet comfort and release them in the daylight hours so they could see their new surroundings and thank us for bringing them to such a beautiful place with lush green grass.

The next morning Barb and I went over and Kevin opened the trailer door while Cheryl filmed. ….

I guess the cattle had a whole different perspective on the scene. It went something like this….


There we were at home hanging with our herd when this truck and trailer pulls up. Two guys get out, one was stunningly handsome and the other guy introduced himself as Kevin. The guy who feeds us was talking to them and everyone was looking at us. Next thing we knew we were forced into a cattle shoot one by one where they took turns poking us with needles. That was no fun but it was kinda funny when the handsome guy poked his own thumb instead of me.

Then they forced us into the trailer and shut the door. Next thing we knew we were bouncing down the road going God knows where. We drove and drove and drove….. what seemed like 3 days later (in cow time) we stopped and thought they were finally going to let us out. But no….. instead they threw in some hay and a bucket of water and shut the door. The next morning when the sun rose we heard a car pull up and people talking. There were eyes peering at us through the windows in the trailer. It was that handsome guy! Oh my God, he is so handsome! 

This has been the most terrifying experience of our young lives and were not sure what was going to happen next. Were they going to poke us with more needles? Something even more horrific? When they finally opened the door all we could see was hills and trees. We are flatland cattle and have never seen anything like this before, they are setting us free! Quick guys, run for the trees!....


Well, at least I think that is their perspective because when we opened the trailer door they ran out, ran to the fence, hesitated, lowered their heads, ran through the fence into the woods, over the hill and out of sight!

The 4 of us just sat there and stared at each other thinking did that just F’ing happen!?!? Well, to be honest some of those words were shouted out loud and not just thought. Tensions rose to an 11 out of 10 in like 1.2 seconds.

Barb and I jumped in the jeep and went down the road in an attempt to head them off. We found them about ¼ mile away still trotting. We got ahead of them and got out of the jeep. I went up hill in the hopes of preventing them from going over the top of that hill into thousands of acres of National Forest. Barb stayed at their level and did a stare down with them about 100 yards away. Barb slowly started walking towards them and the cattle turned around and started walking back towards Kevin and Cheryl’s. 

I followed along about 100 yards above them to keep them from going up any further.  This is not easy walking, we are talking a billy goat hill where your feet slide out from under you if you step wrong. I start to overheat and take off my jacket and hang it on a tree for retrieval later. As slowly and calmly as we could we walked back to Kevin and Cheryl’s. When we got to their fence they started walking along it. I could see an open gate up ahead and could see Kevin and Cheryl standing just beyond the gate. Cheryl was at fence level while Kevin was up high at the same level as me. 

The cattle are walking along the fence right towards the open gate. Could we get this lucky?!?!? Continuing slowly we push them towards the gate…. And when they get to it…. They walk right past it not going into the pasture like they are supposed to! Now they have a choice to make. Do they try to bolt past Kevin and Cheryl or turn around and try to bolt past Barb and me? They milled around in place thinking about it while all four of us slowly walk towards them closing the gaps that they can bolt through. Then the miracles of all miracles happens when the smallest one turns around and walks through the gate and the other two followed! They trotted for a hundred yards or so stopped and started eating grass.

We spent the next two hours shoring up the fence to make sure it would be more of a deterrent and put some yummy alfalfa out. By the time we were done with the fence they had found the alfalfa and were content on just eating that.

4 hours later we were done, inside eating lunch and the cattle were laying in the middle of the pasture. I went back to look for my jacket but do you know how many trees are in the National Forest? They all looked alike and not a one had a coat hanging on it. I think a Sasquatch took it!

The next test would be the next morning when we woke up….would they still be there? Barb and I woke up the next morning anxiously awaiting word from Kevin and Cheryl. A text came in a little after 7:00, they were still there! Hallelujah!

With that news Dakota and I jumped in the truck which was already loaded with the camper and all our supplies for the next few weeks and headed to North Dakota where our next adventure awaits. Barb will be joining us in a few days after she flies to Oregon to pick up Zoey, our latest bundle of joy. Let’s hope she reacts a lot better than they cattle do!   

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Roller Coaster Ride Continues!

 The roller coaster ride that is our weather continued this week with peaks and valleys on both sides of extreme. The rancher next door moved his cattle over last week as most of the cows had calved. He does not let them come onto our property until they have their calves and knows everything is alright. Then come over to eat our grass and hide in the trees should some weather hit.

Driveway guard

There are lots of little ones scattered around the property

And hit it did! Monday found Barb and I shed hunting in t-shirts as the weather reached well into the 70's. We had a great day and found these two beauties. The first one is a whitetail and is pretty decent for a whitetail in our area but the second one! I don't care where you live, that is a nice elk!

Barb's big find!

Once we had crested the peak with the mid 70's on Monday we had no where to go but down and down we went at lightning speed! Tuesday was a high of 36. Snow started falling about noon and did not stop until well into the night. When we woke up Wednesday morning we had well over 12" on the ground. 
That is what 12" of wet heavy snow looks like!

The deer sure appreciate the hay on these cold snowy mornings!

Having hit the bottom the temperatures again started to climb with the high on Wednesday in the mid 50's and 60's on Thursday. By Saturday it was all pretty much gone and things were greening up again. 

Before the snow hit on Tuesday we went into Rapid to get new tires on the truck. We went with BF Goodrich KO2's this time. A little more aggressive tread than we have gotten in the past but with us living where we do and not being on the road quite as much we thought it was a good match. Barb had set up an appointment with Discount Tire on line and had everything paid for before we even got there. Imagine our surprise when we pulled up at 9am the there was a sign in from of one of the bays welcoming us! We pulled up to that bay, they moved the sign and we pulled right in!

Getting new shoes for the truck!

They had 5 guys working on our tires and we were out of there with 6 new tires mounted and balanced in 30 minutes!

I had changed the oil and replaced the air filter earlier this week and now with the new tires we were ready to mount the camper! It had not been on since last fall and is ready for our next adventure!

Lining up and ready to put on the camper!

We spent the next couple of days getting it packed up for whatever adventures await us. Hard to pack up when you don't know exactly what you are going to do but we are planning for the best and are ready for anything!

Our big adventure of the week actually happens tomorrow when Kevin and I take a road trip just north of Sioux Falls to pick up 3 Scottish Highlanders! We went in with Kevin and Cheryl on them and hope to grow our herd in the future as well as filling the freezer.  

They are yearlings and will spend the summer over at Kevin's and head over here in the fall. We got one heifer that Cheryl named Norma and two steers we named Filet and Mignon. 

Last but not least, we are less than a week from picking up Zoey! She went to the vet yesterday, got her shots and the clearance to travel next week. She weighed in at a whopping 6.1lbs. The breeder continues to send us videos and pictures almost daily. Here she is with her litter mates....

Chores done, camper packed, it is time to head north once again to help with the spring planting. We are ready for a break from the house and cannot wait to see what adventures await us!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Road Trip!

As Kris Kristofferson wrote….

Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad
So I had one more for dessert

That is pretty much how my day started, except maybe the having one for breakfast part. On the other hand maybe it would have helped! I took a road trip this week and returned about noon on Saturday. Kevin and Cheryl were coming over about 5, it was a sunny 70 degrees so Barb and I went went for a 4 wheeler ride before they came over. On our way back we saw our neighbors Jim and Carmen outside doing some yard work so we stopped by to rescue them from having to do any more. It was only 3:00 but being Saturday Carmen said it was happy hour so we sat down at their picnic table and had a drink, which led to another….. next thing we knew it was 5:00 and we rushed home to find Kevin and Cheryl sitting on the porch out front. Well, since they did not have happy hour yet we had to start all over. Well, you get the picture. They left about 8:30 and I was in bed about 10 minutes after that!          

That brings me to this moment where I am very slowly waking up on Easter morning when Barb said "Time for you to search for your Easter basket!" Really? Sure enough, she had hid a basket filled with goodies!

So, where did I go on my road trip? 443 miles north and slightly east to Douglas North Dakota! The purpose of the trip was twofold; the first was to drop off the bell and cast iron seats to Farmer Bob, the other was to pick up the windmill he found us!

Now one might ask, “Why do you want a windmill?”. To that I would respond, Who doesn’t want a windmill! We have been looking for one on and off for over a year but they are either too expensive or people do not want to sell them so when Bob called and said he had found someone who would sell us one at a reasonable price, we jumped on it!

The challenging part is that it was still standing and we had to take it down and transport it back home. I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon planning using Thursday and Friday to take it down and head home on Saturday. What I did not take into account was the weather. First was the ground was still frozen so Bob and I had to use picks and shovels to dig down below the surface to get to the joint underground. The second item was the wind. With 30-40 mph winds we had to sit out Thursday and hope for calmer winds on Friday. So we spent Thursday getting things ready and strategizing on the best way to get it down without damaging it.

Friday morning we were loaded up and ready to get to work before the winds picked up again, so off we went!

The first step was to take their man lift and raise it up the 30+ feet to the top of the windmill and secure a chain to the top. 

View from the top!

Then I had to climb out of the basket and down the windmill ladder that had probably not been used in decades. To say that the pucker factor was in full effect would be an understatement! 

Climbing down!

Once I made it down to the ground we used the ground controls on the lift to see if the chain was set to the right length. Nope. So back up the ladder I went to re-secure the chain. Back down again….nope, still too long. Ugh! We finally got it to the right length and ground off the bolts securing the windmill to the ground.  
Bob grinding off the bolts

Once all the bolts were cut I slowly lifted it up. As I lifted it up, Bob pulled the base away from the ground then I then slowly started to lower it as Bob walked backwards with the base.
Almost down!

It did not go as smoothly as I am writing it but eventually we got it horizontal just above the ground and I backed the trailer under it. We then lowered it the rest of the way onto the trailer. The problem was that we had a 30+ foot windmill on a 20’ trailer. We then dismantled the bottom section so it only overhung the trailer by about 2’. We were only able to go about 20 mph on our way back to the farm but we finally got it there where we worked on taking the tail off and getting it secured for the 8 hour trip back home. Once we had it secured I took it for a test drive down the road at 65 mph. After a little more tweaking I was ready to the trip home the next morning!
Ready to roll!

I left about 5am stopping every hour or so to check the load. I finally pulled into our driveway just before 1pm. I passed 3 cop cars which I thought would pull me over for something but each just ignored me and carried on to do whatever else police officers do.  Whew! Later that day Kevin and Cheryl came over where it took all 4 of us to get it off the trailer.

It will be a few months before we get it up here as I need to do some work to it and we have other things to do the next few months. But we finally have our windmill!

Our other big accomplishment for the week was to get our island lights up. This may sound like an easy project but suspending a 6’ 8x8 beam from 18’ is quite the task. But before we could think about getting it up we had to cut it to length, sand and put several coats of varnish on it. We then set up the scaffolding and were ready to hang it!

Kevin cutting the groove on top to hide the wiring

The next step was to drill holes and cut a groove in the top of the beam for the wires to travel through. Then we used a plumb bob and figure out exactly where we wanted the chains for the beam to come through the ceiling in relation to the island. I then went up in the truss space in the attic to put some braces up there to hold everything up and get the light wires ready for hook up. Day 1 we got the beam up and secured. Day 2 I got the lights on everything wired up!

We love the finished product and now have lights over the island!

On the puppy front we are less than two weeks from getting Zoey! The breeder continues to send us pictures almost daily. We got this one the other day showing that her ears have started to stand up!