Sunday, August 27, 2023

Reaching a Milestone!

 Goals. They are what drive and motivate many of us. Throughout my life I have set goals. Daily goals of what you want to get done. Career goals, such as achieving a certain level. Personal goals like building your own house or out fishing Barb. This week we should achieve the greatest goal we have ever aspired to, one of the highest pinnacles of my life, only taking us 9 years, 6 months, and 22 days to achieve. What is this goal?  1,000,000 views on our blog! (Pause here for clapping, applause and balloon drop).

If you are a blogger, you cannot help but look at the stats on other people's blogs and see what kind of views and followers they have. I am often envious of how many views and followers many of my fellow bloggers have. As of today, we have 145 followers, that number has held steady +/- 1 or 2 over the past several months. That is a number that is hard to move. In fact, I had to beg readers to push me over 100 in August of '21. 

But back to the 1,000,00 views. On average we blog once a week, sometimes twice a week, sometimes every other week. In fact, this is our 456th post since we started blogging in February of 2014 (499 weeks ago) meaning we get an average of just over 2,000 views per posts. 

The reason we blog has changed over the years. At first, it was to inform other readers on the ins and outs of fulltime RV'ing. We found other blogs useful so we thought we would return the favor. Then it morphed into a way to keep our friends and family up to date on what we were up to. Today, it is more or less a digital diary with a little of what I consider humor intermixed in. If only we would have monetized our blog, I am sure people would pay $1.00 to read it each week, right? Heck, how about $0.10 or even $0.01? But alas, we have never made anything on our blog. I take that back, we did meet a reader at a brewery once and they bought us each a beer. 

So, what have we been up to this week? Not a lot. I've been slowly packing for my trip to North Dakota to help with harvest. Barb has been making me individual meals and cookies so I do not starve while I am gone. I also worked on the final touches in the gazebo; wired 4 outlets, installed a TV, bought and installed a fridge and moved in the propane firepit. Barb worked on raking the black dirt on the outside  planted grass seed and laid some straw to cover it all. 

Barb also bought some solar lights to go along our path. As I was taking the picture on the left, Barb notices this guy on the right. We call him Mr. Toad. Although, it could be a female toad, we call him Mr. Toad just in case he identifies as a "Mr.". We see Mr. Toad at least once a week. Sometimes by the wood storage area, sometimes on the hill where we have the extra tin for the gazebo and on this night, he was admiring Barb's new lights.... If you look closely, you can see him in both pictures. 

We have used the gazebo every night. So far, we have had two happy hours out there. One with Dan and Bonnie and another with Jim and Carmen. Needless to say, we are really, really enjoying it!

Now that that is done, we have set another goal. This one will likely take several years to achieve. We bought a book outlining the top 100 hikeable peaks in the Black Hills and we want to climb every one of them!

"Climb" may not be the right word. Some you can drive to; most have established hiking trails to the top and quite a few have no trails at all requiring us to bushwhack through the forest to get to. Regardless of how we get to the top, we wanted to get started so we started with a couple easy ones. 

So, we jumped in the jeep and pointed it towards Custer State Park. There weren't a lot of critters out, but a few buffalo and prairie dogs cooperated with us. 

Our first destination was Mount Coolidge within the park. It is the only manned fire tower in the park and is named after President Coolidge who spent 3 months in the park during the summer of 1927.

At 6,023', it is the 78th out of the 100 highest peaks in the area. Regardless of the rank, and despite the smokey skies, the views are incredible!

Bird identification time, any idea what this is?

From there, we headed west out of the park towards Cicero Peak. At 6,166', this is the 62nd highest peak in the area. There is a rough logging/service road all the way to the top. 

If you look off to the west on your way up, you will get glimpses of Beecher Rock off in the distance. Cicero Peak served as a fire tower location from 1940-1974. Now, it is home to a radio tower. 

It was a slow, fairly easy climb but well worth the view once you get to the top. 


Two down, 98 to go! We'll save the tougher ones for when it cools down a bit.

This week's homework assignment is to count how many deer you see in this picture..... They have returned in droves!

The trail cameras are producing nicer and nicer bucks.

When we were in Rapid picking up the electrical supplies and fridge for the gazebo, I got a new computer! We were at Sam's Club looking over the various models and as tempted as I was, I just could not get myself to drop a couple thousand on a MacBook. So, I got myself a basic HP for under $550. This one has a full-body hinge and bonus, a SD reader. You would not believe how many do not come with them anymore. 

Saturday night was a big night. The annual South Hills Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquet. As you may recall, Kevin and Cheryl are the chairs for the banquet. We went early and helped them set up, then returned later for the festivities. And, I was a big winner! I won a bottle of Blanton's in the live auction and the 2023 RMEF Commemorative Henry Rifle in a raffle!

Our next post will come to you from North Dakota. I am heading out Monday morning for a few weeks of harvesting and hunting! I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a tractor and semi, as well as just sitting in the reeds watching the sunrise as the ducks whistle overhead!

Monday, August 21, 2023

Mmm, Bacon!

 Is there anything better than the smell of bacon in the morning? Or the afternoon? Or the evening? Bacon is delicious! Just ask Dakota and Zoey. Whenever they smell bacon, we get their undivided attention. 

But bacon is just not bacon. There is thick cut, maple, low salt, turkey, Canadian, Kevin Bacon and dozens more. The list seems endless. Just as endless is the way to cook it, skillet, microwave, air fryer, oven. Then there is the biggest controversy of all. Crispy or floppy? It is really not a controversy in our house. Crispy is the only way to go. Anything else is blasphemy! So, what prompted this particular opening topic for this week's blog? It was actually the dogs. That first picture is how they look when they hover around the kitchen when they smell bacon. They are so adorable and attentive, I just had to write about it. 

Thanks for all your thoughts on Zoe Belle. I am happy to report that she is 100% recovered.  We are pretty sure she got stung by a bee or black widow. We have plenty of both and she tries to eat them whenever she sees them. She still has not learned and still snaps at bees when they hover around her. 

We did have another scare this week. I swear that dog is going to be the death of us. We were sitting out of the patio with Dan and Bonnie. Zoey and Dakota were nosing around in the grass within feet of us when Barb notices Zoey jump back, and her hackles went up. Barb got up to investigate and started screaming for Zoey to get back. I rushed over to see a 4' snake coiled up ready to strike. We thought for sure it was a rattlesnake, but it ended up being a bull or rat snake. Harmless for the most part. She is now on leash arrest and is not allowed to wander out without a leash even if we are right next to her. 

On the computer front, I try to turn it on every morning, some days it works, some days it doesn't. It is seriously time to get a new one but with the vet bill from last week, it is just not in the cards this month. Come on baby, hold on one more month! I've looked at each of the ones recommended by those who responded and am leaning towards the Lenovo. Something with a full-body hinge. Not these two small ones my current computer has. Update. I found the one I am going to get. I could not find find a Lenovo with a full-body hinge. The MacBooks are just too much money for the rate that I go through them. At under $500, the HP I am looking at is 1/4 of the price of the Macs and has a full-body hinge. I just do not know where to ship it at this point as I could be leaving soon to help with the harvest. 

Let's see, what did we do for fun this week? Oh, we went camping! Only for one night but it was nice to get out and about. We went drove 30 miles south to Angostura Reservoir. Friends Merrill and Vicki were camping down there for 5 days so we decided to join them for a day of kayaking, beach relaxing and fire tales.  Of course, I forgot to get a picture of them, I did manage to get this picture of our site and the beach we hung out at. Rumor has it, this place is packed on the weekends, but the Tuesday night we spent there was actually pretty quiet and enjoyable. There are so many places to explore around here, it is about time we get out and enjoy some of them!

Dakota ready to go camping!
Our site for the night, right next to Merrill and Vicki

It was a short stay but nice to get away for even one night.

Most of the work this week centered around the gazebo. Barb finished staining the posts. We received our post bases in the mail and got them spray painted, then we installed the remaining panels and cut them to fit. 

Me relaxing after starting to get a couple of pieces up. Then trimming one end with a side grinder

As we put the last section of the top together. Barb had to be on the inside holding a wrench on the nuts as I tightened the bolts on the outside. It was over 90 that day so not only was it extremely noisy inside there for her, but it was also hot! 

Barb cleaning some goo off of one of the edges and peeking out of the top after installing the last section.

We were now ready to install the top!

Friday, I started the day at the neighbors helping him install a couple of fence gates. Then it was over to a job site where Kevin was working to help install a huge truss and beams. The owner rented a crane for a few hours to help. There is no way we could have done this without the crane, it was way too high and heavy. 

The big timber truss was the first thing to go up

Then it was time for each of the beams

Once those were in place, I spent the afternoon moving dirt to put around the gazebo pad. Whew!

Sunday was a big day. It was gazabo build day! Kevin came over along with our friend Earl who is visiting from Wisconsin. Using the skid steer and boom we lifted the top in place on top of the sections I already installed. In my mind, this was the most precarious part of the build, but it went incredibly smooth. Once we got it hovering in place, Earl and I got busy inserting and tightening bolts fastening the two sections together. 

Here's a very short video to give you an idea of how we put the top in place. 

Earl and I installed bolts connecting the two sections while the top hovered in place.

Once that was done, we located here the posts were going to be on the pad, anchored the post bases with concrete anchors and measured and cut the posts. The entire process took a lot longer than anticipated with each post taking about 1/2 hour to get aligned, cut and in place. 
Kevin and Earl getting the first post base ready then Kevin leveling it while I screw it into place.

We took a break when Cheryl, Sharon (Earl's better half) and friends Elizabeth and Allen arrived for lunch. Of course, we forgot to take even one picture when they were all here. 

After lunch, we put up the last post and spent time tightening up all the bolts and lag screws. Then at long last, we were done. After months of anticipation and preparation, it was done!

Taking down the tire we used to lift the top.

It was a long, exhausting week but we are oh so happy with the way it turned out. We still have some trim work to do, a few more bolts at install, some electrical to do but it is up! I think we deserve something tasty, mouthwatering, bacon perhaps?!?!?

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Lord of the Flies

OMG, the flies this year are horrible! By far the worst we have ever seen. I do not know if it is a result of all the rain we have gotten this year or from the cattle. We had been blaming it on the cattle, but it seems everyone we talked to mentions how bad the flies are so maybe it is a combination of both. 

We have one fly bag out but it is now filled to capacity and there are none to be found in the stores around here or even in Rapid. I swear we kill over 100 a day in the house. Luckily Zoey thinks they are snacks and gobbles them up as soon as they hit the floor!

I took these two pictures. Of course, when I thought of taking the picture the flies were not too bad. Many times there would be 50-100 on the screen door trying to get in. 

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestion on my computer. One reader suggested I disable the touchscreen. Duh, I should have thought of that. That fixed my ghost functions and site changes. Someone else offered suggestions on fixing the hinge. I am going to give that a try as well. 

Others talked about MacBooks. That makes me a bit nervous. How different is their operating system compared to my HP? How does it interact with Blogger? I have heard of a lot of people fighting with Blogger, knock on wood, I have not had a lot of issues and do not want to invite any. 

For fun this week we only had one outing. Wednesday, we picked up Dan and Bonnie and headed to Keystone for a few hours of people watching. The bike rally is in full swing with the sound of bikes reverberating throughout the hills. When it comes to the rally, of course Sturgis is the main town, but the towns of Custer, Keystone, Deadwood and Hill City are filled with bikes as well. 

I took this video while driving through Custer after picking up Dan and Bonnie. Custer closes off the entire two center lanes through town for bike parking. Hill City is closed to all vehicle traffic through town other than bikes. 

Keystone only has a population of 240 permanent residents, this week, there are thousands more!

Both sides of the street were lined with bikes of every shape, size and model. If you are into overweight white people in their 60's, this is the place to hang out! Of course, the above picture of Barb is excluded from that category!

We spend quite a bit of time on the boardwalk having a beer or two and people watching. Keystone is also home to Dahl Brothers Chainsaw Art. They are world famous chainsaw artists. Some of the pictures just do not do the work justice. 

You too could own the bear on the right for a mere $15,000!

We met up with friends Merrill and Vicki as well while there and went to supper at The Powder House which is known for their wild game plates. I had the Buffalo Prime Rib and Barb had the Wild Game Sampler. We had been wanting to go there for a long time. Now that we went, we probably will not go again. 

The game cameras only produced these blogworthy pictures. 

A really nice nine point!

What are the odds of capturing this picture!?!?

A decent 8 point

Anyone know what kind of owl this is?
On the work front, we had a busy week. We spent two days over at Kevin and Cheryl's helping clean out the garage and stall area. As many of you know, they have been in construction mode for several years. Now that that is about done, it is time to clean it up. We had several curious onlookers while we did our work. 
Young Zeke 
Barb has been busy sanding and staining the 8x8 posts for the gazebo. Each one takes about an hour to sand, she has a total of 6 to do. 
Thursday was concrete day! The concrete was scheduled to arrive at 9:30am. When did they pull in? 8:45 before Kevin and Sam showed up to help. Luckily the driver was a friend of ours, so we delayed him showing him the house until they arrived. Dave was able to drive the truck right alongside the house right up to the gazebo area. 
Sam on the rake, Kevin on the chute and Barb working the edges.
Barb still working the edges while Kevin finishes out with a float
We finished it off with a broom finish and stamping our brand into it!

Friday, our week took a turn for the worse. We spent the day running errands and working around the house. When we got done for the day around 3:00 Barb noticed that Zoey's face was all swollen up and red.  We gave her a Benadryl but when the swelling did not go down, she called the vet who said to give her some Rimadyl. That seemed to reduce the swelling, so we thought all was well. These pictures were taken before the swelling got really bad. 
About 11pm the swelling had come back and was worse than before, so we gave her another Rimadyl. By midnight, the swelling had moved down to her throat, and she was having trouble breathing. Barb called the vet again and she suggested that we take Zoey in. But not to Edgemont, she wanted Barb to take her into Rapid where they had an oxygen tent and the ability to intubate if necessary. 

So, away we went. We got there about 1:40am where a vet tech and vet were waiting. At first, they thought it was a rattlesnake bite, but blood tests ruled that out. They figured she was either stung/bit by or had eaten something and wanted to watch her overnight. We got home about 4am. They kept her until 6pm the following day. They have no idea what happened, but they gave her injections and monitored her throughout the day. The swelling is not totally gone as I write this, her eyes are no longer swollen but she has a serious waddle under her jowls. 

We are very thankful to have her pull through this, we did not know how it was going to go. Some of you are probably thinking "That must have cost a fortune". Actually, I was pleasantly pleased that it was under $1,000. We were expecting 2-4x that. 

Last but not least, we found two surprises this week. The first was a wooden bowl Barb found while walking in our woods. It was totally buried with just an edge sticking out. Who knows how old that is! The other treasure we found was almost equally as surprising. I walked around the back of the propane tank and found this cottonwood tree! It is about 2' tall and the only deciduous tree on our property. I cannot tell you where the nearest cottonwood tree is, but I am guessing the seed for floated for miles before landing behind the tank. Years from now, Lord willing, we will look back at this post and see how that tree started. It's a little close to the house to let it get too big but for now we are going to let it grow.