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Archive for December, 2011

I probably shouldn’t post this one right now – it is the holiday season.  And more  importantly, I have been sending out our Christmas cards so since I didn’t have time to get photos printed this year I have been directing friends and family to this blog so they can see for themselves what we’ve been up to.  But perhaps this is more than they want to know.  After all you can divorce spouses and break friendships but relatives you’re stuck with till the end of time.  Oh well, anyone who has spent much time around me already knows I’m totally nuts so here goes…

My Hubby was a Journeyman Lineman for the Black Hills Electric Cooperative for 31 years.  One of the first times I ever saw him he was putting a Ham Radio antenna into a very tall pine tree.  Since it seemed like he was the only Ham Radio operator in a 3 state area who climbed tees & poles for a living (and was also the only one under the age of 55) he did this quite regularly.  I must admit with his knee-high lace-up lineman boots, 30 pound tool belt and steel hooks strapped on his legs  he was strikingly handsome.  Then, to see him shinee up that tree in a matter of seconds I was impressed to say the least.  There’s just something about a man in a tool belt that makes my heart go pitter-patter! 

We were married 3 years later. 

Of course being married to a lineman isn’t all sunshine and roses.  After a few years of tripping over those damn boots in the dark, lots of phone calls in the middle of the night, being stranded at home with small children for every major blizzard, missed anniversaries and holidays because he was 300+ miles away on a storm job I was glad to see him retire and the boots go to the back of the closet.  He has been retired for 5 years now but occasionally he still drags his belt and hooks out to replace light bulbs in the yard lights or fix the corrals. 

Even though he no longer works with that bunch of wild and crazy guys, once in a while something pops out of his mouth that comes from his days at the Coop.  That happened just the other day.  I was sitting at the computer, minding my own business while he was watching the news.  I can’t remember what news story he had just seen (I wasn’t really paying attention) but my ears perked up when he recited this quote from a fellow lineman named Lee.

“The higher the monkey goes up the tree,  the smaller his asshole looks to me.”

It took me a moment to regain my composure (and pick myself up off the floor) but finally, as I fought back the laughter and dried the tears from my eyes I asked him just what the hell that meant.  He smiled and said, “You have to be a lineman to understand.”

I have known this man for almost 30 years and he still surprises me – not always in a good way – but a surprise none the less and after that amount of time you learn to take what you can get.

So here’s to all the linemen of the world.  We salute you and thank you for the electricity that keeps our computers fired up and saves us from the terror of living in the dark.  If you are lucky enough to know an actual lineman be sure to thank him personally and while you’re at it, ask him if this quote means something deeper than the obvious.  Just promise me if he divulges some deep pshyocological words of wisdom that explains the meaning of life – a secret that only lineman know – would you please pass it on?  Enlightened minds want to know.

Here’s a photo of my hubby standing in a bucket truck, reaching out to grab hold of a power line.  It may not look that impressive until you realize the line was fully charged with 230,000 volts.  The only reason he could do this without dying was because of the Carona suit he was wearing.  These suits place the lineman inside the field of electricity allowing them to work safely without having to shut down the lines and interrupting service. 

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When I downloaded the photos for the last post I found the photos I had taken on Sale Day and thought you’d like to see them. 

Sale Day is the day we sell our calves, yearlings and sometimes cows or bulls.  It can come on any day of the year and sometimes we have several Sale Days.  When you are a rancher, Sale Day is also one of the best days of the year.  I took the day off of work – which is easy to do when you have a boss that does the exact same thing.  My boss and I even coordinate our schedules so we both get to see our calves sell.  After all, when you’re a ranch wife, Sale Day is the social event of the season!

Around here Sale Day always starts early – ‘O-dark-thirty’.

I told you it was dark.  We were up and going by 4:00 am.  Do you see all those little white dots?  Those are the eyes of the cows reflected in the headlights. 

It’s sad to see the girls like this.  They are all bunched up in the corner waiting for their calves to come back.  They are good mamas.  The cows usually hang out here for a day or so and then they seem to forget what they’re waiting for and get on with the business of being a cow. 

The first stop on Sale Day was the corrals where we had one more cow to load in the trailer.  Now don’t feel bad for that old girl.  She got a private ride to the sale barn because she was a wild thing, full of piss & vinegar and she had done everything she could not to get on the truck with the other cattle.  She has been a challenge since the day we brought her home to the ranch and my hubby decided it was time to send ‘Alice’  packing before she ended up hurting someone. 

We had left her in the corrals over night with another cow – one that was a lot calmer, who we will call ‘Bess’.  It seemed to work.  Bess doesn’t get stirred up about anything, not even when a pickup and trailer back up to the corral at ‘O-dark’thirty’.  Bess just stood there, chewing her cud and checking out the lights and sounds. I imagine life could be rather boring for a cow as Bess really seemed to enjoy the activity.   ‘Alice’, on the other hand, eyed everything with a healthy dose of suspicion but since her girlfriend, Bess wasn’t concerned Alice decided it must be OK.  We opened the door on the trailer and flipped the lights on inside and Hubby directed the two old girls to the gate.  Bess took one look around and stepped right into the trailer, followed closely by Alice who was starting to snort and blow snot.  But, since nothing scary happened (and there was nothing to eat inside) Bess turned around and calmly walked out, letting me shut the door in Alices’ face. 

Here’s the trailer all lit up with a rather pissed-off Alice inside.  Check out the Moooood lighting inside.  Ha!  Ranch humor.

Alice was locked and loaded – literally.  It was much easier than the day before when we had tried to do the same thing .  That day Alice went through the fence (twice), ripped off the gate, took off at top speed across the pasture and then, when Hubby (and the horse he was riding) politely asked her to return, she put down her head and charged them (several times).  Now you can see why Hubby was determined that Alice make it to her date at the sale barn.

And speaking of the sale barn – here we are:

Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange 

Belle Fourche is pronounced ‘Bell Fooch’ and it’s the name of a town, a river and just about everything else in that country.  It is a French name and means ‘Beautiful Fork’ because of the fork in the river there.  I guess if you have nice flatware you could have a whole set of belle fourches.  HA!  Give me a break – it’s early.

Anyway, here’s a few of our calves.  The guy in the green shirt is the auctioneer doing his job trying to get the buyers to bid.  When they bring in the first batch of calves the auctioneer always stops to say a few words – he names the ranch where the cattle are from, asks if the rancher is there and then asks a few questions or makes a comment or two on how nice the calves look.  Then he kicks it into high gear and starts asking for bids.

From this photo it doesn’t look like there were many buyers around – see all the empty seats, but they were there and prices were high and our calves were looking good.  That is a good combination for us.  The bigger ones almost always bring less money per pound but they also have more pounds.  Our prices ranged from $1.02 per pound to $1.58 a pound.  These prices were towards the high-end for that day although there were some calves that brought $1.87 per pound.  We had yearlings that weighed over 800 pounds and calves that weighted between 400 – 600 pounds each.  Last year we were lucky to get over a dollar a pound for anything but prices have improved lately and from everything we’ve heard people believe they will stay up.

It’s always nerve-racking sitting there waiting but this year things came together and it was a good day.

Here’s a few more calves.  Check out that rather large boot on the railing – that’s our baby, Morgan.  He got the day off too so he could go.  I told you Sale Day is a big event.

And more calves.  It goes on like this until all the calves and yearlings we brought had sold.  Suddenly, it’s done and we sit and watch the next ranchers calves come in.  Our calves ended up going to 5 different places, some went to other ranches as replacement heifers and some went to feed lots to be finished – fattened up before ending up in a butcher shop.  That’s the cattle business.

We picked up our pay check and then headed 20 miles out-of-town to visit our son Dalton and his wife Dani at the ranch where they work.  It was a great day but very long. 

On another subject, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you may remember a post I did last January titled Sun Spots.  I have always had a thing about sun spots or ‘orbs’ showing up in my photos and I watch for them.  When I tried to lighten up the photos for this post I was surprised to find this:

I know these aren’t sun spots because the sun wasn’t even close to coming up yet.  I supposed they could be snow crystals in the air but it wasn’t snowing and look at the ground – there wasn’t any snow to blow around.  I rmember it was a very still morning but if you look at the photo you can see that there is frost on the hood of the pickup.  So who knows?  The spot that really got me was the bright spot right beside one cows face.  It even showed up before I had lightened the shot.

 

This photo only shows a few spots even though it was taken right after the previous one and this photo only has one:

I’m not sure why we get these orbs in some photos but I will keep watching for them.  Well, I better get busy.  There’s still a lot to do before Christmas!

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I bet you’ve started to wonder if I nailed my foot down along with the new flooring.  Not possible – it’s a floating floor –  no nails required.  But just like everything else in this house it has taken  longer than I thought it would.  And of course, once the floor was finished I just had to get out the Christmas decorations and see how they looked in a nearly finished house. 

Prepare yourselves – I have photos…

Before:

Yikes!!!  What  a mess.  Those rolls of blue stuff in front of the door are actually the foam padding that goes down under the laminate flooring.  It helps seal things like water and dirt out and also helps with the sound issues of big guys with heavy boots walking on wooden floors.  If you look over the top of the chair on the right you will see the top of one of the piles of flooring boxes.  We bought a whole pallet of the stuff – 48 boxes.  You should have seen our poor old pickup loaded down on the way home.  Being the thrifty (cheap) ranch wife that I am, I had figured out just how many square feet of flooring I needed but the nice guy at the store convinced me to get a few extra boxes “Because you always waste some”.  Not me – I did the dining room. living room and master bedroom and still have enough left over that I can do the floor in the big walk-in closet.  Yipeee!!! 

And here’s the living room after:

Oh my goodness – is that beautiful or what?  This is called Driftwood Oak by Maple Leaf – Premium Laminate Flooring.  For looks and ease of installation I give it two thumbs up.

I just noticed the orb by the top of the tree – what do you think?  Is it a reflection from the Christmas lights or the windows?  Of course there are lots and lots of lights but only one orb – don’t you think that’s kind of interesting?  OK, back to the floor before I freak myself out.

Sub floor before:

Can you say “Slivers in my feet”?  I knew you could.

But just look at it now:

Wow!  It’s like we live in a real house now not a construction site.  We have lived with the sub-flooring for so long (about 4 or 5 years) that I’m not sure I remember how to take care of a real floor.  And the poor dog – I can’t tell you how funny it is when Levi comes whipping in through the door and slides across the floor.  I always run over and look for skid marks but he hasn’t left any yet.  This is pretty tough stuff.  We still haven’t given it the ‘spur’ test but I’ll let you know how that turns out when it finally happens. 

The best thing about it is that it was so easy to do.  The hardest part was moving all the furniture out but the rest was just like putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together.  Just remember with this puzzle it’s OK to cut down the pieces to fit!  And the only tools you need are a good set of knee pads, a hammer and don’t forget to buy the pry-bar and bumper pad that they recommend for pounding the pieces in place.  A good compound miter saw on the front porch helps too.

And what do you do when you get new flooring?  Throw a party of course.  We had a house full of family and friends for Thanksgiving and then last Sunday some of the girlfriends came over from Custer to see the Christmas decorations.  It is the party season.

I love our new floor!

 

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