Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 - Reflecting on the many blessing bestowed on us.


Holiday Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch!  
As I sit hear tonight reflecting, the snow calmly falling on the buttes and barns, and my boys lying next to me in bed watching old Star Wars movies, I am absolutely in awe of the blessings that 2015 has brought to us.

Kyle - age 7.  Miss Brengman's WCES 1st grade class.

One Mr. Kyle Best pictured above this December on the eve of his WCES Christmas music program.  Our one and only intrigues me every day with his kindness, thoughtfulness, his curiosity of the world, and his enthusiasm for learning.  He truly is our greatest blessing!

Best Angus and Quarter Horses at Elkhorn Creek Ranch, where tender beef and blue collar horses are our business!

Outside of a dry spring which stunted our grass / alfalfa hay crop, the ranch had an exceptional year.  The fall of 2014 saw feeder calf prices at an all-time high, which provided for strong replacement female and bull markets in early 2015.  We have since come down off that high and settled into a bit of a rocky market this fall, but still a decent one.  We count those financial blessings of 2015 and continue to pray for favorable moisture, which means everything to future success in this typically dry part of county.

Pete sorting pairs the fall of 2015 on his 3 year old, Nick.

Supper on the trail, fall of 2015 with my 3 year old, Rusty.  My dad would have loved this little horse (which makes me that much more fond of him).

So, as I write tonight, our record weaning weights have been logged and reported to the AAA, the calves have been weaned and on feed for 70 + days now, the cows and horses are out on range grazing, and we continue to be able to conserve our hay stockpile.  Life is Good on the ranch!

We took a family trip of a lifetime the week of Thanksgiving.  We cruised the west Caribbean on the NCL ship, the Breakaway, which was built in 2014 for families with children.  All the photos below were from the ports of that trip.

Mayans of Cozumel with their North Dakota captives!
FRESH coconut water
Critters of the Grand Cayman's at Dolphin Cove
Jamaica Mon...

Other 'mentionables' of 2015:

In February we visited Aunt Marcia and Uncle Myron and friends Mike and Mary Zimmerman in AZ and swam.  And swam.  And swam. 

In August we had a Best family trip to Banff and Drumheller and were treated to a VIP / behind the screens tour of the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum by Uncle Andy and cousin Eric.

Pete took several Angus trips.

Brad and Kaley Hagen (Brad worked for the ranch for three summers and two years) moved back home (Minnesota) in April.  Kent and Laura Johnsrud helped us out quite a lot this summer and fall.  Justin Bartholomay, a graduate of NDSU, Animal Science started with us in September.  These folks have all been blessings which we are thankful for, as is our family and our local community. 

The last blessing to reflect on this beautiful evening (before the bustle resumes tomorrow morning), the reason for the season!

Merry CHRISTmas... 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Blue Buttes Fun Day on Throwback Today- remembering the 'Why' of it all.

We attended the 86th North Dakota Stockmen's Association Annual Convention and Membership meeting in Bismarck this past weekend.  North Dakota Stockmen's Association

On Thursday (9/24/15) prior to the start of the NDSA Cattlemen's College there was a marketing workshop.  One of the questions posed by the presenter was "How many of you have a blog?".  I was honest (although I didn't really want to talk about my lack of commitment to telling our Ranch's story the last couple years) when she asked how many followers it had.  "I'm not sure, but I do know since starting it in 2011 there have been over 24,000 page visits with between 200 and 1,500 page views per post".  To be clear, this blog is no Pioneer Woman and neither the topics nor writing quality will draw folks out of the woodwork to loyally follow it.  That being said, I do think that it is important to tell the story of our little lives out here and the story of why we care for the animals and land the way we do.

Ya know, life happens and things get busy.  Priorities shift and in our effort to keep hope alive in an uncertain place in our history things get a little blurry and the signs hard to read (likely due to the number of them and the speed at which life clips along).  We sometimes find ourselves backtracking the navigated path looking for other routes and hoping for a simpler way to get to our destination... and then sometimes our destination disappears or become unrecognizable.

HOME has always been the destination for me.  Providing this 'way of life' for future generations has always been the mission (let's face it, this way of life builds pretty darn good folks).  Being good stewards of the livestock and land and leaving a legacy to be proud of have always been the goals.  So what if the destination disappears, the mission impossible, and the goals meaningless for lack of a 'why'?  And what if consumers don't believe us when we do try to bridge the existing gap with them?  I'm not saying that one little blog can change the future, but I am saying that I refuse to quit trying to bridge the gap and to frame the 'why', which builds understanding.  I want people to continue to be able to keep visiting our ranch and understanding why we do what we do without having to leave the comfort of their lives where ever that may be.

So I will keep posting and hoping for followers and sharers who help spread the word about ranching life and rural ag communities... 'cause like I said before, this way of life builds pretty darn good folks who want to bridge the gap with the folk who aren't out here at the end of the road with us.

In the meantime, let me share a little story about 'folk-building'.  When I was a twelve year old girl and my little sister was seven, the family loaded up a couple of our ranch horses on a crisp fall morning and headed down the road toward Keene County.  Our destination was the Blue Buttes Fun Day at the Willard Kieson arena.  BBFD has a long history and tradition in McKenzie County.  The games were fun.  The kids tough, friendly and competitive.  Shivers, my mom's horse that I got to ride that day was fast.  The H hanging L (my Dad's brand) Ranch brought home hardware that day.

1986 and 1987 All Around Cowgirl buckles which I proudly display in our Ranch House living room still to this day.

The 2015 Blue Buttes Fun Day (BBFD) at the Wesley and Tina Leppell arena.  Jaden hamming it up after the Boot Race.

The 2015 BBFD.  Kyle and Zoey taking a spin around the arena on Taxi.

The 2015 BBFD.  Kyle hanging with Hoss between games. 

2015 BBFD.  Look REALLY close... Morgan climbing through the barrel during the barrel race.  Notice the big boys in pink.  That's right.  They are tough enough to do so.  They were great mentors to the younger 'folk' that day and are always examples of good sportsmanship and 'try'.

2015 BBFD.  Jaden all smiles and Chance struggling to stay awake!
This was a needed day for me.  9/27/15 was a throwback to that crisp fall morning in 1986 headed to the Keison arena.  It was a reminder that HOME does still exist in more than just my mind and that 'good folks are still grown out here at the end of the road'.  AND this is challenge to all the folks out there to keep working to bridge the gap and tell the 'why' of our story.

To the Keison's and the Leppell's, thank you so much for this annual event that celebrates Good Folks, Great Fun, Good Sportsmanship, Tough Competition, Fast Horses, AND FAMILY!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

When greed gets in the way of the future

Game on!

I have left the work of our ranching business completely and totally in the capable and talented hands of Pete and Brad (nearly a year ago now) to work on 'things of community'.  The communities that are facing an uphill battle for future sustainability are McKenzie County (and it's neighboring 'Bakken' counties), and stewards of the surface of the Bakken (farmers and ranchers).  I will try to stay 'off soapbox' and on message, but it is very difficult.

Tomorrow will be legislative day 20.  Last week brought numerous bills relating to oil and gas, the environment, surface owners and their rights (which is minimal and under attack), mineral owners and their rights, gross production tax redistribution formulas and much, much more.

The highlight of the week was the fast track passage of the 'Surge Bill' by the Senate, who sent it over to the House of Representatives a day after the revised revenue projections were decreased by 4 billion dollars.  An important thing to remember is that the funding for the Surge Bill already sits safe and sound in one of many 'rainy day' funds at the state level, the SIIF (Strategic Investment and Improvement Fund). 

There were a handful of disappointments and thus the reason for this post.

The word on the 'ND hill' is that western North Dakota will not see both the passage of the Surge Bill AND the 60:40 Gross Production Tax redistribution formula bill.  During the last legislative session, through a very complex funding formula, a 25/75 split was determined.  But wait.  When the 25:75 split of the 80% of the 5% Gross Production Tax (the state automatically keeps the first 20% and then goes back and keeps 75% of the next 80%) was divided up between Hub cities (Minot, Dickinson, Williston), schools, counties and communities, McKenzie County received 6.8% of the Gross Production Tax it generated in revenue to the state.  Each and every person who either lives out here or spends time out here understands that that level of funding does not come close to meeting the INDUSTRIAL impact happening out here.

The promise was that this session western North Dakota would be taken care of as the higher than expected prices and production overflowed the the +/-13 'rainy day funds' to the point they were all spilling into the Legacy Fund at a rate of 30% of all oil and gas tax revenues going there and parking (not accruing interest, just sitting in a mattress).  Meanwhile, now, in 2015, the Governor's office suggested that Counties and Cities should borrow against their future GPT income.  Unbelievable.  I tell you this because when asked five different times last Thursday and Friday, "since you're not getting both, what would you rather have (60:40 or Surge)?"  My response is "With all do respect, we need BOTH.  Possibly tax relief (which happens to be nearly the same amount as the projected budget shortfall with the new revenue forecast) may need to wait until next session."

Please take action on this and start writing letters to the editor as well as writing members of the Legislature.

Another very disappointing outcome of last week, it was suggested that to achieve gas capture goals, energy companies needed the tool of 'quick take'.  That is the soft term for EMINENT DOMAIN.  I testified on Friday that until there are:
DESIGN STANDARDS with verification, CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS with verification, CONTINUOUS MONITORING with verification, BONDING, and meaningful enforcement options, surface owners will not trust the right of way process.  I am of the opinion that the NDIC should NOT have permitted wells that didn't already have their natural gas pipeline right of ways secured and installed once the success rate of Bakken wells had been established.  We all know that that never happened.  Now, the Department of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas Division is facing either  (A) exemptions for flaring or (B) the need or eminent domain (AND HEAR THIS, THE TALK HASN'T BEEN FOR NATURAL GAS PIPELINES ALONE) for right of ways (including SALT WATER / PRODUCTION WATER).  I would suggestion no exemptions and reductions in production until gas can be captured.  I personally will trust the process for NATURAL GAS INFRASTRUCTURE as soon as there are REAL STANDARDS (REGULATIONS) and REAL VERIFICATION (INSPECTION) and ENFORCEMENT.  The problem is that there is NO TRUST, especially with the regulatory agencies tasked with overseeing collection lines and spill prevention in North Dakota.

SO, if you don't want EMINENT DOMAIN pushed on you and your land to open it up to spills, trespassing, poor reclamation, and liability to you in the future, you better get on the horn, put pen to paper, or email the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members regarding SB 2287, which was heard last Friday (January 30th):
The bill:
The committee:



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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

From our Outfit to yours - Peace, Joy and Love this Blessed Christmas Season.

From our outfit to yours - peace, joy and love.

I find the flipping of the calendar moving faster and faster with each passing year and the burden of the world's concerns and complexities with the fatigue of it all, sometimes more than I want to bare.

Then, comes the opportunity each December to remember the reason for the Christmas season and it brings a bit of ease to those burdens.  Christmas is the most precious time of the year to reflect on the numerous blessing that that fall on the rapidly flipping calendar and allows us the time to share them with you, our friends.

For everything there is a season and it seems that although I think of him often, the second of each 'season' (in 2014) without Dad has been easier than the first of each (2013).  That's not to say we don't still miss his kindness, calmness, wisdom, support and sense of humor, but truly 2014 was less of an emotional strain than 2013 for the ranch and the family.

2014 has brought record beef prices to the rural ranching communities, record oil prices to our booming energy region and ample moisture to our western North Dakota badlands creating a most 'bully' attitude through most of this calendar year.  The recent fall in crop prices and crude has softened that a bit, but all in all Watford City and McKenzie County have much to be thankful for this year and lots of catching up to do.

The cows are in good condition.  There is enough hay to sustain for the upcoming year.  The horses are fit and plentiful in numbers (that's my shameless plug if anyone is looking for a horse ;).  The K-kid (the Kyle-kid, the Kindergarten-kid) is a joy and blessing beyond anything we deserve.  Our neighbors and family continue to be our greatest support.  The ever changing landscape around here has become the new 'norm' which certainly brings a mixed bag... Or is it baggage?  It is all of the above.

The Chronological highlights of 2014:
  • March - We hosted our ranch's first ever production Bull Sale in Watford City after 25 years of private treaty and consignment marketing.  It was well received by our ranching community and the support from our local and regional customers was overwhelming.
  • June - Watford City turned 100 years old.  After much preparation, there was a 4 day celebration, all school reunions, reminiscing and reacquainting! There truly is NO PLACE LIKE THIS HOME.
  • July - We traveled to San Francisco and Sonoma Valley to celebrate the wedding of Carmen (Pete's sister) to Steve Kromer.  It was a wonderful celebration and a great time with friends and family.  We are very excited to welcome Steve to the family!
  • August - Kyle started Kindergarten.  He LOVES his teacher, Mrs. Moen and is one of 120 to 140 kindergartners at WCES (that number bounces around with the days and I truly wonder how that 15% will do in life).  We said goodbye to our 'Tyra Dog'.
  • September - Brad Hagen (who works for the ranch) married Kaley Schmidt in Chaska MN.  Kyle was their ring bearer.  It was a beautiful ceremony, lovely reception and a great opportunity to meet and better get to know their friends and family.  Pete attended several regional Cattle tours connecting with industry folks and visiting reputation herds in Montana and North Dakota.
  • October - Grandma Olga (my Dad's mom) turned 95 years young!  She is amazing!  Her children hosted a delightful Birthday Party and Open House for her.  I turned '40' and my very thoughtful family threw a 'Median' party... I was the median and the range was 35 to 45.  It was a really wonderful time with friends.
  • November - After a full ballot requiring intense campaigning, I was elected by the people of McKenzie County to a four year seat as County Commissioner (of the fastest growing County in the United States).  My incredibly supportive husband proclaims periodically, "Be careful what you wish for.  Your greatest dream might become your worst nightmare".  Words of wisdom from a wise, incredibly sarcastic guy!  There is important work to be done and more than enough of it to go around.  It is truly a humble honor and all I can do is my best possible effort with decisions supported by research and payers asking for wisdom...   
  • December - We traveled to Las Vegas for the first time in either of our lives with Kim and Lee to attend the National Finals Rodeo (the 10 day Super Bowl event of the Professional Rodeo Association).  For a lifelong ranch kid and the daughter of a team roper, that was a wonderful 2014 vacation in 'Sin City'.
The folks that make the ranch 'go round'...

The reasons that we care so much about the future of this place.
Take it all in and then pause one more moment.  Frame your perspective thoughtfully.
Needed:  A unified plan with a unified front... AND respect and consideration for each person's insight while developing that plan.

BCF's (Best or Boy - depends on the day)

Our Outfit!

Almighty God, we thank you for all the gifts You have given us: our lives, our loved
ones, all that we have and all that we are. Most of all, we thank You for Jesus, your
Son and our Redeemer, who came among us to show us the way to eternal life. Jesus
was the perfect steward of your gifts, showing that complete trust in You is necessary,
and that giving of self is a most important part of following Him. May the offerings of our
time, our talents, and our material resources be made in the same spirit of sacrifice that
Jesus taught us by His life and death for us. Amen.

Last week, Kyle came home from school singing, "Feliz Navidad.  Feliz Navidad.  I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart!"

From the bottom of the heart of our Outfit - Best wished for peace, joy and love this holiday season and for 2015.


Pete, Vawnita & Kyle (6)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tyra 'Puppy Monster' Best

Tyra Best

11-13-02 to 8-27-14

She was 'only a dog', but she was the 'once in a lifetime' dog that all others are compared to.  She was a GREAT, GREAT dog.  We miss her.

The beauty of animal ownership, aside from the obvious; the loyalty, the companionship, the field work that they do in their breed's disciple, is that it is an opportunity to experience 'life lessons' #1, unconditional love, #29, loss and #30, grieving.  I've heard it said many times in numerous ways.  They only live a short period of time.  I don't want to get attached.  I don't want my kids to have to experience the loss of them...

But those experiences are an important part of who we become.  They teach us so much about life and about ourselves.  Mostly, how we could be better _________ (you fill in the blanks)... communicators, friends, at showing appreciation, at recognizing the little blessings in life, at loving without reservation.  They open their hearts and give us everything they have to offer.  No strings attached.  No questions asked.

So our Tyra, the one of 12 little 'accidents' that prompted an early December 2012 phone call from a friend wondering if we wanted a puppy, spent twelve years caring for and LOVING our family.  A family that couldn't be more blessed by her constant presence in our lives if we had special ordered her and ponied up cash for her.

Tyra 'Puppy Monster' Best on New Years Eve 2002.  She was eight weeks old when we got her.

I remember going to the movie, Marley and Me in the theater over Christmas vacation one year and thinking "Uffda.  I would NOT tolerate that deviant behavior.  It would be a one way trip to the wood pile for that dog."  And thankfully, outside of chewing up all the Christmas presents in 2003 (in her defense, we had wrapped a box of milk bones for her and as she spent Christmas Eve service in the pickup with the presents, well...), chewing up a few pairs of shoes (cosmetic damage only), and scratching up a garage door (again, only cometic) to make her great escape as a puppy, she was pretty much "PERFECT".  I will also quickly point out that after being disciplined for each of these violations, there were never repeat incidents.  Tyra was a people pleaser whose most appreciated praise was having sticks or tennis balls thrown for her.

For a couple who didn't see the possibility of children in their future, she spent the first six years of her life with people who had the time to take her hunting and road tripping.  The analysis by Pete determined that she knew over 30 words / commands and had an arsenal of tricks to entertain people with.

One of our many 'pre-Kyle' Christmas card pictures with the T-Dog.
Oh, there was one very, very naughty black mark on her record.  She wasn't a fan of cats.  Particularly kittens.  She didn't chase them, but if they disrespected her by rubbing against her legs... well it could possibly end poorly for the kitten.

There were however, cats that she had built a relationship with.  For those cats she exhibited amazing tolerance.
After six years of being the 'one and only', she welcomed Kyle into our family and became his full time play mate and part time foot warmer at bedtime.  She was always a fan of his, but found exuberant loyalty when he became proficient with the Chuck-It.

The always gentle, always kind Tyra checking out baby Kyle in his Christmas pajamas - 2008.

Our first day of kindergarten - 8-25-14.
The winter of 2009 - 10 Tyra spent with restricted, minimal activity based off Doctors orders to heel a torn ligament in her knee.  Outside of that little episode and the development of cataracts the last two years, Tyra had been completely healthy.  Again, another of the many blessings she provided us.  In late July, I noticed a tumor growing on her side.  Pete took her in to Dr. Seth at the Watford City Veterinary Center.  He plated it and informed us that she had weeks, maybe months to live.  She was in a terminal state without question.  We sent Gunner home for the remainder of the time and spent it enjoying our dog in a way and looking back, with perspective that I am so thankful for.  Life can get so away from us and we forget that in the end, happiness is in the journey, not in the destination.  It isn't how many pheasants that you bring home, but how you feel during the thrill of the hunt, locking on and pointing one out and flushing it up... and of course retrieving it like only God programmed your DNA to live for should your person be a good shot.  Yes.  On occasion she fired Pete and moved over to the 'hot shot' without a dog, usually Kurt.

The morning of August 27th after sending Kyle off on the bus.  She was a GREAT DOG.

Shortly after this photo, I made the call.  It had been a rough night for her.  After we got Kyle on the bus and the guys headed out for the day with their 'to do' lists of ranch work, I threw Tyra a tennis ball.  For the first time ever, she quit.  She looked at me, but wouldn't pick the ball up and bring it back to me.  She would look down at it and look back at me, but she wouldn't scoop it up and bring it back.  She was communicating to me the thing I didn't want to hear.  She was ready.  It was time.  I called Dr. Seth and sobbed on the phone to him that I thought it was time.  Could he send someone out after the clinic closed and after Kyle had a chance to say good-bye when he got home from school?  I worked in the office that day.  She was restless and evidence of pain showed that the cancer was spreading throughout her entire body and consuming it.  She did her best to lay in her spot by my office chair like she had done for so long and in numerous home offices from Bismarck, Dickinson, Williston and Watford City, but she was full of pain.

Kyle got home that day.  We talked about the fact that when he went to bed that night he would never see Tyra again, on Earth.  He questioned why Dr. Bruce and Dr. Seth couldn't fix her.  The complexities were discussed, but the bottom line was that we needed to do what was best for Tyra and not for us (who didn't want to say good-bye just yet (or ever)).  Interestingly enough, we had watched the movie, Heaven Is For Real a few weeks back and I found it comforting at this difficult time during this difficult conversation with a 5 year old.  Kyle said his good-byes.  I was proud of him.  They were composed, thoughtful, heartfelt good-byes.  I was crying.  He turned from her and started walking toward me and said, "Well Tyra, see ya in heaven good dog" and then he whispered to me, "Hey Mom.  Can we get a puppy now."  Sigh...

Pete and Brad got home around 8:00.  It was the most perfect evening in God's country.  No bugs.  Still as could be.  Partly overcast.  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  Pete started a fire in the pit and proceeded to procure Tyra's resting place on the ridge overlooking the beautiful valley that falls away behind our house.  She more than earned that spot and it was the least we could do for her.

Tyra taking in her last evening with us.
A bit after dark, August 27th, on one of her favorite blankets, Tyra took her last breath and said good-bye to us.  It was a good death which ended the good life of a GREAT dog.  I sent her away with hopes that Kurt (who she adored) was in need of a good (or at least an enthusiastic) bird dog.  That night was one of the darkest skies in recent memory with one of the brightest sets of stars in a long time.  Maybe the stars have been there and we just haven't paused to take the time to consider them.  Or, maybe heaven was joyful to receive a kind and gentle soul that night.

A week has passed and each of us at our own time has visited her.  Kyle doesn't know it, but he is being watched when he does.  He will find a ball or a bone lying around and naturally he hauls it to her and drops it on the disturbed soil.  He hasn't asked for a puppy since 'the whispers of the 27th'.  Don't tell him this, but he will get one some day.  It will be a couple years from now, but I suspect we will know when the time is right and when life lessons #1, #29 and #30 need a kind, gentle canine soul for a young blonde haired boy.  A canine soul that will teach a young blonde haired boy how to be a better person.  A young blonde haired boy who will some day be a man who had that 'once in a lifetime' dog.

R.I.P. Tyra Best.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

If we don't get beyond 'R's' and 'D's'...

First off, Happy Mothers Day to all mommas out there!  Speaking from experience, motherhood is the most challenging, most important, most rewarding responsibility that I have in this little life.

Greetings from the epicenter of the muddy Bakken!

In the case of 2014, April snow and May showers will guarantee us a crop (grass, alfalfa, small grain, oil seed, feedstuffs, ext.)... and that my friends is security for farmers and ranchers in our area.

Speaking of security in 2014, we have that opportunity in front of us, but if we are going to seize it we need to do our homework and get past the R's and D's.  I personally am an 'I' living in a 'R' district (ND District 39).  Most other places in the United States and during most other times in history I would be a 'R'.  Why here and why now am I an 'I' you ask?  Because I am independent enough to vote for the 'D' when I think that their candidate is better than the 'R's' candidate.  I will use the Berg - Heitkamp Senate race as an example and point out how proud I am every time I turn on the national news or open a newspaper article to see Heidi bucking her party at a national level to protect North Dakota interests.  She is an independent thinker that refuses to let the 'beltway disconnect' excuse her from being the voice of North Dakota in our Nation's capital.

March, 2014 was an interesting one.  There were many 'firsts'.  Two of them, I attended and participated in the North Dakota District 39 Republicans nominating convention in Killdeer and attended the North Dakota NPL convention in Fargo.  Yep.  I attended a 'R' and a 'D' event all in the same month!  Why?  To have a voice.  To affect change.  To have a say in our future.  There is a saying which I believe to be true - If you aren't at the table, you might end up on the menu.  The worst possible scenario of course is when the dinner bell isn't used and meals are by invitation only.  Not showing up at the table after the dinner bell rings = shame on you.  By invitation only = shame on them.

I am not a 'D', but I am very proud of this photo.
The November 4, 2014 election holds a number of contested races with decisions for North Dakota and McKenzie County, giving voters the opportunity to affect their future.  The photo above is of me giving Ryan Taylor's 2nd nominating speech for his North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner race.  Ryan is a long time friend and he married a McKenzie County girl, but that is not why I so strongly and publicly support him.  I so strongly and publicly support him because he:
1) better understands North Dakota farmers and ranchers needs (that understanding is gained through listening),
2) knows what is at stake if the crowding out effect on agriculture infrastructure and resources isn't buffered, and
3) is a leader and innovative thinker.
I worked for the ND Department of Agriculture under Commissioner Goehring and I also listened to his campaign speech to the District 39 Republicans as well as soundbites from his acceptance speech from the ND Republicans nominating convention.  I feel strongly that I am backing and publicly supporting the candidate that has the best plan for ensuring that family farms and ranches have favorable position in North Dakota's future and that the rural communities of western North Dakota too, have a future here.  Additionally, he will bring conversation to the Industrial Commission.  Unfortunately, the current Super majority in North Dakota has created a 'shame on them' situation that ONLY 'we the people' can change at the ballot box this November.

On a county level, for the first time in a very long time there are two contested races.  The race for two non-districted Commissioner positions and for McKenzie County Sheriff.  The primary election will be held on June 10th where two candidates for Sheriff and four candidates for Commissioner will continue on to the November 4th election.

Prior to those dates, I invite all of my McKenzie County Echo followers to pass the word and to do your home work.  Affect your future at the ballot box.  Consider this your invitation to attend a Watford City Chamber of Commerce hosted forum for the two contested positions:

Where:     Watford City High School Media Center
When:      Tuesday, May 27th at 6:00 PM.

In closing , I have shared two links.  One is shameless and self promoting.  The other is a testament of selflessness.  I hope they both inspire you to affect the future and to vote beyond letters!

Vawnita Hovet Best for McKenzie County Commissioner

Mountrail County brothers leave fate of county to new leaders

Here's to affecting the future!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hay days with Skip and Roger!

Greeting from the ever busy epicenter of the booming Bakken!

'Hay' Skip! - (Not to be confused with "Hey, Kyle!")
I'm sure you have all heard that North Dakota was nailed by a 'Lion-like', "March, exit right"' precipitation and wind event Sunday nigh and Monday morning.  They are calling her Gigi and the national news spent roughly 15 seconds on it yesterday morning after forcing ALL +/- 330 million of us to endure nonstop coverage of 'DC' and the eastern seaboard's routine dusting of snow and periodic 'below freezing' temperatures this winter.

The kicker was that the regional weather forecasters were REALLY late predicting Gigi, who dropped nearly 2 feet of snow on parts of ND.  As you can see above, we received very little of the white stuff which I was thankful for.  It was the freezing rain that was more of a concern.  Kyle and I stayed home from preschool yesterday as it was 'all hands on deck' when the sun came up in the morning.  It was unknown how the two pastures of 'pairs' had fared the freezing rain and below ZERO (as opposed to FREEZING) wind chills.

We had our Under Armor base layers, smart wool socks and additional winter gear on and we were in the tractor by 9:00 AM yesterday and on the move.  Our mission:  Get an eye on every calf (there are over 100 of them now) and get the following out to each pasture:

1 alfalfa bale and 3 grass bales to the +/- 50 pairs of older calves (born between March 3rd and March 20th) - almost all first calf heifers

1 alfalfa bale and 1 grass bale to the horses

a grab of grass hay to the stud

5 grabs of grass hay to the mares

1 alfalfa bale and 3 grass bales to the +/- 50 pairs of younger calves (born between March 21st and March 29th)

1 alfalfa bale, 1 grass bale and 1 straw bale to the 15 pairs of 1 and 2 day old baby pairs

1 alfalfa bale and 1 straw bale for the barn babies

5 grass bales and 3 straw bales for the close up (soon to calve) cows

3 grass bales for the third cycle (mid April to mid May calving) cows...

What is my point to sharing all the details with you?  It was a HAY day.  We have HAY days every three days to be more efficient with our fuel, electricity, labor and tractor hours (depreciation).  In any case, it took Kyle and I 10 hours to get everything fed in good locations that offered natural protection from the cold wind and to find all the calves and make sure nothing had got too chilled from the rain and windchill of the night before.

While we were doing that, Brad was taking care of the calving barn, water and mineral.  The person taking care of the calving barn either moves cows into the barn before they calve or allows them to calve outside and then sleds the calves into the barn shortly after delivery, with mom following close behind the sled.  This is done day and night, every two hours, around the clock when it is too cold outside.

Pete on the other hand was laying inside watching TV... JUST KIDDING.  He was over at Pesek's loading fall calving cows that were sold to Nebraska.  The trucker drove around and through Gigi to get there and stayed on his busy schedule so on our end, we too 'made it happen'.

OK, back to our HAY DAY.  Ten hours is a long time in the buddy seat.  It really was a great day though.  We would role out the bale tails by hand.  We would walk the coulees checking for calves (and pretend to be black bears climbing trees).  We would chop ice on the water tanks.  We would talk about why we were doing what we were doing - from where we were feeding to how much we were feeding to what we were feeding.

We talked about how expensive the tractor was that we were using to feed with and how two of them cost the same amount of money as it took to build our house five years ago.  The expenses are an important part of the equation in all farming and ranching ventures, but especially with registered cattle operations.

When we finished rolling the horse hay out (and the horses were no where around), we ran an obstacle course on the hay back up the hill.  It was a race and when we got to the top I declared, "Now I'm thirsty".  Kyle quickly scooted over to some fresh snow and scooped it up in his glove.  We laid on the hay, ate snow and watched the clouds blow over.  I felt like I was 5 again, which was a great feeling!

The day got me thinking about how fortunate we are to live this lifestyle.  Gigi had me feeling sorry for myself and wishing I had an office job for a short period of time on Sunday night when I couldn't sleep thinking about the babies outside.  Yesterday, I was quickly reminded that I don't have to wait for a 'bring your kid to work day' for Kyle to understand what we do.  I've heard this quote come out of his mouth more than once, "My parents don't have jobs.  They ranch."


So yesterday, he was getting tired and when that happens 'his ears quit working'.  After rolling out a bale and watching him jump over and on it acting like a puppy I said, "Hey Kyle.  Lets go.  We still have a long list of things to get done before dark".  He ignored me.  The next thing that popped into my head and came out of my mouth (Why? I don't know)... "HEY SKIP!"  Kyle's immediate response, "WHAT ROGER?"

This set me back a bit as funny and random.  My question to him, "Why Roger"?  Kyle's response which will forever stick as one of his funniest, most animated responses, "Skip and Roger!  Get it?  I love you mom."  I didn't get it, but it didn't matter.  It was a great day that I was incredibly thankful for for so very many reasons.

The DAILY REPORT from 'Hay Skip and Roger' - all the calves are just fine and Skip's parents don't have jobs!