Monday, July 30, 2012

The good, the bad and the ugly! Did I mention the ugly?

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation.

Before I proceed, I must declare that I am under the influence of prescription pain meds.... so please bare with me.

Just got off the phone with my 'Ask A Doc' and he agreed that this SHOULD hurt... good to know that I am 'normal'.  OSB board meets stock trailer door frame with thumb in between.... and glad that I have so carefully horded my oxycodone from when Kyle was born.  I WILL be able to sleep tonight.
This past week has been an interesting one that repetitively reminded me that I am thankful for where we are and what we do - with the freedom to sore and explore and participate in a unique lifestyle where every day is different and exciting - in a place that I love (whether it is hot and dry or cool and wet).
I snapped this shot on the way home from the hay field one night last week.  A Bakken well being 'fracked' near the Marsten (my Grandma Olga Hovet's family) homestead claim.
When you tell people that you ranch for a living, they often ask what that really means.  In addition to the physical management of the cattle and ranch resources, when raising registered cattle, there is also a lot of record keeping, paper work, and data reporting.  Above, the unique bar code on a DNA sample of one of our heifers is being double checked on the online form for lab submission to Igenity, the company which parentage verifies cattle for registration to the American Angus Association.
My 'paper' notes of all the calves that need to be submitted to Igenity for DNA parentage verification.  The samples (hair) are maintained in a fire proof safe from collection time (at branding when the calves are between 2 and 6 weeks old) until we are certain that they are 'quality breeding stock' and worth registering.  The ones that are not submitted are then discarded.
A majority of our calves every year are AI sired.  The calves that are not AI sired are from the bulls that cover our cows in the pastures.  Due to the fact that we have very large pastures (a product of the USDA Forest Service's grazing strategy) we run 3 to 4 bulls in each of our cow pastures.  When a 'bull sired' calf has proven throughout it's first year of life that it is of breeding stock quality - will either be a bull or a replacement heifer, we then parentage verify it.  It costs $18.00 per head to parentage verify and $25.00 to register it.  This adds anywhere from $800.00 to $2400.00 of value to each individual animal.  It is an amazing technological tool that was not available to ranchers until  the mid-1990's and one of many scientific breakthroughs coming from land grand university research efforts.

From the 2011 calf crop, of the approximately 90 calves that were not AI sired, there were 13 submitted for parentage verification this past week.

In addition to haying and record keeping, I had a couple meetings last week.  After dropping Kyle off at Wiggles and Giggles (he goes to day care three days a week), I headed the back roads to one of my meetings.  I seldom go by the grade school, but the back road trip unveiled an interesting discovery... I knew that the grade school (K-6) was adding one section to each grade to handle the influx of students to the McKenzie County area that will be educated in the McKenzie County School District #1 in the upcoming school year.

A new class room and teacher housing for the Watford City Grade School.  The North Dakota way - identify problem, roll up sleeves, determine a plan / response to solve problem, execute... Not sure where these units will be set up for the upcoming year, but glad to see the structures are here.
I grocery shop one day a week.  On my 4th trip to and from the suburban with groceries, this little nuisance decided to let me know of his presence in our front yard just a couple feet from our deck... Legend has it that 'girl scream' could be heard all the way to Rolette (4 hours away by motorized vehicle).
Correct.  It is a Prairie Rattler.  Correct.  They are venomous.  Correct.  He was 'euthinized' with a golf club.  Just in case there are PETA or HSUS members that read this post, Sand Adders and Bull Snakes get a free pass around our place and are encouraged to continue hunting crickets and mice.  The same 'house rules' are not granted to the poisonous variety.... That damn snake was TOO close to civilization for a second chance.
Brad taking a west river souvenir back to NDSU with him.  After no encounters last summer (last summer was too cool for snakes), he has two rattles from this summer... this one and one that was on the road blocking his running route one evening. 
So now that we have covered the first part of the week, the second part brought many 'firsts' for me and revealed that even though I love my home town and the county I grew up in (and have the privilege to call home again), there is SO MUCH I don't KNOW about it and its history! 

Back in January, I made a phone call.  That phone call led to a formal request in April.  That formal request made it possible.  Made what possible you ask?

After seeing such rapid change in the area with the development of the Bakken play, I felt the need to document the history of the area as well as showcase what the area has to offer both from a business and professional standpoint and from a tourism standpoint.

The Janaury phone call?  To Cody Shimek, owner of Media Men, Inc. from Minneapolis.  Cody produced a documentary titled 'Small Town Soldiers' and is a Emmy Award winning videographer.  Did I mention that he is a graduate of WCHS?

The April proposal?  To the Watford City Roughrider Fund.  The fund committee recommended funding of the project and the Watford City Council voted to fund it.

So Thursday through Sunday of this past week Cody (with some shadowing and commentary from me) researched, interviewed, videoed and scouted for his September visit to Watford City and McKenzie County.

The Levang (my mom's dad's family) homestead (claimed in 1902) barn just east of Johnson's Corner.
Cody filming McKenzie County winter wheat harvest - David Hoffman's field just off of Co Rd #37.  He also got to ride in the buddy seat for a round.  Thanks David!
Cody filming the reclaimed site of the Risser oil well - the first producer in McKenzie County - spudded in 1952.
Cody prepping Gene Veeder for a 'frame work' interview.  Gene has a very unique perspective on the Bakken play.  In addition to his current position with McKenzie County as the Executive Director of Job Development Authority (JDA), he ranches and his families too, homesteaded in McKenzie County.
HAPPINESS IS IN THE JOURNEY.... this past week has been a GREAT JOURNEY!

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