Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A salute to June, 2013

Greetings from the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation!

It has been six weeks since the last event I blogged about, branding.  In that time ALOT has happened and as they say, "It has been one he#* of a ride"!

Hours after we finished working calves on May 18th the rain started to fall and it fell for the next 4 weeks to an accumulation of ten inches for us.  This was too much rain for many, but ranchers can't get too much rain.  I have farming friends that were able to get only a portion of their crops in and construction friends that saw 1/4 of their North Dakota construction season slip away, but for ranchers in country that only gets an average of 14 inches of moisture (thats snow and rain moisture combined) annually, June has been magical.

It may possibly resemble Brazil in someways right now, however we will be worlds apart again come fall.  So, the ol' girl, Mother Nature has been kind to us in June, providing us with abundant grass and a beautiful hay crop.  In this country, we usually make 5 1/2 foot diameter bales.  Foreign to most, but it is how ranchers in the area determine the 'yield' of their hay crop as it seldom gets weighed.  A normal crop will be a bale to the acre on average.  We cover around 1,200 acres typically and on a normal year, need 900 to 1,000 bales to make it through the winter.  On really dry years, CRP is opened for haying to fill the gap needed to put up enough hay to sustain the cow herd.

So far this year on the first 300 acres we have been running nearly 3 bales to the acre.  Granted this will taper off for many reasons, one knowing the the best yielding hay is already up, but still this is huge for a ranching operation to bank surplus for a dry (not rainy) year (not day).

Below are a couple videos and photos that capture June, 2013's highlights and a few credit roles to the people and businesses that make it possible for us to be out here doing what we do.

This is a corner of three of our pastures and the Newfield location there.  Industry refers to it as an 'enviro' or 'eco' pad and it reduces the grids foot print greatly with far less total pad space, fewer roads and less pipeline infrastructure needed to move product.  The natural gas from these three wells is now online, but this site flared for over six months wasting ALOT of natural gas... NOTE - in Brazil, most of their vehicles run on natural gas.  Now there's an IDEA.  Make it valuable so its not a wasted byproduct that we might really wish we had back in the future!

Eva and I in the holding position while we were gathering cows for our annual June AI (artificial Insemination) and ET (embryo transfer) projects.

Bittersweet to see - Nabors drilling rig #680 being stacked out in mid-June.  The derrick went up on Easter Day evening and is a 'walker' meaning it can move latterly on site to drill numerous holes which greatly increases efficiency.  This rig drills for XTO (Exxon Mobile) who has the lease on the minerals under the ranch.  They were a great crew, many North Dakota boys working hard to make a living, many supporting families "back home" where ever that is for them.
Pushing out the last of the 'Rough Creek (pasture)' cows after AI was finished.
Hoss, Kyle and me rode on the way out to push the Rough Creek cows out.
Kim and Jaden rode on the way home from pushing the Rough Creek cows out... we need another Hoss.
This is Embryo Transfer Day.  Rocky Mountain Reproductive Services from Billings, MT does our work for us and has since 2004.  Our 10 year anniversary will be next year!  They are great and allow us to do things to improve the genetics in our herd much more quickly than we would be able to with out their services.

Brad the 'dude'... We get off the ranch once a week to play sand volleyball on Monday nights.  The first game of the first week Brad sprained his ankle.  We was assigned to the Honda for a couple weeks.

It's a wrap... we had just pushed the last of the cows out to summer grass to the Elkhorn pasture.  It is all in the bull's hands now!
What do ranch kids do when its hot out and their parents won't take them in to the Wild West Water Park?  They run through the sprinkler with goggles on and an umbrella over their head!
The hay crop this year is great!  Brad raking...

Kyle and I baling behind the rake.

Kyle with our new baling outfit.  This is a huge upgrade from what Dad ran and Kyle is very proud of 'Big Johnny' - a 7230 Premium IVT which came from RDO in Hazen.  Geodan and the service department there have been great.  Little Johnny spent a couple weeks there and is just like new again with the exception of 4,700 hours under the engine.

Kyle with the new baler from Anderson Vermeer in Alexander.  Ben and Janelle are great and the area is so very fortunate to have that dealership and service department close and handy!

The yucca is amazing this year.  All it really needs to flourish is 10 inches of rain during its growing season.  To cows, these blossoms are the equivalent of cheesecake to the palette that loves 'rich and creamy'.  We will brave clay buttes and high, steep cliffs to get to them.   
In my personal opinion, the mountains have nothing on the Badlands.
A lost trucker and a beautifully green landscape.

When I speak in this clip about the companies operating here, what I mean is that I hope they understand and are sensitive to the fact that western North Dakota is home to many people that cherish things that oil impact is taking away from them.  I have met some of the most interesting people that would have never experienced wester North Dakota if it wasn't for the oil find.  I immediately connect with the ones that see it for more than a paycheck and I really thank them for 1) seeing how much our home means to 'us' and 2) for taking care of this land as if it were their own home.  We hope that someday it is their home... I also hope that people understand that after the 2013 ND legislative session, what came out of that had a negative impact on relationships between people living in impacted communities (who call them home) and the oil and gas companies doing business here.  A need for a grass roots movement by western North Dakota to change / fix this outcome is needed.  I hope we have the voice to stand up for our home!

This clip is just a reminder of how blessed we have been this year.  The first two weeks of May I was wanting a rewrite on 2013.  It has been a bittersweet year to date.  I know that ATTITUDE is everything and our words have power, so lets make them count... both of them.  I read lots of quotes and many move me so I will close with a quote (which I can not credit) - The best sermons are lived, not preached.

Again, here's to June, 2013 and hoping July, 2013 too wants to have a positive ATTITUDE!


  1. Wow! Fantastic first hay crop! Loved the pictures.... and I am so glad that June had a bit of an upswing for you and your family.

    I also agree with you wholeheartedly on the Natural Gas flares. I understand the extreme worth of the Bakken formation - and am glad that drilling technology has allowed us to extract oil that we weren't able to get to in the last couple booms. I also like the multiple wells per pad idea - awesome that there will be a little less impact to the surface land. But the flares? Incredibly sad. Sad that it took so long to get some sort of a rudimentary plan in place.

    1. I concur with all of your thoughts and comments. Thanks for reading, listening and commenting Nancy!

  2. Thanks Vawnita for the shout out! Love your blog by the way!!!

    1. Thanks Nelle! Take care and enjoy the remaining summer.