Thursday, December 12, 2013

Catchin' up with the season

Greeting from the epicenter of the Bakken Oil formation!

The most wonderful WEATHER time of the year in North Dakota (fall - autumn) has since passed us by and left a large, lengthy space in the calendar for winter… and with the arrival of winter comes the holiday season for us on the high plains.  This will be our first Christmas without a man who LOVED this time of the year.  He loved fall and winter and the daily activities that came with it.  He LOVED celebrating the birth of Christ.  He LOVED being with his large family this time of year.

And so I am conflicted.  I miss him so incredibly much.  As I miss him, I simultaneously watch our 5 year old son in all of his wonder and excitement for the season.  It creates an internal tug-o-war.  Fall back into the past and hang tight to the memories or be present and aware - open to making new, fond memories for and with that precious 5 year old.  It certainly has been a balancing act that has proved more difficult than what it sounds.

And so maybe I share that with you in hopes of creating an understanding for how time can so quickly pass us by.  Certainly, its not that I don't have lots to share of our goings on around here.  Its simply that I haven't found the ever precious time for sharing.  So consider this post a bit of a 'catch up with the seasons'…


Our hay production this year was amazing and the quality was very good.  We are so very thankful to currently have on inventory three years worth of hay (which is a blessing and ALSO  code for):

'HAY FOR SALE' - Quality tested.  Gathered.  Ready to Haul!

With that, a quick shout out to the 2013 haying crew - Uncle Einar Prestangen, Pete, Brad, Lyle, Steve and Kyle/Vawnita (we were a single unit).

In addition to growing and putting up lots of good hay this summer, we also had a tremendous garden to harvest.  Brad was the driving force to get the garden in and maintained it on a daily basis.  Sue, Kyle, Parker Filler and myself were the harvester.  I was chief 'red sauce' maker with several assistants to back me up when my schedule didn't allow… lets face it.  When tomatoes are ready, they are ready...

Parker picking tomatoes before our first 'killing frost'.
Grandma Sue and Kyle picking in tomatoes in a rush to beat the frost.
Over 300 pounds of tomatoes which made over 24 gallons of 'red sauce'
Cooking down chokecherries and wild plums.

Making wild berry jellies and syrups.


The tasks of bringing cows and hay home this fall were made much more enjoyable by the help and company of friends and neighbors.  I will probably miss someone and feel terrible about it, but here goes…

Jerry Kelly, Kent Johnsrud, Perry Ecker, Brian Zingleman, Thane Hollenbeck, Nathan Brenna, Christine (who's last name I never did get into my memory), Phil and C'Dale Jory and Terry Filler.

'The girls' coming home.  We spent the first two weeks of October gathering cows from their summer grass.  On October 16th, Dr J.J. Hovde of High Plains Vet Clinic in Sidney, MT pregnancy checked all the cows and we administered herd health vaccinations for diseases that cattle in the high plains are susceptible to.  At the same time, Dr Bruce Pedersen of the Watford City Veterinary Clinic in Watford collected fecal samples for our disease surveillance program that were then analyzed at the NDSU Veterinary Sciences Diagnostics Laboratory.  
After their 'herd health' day, the cows being moved over to the Kelly place.  Throughout the fall and winter, we rotate our cows from pasture to pasture starting at the Kelly place where a cocktail cover crop (sounds good doesn't it?) - a mixture of radishes, hairy vetch, field peas and oats awaiting them.  As they graze this field, they fertilize it for the upcoming growing season.  Also, the variety of plants in the cocktail are all included for different soil health or animal nutrition reasons.  Radishes root down and break up clay pan and make soil more permeable to water / rain.  Hairy vetch and peas are both nitrogen fixers for the soil and will benefit the 2014 crop that is drilled into that field next spring.  And the oats… cows LOVE oats.

Several of the people I thanked above for all of their help this fall are bringing up the rear.

We periodically find ourselves waiting on oil related traffic for one reason or another throughout the year.  This day there was lots of oil traffic waiting on the cows.  And again, those fine neighbors and friends helping us ride (and do our chute work) can be seen at the back of the herd… This was the third week of October.
This was the first week of December.  Pete is mixing office work with field work taking a call while looking for cows over at the Kelly place.  On this fine day, we sorted off the open (not bred) and late cows who will be sold in February and until that time will be fed over at the development lot (Pesek Farms north of Alexander) that feeds our bulls and replacement heifers.  On this day we also sorted off the heifer calves that were pasture weaned and the bred heifers - all of which will be fed supplement starting in mid-December (before the rest of the cows begin receiving supplemental feed beyond grazing).
Bringing home the cows, heifer calves and bred heifers that will go to Pesek's or start to receive supplemental nutrition at home starting in mid-December.


Well, the weather out here is frightful, but our Under Armor is warm and delightful... Let it Snow, let it snow, let it snow!
One of my absolute favorite memories from my childhood was going out, dad with his ax in hand and finding that 'perfect' badlands cedar for our Christmas tree.

Jaden, Morgan and Kyle out sledding AND Christmas Tree hunting!
Sue and Lyle with their Badlands Cedar...
Without a doubt, we have been blessed with many things in 2013.

I love the reflection that is brought about by the warm feeling of joy and love and the caring of others - friends, family and perfect strangers during the holiday season!

Here is wishing you and yours a down home CHRISTmas with the comfort of past memories and the opportunity and awareness to make new ones as well this year.