Friday, October 27, 2023

Winter Farm Sale

Winter was bound to show up, just happened to be on the day we ran to Montana to pick up some new old equipment. 

Farm auctions are mostly online these days. Which is nice because you can watch sales from all over the country. Musser Bros. is mainly based out of Billings MT and hosts sales all over the Rocky Mountain west.

Two things caught my eye on their last sale. This hydraulic post hole digger. 

And this old spray tank. Bidding online is a trick. You can place bids for about 30 days before the close of the sale. Anymore, I like to wait until the last day, put in my highest bid, and walk away hoping for the best. This time it worked out and we got a decent deal on both of these ranch additions. 

So we blew out early Friday morning, just after a nice little storm rolled through the area. Down on the Powder River, it was chilly, 

The farm was located just outside of Lavina MT, about an hour north of Billings. All the roads were fairly snowpacked, but passable. 

There they be.

Skidstears make light work of things. 

I'd rather haul a load than pull it, especially when the weather is bad. 

Looks good. This unit will just clamp onto the bucket of a farmhand and run off the tractor's hydraulics instead of the PTO. 

This guy has much potential to become a spray unit for weeds around the place. 

One man's junk is another man's treasure. Online auctions have taken away the social aspect of farm sales, but they've opened the door to sales you'd never go to before. Looks like winter is beginning. No doubt it'll warm up here and there, but for the most part, you better have your water tank heaters plugged in. Bring it. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Dried Apples

Fall is all about getting ready for winter. I'm not into canning, but I do like to dry things.  Drying is a wonderful way to persevere fruit long into the future. I've tried bananas, peaches, and other fruit, but I find that nothing tastes as good as dried apples. 

Of course, the right apples make a difference. These came off the Circle J Ranch at the bottom of the Big Horns, just inside Ten Sleep Canyon. 

Apples are super simple to work with. However you go about it, just core them and slice them. These slices are plenty thick, but they dry down fine in the long run. 

I don't put anything on them. In the past I've tried cinnamon, but it just doesn't seem worth the effort and mess to me.  All you have to do is put them on the dehydrator racks...

And turn them on. 

These were on for 24 hours. I don't think you can over dry them. 

I like to get them to the point that they break like chips. Good for nibbling. 


Drying food is fun and simple, especially apples. Not sure what their nutritional value is, but they sure do taste good. I love the changing of the seasons. Whether you are gathering up hay for the cows or preserving food in the pantry, winter is something you want to be ready for. If you are, sit back and enjoy the ride. If not, hang on. It might be a long four months. 

World Mission Sunday

Help support the Church's mission to evangelize.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Fall Break

Holy Mother Church gives priests vacation days for a reason. Their purpose is to refresh us in our natural relationship with God so that we can serve in a supernatural capacity as a priest. Some guys golf, other guys pilgrimage to Europe. I ranch.

On my bucket list was to get our catch pen complete before winter sets in. Mission accomplished. 

Two years ago, Gerry and I took down Grandpa's old stud run. He also had some lambing sheds set up in there. Most recently it hadn't been used for much more then catching weeds. 

Couldn't have picked a better week to be home. The fall weather was beautiful. 

If you want to have a good day of ranching you have to get started on the right foot. Thanks Mom.

Dad and I had set these posts back in the spring. 

Because this is going to be a working pen we put a top rail all around it. 2 7/8" pipe. 

One of my main missions in life is to help people avoid the near occasion of sins, including cows. We built this corral to be 5.5' tall. The idea is to not even give a cow a chance to think she can jump. Cattle just work smoother when they can't get their chin over the top or their nose under the bottom of the fence. After we had the top rail tacked on we welded the panels in the middle. The bottom rail is 6" off the ground. 

Next came the gates. I had been wondering how to go about this for a while. Uncle Chris to the rescue. We traded some 2 3/8" tubing for this 2" pipe. 2" is sweet, but its hard to find. Perfect size for gates. Thanks man,

Anytime you are framing up a rectangle, it's always good to pull a diagonal. Helps insure everything stays square. 

Didn't know for sure what to put in the middle. Was thinking sucker rod, but we don't have enough around the farm. God provides. This old 1" pipe came off of Grandpa's round pen. He had cable running through it. These gates are a great place to use this pipe. 

That pipe was pretty bent up. But we just put the bend running side to side and you'd never know. Gives it a bit of character too. 

The hinges were the biggest uncertainty. Because our mounting posts were 4 1/2" o.d., we couldn't find any pipe to fit over it. So we just got some 4" i.d. black pipe, halved it, and pounded it over the 4 1/2". Then took a smaller sledge and pinged it all round making sure the stretch would stay. 

Worked slick. I was concerned about what 14' of leverage would do to a free standing mounting post. But we used drill stem and set it in concrete. Didn't budge. 

Once she was all closed in, we hauled out our stash of 2 7/8" and back drug the pen. 

Looking good. Now the ranch is back to being able to hold a critter. 

Life is good. 

I never feel more at home then when I am home. I love the priesthood and my ministry at the parish. But it stems from the fact that I'm first a son. To be a good father you have to be a good son, which means spending time with God the Father on a natural level. By staying renewed in this relationship, we are able to serve well in our vocations. Sonship is the secret of life. Live out of it and you'll never have a bad day. On to the next one.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023


This fall, my dream project finally came true. We had been planning all the while to make a large gateway into the new corrals. After gathering material and spending a few different days back home, we got it done. 

This project was not for the faint of heart. Either a hard hat or a hard head was required. 

Finding the pipe was the hardest part. Pipe of any size is scarce these days. Eventually, I called Pat Hladky with Cyclone Drilling in Gillette who hooked us up with this 4 1/2” drill stem. Thanks Pat. 

So we loaded it up on our gooseneck and headed for Worland. 

Getting a flat at Hells Half Acre in August just added to the adventure. 

Once delivered, we went to digging. Work smarter not harder. 

Uncle Chris’ post hole digger did a good job. 

But we still enlarged the holes. 

Then we picked the stem up with the trusty 4010. 

Once set, we leveled them and braced them by welding on fence posts and got ready for concrete. 

Sack-crete is handy, but it takes work. We mixed it with gravel to take up some room. An old farmer trick. 

Once firmed up, we got to work up top. Safety first.

These saddle templates are the only way to roll. 

Even though they make the mark you still have to dress them up a bit. 

That’ll work. 

Then came the big day. We borrowed Uncle Chris’ new tractor for this job. 

It wasn’t easy, but Dad and I got it set. 

Then welded it up. 

Then the final step of caping the ends.

The metal for this cap came off an old project that Grandpa Lloyd supplied the material for. 

Buzzed it in place and we were done. 

Giddy up. 

So fun. This was a big day on the ranch. Finishing up this robust entryway into the corrals marks the peak of the mountain. Everything from here on out will be down hill in comparison to the work of the last two years. Plan your work and work your plan, pays off once again. Now, let us ranch!

Brace Post

If you want to build a good fence, you have to start with a good brace post. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the effort you put in y...