South Dakota Vacation

For those of you who don’t follow me on Snapchat, you may not have realized that I was on vacation for the last week in South Dakota.

We left Monday the 13th of June in my parent’s 38 foot RV, pulling my daddy’s Ford Focus with mountain bikes and kayaks attached.  We stayed in a KOA in Souix Falls South Dakota the first night. The only downfall of that KOA was it was right off the highway and cars kept hitting the rumble strips all night long. I am definitely my father’s daughter in that annoyed us both. But here are some nice pictures of that first night.

Tuesday morning we set out for Custer Gulch RV park in Custer, South Dakota. I found this quite humorous since I live in Custer, Wisconsin. It was a long six hours away. Normally I would help dad drive but that is another story for another day. When we got there, we were amazed with the big side yards and abundant trails.


This park was perfect as there were lots of trails to walk the dogs on, not my dogs but my parent’s two basset hounds, Ruby (the red) and Zelda (the old, whiny, slightly overweight one). Ruby is just a year old- full of life but pretty mellow for a year old.  Zelda is old faithful. She’s just shy of 11 and I still remember my step mom bringing Z home for Christmas.

Wednesday we went to Mount Rushmore. I had been there before, when I was 3 or 4 but I don’t remember a thing.  This time I have pictures.  We hiked around and had some delicious ice cream afterwards. 


After Rushmore we stopped at Palmers Gulch KOA to book horseback riding for Thursday. When my parents brought my sister and I out here, 30 years ago, we stayed at that same KOA and rode horses there too. Here is a wonderful picture of my father and I, 30 years ago! 😳😳

I had a beautiful pinto Arabian growing up, so anytime I can get close to a horse, I will. Even if it is just stealing hay for them. 


Since my horse was a pinto, I have a soft spot for paints. The blue eyed (Crazy) horse I later learned his name to be TJ.

After visiting with the horses, we went into Hill City for some wine tasting, shopping and some lunch.

I might have a selfie obsession.I wanted to get a right hand ring, success!Neat metal artwork in the street. I love metal sculptures.  And the Prairie Berry Winery, home to the Red Ass rhubarb wine, was a delicious way to start the afternoon.When we got back to the camp, dad and I set out to do some kayaking in nearby Stockade Lake. I successfully fell into the mucky water immediately upon entering my kayak. To my defense, it was my first time ever kayaking and we legit put them into a tiny stream. I broke my favorite Nike flip flops in the process. But it was well worth it. Dad and I kayaked the whole lake. Wednesday was a very good day.Thursday morning we had horseback riding at 10:30 and had to be there at 10. I was in heaven.  I miss my horse terribly and will someday soon have another horse to call my own.  Dad scheduled us on The Custer Trail and it worked out perfectly as it was just us three and the guide, Eric (with a “c”- I asked, from Central Illinois-again humorous since I lived in Central Illinois and currently live in Custer). Eric and I chatted about nearly everything while I was riding Indy, a tall Morgan horse who was living up to his name.  He got swatted a few times by Molly, Eric’s horse from home, as Indy was nearly on top of her. The 90 minute ride was over before I knew it and I had to say goodbye.

Linda’s horse, Alberta, was slow and dad’s rat tail Appalousa, Maizie, was always eating grass. Here is Cowboy Eric with Indy and Eric’s beautiful one blue eyed paint, Molly.

Later Thursday night we drove through Custer State Park and damn, it was worth it.  I got to pet a wild mule. We saw huge buffalo at both entrances. 

The baby mules were the cutest. I couldn’t believe how docile they were.

And then I spotted the biggest herd of buffalo in Custer. They didn’t seem to care about the cars one bit. We had to pull off the main road, but hot damn it was worth it. I would never have imagined such a large herd of free roaming buffalo.

We also saw Pronghorn Antelope and of course Prairie dogs. There was also a military operation in progress.  My dad thought they were little kids playing until I pointed out that they all have guns. Big guns!


I thought Wednesday was a good day, but any day riding a horse is a better day.

Friday we went over to Jewel Cave National Monument. It is the third largest cave in the world. It was an hour and a half long tour and we did not double back. Beautiful. We have been in better looking caves but anything that took a zillion years to make is pretty amazing.

After the caves we drove through Bear Country USA. I worked at a small zoo before so I understand wild animals in confinement but the majority of these bears were just walking around. There were lots of other animals there too.  But the bear cubs were the cutest. They reminded me of Candy Bear, from the zoo, who tried to eat my hand off come September. 

Saturday we had to move our big rig a few miles up the road to Heritage RV park.  Though we had Crazy Horse National Monument in the background, it was much smaller than Custer Gulch. This park was full of seasonal workers.

We attended the little rodeo in the afternoon.  It went fast, which was good because it was steaming hot. 


Sunday we ventured to Sylvan Lake and hiked up to Harney’s Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. I left my parents behind as I hiked up to 7,242 feet.  At times I was running, but mostly I was cruising along, passing up families. What a great experience- feeling the burn in my legs and lungs, but persevering until the end. 

Once at the top, I took photos for several families and started back down until I met up with my parents and hiked back to the top again. I am super proud of them both for making the three miles trek one way, up to the peak.  It burned but in a good way.
After my hour long hike back down, I walked around Sylvan Lake as I awaited my parents descent. 


After the hike, we went to the Silver Dollar Saloon and had pizza and beer.  It was delicious. Seriously, good.

After a nap, we all headed back to Stockade Lake for some more kayaking. 

Sunsets in the West are my favorite.The moon was most beautiful! 


Monday we packed up camp and headed for Wall, South Dakota.  The gateway to the Badlands. According to dad, I had been to both before.


After getting back from touring The Badlands, we walked into Wall for some shopping. I found myself a pair of Cowboy boots.  I love, love, love them! Thank you Linda! 😍😍Then I caught a beautiful sunset and the full moon rising. 


Tuesday we packed up and headed for home- 12 long hours away. A dogs life seems ruff!

I got home to my house just before 9pm Tuesday night.  My boys were super excited to see me.  The hens seemed happy to see me and my baby chickens look like little chickens already.

Thanks to my mom for watching my boys and my parents, Jack and Linda for letting me tag along on this trip.  I had a blast. Memories for a lifetime.  I truly am blessed!

Advertisements

Honestly it’s all about the Honesty! 


If you have ever had two words with me outside of work, you know I’m an honest girl.  I say it how it is.  Something in your teeth, I’ll tell you, even if I just met you.  That shirt a little too tight, I’ll remind you.  I see something I like, I’ll tell you.  I meet someone I like, hey, I like you.  I meet someone I don’t like, K bye!

My family and friends who typically enjoy my company know how brutally honest I am.  I always tell my new hires at work, “honest is the best policy” and I will continue to treat others how I’d want to be treated. So one late night, after one too many shots, one of my best guys friends told me straight up to “wake the fuck up” and you know what, it sucked.  It hurt like hell because it was the truth. But you know what I did, after the hangover wore off, I woke up.  I made changes that I needed to change. I really made myself a priority and trusted that my process to happiness only needed to be approved by me.

Not only did I appreciate my friend for his brutal honesty but it actually made me become a better friend to him and the rest of my tribe.


But one thing I learned in my process is that not everyone can handle the truth. No everyone can appreciate the effort it takes to be a better person. And it everyone is like me.  And you know what, that’s ok because not everyone is meant to stay forever.

Friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Sometimes best friends fall apart. Sometimes soul mates meet other soulmates. Sometimes friends become family and family become best friends. Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s better to keep your mouth shut.


❤️nicole 

Farm Update- Spring Chicks

I raise heritage chickens here at Pleasure Pastures.  My chickens free range in the yard all day long.  I typically let them out before 7 am and they head back into the coop around 8pm.​


I have eight 4 year old hens, seven 3 year old hens and then 17 one year old hens and their faithful rooster.  The rooster had a name but I forgot it.  He is a tailless Buff Brahma.  I adore Brahmas and still have my Brahma mama whom I’ll have a hard time letting go of.  People tend to ask me how long chickens will live, some up to ten years.  I cannot sustain chickens who are not laying eggs but I may have a hard time letting some go.

A week ago Wednesday I picked up my 2016 chicks.


There is few things on the farm more exciting than picking up baby chicks from the post office.  For me it is super exciting as the post office is two houses away so I just walk myself down there and the postal lady and I gawk over how cute the babies are. I continue to buy my chickens from Murray McMurray hatchery out of Iowa.  They haven’t let me down yet.

This year I was pleasantly surprised to see a White Crested Black Polish cockerel in my box.  He is my free mystery chick but there was no mystery this time as my first free chick, four years ago was the same.  Brad and I named him Polish. This little guy is going to be called Einstein. ​


The rest of the babies went like this:

3 Cuckoo Marans pullets- will lay a darker brown egg.  I’ve had this breed before and wasn’t impressed with the egg laying but wanted to try again.

6 Straight Run Blue Laced Red Wyandottes- I love the Wyandottes. The BLR are my favorite in color. My 4 year old Golden is the nicest bird in the hen house and even my 3 year old BLR is friendly.  If there are little Roos, they’ll probably end up in the freezer.


3 Buff Orpingtons Pullets – I currently have one three year old and she is a beaut.


3 Speckled Sussex pullets – a breed I have never had and know little about.

3 Delaware pullets- another breed I know little about.

I also bought three White Leghorns pullets and five straight run White Rocks.  The leghorns are thinner but initially they all looked very similar.

I keep my brooder box in my concrete shed, away from my flock.  I do this not only for disease control but also just in case the heat lamp would fall, I’m not risking my entire flock to a barn fire.  I will keep the babies in the brooder for at least two more weeks when I will move them into the starter pen of the barn.  This is completely enclosed and separate from the hen house.  Right before the pullets start laying, I will intergrate them with the other hens.  I’ll butcher the extra cockerels that I am not keeping and then start separating out the old hens that will need to go to camp freezer.

Next year I want to start building the breeds that will take Pleasure Pastures to the next level.  I love the Black Australorps. I enjoy the crazy, flighty Leghorns and of course the Wyandottes. Only time will tell what the future holds but for now I am the proud owner of 60 chickens.

My Love of Summer

Having an early July birthday has only fed my love for summer. My mom told me countless stories of going to my grandparents cottage a few hours north of Central Wisconsin.  This cottage was and still is my favorite place in the whole world.  I would beg my grandparents to take me every chance I got.  It is nestled on a quiet lake on a quiet road.  Oh how I love it so much.

I distinctly remember being in the water constantly.  I live for swimming or boating and my favorite was floating in the float boat or pontoon.  Bert and Fred’s love boat.  Oh how I cherish those memories.

So once the weather gets warmer, my body craves the sun.  My skin gets tanner and my need for summer fun increases.

I try to pack as much as I can into the 12 or so weeks we get. Thankfully this year, the beautiful weather started last week and has continued.

My summer bucket list:

Fish with my daddy

Tubing down the Wolf

Pontoon- sand bar

Great America

Mount Rushmore

Horseback Riding

Bike into town

Skinny Dipping (you are never too old for that)

Bon fires

House parties

Fall in love (😂😂I know- single4life but maybe I’ll fall in love with myself again!)

Wake up at 5am and actually work out instead of thinking about it

And finally have fun every opportunity I can.  Saying yes to things that make me happy. 

I’m so blessed to say that every year has been better than the last.  Though I’ve had some tough summers in the past few years, I’ve overcome my obstacles and made the most of my situation.  And I will continue to do that this summer!  Woot! 

What are you looking forward to this summer?

Facing My Fear

When you do something you never thought you could do, you imagined living without, it is conquering fear.  I am doing that over and over this year.
Some of my fear is manifested from within, nope, I lied. All of my fear is from within. Things I have told myself over the years. 

You are not good enough.

You are not pretty enough.

You are too short.

Too fat.

You sing terribly.

And you certainly cannot play any sport.

Much less ride a bike.

When did we stop just doing things and starting the negative self talk and convince ourselves that we are not good enough? It had to be junior high. The evilness of puberty.

So my first fear was eliminating people from my life.  I never thought I’d be able to do it. I never thought I could live without them.  But here I am. Still enjoying my life.

My second fear is sports. The last team I played for was Culvers softball the summer after senior year of high school and I ended up in the hospital from a ball to the chest.  I really suck at softball. But this year, a friend asked if I’d play on a volleyball team.  Sure!  I have no idea how to keep score.  I have no idea what the rules are.  I barely can serve the ball but yes, I want to play.  And we had our first game and guess what?  I survived!

I am not good, pretty bad at times but I’m willing to look like an idiot all for the sake of having fun. I thought I’d be more terrified, so embarrassed I’d cry but I honestly don’t care what other people think of me.  I am the only one who has to put up with me 24/7 and most people I’ll never see again.

I was a bit worried I’d resprain my thumb but I didn’t. I was worried people would yell at me for hitting the ball wrong, into the fence or in the parking lot, but no one did. It was our first game.  It was also the other teams first game. We lost but not by much.  Plus, I had a great time.

The next fear to conquer is karaoke.  That will take much longer to face but I want to do it.

I have embraced myself, who I’ve become and who I want to be.  I’m proud of myself for the first time in a long time for trying new things.  The best is yet to come and without having a positive attitude, a willingess to try and fail, one can never grow.

Be Thankful For More

I try to count my blessings when I’m feeling down or negative. Some days it is really tough, especially days in the corporate world. But if I slow down, I can still find something to be thankful for.

I get to wake up most mornings before before my alarms go off and make coffee. I have time to enjoy it. Watch my dogs play and see the chickens peck the ground. Even my deaf cat is happy to see me awake fo early.

When I arrive at my desk at work, I review emails and I can feel my blood pressure raising… So I count my blessings. I have a job. A job I enjoy. I get to work with some of my best friends everyday. This job gives me the ability of raise chickens.

When I get home and I’m tired, I see how happy my pups are to see me.  How happy they are to go on walks. How happy they are just to be near me.

So I’m counting my blessing more. Reminding myself to be thankful more.  What are you thankful for??

Wake up and make it a good day

Now you may be wondering where all this inspirational nonsense came from, but if you have known me long enough, you know I’m a positive person.  I just happened to have some dark days too. I’m not perfect. Never wanted to be.  I kinda like learning my lessons the hard way.  That way I never make that mistake again.

We all make mistakes, every one of us.  But the thing I have learned, forgotten and then relearned is, just because you made a bad decision, doesn’t mean your a bad person or have a bad life.

We all work on ourselves, or at least I like to think we do. I want to be stronger, physically and mentally.  I pick on my friend for being emo (emotional) but the truth is I am too.  I wear my heart in my sleeve.  I expect people to do the right thing.  I love too deep and somedays I get emotional. 😩😢😱

But I think that all makes me who I am. And these past two years have been hard.  I started out in a place where I didn’t know why I was waking up. I was going through the motions but I wasn’t really living. Then I’d lived too much, which wasn’t me either.  I am finally in a place where I am ok, ok with me.

Getting divorced isn’t easy for anyone. Getting your heartbroken from a guy right after you get divorced isn’t fun either.  I still think they both are great men but definitely not for me. 

Do I need a man to be happy?  Oh hell no! Stop waiting for a friend, significant other, new job, puppy or anything to make you happy. Wake up and make it a good day for yourself! 

Do something you enjoy. Eat a damn doughnut. Take a nature walk.  Make a bucket list of things you want and then make another list of how you are going to make it happen.

I’m serious people. Life is so short.  Get out there and make yourself happy!

❤️nicole 

You are more beautiful when you smile

I have been wanting to write but haven’t been able to find my words.  When I was married, I had so much inspiration when I was pretending my life was ok.  I was more creative when faking the rest of my life.  Now for the past 28 months I have moments of clarity but days of doubt.  I am only human.

My whole life I struggled with confidence.  I am taller than my mother and sister so naturally I weigh more but growing up in a society where weight is the first thing people see, it was always and unfortunately still is something I worry about.  Today I received the results of my works mandatory health assessment and I got a perfect 100. I’m five pounds heavier this year than last but the pint of ice cream I ate for dinner the night before the assessment probably didn’t help.  I told myself after reviewing the results to calm the fuck down about my weight. I’m healthy.  Not everyone can say that.  I’m really healthy in fact. I’ve always been really healthy and until the day comes when I’m not longer healthy I shouldn’t focus on the number on the scale.  Keep doing what I’m doing and that will be fine.

I like to read, actually love to read “self help” books.  Mostly because I’m too lazy to see a shrink.  I have seen one, a few times last year, but stopped.  She was nice, we really got along but I wasn’t in a place to help myself, so I didn’t want to waste her time.

What was I avoiding? Letting go. I loved someone so much I couldn’t let him go. He was still such a huge part of my life but I was such a small part in his. I gave my friends the best advice, but never listened to it myself.  

Why was I so scared? Well it took me another year to finally cut off ties with said guy.  Yea, two plus years of living in the past.  It’s not something I’m proud of but I wasn’t ready.

I remember many times I thought I was ready. I tried many times. I went nearly three months without seeing him but something “terrible” would happen and back he’d be. Then I lost my grandmother. I needed him and he wasn’t there.  I snapped, lost it. Pissed at all that transpired with grams, I told him ENOUGH! It took me another week to delete his pictures, his messages, remove him from Snapchat, delete his number from my phone.  It took me another week to delete his email address, but I did it!

Do I miss him? Do I still look for his car? Do I kinda wish he’d wake the fuck up and realize how much he lost?  Sure do, but I know my worth.  I’ve been alone for nearly two years. I’ve been doing fine for two years. The role he played was so small. So I’m much better off!

So back to my title, I clearly digress. Everyone likes my smile, shit, I like it. I am going to stop worrying about what other people think and enjoy things that make me happy. Not over enjoy, but simply live happier for me.

As I write this, yes, still on my iPhone, my five year old pup Kooper is snuggled on the chair with me. Yes, we are both on a reclining chair.  That makes me happy.


I’ll continue to work on the rest of me. But for now I’m focusing on things, people, food, places that make me happy! 

❤️nicole 

Ten Years Ago

I’ll tell you a little story of my life, ten years ago. 

I had graduated from Madison in December with my BA in Zoology and a minor in Environmental Studies. January of that year I lost my closest cousin on my father’s side. I was working third shift at The Home Depot and trying to figure out my life.

I was dating a tall blond lad named Dave and thought I was in love. He was my world. So when my mother planned a party for my graduation, of course I’d bring him home.

I was in an off mood on that Saturday night.  Something just didn’t feel right.  I didn’t want to socialize. I didn’t want to talk. I honestly just wanted to go back to Madison.

Dave and I were back at my mom’s relaxing. My mother had gone out for drinks with her friend. For whatever reason, she gave me her friend’s number.  Then my aunt called.  Something was seriously wrong.  I was in shock, disbelief. I tried to reach my mom but couldn’t.  My cousins asked me to come to town.

My grandfather had been suffering from Emphysema and hadn’t been well.  He didn’t make my party and I unfortunately didn’t see him that day. And I never saw him again.

Grandpa was a huge part of my life. I spent a large amount of time with my grandparents as a kid and I was very fond of him. I hated seeing him suffer but I hated that he was gone.

The next day, Dave drove us back to Madison and I cried the whole way. I cried while stocking shelves at work.  I cried myself to sleep. I am crying right now. 

After grandpa was buried, I needed to get away.  I was running from my emotions. I was hoping a new place would bring me a fresh start to something wonderful.

That didn’t happen.

Ten years ago was a hard year for me. Maybe my hardest.

I miss my cousin, I miss my grandpa, a tiny bit of me misses Dave and I miss who I was then. I was fearless and brave.  I’m still brave but definitely not fearless.

Life is such a precious thing. It’s so sad that we often are too busy to realize how precious it is. Ten year ago, just after midnight, my heart broke.

Miss you Grandpa! I think of you everyday!

  
Grandpa, my sister and I, circa 2001.

The Babies have Arrived!

  

Twenty seven babies!

They were hatched on Friday, March 27th. I always buy from Murray McMurray.  The babies were in Minneapolis Friday night and by Saturday night, they were 35 minutes away.  I thought I was going to have to wait until Monday to get them.  So I had nothing ready. 

But after a long day of shopping and watching The Badgers whoop up on basketball, I graduated from Wisconsin and I love basketball, I was in bed early.   10:23 I got a phone call from the distribution center for USPS. I can come get the babies. I was sleepy and the brooder wasn’t set up, so I told the nice man that I’d pick them up at 9 Sunday morning. An entire day early!

I got up early and started getting ready.  I dug out the brooder box. Found my lights and bulbs. I decided to keep the brooder in the shed, versus the barn.  The barn is too drafty and today it was a warm 32 degrees and windy. I sprayed the box down with a mild vinegar solution and went to plug in the light, nothing. So I tried a different bulb, nothing again. I found the outlet tester and the outlet had no power. 

The shed has its own breaker box and unfortunately it is filled with fuses.  I opened the door and noticed, two fuses were missing. I found two extension cords, and run them from the barn to the shed.  I left for Fleet Farm.  I needed fuses, extension cord, trash can for feed.  Then I was on the way to get the babies. 

Getting them a day early means a lot.  Get them accommodated to their new life.  Get water in their bellies and start them on food that much sooner.  The only downfall is that it was raining and sleeting on my drive up and back.  I didn’t realize how slippery it really was until I got home and nearly biffed on the ice covered grass.

Since the brooder wasn’t ready, I put the babies in a tote with some sugar water.  

 

It wasn’t much bigger than the box they came in but there was water and the heat light. I inspected each and every chick and made sure that each one had their beak dipped in water.  Here’s what I got:

4 Easter Eggers – variety of colors but usually cheek tufts

4 Welsummers – little chipmunks

3 Leghorns – very active small chipmunks

3 Salmon Favorelles – yellow with black spots, extra toe, hairy legs

3 Buff Brahmas –  yellow and black with hairy legs

3 New Hamshire Reds – reddish smokey color

3 Barred Rocks – black and grey with a spot on their heads

3 Australorps- black and yellow

1 Free Exotic Chick – bright yellow

I cannot wait to see what the exotic turns out to be.  I need a new rooster since Dinosaur passed away.

I left for vacation on that Monday and never finished the blog. My wonderful mother watched the babies while I was in Florida on a much needed vacation.  I lost one Welsummers but I had been given an extra one, so technically I have exactly what I ordered, plus the free exotic.  I think the free chick is a Buff Cochin.  From my experience with Blue Cochins, they are slow to grow and always the last to get their wing feathers.  This little yellow fluffball is so cute and tiny. His tiny fuzzy legs are a dead giveaway to bring a cochin.

I will post more pics later.