A trip to the Hills

Hello February! Here we are, back from the Black Hills Stock Show. Wow, what a good, kind of crazy ten days we had. I’ll tell you all about it.
Our first day started with it being seriously icy on the way out of town and before we left the area, we decided to put on some fuel and get snacks. I got out of the truck, slipped on the ice, hurting my shoulder, elbow and hip that wasn’t replaced. Everyone in the station got a chuckle, but I thought I needed shoulder surgery. I’m still nursing it but all the bruising is almost gone. I’m giving it a week more, then if it’s not better, I’m going in.
We had to get a new to us truck a week before heading out, but we’re pleasantly surprised with this new Yukon. I loved it. I tell you what, always buy local. Our dealership in Canby is first rate and we’re glad to do business with him. The only problem with this new truck? I always caught myself speeding. In my old truck, you knew you were doing over 60 because the whole thing would shimmy and shudder. This one…well we won’t say how fast I was going. But luckily this one has cruise that works, I need to start using it.
The show itself was just ok, but the weather out there was phenomenal! Honestly, I missed out on a lot of the local crowd…I’m sure many were outside instead. Out of all those days, I wore a jacket one time, just because it was raining, otherwise the weather was in the 60’s every day. My kids took a day and spent it at Mount Rushmore and went through Custer State Park. They even got to do their homework on the deck. It was just so beautiful!
Even though I love the Black Hills so much, I feel there’s some decline in Rapid City. The homeless problem has been out of control for the last six years I’ve been going there, but this year was kind of crazy. There was a stabbing right outside of the event center where the show was, between some homeless. The person was found dead on a park bench the next morning. Pretty sad stuff.
The definite highlights of the trip was staying at a really nice Airbnb on the golf course, I always get to take along my older kids and spend time with them and that’s a hoot for sure. For working so hard, I took them to a fancy restaurant where they proceeded to show me by their actions NOT to take them to a fancy restaurant again. Levi was breaking up his carrot ribbons on his salad with his fingers, while Jess dipped her lettuce in her dressing with her hands and Rachel ordered buffalo on the bone and had no idea how to eat it. But while Levi smelled each bite before he ate it, and squished out bloody juices from his steak, I’m determined to “uncaveman” my kids at all cost.
Aside from seeing a guy pulling his taxidermy dogs in a wagon at the show (yes, his real dogs were dead and stuffed) it was a good show. And that was even okay… just not something you see every day. My thoughts were this: what about the dog that he was walking alongside of him? Was it thinking, ‘I might be next and is there still room for me in the wagon?’
Until next time, Fairchild “thoughts that keep you up at night” Farmgirl

Suzanne Fairchild is a freelance writer who lives on a farm in southwest Minnesota with her husband and children. She can be reached at rmf@itctel.com.

Bumps in the night

You’d think I was losing my mind. Two things are happening lately: 1. I’m hearing bumps in the night and the day for that matter. 2. I’m watching too much Peaky Blinders and I’m scaring myself (a Netflix series about the Irish Mob in England in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, seriously fascinating), or a potential 3rd. We have a ghost.
Our old house has a lot of noises and creaks, then when you’re running some appliances you hear even more stuff banging and making noises. Sometimes its hard to tell if someone’s breaking in, or if one of the kids stepped in cow poop with their school shoes and they thought they were being smart by not telling me by throwing them in the wash themselves (has happened so many times I can’t even tell you).
The other night, I had just finished up season three of Peaky where the main character gets in trouble with the Russians, I get a scare. So it’s midnight, my usual bedtime; but before I turn in, I have to make sure all the kids rotate through showers, brushed teeth, tidy up for the next morning, get the coffee ready to go, switch the laundry one last time, then wander my way through to the shower. Also at this late time, I know I’ll get hot water in the bathroom.
As I’m hopping in the shower, I hear a thud, like right outside my bathroom window. If I didn’t just witness some Netflix murdering, I wouldn’t have thought anything of what turned out to be Levi just slamming his dresser drawer shut. But no, I thought it was one of two scenarios: Some weirdo window peeker was outside, or someone is trying to break in and kill us, take our dog that sleeps 24/7 and get the keys to my Yukon that has 350K miles on it respectfully and he probably tripped on the ice trying to get in.
Next case: It was 4 a.m. on Monday. The dog was throwing a fit bumping me with her cold nose. I actually thought it was because a kid was sleeping on the couch. See, we don’t have a regular dog that would be thankful just to sleep on the floor at your feet. Nope. We have a dog that huffs and puffs if the kids have their friends over and are all piled on the couch watching tv and didn’t leave her a spot. Or last week when she woke me up at 2 a.m. and wouldn’t leave our room until I went out with her to see the situation. There was a kid on the couch and gulp; her dog bed. The dog bed that cost $150 with memory foam in it that fits her as a 142 lb. Mastiff, which she is. She got to the living room, sat between the couch and bed, howled, and looked at both spots until I “understood that people were laying on both her options.” SO I put a thin blanket on the floor that she could lay on, called it her bed and went to bed. She was fine. She doesn’t like carpet, no idea why.
Back to 4 a.m.: The dog flies to the door and I open it…silently hoping there’s no rogue skunk outside, then I see the flashlight that looks like someone is walking away from our feedlot, and shining it in the tops of the trees of our neighbor’s place. Another night of Netflix, another night of someone stirring up some trouble. I made Ron wake up and drive the pickup around. It must have been the neighbor letting out their pup or something. But honestly, I’d hate to be the person who gets our dog wound up in the night. She was out for blood, it took all I had to get her back in the house. So at least were safe.
Then last night, Rachel was asleep and came up to the dining room and says, “Is someone in the pickup?” Umm no, it’s 11 p.m. “The lights are going on and off.” I pointed to our bedroom door, “This is your dad’s department,” I say not getting up to look. After all, I’m on season 4, where the Italian mob from New York comes to England, and they don’t mess around. Netflix proves that. Rachel then says, “dad wants us to check.” Nope. Sorry, he’s the man of the house. Get to it Ron.
But it turned out that after Ron installed the blower fan in his pickup something must have been knocked around, or a wire defaulted or whatever. He unhooked the battery and went back to bed. All was well. It didn’t happen again this morning.
All I can say is, I have 2 more seasons, like 12 episodes left. Then I better watch a comedy.
Until next time,
Fairchild “I need to take up
a hobby” Farmgirl

 Suzanne Fairchild is a freelance writer who lives on a farm in southwest Minnesota with her husband and children. She can be reached at rmf@itctel.com.

Christmas gifts from Tater

Hello from the Fairchild Ranchero! As we get ready for Christmas here, there’s a certain tame critter here that I will not be getting a gift for but he has certainly brought me many.
Tater the cat. Tater is a huge four year-old male cat that we fixed when he was a baby, and sometimes he’s an inside cat for a few hours, snuggled on the couch and other times we’ve seen him perched on a dead cow defending it from coyotes on our trail camera. Which is truly a sight to see. We had video of it and he had two coyotes that wanted to come up and eat on it, and he’d get huge looking and they’d back off. So funny.
For a good month, he’s been bringing mice, a rat or two, gophers, birds, whatever he can get up to the front steps. Here’s the thing: they aren’t dead. So, I watch from the window horrified as I know there’s a 50% chance that he’s already had a meal, and this one will be another “catch and release” program he’s working on. At any time of the day, you’ll see him hauling up his prize and I’m about on top of the chair even though he’s outside. He’ll sit and roll around playing with it for about 15 minutes and sometimes get sick of it and just lay on his side in the grass, watching it run away and then he’ll go up on the steps for a nap.
Where, do you think a mouse is going to go? Back down to a cold feedlot, or find a crack the size of a pencil eraser in the foundation of a warm farm house? I’m thinking the latter. And if I ever see one of his rats that he brings up somewhere in the house, oh my gosh, I’m going to lose it. Or burn the house down and move. Just kidding, I’d never burn down my house over a rat, but still…I have definite heebie-jeebies.
A few weeks ago, our oldest son Cody was home and watched Tater for a solid half an hour play with a little gopher. He laughed, and couldn’t believe how funny it was that the cat did this, then Tater ate it. A little while later he came back up to the house with a mouse. After he messed with it for about five minutes the rodent ran under a jack and Tedd went outside to move the jack so the cat could hopefully kill it. He just looked at it, like, “nah, I didn’t want that little guy anyway.” Thank goodness Tedd threw a board on it and squashed it. Agent Kitty; we like to call her our “Catholic cat” who is pregnant all the time (hey I’m Catholic and I was too). Well, she was all too happy to eat a snack that she didn’t have to hunt.
So what’s my cat’s deal? Is he rehoming rodents for Christmas, do we have a plethora of vermin down in the lots (probably), or is he being charitable to the other cats (even if they’re not around)? Whatever the case, Tater, I want you to know that I don’t want those kind of presents for Christmas. One of these days, I’m going to break my ankle jumping on a chair OR I’m going to miss an appointment because I’m NOT going outside while there’s a stunned rodent on my porch.
Anyway, Merry Christmas from the rodent ranch. I mean the Fairchild Ranchero.
Until next time,
Fairchild “lets go buy some sticky traps” Farmgirl

Suzanne Fairchild is a freelance writer who lives on a farm in southwest Minnesota with her husband and children. She can be reached at rmf@itctel.com.