Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gros Venture 2010 ~ Feeding Elk

Gros Venture 2010 ~ Feeding Elk

Thursday night rolls around, my friend Jana is supposed to come over for dinner and a beading party. Well, I give her a call and say, How about we load up and go feed elk! Once in a lifetime opportunity to see new country and be up close & personal with a couple thousand elk! Let’s go! Twist, twist of the arm, and we are headed to the mountains!

J2 calls 1st thing in the morning to confirm his spot on the trip. Off to school & pick him up as soon as the bus drops him off. I’m off to the grocery store to fill the grocery lists needed in camp & cook up a storm! Homemade Taco Soup, Homemade Lasagna, Oreos, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and No Bake Cookies to top it all off! I yi yi! What a morning & if you’ve ever seen me cook….what a messy kitchen!

Clean one mess up, make two more ;) , pack warm clothes, headlights, camera, ….you know…the essentials! Before I know it, the afternoon has flown by, Jana is here, and J2 will be home from school in no time! Running slightly behind schedule….Hoggan Standard Time. Oscar, Jana, & I load up headed to Dad’s. J2, also running on Hoggan Time….is running slightly more behind than me.

FINALLY, on the road! The 1st stop on the tour is the gas station in Rexburg. I’m rocking Muck Boots, a Carhart vest, head light around my neck just in case. Jana is in a similar outfit. Basically, we’re looking pretty cool. J2 however, is in ROCKING his Christmas pajama pants which put our outfits to shame! He says something to the effect of “shouldn’t go in public like this” It didn’t stop up though. We went in & didn’t bat an eye. (shockingly enough….the cameras never caught a glimpse of this : )

The rest of the trip was filled with playing guess the animal game and J2’s numerous other antidotes. That kid says so many things I’m gonna have to pack a note pad to remember them all. We roll into Jackson & decide that even tho slightly behind schedule, we better get 1 last meal….for J2’s sake. He says If I’d a known we were gonna do all this stopping I would’ve worn some different clothes!

Mike & Dad meet us at the trail head, we pack up and head out! (Mike, good friend to Dad & our family that owns a place just up from elk camp) Gros Venture bound! Yeehaw! Jana & I ride with Mike. Dad & J2 head out on a snow mobile. A quick stop at a neighbors ranch because…well, we are going to run out of fuel. Just enough to get by and back on the road again. About half way down thru the trek there are lights on the trail. Dad has stopped along side the road. One of Mike’s employees, Casey, broke down on his snow machine with a load of supplies. After some mechanical analysis, the guys decide the best decision is to pull the sled in. Never a dull moment! I don’t know how the trip was was for Casey but Jana & I thoroughly enjoyed keep watch to make sure the sled was still behind us. It was pretty wild at times….good watching though.

Home sweet home, for the weekend! Mike let us girls stay at his cabin. It is FABULOUS! Unpack and get settled in. Now, time for serious business…..Playing Cards! I don’t think I’d played a hand of cards since Dad went in to feed. J2 & I were both craving a game! Tyler & Amber have been in feeding with Dad. Plenty of people to start up a game. Mike & Casey even joined for a round or two. They were all subjected to the same amount of trash talk we would encourage our family with. Good times! Good times!

Soon the night is coming to an end. Oscar, Jana & I are sharing a room. After a night of blanket tug a war morning has finally arrived. It’s time to feed some elk! Piling on the layers of warm clothes begins!

Now if you will all think back to last weekend & getting wicked sunburned gathering horses. I got wicked sunburnt. In an attempt to avoid the same predicament I decided to slap on some make-up & SPF. I walk out into the kitchen and Tyler says “Hoagie why ya wearing make-up!” I try to explain the SPF….He’s quite certain and blurts out “It’s to impress CASEY isn’t it!” (rescued snow mobile from the night before) Ya, he is cute….I reply …….geez…..I should wear make-up more often to avoid suspicions!

After Amber fixes a breakfast fit for Kings, we are feed ground bound. The most pleasant surprise of the morning is the team of Haflingers Dad got this winter. They are like a draft horse cut in half. Absolutely perfect size for me and J2 to harness! Outstanding! (or so I think until later)

Nip & Tuck ~ Haflinger Team

Tyler & the Big Blondes

Dad, Jana, Nip & Tuck


Tyler Harnassing

Today is a vaccination day so Dad, Tyler, and Amber set out with a team and we set out with our Haflinger team, NIP and TUCK. We feed about 20 bales from our sleigh. Jana & I got back to load again. Dad’s crew go to vaccinate calves. Oh, did I forget to mention that it wasn’t a solid 20 bales fed. Ya, cuz trying to get through the stack yard I played ping pong down against the fence & stack….managing to knock off 6 bales and our bale cutter. Awesome….as if loading bales once isn’t enough….. : )

Jana & I head back to load 30 bales again. Living the dream! (about know I’m sure Jana is seriously contemplating why she let me talk her into this) Slowly but surely we get loaded & fed. That is more than the other sleigh can say. Vacinating crew…..7 hits, 8 misses : ) ….just sayin

One of the bosses came out and we had to get a count on the herd at our feed ground. About 1,700 that day total that day, 33 spikes, and 3 bulls. Not to shabby.

In case you didn’t hear that…..It is now LUNCH calling our name! All this manual labor has worked up an appetite. If I do say so myself, It was the best Taco Soup I’ve ever eaten….best Kool Aide too, as a matter of fact!

Feed some more, feed some more, and finally the days chores are getting wrapped up. Take care of our trusty steeds & last but not least, run the snow machines up to feed the team at the the alkali feed grounds.

I took on the courageous task of riding with Tyler. I survived the trip. So did our traveling partners on the other sled but they may or may not have experienced there sled bucking them off & driving away….I don’t know…..just a theory…..not my story so I guess we’ll never know : )
Alkali Feed Ground Pics

Mike has very graciously invited us to a home cooked Pork Chop dinner at his home. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Not only is his home the coolest thing I’ve ever seen…..his pet Wolves are pretty fascinating too!

Pictures of Wolves


Sunday morning services in the church of the Tetons

The feeding begins! Today is an all girl sled: Jana, Amber, & Myslef with the Haflingers. We got quite proficient….Rockin actually! (Don’t worry, I’ll brag on my girls more later)

We are on the 2nd set of 30 bales. Sweats rolling, getting good and warmed up. Dad hollers over from his sleigh that he won’t even charge me much for the weight loss program. I reply right back “Now if I get all skiny just think of all the boys that will be chasing me…..and we can’t have that!” Haha…I think I’m hilarious. Well….my smile doesn’t last long because Tyler chimes in something about how I’m chasing Casey. SERIOUSLY….he says this in front of Mike…in front of my Dad…..Aaaaaaa! I’m blushing now! It gets worse! Mike follows suit with a “I hate to break it to you but Casey’s been asking about you too!” (seriously, I will admit that he is a nice looking young man…..but this whole thing was provoked by nothing other than putting on make-up!)

Loaded, we head out to the feed ground again. Normally, I would think driving is a great job but these pulling dirty tough little Nip & Tuck have been pulling on me all day! I’m not sure if I’m sweating harder loading hay of driving the team!

As we approach the stack yard, I’ve gotten quite a bit more conscienous about driving thru the stack. We’ve even profected a program of shutting the gate in front of our horses so they can’t adios on us while we load. 90 bales loaded & we head out are getting ready to leave again. All the sudden there is a big commotion on the boys side of the stack. Dad has stepped off to load some bottom bales. Tyler and J2 are throwing bales from the top down. Something spooks the team & they shoot forward in a kind of slow motion rush. Lunging sideways, I will never know how they kept from hitting the gate as they slide by….WHOOSH! They are running away from the stack…..throwing the contents from the sled as they head out! We all are standing in disbelief! I have a team….but really don’t know protical for a runaway team in a country of limitless possibilities. Hmmm, looking for guidance from Dad……? He has us girls wait until the runaways are good & out of sight so they can’t turn around & run into us. We head to the feed ground.

I’m quite certain we are missing some John Wayne STUFF! This is how it went down….(or atleast this is how it was recited to me) Tyler runs back to the cabin & grabs a snow mobile. He & J2 are in hot pursuit! They run the snow machine along side the sled. J2 drives while Tyler jumps to the runaway sleigh! The big white horses bridle is completely off as Tyler grabs hold of the reins! Thank the good Lord above for a gentle Roan next to the wild white horse because he was able to shut the Roan down with a sliding stop into the ground & enough to power down the big white beast! (Dang it, hope you can imagine because that’s the only picture of that you’re gonna have)

Back to stack for our last load, the only 7 bottom bales & some loose hay before we have the haystack row cleaned up. The bottom bales are HEAVY! We team up to get them loaded! There is a light at the end of the tunnel…..oh wait, I spoke too soon! My team is a little trigger happy….I don’t get them shot thru the gap, and run the tongue into the fence! (SERIOUSLY!) No harm, no foul….Tyler got us out & even drove us for our last round.

Unhook the horses & get ready to head in for lunch. We take the snow machines back up to Mike’s cabin so we can pack up our things. Tyler & Amber leave first. Janna, Oscar, & I load up on our sled and make our way towards home. J2 & Dad are left bringing up the rear. I drive really really conservatively especially because I have 2 passengers. It seemed like it was taking forever for to get back but I didn’t think much about it. Well, when Dad & J2 arrived on the same sled we soon learned why. J2 was still crying! He was going to drive a sled back. When he went to leave the yard Dad said “Hock It In Her” (which in our family means hustle or go fast) Well, J2 did just that but he couldn’t get his steering wheel turned enough…….Ran into the garbage can….and then proceeded to slam right into a fence post in front of the cabin. J2 is ok. He whacked his head on the steering wheel but….we’re hard headed & it didn’t do any damage. The sled on the other hand…….well, as Dad put it “If he did it any good I’d gladly pay him for it”

It wasn’t enough excitement to kill anyone’s appetite. We dined on a delicious lasagna dinner. Mi ke met us at the cabin & had a present for all of us! He’d framed pictures for each and everyone of us! They are wicked awesome! One of mine is of two elk raring up fighting! The other is a black bear that Rita & I almost ran over 2 years ago…& we didn’t even see it…(haha….go figure) They were awesome things to remember our trip to the Gros Venture! Thanks Mike!

(Akward side note: While at lunch, 2 of Mike’s employees dropped into say hi. Tyler had been over talking to them on his way back to the cabin for lunch. I was so embarrassed I didn’t even make eye contact with them. Yip, avoidance is my answer. As they walked in the door it suddenly became the most intense game of cards I’d ever played, requiring lots of focusing! : ) …..I know, I act like grade schooler…..ridiculous.)

Let’s review the Gros Venture Adventure. Rescue broke down sledder, bucking snow machine, J2 hitting fence with sled, Mindy hitting sled with team, a team running away, John Wayne rescue and a few close calls in between. Hmmm, in comparison, the trip out was very very uneventful. Tyler did have his hand on the door the entire time ready to jump….just incase. We made it out safe and sound, only stopping to glass the mountain side to see the herds of Mountain Sheep. Very cool.

Back to my cute lil’ blue car and “We’re headed to Jackson” (belt out the Johnny & June Cash Jackson song here) A brief stop at the Dairy Queen for a tasty treat and back over the hill to the farm country we go. Tyler has a new job so we came out with us also.

If you can imagine, our trip home was filled with lots of tall tales. You just never know what you’re gonna here, especially when J2 is involved. For example, J2 informs me that “EVERYONE SAYS I’M NEVER GETTING MARRIED”…..really, who is everyone that is saying this? I ask. He pretty much names off everyone in his immediate family indivisually. Wow! Really! Finally, I ask J2, do I need to get married? He replies , “No”. Could call….buddy. I informed him that if I get married…..that’s just one more big brother to pick on him ; )

Last but not least , Rita has left me a message to report in when I get home. The 1st words out of her mouth are “I’m calling Dad to see who’s tougher!” No need to call Rita, you are definitely tougher! I don’t even want the title.

I’m a glutten for punishment. Headed in for more fun this weekend! Haha, wish me luck! I’ll need it!

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