Minnesota Outdoorsman - Minnesota Fishing and Hunting Reports
 

Recent



Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 86941 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #600 on: November 22, 2016, 12:01:34 PM »
I hear you knockin’ but you can’t come in

The scurs and the Weather Eye delivered more good weather until Friday when we saw the first snow of the season. With Old Man Winter knocking will we be able to fend him off one more week or is winter finally here? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a moderate chance of rain and snow in the forenoon. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Thanksgiving Day, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow in the overnight. Highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Cloudy Friday becoming sunny in the afternoon. Highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow in the evening. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s.  The normal high for November 24th is 36 and the normal low is 20. The scurs will be sleeping in as shoppers battle each other over material things that typically really don’t matter.

Crop farming in the fields is coming closer to a close with the soil freezing up over the weekend. Some last minute anhydrous ammonia was still going on over the weekend as worries about soil temperature fade in the rearview mirror. Primary tillage was still working well across much of the area with precipitation last week being light and soils that hadn’t frozen much under the crop residue. Manure applications over the weekend must’ve been nearing completion as well with the air being relatively devoid of odor for a change.

The skies at twilight have been featuring Venus in the southwest. It’s becoming a little higher in the sky each night and looks almost like a mini moon. The Big Dipper has been low in the northwest and when it’s closer to the horizon like this it appears to be huuuuuge.  At the ranch even that is hard to see sometimes due to our own light pollution. Although I’d rather be able to see where I’m walking and not tripping over things on the way to the barn.

Speaking of chores, they’ve still been relatively benign as the ewes continue to forage on the pasture. We’ve barely made a dent in the hay supply thus far. The ewes and ram at the kindly neighbors’ pasture will be coming home soon and while I’ve tossed them a few slices of hay to get them used to coming inside, they just pick at it. The few lambs we kept back take about 10 minutes to feed and water. Doing night chores recently there have been a few mice heard crawling around inside a feed bag. Clamp the bag shut, call here kitty kitty, lay the bag down, open it up and Tincture the tabby cat makes short work of them. On to the next crisis.

The cold, windy conditions made me decide to take a raincheck on barn cleaning over the weekend. No tractor cab and the fact I’m old were also factors in the decision. Prior to the weekend things were put away, cleaned out, hung up, watered in, drained, stored and otherwise put under wraps in case the weather decided to pull a fast one. Luckily we managed only about .08” of precip at the ranch so no harm no foul. Did need to make a trip to the store where you go to the bathroom in the orange silo so off I went bucking the wind. Getting the supplies I needed, I pulled one bag out of the cart and put it in the pickup. When I turned around the cart was being blown across the parking lot by the wind! Didn’t fell too guilty about postponing the manure hauling as the wind Steve Cannon called The Hawk screamed across the landscape.

Bird watching around the yard has been on the slow side during the warmer weather. However with the recent wind and cold there seem to be more goldfinches. Perhaps it’s easier to land on the feeder perches and have lunch than trying to outguess where the seed heads might be in a stiff breeze in the CRP. They really haven’t said. Something that has been popular with all the birds has been the access to water that we try to maintain. From the blue jays on down to the chickadees, they all can be seen taking their turns getting a drink or splashing about. They will need to keep their eyes peeled however. A northern shrike sat atop the light pole in the yard for a long time recently, casing the joint for potential dinner partners.

Turkey Day will be postponed a few days at the ranch this year as other plans surfaced recently. We will still be doing the turkey on the grill sometime over the weekend. We’ve been doing that some 30 odd years and we’re not about to stop now. The pumpkins will also be tossed over the fence providing the sheep an opportunity to enjoy the festivities as well. They already had a pregame warm up after we froze squash over the weekend. The squash innards and skins definitely met with their approval.
 
The dogs seem to be adjusting to the cooler weather just fine. Their winter coats are coming in and remnants of their summer coats appear on the floor. Windrow it and it could be baled. Fudgie has finally pretty well shed off and looks like she’s close to done. Ruby on the other hand is still shedding like crazy. Amazing that a short-haired dog can produce that much hair even with repeated brushings. She still hates the intro to Bonanza too as I found when watching TV the other night. She uncorked a barking hissy fit loud enough to wake the dead. At least both of them will be happy to know the turkey giblets are still their property. For all their help, entertainment and company over the course of a year we are thankful.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #601 on: November 30, 2016, 02:21:02 PM »
When it all comes down we will still come through in the long run 

With a high Monday of 50 the scurs and the Weather Eye more than delivered on some good weather. Have we seen the last of autumn or are we in for some Indian Winter? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a moderate chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Cloudy Friday with decreasing clouds by evening. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens, yes above zero.  The normal high for December 1st is 32 and the normal low is 15. The sun will rise at 7:30 on the 2nd. The scurs will begin their annual procrastination for Christmas shopping. Lots of time.

If fieldwork wasn’t done, it is now for a while. Monday’s rainfall event on top of the week prior’s episode have left the fields pretty much impassable until the ground freezes enough to carry equipment. There appears to be some tillage which may not be completed this fall until that happens. Some may also be looking at the possibility to try some no-till or reduced tillage on their intended soybean acreage. With the corn crop generally being shorter and lower in residue than some years, it may present an opportunity for that. Rainfall in Bugtussle amounted to .29” total between Sunday night and Monday while at the ranch it was more generous, accumulating .8” in the same time period.

The rainfall has definitely put a crimp in the barn cleaning plans at the ranch. There again, not to worry. If there were weeks’ worth of hauling, it would be one thing. However since there were fewer sheep and the lambs were marketed earlier, it should make less material to handle. Ideally. Knowing how things can go wrong however, it’s best not to count one’s chickens before they hatch. More than once the barn cleaning has stretched later than anticipated yet oddly enough it always gets done. No award for style points when it comes to hauling manure.

In the meantime with the warmer temps it’s allowed for some of the other things to get done. I did have to chuckle just before Thanksgiving when I drove up on the kindly neighbors’ pasture after dark to feed the ewes. They were all bunched up battling over something. When they parted enough I discovered why. Several large pumpkins that had adorned the neighbors’ yard made their way over the fence and the sheep were behaving like Black Friday shoppers! The sheep came home a few days later on the 26th, having been there since May 21st so about six months. That was a nice long run.

Other yard related projects were accomplished including putting tree wrap on and pruning some of the trees while the memory of getting snapped in the face while lawn mowing was still fresh in my mind. Doing all of this of course elicited a lot of assistance from the dogs, more than a person should be allowed to have. Barking when the Gator was moved was a given and careful scrutiny of the pruning process followed. Looks like I’m finally getting ahead of some of the nasty crabapples. The spines on some of them are 3” – 4” long. Not sure what varieties of crabapples they are but after a while looking like you’ve been in a knife fight after mowing the lawn starts to get old.

Some of the small trees were showing signs of being chewed by the local bunny population. The tree wrap was put on just in time. The bunnies have lots of green grass and other vegetation to eat yet somehow find time to damage saplings and other small trees. The bark on some of the trees planted 10 years ago is developed enough so they no longer require tree wrap. It will be a happy day when the last of them reach that point. That will likely never happen because we just keep planting more trees!

There are more birds hanging around the yard as the sunflower feeders are being emptied routinely every 3 – 5 days. Lots of large blue jays, nuthatches and chickadees with a few goldfinches picking at the thistle feeders. The suet feeders are active as well as we have a healthy population of hairy and downy woodpeckers. The largest visitors are the pheasants. They were walking around the backyard on Thanksgiving Day and were flushed out of the garden while I was wrapping some of the trees in the windbreak. They do enjoy picking at the garden leftovers especially the sweet corn and whatever else happens to meet their fancy.

The annual pumpkin pick up at the ranch was completed Sunday afternoon. Along with a few apples and gourds they made a heaping pile in the back of the Gator. It didn’t take long for the sheep to locate them once the produce hit the ground. The next morning the ewes had been grazing on the back part of the pasture when one by one they took off running for the pumpkin pile. Watching from the window one could see some cars on the highway slowing down to watch as the sheep descended like vultures on the pumpkins. Not a lot of money in sheep but at least they provide entertainment sometimes.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #602 on: December 09, 2016, 10:29:33 AM »
This boat is blacked out like a city
Awaiting bombers in the night

While there were no 50 degree highs the scurs and their trusty Weather Eye still kept things above zero and largely above freezing. ? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the low teens. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the low 20’s with lows around 10. Mostly sunny Friday with increasing clouds with a modest chance of snow in the evening. Highs in the upper teens with lows in the mid-teens. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow.  Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper teens. Monday, mostly cloudy with a chance of flurries. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the lower double digits. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a continued chance for snow showers. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the mid-single digits, still above zero.  The normal high for December 13th is 27 and the normal low is 10. We’ll be down to 8 hours and 56 minutes of daylight on the 13th. The scurs procrastination is paying off once again. With the short days and all the cloudy weather it’s better for napping than shopping anyway.

The Full Moon for the month also will occur on the 13th and is known as the Full Cold Moon, The Moon before the Yule or the Long Nights Moon, aptly named with the short days we are experiencing. The Ojibwe called this the Small Spirits Moon and the Sioux named it the Moon of Popping Trees. At the ranch we know it as the Moon of Frozen Water Buckets.
Measurable snow fell in Bugtussle and at the ranch for the first time this winter season on Saturday night into Sunday a.m.  An inch of snow which melted down to .09” of liquid equivalent precipitation. It was all but melted by early afternoon accumulating into the soil which remained unfrozen. The soil profile down to the 5’ depth was had a little over 10” of available moisture in it back on November 2nd. There’s little reason to believe it’s a lot drier than that even though we were slightly below the normal 2.16” of precip at the SROC for last month.
 
Speaking of the SROC, hats off (and swim fins on) for their recent setting of the annual precipitation record for MN. The record of 53.73” was set back on November 28th; they’ve received more since then and have the rest of December to add to it. Records in Bugtussle are incomplete as the gauge was not functional until April 7th. At the ranch we garnered 43.25” by the end of November. Let’s hope we don’t play catch up.

Some isolated areas of remaining corn were rumored to have been picked but aside from that, very little fieldwork was accomplished this past week. Some are still hoping to get one more crack at some tillage or anhydrous ammonia application although that window will likely close quickly given the forecast. It also remains questionable how well the ground will seal and whether the knives on the applicators will ball up. It really hasn’t dried up to speak of.

At the Lions pancake feed Sunday it was great to see Buddy Shurson in attendance. For those of you who didn’t read the wonderful article that included Buddy a few weeks ago, he was a gunner on a B-17 during WWII. Until after I saw him I’d almost forgotten that Wednesday the 7th marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. I still remember my parents telling me what dark days in history those were after that. On the farm war time rationing made everyone feel the pinch and there was some jealousy when someone got something they didn’t think you should have. I recall Dad telling about neighbors questioning how he wound up with a small, 12” rubber tire on the mounted International sickle mower he’d purchased. Yes, things were that tight.

Back to the B-17. It was a marvel of modern aviation at the time. When first being developed in the mid-1930’s, it was equipped with Pratt and Whitney engines. However, more power was needed so the engines were switched exclusively to the Wright R-1820-97 turbo-supercharged “Cyclone” that developed 1200 hp apiece. There were four wing mounted engines on this aircraft. While not extraordinary by today’s standards, they were beefy enough to allow the aircraft to limp home even if a couple engines had been knocked out. No small feat for a plane weighing over 36,000 lbs. when empty and 54,000 lbs. when loaded.

Who manufactured the engines? During WWII, one of the manufacturers licensed by Wright to produce them was Studebaker. By the time Pearl Harbor was bombed, the company had already converted much of their assembly line capacity in anticipation of our entry into the war, suspending much of its 1942 model year production. A new plant was added for production of the Cyclone. They built over 63,000 of these radial aircraft engines for the B-17’s in the war effort. From January 1944 through the summer of 1945, all B-17 engines were supplied by Studebaker. The company also built nearly 200,000 trucks most of which went to the Soviet Union and over 15,000 Weasels, an all-terrain tracked vehicle. When I look at the Studebakers in our garage, it gives me an appreciation of their place in American history. When I see Buddy, it also makes me happy to know that somewhere along the line the company probably had an impact on bringing our own local piece of American history back home safely. Thanks Buddy and to all who served!

See you next week…real good then.  
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #603 on: December 14, 2016, 04:55:17 PM »
Now that the holidays have come
They can relax and watch the sun
Rise above all of the beautiful things they've done.

After this past week’s weather the scurs and the Weather Eye generated much hate mail. Will their performance this week be met with more approval or will they be waiting for the frozen eggs to melt off their house? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-single digits above zero and lows near -10. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low single digits above zero and temperatures rising overnight. Cloudy Friday with a good chance of snow. Highs in the upper teens with lows in the mid-single digits above zero. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow in the forenoon.  Highs in the mid-single digits above zero with lows in the mid- teens below zero. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low single digits below zero and lows near 10 below. Monday, sunny and warmer. Highs in the low teens above zero with lows near 5 above. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens above zero.  The normal high for December 21st is 24 and the normal low is 7. The scurs are thinking there is so much time left to shop they should probably take a week off and think about it yet.

The winter solstice will arrive on the 21st, signaling our shortest day of the year at 8 hours and 54 minutes of daylight. The good news is that the days will start getting longer soon afterwards. The bad news is it’s very gradual at about a minute a day once we get to Christmas Day. Without sitting there to document the time of the sun rise and sun set each day, it’s pretty hard to tell for a few weeks. In the meantime we can enjoy the holidays and look out on the white countryside while the city folk look at the buildings and the snarled traffic. They can have it.
 
Ground froze rather quickly last week before some who were still thinking about fieldwork got a chance for the most part. Snowfall amounts of 5” – 7” were common across much of the region with a heavier band just to our north. The snow provided a nice blanket for the alfalfa and other perennial forages and just in time for the cold snap that is upon us.  Fortunately hay is in plentiful supply in spite of the past summer’s frequent rainfall and subsequent difficult haymaking. Note there are no claims as to the quality, only the quantity.
The bird feeders are getting a workout with winter’s sudden arrival. While still a few too many house sparrows for my taste, the cats may think otherwise. They enjoy a good sparrow meal whenever they can catch one. There has been a pair of cardinals in the yard for the last 10 days. The male must be the one that was here over the summer because he keeps bouncing off the windows. The difference now is I think he wants to come in because it’s so cold. There was another pair of cardinals spotted on Monday morning so the more the merrier. The red color of the males really pops on a sunny day against the snow.

Ruby and Fudgie are indifferent about the sudden arrival of winter. Fudgie has been stiff and not getting around like she was a month ago during lawn mowing season. She’s content to get back in the house quickly, especially if she can lie on the rug where the floor heat warms her up. Ruby apparently didn’t realize how cold it was Monday morning, lifting her paw and whimpering on the way to the barn. Border Collies notice everything. The Big Dubya had put the star up on their grain leg a few days ago. Ruby was having a hissy fit by the sliding glass door Sunday night. Sure enough, she was barking at their star. Gotta get up purty early in the mornin’ to put one past a Border Collie.
 
Saturday and Sunday meant it was finally time to get serious about barn cleaning. We were prepared though. The spreader was accessible, the chains were on the tractor and a round bale was placed in the feedlot before removing the bale spear. The weather was miserable although with everything almost ready to go, I got eight major loads out of the main barn and finished the job by 3 p.m. The pens had to be all put back in place, bedded and the young stock moved into them but it went far more smoothly than it sometimes does. Fortunately Mrs. Cheviot was home to help move panels, gates, feeders, sheep, etc. Seems as though that takes as much time as the cleaning and hauling especially when you do it yourself.
 
Sunday we pitched out the lambing barn quickly before the weather decided to change its mind. “Quickly” is a relative term. We’re not the manure pitching machines we once were. Instead we know enough to take age-appropriate sized forkfuls. Like many farm folk our age, getting our arms to go much above our shoulders without pain can be a challenge. We paced ourselves, filling the bucket on the skidloader, dumping it in the spreader and coming back for another one.  A slower process perhaps than we’d like, yet it’s better to live to fight another day.

About the time we were finished, the Big Dubya saw it looked just like farming and stopped in with his tractor and blower. We’d just concluded hauling the last load but being neighborly, he helped us button up the lambing barn in short order. Then after we’d told him we were sure he had plenty to do at home, he made a pass with the blower before leaving. Thanks to his generosity, it made my finishing up moving snow go a lot faster.  It’s nice to have neighbors and it’s even nicer to be one.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #604 on: December 23, 2016, 11:16:10 AM »
You’re wearing out things that nobody wears

More hate mail once again for the scurs and their vaunted Weather Eye. Will their Christmas forecast be met with more scorn and derision or will they deliver like The Magi? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Yes, above zero. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Christmas Eve Day, partly sunny with a modest chance of snow in the evening.  Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper teens. Cloudy on Christmas Day with a good chance of rain, ice and snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the low teens. Monday, partly sunny and colder. Highs in the mid-teens above zero with lows near 5 above. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows near 5 above zero.  The normal high for December 25th is 24 and the normal low is 6. The scurs are thinking since there is still plenty of time left to shop they should sit a spell and read the fake news.

We witnessed a bit of a blast from the past last weekend. Temperatures reminiscent of the good ol’ days growing up back on the farm. Only thing is it really didn’t have the staying power that some of those systems of old had. Not that anyone is complaining. There was plenty of ice made on area lakes so ice fishing should commence locally soon. Soils are frozen so dooryards are not being re-landscaped when moving snow. Area roads have generally been decent to drive on. Even in the P.R.S.C. (People’s Republic of Steel Co.) I’ve had to pinch myself to see if what I was witnessing was real or imaginary. Snowplows clearing roads off before 10 a.m. Imagine that!

Staying warm during chores has been a chore. Many of the chore clothes I’ve worn over the years tend to be hand-me-downs or things others didn’t want or didn’t fit. Except gloves and boots. My hands tend to get cold though when the duct tape comes off the holes in the gloves so off I went to Hope to rectify that situation. A week earlier I’d had enough of the snow leaking through my chore boots so purchased a new pair. I’m pretty sure the proprietor must’ve checked to see if the cash I gave him for those smelled like mothballs. When I showed up to buy a couple pairs of gloves the next weekend he probably decided it was time to buy lottery tickets.

The moon back on the 14th had some special significance as it was surrounded by moon dogs, crystals of ice much like the sun has when colder weather is on the way. When viewed that evening the moon was still on the horizon making it even more spectacular. A halo around the moon is not all that rare once it rises and there are snow or ice crystals aloft. Colder weather was definitely on the way. To see the moon coming up such as it was made it memorable as I closed the barn door and headed for the house.

It was like Wild Kingdom around the ranch this past Saturday. First, I watched as eight deer moseyed along one at a time just to the north of the building site, cautiously crossing the road and making their way to MH’s CRP. Next, a rooster pheasant was strolling through the backyard, looking for anything left under the birdfeeders. And with the cold night approaching, the rest of the feathered guests were active as well. The feeders were seldom empty as the fox squirrel feasted on its ear corn, watching to see that no cats or hawks were in the vicinity.

Had a little dampening of the holiday spirits when I took Fudgie to the vet last week. She wasn’t eating and I suspected she had a potential urinary tract infection. Her exam revealed she has a large tumor in her abdomen and the vet seemed surprised she wasn’t sicker. He dispensed some pills to give her after delivering the rather grim news. The thing that stumped me was that her behavior otherwise was still relatively normal. After watching her devour the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey, I decided to get some canned food and made some gravy to soak up the dry food. It was clear she wanted to eat, just not the same old routine. Mom had indicated that Fudgie had always been finicky about food and taking pills so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Little did Fudgie know I’d been down that road with her brother Gus many moons before. There aren’t too many tricks I haven’t seen a Border Collie pull in that department. No question she’s doing better. She’s eating well and it’s tougher to pry her jaws open to stuff those pills down her throat. Go figure.

Since it was cold over the weekend, it was generally wise to stay inside except at choretime of course. We managed to get in our allotment of Christmastime movies such as Christmas Vacation, Trading Places and The Sound of Music. Ruby voiced her dislike for Julie Andrews once again. I was working in another part of the house and hadn’t realized the movie was even on until I heard her barking. Sure enough as soon as Ms. Andrews started singing her first song, Ruby had one of her patented tirades. I thought it was hilarious but Mrs. Cheviot was less than amused. The Sound of Music is one of her favorite movies. Ruby not so much. I can empathize with Mrs. Cheviot though. I’m not impressed when Ruby decides to lay into Clint Eastwood for riding horses and shooting bad guys, especially when I’ve dozed off.

As has been the case in the past I go shopping for the Star Eagle crack management staff as only the scurs and I can do. It’s tradition and I’m sure they all look forward to it just like Clark Griswold waiting for his bonus. I had it purchased and was so proud of myself. Then I went to check on it: It was gone. The Russians must’ve hacked the DNC server and taken it! But take heart; just as in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, getting “stuff” isn’t what this is all about. It’s the thoughts that count. And as always, those warm thoughts can be treasured while performing feats of strength and during the airing of grievances. Yet another Festivus miracle!

Happy Festivus!

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #605 on: January 05, 2017, 04:40:45 PM »
Goodbye my friend
Maybe for forever
Goodbye my friend
The stars wait for me

With a week off and the New Year’s noisemakers packed away once again, the scurs have dusted off the Weather Eye for another campaign. Will their 1st forecast of the New Year be wrought with warmth or just warm thoughts? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny and cold. Highs in the mid-single digits above zero with lows in the mid-single digits below zero. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low single digits above zero with lows in the single digits below zero. Partly sunny and warmer Friday with highs around 10 above and lows just below zero. Saturday mostly sunny with highs near 10 above zero and lows again dipping down just below zero. Cloudy and warmer on Sunday with highs in the upper teens with lows around 10 above.  Monday, mostly cloudy and warmer. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-teens above zero.  The normal high for January 10th is 22 and the normal low is 4. Having finally finished their Christmas shopping, they can now concentrate on hoarding their Christmas goodies. It’s a long time until Valentine’s Day.

We continue to saw away at winter as we descend into the depths of our coldest month. Days are noticeably longer if you’re really paying attention. Tuesday for instance we were already over 9 hours of daylight for those keeping score at home. By the 10th, we will have gained 15 minutes of daylight since the winter solstice. Spring is just around the corner, right? Speaking of that, the grass that emerged from under the snow after the Christmas rain at the ranch is still very green. Be prepared. Might be mowing in February.

Winter has been relatively tolerable so far. November weather here was largely a snap and while December had its moments, the brutal cold was short-lived. Not bad as long as one stayed in by the fire where it was warm. November was warmer than normal and slightly below normal in precip with December being close to normal temperature-wise and slightly above normal in precipitation. Our precip in November included only a trace of snow. In December, about one-third of it fell as rain, most from the Christmas Day rain and ice event. Soils for the most part remain frozen so not much of the moisture will end up in the profile, yet anyway. Precip for the year at the ranch totaled 44.9” In town, while the total is incomplete since the gauge wasn’t installed until April 7th, it was still a whopping 42.81”.

Warmer temperatures have meant sporadic activity at the ranch bird feeders. The diminishing snow cover has probably had something to do with it. We still have some faithful visitors though. Chickadees have been more numerous than some years with up to a half dozen appearing especially on mornings when they see I’m filling the feeders. The goldfinches have also tended to be morning feeders around sunrise. All the perches on the thistle feeders become occupied. Within an hour or so they’re gone again. The leghorn-sized blue jays are probably the largest consumers of sunflower seed, filling up their gular pouch for future reference once stashed. The cardinals have been early and late day arrivals with the male being particularly flighty. One quick movement inside seen through the sliding glass window and he’s gone. Plenty of nuthatches, with downy and hairy woodpeckers manning the suet at any given time throughout the day. The rooster pheasants are back too with hunting season officially over.  Three of them moved warily through the backyard Monday then launched quickly to sail into the CRP.

The holiday season was not without its tragedies even at the ranch. Having made it through Christmas and picking up steam, Fudgie seemed to have found new life. Her earlier diagnosis of a large tumor seemed distant as she ran around like a much younger dog. On Saturday, she wanted to be where the action was as I moved wagons around the yard and went in and out of the gate with the sheep under constant dog supervision. Her appetite had returned as the canned and dry food combo I’d concocted met with her approval. She was gaining weight, looking much improved over what she had just a few weeks earlier. The last of the pills I’d been jacking down her throat were gone and it was a good thing. Opening her jaws was getting a little tougher each time. Brushing her Sunday morning was normal. She hated being brushed and while she tolerated it, she also made it as difficult as she could to register her disgust. Chores Sunday night went normally and I set my sights on the next day’s tasks. Then tragedy struck.

When it came time to let Fudgie out that night she was a little wobbly. She did head outside however and disappeared in the dark to her favorite bathroom break area. When I called her about 15 minutes later, she didn’t come in. Ruby as always was right at the door waiting but no Fudgie as I called several times. I grabbed a flashlight and made my way outside to find her lying down between the cars outside the garage. It wasn’t unusual for her to use selective hearing either so I wasn’t overly concerned, yet. When she came inside and plopped on the floor in her “safe-place” in the utility room, I knew something was drastically wrong. She paid no attention to her food and worse, wasn’t interested in her treat. One could see she was in pain but she was very stoic about it, staring straight ahead.  In the morning, I found her on her favorite rug by the pet gate. She hadn’t suffered long apparently. Still, I was sad to see her gone without getting a chance to say good-bye.

She had a good life and had served many purposes during her 13+ years on the planet. At the ranch she was the favorite of Lucy’s litter, being the only red and white plus a female to boot. She became Mom’s dog as a puppy and remained part of her exercise program for about 10 years. Of course Mom did nothing to spoil her rotten. Cracking an egg could bring Fudgie out of a deep sleep as I’m sure she knew that meant bowls to lick and goodies to consume later. When Mom became ill, Fudgie came back to the ranch where she picked up on the routine quickly. For not being trained, watching the gates came naturally when we needed to move equipment in and out. The sheep were petrified of her as she’d nip at their heels and run them back in the compound where they belonged. She and Ruby “tag teamed” the individual ewes, distracting them and keeping them corralled when we moved them from the lambing barn to the loafing area.

People often say that pets go back to a special place where they’re happy and content. I don’t know that for sure but I hope she meets up with Mom again so she can get her fair share of goodies. As for my part, hope I get to see her again too. She was a friend and a valued helper when we needed her. She saved me many steps and for that I am forever grateful.

See you next week…real good then.  
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online glenn57

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 14241
  • Karma: +68/-144
  • 2015 deer contest champ!!!
  • Liked: 185
  • Likes Given: 203
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #606 on: August 14, 2017, 10:15:45 PM »
 :scratch: :scratch: someone's been slipping! :tut: :pouty: :pouty: :pouty:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Online roony

  • Xtreme Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 208
  • Karma: +11/-3
  • Liked: 36
  • Likes Given: 15
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #607 on: September 14, 2017, 08:42:24 AM »
Very observant of you Smurfy.   :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:

Online glenn57

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 14241
  • Karma: +68/-144
  • 2015 deer contest champ!!!
  • Liked: 185
  • Likes Given: 203
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #608 on: September 14, 2017, 08:54:14 AM »
Very observant of you Smurfy.   :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:
:happy1: :happy1: its what i do!!!!!!!!!! :rotflmao: if da guy would stay home a bit instead of galivanting all across he land!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :thumbs: :pouty: :pouty:

but of course he'd claim he's busy trying to escape the misses advances!!!!!!!! :tut: :tut: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #609 on: January 18, 2018, 02:01:40 PM »
Huh! Sometimes I skip a year... :sleazy:

It's only teenage wasteland

The scurs are gaining confidence in the Weather Eye once again. They may not always get it right, but at least they have the right idea. Will January continue true to form or will we be getting out the lawn furniture soon? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-teens, yes above zero. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 30’and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy Sunday with a good chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low teens. Monday, mostly cloudy becoming mostly sunny with a slight chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the upper single digits. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the low single digits above zero. On the 19th we will have gained back a full half hour of daylight since the winter solstice on December 21st.The normal high for January 19th is 22 and the normal low is 3. The scurs are thinking we’ve had enough snow. The sooner it stops, the sooner the June sunshine can remove it.

Another roller coaster ride for weather although the warmer than expected Sunday in spite of the snow was welcome. It is after all mid-January and the coldest part of our winter here in SC MN. It definitely could be and has been worse.  It seems when temps fall into the teens below zero it’s major league cold. We’ve become accustomed to warmer winters apparently. As a teenager in SE MN, the winters of the 1970’s were brutally cold. There was talk of global cooling. It frequently seemed too when we first arrived in this area that the winters were colder. Back in the mid-90’s I can recall lambing through a stretch of nights when it reached -30. Put in that perspective it makes the recent spate of below zero overnight temperatures seem almost tolerable. I still hope the ewes can wait to lamb until it warms up later in the week although that’s not my call to make.
 
It’s always gratifying to see the results of some of our past planning yield fruit. The trees planted as part of the EQIP program have started to make an impact. Not only are they producing berries and providing cover, they’re serving their purpose as a snow fence. After Sunday’s snow and Monday’s wind I was positive I’d need to clean the yard out before Mrs. Cheviot came home. The northwest wind had howled much of the day. While it hadn’t snowed a lot, it snowed enough that in past winters the driveway would’ve been impassable for a small car. Not the case this time. It wasn’t completely clear but there was no reason to start a tractor or skidsteer either. While it can be a pain the snow does lend some beauty to the otherwise dull winter landscape. The male cardinal just pops against the pristine backdrop when he arrives.
   
The pheasants have been scarce in the yard at the ranch. It’s true the snow cover is relatively light so they can still scratch to get down to their feed easily. However, there just aren’t many pheasants around either. Last week I saw a couple roosters not far from St. Olaf Lake along the road. Finally, on Monday a.m. a rooster flew through the yard about treetop level. The nesting success or lack thereof is likely a huge part of the equation. While the DNR has been quick to blame lack of habitat, the abundance of opportunistic furbearing egg eaters, namely things like raccoons, opossums, skunks, and coyotes is on the increase. With low fur prices there is no incentive to trap them and their population reflects that. So does the pheasant population.

The deer continue to show signs of yarding up around the area. They made an appearance for the Christmas gathering Sunday, seven whitetails grazing their way across the Dubya’s hayfield much to the delight of our guests. The night before that Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer recently picked us up for a car club Christmas party in Lansing. It was amazing how many groups of deer we saw and fortunately did not run into on our way down there. We must’ve seen 30 of the cervids between our house and the restaurant browsing in area fields.  The noted Swedish astronomer made careful note of that and was on the lookout for them on the way back. We certainly didn’t need any fresh venison for the gathering the next day.

With winter continuing on schedule and staying cold, we continue viewing our fair share of televised sports. It was sad to see the Gopher men’s basketball team in shambles after such a promising start. I feared their weekend performance against Purdue might set the tone for the rest of the season. The Gopher women’s basketball team has been fun to watch and they’ve been competitive in most games. They dropped a game in OT over the weekend after playing their hearts out. Carlie has been a on tear lately so that always keeps our interest regardless of how they do.  The Gopher men’s hockey team has been a real disappointment. They lost two games against unranked Michigan at home over the weekend. Defense stunk and the offense was even worse. The Big Ten hockey conference just doesn’t have the rivalries that were part of the WCHA. Maybe someday but not yet. Aside from playing Bucky, it tends to makes the games ho-hum and encourages lackluster performance from the rodents.
 
After watching all that unfold over the weekend, it wasn’t surprising to see New Orleans come back against the Vikings on Sunday and appear to have the game in hand. That last second play changed all that and the Vikings pulled off a stunning come from behind win. Then the Gopher men’s basketball team suddenly decided to come back to life with an unexpected win on the road Monday night. Maybe sometimes MN isn’t such a barren sports wasteland after all.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #610 on: January 24, 2018, 01:56:20 PM »
The full moon is calling...

The scurs continue gaining confidence in the Weather Eye. Off by a day on the snowstorm but forecasting weather is like horseshoes and hand grenades. Are we starting a trend or was Monday’s storm an anomaly? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens, still above zero. Thursday, partly cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in in the low teens. Partly sunny Sunday and cooler with highs in the upper teens and lows in the mid-single digits. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows around 10 above. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. On the 31st we’ll see the second Full Moon of the month of January which means February will have to go without. The normal high for January 31st is 24 and the normal low is 5. The scurs are thinking after the snow, a jaunt south wouldn’t be a bad idea. Iowa won’t cut it.

The Full Moon falls on the 31st and is known as a Blue Moon. Interestingly enough there is also a lunar eclipse in conjunction with this one. The total eclipse calculated for Bugtussle (aka “New Richland”) from the US Naval Observatory shows it will begin at approximately 4:50 a.m. and reach totality at 6:51 a.m. The moon will appear as completely red at that point. Unfortunately it will set at 7:35 before the eclipse is fully completed. However, the sun rises at 7:32 so barring an overcast situation it should still be visible in the west-northwest sky as long as you can find an unobstructed area to view it. How frequently does February not have a Full Moon? Actually about four times in a century. And it usually means that both January and March will each have two Full Moons as they do this time around. The last time was 1999. So if you grow hair on your palms and you begin to scratch four times in three months, you may have an excuse unless you recently shaved your chest. Enough to make one eat muffin stumps.

The birds appearance in the yard the day before the storm seemed to foreshadow the event. The goldfinches were numerous even though the thistle seed supply was dwindling. Livestreaming the Gopher women’s game kept me from getting a fresh supply. They had plenty of sunflower seed so it wasn’t as though there wasn’t anything offered. During the storm the goldfinches were conspicuously absent. Lots of blue jays were after sunflower seeds along with the icky little house sparrows. The male cardinal stuck out like a sore thumb even though visibility was poor. The fox squirrels made an appearance then must’ve gone back to the safety of their nest or a hole in the tree. As fat as they are they should be able to go for weeks without eating.

The snowstorm makes one glad that plenty of hay and bedding was tucked away if you’re a sheep farmer. Sure, the stack in the barn is starting to recede and the round bales don’t occupy as much of the yard as they once did. However there should be plenty to make it through the winter and until the hay is ready to cut again. The addition of another more efficient round bale feeder over the weekend should help ensure that. They don’t give the feeders away although having two types of feeders prior to that so that an actual comparison could be made makes it a no-brainer. It doesn’t take long for the more efficient type to pay for themselves.
 
Ruby has had a good winter so far watching TV. There seems to be more air time involving pets, in particular dogs and horses which sets her off on a barking tirade. This is humorous as long as one isn’t trying to nod off. Gunsmoke provided a perfect opportunity for her not too long ago. They had both dogs and horses on at the same time! I was just dozing off and her barking was enough to wake the dead.  I know I’d theorized at one time that with the advent of HDTV, it made the images sharp enough that they appeared very real, causing her to bark. Not so anymore after her carrying on during Gunsmoke. The episode was filmed in black and white and not broadcast in HD. Not to worry. The recent flap over comfort animals flying on Delta caught her eye. That was in HD. She really does watch the tube although her attention span is definitely that of a three year old.

The sports weekend was a mixed bag. Our beloved Vikings couldn’t get over the hurdle, again. As someone who really doesn’t bet on sports but plays the odds in his mind, it just wasn’t to be. For instance, the Gopher men’s basketball team reverted to their old selves and got pummeled by Ohio St. No surprise there. The Gopher men’s hockey team swept Michigan St. on the road. Big surprise considering how poorly they had been playing. The Gopher women’s hoops team pulled off a major upset over 20th ranked Iowa at The Barn, a real pleasant surprise. They played hard and deserved the win even though the sound on the broadcast about blew the earwax out of my ears several times. That left the Vikings. Did anyone seriously think they’d win after all that transpired? Does sheep doo-doo look like black jelly beans?

The annual ritual of sheep shearing is almost upon us again. The ewes continue to get girthier and closer to lambing with each passing day. Was keeping an eye on them during the recent storm and most of them stayed inside for the duration. It doesn’t make for a very good relationship with the sheep shearer when the sheep are wet. Sheep shearers are becoming an all too rare commodity these days so if you plan on continuing to raise the animals, you’d best treat them right. If some of the sheep do happen to get a little snow on them hopefully the forecast will hold. It should allow the moisture to evaporate off the few dummies who decided to brave the elements and gnaw on the round bales. Always a greedy individual or two in every crowd.
 
See you next week…real good then.   
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Rebel SS

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 12172
  • Karma: +78/-24
  • Inventor of Minnow Magic
  • Liked: 472
  • Likes Given: 284
"Never thought I'd live this long, time is here and gone". The Doobies

Offline Bobby Bass

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 5203
  • Karma: +8/-28
  • Liked: 8
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #612 on: January 25, 2018, 05:58:35 PM »
Welcome back Bro  :happy1:
Bobby Bass


Bud and now Barney working the trail again in front of me.

It is not how many years you live, it is how you lived your years!

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #613 on: February 04, 2018, 12:11:54 PM »
Thanks Bobby!

Nothing's gonna change my world...

The scurs and the Weather Eye continue to be tracking closely on their forecasts, even if people don’t like what they have to say. Will the fan mail continue or will the haters take over? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the lower single digits above zero. Thursday, mostly sunny and cold with highs in the mid-single digits above zero and lows in the mid-single digits below zero. Partly sunny on Ground Hog’s Day with highs in the mid-teens and lows in the mid-single digits. Saturday, cloudy with a good chance of daytime snow. Highs in the low teens with lows near 5 below. Mostly sunny for Super Bowl Sunday and colder with highs near 5 above and lows in the low single digits below zero. Monday, mostly sunny and warmer with highs in the mid-teens and lows around 5 above. Mostly sunny Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the upper single digits. On February 1st, we will have gained one full hour of daylight since the winter solstice on December 21st.  On Ground Hog’s Day, the sun will rise at 7:30. On the 4th, we will see 10 full hours of daylight for the first time since last November 6th. February 5th the sun will set at 5:30 p.m. so we’re making progress. The normal high for February 5th is 25 and the normal low is 6. The scurs are tuckered after compiling all that astronomical and climatological trivia. Nap time.

Last week’s storm was in progress as I was writing the column so I didn’t include any storm totals. All told, Bugtussle (New Richland) probably received somewhere in excess of 13” of snow. I measured 13.4” at the ranch. The snow was wet, containing roughly 1.4” of moisture including the rain ahead of it and was difficult to deal with. It took most of the forenoon on the 23rd to get the yard cleaned out enough so it would pass muster. Actually our yard was a lot better than the roads. The high water content of the snow caused it to pack onto roadways and made removing it a challenge. Lots of salt was applied and within a few days given the warm temperatures and repeated blading the roads were clear again. That has been a signature of recent winters that makes them different than those I remember as a kid. A storm like this one was routinely followed by temperatures falling well below zero with winds howling out of the northwest. Think I’ll take winters such as this one.
 
The melting snow did leave behind plenty of ice underneath. Late Friday afternoon I decided it presented a good opportunity to scrape the slush down on the driveway as well as expending the area cleared to allow easier access for the sheep shearer. It found me scrambling to find my grit container Saturday morning. Places that had been like a slurpee were suddenly like a hockey rink. The light snow that snuck in Saturday night covered the slick spots and made it even more treacherous to walk across. Time to remember how to shuffle and remind yourself not to be in a major hurry.

Shearing was accomplished Saturday with a minimum of effort on our part. The local shearer and catcher did most of the work while we just made sure the wool got cleared away as the next contestant was positioned on the shearing board. Many years it’s been much colder than this year’s edition so we felt fortunate. Shearing this time of year though has been a family tradition. My earliest memories are of getting knocked on my rear by a ewe in the barn at Pleasant Grove when I was 4 or 5. They look a lot less formidable once the wool comes off. I became more involved once we moved to Spring Valley where my first real duties were running the wool box and making little bales out of the fleeces, tied up with paper twine. That’s all changed. Now the fleeces are just packed in a large burlap sack using a hydraulic packer.

One thing that hasn’t changed about shearing day is heading to the warm house after completing the process to a hot meal. One usually works up an appetite and the smell of food makes one even hungrier. It allows some time to unwind and visit while exchanging sheep producer news. There aren’t many of us left so that doesn’t take long. As we were finishing lunch the shearer spotted three rooster pheasants warily making their way through our backyard. I think it made the day to see them after seeing very few prior to that.

I still hear some question the rationale behind shearing at this time of year. Yes, it’s cold although it’s a necessary evil especially when lambing looms on the horizon. Keeping the ewes in good condition helps and after a few weeks they have enough wool regrowth that they stay plenty warm. Once the ewes are shorn, it makes a tremendous difference in how warm and dry the barn stays along with convincing the ewe that having lambs inside is preferable to dumping them out in a snowbank. Plus it makes it much easier for the little tykes to find the food court without hunting for it through a blanket of wool.
 
How close was shearing to lambing this time? After shearing Saturday there was a set of triplets on the ground Sunday morning. Another ewe lambed Monday morning followed by another ewe Monday night. Oddly enough, the ewes really didn’t look as close as they have some years when we sheared. They come when they come. Some things never change.

See you next week…real good then.     
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #614 on: February 07, 2018, 11:50:20 AM »
Every year along about this time it all goes dry…

The scurs and their loyal companion the Weather Eye were met with scorn and derision by disgruntled fans after last week. Are we about to break out of our January temperature slump or will we have six more months of winter? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the mid-teens with lows in the lower single digits below zero. Thursday, mostly sunny with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the mid-teens above zero and lows in the mid-single digits above zero. Partly sunny on Friday with a moderate chance of snow in the p.m. hours. Highs in the mid-teens and lows in the mid-single digits below zero. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of daytime snow tapering into the evening hours. Highs in the upper single digits with lows near zero. Mostly sunny for Sunday with highs in the upper teens and lows near 10 above.  Monday, (Lincoln’s real birthday) mostly sunny with highs near 20 and lows around 5 above. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with a chance of snow.  Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low teens. The normal high for Valentine’s Day is 27 and the normal low is 9. The Valentine’s Day chocolate and candy can’t appear soon enough for the scurs. Been a long dry spell since Christmas.

Some dabs of snow in the past week have kept a cover on most things. It was relatively light in terms of moisture content so it also had the ability to blow. Snow removal professionals made note of the mileage Old Man Winter got out of it when cleaning area driveways and dooryards. Some have commented that the snow we’ve had should help our cropping moisture situation in the spring. Unlikely. The ground is frozen and the January 23rd measurement from the SROC in Waseca had the frost depth at 19”. It’s probably deeper than that now as the walk-in door on the barn is beginning to stick. It does that usually when the frost depth approaches two feet. At any rate, unless you’re a mosquito, a frog or a duck one of the prime benefits of our winter precip thus far is to recharge area wetlands.
 
Don’t know how many were actually able to see the lunar eclipse back on January 31st. Overall it was somewhat disappointing although at the ranch we were able to catch occasional glimpses when it peeked through the clouds. That seemed to be the disclaimer missing by many hyping the event. Yes it was unique but seeing it through the clouds for those of us mere mortals is next impossible. Common sense should tell one that even though like warm temperatures, it’s become an all too rare commodity these days.
 
The roster pheasant troupe that appeared when we sheared back on January 27th has swelled to a dozen members as of Tuesday a.m.  The word must be out. They all seem to like the ear corn set out for them. Usually I put 8 – 10 ears in their feeder in daylight hours so as not to encourage the nocturnal bunny population quite so much. The squirrels have their separate feeding station and while they focus on that, they still manage to carry some ears of corn around the yard for laughs. About the only other noticeable change in the bird numbers would be the large number of goldfinches suddenly hitting the thistle feeders, then, as quickly as they appeared they’re gone again. Many of the bid books describe their behavior as nomadic. They aren’t kidding. Guessing there are probably some hungry small hawks watching them more closely than I do.

Ruby has kept us entertained during some of the recent cold stretches. Many times we’ll finish outdoor chores then work on indoor chores with the TV on only to be startled when something sets her off in a barking frenzy. Saturday Mrs. Cheviot was gone so it made a good time to collect and take out the garbage in addition to cleaning up the kitchen. No sooner did I come back in from taking out a load and Ruby cut loose with a hissy fit. The culprits? Not only a dogsled team but dozens of Huskies in their kennels on some glacier in Alaska. Shifting gears to Gunsmoke didn’t help. The horses incurred her wrath as I chided her to be quiet. Sunday wasn’t any better flipping over to the Puppy Bowl. That caused instantaneous barking and growling. Not giving this Border Collie the remote any time soon.

The Super Bowl came and went for another year. It was actually a good game with plenty of scoring to keep our interest. The halftime show was so-so unless you were a twenty or thirty-something female. Of course I probably won’t be satisfied with a halftime show until they get Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham to perform. Cold day I’m afraid. For the most part the ads were a swing and a miss this time. Some were cute but most did little to entertain or convince me to buy that product. Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety but several times it had me wondering just how much someone had paid the outfits that wrote the ads. Hope it wasn’t much because then at least they would’ve got what they paid for.

Lambing continues although they’ve been coming in more slowly than anticipated. Still, we’re so thankful the wool is off and the lambs we do have on the ground are doing well. The roller coaster temperature ride has made feeding a bit more challenging. When it was constantly cold, one could feed a large volume of corn to the ewes and they were always hungry. Once the weather warmed up a few days it seemed their metabolism suddenly changed and they left some feed in the bunk. Trying to adjust for it was frustrating at first but once the weather decided it was going to be cold and ornery about it, they seemed to gradually come back on full feed. Odd. Hasn’t been a problem for me.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #615 on: February 20, 2018, 02:44:45 PM »
The time has come...

More scorn and derision for the scurs and the Weather Eye by disgruntled weather fans following another week of below normal temperatures. Is this bus turning around or are we about to get thrown under it another week? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with aslight chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s and lows near zero. Sunny and colder on Friday with highs in the mid-teens and lows in the upper single digits below zero. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny and warmer for Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’swith lows in the mid-teens.  Monday, Presidents Day, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows around 10 above. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with a slight chance of snow.  Highs in the mid-20’s with lows near 10. On February 15th we’re over 10 hours and 30 minutes of daylight for the first time since October 25th. The normal high for Washington’s fake birthday is 29 and the normal low is 11. The scurs cannot tell a lie: Washington’s real birthday is still the 22nd. Cherry pie all around!

What a grind this past week’s weather seemed to be. It was stubborn and simply didn’t want to warm up. The days it warmed up even slightly the wind blew making it feel colder. While some of the weather pundits were quick to point out this was not unprecedented, it still made some who seem hell bent on furthering a global climate change agenda uneasy trying to justify it. Indeed. I personally don’t care if the cold temperatures were still falling within the standard deviation. When I’m freezing my tail off for numerous hours per day for weeks at a time all that nonsense goes out the window. It still doesn’t make me or anyone else feel any warmer.

It also has little effect on the amount of salt being dumped on our roads. Now, I can see using salt when the conditions warrant it. An icy intersection that someone may slide through, sure. Roads iced over completely? OK, perhaps but slowing down and allowing extra time for poor road conditions will go a long way towards keeping you safe. However, as I and others keep noting, the amount of salt used when roads are likely to melt off on their own has become just plain ridiculous. There’s no question that road salt is raising heck with automobiles. We just received a recall notice on the family roadster stating that “due to use in high corrosion environments associated with road salt use, the steering gear motor attachment bolts could fracture, increasing the risk of a crash”. The automobile company’s words, not mine.
 
Studies have also emerged concerning the amount of damage salt is doing to bridges and overpasses. Along with that, now the environmentalists are sounding the alarm that our surface waters are becoming saltier due to road salt use which has detrimental effects on some aquatic life. Odd that in the litigious society we live in that some ambulance chaser hasn’t filed a class action suit simply for lack of anything better to do. We need to take a long hard look at Minnesota’s obsession with use of road salt before it causes some real disasters. The time has come.
   
Lambing in this past week’s weather presented a challenge. While there weren’t a lot of ewes that came in, they did find the coldest days and unique places to do it. It’s critical to get the lambs hooked on as soon as is possible. The colostrum is important to not only nourish them, it also helps kick their immune systems into gear. Fortunately, most Cheviots are quick studies. Even so, when it’s well below zero, time is of the essence. Once the lamb gets chilled more drastic measures are necessary to make sure this is accomplished. Heat lamps can be used but they’re still dangerous so it’s best if the lamb can be tube fed first.
 
Shearing helps ensure the ewe will lamb indoors. Even the best laid plans sometimes go awry sometimes.  Sunday was chilly with a high near 8 at the ranch. The wind chill however was well below zero. So what does a shorn ewe do? Coming out for chores nothing was happening in the lambing barn so on to the main barn to start chores there. Looking at the round bale feeder a ewe had decided it was shelter enough to plop one out right there. It was fresh yet and soaking wet so grab the lamb and coax the ewe to follow it inside. Once inside and the pen was erected, the lamb proved it was already to get with the program once the ewe was stripped out. Good thing the Gopher women’s basketball team handled Penn St. as easily as they did or it might’ve been a different story.

Horned larks were spotted along area roads this past week. On Lincoln’s birthday a large number were seen coming off the Lake Road shoulder in front of the pickup. Red-tailed hawks also were noted on the way to Hope making me wonder if that was why the daily pheasant numbers in the yard have become more sporadic. Lots of goldfinches and chickadees at the birdfeeders lately. The male cardinal continues to bang against the sliding glass door, adding to Ruby’s responsibilities. As if helping move ewes and lambs to the loafing barn wasn’t enough.

Ruby has really had her hands, er, paws full as this is the week of the Westminster Dog Show on TV. Sunday was the agility trial and that was a barking party. Monday brought with it the main show itself and more color commentary from the resident Border Collie. A Border Collie actually won the herding group which should’ve made Ruby happy. Of course when I go to bed, I usually watch an obligatory episode of Gunsmoke, Bonanza or the odd Clint Eastwood flick. The appearance of horses running across the screen are a guaranteed barking and growling mechanism. It’s a good thing they don’t combine westerns and dog shows or she’d be an absolute basket case.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #616 on: February 20, 2018, 02:47:43 PM »
Dreamer, you know you are a dreamer...

The scurs and companion Weather Eye finally broke on through the below normal temperature regime giving us a weekend treat. Is this the beginning or just another false hope? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper teens and lows near zero. Thursday, Washington’s real birthday, partly sunny with an increasing chance of snow by evening. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows near 20. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the low teens. Saturday, partly sunny with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Mostly sunny and warmer for Sunday with highs in the low 30’ and lows in the upper teens.  Monday, partly sunny with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny Tuesday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper teens. A real smorgasbord of time and day length related trivia this week: On the 23rd we will have gained 2 full hours of daylight since the winter solstice on December 21st.The sun will rise at 7 a.m. on the 24th and on the 25th, we see 11 hours of daylight, the most since last October 15th. And last but not least, the sun will set at 6 p.m. on the 27th. The normal high for February 27th is 32 and the normal low is 15. If the scurs watch their P’s and Q’s they should have enough chocolate stashed to survive until Easter. If not they’ll always think they should have.

The winter precip and temperatures have been a hot or not so hot topic depending upon your point of view. We saw more explaining away of the temperatures this past week and even though it hasn’t been record setting cold or duration, February remains below normal. It’s doubtful at this point we’ll end up above normal at least out here in the hinterlands where the only heat islands are the odd moldboard plowed fields. With the corn price where it was last fall, those are few and far between. Snowfall has been about normal for December through February although as Assistant State Climatologist Pete Boulay pointed out in a recent presentation at the SROC, the snow on the ground at any given time can be deceiving. For several winters now we’ve tended to get snowfall totals that are substantial yet melt when we experience the numerous thaws. Case in point: Normal snowfall for the SROC is 13.0” for December, 9.5” in January and 9” in February for an average of 31.5” for those three months. This winter in New Richland we’ve had 11.7”, 16.7” and 5.” with an average of 33.5” in that timeframe. At the ranch we measured 8.6”, 19.4” and 5.5” also with an average of 33.5” for that same period. On the ground right now we have roughly only 4” or so. Our freezer defroster appears working well. That may be subject to change.
 
The ewes at the ranch suddenly picked up the lambing pace over the weekend, coming in just in time for the recent ice age. Most of the lambs and ewes are doing well although there are always a few that need a little extra attention. A pleasant surprise was the triplets that the ewe so far has taken care of. That isn’t always the case. It’s not unusual to supplement one of them. This is a big, broody type of ewe however. If she keeps eating and drinking as she is, it won’t surprise us if she keeps pace until the lambs can start on solid feed. Also not unusual for Cheviot triplets to do just that and rather quickly

The birds also were trying to get their feeding in before and during parts of the inclemency. The yard was full of goldfinches, nuthatches, chickadees, downies, hairies, red-bellies, blue jays and the cardinals. Pheasant numbers and sexes vary with the day. One day it’ll be all roosters, the next a mix and others nearly all hens. They know where the corn is and judging by the variety, they must be spreading the word. Wild turkeys were foraging about a half-mile from the house upon the return from procuring feed at Hope. So far this year they have yet to make it to the backyard. It wouldn’t be the first time. The tinkling song of horned larks tells me that spring is just around the corner. Experience tells me horned larks lie a lot.

One of my Dad’s dreams was to someday put a cab on his 656. Unfortunately someday never came but thanks to several people, as of last week it became a reality. I have always said when I grow up someday I’d like to have a tractor with a cab. Spreading manure in the late fall and moving snow have chilled me to the bone. I’m getting too old for that nonsense. At some point it goes beyond being tough and demonstrates stubborn foolishness. Brother Roger as you may recall was instrumental in locating a cab on craigslist last fall. After inquiring about it, it appeared the sun, moon and stars had suddenly aligned. The 656 International didn’t come with factory cabs so out fits like Hiniker and Year-A-Round in Mankato specialized in manufacturing aftermarket models. That was many moons ago however so finding a used one in relatively good condition not in use is rare. And there is a strong demand for them so striking when the iron is hot is essential once you’ve located one near your price point.

Then came the matter of getting it installed on the tractor once back to the ranch. With the weather being cold, no shop or working knowledge of how to attempt the project given the tools and equipment available, I needed to seek professional help. Fortunately I know a guy. I’ve known Jon since he was a three-footer and his Mom used to bring him over to trick or treat. It didn’t take him long to get it figured out and make some other necessary repairs. He also equipped the cab with LED lighting which should really be nice for the last load of the day in the fall or when it’s prudent to move snow in the dark. At least I’ll be able to see what I broke or ran over! It isn’t a modern cab. Not into style points; just trying to stay warm. There were leaks and gaps to fill which Jon did. He also made sure the heater and the fan worked. I was amazed as the fellow who had the cab said they’d never used them.
 
And work it did. I got the tractor home from his shop and sat inside the cab to get out of the wind. I played with the heater and fan. It felt so good to feel the warm air wafting from the vents on me. Then all the sudden the fan began making a loud buzzing sound. Oh no I thought, the fan’s going to croak. Visions of taking it back to Jon with my tail tucked between my legs, asking him to find a new fan crossed my mind. All the sudden the noise stopped and it spit a small wad of something out of the bottom vent. I picked it up and after examining it, determined it was a mummified baby mouse. I laughed about the subtle reminder that this was a used cab and the potential it held for live (or dead) entertainment in the years to come. Pretty sure my Dad was laughing too.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #617 on: February 27, 2018, 02:59:52 PM »
Stuck a needle in your arm...

The scurs with the Weather Eye from the ’74 Gremlin were pretty close last week with some warmth coming out of the weekend to usher in the start of the mud season. Will it continue to be muddy rut season or ankle twisting season? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy a moderate chance of evening rain showers. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy becoming mostly sunny with a modest chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-teens. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a moderate chance for a rain/snow mix. Highs in the upper 30’ with lows in the low 20’s.  Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with flurries possible. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-teens. March 1st marks the first day of autumn (in the southern hemisphere). It also brings with it the first Full Moon of the month. The normal high for March 1st is 33 and the normal low is 16. The scurs will be putting the final touches on what they hope will be their last snowman of the season.

It is time for the first Full Moon of the month. The bright light of the moon shining in my eyes through the window recently was a dead giveaway. This Full Moon general goes by the Full Worm Moon as the robins return soon once the ground is thawed to harvest the earthworms. It also is known as the Full Crow Moon, the Full Snow Crust Moon, the Full Sap Moon and the Full Lenten Moon marking the last Full Moon of the winter. The Ojibwe noted this as the Full Snow Crust Moon while the Sioux called it the Moon when Buffalo Drop their Calves. At the ranch it is known as the Sleepless Nights Moon when countless trips to the lambing barn are made. It is also known as the Long Afternoon Nap Moon.

More snow last week continued to add to our total for the month. So far in February we’ve had 12.1” in greater Bugtussle and 12.3” at the ranch. Normal at the SROC is about 9” for the month so we’re slightly above that. The liquid equivalent for the month at the SROC is right at an inch. At the ranch we’ve had 1.01” and in Bugtussle proper 1.09”. Some say you can’t really measure snow precisely and that is true to a point. However, a measurement can be taken using the same criteria at each location. As long as everyone is consistent with their sampling methodology, it’s amazing how closely the amounts are between locations for any given snowfall event or for a month for that matter. Things do tend to average out.

The bird population in the yard waxes and wanes with the weather. Ahead of the snows and afterwards, activity increases significantly. The pheasants continue to make daily pilgrimages to their ear corn feeder. This past week it’s been mainly roosters and their breeding plumage is becoming more and more vivid with each day. When the sun shines it really makes them pop against the white backdrop. Likewise with the male cardinals whose spring song can be recognized as we go in and out of the lambing barn early in the morning. Last but not least a few small flocks of geese flew over first on the evening of the 26th and again the morning of the 27th. Not sure they where they were coming from but if they were looking for open water locally it’ll be a while. According to Betsy’s Dad, the ice thickness remains at about 30” on area lakes.
   
The ewes are on a mission to get as many lambs on the ground as possible before spring. As opposed to last year, they generally have chosen the colder days in which to perform the miracle of birth. It’s  led to some chilled lambs and consequently some bottle lambs. We were skating along pretty well up until the most recent cold snap. A few bottle lambs for short duration are tolerable. If they’re decent stock and trying their darnedest to survive, one feels obligated to give them a hand. The bottle lambs also provide an excellent opportunity for kids young and old to feed and hold them while the lambs are still at their absolute cutest. As another lambing season wears on and we as shepherds age however, the novelty tends to wear off. That’s why it’s a good idea to convince parents of the little kids who visit that they really should have some. Or better yet, several.

While there here have been bumps in the road lambing season has had its share of small victories too. The ewe with the triplets has cared for them magnificently. That’s the kind of livestock you’d like to clone, the kind that don’t require much maintenance to the point you hardly know they’re there. Another small victory came in the form of a buck lamb born Sunday afternoon that didn’t want to get up off the deck. It got chilled to the point its mouth was cold so we brought it in the house. Milking the ewe out and tube feeding brought it around to the point that by 10:30 that night we took it back out to his mother. That’s always a gamble but one that sometimes needs to be taken. The ewe decided to still claim the lamb and when Mrs. Cheviot checked on it in the wee hours of the morning, its mouth was warm and he was up nursing on his own. Another miracle on ice!
 
In the meantime, lambing continues to offer daily events much like the Olympics. Much of it is done on the ice and requires some level of physical activity. Events such as uphill feed pan hiking, bale tossing accuracy, precision water toting, 4-tine hay forking, snow piling, along with speed ear tagging, tail docking and immunizing round out a typical day. I’d like to try one of those overeating disease shots just to see if they really work. I wonder if that’d be considered doping?
   
I got a chance to use the tractor with recently attached cab out not once but twice this past week. The Schwan’s man was supposed to come on Friday so I kicked it into gear after chores to get the yard cleaned out. As luck would have it, after I was done a text alerted me the delivery was rescheduled for Sunday due to the snow. No biggy as there was plenty of it to contend with. Then there was an encore snowfall performance Saturday complete with wind and drifting. Sunday was breezy and cooler than advertised. It didn’t matter as I was in a cab with the heater on. Even on the low setting, it was warm enough so I didn’t need my jacket other than when moving vehicles. The heater fan only spit out a single moth cocoon this time. I just smiled as I added to the already substantial snow piles, glad to be out of the elements. Next scheduled Winter Farm Olympic event: Nocturnal round bale spearing.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Rebel SS

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 12172
  • Karma: +78/-24
  • Inventor of Minnow Magic
  • Liked: 472
  • Likes Given: 284
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #618 on: February 27, 2018, 06:13:48 PM »
And just before sunset, here's that almost full moon you were discoursing about, high in the eastern sky. I'm calling it the Cold Pawz moon, 'cus washing Mr. Sparkles by hand seemed like a good idea since it was almost 50*. But now my pawz are freezin'.... :undecided:
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 06:38:39 PM by Rebel SS »
"Never thought I'd live this long, time is here and gone". The Doobies

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #619 on: March 06, 2018, 04:05:33 PM »
The Russians escaped while we weren't watching them, like Russians will

The scurs and the ’74 Gremlin Weather Eye found more warmth coming out of the weekend signaling the official start of the mud season. Will Monday’s snowstorm put it on temporary hold or will it be a long drawn out affair? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Mostly cloudy on Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a moderate chance of evening snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s.  Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly sunny Tuesday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper teens. The sun will rise at 6:35 a.m. CST on the 10th, and then will rise at 7:30 CDT on the 13th, back to the same as it rose back on February 2nd. The normal high for March 10th is 37 and the normal low is 20. The scurs will be changing their clocks ahead an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday morning in celebration of that quintessential annual episode of timekeeping social injustice known as Daylight Wasting Time.

Yes, once again people can be later than normal everywhere, fall asleep at work, have an increase in heart attacks and automobile accidents along with affecting other long term physical and mental maladies. Even though Ben Franklin is credited with the idea for this stinker, even he would have to admit it’s an idea which has long since outlived its usefulness. When a law runs contrary to the health of its citizens, it should cease to be a law. Ben also said that. I found it on the internet so it must be true. A good start would be to move the change back to April the way it was for years with the mechanism in place to abolish it altogether within a 5 year timeframe. Then chalk it up to another poorly conceived notion of governmental interference and toss it on the heap.

Snow melt occurred at a rapid pace over the weekend with much of our snow cover ending up in area wetlands, potholes, rivers and streams. Frost depth at last check was at 16” in the SROC March 5th measurement. It had become shallower at the ranch as suddenly on Monday I could close the walk in door on the pole barn. Not only that, the yard suddenly became prone to some pretty severe rutting in the top 6” or so when backing the tractor in. Sunday morning already it was prudent to use the Gator rather than backing the truck and trailer around when unloading some bales of straw. Then Monday after we received a big, sloppy, wet kiss from Mother Nature it was a major challenge not to rip the yard up.
 
It was a week when more geese were seen moving about as we neared the weekend. The assumption at first was they were local geese from either Waseca or Owatonna. Given the numbers however they had to be coming from points south farther. Saturday morning the 3rd saw the arrival of the first robins at the ranch, the first grackles on the 4th and a flock of red-winged blackbirds heading south on the morning of the 5th. The storm arrived after lunch and during its peak a flock of geese was high tailing it to the south. A wise decision on their part at least for now. The blackbirds on the other hand are stubbornly clinging to their seeds and crabapples.

Lambing season is coming to a close and not a minute too soon. The last week saw an increase in bottle lambs and a decrease in Mr. Cheviot’s patience. Animals that won’t or can’t care for their lambs have no business on a farm regardless of how good their offspring are. If they are trouble for you then no one else wants them either. I always say that I only want to lamb about enough ewes until I get just about sick of it then be done. Plan on seeing numbers dwindle this next season with anything that is suspect in the milking department or aged going down the road. We’re not getting any younger and feeding bottle lambs isn’t helping.

I received a summons for jury duty in Waseca Co. a few years back. I live in Steele Co. even though my address is New Richland which is in Waseca Co. I was also aware of people living in Waseca Co. with an Ellendale address which is in Steele Co. There was a number to call so rather than waste time fooling around filling the form out, I went on the offensive. When I reached the individual in charge I received the explanation that they just picked addresses out of the phone book at that time. Since I had a New Richland address that’s why I received a summons. Happens all the time, no big deal, not to worry I was told. Hmmm…seemed a rather flippant attitude towards someone’s spare time I thought but I let it go.
 
Fast forward: Seems that the Little Dubya and Mrs. Cheviot both received a summons last week to appear for jury duty in Waseca Co. from the Waseca Co. District Court Jury Summons Processing Center in Hallock MN. I guess Hallock must be somewhere in far northern Waseca Co. (j/k) Doesn’t matter; neither Mrs. Cheviot nor the Little Dubya reside in Waseca Co. Both live in Steele Co., vote in Steele Co., and pay property taxes in Steele Co. Both addresses are New Richland although we’ve established that one can’t assume you’re a resident of a county based purely on an address. In the explanation of their selection criteria for potential jurors it reads:”Your name was randomly selected from a list of licensed drivers, state identification card holders and registered voters residing in your county.” It further commands one to complete and return the jury questionnaire even if you are not a resident of this county.
 
Really? These two are residing in Waseca Co.? Fill it out anyway? Let me see if I have this straight: First it says in the letter that your selection criteria includes registered voters in Waseca Co. Obviously that information either wasn’t checked or the information was in error. If it was correct and actually checked a letter never would’ve been sent in the first place. It also makes me somewhat nervous living in a state that loves to blow its own horn about its voting and the voting process. For all I know based on this maybe our ballots wound up stuck in the trunk of somebody’s car and were hauled to Waseca Co.! As far as requiring a citizen who is a nonresident of the county to fill out the entire qualification questionnaire: being part Vulcan, it would seem logical that checking the box stating that you are not a resident and sending the form back should suffice. The perception then becomes that some bureaucrats are simply too lazy to do their homework and instead wants us to do it for them. My suggestion is if they really want to get to the bottom of this they should probably consult some Russian spies. I’m fairly confident they already know this stuff.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #620 on: March 13, 2018, 11:37:38 AM »
You made me so very happy...

As predicted by the scurs with help from the Weather Eye the mud came to life during the day and froze back up at night. Will we see our temperatures trending upward or reverting back to February? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. St. Patrick’s Day, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a slight chance of evening rain/snow mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-20’s.  Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with snow/rain mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. We will have 12 hours of daylight on the 17th with the vernal equinox landing on the 20th this year. The scurs will be pondering how red green colorblind Irish manage to cope.

Some slow progress towards spring although this one is acting more like the springtime’s I remember as a lad. Just about the time you think it’s going to break it snows and messes around for a week or two. We’ve tended to become spoiled with springs tending to come earlier and less of our March precipitation falling as snow. At one time March was our snowiest month. Now it has taken a backseat to December. The seasonal snowfall average at the SROC in Waseca is 52.8”. Our snowfall measured so far at the ranch and in town stands at 45” so we are tracking close to normal. Frost depth measured Monday at the SROC was 13” so some warmer days with less snow cover should go a long way towards thawing it entirely. Area lakes are another story with ice depths of 2’ – 2 ½’ being common. Most who have been on the ice have said the fishing stinks but the ice sure is good.

At the ranch our bird population has suddenly taken a turn more towards the winter birds again. The largest group of redpolls we’ve seen since the irruption back in 2009 appeared over the weekend. Monday morning heading in from chores at sunrise there were over 40 of them picking gravel off the driveway. They’ve taken a liking to our hospitality and the thistle seed. Goldfinches still outnumber them on the feeders but the redpolls generally are interspersed on the feeders with them. More subtle hints of yellow showing on the goldfinches so spring may get here sometime. Rooster pheasants in breeding plumage, probably Little Jerry’s great great grandsons have set up camp as they do annually in the plum thicket. The male cardinals can be heard not only at the ranch but also in town near the Mall for Men. We still have one that flies into the sliding glass door daily giving Ruby a job of scaring it back to the trees.

Ruby has a new favorite commercial to bark at: the running of the bulldogs. She missed that one the first several times so we thought we were in the clear. Then without warning, just about when we were ready to nod off after numerous rounds in the lambing barn she cut loose with a barking tirade. She rarely misses an opportunity to have a hissy when it’s on in addition to barking at other animals such as horses and llamas. And the number of dog food ads featuring none other than more dogs set her off with no warning. Never seen a dog pay as much attention to television as this one. Wonder if she would’ve liked Bart’s Clubhouse?

The night skies are full of wonder this time of year even though we’re usually on a mission to get back in the house. Venus has been an early evening “star” for those who have been wondering what the bright celestial body is in the western sky just after sunset. It will stay an evening star until October. Another planet of note includes Jupiter that rises after midnight and will be a prominent feature in the early morning sky.
 
As of this writing we’re down to the last two ewes to lamb. It’s a good thing we weren’t taking bets on when they’d lamb or we would’ve lost a bunch of money. One of these days when we go out to the barn we’ll find the lamb we’ve been looking for. The lambs we’ve moved to the loafing barn are really growing. It would be nice if the snow would melt off the fence so we could let them all out outside to rip and tear. It would also introduce them to the electric fence so that becomes imprinted in their brains.
 
In the meantime the hay we baled last summer continues to meet their approval. When baling it, it looked pretty nice. Opening bales now for hand feeding it is indeed some very nice hay. The ewes and lambs both love it and there’s very little waste left in the mangers. It won’t last forever though so while not wanting to short anyone, we try to use it wisely. Last summer’s mountain of bales has been reduced to a foothill. Fortunately we have some round bales left to use up. We’ve fed about half of them and the new bale feeders have helped keep the waste to a minimum even though it was coarse. It’s served its purpose well. The ewes have been about where we like them condition-wise. Too fat and they go down frequently not getting up again. Too thin and the lambs are frequently weak. Just right and everybody’s happy including the shepherd.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #621 on: March 29, 2018, 03:07:35 PM »
3/20

Haven't you noticed the days somehow keep getting longer?

Another week of mud coming to life during the day and freezing back up at night as per the scurs and Weather Eye. Will late March showers be in liquid or frozen form? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of rain and snow. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain and snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Partly mostly cloudy for Sunday with a moderate chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible snow/rain mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. On the 23rd, the sun will set at 7:30 and on the 27th we’ll have 12 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, the most since last September 15th. The normal high for the 27th is 46 and the normal low is 27. The scurs are seeing the days getting longer and wondering how much longer before the ice goes out on the cement pond.

Ice is showing little sign that it’s leaving area lakes anytime soon. With daytime highs in the upper 30’s and low 40’s followed by sub-freezing nighttime temperatures it’s like thawing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator. It seemingly takes forever. The good news is the snow melt has come off very gradually and for the most part the rivers and streams have flowed steadily yet well inside their banks. The frozen mornings have been handy for those with pack manure to haul as the ground will carry the tractor and spreader until it’s too greasy. After that it’s best to park it and wait for the next frozen morning. Likewise for most dooryard activities. Moving bales or equipment around when the ground is solid is preferable to closing up the ruts and cleaning mud up where it isn’t wanted. There are signs that frost is out in areas where standing water has suddenly disappeared. In other areas, one can slide on the mud that’s on top of the frozen soil underneath. If one isn’t satisfied turning an ankle on frozen ruts, the slippery mud is the next best thing.

Even though we’re clamoring for some warmer temps, the birds are returning in a big way. Large flocks of geese are seen and heard daily. Some tundra swans were over the ranch last Saturday and there are numerous reports of bald eagles. Numbers of these majestic birds are on the increase and as more becomes available to eat, (think roadkill) the more seem to be seen. Many larger groups of robins and they’re adding to the morning bird song from the male cardinals. The robins have been feasting on the remaining crabapples and the American cranberry as the ground in the yard and pasture is still frozen, meaning no earthworms. No killdeers yet though they can’t be far behind. We heard what sounded like sandhill cranes late last week and by Sunday they were flying overhead and playing around by the wetland area. Rooster pheasants continue using our backyard as a staging area to court the hens. They even tried using the small garden to dust bath but alas the mud was not allowing it.

More lambs have been moved to the loafing barn where they have access to the creep feeder. The creep feeder panel has rollers spaced such that only the lambs can pass through it and excludes the ewes. Ideally anyway. The rollers keep the lambs from rubbing their wool off when entering and exiting. The creep feeder is essential to get the lambs started on a high protein ration that is to their liking. It’s pretty hot stuff for the brood ewes tending to make them sick if they consume a large quantity. Moving the smaller lambs into the group reasonably quickly tends to make them follow the older lambs into the creep feed area where they catch on to solid feed by the monkey see monkey do principle. One more ewe left to lamb although we’ve given up on guessing when it’ll happen. She’s content to grind away on the round bale and look balefully (pun intended) at us when we check on her. If she keeps eating like that she’ll be the size of a round bale.

In between moving sheep Sunday it was time to prune fruit trees. The ground was a little soft but using the Gator makes a stable platform to operate from while keeping tracking to a minimum. We’ll save massive lawn destruction for the late snowfall moved with the tractor and bucket. So far so good on the pruning. I got two of the apple trees done then did battle with five of the unruly crabapple trees. Trying to whip those into shape is akin to pruning a rosebush tied in a knot. The branches are tangled every which way interspersed with sharp spines. The frustrating part is they’re pruned severely every year and the next spring they come back for more.

Usually I start at the bottom and work up, focusing on branches that are potential face slappers and eye gougers during lawn mowing season. From there it’s anything that looks out of place, especially branches or twigs growing up or down vertically and those growing towards the inside of the tree. Those are the easy targets in hopes of opening the tree up enough so one can throw a football through it. Well, a small one anyway. And lastly especially with the crabapples, one strives to impart a graceful form to the tree. I like to think I have a little grace. Not as much as Jackie O…
 
See you next week…real good then. 
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #622 on: March 29, 2018, 03:09:59 PM »
3/27

But what a fool believes he sees...

The scurs and the Weather Eye are convinced that our thermostat must be stuck open, hence the continued cool temps. Will changing to a hotter thermostat help the cause or are there other problems afoot? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening rain and snow. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of rain and snow. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 20’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain and snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny for Sunday with a modest chance of rain and snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper teens.  Monday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible snow/rain mix. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Sunrise is back before 7 a.m. on March 30th, the same as it was back on February 24th before the government magically created an extra hour of daylight. The normal high April Fool’s day is 49 and the normal low is 29. The scurs don’t believe it’ll warm up until they see it.

And somewhere in here we have to sandwich in another Full Moon, actually another Blue Moon, or Moon With No Name a la the Spaghetti Westerns. The 31st marks the date of our second Blue Moon for the year. The last time there were two Blue Moons and February without a Full Moon was in 1999. This won’t happen again until 2037. Due to the 28 day month, February is the only month that can occur without a Full Moon. The next Blue Moon occurs in 2020. So there. Now you’ve been mooned for another month!
Our progress towards spring continues to move at a frozen snail’s pace. Not only are our high temperatures well below normal, it’s still freezing the ground at night. Coupled with very little sunshine and now wind blowing across a snow pack to our south, the frost is coming out of the ground very slowly. There were reports as late as last weekend of people driving vehicles on area lakes reporting ice to be very sound yet. One would hope so.
 
I got to thinking back to 2012 when we had rhubarb already on Easter which was April 8th. I decided to check the progress of the rhubarb this spring and was surprised to see buds at the soil surface under last fall’s residue. Bear in mind the rhubarb was purposely planted on a south facing slope. It also has copious amounts of sheep manure under it. I then took my divining rod to determine how much frost might be left in the yard. Again, was surprised in places there was no frost. Some of the area had snow cover much of the winter. However, when I got near trees or any place that hadn’t received full sun most of the day, there was still frost that was tough to penetrate yet at 6” – 8” down.

This didn’t stop me from doing battle with more of the fruit trees however. Since it is rather labor intensive, cooler weather is preferable. Some of the smaller crabapples were finally big enough to do some major reconstruction. When they start out as 12” – 18” whips there isn’t a lot of pruning that can be done. Mowing around them was becoming a pain in the rump and persuading them to grow upwards a while is preferable to getting your eye poked out. Afterwards they looked about half their original size. That’s OK at this point. They’re young, they’ll get over it.

Birds continue to move in and on through. The redpolls that were here earlier in the month have vanished, replaced by some house finches. The killdeers are back again. Saw some along the road over the weekend and now their call can be heard from the hillside pasture. The robins are setting up their territory and consuming crabapples while they’re at it. I purposely haven’t pruned the Indian Magic tree yet as it still has a lot of fruit on it. I‘m sure they’ll still eat the fruit even if it’s on the ground but it makes a good excuse. There are still some small crabapples in the windbreak needing similar procedure to those in the yard. When I put out the black cutworm moth trap in their vicinity, it’ll probably serve as an appropriate time. Then I can finish pruning the Indian Magic tree and call it good.

We officially called the lambing season good on March 21st. The ewe that had held on forever finally had hers, a nice set of twins, one of each. The weather being so crummy, they’ve been a little slower to start than we’d like. They’re large extreme lambs and with the temps being subpar, the ewe either has a milk quantity or a quality problem so the ewe lamb has been helped some. Hopefully she’s worth it although I can count on one hand the number of bottle lambs we’ve ever raised that turned out to be contributors. They’re cute yet the novelty wears off quickly.
 
When one considers the amount of time taken to mix the milk replacer up, put it in bottles, place the bottles in a hot water bucket, put the leftover milk in the fridge, bundle up, head out the door, feed the little urchins, come back in, take off your barn clothes, wash the bottles out, same with the nipples then dump the water in the pail out, congratulations! You’ve just burned up about a half hour. Now, multiply that by four to five times a day and you begin to understand why bottle lambs can become the bane of a shepherd’s existence this time of year. In other words, bottle lambs suck, both literally and figuratively.

See you next week…real good then.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 03:11:03 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online mike89

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 6203
  • Karma: +33/-7
  • Liked: 138
  • Likes Given: 195
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #623 on: March 29, 2018, 03:14:18 PM »
noticed the 3-20 and went huh??  now I see the change!!! :rotflmao: :rotflmao:  made me laugh!!
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #624 on: March 29, 2018, 03:50:42 PM »
Gotta get up purty early in the mornin' to put one by mikey!  :happy1:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Rebel SS

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 12172
  • Karma: +78/-24
  • Inventor of Minnow Magic
  • Liked: 472
  • Likes Given: 284
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #625 on: March 29, 2018, 03:57:03 PM »
Yup. It'll rocket past Glenn, though.    :rotflmao: :rotflmao:
"Never thought I'd live this long, time is here and gone". The Doobies

Online glenn57

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 14241
  • Karma: +68/-144
  • 2015 deer contest champ!!!
  • Liked: 185
  • Likes Given: 203
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #626 on: March 29, 2018, 07:17:00 PM »
 :angry2: :angry2: :pouty: :pouty: :tut: :tut: :tut: :tut:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #627 on: April 05, 2018, 02:42:28 PM »
4/2

People see you having fun just a-lying in the sun

After changing to a hotter thermostat, the scurs remain stumped. Still not much heat emanating from the Weather Eye. How much deeper into the 232 six will they have to go before they stop recycling February forecasts? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the mid-single digits. Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s.  Monday, mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible snow/rain mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. On April 6th we’ll experience 13+ hours of daylight for the first time since September 4th. The normal high for April 6th is 52 and the normal low is 31. Somehow the scurs are convinced that the three snows on a robin’s tail rule no longer applies.

The cold, ugly weather continues to make headlines as frustrations continue to build. Someone suggested a good name for it would be Indian Winter! I have some other names for it that wouldn’t get printed I’m afraid. At any rate, while it is not pleasant it is not unprecedented. We’ve been spoiled as a rule with earlier springs and warmer winters recently. Probably the most frustrating thing is that most of the snow is/was gone. About the only good thing about the cold temperatures is the mud freezes up so if one has to go driving around the dooryard, it’s not leaving ruts. However, no one gets excited about lying out on a concrete slab changing cultivator shovels or working on a planter with weather like that. I think most are in agreement that when it decides to change, it’ll likely change quickly.
 
There is some concern about the birds that have returned having a tough time finding food. It could be an issue with some of the ground feeding birds if their food sources get covered for too long over too wide an area. Hopefully they’ll be able to move to areas without snow cover quickly enough so it doesn’t become an issue. Most of the robins continue relying heavily on the crabapple and berry supply. Soils that are frozen in the mornings aren’t conducive to much earthworm and night crawler activity. One of the more pleasant surprises has been the spotting of numerous meadowlarks over the past week. I’m hopeful some stay around here but the cat population will need to be thinned first.

The brood ewes with lambs remain confined to the barn, another casualty of the stubborn weather. There’s still plenty of snow on the electric fence in places and with cold temperatures forecast, there’s no sign they’ll be out where people can see them soon. When they do see them, they’ll probably be disappointed as the oldest lambs are pretty big already. They’re blowing through the creep feed rapidly now and devour the hay faster. We’ve mentioned it before but am glad we put up as much hay as we did. The grass in the pastures is dragging its feet like everything else.
 
I did get the last eating apple tree pruned before the temperatures plummeted over the weekend. It took a couple sessions after work but I got ‘er done. The Fireside tree has been somewhat fickle the past couple years and hasn’t been bearing as it once did. That and it dropped most of its fruit suddenly last summer, with the remaining apples appearing to be affected by scab and some apple maggot. There’s also a red cedar south of the yard I’ve been meaning to get rid of. While I’m on a mission might as well even though the trees are somewhat tolerant to cedar apple rust, best not to take chances sometimes.
 
Gardening has been one of the furthest things from my mind. I haven’t even peeked at the rhubarb recently. Figuring that with the cold temperatures ahead removing any residue covering the tender buds might be a mistake. There was one other small plant noted while cleaning some sticks and debris off the patio. I’d planted a pot of miniature daffodils last spring after it had dried down just to see if it would make it. It did and had lots of small buds ready to take bloom once the temperatures warm up. Was just happy to see it had survived. It’ll be interesting to see if the buds take it or not.
 
Ruby has actually been enjoying the frozen soil in the mornings. It means she can do her business unabated and not be left inside at choretime due to the quagmire by the barn. It has also meant that anytime we’re pruning trees, cleaning up sticks, or moving things around the yard, she can be out there where the action is. She gets more exercise and potty time along with taking more naps in the sun. Ruby turns 8 on the 4th and shows very little sign of slowing down aside from that. Just like her owner.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

  • Moderator
  • Master Outdoorsman
  • *
  • Posts: 2169
  • Karma: +29/-1
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #628 on: April 10, 2018, 02:19:17 PM »
4/10

Hey, I felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go

Upon further investigation, the scurs determined the heater core was plugged and replaced it. Will the Weather Eye respond by putting out some warmer temperatures or are we stuck in air conditioning? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of an evening rain shower. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Thursday, partly sunny with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of rain, possibly a thunderstorm. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain changing to snow by evening. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a slight chance of morning snow. Highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny becoming mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible afternoon showers. Highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 30’s. On April 16th we’ll experience 13 hours and 30 minutes of daylight for the first time since last August 25th.. The sun will rise on the 16th at 6:30 a.m. and on the 17th, will set at 8 p.m. The scurs remain convinced if the weather wants to behave like January and February, we should probably set our clocks back an hour.

Indeed the weather last week was certainly not very spring-like. At times it was more like mid-winter. On April 4th we had a low temperature of 3 at the ranch and at the SROC they recorded a low of 1 above. To make matters worse the high was about 22 that day, roughly the same normal temps we’d expect on January 16th. Heavy wet snowfall that fell primarily on the 3rd amounted to around 8” in town and over 10” at the ranch. Luckily the ground was frozen so moving snow without doing major damage to the yard and driveway was possible. Sad when you have to reach like that to find the silver lining in April weather. Additional precip in the form of graupel (those snow pellets that look like someone broke open a bean bag chair) followed by an encore performance of wet snow on Sunday has everyone grasping for any positive they can find.

 It would be nice to measure some liquid precipitation for a change. It’s much less subjective than measuring snowfall and other frozen forms. Warmer temperatures would help. Checking with local anglers, even though they didn’t attempt it, they claimed it still would’ve been safe to drive an automobile on the ice as of last weekend. As reported by the SROC, March was our 5th month in a row of below normal temperatures. Did you know the latest 50 degree temperature recorded at the SROC was on April 19th in 1951? The latest ice out date for Clear Lake in Waseca was also in 1951 on April 27th. The next latest was April 26th in 1975 followed by April 24th in both 1874 and 1965. Honorable mention goes to the April 22nd ice out in 2013. On that cheery note, someday it will be spring. I promise, he said, fingers crossed while clutching a rabbit’s foot with a four leaf clover in his pocket.

The extended winter continues to put pressure on hay and bedding supplies. There was seemingly plenty of hay around last fall with prices being fairly reasonable. That has suddenly changed especially for hay of higher quality. Good quality alfalfa in places is north of $200 a ton and straw if one can find it is about the same price. Fear not, all this will go away with the establishment of the buffers and subsequent haying, right? Unlikely in the near term anyway. Much of it has yet to be established and the first year cuttings tend to be full of weeds. In the meantime farmers are irate over the recent fines announced for violations of Gov. Dayton’s buffer strip law. Who can blame them? This administration in St. Paul has been the most farmer unfriendly in many moons. Given the ag economy, those tormenting the goose laying the golden eggs are likely to suffer dire political consequences in outstate MN come election time.

The recent snowfall has definitely prolonged the mud season agony. Ruby can attest to that as her usual choretime romps have been abruptly curtailed. Wiping mud off a Border Collie twice a day ain’t my idea of a good time. Nonetheless she’s had plenty of frozen soil most mornings to get her exercise. Some mornings having her run through the melting snow at her typical high rate of speed helps take some of the mucky mess off when it starts to thaw.  And sometimes Ruby even does impressions. During one of the recent snowfall events the snow was swirling around inside the barn door where she was camped. Ruby’s tail wagging, one could’ve sworn she was a four-legged powdered doughnut.
 
We continue to see an active bird population at the birdfeeders and in the yard in general. After a downy had perfected a hole in the silver maple tree visible from the bathroom window, was disappointed to see a male house sparrow setting up shop in it. That can be resolved quickly should he persist. Between large numbers of sparrows and now grackles, it has suddenly changed the bird feeding pattern. I’m content to allow the feeders with easier access for both species to run empty while maintaining the feeders for the smaller birds. Those feeders won’t allow the grackles access. The goldfinches are slowly but surely turning yellow while the ever present chickadees faithfully land on the feeder, pluck a seed, crack it open, eat it, and return for another.
 
Probably the most unique bird sighting recently was that of a hen pheasant parked in the silver maple outside the window where I write. She looked very out of place and unsure of herself as she was teetering on the branches. It was a bit of surprise to see her and even bigger surprise that she perched up in the tree for five to ten minutes. Not surprisingly she suddenly took flight, gliding towards the CRP and grassy cover. That’s more in line with normal hen pheasant behavior. Hens aren’t noted for their intelligence though. If there’s a pheasant hit on the road odds are it will be a hen. Likewise they’re known for dragging their brood through long, wet grass, losing some of their chicks to chilling. I will give them credit: I’ve never known one to nest in a tree.

See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online mike89

  • Master Outdoorsman
  • Posts: 6203
  • Karma: +33/-7
  • Liked: 138
  • Likes Given: 195
Re: Fencelines
« Reply #629 on: April 10, 2018, 02:49:48 PM »
I remember pheasant hunting likely 40 years ago, we saw a rooster glide into a small wooded grove  a block or so away.   we headed over there and worked that thing hard!!!!  dogs couldn't even get birdy!!!  and like I said it was a small grove, well after awhile we gave up and walked back to our cars.. as we stood there looking at the grove and wondering where that bird went to, poof there it went form the top of the trees!!!!  big maple or oak, can't remember but we all sure did laugh after we picked up mouths!!!  still makes me laugh!!!
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!