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Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #630 on: April 17, 2018, 11:47:32 AM »
Oh Stormy, Oh Stormy, bring back that sunny day!

The heater core replaced on the ’74 Gremlin, the Weather Eye was slow to generate much heat. Then the scurs suddenly remembered in their zeal for warmer spring temperatures they’d added water but no antifreeze! A rookie mistake! Will the antifreeze be the solution to the Weather Eye’s temperature woes or is it doomed to remain stuck on the permafrost setting? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with snow likely. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunny for Sunday with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s.  Monday, sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. The normal high for April 23rd (St. George’s Day in England) is 61 and the normal low is 39. The scurs are thinking Old Man Winter needs more fiber in his diet next year.

Another net negative week of weather has farmers’ daubers down. When one looks back at the calendar last year at this time things were starting to roll. Some corn had been planted on the 17th and roughly a third of corn planting followed the week after that until rain shut us down on the 25th until about May 7th. In other words, not all the corn went in the ground when everyone wanted it to. Had conditions remained fit of course most of the corn probably would’ve been planted in April. It wasn’t and the fact remains that much of our record setting corn crop was actually planted after the first week in May. Not only that but much of the corn planted was longer season hybrids farmers had originally purchased.  So you’re saying there’s a chance? At this point I wouldn’t rule anything out just yet.

Last week was a miserable week of weather for April to be sure so no one can blame farmers for being impacted by it. Aside from Thursday when we saw our first 50 degree high of the spring it struggled much of the week to make 40 for a high and the ground was frozen solid almost every morning. Essentially nothing was done in the field and those wanting to work on equipment told tales of woe. Diggers still froze down, shed doors frozen shut and muddy yards making it easy to create major ruts while jockeying large equipment around. Most of us with livestock have solved that problem. We’ve already made a rutted up muddy mess of our yards.
 
The weather continues to frustrate us at the ranch as well. With the nice day we had Thursday we’d decided since the fence was still stuck in the snowbanks, we’d make an enclosure with hog panels so they could at least get outside and enjoy some fresh air when the weather was nice. That lasted one day when the rain came on Friday. Of course the blizzard on Saturday piled snow in the enclosure as high as the hog panels. Let no good deed go unpunished as they say. I could probably try to scoop the snow out with the tractor although it would probably make a lot of ruts in their lot. Doing it before the next forecast snow on Wednesday would be tempting fate anyway.

Things had just been starting to look up too. The yard had firmed up nicely and the driveway was about as good as it gets for this time of year. On the evening of the 10th before dark I was planning on lighting the charcoal grill. I had some lamburger thawed and since the night was decent, I wanted to get at it while it was still light out. Ruby suddenly set up a fuss barking at an intruder outside the window. I thought at first it was the furry black and white stray cat we must’ve inherited using the small garden as a litterbox. Upon closer inspection it was Pepe Le Pew who I dispatched post haste with my trusty blunderbuss. Only trouble was the skunk attempted to return fire, stinking up the entire backyard. This caused a game delay. When the odor finally dissipated, I was once again grilling, only now it was under the lights. First time I ever remember my grilling being delayed due to chemical warfare.

I took pity on the bird population ahead of the weekend blizzard and stocked all their feeders. Before and during the storm there were more juncos at and around the feeders than I’ve seen in many moons. There were lots of grackles and red-winged blackbirds as well along with numerous house sparrows. The cardinals were definitely glad the sparrows were kicking seed out on the ground for them. The only feeder I neglected to fill was the ear corn feeder for the pheasants. I made amends by filling it before the next storm du jour. When checking the black cutworm trap I noticed pheasant tracks in the snow along with accompanying fox tracks. About ten pheasants, mostly hens had flown out of the spruce trees behind the house the night before while checking the LP tank. They’re in the yard for a reason. Food and shelter are usually two good ones.
 
While it was prolonged, the blizzard actually wasn’t one of the more spectacular snowstorms I’d lived through. One has to remember given my age, I’ve probably experienced some of the worst winter storms on record. The 60’s and 70’s were loaded with nasty blizzards. It seemed like school was always running well into June due to the numerous snow days. The Halloween Blizzard of 1991though was probably the nastiest one. This last storm made me recall it as some of the ash tree limbs that were still dangling from that one let loose and came down in the yard. The wind gusts of over 50 mph probably had something to do with it.
 
Some of the noteworthy storms have occurred in April. Can remember sliding in the pasture at home on April 29th as a kid one year wishing that winter would never end. It always did. Then I could go fishing. In 1984, around April 23rd it let loose in north central North Dakota where I was living at the time. It snowed me in for a couple days. I just nicely made it home. The visibility on the 10 mile jaunt from my Rolla office to my little house on the prairie near Armourdale Dam was cause for a white knuckle drive. Not many trees on that route. When the storm subsided and I finally got into town, there were snowdrifts up to the tops of the store windows! When I dug out this past Sunday I was on a mission. Just like after the North Dakota storm, I desperately needed to get toilet paper.

See you next week…real good then.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 11:48:40 AM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #631 on: April 25, 2018, 10:08:52 AM »
A little bit louder now...

Adding the antifreeze, the scurs got the Weather Eye functioning almost normally. Will we continue to make up for lost time or are we will get one last dying gasp out of Old Man Winter? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, becoming cloudy with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Sunny for Sunday with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 50’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On April 27th, we push above 14 hours of daylight for the first time since last August 14th. Then May arrives on Tuesday. The normal high for May 1st is 64 and the normal low is 42. The scurs are desperately awaiting the delivery of a May Basket. The long pull from Easter has been tough on their goody supply.

The Full Moon appears on April 29th and generally is called the Full Pink Moon for the ground phlox that blanket the woodlands in early spring. It also may be known as The Sprouting Grass Moon, The Full Egg Moon or the Fish Moon for the shad that run in the streams of the Northeast inhabited by the tribes there. This moon was known as the Broken Snowshoe Moon by the Ojibwe and the Moon of Greening Grass by the Sioux. At the ranch it is known as The Moon of Much Bellering as the early lambs are weaned from the ewes.
 
Although not as quickly as it fell, the snow has been leaving rapidly. Monday took a big bite out of it and about the only snow left was in the fencelines, ditches and groves. Aside from the manmade piles in yards and parking lots of course. The frost is largely out of the ground although I suspect on the north sides of groves and other shaded, sheltered areas there is probably some remaining. Ice was still fishable on area lakes this past weekend. The ground remains wet at this writing although it too has made some progress. Hilltops and areas of lighter soil we grayed off already late Monday afternoon giving us hope that there still will be an opportunity to plant within a decent timeframe. There is a little small grain to go in and it would certainly be nice to get it in during April yet.

At the ranch the yard has been sopping wet anywhere I left the snow since it was difficult enough to avoid damaging the yard just clearing the necessary paths facilitate moving feed and water between buildings. The good snow melting day on Monday had me looking at getting the electric fence up and running again. Unfortunately, the blizzard conditions snapped off about a dozen of the fiberglass posts so it will necessitate getting some new ones to replace them. The good news though is the grass on the south facing slopes is greening up nicely and once the fence is operating, we can wean some ewes and hopefully protect our precious hay supply. It will likely be a while before we get any new crop.

It is amazing how fast the flora and fauna change with a spring that’s been dragging its feet like this one. After a cooler evening on Saturday the 21st, I could hear the faint sound of one western chorus frog emanating from the wetland. The sound was a wee bit louder Sunday night as a few more chimed in and a little bit louder Monday evening as even more got in the act. Once we get evening temperatures in the upper 50’s or 60’s, it becomes almost deafening especially when right down beside the pond itself. Of course some of the flocks of red-winged blackbirds aren’t exactly quiet when they descend on the ranch. One can tell it’s spring as Mother Nature turns up the volume.

Some were concerned that the birds were struggling to find enough food with the snow covering much of it up. Indeed some did but the robins remained fairly resilient at the ranch, seeking out places such as along the house or by the barn where the ground was thawed. There was evidence of earthworm activity long before it was commonplace elsewhere. Of course they may have also been looking for mud for nest building as one robin surprised me coming off its nest when I passed an arborvitae in the windbreak.
 
I noticed too when checking the cutworm sticky trap there had been a general lack of flying insects in it up until Saturday when a fly was stuck in it. On Sunday we noted our first tree swallows of the season. Some gnatcatchers were spotted in the backyard along with a yellow throated warbler. These don’t show up at the ranch unless there’s and insect population to support them. Several other migrants were noted as well. A hermit thrush has been tooling around the backyard as have several flickers and a yellow bellied sapsucker. The final noteworthy sighting was a white throated sparrow. The orioles should be here within a matter of a few weeks (fingers crossed).
 
Some annoying crows decided to wake me up about 5 a.m. Monday morning with their loud calling from the spruce tree right outside of the bedroom window. I kept hoping they’d shut up or leave but they persisted. Finally I’d had enough of their racket and grabbed my blunderbuss. Even as stealthy as I was in my Crocs, one of the crows spotted me. They all took off quickly as I levelled a couple of blasts their direction. After I did that I noticed an owl flying off from another tree. A note to any crows reading this you’ve got to ask yourself one question, “Do I feel lucky?” Well do ya punk?

Auntie Mar Mar and Uncle Greg were Sunday guests and we had a great time. With a beautiful day finally after all the crummy weather we had the rest of the month. We deserved this one. The meal was scrumptious with everyone contributing. There were plenty of things left and some that were brought to our place as gifts. One thing in particular that met with our palates approval was the blueberry coffee cake which by the way is excellent with ice cream. It was even better than Drake’s coffee cake. Oddly enough we’d been discussing some Seinfeld episodes earlier. Big coincidence? There are no small coincidences and big coincidences!

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)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #632 on: May 04, 2018, 11:35:29 AM »
Take care of business and we have some fun, all night long, all night long

The scurs got the Weather Eye functioning above and beyond expectations, finally. Will our good fortunes continue or are we due for a setback? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 40’s.  Monday, mostly sunny becoming cloudy with a moderate chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the low 50’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. On May 5th our sunrise is back to 6 a.m. in Fake Saving Time, about the same as it was back on July 30th of last year. The normal high for May 5th is 66 and the normal low is 44. The scurs are positive that we’ve turned the corner and are heading for a near perfect summer and fall. We deserve it after the winter we had.

And yes what a winter it was along with an April that wasn’t very spring-like. With a low of 3 back on the 3rd, record snowfall for April and highest monthly total for the season (23” in town and 28.5” at the ranch) one began to wonder if spring would ever arrive. We finally got the ice to leave area lakes with several setting records for latest ice out including Clear Lake in Waseca on April 29th. The previous record was April 27th set in 1951. There is still lingering evidence of what we experienced. I picked up a round bale late last week or at least the tractor did and underneath the soil was frozen solid. The bale wrap remained glued to the ground as well. Replacing the fiberglass electric fence posts in that same timeframe, the ground was frozen solid on the north side of neighbor David’s grove in the pasture. There were still some snowbanks in our grove as well. Now that we’ve dispensed with all the bad news, on to bigger and better things.

Corn planting commenced in places as early as this past Saturday the 28th. More followed on Sunday along with fields being worked in anticipation of the warm, windy forecast for Monday. Those who had were not to be disappointed. High temperatures on Monday reached the low 80’s and the wind gusted over 40 mph midafternoon. Planters were rolling in earnest while active field prep ahead of the forecast rain paved the way. Somewhat miraculously when one thinks about it. Back on April 19th the ground was still white. Fields were still buried in a4” blanket of snow after being pounded the previous weekend with 8” – 12” of snow. That snow contained over an inch of water. Amazing when one thinks about it that we aren’t off last year’s pace all that far. Yes, last year we had some corn planted from April 20th – 25th but many did not plant until May 5th after a rainfall event brought progress to a halt. Monday night those with ground worked ahead toiled into the wee hours of the morning before the rain, in some cases rolling all night long.

At the ranch we continue to dry up although it’ll be a while before the main garden becomes fit enough to plant. Still, the snow melted enough so the electric fence could be pried from the snow banks and resurrected once again. The pasture grass has greened rapidly on our south facing slope, one of the perks of its position on the landscape. It also meant being able to let the ewes with lambs out into the small lot so they were able to finally get the exercise lambs need. It also means people drive by along about dusk to see if they’re running so drive carefully if you’re one of those responsible for the gawker slowdown.

More birds arrived this past week including a brown thrasher on the 25th and our first barn swallows on the 28th. The juncos have largely disappeared.  Something else that was noticeable was the singing of not just one but two male cardinals on the 29th. Wonder if they both fly into our sliding glass door? The goldfinches continue their molt into yellow plumage and have staked their claim to the thistle feeders. After seeing a Tweet by Al Batt saying he had orioles on Monday the 30th, I scurried around after chores and put out the jelly feeder. It brought back memories of the times Mom would call to relay news of the arrival of orioles at her feeders. For good measure I also put out the nectar feeder for the hummingbirds. Hopefully they’re not too far behind.

For what seemed an eternity the Studebaker had been in the garage. Last fall was not conducive to a lot of late cruising. In fact, the last run I made was October 21st to procure a Studebaker radio for the Lark. The day was dampish and there was a little road spray. I hadn’t wiped the car down although I’d intended to. As they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I’d dusted it off and it looked fine in the garage. Once outside in the sunlight though it was a different ballgame. It took a couple hours of elbow grease to get it looking respectable again. The whitewalls were especially labor intensive. Might be part of the reason their popularity waned over time.
 
I got the Silver Hawk presentable and made it to beautiful metropolitan Otisco in plenty of time where the car club departed for Good Thunder. Taking the backroads of course the little Studebaker 259 V8 purred like a kitten, fueled with Lukey’s magic elixir in the tank. The Borg-Warner overdrive performed flawlessly and with bleed through from the heat control valve, it made for the perfect temp inside. One minor breakdown on a Ford product occurred on the way although with the resourceful mechanics present, it was resolved quickly with a toenail clipper file. The food at the restaurant was fantastic. What’s not to like about all you can eat ribs that fall off the bone?

The cruise home was uneventful although the temperature dropped like a rock as the sun became low in the sky. The nylon shell I keep in the car came in handy. I’d forgotten to get cat food earlier on my feed run so tried to sneak in under the radar at Dollar General. As I grabbed the 22 lb. bag a guy says, “Hey, nice Studebaker. What year is it?” We then proceeded of course to blab about Studebakers until my shoulder nearly came out of its socket. Thanks to my diddling around it was nearly dark when I paid the bill and placed the cat food in the back seat. Definitely not the car you’d want as part of a witness protection program.

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)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #633 on: May 08, 2018, 12:12:54 PM »
All of a sudden that old rain´s fallin´ down and my world is cloudy and gray

The scurs got continued cooperation from the Weather Eye last weekend making everyone smile. Are we due for a letdown or to continue hurtling headlong into summer? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Thursday, partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Cloudy on Friday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Partly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. On May 12th we’re back to an 8:30 sunset, the same as we saw last August 7th. The normal high for May 12th is 68 and the normal low is 47. The scurs are taking Mother’s Day off so will focus their efforts on a major league nap.

Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer paid a visit last week on one of his scheduled appointments. We mainly got caught up on old cars and even older women but had time for some astronomical discourse as well. Right now the big show in the night skies involves Venus and Jupiter. Very bright Venus can be seen in the western sky about one-quarter of the way up shortly after sunset and sets approximately two hours later. Jupiter rises in the east around sunset and sets in the west around sunrise. Jupiter will be extremely noticeable (if not cloudy) as this week marks what is known as an opposition. The earth is between the largest planet and the sun. When it rises around sunset and is up all night long that’s an opposition. No opposition when the noted Swedish astronomer decides it’s time to make his next appointment. After all he’s a busy guy.

Progress in the fields finally began on a wholesale basis across much of the area over the weekend. Some progress had been made earlier although showers last week limited the planting progress. Some of the corn planted on April 29th is starting to emerge and early planted soybeans should pop out of the ground very soon. If the weather holds until press time, most of the corn will be planted in the area. Soybean planting progress has been moving along as well, some of it under the radar. Since some have multiple planters with operators available to run them, it only makes sense. Soil moisture has been adequate yet not excessive thus far. With a little sun and a breeze, it’s allowed field conditions to recover quickly so planting can resume. As of this writing however rain is moving in. Farmers are scrambling to finish or get to a stopping point before it brings their progress to a screeching halt.

Some minor gardening effort so far at the ranch. The evening of the 1st I quickly grubbed in a couple short rows of radishes while sharp lightning made it known a thundershower was imminent. By Saturday the 5th they were starting to emerge. The peonies quickly made their move as well on the southern exposure where they’re planted. The rhubarb planted nearby had stolen the show becoming massive in a matter of a few days. Massive enough so that Mrs. Cheviot manufactured a delicious pie on Sunday. One couldn’t even tell that any had even been harvested. Other plants around the yard are coming to life as well. The lilies of the valley were slow. With the warmer temps they suddenly erupted. Even slower were the tiger lilies around the LP tank. One is reminded quickly of their position in partial shade when compared to the tiger lilies planted by the rhubarb. The difference in growth is night and day. The fruit trees are poised to burst into bloom soon and the trees in general are greening up. More cover for the newly arrived feathered friends.

The rains and warmer temperatures have caused area lawns to really explode and the yard at the ranch is no exceptions. Getting all the sticks picked up before turning the mowers loose is critical especially near the house. Sticks become projectiles and easily make holes in vinyl siding. Speaking from experience. The last of the face slapper and eye gouger limbs and branches were pruned off the offending trees as well. Getting that out of the way actually has me looking forward somewhat to mowing. Now I can focus on more important matters like trying to avoid rolling the mower on the road cut!

On the still evening of the 2nd the western chorus frogs reached a crescendo in the wetland whilst I was out gilling on the patio. Coupled with sandhill crane and Canada goose playing lead, it was almost surreal. Two nights later when grilling, the chorus frogs were getting serious competition from the American toads. 10 days ago I’d moved a slab of concrete and noticed a toad burrowed in underneath it. To avoid squashing it when I put the concrete back down I moved the toad to a safe spot. It apparently wasn’t quite ready for spring and burrowed back in under some debris. Have a hunch we may see the Reader’s Digest version of spring this year. A lot of typical spring occurrences seem to be crammed into a relatively narrow timeframe. Just thankful the ground isn’t white anymore. Enough is too much.
 
As usual, about the time this gets sent out a new batch of migrating birds appears at the ranch. The May 2nd arrivals included Harris’s, white crowned and Lincoln’s sparrows. This was the first year I recall seeing the Lincoln’s sparrows. All of them are on their way north to the boreal forests of Canada and in some cases perhaps northern Minnesota. Putting out the hummingbird feeder yielded dividends. The first one arrived on May 2nd. A rose-breasted grosbeak was eating out of the jelly feeder on May 6th and a gray catbird was also enjoying some a few minutes later. The orioles arrived with fanfare on the 8th. Seated in the oval office, I thought I could hear one nearby. Sure enough there was a male Baltimore oriole in the silver maple tree singing away with his behind pointed at me. A half hour later there were three male Baltimore types along with a male orchard oriole squabbling over dibs on the jelly feeder. Going to be a good day when that happens.

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)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #634 on: May 19, 2018, 10:17:03 AM »
You can ponder perpetual motion...

The scurs had a letdown from the Weather Eye with showers and cool temps raining on everyone’s parade. Are we due to rebound to more summer-like weather or does Mother Nature have a cold, cold heart? Starting Wednesday, mostly clear with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy on Friday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a modest chance of lingering forenoon showers. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. On May 22nd we’ll reach just over 15 hours of daylight. The last time that happened was last July 19th. The normal high for May 22nd is 71 and the normal low is 50. The scurs are rested and ready following a long rain delay. Now if they could only remember what it was they were going to do.

And what a long delay it was. Very little fieldwork has been accomplished since the forenoon of May 8th. Rainfall totals from the 8th through the 15th totaled 2.85” at the ranch and 2.92” at the Mall for Men in Bugtussle. Along with the extended wet spell, cloudy skies and cooler temperatures made matters worse. Lately it seems that if there’s even a minor chance of precip, it finds a way to rain. Looking at the forecast though, it appears there may be another narrow planting window this week. It should give those who were close to finishing up corn a chance and those who had started soybeans an opportunity to make a bigger dent in that planting. Corn planted those last several days in April is up and off to a good start in spite of the pale color. Soybeans planted in early May were just cracking as of Monday.

At the ranch it was time to get some mowing done Mother’s Day although it was cool and damp yet in the late forenoon. A new breeding ram made it to our place from WI and it was chilly standing around visiting after we unloaded him. Crawling under a blankie once back inside felt good and the nap that followed was even better. I was awakened to the sound of a lawnmower below the hill and after looking outside, it appeared the sun was peeking through. Time for a little lunch and to get the final prep on Howard the orange mower. Everything ran smoothly and even though the grass was uneven in height, the mower left enough tracks to allow one to see where you’d been.
 
Mowing around the round bales I was curious if there was still any frost underneath them yet. Monday night I needed to move one so poked around with a rod where the bale had been afterwards. It only went in the ground about an inch or two! However, I remained unconvinced so grabbed a shovel and dug down to see what was preventing the rod from going any deeper. Sure enough, I’d placed the bales where we’d put down inch and a quarter rock years ago. If I hadn’t double checked I probably would’ve been telling everyone there was still frost under the bales yet. Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story! No fake news here.

The backyard became a regular bird circus last week with the arrival of numerous orioles, more hummingbirds and several dozen goldfinches all in perpetual motion. The orioles blew through a jar of jelly within a day of the first one and the goldfinches polished off the last of the thistle seed in short order. Fortunately I had some gift cards and a discount coupon I donated to the cause. Once the female orioles (both the Baltimore and orchard orioles) arrived Sunday the pace of jelly consumption tapered off rapidly. Some other notables likely passing through Sunday included pine siskins and a male indigo bunting. A house wren has been here since the 11th so now it can officially be summer anytime. The resident chipmunk is already thinking about stashing food. It stuffed its cheeks so full of corn it looked like it had a goiter. I mean I keep thinkin' that that goiter's gonna start talkin' to me..

Around the yard the serviceberries (Saskatoon berries) were the first woody vegetation to flower. They’re just covered with blossoms so the robins should be happy. The fruit trees, wild plums and flowering crabs have made slow progress towards blooming. On Monday the plum blossoms were edging closer to opening giving the trees an almost beige appearance. If the weather performs as forecast with warmer temperatures and sunshine, they’ll just explode. Likewise with the rest of the flowering trees in the yard. Getting an up close and personal look at them while mowing, they should erupt with a burst of color. They won’t last long but at least the flowers appear to be intact. After the cold and snow in April, I wasn’t so sure that would be the case.

Ruby has been enjoying the spring lately. The mud has been contained to a small area and with the yard greening up, she can mosey around just about anywhere. She generally doesn’t wander into the tall grass and that helps keep the ticks to a minimum. To keep the lawn from becoming tall grass of course mowing it needs to happen. That also provides entertainment for Ruby in the form of barking, growling and tire biting. In addition she follows the mower around the yard. She’s slowed down a hair but still answers the bell. After finishing up mowing and heading into the house for some nourishment, Ruby disappeared from the living room. As Border Collies will do, she was tired and needed her space. She likes to hide in the bedroom or the closet. Not a bad idea some days.

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)

Offline HD

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #635 on: May 19, 2018, 02:34:22 PM »
Does the Saskatoon berry have the same, or better anti-oxidant properties as the blueberry? will it grow in central Minnesota?
Mama always said, If you ain't got noth'in nice to say, don't say noth'in at all!

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #636 on: May 19, 2018, 03:14:38 PM »
Does the Saskatoon berry have the same, or better anti-oxidant properties as the blueberry? will it grow in central Minnesota?

Not sure on a comparison basis how they stack up against blueberries but here is a link to some of their claims. Our bushes are fairly young and don't bear a lot of fruit yet. By the time the berries are getting ripe, the robins and everything else have usually eaten them! They should do well in central MN. The city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan is named after the berry.

http://saskatoonberryinstitute.org/saskatoons/

The one berry we planted a lot of that is reputedly the best for antioxidants is the chokeberry. The birds love them too but they produce berries like mad. Had no idea they'd produce like that. They'll pucker you up eaten raw but pie made from them and served warm with Schwan's ice cream is to die for. I've heard good things from people who've made jam from them too.  :happy1:

http://www.superberries.com/health-benefits
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline mike89

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #637 on: May 19, 2018, 03:20:31 PM »
never had chockberry, and the Saskatoon berry sounds good when I read that attachment...
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline HD

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #638 on: May 19, 2018, 04:53:02 PM »
Is the Chokeberry and the Chokecherry the same?

We have Chokecherry trees here that grow wild....lots of them....
But, like you said, the birds get most of them.
Mama always said, If you ain't got noth'in nice to say, don't say noth'in at all!

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #639 on: May 19, 2018, 05:55:51 PM »
Nope, different animal, er, plant. Chokeberries (aronia berries) are more of a bush-type plant. We got these from the SCWD one year at their tree sale. Pretty hardy. We have some chokecherries here too, mainly in the fenceline. A real old one in our pasture blew over in one of the windstorms this winter. Sad to see it go. Birds loved it & the sheep liked to lay under it. Had chokecherries growing up in Spring Valley too. Mom made chokecherry jelly a few times as I recall.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #640 on: May 22, 2018, 10:24:47 AM »
Get out of town, think I'll get out of town.

The scurs and the Weather Eye were back on people’s Christmas card lists again after bringing the high heat. Will the supply continue or will there be an adjustment? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Thursday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy on Friday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Sunny for Sunday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s.  Monday, Memorial Day, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. On the 29th we’ll see the next full moon. The normal high for May 29th is 74 and the normal low is 53. The scurs will be honoring those who have fallen protecting our freedom and way of life.

The Full Moon on the 29th goes by the Full Strawberry Moon and rightfully so. This popular delicacy is at its prime during the month of June here in MN and most of us look forward to it. Whether they’re served plain, with shortcake, angel food, with whipped cream or ice cream it doesn’t seem like one can get enough of them. Not so surprisingly, the Ojibwe and the Sioux both agreed that this month’s moon would be called the Strawberry Moon. At the ranch it is known as the Moon of much Bellering as the lambs are to finally be separated from the ewes. Almost as much fun for the neighborhood as a loud rock and roll concert.
 
Progress in the fields was finally made at a fairly brisk pace. Showers subsided and temperatures rose to aid in the rapid drying of area fields. This was not without its problems however as corn that was planted from May 6th – 8th developed a crust and in some fields necessitated the use of the rotary hoe. Not unprecedented although sometimes the time, machine and labor were in scarce supply as farmers drove hard for the finish line. Given warmer temperatures, after soybean planting is over there will likely be little time until spraying for weeds is upon us.

At the ranch the yard has come to life in major fashion. All the apples and crabapples were suddenly in bloom as were the lilacs. It’s a pretty time of the year around the countryside for that matter as there are flowering trees across much of the landscape. Unfortunately it doesn’t last long enough, usually only until the wind blows which it does with great frequency. Mrs. Cheviot got most of her pots and planters put together over the weekend so with a little luck and a bunch of watering, it will keep the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds occupied.

About the only berry bush in the yard left to bloom are the nannyberries. They produced well last year and there was even some fruit left when the robins were desperate for food this spring. They also provide an excellent spot for the cardinals, catbirds, orioles, wrens and the brown thrasher to conceal themselves. Looking around the yard somedays it’s not easy to find the source of the bird song. More often than not though it’s emanating from the nannyberry bushes.

The lawn grew at breakneck speed last week making it necessary to mow it for the 2nd time. It’s nice to get the ditch done the 2nd time as the grass grows rapidly in the bottom, leaving a lot of dry stuff to grind up during the next mowing. If you can get on top of it and mow when it isn’t two feet tall, it goes a lot faster too. Luckily the cooler temperatures since last weekend have slowed the grass growth somewhat.

Gardening has been back burnered for the time being. The main garden has largely been too wet and the time to make any move towards getting at the rest has been at a premium. Or it’s raining. It won’t take long once it breaks but getting it to break has been the issue. In the meantime, rhubarb has been supplying several people with its tart stems for pie and sauce making. The lilies of the valley have even been contributing. After the recent royal wedding, they’ve been in demand for some of the floral arrangements and bouquets.
 
Around greater Bugtussle our traffic woes continue. I had to laugh recently when reading my hometown Spring Valley newspaper as the editor extolled the virtues of all the concrete roads in Waseca Co. He was convinced this was a great deal for Fillmore Co. Obviously he hasn’t been to Bugtussle to witness our most recent outbreak in an unending string of road construction. Barricades appear, numerous hunks of concrete are cut out and replaced. It’s been rinse and repeat every year since the road was redone a few years back. Coupled with construction on MN Hwy 13, finding new routes in and out of town on a daily basis makes me feel like I’m in a spy movie. When driving through the construction zones, I recall a comment attributed to astronaut Alan Shepard who said, “Just think, the contract on this thing went to the lowest bidder.”

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)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #641 on: May 30, 2018, 10:50:06 AM »
Hit me with your best shot

The scurs and the Weather Eye were thinking perhaps they’d overdone it a tad with the new hotter thermostat that was sticking shut. Will Mother Nature keep bringing the high heat as a result or will she start tossing us some junk? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Sunny on Friday becoming cloudy with a good chance of overnight showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a moderate chance of showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s.  Monday, partly sunny with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Sunny Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Friday is June 1st already. The normal high for June 1st is 75 and the normal low is 54. The scurs are making sure their electric bill is paid after giving their AC a workout.

Another week of variety for weather. Hit and miss showers slowed progress in places slowing the last planting and delaying applications of herbicides. The extreme heat over the weekend didn’t do any favors either, increasing the potential for crop injury if herbicides were applied. The good news is that due to the extreme heat, some of the early emerging weeds such as giant ragweed will tend to shut down. The bad news though is that those such as waterhemp are loving it. As the week wore on, soybeans and the few remaining aces of corn were put in the ground. Soybeans are emerging nicely and corn planted after the heavy rains in May have generally good stands. Early planted corn was V3 – V4 and 6” – 8” tall. Some 1st cutting hay is ready to be made although not everyone is ready to make it.

With the heat we bid adieu to all the beautiful blossoms on the crabapple trees at the ranch. They were exceptionally pretty this year not only at the ranch but all across the countryside. There are still some flowering shrubs lending their scent to the air when it’s still. As expected the nannyberries blossomed heavily and the American cranberries (viburnum) were coming. While not as fragrant as the plums, the sweet fragrance attracts lots of bees to the yard. One has to wonder sometimes if the heavy blooms on the trees and shrubs was somehow related to the heavy consumption by migrating birds this spring. There is a rhyme and reason to things beyond our understanding at times.

The pots around the yard are wasting no time taking off in the warm weather. The only problem is they’ve needed watering already due to the heat even though the plants are relatively small yet. The area lawns didn’t shut down although the bluegrass at the ranch shot seed heads already. When that happens the grass gets tougher and usually means a sharper set of blades is in order. Otherwise the mower sort of chews the grass off and works harder in doing so. Usually the heat helps shut down the dandelions and that cuts down on the amount of gunk hanging up on the underside of the deck. Ruby doesn’t care. Her white socks were green once again from another session of lawnmower herding.

There has been mention of the large number of evergreens that have been killed or suffering from the “winter burn”. Actually it might be more like “spring burn” as when the trees needed to be taking up water, the soil was still frozen. Trees that were under some stress to begin with and particularly certain varieties of arborvitae were extremely susceptible. We’ve lost several arborvitae such as the dark green varieties at the ranch over the years. Varieties such as techny arborvitae tolerate the situation much better as per our experience. Not as tall perhaps but at least they survive through winter-spring combinations like this last one.

The first of the mosquitoes and stable flies have arrived. I was bitten by a stable fly during chores Monday night. Later when I was grilling and waiting for the coals to get hot, I decided to fill the oriole feeder. I was scooping the jelly out of the jar when I felt something biting my arm. Sure enough, a mosquito was trying to perform an unsolicited blood draw. I’d already done my blood letting at the clinic earlier in the week. Smack!
 
I stopped at Wagner’s on Friday late afternoon to get a couple things for the long weekend. As I came up to the cash register a young mother with a couple little boys was ahead of me with a lot of groceries. The boys were well behaved but she seemed flustered as she got everything gathered up for the trip out the door. When I got out to the parking lot she apologized for making me wait. I told her no need for that; I understood completely. While I’d been standing in line catching up on which celebrities had been abducted by aliens, I recalled those trips to the grocery store with my own Mom.
 
I’m not sure how she was ever brave enough to show her face in town sometimes afterwards. If she left us in the car, there were always things to do like burning flies with the cigarette lighter, playing with all the buttons and knobs as well as honking the horn at people while we were lying flat on the seat. Bringing us in the store with her wasn’t an option. No telling what we might say or do to embarrass her. And leaving us at home unsupervised was no slam dunk either. More time and opportunity to get into mischief. Would likely require turning right around and heading for the clinic anyway. I had a lot of respect for the young lady as she put her groceries in the trunk and buckled the young lads in. Much as my own Mom did, one could see she was giving it her best shot.

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)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #642 on: June 12, 2018, 11:22:53 AM »
From 6/5


I walked 47 miles of barbed wire…

The scurs and the Weather Eye were preaching moderation in all things, including temperatures and precipitation. Will some draw the short precipitation straw again this week or will it be someone else’s turn in the barrel? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Thursday, partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a moderate chance of showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with a chance of late day showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On Saturday the 9th we’ll see sunrise at 5:31 a.m. We’ll have 15 hours and 24 minutes of daylight and only gain about 4 minutes more by the summer solstice. The normal high for June 9th is 77 and the normal low is 56. Given the recent warm temperatures the scurs will be testing out their new water wings in the ceement pond.

Another good week of crop growth. Fortunately temperatures moderated and parts of the weekend were downright cool. No one complained not even their air conditioners. The first planted corn was V6 – V7 on Monday and early planted soybeans were V2 – V3. Some corn is going through the ugly duckling stage as it often does when switching from the temporary seminal root system to the permanent nodal root system which will carry the crop through to maturity. Some areas received excess precipitation this past week and may benefit from additional nitrogen applications. Application of herbicides has been catch as catch can. Between wind and rainfall, applicators have had to pick their spots. The first cutting hay that has been baled and has been exceptionally nice. With neighbor Jon’s hay curing and the south breeze wafting the aroma up the hill it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Gardening time has been at a premium this spring and happens a piece at a time at the ranch. The morning glories are taking off and should begin their ascent up the makeshift trellises. After all the refuse was removed from December’s well battle, Mrs. Cheviot planted the bed by the well in short order. Not to be outdone I mustered enough ambition to plant the canna bulbs in the backyard garden. While it’s a labor intensive process start to finish, it’s worth it to see the hummingbirds feeding on the nectar of the bright red flowers.

Our summer birds are fully entrenched. The dickcissels and bobolinks sing in the pasture while the common yellowthroats are camped in the plum thicket. All the feed sack string intended for oriole nesting material has disappeared so something apparently found it to their liking. In addition to the normal oriole population, there have been more catbirds this year than ever. They always talk about being in the catbird seat. These catbirds are always busy and don’t have time to sit.
   
At the ranch haying is one the horizon even if the forecast needs to be more encouraging than what was seen above. There are still a few round bales from last year and several from the year before to be used up. Eventually it will be nice to have some small squares although I’ve never heard anyone say they were looking forward to baling them. The baling itself isn’t the bad part. It’s the loading, unloading and stacking that still makes it one of the least favorite activities remaining on the farm today. If you want to get rid of people fast, just say the words “bale hay” and I guarantee they’ll disappear in a heartbeat.

We managed to finally get everything weaned on Sunday. The ewes were absolutely awful to deal with this time as Cheviots can be. Their reputation for being lively is legendary and they were determined to live up to it. It didn’t help matters that there were ewes to be culled and put in a separate pen along with yearlings that needed to go to pasture. Once that was done it was time for a group to be loaded into the trailer bound for the kindly neighbors pasture. There were two black ewes and six white ewes, all very fat and unlikely to lose weight given the growth there.
 
When I got to the kindly neighbors with the ewes I unloaded the mineral feeder first and quickly scoped out the fence. It was extremely windy. Rather than kill their soybeans with deadly agro toxins I opted to bring the weedeater. Good thing I did. Along with the usual downy brome and Canada thistles, the poison hemlock had exploded in the heat. After unloading the ewes, I tackled the fence. It’s probably over a quarter mile of fence when one goes all the way around it. Along with taking the weeds out one has to untangle the electric fence wire from the barbed wire. Luckily there were only two spots where that occurred and it took minimal effort. Once back to the barn, plugged the fencer in and shazam! The old International weed chopper sprang to life, emitting its familiar pinging cadence.
 
I stopped back Monday evening to check on the sheep. There was very little bellering and they’d settled in just fine. With all the food you can eat and nothing better to do why wouldn’t you be? The waterer was working properly and the fencer was still pinging away. All was right with the world. I checked in at the house and the female spousal unit greeted me as did Annie the resident collie, who received her first dog treat of the season. I asked if they knew the sheep were there and was told they’d discovered them sort of by accident. The kindly neighbor lady said the male spousal unit had decided yesterday that he should run his weedeater along the fence by the yard. He came back in to say I’d beaten him to it. That would have to be some kind of a first.

See you next week…real good then. 
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 11:28:37 AM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #643 on: June 12, 2018, 11:27:11 AM »
Took my foot off the gas and man alive
I shoved it on down into overdrive

The Weather Eye predicted moderate temps and the scurs approved. Unfortunately the rainfall left something to be desired. Will drier conditions prevail or are we still stuck in the rinse cycle? Starting Wednesday, sunny becoming mostly cloudy with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, partly sunny with a good chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Partly sunny and warmer on Friday with a decent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny and steamy with highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the low 70’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s.  Monday, partly sunny with a chance of late day showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Cloudy Tuesday with possible a.m. showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On Saturday the 16th we’ll see sunrise at 5:31 a.m. We’ll have 15 hours and 24 minutes of daylight, gaining only a few seconds leading up to the summer solstice. The normal high for June 16th is 80 and the normal low is 58. The scurs will need to rest up in order to take advantage of all the daylight. Or not.

Rainfall this past week surprised a lot of folks just about the time they were predicting the beginning of a long dry spell. Not that it still couldn’t happen. It will have to wait a while. Rainfall in town totaled 2.31” and at the ranch 2.32”. It still isn’t as much as some received and yet is more than others garnered. Just goes to show that precipitation is far from uniform and no one has an exclusive on always having the most or the least.

It made farming miserable without a doubt. For those with hay yet to make the forecasts haven’t particularly favorable. Likewise for those trying to make herbicide applications. Wet fields coupled with the windy conditions has many  concerned about getting their dicamba products on their tolerant soybeans. June 20th is the cutoff date for spraying it according to MN state law. At this point there will be no waiver on that spray date. Early planted corn this past week was V8 –V9, some actually V10. Early planted 30” rows closed this past week and 20” rows have been closed for quite some time. They’re sneaky that way. Early planted soybeans were V3 – V4 and starting to really take off. So are the weeds, hence the weather concerns. Some have asked how our corn and soybean development compares to last year. From last year’s column dated June 13th, we are about dead even with comparable planting dates in both crops.

And of course the rainfall means one thing in common for farmers and non-farmers alike: lots of lawn mowing. It looked as though the lawn at the ranch was starting to get dry the first week of June. One should know better than to even think thoughts like that let alone say anything. Not only have the rains been frequent they were generous. Along with moderating temperatures, it gave cool season grasses in area lawns a second wind. The potential break lawn mowing break was over. The mowing had been delayed somewhat at the ranch. Some nights after work the grass was wet and some nights, after chores I was just too tuckered after bouncing across area fields all day. Not a spring chicken anymore.

I did manage to find time to spray the pasture fence at the ranch and it needed it. Some of the Canada thistle were getting out of hand along with foxtail, lambsquarters, waterhemp, giant ragweed, downy brome and horseweed. I changed the witches brew up a little as there have been some weeds, particularly waterhemp that seem to be developing tolerance or resistance. So far so good although waterhemp tends to lull one to sleep and suddenly shrug it off when you’re not looking. Another major weed concern in the lot around the buildings has been nettles. Dicamba is likely my best bet there although just like everyone else, it’s a product to be used with care and respect.

Looking out the back door this past week I noticed one of our resident squirrels chowing down on some of the numerous silver maple seeds. A couple weeks ago the seeds were dropping out of the trees like flies. The squirrels must’ve been busy last fall as the delayed lawn mowing revealed many seedling oaks scattered across the yard. Now I see the ash trees are starting to shed their seeds. They seem to blow around and end up everywhere. Along with squirrels planting acorns and silver maple seeds, no wonder the yard keeps looking more and more like a forest.
 
It appears there are many of our birds nesting right now. Wrens have claimed a few of the houses around the yard and there are several houses occupied by tree swallows. No bluebirds at the ranch I know of but there are several nesting boxes at the kindly neighbors with blue eggs in them. The house sparrow population at the ranch has been on the wane over the past couple years so I’m hopeful we will see bluebirds back at the ranch again soon.

And finally it looks like I’ll get a chance to take the Studebaker out for a drive. The way the spring broke, the weather’s either been lousy or there simply hasn’t been time. Luckily the last time it was out, there were very few insects so the wipe down was a snap. It might be a different story as now even the fireflies have been around for a week or so. Doubtful that will be one of the insects to worry about however as the bulk of the miles on the vehicle are daylight hours. At any rate it’ll be fun to put the three on the tree through its paces, take my foot off the gas and drop it on down into overdrive. I know there’ll be a Dairy Queen pre-programmed into the navigational equipment on the Silver Hawk. Yet another way that Studebaker was way ahead of its time.

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)