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Online 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)

Online 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)

Online 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)

Online 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)

Online 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)

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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!

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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!!

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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!

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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)

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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)

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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)

Online 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)

Online 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)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #644 on: June 22, 2018, 12:12:15 PM »
Mephistopheles is not your name
I know what you're up to just the same

The scurs were persuaded by the Weather Eye that we would receive yet more million dollar rains. The heat made the 90’s making everyone icky and sticky. Will our temps and rainfall moderate or are we in for another sauna treatment? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy and on Friday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with highs in the low 80’s lows in the low 60’s.  Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of 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. June 21st marks the summer solstice and our longest day of the year. We’ll have 15 hours and 28 minutes of daylight, with the sun setting at 9 p.m. CDT. The normal high for June 21st is 81 and the normal low is 60. The scurs will be saving shekels on their lighting & heating bill sure in the knowledge that soon the days will begin getting shorter. After last winter that’s the last thing anyone wants to hear.

Crop progress responded to our heat and long days. Corn really shot up last week with early planted corn at V10 – V11. Corn is 4’ tall in places and improving color has increasingly shown signs that the nodal root system has kicked it in gear, grabbing some of the nitrogen some feared was lost. It has generally been too wet to apply any additional N with ground equipment anyway. Some of the early planted fields of soybeans were not to be outdone with blooms appearing as early as last Friday the 15th.  The heat and wet conditions have been problematic however for dicamba applications with very few hours that would’ve allowed applications to be made within the label. This leaves operators with little alternative  in much of SC MN once we get past June 20th than to find suitable alternative herbicide treatments. Area small grain fields continue to look impressive although more moderate temperatures would be welcome. Haying has been difficult for those with many acres to bale. Simply not enough drying weather with the frequent rainfall and changeable forecasts.

Sunday meant getting a handle on the pasture weed control. The large, ugly patches of nettles, Canada and bull thistles were on my list. I wasted no time concocting a witch’s brew intended to control all of them at the same time. I really didn’t relish the idea of spot spraying the weeds twice as hot as it was. When I finished I was wringing wet but had accomplished my goal. The next day following the heat and overnight rain it looked as though someone had really lowered the boom on them, their heads bowed in submission. Few things channel my inner farmer like making perennial and biennial weeds lives miserable in a pasture.
 
We did manage to plant some garden Sunday after debating whether or not it was worth the bother. The small garden that usually is planted mainly to flowers wound up home to nine tomato plants and some zucchini. As usual blue salvia and 4 o’clocks were still planted for the hummingbirds and sphinx moths. I needed to answer a burning question after saving seed from last year. Do red 4 o’clocks breed true or do they cross pollinate resulting in a variety of colors? A few cannas were poking their heads out although some of them appeared to be coming from seed based on their location outside the row. The heat Sunday made us glad it was only a small garden. The .72” of rainfall overnight was a godsend though, causing more cannas to emerge as well as watering the tomatoes and other transplants in for us. Couldn’t have planned it any better.

Elsewhere around the yard the apple trees are loaded thus far. A pleasant surprise has been the appearance of pears on the pear trees. The Parker tree has about two dozen on it and the Patten has a handful scattered around on it. Having never seen pears develop before it has been intriguing. As one might’ve guessed, so far they’re behaving like little apples only pear shaped. It would be nice to have a few of them actually make it to see how they taste. I’m guessing the birds will probably be in the hunt to taste test them as well.

At the ranch about the best thing about this wet weather was the fact we could get rid of some cull ewes and rams. The trailer was backed in and panels were erected to load them.  As if on cue the Cheviots were wired, with several knocking down or jumping over panels and gates, getting into pens where they didn’t belong. Some of the panels were 4’ high! A recently purchased outcross ram knocked his panel down and was tearing around with the new crop lambs. If he hadn’t cost some money and looked so good on the move he might’ve been on the trailer too. He did get a new (unprintable) name in spite of all that. We did finally get everyone where they belonged thanks to help from the local sheep shearer. It’s rare to raise a good ram so it’s always a relief especially to get rid of yearlings you’ve been speculating on. Usually no speculation when it comes to their usefulness. Not unlike many juvenile male humans apparently their primary purpose is to consume a lot of feed and wreck things.

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 glenn57

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #645 on: June 22, 2018, 12:46:25 PM »
 :happy1: :happy1: enjoy reading you ventures dotch!!!!!!!!!!!
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Offline mike89

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #646 on: June 22, 2018, 03:17:13 PM »
 :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #647 on: July 02, 2018, 12:05:09 PM »
From 6/26

Crosstown traffic
All you do is slow me down

The scurs were convinced that the Weather Eye would get back on track and cool it down, which they did. Unfortunately someone left the sprinkler on. Are we about to dry out for a spell or is the Weather Eye stuck on swamp mode? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Thursday, partly sunny and warmer with highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Mostly sunny on Friday becoming cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the low 70’s. Saturday, partly sunny with an increasing chance of rain by evening. Highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s.  Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly cloudy Tuesday with possible a.m. showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. The normal high for June 28th is 82 and the normal low is 61. The scurs will be seeking out their illegal fireworks dealer to celebrate the end of this anti-fireworks governor’s reign of terror.

The Full Moon is upon us once again and as a human I’m able to make mistakes with the best of them. Somehow I must’ve wanted to jump a month ahead as I was hungry for strawberries and claimed the Full Moon in May in their honor. Actually that was the Full Flower Moon but aside from soybean blossoms there were few for me to enjoy. Anyway, this is the Full Strawberry Moon even though the berries although the strawberries are on the tail end of their season by late June. Both the Ojibwe and Sioux were fond of strawberries and named the Moon for the month for them. At the ranch, this is known as the Moon of Moldy Bread as it becomes difficult to find piece without mold on it for strawberry jam.

The past week led to some rapid crop growth at least when it wasn’t raining. It’s become a moral victory when you don’t get over an inch of precip at a time. At the ranch from June 16th – 22nd we received 5.26” of rain and in town during the same timeframe, rainfall measured 3.02”. For the month at the ranch rainfall as of this writing was 7.83” and in town, 5.73”. At the SROC in Waseca, the monthly average for June is 4.69”. It has been wetter than normal and as a result hampered herbicide applications as many fields had ponded water and would not support the weight of a sprayer, loaded or not. And you know it’s a bad sign when you avoid cutting hay because you’re afraid you might get stuck.

The recent rash of road construction began in earnest as crews began ground the shoulders of Hwy 13 by New Richland. More barricades went up and it will be tougher to get into town or out for that matter. The Lake Road construction should begin in early July so it will be interesting to see what that does to crosstown traffic does in suburban Bugtussle. With bridge repair and culvert replacement on Hwy 13 there was a noticeable increase in traffic past the ranch. Some mornings it made one wish there was a sound barrier to at least muffle the noise in the early morning hours. Something about living behind a wall became suddenly fitting last week.

The People’s Republic of Steele Co struck again!  Last week I needed to get the license tabs for Mrs. Cheviot’s car so went to the license bureau to purchase them. Oddly enough there is a discrepancy on the plates and the renewal date on the renewal form. The plate says July and the form says June. Go figure. Not so strange was Steele Co. sticking their hand out for more money. When asked if I still lived at the current address I said yes. When asked if it was Waseca Co. I should’ve said yes but alas I was honest and said Steele. “Oh, well then I’ll need to add an additional $10 to the wheelage tax because Steele Co. has a higher rate” said the clerk. What the…?

Gee, maybe I should bill Steele Co. for the countless hours spent picking up the numerous large hunks of asphalt their contractor tossed in the ditch when they redid our road. Hitting one of those babies with the lawnmower could’ve wrecked the blades or injured someone. It still gripes me too that in Waseca Co., burning permits are mailed to rural residents annually whereas in Steele Co. we have to drive to the law enforcement office in Owatonna to obtain one or pay online to get one from the DNR’s trash fire police. It was also a nice touch when our then new barn blew away back in ’96. Steele Co. decided they needed $360 for a new building permit after the original permit had cost us $50 just a few years earlier. More bureaucratic fun and games behind that story too but I digress. And, I still haven’t forgiven Steele Co. for digging up my phone line and setting off a chain reaction of events, culminating in my neighbor running the wire through his haybine after it laid on top of the ground over a year. I got even with the phone company and eventually pulled the plug on them. Getting to the point where I’d like to do that with Steele Co. Maybe after billing them for my pain and suffering I can secede. That or move to Waseca Co. and live in a van down by the river.

Local collector automobile enthusiasts made our pilgrimage to the mecca of automobile shows this last weekend, the Back to the 50’s at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Typically there are around 12,000 cars, all 1964 or older. The show is something anyone who has an interest in automobile’s past should experience at least once. Along with the show itself, the drive is an adventure. Those of us in the local car club attended with JT driving a ’64 Tempest, Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer in his’58 Fairlane and moi behind the wheel of the ’59 Silver Hawk. Part of the fun is seeing people’s reactions to the old cars coming and going. Out group was no exception. We got lots of appreciative attention from other drivers as they passed us on the freeway. On the way home we stopped at A&W in Faribault for root beer floats. Afterwards we gathered by the cars to leave when an SUV rolled slowly by. A slightly hunched over elderly woman in the passenger seat looked at us and smiled, then gave us her sign of approval with a big thumbs up! We all got a charge out of that. Gotta love older women and old cars. Never know just what to expect from either 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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #648 on: July 02, 2018, 12:07:58 PM »
Your daddy runs sheep and my uncle runs cattle…

The scurs wondered what was up with the Weather Eye as temperatures on Friday were toasty. Some prankster slid the temperature lever over to hot again. Will we get back to more seasonal temps or are we in for another week in the broiler? Starting Independence Day, partly sunny with a modest a moderate chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Thursday, partly sunny with continued modest chances of showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Sunny for Sunday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s.  Monday, partly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Mostly sunny Tuesday with possible a.m. showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. The normal high for July 4th is 83 and the normal low is 62. The sun will set at 8:59 p.m. and we’ll be down to 15 hours and 22 minutes of daylight, having lost 6 minutes since the summer solstice. After evading the fireworks police, the scurs will be erecting snow fence and putting the chains back on the tractor. Fun’s over folks.

Fun continued for crops this past week in spite of the heat as we finally started to see some sunshine. June was a wet one in many locations and the ranch was no exception. We tallied 7.94” of rain for the month and in Bugtussle proper a paltry 5.91”. This is far above the normal at the SROC in Waseca where average June precip is 4.69”. Aside from a couple major unexpected rainfall events at the ranch, most of the rainfall came in measured amounts over time, helping to keep nitrogen and soil in place. The corn crop continues to cruise along and we should see some fields tasseled by the 2nd week in July. Some tassels are already evident in early planted fields. Soybeans too are busy recovering from their dose of postemerge herbicide. Plans were altered as a result of the June 20th cutoff date for spraying dicamba tolerant soybeans. Some weeds were large and heavy so there may be some messy looking fields as a result. Making dry hay too has been about as difficult as I’ve ever seen it. One had to time it just right and be on the stick because the window of opportunity was very short. Hopefully second cutting will be more forgiving in that respect.
 
The mosquitoes have suddenly become ferocious. The standing water from the rainfall events the third week in June was definitely in their favor. I’m not sure what kind they are but they take no prisoners. There are hordes of them and anytime mowing in sheltered areas they were after me like a swarm of killer bees. Luckily they couldn’t handle the stiff breeze in the open. Also noticeable were a large number of barn swallows that suddenly appeared, swooping around me and sweeping the grass for flying insects. There were also scads of small toads around a half inch long jumping out of the long grass before the mower got there to chop it off. I don’t know if they’re big enough to eat mosquitoes yet but someday they will be. Eat up, toads!

I was dreading putting up the first cutting hay. It was heavy, rank and the weather had been totally uncooperative. Relying on my beef cow neighbors for a large portion of it, a poor shepherd has to be flexible. It doesn’t make much sense to have a lot of expensive haying equipment for five acres of hay. I was finally able to cut it last Wednesday and with the blast furnace-like conditions forecast for Friday, odds were favorable that it would get dry. The ground in both fields was wet and most places the soil looked like snot in the tracks after cutting. And without some knowledge of the south field, one could’ve easily gotten stuck, enshrining them in the Hall of Shame. Too many cell phone cameras, text messages, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., to get by with that anymore. There was water standing in the tracks in places afterwards. I’d remembered my Dad’s advice to get off and look before you drive through it. Still good advice and I’d used it.

Friday was as advertised, hot and windy so raking the hay up in the morning to take advantage of those conditions was critical. There was still a lot of green underneath when I turned it. When I got done raking I felt the effects of the heat and kept a low profile until time to check the hay. It got ready in good shape and the Little Dubya baled it up in large round bales early that evening. What a relief after being delayed as long as it was. There was still the matter of getting the hay home though. I was worried especially on that south field that getting it baled might’ve been the easy part. Getting the bales off without rutting everything up or getting stuck might be a challenge if the forecast held.
 
Saturday morning I was contemplating lawn mowing when I heard the Dubya’s back at it with their forage chopper. All of the sudden neighbor Jon, also a beef cow operator, called me. He mentioned that he was going by the one field and noting that the Dubya’s were up to their armpits in alligators, offered to bring some of the bales home with his bale wagon. I counter offered to help him haul some with my 22’ trailer so we got after it. Of course the “let no good deed go unpunished” axiom applied. There was a hornet’s nest to deal with first on my trailer, a flat tire on the tractor and the hitch broke on the bale wagon. Battling through the normal adversity however, it didn’t take long and everyone’s hay was moved. Mrs. Cheviot reported the Dubya’s also had a flat tire so at least they didn’t feel left out. A minor inconvenience was losing a small trowel I’d left lying on the trailer. I’d used it for digging the crud out from under the mower decks for years.
 
The Big Dubya called after we’d gotten everything put away and mentioned there was a partial bale they’d dumped off at his place. It puzzled him to see our bales going by, making him wonder how I’d loaded them. It was a good thing I had my Wheaties that morning I told him. We discussed our day’s events and I mentioned that I’d lost the trowel. He laughed and said that Gracie had found what she thought was an antique shovel in the road. Being an antique myself I could relate. When I went there with the tractor to retrieve the bale, I got my trowel back. We had some good laughs although with the sky threatening, it was time to head home.  In retrospect I had to be so thankful at the week’s turn of events. The hay was baled, off the fields and home where it belonged. Everyone was able to get their work to a stopping point ahead of the rain. The range wars are long since over and we have the best neighbors we could possibly have.
 
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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #649 on: July 11, 2018, 10:31:32 AM »
And now's the time, the time is now

The scurs have kept close tabs on the Weather Eye since it seems to have developed a penchant for throwing more heat than we care for. Are we in for more of the same or due for some cooler weather fare for the Waseca Co. Fair? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Thursday, partly sunny with moderate chances of showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a moderate chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a moderate chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s.  Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible a.m. showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. The normal high for July 15th is 83 and the normal low is 62. On the 15th we’ll be down to 15 hours and 8 minutes of daylight, having lost 20 minutes since the summer solstice. The scurs have it on good authority that Bugtussle is under investigation by the MPCA. Reason? Tootsie Roll pollution from storm sewer runoff into Boot Creek.

Another week of fantastic crop growing weather. Some dryness finally prevailed allowing the corn that hasn’t tasseled an opportunity to send roots down deeper in the soil profile. Several area fields have been fully tasseled out for nearly a week. Unless August puts the brakes on as it did last year we should be headed for an earlier than normal maturity date on the early planted corn. Bear in mind it wasn’t in that early relative to some years so that’s a reflection on the tremendous accumulation of GDU’s, nearly a quarter more than normal since May 1st at last check. Soybeans too have begun to look they may amount to something. The early planted fields have reached R3, having a pod of 3/16” or more set at one of the 4 uppermost nodes with a fully expanded trifoliate. Some second cutting hay has been made resulting in some choice forage.

We continue to see lots of birds in the backyard at the ranch. The orioles went forth and multiplied, their young now appearing at the jelly feeder. There is a faithful contingent of goldfinches who seemed to appreciate the recently cleaned thistle feeders. Hummingbirds are going through a pint of sugar water every five to six days. The male cardinal is still flying into the sliding glass door on a regular basis, giving Ruby another reason for being. Probably the most rewarding sighting however was at the kindly neighbors’ pasture. Back in mid-June the bluebird house on the corner post had a clutch of six eggs in it. A few weeks later it appeared all had hatched and within about five days of that, they were nearly feathered out. Strangely enough though, I never saw the parents. One night the fencer wasn’t clacking so had to find where it was grounded out.. When I got near the birdhouse, I felt a slight breeze next to my ear and heard something snapping, not once but several times. Looking up, sure enough one of the parents was ready to make another swoop at me. I could only conclude the babies must’ve been close to emerging from the nest. I felt lucky to escape with both ears intact.
 
Ruby has kept us entertained while we were waiting for the rain to stop. Between barking at horses, dogs and Clint Eastwood on TV, she plays with her play balls as Border Collies love to do. One night she was frantically looking for her favorite one, the one with a hole chewed in it. She looked in the usual spots and ran back and forth which usually means she lost it in a recliner or under the couch. We tore the living room apart, tuning it upside down and looking everywhere. Still no play ball. We finally gave up and Ruby played grudgingly with her second choice, the intact orange ball. The next night we came home and we noticed she was playing with a ball. But wait! She apparently located her favorite in the meantime as there were suddenly two again. She was back in business, crashing into furniture and batting one off the wall while carrying the other. She’s easily entertained.

The gardening at the ranch this year has been somewhat lackluster relative to what we’ve done in the past. We’re down to nine tomato plants, some zucchini, a recent planting of string beans and a few Charlie Brown cucumber transplants. The price was right so if they don’t make it, we ain’t got much in it. Actually the tomatoes are really taking off and the zucchini are in need of thinning. Planted last year’s leftover seed and almost every one of them grew. Go figure. Floral-wise the gardening has been more successful. The pots and planters have benefitted from the heat and up until recently from the frequent rains. The morning glories are ascending towards the top of their trellis with an occasional bloom apparent here and there. Weeding the mass of tangled volunteer morning glories from a bed of zinnias one understands quickly why they were the scourge of many a farmer to the south of here. And the mosquitoes didn’t help matters.

I’ve been waiting for a while to write this but the time never seemed right, until now. When I went to the car show Saturday it was an automatic to make the pancake breakfast if nothing else to find out who the Grand Marshall was for the Farm and City Days parade. I’d wondered earlier who would be a good choice. I thought perhaps Carlie Wagner would be the very logical one but my spidey senses are usually wrong so really didn’t think much more about it. When the announcement was about to be made I happened to look right at Carlie and smile, knowing full well based on what I was hearing who it was. I could think of no one more deserving.

Speaking from our perspective at the ranch, I don’t know how many times we came in from chores cold and tired to livestream Carlie and the Gopher women’s basketball games. Every time we did though it was entertaining and she was to a large degree responsible. We also had the good fortune to head to Williams Arena several times and watch her play in person. Early on I wondered when the coaching change happened so abruptly if she’d remain a Gopher or transfer. Perhaps selfishly I was so glad she stayed. Even when it wasn’t all peaches and cream, she stuck it out. That’s probably what impressed me the most. Many her age would’ve bailed. It spoke volumes about her integrity and perseverance. Now her playing career with the Gophers is over, there’s no question in my mind she’ll be a success wherever the journey takes her. Thanks Carlie for allowing us to be a part of your career and know that your neighbors will still be pulling for you no matter what you do.

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 Fawkinnae

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #650 on: July 13, 2018, 01:56:37 PM »
Dotch was Carlie from your town? Definitely a nice story.
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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #651 on: July 15, 2018, 10:31:19 AM »
Thanks! Ya, she grew up about 1/2 mile across the field from our place. Very talented, attractive and tough young lady. I bet that Indiana guard's head still hurts from Carlie bouncing it off the floor this last winter! Sounds like she's going to play basketball in Spain for about 6 months then come back and try the WNBA again. Hope she makes it.  :happy1:   
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #652 on: July 18, 2018, 06:45:07 AM »
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile

The natives have become restless. After another hot, humid week they’ve demanded the scurs take the Weather Eye in for repairs. Will this cure our weather ills or are we doomed for another week in the hotbox? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, cloudy with a good chance of daytime showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a fair chance of daytime showers. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly cloudy Tuesday with possible a.m. showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. The normal high for July 20th is 82 and the normal low is 62. On the 20th we’ll be down to 15 hours of daylight, approximately the same as we were back on May 23rd. After stopping at Bruzek’s Hardware, the scurs are heading to Jedeloh’s, the local AMC dealer. Time to get the Weather Eye checked out once and for all.

More corn tasseling and pollinating this past week. One can smell the dramatic uptick in the corn pollen in places. So far the earliest planted corn that has pollinated locally looks tremendous and is in milk stage. It varies however. Depending on planting date, flowering date and maturity, some is just pollinating, some is blister stage and some is milk stage. Very little disease pressure has been noted and that’s a good thing with prices where they are. Soybeans also are heavily into reproductive stages. Some of the early planted mid to early maturity soybeans are already at R4 which is full pod stage. That means there is at least one pod at one of the uppermost four nodes with a fully expanded trifoliate having a pod ¾” long or longer. Soybean aphids have been found although it remains too early to know the magnitude of the infestations we might see. The past two seasons we’ve been fortunate and spraying was generally not warranted. Again, with prices where they are, avoiding an unnecessary applications and expense wouldn’t hurt most farmers’ feelings.

Several have expressed the opinion that the mass spraying of insecticides on the soybeans for aphids means the end of the mosquito problems. Perhaps although it’s not always a cause and effect relationship. Corn fields are seldom sprayed with an insecticide and trust me, they harbor plenty of mosquitoes. Many times the mosquito populations may have already run their course for several reasons. Even with our present infestation, their numbers are dwindling somewhat as the standing water necessary for them to reproduce dries up. Their numbers are also affected by predation and the females of some summer type mosquitoes only live a few weeks. An encouraging sign: Making the circuit around the pasture fence once again the other night, repellent wasn’t required. It does little good against the numerous deer flies.
 
We are seeing some garden progress. The tomatoes are beginning to stretch and set fruit while the cucumbers planted last weekend benefitted from the rainfall Thursday night and Friday. The string beans planted on the 8th were coming up over the weekend. Lucky for them they’re already inside an enclosure to protect them from the bunnies. I heard from other gardeners who weren’t as fortunate. As disappointed as I am in our garden, misery loves company after seeing the vegetable exhibits at the Waseca Co. Fair last week. At least if we get normal temperatures from here on out we’ll still have some fresh vegetables. And the fall garden planting is already looming on the horizon, slated for late July if the soil conditions are fit. The fall radish and green crop, not to mention the snap peas are a special treat, sometimes making an appearance on the Thanksgiving table.
 
The local car club made a run last Friday to Williams IA and the car museum known as the Hemken Collection. It was different than many collections in that most of the vehicles were unrestored, in much the same condition they were when purchased from their original owners. There were lots of rare cars, convertibles, and of particular note were the numerous Packard’s. The Packard was not a common automobile when I was a lad. They generally had a reputation as large luxury cars and most in the collection were just that. The exception was a ‘58 Packard Hawk, essentially a sister to the Studebaker Golden Hawk only in Packard’s clothing. Only 588 were sold.
 
At first glance the tail fins and roof line are the same. Unlike the Golden Hawk’s Mercedes-like center grille, the Packard version had a sloping hood complete with a fiberglass “fish mouth” front end with gold Packard script. Also included was a more streamlined rear end with a decorative spare tire bulge on the trunk lid. The interior was leather and included a padded arm rest outside the windows. It also came with the same supercharged Studebaker 289 V8 that developed 275 hp, making it one of the fastest production cars at the time. Only the 300 Chrysler was faster. The story Ann Hemken told was that the family of the elderly gentleman who’d owned it had the supercharger removed for fear its speed would be the death of him. A wise move.  Those Hawks were capable of eating the Corvettes and Thunderbirds of the day for lunch.

When we were finished with that we were right across the street from a place to eat called Cheaper by the Dozen. The Hemken owner had called the little restaurant and the owner agreed to stay open long enough so we could eat. And eat we did. Breakfast anytime was one of the specialties so that’s what everyone had. Another niche was the numerous ice cream flavors for dessert so we couldn’t pass that up. I picked up my driver’s lunch and along with the ice cream (I had a root beer float with 16 oz. bottle of A&W root beer included) the bill was only $12.99! I was full and couldn’t believe how inexpensive it was. Afterwards, the proprietor visited with us for quite a spell outside as we reminisced about the cars we’d owned and some we still do. It was time to go home although being from small town USA, it felt like we’d never left.
   
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 LPS

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #653 on: July 18, 2018, 08:17:25 AM »
Thanks Dotch.  With my newfound time I have been going back and reading your past writings.  I enjoy them.  I have 18 acres and am a novice weed sprayer so your info is very educational to me.  Love hearing about the birds too. 

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #654 on: July 26, 2018, 09:46:02 AM »
I watch you disappear past Club Med Vacations

The natives have turned their ire from the scurs. Moderating temps along with some timely but not excessive rainfall has them focused on headier matters. Will the cure so far hold or are we destined for the steam bath again? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a moderate chance of showers. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. The normal high for July 30th is 82 and the normal low is 61. On the 30th the sun will rise at 6 a.m. the same as we saw back on May 5th. Given the perfect sleeping weather, the scurs will be rolling over and hitting the snooze bar. Fall will be here before we know it.

The 27th marks the Full Moon for July. This goes by the Full Buck Moon and is aptly named as the white-tailed deer bucks prized antlers are in their velvet. There are numerous deer around and with the biting insects becoming more obnoxious in the woods, they’re frequently out in the open trying to escape them. Be on the lookout for them. This Full Moon also goes by several other names including The Full Thunder Moon and Full Hay Moon.. The Ojibwe knew this as the Full Raspberry Moon and the Sioux called this The Moon When Cherries are Red. At the ranch it becomes the Moon When We’re on the Move. State Fair is on the horizon as is the Farm Journal Midwest Crop Tour. Ruby develops a complex. It’s always nice to be appreciated.

Crop progress slowed perhaps slightly although it was pretty hard to tell by looking at it since last week. We should have some fantastic corn pollinating weather this week with moderate temperatures leading the way. Soybeans too should be setting pods and maintaining them at a rapid pace. There’s very little stress as a result of either moisture or temperature. Some were getting nervous about soybean aphids and the situation remains relatively static here at this point. Yes, soybean aphids can be found but they remain far below treatment thresholds. It behooves us to be patient until the threshold of 250 aphids per plant on 80 percent of the plants is reached. Treating early can knock beneficial insect populations out only to allow the soybean aphids to flare later. Not only that but low levels of remaining insecticide as it degrades encourage the development of insecticide resistance. To our west and north this is already reality.
 
Much of this edition will be written from Canada once again. It’s been a while since I visited the Great White North in the summertime, the last time being back in 1984. This time we were greeted by Canada’s aggressive mosquito population. They were large relative to the southern MN type I’d left behind and wasted no time landing and biting with a vengeance. It was almost like one of those old Off mosquito repellent commercials. Unloading the vehicle into the cabin reminded me that these mosquitoes operate on a short season so they have to make every second count. After unloading all our gear into the cabin we spent several hours getting the hungry pests under control. The electric mosquito rackets made it a challenge. Something satisfying about hearing them zapped on the small electrical grid.
 
We spent a little of our time picking up a couple trailers of wood and while perhaps not a Club Med vacation, the fishing was fun. We enjoyed catching and releasing the numerous smallmouths. One of the things that made this trip very special was the return of a guy who’d made the journey many times over the years before I started going along. I had the opportunity to meet him in 2015 on that trip. Shortly after that he was diagnosed with cancer and along with heart issues. After treatments and finally feeling confident nothing would go awry, he was back again and able to enjoy the excursion to its fullest. He netted the nicest smallmouth I’d ever caught so I was particularly thankful he made it. Thanks Rocky! May there be many, many more.

The hummingbirds at the cabin were always busy during the daylight hours. It made me wonder how they were doing at the ranch. Their season never lasts long enough no matter where you are. There were several other birds that were very skittish. One could hear them but seeing them was another matter. The loons were heard in the early morning hours and could be seen diving while we were fishing. They seemed to keep their distance, resurfacing several hundred yards from where they were last seen. A wise idea to stay away from us.
 
As expected, upon my return Ruby made a huge fuss. Luckily we were inside as it was so loud it sounded almost as though she was being beaten. Quite the contrary. She was just being Ruby with every square inch capable of wiggling doing just that. When she finally settled down she ran and got her ball, not letting me out of her sight. She was more than ready at bedtime to curl up on the bed to watch Gunsmoke. Soon she drifted off and was snoring. I followed suit. Everything’s back to normal.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #655 on: August 02, 2018, 09:12:30 PM »
People on the river are happy to give

More nice weather means more fan mail for the scurs and their vaunted Weather Eye forecasting equipment.  Will the Post Office continue to deliver them fan mail or will they receive hate mail with the next stretch? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny on Friday with a slight chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s.  Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. The normal high for August 4th is 81 and the normal low is 61. We will have lost a full hour of daylight since the summer solstice. After giving their air conditioning a breather, the scurs will be closing their windows, awaiting the return of September.
 
Indeed, weather such as we’ve been experiencing is very early September-like when highs are in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Fortunately we’ve amassed enough GDU’s that a brief cooldown isn’t the worst thing. Also, with the drier weather in late July, it helps to conserve the moisture until we can get to the next rain. It could bring a few worries such as white mold which ran rampant in some fields last year. White mold was found in the area on July 25th so cooler weather may not be the best answer for that. In the meantime, corn continues to thunder along, with more plantings reaching dough stage. Soybeans are also motoring with some of the later maturing varieties planted early reaching R5. Reports on small grain and pea yields have largely been disappointing. Too much heat for those later planted cool season crops.

Lawn mowing has reflected some of the wet conditions prior to our drier spell at the ranch. It’s amazing to me how much barnyardgrass has made its way into portions of our yard especially in the road ditch. It’s generally considered a moisture loving annual grass. Along with crabgrass it’s also very juicy, making what comes out of the mower deck like green cow manure. The lower stem is also tough so while the leaves are gumming up the underside of the deck, the stems pop up quickly once the lawn has been mowed for a short time.  The resulting goop also sticks to the road and likely the undersides of people’s cars when mowing the ditch. While it may look like green cow manure it probably smells better in the garage.

The orioles at the ranch have largely dispersed. A major hatch of house sparrows showed up and began monopolizing the jelly. Soon the orioles were gone so there was no reason to put jelly out to feed the intruders. Maybe they’ll move on so we can feed some of the migrating orioles instead. Some jelly was placed in the feeder over the weekend with no takers not even the catbirds. The bluebirds we were watching at the kindly neighbors apparently all made it out of the nest. Not sure if the adults will attempt another batch or not. The nesting box where they raised the first brood was occupied by a house wren within days of the fledgling bluebirds leaving it. Apparently they’ve occupied the rest of the nesting boxes too if the collection of hundreds of little sticks in them is any indication.

The birds are quieter in the mornings now that we’ve moved through July. Most of the song we hear in the morning comes from the common yellow throats and house wrens. For some reason it’s easier to fall back asleep to their music than it is the robins that were using a bullhorn earlier. Even that wasn’t as obnoxious as it is some years as the AC ran for many nights right on through the morning hours. It probably doesn’t hurt that the sun is rising a little later each day either. That doesn’t keep the wrens or the warblers from continuing some evenings well after the sun is down. No one is complaining. Not much singing goes on after dark in January. Swearing perhaps but not singing.

The garden what there is of it continues to at least make us think there will be something to harvest. The tomatoes like the recent weather and are filling up their cages nicely. They’re growing slowly enough though so they can be trained rather than flopping on the ground. Zucchini are flowering so that’s a plus for things like shish kebobs. The sweet corn never got planted so it was fortunate that the sheep shearing neighbor had a large patch with staggered plantings. The string beans grew nicely while I was gone. They could use a weeding soon. Now that the mosquitoes have subsided, it might happen. The fall vegetables were ordered so am looking forward to seeding them soon. Several varieties of greens, radishes, and of course snap peas top the list. Fall pea pods are like candy.
 
The sheep have had it made for most of the summer. The pastures responded to the ample moisture and it makes one wonder if they’ll get it gnawed off by fall’s end. They usually do even when we’ve had good growing conditions. Speaking of good growing conditions, the lambs have really benefitted from the cooler weather. They’ve responded by growing rapidly on a minimum of feed. It will be nice to get the second cutting hay up soon so they’ll have that added bonus. One can never have too much hay.
 
The ewes have been sharing their pasture at the kindly neighbors with several uninvited guests. Woodchucks were appearing from time to time and would even show up in the barn. I suspect they liked the access to fresh, clean water the same as the sheep do. The other night I stopped by to check on the ewes and has been the case so many times this summer the fence was grounded out. Thinking it was the woodchucks again crawling between the bottom rung of barbed and electric wires I set off to find the ground. I heard some clucking and looked up to see two hen turkeys and counted 18 poults. They’re probably waiting for the bur oak acorns to start falling. With everything else they have to eat the sheep are happy to give.
 
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)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #656 on: August 08, 2018, 10:28:11 AM »
Highway song is as lonely as the road I'm on…

The return of sticky weather had some cursing the scurs and their vaunted Weather but it was soon forgotten when welcome rains fell over the weekend.  Will the “stickies” be cause for more misery or will moderate temperatures and timely rains make weather great again? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Sunny for Sunday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s.  Monday, sunny with highs in the low 80’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 mid-60’s. The normal high for August 10th is 81 and the normal low is 60. The scurs will be camping evenings on their blankie this weekend, eyes turned skyward to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower.
 
Crops continued to march towards maturity even though it cooled down some earlier in the week. Welcome rainfall events over the weekend totaled amounts in the .8” – 1” range across much of the area. Some early planted corn was denting as of Monday morning where observed and even the latest plantings were showing tassels. Soybeans also made major progress, with flowering complete on some of the early planted, early maturing varieties. Soybean aphid numbers showed increases especially in fields close to wooded areas near rivers and lakes. With low soybean prices most are content not to spray until the threshold of 250 per plant on 80% of the plants with numbers increasing has been reached. More white mold has been found in area soybeans although it’s been limited to scattered plants thus far and not affecting large patches as it did last year at this time.
 
The rainfall was a blessing in the garden at the ranch as well. The string beans planted shortly after the 4th are close to flowering. Actually eating produce from the garden eventually is a possibility. We have had some yellow pear tomatoes and they’ve been tasty. The Celebrity tomatoes are starting to turn so a ripe red tomato is also a distinct possibility. And zucchini of course is coming along with several set on the late planted crop. It was amazing to watch the response of the garden plants following the rain. It was getting to the point where I’d considered watering some of it. All of the plants including the weeds took off and with no frost it still should amount to something.
 
Sometimes the planting experiments I try at the ranch work out and sometimes not so much. An example of the former struck me the other when I was heading towards the ranch from the south. I couldn’t figure out what the large orange “thing” was parked in our back yard. It didn’t dawn on me until I pulled in the driveway that it was the tiger lilies that had burst into bloom. I’d transplanted them a couple falls ago, moving them from where the old garage stood. They now reside around the LP tank. Apparently they must’ve found the sheep manure buried under each bulb. They stand over five feet tall. And they’re blaze orange.

Another success didn’t dawn on me until last week during the Freeborn Co. Fair. Mrs. Cheviot was entering some Honeycrisp and Haralson apples from our trees that looked rather appealing. When I was mowing lawn I noticed the pears were coming along nicely. They were pear-shaped, uniform in size and they had a nice blush on one side. There were enough on the small tree so that picking a few off wouldn’t hurt anything. In fact some of the small limbs they were on were bending from the weight. For laughs I selected enough to exhibit and sent them along with Mrs. Cheviot. I was totally shocked to receive a text saying the pears won the fruit division. It just goes to show that whether you’re eating it or growing it, fruit’s a gamble.

Our birds continue to be faithful although not as numerous as some years. The goldfinches have been steady customers at the thistle feeders and so have a handful of house finches. They always make me smile, remembering how they made my Mom’s last days more enjoyable when they’d visit her window feeder. The hummingbirds are increasing in number making one wonder if their migration is on already. Even though I’d thought better of it I put some jelly back in the jelly feeder to see if there was anything interested. I could still hear an occasional catbird and sure enough a young catbird was the first customer. Not long afterwards an immature orchard oriole was eating there. They appreciated my effort and I couldn’t ask for more than that.
 
Road construction continues to dominate many area conversations. The gravel roads are constantly in need of grading due to people detouring around construction zones. Fortunately the Hwy 13 repaving project is completed now. It’s amazing how quickly and efficiently they did it, especially given the wet weather. Granted it was inconvenient and there were some complaints about surly road construction people. The trick was to drive on it after the construction crew had gone home. You often had the road to your lonesome and could enjoy the nice wide lanes. Regardless, it’s done now and a colossal improvement over the rough road it was.
 
Speaking of rough road, the St. Olaf Lake road construction is underway and while the project is nowhere near as large, it presents some challenges. It can’t get done fast enough for those of us driving it daily. Hitting those expansion joints made your head bob up and down like one of those bobble head dogs. And that was on the good part. Some would maintain the road has already improved. When Mrs. Cheviot came back from the fair one night she came down the Lake Road. Only a portion of the pavement was ground off. She said the part that was ground off was much smoother than the part that was still paved. That’s a clue.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #657 on: August 15, 2018, 09:15:09 AM »
Smoke gets in your eyes.

The muggy weather along with smoke from the Canadian wildfires once again had the scurs and Weather Eye on the hotseat with the locals.  Will they get off the people’s naughty lists or are they doomed to remain on it for one more week? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Thursday mostly sunny with highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s.  Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny Tuesday with possible morning showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. The normal high for August 16th is 80 and the normal low is 60. On the 16th we slide below 14 hours of daylight for the first time since April 26th. The scurs are thankful we’re not waiting for snow piles to melt like we were then.

Crops continue to progress towards maturity. More fields of corn were noticed denting and at full dent it’s generally considered to be about one month away from physiological maturity. Last Tuesday’s surprise rain also helped the crop maintain some of those tip kernels which otherwise might’ve been lost. Rainfall varied although most garnered between a half inch and an inch, In Bugtussle rainfall measured at 2” with reports outside of town of over 4”. Soybeans too made progress and the rains were beneficial for setting pods on the uppermost nodes. Soybean aphids have increased in most but not all fields. Treatment has been warranted in many. It’s wise to check individual fields however as there is without question a lot of variability in levels from one to the next.

Haying 2.0 tried our patience as a result of the muggy weather, light winds and reduced sunlight from the wildfire smoke. Cutting was delayed by rainfall on August 4th then again Tuesday when heavier rains fell. Mowed last Wednesday when the ground was still wet it remained tough. Staying on the field nearly five days it was bleached by the sun more than one would’ve liked. It’s just frustrating to look at the windrows and know after checking it that baling it that wet would be risky. Have seen one too many barn fire attributed to wet hay. Eventually it got done as a team effort with the Dubya’s however. The Cheviots can now enjoy their hay during the depths of winter.

Waiting for the hay to dry allowed me to get the Studebaker out last Thursday night for our local car club event at Whispering Oaks in Ellendale. I’ve made it the last three years in a row and am always impressed at how much the residents appreciate the visit. One of the women even surprised me by asking about how the overdrive works! I’m also impressed by how well coordinated the event has always been thanks to Pat Motl. To get everyone out there to see the cars, get the audio system out front so everyone can hear not to mention root beer floats for everyone afterwards is quite an undertaking.

More activities while waiting for hay to dry included putting the sharpened blades on Howard the orange mower as well as changing the oil. Howard had to step up to the plate last week after Whitey’s mower deck electric clutch bit the dust. That got repaired by neighbor Jon so now they’re both ready finish the lawn mowing campaign for another season. I also decided it was a good time after the rain to put in some fall garden. The spring being late and wet much of the time kept much of our usual spring gardening from happening. I managed to put in some lengthy rows of snap peas, radishes and last but not least several kinds of salad and mixed greens. All the produce was such a hit last year I had to try it again while I had a few minutes. Usually what happens is not everything is a success every year so planting a variety of things usually assures a supply of something edible. Just like farming used to be.

We seem to be seeing more tiger swallowtail butterflies the past several growing seasons. These large beautiful yellow butterflies were seldom seen for many years. Conspicuously absent from any commentary about their sudden increase in numbers is global warming/climate change and reduced pesticide use. Unlike the black swallowtail cousins we grew up feeding dill and carrot greens in fruit jars, the tiger swallowtail larvae feed primarily on tree leaves such as ash, cottonwood, basswood, birch and willow. We have most of those species growing somewhere at the ranch. Tiger swallowtails overwinter as pupae. The adults like flowers, in particular milkweeds and Joe-Pye Weed. They also seem to like our tiger lilies although this year’s crop has been camera shy. Regardless of what is making their sighting more frequent, we enjoy seeing them floating around the yard.

The butterflies don’t have an exclusive on the flowers in our yard. Along with the bumblebees, the hummingbirds have taken note of the blue salvia starting to bloom. One of the cannas was open for business too with several more right on their heels. The four o’clocks aren’t wasting any time either with a couple of the volunteer plants flowering. Along with the planters surrounding the house, the hummers won’t be going hungry. We’ve also noticed the return of some of our bird friends from earlier in the season. The Baltimore orioles hadn’t been seen for almost a month. Last Friday night I heard what sounded like the chattering call from a male oriole so I put some more jelly in the feeder just in case. Sure enough the Saturday morning there were four brightly colored males bouncing from limb to limb and then to the feeder. I enjoyed their antics as they shooed the house sparrows away from their turf. Best enjoy them now because it might be eight months until we see another 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)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #658 on: September 04, 2018, 02:05:08 PM »
Dadgummit! I keep forgetting to post these. Keep forgetting to take my memory pills.  :confused:

From 8/19

The road is calling, today is the day

The scurs are into recycling. Forecasting Canadian wildfires seems to be part of the equation.  Will the Weather Eye bring hope and change or are we stuck in the smoker box another week? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Thursday sunny becoming cloudy by evening with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of daytime showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s.  Monday, mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly cloudy Tuesday with possible morning showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. The normal high for August 26th is 79 and the normal low is 58. On the 26th we’re down to 13 hours and 30 minutes of daylight for the first time since April 16th. The sun will set at 8 p.m. one hour later than it did on the summer solstice. The scurs are brushing up on their leaf raking skills. It’s coming fast people.

The 26th also ushers in the Full Moon which goes by many names as most do. It is primarily known as the Sturgeon Moon for the fishing tribes who harvested the large fish from the Great Lakes region. It also goes by the Full Red Moon thanks to the haze frequently experienced this time of year. The smoke from the wildfires should qualify. Other names include the Green Corn or Grain Moon. The Ojibwe called it the Berry Moon and the Sioux knew it as the Moon where Cherries turn Black. At the ranch we’re hoping it’s the Full Pear Moon. Hopefully we at least get a taste of those still on the tree anyway.

Warm weather is keeping the crops heading down the homestretch. Most area corn is full dent with some inkling that soon we should start to see a milk line heading down the kernel. Soybeans also are nearing R6 with some of the early planted earlier maturing varieties already well into that growth stage. Actually some of those fields will likely be showing some turning within the next 7 – 10 days. Not to say there aren’t some concerns. SDS continues to increase in scope in some area soybean fields. Recent rains may have somewhat muted the symptoms we might’ve otherwise seen. Likewise with white mold although the incidence of the disease is unlikely to reach the proportions it did last season. Soybean aphids have largely been treated although some fields never did reach treatable levels. Some fields that were sprayed well in advance of aphids reaching economic threshold need additional treatment. In addition some fields are exhibiting an intermediate response to synthetic pyrethroids. In other words, it appears the chickens have come home to roost.
 
And while we’re on the subject of crops, this is the week I’m on the road checking the crops on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Being written en route, the crop we’ve seen from the pickup looks as advertised not only by media pundits but also by some who have traveled the Corn Belt recently. As anyone who looks at fields through windshield can attest, things are not always as they appear. This is why we get out of the pickups and sample the fields; to either confirm or refute the prevailing wisdom.

Mast crops, that is those tree crops such as acorns and black walnuts, seem to be having a banner year. One can easily tell when stopping at farm sites and hears the familiar sound of acorns pinging off of metal shed rooftops. This should make for some happy squirrels as they bury those nuts in the yard. Someone asked if they just forgot where they put them. The answer is perhaps, if the squirrel is still alive anyway. Since most are lucky to live much more than three years or so, odds are there may be some attrition involved. Life as a squirrel ain’t always easy.

Last week we had 15 – 20 visitors at the ranch. We’ve seen wild turkeys occasionally but not that kind of numbers. There were a couple hens, 17 poults and a young tom in the group. They were largely unfazed by our activities around the yard. When we’d approach them, they’d kind of saunter off towards the denser cover. Apparently they hung around a while because the next morning there was a voice mail on my cell phone telling me to get my turkeys off the road.

Last week I pulled a good one. After scouting fields for soybean aphids much of the day I decided I needed a few groceries so went to Wagner’s. I spied my checkbook in the cubbyhole so decided I’d lock the vehicle. I was a little grubby but no worse than I am sometimes so went inside. Got everything I needed, paid for it and went out the truck to tuck it away. In the meantime it had been raining hard but had let up as I went out the door. Reached in my pocket for my keys and they weren’t there! Looked in the ignition and sure enough there they were. The spare keys were also inside the pocket of my long pants in the pickup as I’d changed into my shorts earlier in the day. .Luckily I “knew someone” who graciously offered to come and get the truck open if I was willing to wait a little. So wait I did. Standing around I suddenly felt the soybean aphids I’d been scouting slowly crawling off my pants and down my legs. Fortunately soybean aphids are host specific so nothing to worry about in the produce aisle. They’d have to be some tough buggers to attack the frozen edamame.

See you next week…real good then.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2018, 02:15:02 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)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #659 on: September 04, 2018, 02:08:22 PM »
From 8/28

Once there was a way to get back homeward...

The scurs and the Weather Eye have developed a steam setting.  Will we see the sauna or start to see the refrigerator ushering in fall? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Thursday sunny becoming cloudy by evening with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s.  Labor Day Monday, mostly cloudy with a decent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly cloudy Tuesday with possible morning showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. The normal high for September 3rd is 77 and the normal low is 55. The scurs will be procuring the raw materials to manufacture weenies over the open fire and S’mores. Finding dry wood might be their biggest challenge.

Crop progress while I was gone on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour was nothing short of impressive. Corn went from the milk line just showing to some hybrids with only about ¼ of the milk line still showing. That means it’s about a week away from physiological maturity, well out of the danger of a frost causing any yield reduction. Soybeans also roared along, with most being a full R6 now. Those that were well into the R6 stage before I left on the 18th are starting to turn in many cases. These are generally 1.4 – 1.6 maturity varieties that were planted earlier. Many of these same fields were relatively unattractive to soybean aphids and few required treatment when scouted. That’s the way IPM is supposed to work. Some final cutting alfalfa has benefitted from the August rainfall. Harvested before mid-month it should regrow sufficiently to survive the winter.

Harvest is upon us at least for some of our garden produce. I spied another zucchini so now I can do some type of vegetable stir fry on the grill some night. The green beans are just about ready to pick as well so a meal of those wonderful fleshy pods would hit the spot. The tomatoes are slow to ripen although the yellow pear variety is starting to crank out a fair number now. The cucumber experiment was a failure as the vines just never got out of the blocks. Now powdery mildew has set in and that will likely finish them off. Too bad.  Cukes are among our favorites. Also checked on the fall garden planting I’d done just prior to my heading out on Crop Tour and was happy to see most things had emerged well. The exception was one variety of snap peas. Luckily I planted two varieties and the Cascadia’s emerged nearly 100%. The radishes and salad greens also took advantage of our bountiful rain. On the floral side, the four o’clock experiment  indicated that they breed true or did last year. All the seed collected from the red variety last fall all turned out to be red this year.

A quick survey of the yard showed the apples are coming down the home stretch. The Haralson tree is absolutely loaded and while the apples aren’t as large as some years, they appear to be of excellent quality. The Honeycrisp and Snow Sweet also have a fair amount of apples on them given that they are much younger trees. Even the old standby the Fireside has plenty on it this time around and they’re large. Eating one of those a day would definitely make me a regular columnist and then some. The crabapples are readying themselves for the migratory birds this fall as well as those passing through next spring. The trees were fed upon heavily this past spring by robins that didn’t have access to earthworms due to the frozen soil. There are a fair number of cedar waxwings already staking them out. And last but not least the pear trees still have pears on them. I picked up a couple green ground falls and brought them in the house for safekeeping. Some reading I’d done indicated they could be picked green and ripened inside, much like my experience with the pears in those Christmas fruit boxes. We shall see.

One of my fears coming back from the Crop Tour was the birds I’d been faithfully feeding since this spring would be gone. My fears were put to rest as a hummingbird greeted me about eye level near one of the flower pots and zipped around the corner of the house. I was nearly certain too the orioles would be gone. Their feeder had been licked clean so I placed a couple dollops of grape jelly in it just in case. Later that afternoon a full colored male Baltimore oriole showed up. I thought I’d heard him hanging out in the trees in the yard. Then on Monday a male orchard oriole was at the feeder, chasing the house sparrows away from his stash. A male Baltimore was also unimpressed with their presence and let them know in no uncertain terms it was actually his feeder. Size matters in the bird world anyway.

While it’s good to be back home after a week on Crop Tour participating the past 15 years is something I’ve become attached to. I’ve met friends from all over the U.S. and the world and this year was no different. I mean where else can you hang with Andy Holden from Great Britain and How Tuan from Singapore who drive on the wrong side of the road just to mess with you? See a Tweet of Iowan Mike Berdo demonstrating his gymnastic prowess in a parking lot? Get to work with my former boss as an undergrad and mentor Jerome Lensing? Or get a big hug from Tyne Morgan? While the week is a grind with the time change and getting up at dark thirty only to dive into wet corn and soybean fields, somehow it’s still all worth it. When I pointed the pickup homeward Friday morning I couldn’t believe how the time had flown by. I was tired although it was a good tired. Ruby would be happy to see me. And as Brian Grete informed me, I’d still have 51 weeks to recover until the next Crop Tour!
 
See you next week…real good then.       
« Last Edit: September 04, 2018, 02:13:55 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)