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Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #660 on: September 04, 2018, 02:12:48 PM »
No time to wallow in the mire...

After last week, the scurs are developing webbed feet. The Weather Eye has added a duck icon to its settings. Will the rinse cycle continue for another week or will we see rainfall begin to moderate? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy becoming sunny with a slight chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Thursday mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of a forenoon shower. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly cloudy Tuesday with possible morning showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. On the 6th we drop back under 13 hours of daylight, about where we were at back on April 5th. September 12th the sun will set at 7:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for the 12th is 74 and the normal low is 52. The scurs are wondering if life jackets might come as standard equipment on the new Gremlins.

Crops continue to hurtle towards the finish line although with all the rain it’s been a challenge to get very far into fields to document it up close and personal. Much of the corn moved past ½ milk line and some has a documented abscission or black layer documenting its physiological maturity. Typically when this happens, the grain is at 30 – 32% moisture. Given good drying conditions, corn can lose ¾ - 1% of moisture per day. However, given the cooler forecast with continued wet conditions, that may be wishful thinking. Maybe we’ll have to count on soybeans being ready before corn. Or not. Most of the soybeans are still somewhere in the R6 stage and some are showing a change in pod color although they haven’t yet reached the mature brown color yet which would make them R7. We’re still a good three weeks away from the early planted early maturing soybeans being ready to harvest given good drying conditions.

At the ranch we’ve finally been able to gather some of the fruits of our labor. A nice picking of green beans was rescued from the mud and actually cleaned up better than expected. There were even some to share. More zucchini of course as well as several of the regular sized tomatoes. The yellow pear tomatoes have been kicking in a handful or two so it’s best to grab them before they fall off the plant. Also noted were some vermin, namely slugs that were helping themselves to the string beans. Did my best to get them picked off of the pods as I really didn’t want any extra protein in the microwave dish. While it’s tempting to eat them like their relative the snail, alas, slugs can also carry a parasite that can lead to the development of meningitis. The slugs should also be processed, removing their head and entrails. No thanks. Think I’ll stick to burgers and lamb chops.
 
The orioles are still coming to the jelly feeder. I reluctantly purchased one last jar of the bargain brand grape jelly to get them through to the end of their stay. They were still here on Labor Day this year and last as well. The last one we saw at the ranch a year ago was on September 4th. Not to worry though. The hummingbirds have suddenly decided that a t trip to the jelly feeder isn’t all bad. Along with the cannas, four o’clocks, salvia, petunias, morning glories and nectar feeders, they seem to have a tough time deciding what they want to eat some days. No such problem with me.

Sunday finally offered a golden opportunity to take the Stude out for a drive. I’d been looking for a good excuse for several weeks. Untimely rains hadn’t helped matters. My niece and nephew were to be in the area attending a local music fest so they’d planned on stopping in for a visit. We’d discussed the potential for a cruise earlier although the forecast wasn’t promising. In the late forenoon though we caught a break. It had rained earlier and shortly afterwards the forecast suddenly changed from a total washout to partly cloudy. Once our guests arrived to shower off some of the mire from wallowing in the muddy campground, Ruby entertained them with her ball playing talents in addition to her usual bizarre Border Collie habits.

It was still warm and somewhat muggy as I backed the car out of the garage. This meant opening the vents on the fenders and rolling the windows down before hitting the road. I set a course towards freshly resurfaced MN Hwy. 13. Having driven on it in my pickup with its stiff suspension, I was anxious to turn the Silver Hawk loose on it. It responded well and the radial whitewalls made the ride smooth as glass. My guests were quick to pick up on some of the quirky features on the car no longer part of today’s automobiles. The door handles, the little vent window latches and multiple cigarette ash trays were among the favorites. Studebaker was definitely ahead of its time though. Along with innovations such as fold down front seats, the hill holder clutch and overdrive, the Silver Hawk knew exactly where the nearest DQ was. All this without GPS! We had a great time visiting and best of all they bought me lunch.
 
Afterwards we headed back down the road for some sightseeing. I was able to point out some of the finer features of living in rural South Central MN including Beaver Lake, several fields of sweet corn as well as the odor from hog barns and Waseca’s vegetable processing plant. We pulled into the driveway having cheated death once again. (Seatbelts were not standard equipment in 1959. When Studebaker made them standard on the Avanti in 1962, it became the first automobile in the industry to do so). Mrs. Cheviot had arrived home in the meantime and was under the influence of the annual SFC (State Fair Crud) complete with hacking and coughing. Ruby was tending to her so we looked at the sheep before it was time for our visitors to head back. The afternoon had flown by and the cruise had offered a great respite for everyone. It sure beat the heck out of stacking hay!
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #661 on: September 12, 2018, 10:04:05 PM »
The road has got me hypnotized

Since the Weather Eye didn’t see the severe clear coming the scurs ended up trading in their swim fins for suntan lotion. Will our recent good weather fortune continue or will we see the monsoons return? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Thursday sunny with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Sunny becoming partly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of overnight showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday becoming partly cloudy with a slight to modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On the 16th we drop back under 12 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, about where we were at back on March 26th.The normal high for September 16th is 73 and the normal low is 50. The scurs have their hearts set on another weekend of lounging by the cement pond.

What a difference a week makes as the weather gods have smiled upon us. Or as Betsy’s Dad says, after a heavy September rain frequently we have stretches of nice weather. He’s absolutely correct. The water that had everyone’s dauber down dried up nicely with the low humidity. The warmer temps and breezes earlier in the week put everything back on track once again. Corn is rapidly approaching maturity with several fields checked this week showing a black layer. Soybeans were also not to be denied. The sunshine and warmer temperatures had most fields turning rapidly with many at R7 finally, with plants showing one pod on the main stem with mature color. Some of the earlier planted, early maturing varieties are approaching or will soon be at R8 where 95% of the pods have reached mature color. It typically takes five to ten days for soybeans to drop below 15% moisture. The last cutting of hay for the season is underway out in our neighborhood, delayed by the rain and wet soil conditions. It should still allow adequate regrowth for overwintering given reasonably normal fall temperatures and moisture. Fingers crossed.

The orioles were coming to the jelly feeder as of the 4th. The kindly neighbor had some yet over the weekend.  I reluctantly purchased one last jar of the bargain brand grape jelly to last the orioles through to the end of their stay. They were still here on Labor Day this year and last as well. The last we saw of them at the ranch a year ago was on September 4th. Not to worry. The hummingbirds have suddenly decided that a t trip to the jelly feeder isn’t all bad. Along with the cannas, four o’clocks, salvia, petunias, morning glories and nectar feeders, they seem to be playing hide and seek. That or they have a tough time deciding what they want to eat. No such problem with me.

Monarchs have been on the move. We’ve seen small groups hanging on the trees, something we haven’t seen since we first moved here in the mid-1980’s. Back then they’d partially cover the silver maples in the backyard. Some are convinced that the recent uptick in monarch numbers has something to do with increased planting of milkweed. That may or may not be the case. Since the early days of the CRP program and decreased harvesting of road ditches, the milkweed supply has been plentiful in my travels around these parts. Look in the ditches next to the patches of Canada thistle if you don’t believe me. When the milkweed plants are examined, monarch larvae are seldom found. In other words it appears that it’s not just a simple cause and effect relationship. Factors including predation, prophylactic pesticide use and the overwintering weather in Mexico also come into play.

The garden continues to ramp up production as we head into fall. There are plenty of tomatoes for BLT’s now and the string beans are still producing well. The fall garden is recovering from the excess water finally and some of the radishes are exhibiting bulbs. More of the gorgeous weather we’ve had recently is needed in order for the snap peas to be players. My cucumber experiment was a dismal failure so I’m hoping the snap peas come through. I felt so fortunate to be graciously offered fresh cukes by some friends and fellow gardeners. I feared this might be the first time in many moons that we’d gone a whole summer cucumber-less. My fears were allayed. I also had the good fortune to receive some heirloom tomatoes as part of the deal. I was able to ante up a gallon of fresh picked string beans. I hope they didn’t mind the grass clippings as an added bonus.

Made another trip in the Stude Saturday night as we celebrated our anniversary. Mrs. Cheviot hadn’t been for a ride in the piece of automotive history yet this season so after chores we hustled off to Waseca and Club 57. We had a gift certificate and I wore the Club 57 T-shirt I’d received at their car show a few years back. When the waitress spied it, we were given an additional discount. Sometimes it pays to be old, drive an old car and have lots of car show T-shirts. The meal was excellent and gave us some time to catch up. With Crop Tour and State Fair running concurrently we don’t see each other for long stretches. Time flew by and before we knew it, the sun was down; time to head back home.
 
Driving the Silver Hawk reminds one of how cars have changed. Some of the habits one develops with today’s cars become so ingrained it’s almost like you’re in a trance at times.  I frequently have those “Oh yeah” moments when operating the Stude. Every time I get in it for example I reach for the shoulder belt. There isn’t one. Also have to remember to flip it out of reverse to start it. May be disastrous if you don’t. Dimming the headlights finds me fumbling with the turn signal then suddenly remembering the dimmer switch is on the floor. Not that it probably matters as the lights don’t seem to draw the ire of oncoming traffic when you don’t dim them. For a few hundred bucks one could convert the headlights to today’s LED’s I suppose. No thanks. The lights still work and I have new headlights in the original boxes people have given me. Driving around at night isn’t something I relish anyway. Too many Bambi’s running around and no one wins if you hit 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)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #662 on: September 18, 2018, 03:02:07 PM »
To find a queen without a king...

Recent warm temps had the scurs adjusting the AC settings cooler on the Weather Eye. Did they overdo it or is it a Goldilocks Deja vu? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain.  Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Thursday cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny becoming partly cloudy on Friday with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday becoming partly cloudy with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On the 21st the sun will rise at 7 a.m. and the 22nd is officially the first day of fall. The normal high for September 22nd is 70 and the normal low is 47. The scurs will be taking inventory on the wood pile. There’s a chill in the air.

The Full Moon for September falls on the 24th and since it is the Full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox, it is the Harvest Moon. It is fitting as the pioneers were able to work long into the night in the light of the moon, harvesting corn, pumpkins, squash and other staples to help them through the long winter months ahead. The Ojibwe knew this as the Rice Moon when wild rice was harvested. The Sioux had their eyes on more fruit and called this the Moon When Plums are Scarlet. At the ranch it goes by The Apple Crisp Moon.

Harvest officially kicked off in the area last week with early planted, early maturing soybeans being harvested. Yields were considered decent for early soybeans with hopes of higher yields as later maturity soybeans mature. Above normal temperatures this past week pushed maturity quickly so getting Mother Nature to cooperate with drier weather once the rainmaker leaves the area would help expedite the process. Some corn was also harvested with moistures as low as 23% reported on some of the 99 – 100 hybrids. Strong winds late Monday afternoon did blow some areas of fields flat so hopefully the wet weather forecast doesn’t include any more of that.

At the ranch we are in the middle of our fall harvest season as well. We recently completed the last cutting of hay thanks to the Dubya’s. It was some of the nicest hay we’ve put up in recent memory and will surely be appreciated by ewes in pens with lambs as well as the lambs themselves. The tomatoes have continued to bear profusely with the first BLT’s of the season under our belts. String beans need to be picked again and with the aggressive mosquito population, can’t say as I’m looking forward to it. Ate the first of the pears finally on Sunday. A subtle color change from green to light yellow tempted me to try one. It was fantastic. Not mushy or mealy, very sweet and juicy. What a pleasant surprise.

Mowing the lawn has seemed perpetual this year. Sunday I mowed to try to catch up before it decided to rain again. The number of toads was amazing along with the frogs in the road ditch. I still try my best not to hit them as they are our first line of defense for flying insect control now the barn swallows have departed. I guess we do have lots of those big barn spiders as well but they tend to stay confined to the barn as the name implies. Hummingbirds continue to move freely around the yard, finding plenty of flora to feed on in addition to their nectar feeder. The white-lined sphinx moth recently made their first appearance of the season, working over the impatiens and later to be seen enjoying the four o’clocks. Was concerned maybe we wouldn’t see them as late as it was getting but my fears were as usual unfounded.
 
We had a natural colored ram in need of his queen(s) and Saturday a.m. that happened. Our usual customer arrived with his small homemade trailer and we proceeded to back it in tight enough so we maybe wouldn’t have to touch the wild and odiferous beast. We must be getting wiser or at least luckier as when we opened the gate, the ram decided to bolt and ran right into the trailer. All three of us, ram included, were in a state of momentary disbelief until Gary grabbed the end gate and put it in place before the ram changed his mind. As in years past Gary had made us another treasure, this time a pillow knitted from both homespun white and natural colored Cheviot wool from his flock and filled with same. Just the time involved in creating something like that is astounding, making it a treasure.
 
Apples need picking as the Honeycrisp apples are at their prime. Time to get them in the refrigerator before the birds and other assorted critters decide to help themselves. With the warm weather the Haralson’s are also about ripe. Not only that but the poor tree needs some relief from its heavy burden. As luck would have it our car club picnic was last Sunday so thought I’s make an apple pie. Mrs. Cheviot was still in Massachusetts and suggested apple crisp instead. I’m sure she was concerned I might drop one of her glass pie pans on the concrete at the picnic shelter. She is wise to my ways.

I’ve made lots of apple pies but this was the first time I’d flown solo on apple crisp. Was a little distraught when it appeared the recipe made way more topping than needed for the foil pan I’d selected. Luckily I placed the apple crisp pan on an old cookie sheet before inserting it in the oven. There was all kinds of stuff that boiled out of the pan onto the cookie sheet. What a sticky mess! It smelled great although it certainly didn’t look like the apple crisp Mrs. Cheviot makes. I took it along anyway as I had no Plan B. I was convinced that I’d probably be bringing most of it back home with me. Wrong! After the picnic there was one piece in the corner of the pan and that was it. I heard Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer mutter that I could screw up like that again anytime.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #663 on: September 25, 2018, 05:06:01 PM »
Blame it on the apple tree but you don't fool me

With the windshield washer stuck on in the ’74 Gremlin X, the scurs were helpless to get any assist from the Weather Eye. Is there any relief in sight or are we doomed to wait until the washer fluid reservoir runs empty?  Starting Wednesday, sunny becoming cloudy with a slight chance of evening showers.  Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Thursday cloudy with a slight chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of afternoon rain and frost overnight. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with frost in the a.m. and overnight. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with morning frost and a good chance of evening showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the upper 40’s. On the 26th we slide back below 12 hours of daylight, about the same as we had back on March 16th. The sun will set at 7 p.m. CDT on the 28th. October is upon us Monday. The normal high for October 1st is 67 and the normal low is 43. Given the forecast it appears the scurs have a lot more wood to split.

Some area farmers wound up with a splitting headache as a result of last week’s encore rain and wind performance. Rainfall totals for the week of 3” – 5” were common with Thursday night’s heavy winds damaging farmsteads and flattening crops, again. Some have been quick to jump on the bandwagon, using it as an opportunity to sell fertilizer. One has to be careful not to jump to conclusions. Much of the corn going down had more to do with hybrid selection, position on the landscape, compaction, drainage, high seasonal precip, 60+ mph straight line winds and tornadoes than it did with any fertilizer programs. My recent lengthy windshield survey of MN would tend to confirm that. Corn that has been picked has been running well with yields commonly well over 200 bu./acre. Moistures have been in the low to mid-20’s on the early maturing hybrids. Early maturing soybeans that were harvested ahead of the recent monsoon were also a pleasant surprise with hopes of even better yields as the later maturing soybeans are harvested.

Garden produce continues to roll in at the ranch. Tomatoes are at their peak although the fall lettuce crop, an integral ingredient in BLT’s has not come on line just yet. The recent rains and abundance of cloudy weather haven’t helped matters. The string bean crop should be done as the last of it has been distributed or eaten. Given the mud and nasty mosquito population it’s likely the last ones were picked anyway. The slugs have to eat too. Apple harvest can likely be in full swing as both the Fireside’s and Haralson’s should be mature. This means some of the best eating of the fall when it comes to apple crisp and just having apples to snack on. There are also loads of ground falls so the sheep will be happy about that.

Blue jays around the yard at the ranch are loudly announcing the arrival of fall. Lots of flickers moving through the area right now as are some robins and waxwings. They have plenty of berries to nosh on as the nannyberries have turned from blushing red to nearly black. There was still a hummingbird at the feeder yet on the morning of the 25th so scrambled to change the sugar water that had become cloudy in my recent absence. While I doubt that they’ll stick around one doesn’t want to make them sick either.
 
Before harvest was in full swing, I managed to squeeze in one more adventure to Canada. I broke the trip up a bit this time, stopping at my brother’s place north of the Twin Cities the night before heading to Bemidji to meet my buddy Billy. It did make it less stressful dealing with the traffic and it was a long overdue visit. I had some produce to distribute as well. We stayed up way too late visiting but that’s just standard Bernard operating procedure. Before I knew it, it was time to head northward again.

My primary focus is to help my buddy Bill get his family’s cabin headed towards buttoning it up. The preliminary work isn’t a lot different than what happens on a regular basis at the ranch. The scenery is different though and sometimes that needs to happen after a long hot summer without a lot of days for recreation. The weather this time left a little to be desired with rain falling every day and sleet falling overnight on the 22nd. Regardless, the neighbors there are always a hoot and I’ve come to look forward to their visits as much as I do the change of scenery. I consider them friends and enjoy catching up on what they’ve been up to north of the border. In addition we share some edibles back and forth. No tariffs or trade wars involved! As it should be.

Ruby is always glad when I return from these road trips. Every part of her wiggles and squirms. The squealing and whining that ensues leaves no doubt she’s happy to see me. Putting up with the severe thunderstorm while I was away couldn’t have been pretty for Mrs. Cheviot though. Ruby is not a fan. She likes to hide although that’s not her only trick. Trying to get on top of you and licking as she crams herself in closer and tighter gets old in a hurry especially when you’re trying to read the paper or watch TV. I ran across another Border Collie with the same affliction not long before I went to Canada. He was busy hiding upstairs in the shop while I was visiting a farmer during a thunderstorm. We both just shook our heads in disbelief. They definitely keep life interesting.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #664 on: October 02, 2018, 03:35:46 PM »
Take a load off Fanny…

After changing the windshield wiper switch, the scurs suddenly noted the Weather Eye wasn’t putting out much heat. Will the new heater core solve the problem and can we count on the new wiper switch to keep us dry?  Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a decent chance of showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with an increasingly good chance of rain by evening. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a god chance of rain by evening. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of morning showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a good chance of showers. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Columbus Day, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with possible showers and drizzle. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Losing approximately three minutes of daylight per day now, on the 6th we slide back below 11 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. This is about the same daylength as we had back on March 6th. The normal high for October 6th is 64 and the normal low is 41. It appears the scurs will need to get familiar with their umbrella, again.

The frost really didn’t amount to a killing frost but probably ended our growing season. I’ll defer to the SROC on that one. Harvest progress in the fields was slowed by cool, cloudy conditions with just enough moisture mixed in to make soybean combining a challenge. Dew stays on late in the day when it’s cloudy and struggles to get above 50 as it did on Saturday. Combining soybeans was limited to a few hours in spots over the weekend with soybeans in some fields still being simply too wet. Losing daylight as rapidly as we are isn’t helping matters. Some switched over to corn in the meantime to at least make something happen. Moistures have some down into the low 20’s on some of the earlier corn in spite of the dampish weather. Even some of the 105 day maturity hybrids are from 23% - 25% so nothing wrong with getting that out of the way. Stalk quality remains a concern and with a forecast rainy spell including some wind, stalks will not improve. They never do.

Sunday we bid adieu (we think) to the last of the hummingbirds at the ranch. I thought with the frost Saturday morning they’d be gone and within a matter of an hour they were at the nectar feeder. Sunday there was no activity at the feeder and I’d resigned myself to the distinct possibility they were gone. Not so fast! Buzzing around in the four o’clocks I spied one going from plant to plant. It moved to the cannas, then to the petunias on the patio and finally to the potted blue salvia. Monday came and none were to be found. They had a good run though. The first one we saw was on May 2nd. We’re glad to welcome them to our little oasis in the middle of a corn and soybean desert.

The cool weather made it a good weekend to do some of the chores around the ranch that become routine for us this time of year. Apples were picked off the Honeycrisp and the SnowSweet trees. Unfortunately the birds had wrecked a lot of the Honeycrisp apples, choosing to do the most damage on the very nicest apples. They hadn’t picked on the SnowSweet as much yet and we were able to gather a couple bushels of very nice apples. I was concerned it was perhaps a tad too early to harvest them but decided to go for it. My fears were put to rest when I bit into one of the bird damaged models. The apples were definitely ready to be harvested and tucked away from further harm. The trees were ready as well. It was time as the load the fruit placed on the smaller branches needed to be removed.
 
The screenings needed attention at the kindly neighbors so on a cool damp Sunday I took off with the 656, glad to be out of the elements inside a cab. I had several containers for the screenings in the bucket along with a shovel to do battle. I must’ve stepped in some cat feces before climbing in the tractor as the aroma as it warmed up made me glad to get out once at the neighbors. I was able shovel the containers full of screenings while in the bucket then move them in place. All this without the usual wrestling match involving a trailer and dragging each container across the shed floor. The sheep at the pasture there were excited to see them as several of them knew what those containers meant. Screenings are like candy to them.

On the way home I heard a loud “CRACK!” sound somewhere on the cab and by the volume was concerned something had broken. Couldn’t see anything obvious when examining the mounting bolts and clamps but the next morning when filling water buckets I noticed a missing door handle on the right side of the cab. An “aha” moment. As luck would have it, I was able to drive to about where it must’ve hit the cab and sure enough, the chrome handle was lying on the shoulder not far from the Dubya’s driveway. Not much evidence of any damage and aside from a small missing pin in the handle, a trip to the local parts store should likely solve the problem. While tractor cab ownership certainly has its perks, who knew it could be so involved?

Once home and back in apple picking mode, I wondered where Ruby had disappeared to. I had my answer when she reappeared from the barn wagging her tail. Apparently she too had found a “present” the cats had left, only in a more a liquid form judging by her matted fur. She reeked of course and Mrs. Cheviot did her best to brush it out of her fur. That took care of some of it but with company coming, there was a bath looming on the horizon in her very near future. There’s a reason we’ve nicknamed her Stinky. She frequently earns it.
   
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 mike89

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #665 on: October 02, 2018, 07:01:17 PM »
Take a load off Fanny…

have not heard that in ages!!!   :happy1: :happy1: :rotflmao:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #666 on: October 09, 2018, 04:15:22 PM »
You're only human, you're allowed to make your share of mistakes

More frustrations for the scurs as their fix from last week didn’t keep us from getting soaked or cold either one. Is the Weather Eye is ready for an overhaul or is it just a glitch? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a decent chance of showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of showers increasing into evening. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a good chance of showers by evening. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly sunny Tuesday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. On the 15th the sun will set at 6:30 p.m. CDT. On the 16th, the sun will rise at 7:30 a.m. CDT. Continuing to lose approximately three minutes of daylight per day, on the 16th we also slip back below 11 hours of daylight. This is about the same as we had back on February 24th. The normal high for October 16th is 60 and the normal low is 37. It’s getting closer to time for the scurs to trim the wicks on their kerosene lanterns for those long winter nights ahead.

Harvest progress was slowed by frequent rains. While they weren’t generally the multiple inch variety, the day length and normal temperatures are heading the wrong direction. Fields as of this writing remain saturated with water standing between the rows and in wheel tracks. Some corn was harvested however over the weekend until the Sunday rain finally put an end to that. Moisture contents seem to have stalled with many of the 105 day maturity hybrids still maintaining at 23% - 25%. Stalks continue to deteriorate and windy conditions in the forecast haven’t improved that any. Tillage and fall fertilization continue at a standstill as well. Patience is a virtue and those who maintain their composure are apt to be rewarded as a result. Some of the best tillage last fall occurred the last half of November.

A recent report on the rainfall for our growing season (May – September) from the SROC found them measuring 30.77”. The normal for the years 1981 - 2010 was 21.46”. In Bugtussle we measured 32.73” and at the ranch 30.33” for the same time period. In August and September alone in town we tallied 16.98” or rainfall. So far in October as of press time in town we’ve collected 2.23”. Stands to reason there is standing water in area fields.
 
After the apple picking two weekends ago there was time to pick up all the sticks that the river birch had shed in the recent storms. They are just the right size once they go through the mower for wrens to use in their nests. However, had I ground them up, there probably would’ve been enough little sticks to satisfy several hundred wrens. Given the amount of noise they can make when one is trying to sleep a little extra some mornings, it seemed the prudent thing to do. However, after last week’s wind it looked like I hadn’t ever touched any of the sticks. The wrens should be happy about that.
After thinking we’d perhaps seen the last of the hummingbirds for the season last week, some were spotted again last Wednesday. In fact, there were some seen at the feeder yet on Saturday. While certainly not unprecedented, it’s about a week later than we saw them last year. The latest I recall seeing them at the ranch was October 9th. We haven’t seen any since the 6th and the way the weather has turned, it appears they got out of Dodge just in time. With flowering plants shutting down and the weather continuing to deteriorate, Costa Rica suddenly sounds very appealing even to us humans.

There remain a few tomatoes on the vines that are blushed to the point that they should be worth picking. The cloudy, wet weather has taken its toll on the vines as the tops are still green but the lower vegetation has given up the ghost. They’ve been good and there have been plenty to be shared and enjoyed by others. A garden isn’t a success at the ranch unless that criteria has been met. The rest of the late summer planted vegetables are languishing from the same weather pattern. They are cool season veggies but they also need that all too rare commodity known as sunshine.

Some have grumbled about the delayed road construction on the St. Olaf Lake Road. As I tell the local county commissioner, it’s still a lot smoother than it was! It gets a little muddy but that will wash off. There are some perks as well. Ever notice when you’re on a long trip someplace that there seems to be a shortage of rest areas? Well, in addition to the Sportsman’s Club’s Dave Harris Memorial Porta Potty, there are three more to choose from on the four mile stretch of the Lake Road! I mean, what interstate can compete with that? So if you feel the urge, no worries!
 
Yes, Ruby finally got her bath. She knew it was coming as she was being shunned. Even so, she was reluctant about it, hiding behind the couch until she knew she couldn’t evade us any longer. Once in the bathroom though, she jumped right in the tub hanging in there like a trooper until the dog washing process was complete. She was toweled down, shook off in the tub then after hopping out was toweled off some more. Ruby smelled like a bouquet of flowers. She might disagree but to the human olfactory senses, it beats the cat poop she rolled in any day. She’s back on our good side at least for now. Being a furry, four-legged human with OCD, a Border Collie is allowed to make mistakes.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #667 on: October 16, 2018, 11:11:21 AM »
And oh my dreams, it's never quite as it seems

After the weekend snowfall the scurs are tempted to head to Misgen’s and see if there are any Gremlins with used Weather Eyes. Will that stop the bleeding or do we need a tourniquet?  Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of overnight showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunny for Sunday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Sunny Tuesday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. The Full Moon for the month will occur on October 24th. The normal high for October 24th is 56 and the normal low is 34. As the change from Daylight Saving Time nears, the scurs are scouring shoppers for their favorite day of the year. Looking for smoke detector batteries? Nah, Halloween candy sales!

As mentioned, the Full Moon for October occurs on the 24th and since it is farther away from the autumnal equinox than the Full Moon in September was, it is known as the Full Hunter’s Moon. It was during this moon that settlers and indigenous peoples alike stocked their larders with game for the long winter months ahead. The Ojibwe called this the Falling Leaves Moon and the Sioux knew it as the Moon of Falling Leaves. At the ranch, we know it as the Grinding Leaves Moon. Running them through the mower beats the tar out of raking them and anything that escapes just blows away.

Very slow progress most of the week up until about Friday into Saturday when conditions were deemed fit enough to pick corn once again. Headlands were a fright however and the sins of the past couple harvests on them are repeating themselves. Corn has not dried appreciably although it remains at a level where it still goes through the dryer in relatively decent fashion. Stalk integrity continues its decline and the past weekend’s snowfall certainly didn’t do it any favors. Soybean combining remained at a virtual standstill, again. Some have been quick to encourage the drying of soybeans. The field conditions will dictate whether or not that will be necessary. At this point most are content to harvest corn until such time as the field conditions and moisture content in the soybeans are satisfactory.

It was interesting to watch the about face in the weather forecast last week. Earlier in the week the NWS had called for potential showers over the upcoming weekend. About Tuesday they yanked it out entirely with no precip forecast the next seven days. Along about Thursday, they changed their tune again and put a slight chance back in. We had a major killing frost in the meantime on the 11th. As the old timers used to say, expect precipitation within 24 – 48 hours of a hard frost. They were right on the money. Notice the old timers didn’t necessarily specify what variety of precipitation!

Waking up and peering out the bedroom window Sunday morning, my brain was still a little fuzzy. Was I dreaming? Had I become Rip Van Winkle, asleep since October only to awaken in January? Or was everything just frosty, giving it the appearance of being snowed on? I rubbed my eyes, put my glasses on and looked again. There was no question about it. It was snow and worse yet, it was still snowing. I had to look at my cell phone to be sure. Yup, it said October 14th alright. I hadn’t overslept by three months although after seeing a winter wonderland outside it was extremely tempting to just go back to bed.
 
After chores and experiencing the snow firsthand I was concerned about the sheep scrounging up enough to eat in the pasture as it kept coming down. There was still plenty of grass only it was becoming buried deeper under the snow. The group at home was busy covering the far end of the pasture and just about everywhere in between. Should I be a nice guy and move a round bale into their feeder for them to nosh on? Even with a plentiful supply of hay that sounded like a lot of messing around for a nasty mid-October day.

I was relieved as I watched the flock from the nice warm house. The weather didn’t bother the Cheviots. They were working over the low hanging tree boughs that were nearly touching the ground from the weight of the wet snow. Most of the leaves were still attached and they feasted greedily on anything they could reach. Days prior to the snowfall the ewes were picking up any leaves falling in their path. In addition to consuming leaves they enjoy munching small trees off as much as any goat. If you don’t think so, see what happens when they get out after planting some saplings. They’ll be the first thing the sheep eat especially if you paid good money for them.

The snow certainly curtailed any plans of taking the Studebaker out for a weekend run. This entire season has made it difficult to get the car out. Last year we were able to put on over 1600 miles on and this year we’ll be lucky to get in 600. The weather hasn’t done us any favors and likewise our work schedules. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a few more trips in before the weather completely slams the door. Maybe there’ll even be a few leaves left on the trees. If not there are always places to explore, not the least of which is DQ!

The fresh tomato supply is continuing to meet our demands although one can see the writing on the wall. They have been a treat and the BLT’s are a regular part of our table fare this time of year. Garnishing them with cottage cheese, macaroni salad and coleslaw as a side dish ain’t all bad either. They really are a favorite and it’s always a sad day when the last one is consumed or ends up over the fence. On the bright side, getting that first ripe tomato in the next growing season always gives us something to look forward to.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #668 on: October 23, 2018, 10:19:35 AM »
There has to be an invisible sun...

The trip to Misgen’s paid huge dividends for the scurs as the slightly used but not abused Weather Eye performed to perfection. Have we righted the ship or will we need to watch more P.J. Fleck motivational speeches? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Partly sunny for Sunday with a moderate chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. On the 27th we dip below 10 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. A sneak preview for Halloween: Cloudy with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. The normal high for Halloween is 51 and the normal low is 32. The scurs are banking on leftover candy to tide them over until Turkey Day. Thank goodness Thanksgiving is early this year.

Finally the weather gods smiled upon us allowing combines to harvest soybeans almost at will. One had to wonder if there really was a sun. With all the hard freezes the soybean stems are almost pulverized into dust. Moistures have been hovering in the 12% range in spite of the high winds over the weekend. Temperatures haven’t been extremely warm which helped maintain the moisture percentage. Some have finished their soybean harvest and are focusing on the corn. In reality the damp conditions that hampered may have had a silver lining. Many were able to get after fields of corn that were down or were going down further with the seemingly never ending wind. Corn moistures are anywhere from the upper teens to the low 20% range.
 
At the ranch we finished our apple harvest although we still have plenty of ground falls to go over the fence to the sheep. The apples were numerous and the quality in general was excellent. I try to make sure I grab one every day to gnaw on as part of my lunch or for a snack later in the afternoon. When I stop at the kindly neighbors to do chores at night, the sheep there look forward to the core landing in their pasture.
 
It has been chilly however. The 25 degree low Sunday morning froze the hydrant up in the barn. I’d neglected to remove the hose and drain it. When it did thaw out late morning I made sure to see if the hydrant was draining back as it should. Nothing worse than hauling buckets of water from the house across the ice all winter. As luck would have it when I put my palm over the faucet it created the desired vacuum so no adjustment was needed. Another crisis narrowly averted.

The Dubya’s recently put some electric fence around their hay field and pastured the cattle on it. They have some nice looking cows and calves. The black and brown bodies moving about the green background look right at home there. When coming up the road from the south, seeing the cattle on one side and the white Cheviot sheep grazing on the adjacent hillside makes for a pastoral scene, something likely not seen for some time in the vicinity.

I finally gave up and took the hummingbird feeder down. I’m relatively certain that we won’t be seeing any more hummers for several months although if it snows one more time on the robin’s tail it should be spring, right? They’re still coming through in waves, feasting on our crabapples and remaining nannyberries. The hummingbird feeder is replaced with a suet feeder so bird watching can continue from the oval office window. A friend recently teased me that a lot of folks read in the bathroom but we watch the birds. At least during the daytime anyway.

My wardrobe selection was recently critiqued by the kindly neighbor and his sidekick. I had my best chore jeans on, tattered yet almost still in one piece. Still some wear in them yet before they become grease rags or Mrs. Cheviot sneaks them into the trash. They were convinced that some kid would pay big bucks for jeans that looked like that. I should probably look into that. Guessing that I probably have a fortune in tattered jeans in the closet just waiting to find the right marketing opportunity. All that hay baling just might pay off. Or not.

In Bugtussle the 10 man dryer is continuing its run at the elevator as it has for many autumns now. The original 5 man dryer was replaced by one twice as big so it naturally would be a 10 man dryer. Neighbor Jon has the dryer cranked up just below the hill. Some might say it’s loud and that it is. However, there’s something about the sound that knocks me right out when I hit the hay. Unfortunately it’s disrupting my catching up on Gunsmoke reruns.
 
Sunday finally presented an opportunity to take the Silver Hawk out for what might be a final cruise. Never say never though. If the weather stays nice, I’m not above driving around in November even if it’s a little brisk. There’s enough bleed by in the heat control valve that the heater core located under the front seat on the passenger’s side keeps it warm. Again Studebaker was ahead of its time with a built in bun warmer.

Our destination was The Trail Blazer in Madison Lake. In the process we got to check out the new pavement on the Lake Road. It was smooth as glass and a far cry from the choppy, rough mess it was. We trekked up Hwy 13 and just for laughs took US 14. The three on the tree Borg Warner T 86 transmission with overdrive performed flawlessly and we made good time. On the way we even wound up passing someone who looked in disbelief as we rolled on by. Once we arrived we watched the first half of the Vikings game. The food and service were as good as remembered as we chatted and caught up on our busy lives. We left at halftime and were able to catch a few minutes of the 3rd quarter once we got home. There was even a little time for a cat nap. Not a bad day of motorin’.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #669 on: October 30, 2018, 08:58:22 PM »
Does anybody really care?

The scurs are thinking their Weather Eye was tracking on target last week. Will they continue to have complete faith in it or will that faith waiver? Starting Wednesday,  sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening rain showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of afternoon and evening rain showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a fair chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of rain and/or snow showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. On November 3rd we will see the sun set at 6:01 p.m. and on the 4th it will set at 5 p.m. You guessed it: as per government mandate the scurs will dutifully awaken at 2 a.m. to set their clocks back an hour.

Farmers may not be thrilled but it doesn’t make any actual difference in the day length. Awakening to daylight on the front end isn’t all bad. Since soybean harvest is largely completed dew or frost in the morning isn’t the factor it was a month ago. The corn picking is coming down the home stretch on many operations. Yields on the tail end have tended to be more variable as farmers move into those fields that were perhaps planted later for a reason last spring and harvested in many cases for that same reason: they were wet. Corn moisture has continued to drop with many of the full season hybrids actually being in the upper teens for moisture. Some have reported moistures as low as 15% in some fields. Anhydrous ammonia applications continue as more fields have been harvested and they become more fit.

We still had a few Haralson apples to harvest on the tree so Sunday a.m. I decided to remove them. The poor tree outdid itself and it was time to get the weight off before another strong wind came through and broke some of the limbs off. Oddly enough some of the apples were just fine so I placed those in a five gallon bucket for future reference. The remainder that had splits, frost damage or bird picking wound up on the ground. Some of those made their way over the pasture fence where the group at home looked at them and moseyed off elsewhere. Obviously not hurting for things to eat. The sheep at the kindly neighbors were more receptive, devouring most of the pail full before I had a chance to feed them their screenings.
 
Our full complement of fall birds has reappeared. Chickadees back now they’ve figured out the sunflower feeder was being maintained again. Likewise with the nuthatches. The red-bellied woodpeckers are after kernels of corn or a turn on the suet feeder. Even the cardinals are back, both male and female. Juncos frequent the driveway in small groups before moving under the feeders in the backyard. Blue jays are constantly on the go having picked up any corn the squirrels leave for them. Goldfinches in their olive drab attire occupy the thistle feeders and small flocks of cedar waxwings snack on the numerous crabapples as they move through daily. It all points to autumn.

One fox squirrel has built a nest in the silver maple outside the oval office. I saw him/her gathering more maple leaves in an effort to shore it up before the next wind decided to whisk it out of the tree. Apparently no one bothered to tell them that oak leaves are more durable than silver maple leaves. They turn into Kleenex when wet or confetti once run through a lawnmower. Not to worry. Plenty of cavities in some of the silver maple and boxelders for them to hole up in along with oak leaves to line their nests.

I’d never known the sheep to be nighttime grazers. That was disproven during last week’s Full Moon. I’d stumbled into the oval office after midnight and happened to gaze out the window. In my half asleep state I couldn’t figure out what the objects were moving around the pasture. The moonlight shining off their frosty wool provided an eerie sight until it dawned on me it was just the sheep picking up leaves that had fallen from the trees. I mentioned the sheep grazing on the hillside last week and the Big Dubya sent me an “aerial” photo claiming it cost $350 but he’d be happy to put it in a cheap frame. Upon closer examination it appeared to have been taken from the top of their grain leg! One can never be too careful these days. At least most of our junk was hidden.
 
A pocket gopher decided it was a good time to set up winter camp right next to the walk in door on the garage. As frequently happens this time of year, the young ones are on the move to set up new territory to raise havoc. After evening chores I’d noticed some odd holes right by the door itself. The next morning behind the planter I spotted a telltale mound. Since it was such a small hole, past experience with traps has been unrewarding. For just such an occasion I maintain a supply of gopher poison. When I got home from work I applied it according to the label. Since then: no more digging. Playing with the lead again.

And finally I can’t wait for this election to be over with. I am so sick of these TV ads with sappy, syrupy music extolling the virtues of some candidate who’s always “fighting” I could puke. Why not be honest and admit you want our tax dollars because you’re convinced you can spend them better than we can or better yet, need it to buy votes to stay in office? I can spot a phony a mile away. Just ask any peddler I’ve booted off my yard after they’ve been told where the road is and they’d better be on it. When the politicians attempt to reassure me by telling me they’ve approved this message that’s the last straw! Seriously? You think anybody really cares? This is one of the advantages of ditching local network TV and watching Gunsmoke and Bonanza reruns. There are no annoying political ads only CPAP machine cleaners and ambulance chasers. At this point, I’d vote for either one. And oh by the way, I approved this message!
 
See you next week...real good then       
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #670 on: November 06, 2018, 11:33:37 AM »
I turned my collar to the cold and damp…

The scurs continue to gain confidence in their latest Weather Eye. This one was rumored to be out of a ’74 AMX 401 that a little old lady only drove to church on Sunday. Will this lead to a truthful forecast or was she secretly racing it during the week?  Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of evening rain snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny on Friday with a good chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows near 10 above. Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny for Sunday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Tuesday partly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the low teens. On November 7th we will slide below 10 hours of daylight for the first time since February 3rd. The normal high for November 7th is 47 and the normal low is 29. The scurs have calculated that given current day length trends, the sun will no longer shine in the Northern hemisphere within two years.

Many were fortunate enough to finish harvest last week and just in time with the weather deciding to give us an early taste of December. Up until the recent rain, tillage had been working as well as it had all fall. There is still some tillage that could be done although with the recent rain making the soil surface slick, it may have to wait until the ground is frozen. The same may be true of the remaining fall anhydrous and manure applications. The rains unfortunately put a damper on those livestock farmers wishing to bale cornstalks off their fields. With straw becoming nearly nonexistent in these parts, cornstalks have become the bedding of choice for many.

At the ranch we continue to monitor the weather closely and get ready for the onslaught that is sure to come. Winter weight oil and filters were purchased for the tractor and skidsteer. Putting the chains on the tractor might be a stretch just yet. Plans were formulated to get bales in place over the well pit before the serious cold sets in. Leaves were ground up with Howard the orange mower Friday night just before Saturday afternoon’s rain. The red oak leaves had formed an absolute mat over the grass, enough to smother it if something wasn’t done. It was well after dark when I started and I kept at it until 9:30. When I got off the mower I could barely move I was so cold. When I saw the thermometer I discovered why: it was 37 degrees!
 
We finally capitulated and started the furnace Saturday afternoon. Working outdoors in the late forenoon it was drizzling occasionally. I felt chilly even though I kept moving at a good clip. When I returned from a feed run in the early afternoon, it started to rain in earnest. I felt even colder and damper. The living room temperature was 62. We’d been running the floor heat in the addition and allowing it to bleed through into the rest of the house. That was fine when the lows were in the 40’s without much wind. Enough was too much. The thermostat was turned up after I ate lunch. I crawled under my blankie noting the Gophers football team getting pounded by the Illini. Rain was continuing to fall on the gray November afternoon as my body warmed up once again. Just in time for a nap I thought as I dozed off.

Apparently others are looking for warmer places to hole up for the winter as well. I opened the walk in door on the barn and was greeted by a smiling opossum. It was apparently thinking I was ready to feed him much as I’d apparently been doing the past several weeks. I thought it seemed like the cats were cleaning up a little more cat food than they probably should. I grabbed the nearest piece of lumber sturdy enough to withstand the clubbing the varmint was about to receive and administered it. I checked several days later and that possum must’ve been really good at playing possum.

There have also been some birds thinking they need to be in where it’s warmer. At the Mall for Men our office sage and I had heard something flying around inside. I’d been focused on the confuser so it didn’t dawn on me at first. When I asked if there was a bird in the office the answer was affirmative. Luckily it was in an office where the door could be closed so we were able to capture it and turn it loose outside. The next day I was in a farmer’s yard and had the pickup door open while reading a field map. All of the sudden a sparrow flew over my shoulder and began flying around the cab. What the…? I tried to let the thing fly out but it was determined to stay in there. It smacked into the passenger’s side window then disappeared under some stuff. I searched and could not find it, hoping that it had found the hole in the floor by the power inverter or had flown out when I wasn’t looking. It probably means it’s time to clean out the pickup although I haven’t smelled anything yet.

I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to convince Auntie Mar Mar that I subsist on freezer burned frozen waffles and egg rolls. She takes pity on me and recently sent me a slice of cherry pie. It was still warm and welcome after a long grueling day of toiling outdoors. Auntie Mar Mar is amazing. I don’t know how she finds the time to think of me when she’s so busy baking cookies and watching Hallmark movies.

And finally Ruby has a newest sworn enemy on TV. Any ad with a dog on it is a license to bark and I get that. It’s her space and they’re invading it. There was just such an ad on one night when Ruby and I were watching Gunsmoke that advertised pet supplies. It set her off while I tried to get her to shut up which she did, eventually. That ad was followed immediately by one for Myrbetriq, a bladder control medication, featuring the little animated reddish-colored bladder character. That really got her dander up and I started laughing so hard I thought I was going to need a bladder control product! My laughter only made matters worse, making Ruby bark even louder. Once the ad was over I regained my composure and finally got her to be quiet. Mrs. Cheviot asked the next day what had upset Ruby so much. When I told her it made her laugh until she almost cried. Apparently Ruby must be the only one around here who takes bladder control products seriously.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #671 on: November 13, 2018, 12:57:24 PM »
I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

The scurs were disillusioned by the performance of the Weather Eye. They’re beginning to think this one came out of an old Nash as the temperatures this past week were old school. Will the scurs confidence return or will they be looking for another Rambler dealer? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a decent chance of a rain/snow mix in the forenoon with snow possible in the afternoon, perhaps into early evening. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper teens. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the low teens. Sunny for Sunday with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low 20’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Tuesday mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20s. On November 15th our normal high is 42 and the normal low is 25. Thanksgiving preview forecast: Mostly cloudy with a high near 40 and a low near 20. The scurs can almost taste that turkey on the Weber already.

Farming at least fall tillage and anhydrous ammonia application largely came to a screeching halt after overnight lows dipped into the lower single digits over the weekend. It then failed to get above freezing during the earlier part of the week. To put how cold it has been in perspective, the high and low for Saturday the 10th were typical of the normal temps for the first week in January. Fields that had become semi-fit again following liquid precip on the 5th and 6th suddenly froze in places over 4” deep. This becomes hard on tillage equipment if you can actually pull the implement. Slippage and power hop were complaints registered when many stopped trying. Some are hoping that this week’s warm up and the promise of warmer temperatures through Thanksgiving will allow some of the unfinished fieldwork to be completed. It may take some timing to catch the refreeze at night to gain traction if the surface soils get greasy during the day.

The cold temperatures served as a sudden reminder as to why many of us are starting to detest winter: It means a lot of extra work especially if you live on a farm or in the country in general. At the ranch chores are already more work. It’s back to smashing ice out of buckets or carrying them to thaw in the garage for the small pens. With Mrs. Cheviot leaving Tuesday and me being left to my own devices, I dug up the canna bulbs, all three or four bushel of them. Then I ground up the leaves in the road cut with Whitey. Shortly after that I made sure all the hoses were drained, the automatic waterers were disconnected, heaters were placed in water tanks and the well pit was covered with utility grade hay. Within a day it got colder and snowed. Then it got serious about it with single-digit lows. It didn't mean getting ready for winter was finished however.

Friday night the bountiful apple crop was moved upstairs where the unheated space makes an excellent walk-in cooler. Saturday I spread the muddy, damp cannas out on top of some paper on the heated garage floor to dry. I moved the hay feeders around and put round bales in them for the main flock. Sunday, we moved some ewes over in the main group and a ram came back from his fall duties near Chatfield. I moved a bunch of junk out of the way and hooked up to the wagon. I made the trip to the kindly neighbors’ to shovel up the remaining screenings. A mouse must’ve expired in the heater as it was pretty ripe in the cab at first. Must’ve been a small mouse or one that had dried out pretty well as the odor seemed to dissipate the longer the heater ran. Let’s hope so. Next weekend should mean barn cleaning time. There is plenty of odor to deal with without that.

The winter birds have familiarized themselves at and around our bird feeders although a robin was still at the ranch as of the 8th. Its tail was also snowed on for at least the third time. Any bets on it becoming spring anytime soon? The male cardinal has set up shop on the patio railing where he can more easily fly into the sliding glass door. Ruby does a pretty good job of warding him off as the rug by the window is one of her favorite spots to nap when the sun is shining. Unfortunately in November, sunshine has been a scarce commodity.

I have another ongoing wildlife experiment involving the numerous fox squirrel population. On and along our property boundary I recently counted no fewer than seven squirrel nests. This experiment has the squirrels sampling corn from ears with different cob colors, white and red. I had some ears leftover from a plot I discovered that had white cobs and encountered several fields when soil sampling containing ears with white cobs. Red is the predominant cob color so it only made sense to mess with the squirrels. So far, after 5 or 6 sets of ear changes, they prefer the corn from white colored cobs, consuming them first every time the two cob colors were compared. The blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers seem less discriminating, eating whatever happens to be easiest to pluck off the ear. Another variable to take into account in this scientific study.
 
And finally, thanks to Jessica for digging up that old photo of me holding one of our fall born lambs from 1993. It brought back memories of our days showing Cheviots nationally. I like to think of the lamb as an original “barn find”. Pretty sure we ended up showing it in the fall class. We typically showed straight up, meaning the registration paper reflected the correct birth date rather than a fictitious one to gain a size advantage over the competition in a later born class. Although as the male half of the Bandwagon star duo pointed out to me many times, it’s not when they’re born, it’s when you find them.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #672 on: November 21, 2018, 09:26:36 AM »
You just can’t have it all

The scurs were disillusionment with the Weather Eye continues. They’re thinking those who made blankets out of their horses once their pulling days were over were onto something. Tough to do with used automobile parts. Will the scurs begin yet another search for a Weather Eye or give Nash-Rambler and Co. one more shot? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thanksgiving Day, partly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of a rain/snow mix in the forenoon with snow possible in the afternoon, perhaps into early evening. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of evening snow. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Cloudy for Sunday with a modest chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Monday, cloudy with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the low teens. Tuesday mostly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and around 10 above. The normal high for November 22nd is 37 and the normal low is 21. The scurs are taking solace in the fact that on the 22nd we’ll only lose 30 minutes of daylight before the winter solstice. You just can’t have it all.
 
The Full Moon for the month happens to fall on Thanksgiving evening about 11:39 p.m. This Full Moon goes by the Full Beaver Moon although other names include the Full Frost, Trading, Snow and Oak Moon. The primary reason for being named the Beaver Moon is it is the moon in which trappers and fur traders were collecting beaver pelts as they were at their prime. The Ojibwe called this the Freezing Moon and the Sioux denoted it as the Moon of Falling Leaves. The Lakota were to the point, naming it the Moon When Winter Begins. At the ranch it goes by the Full Barn Cleaning Moon. Much snarling and gnashing of teeth can be heard until its completion.
 
No one saw the -4 to -6 degree temperatures coming this past Sunday morning. It in all likelihood put an end to the arguments about whether or not we’d be seeing much more fieldwork done this fall. Certainly not the end of the world however and not the first time this has happened. Corn stalks that weren’t tilled with rotational plans for soybeans next year are easy-peasy. If conditions are dry enough for disking, that works fine or for those with planters equipped to allow no-till, it’s a no brainer. Unworked soybean stubble becomes somewhat more problematic although an early break in March weather can allow plenty of time for some light primary tillage with little or no yield penalty.

 Snow two weeks in a row hasn’t deterred the various highway departments from dumping copious amounts of salt on the roadways already. Roads were white with packed on snow that while slippery, certainly didn’t warrant he kind of pasting they received. After melting off, many roadways were white again, this time because of a layer of salt. Not only is salt hard on roads and automobiles, it causes many of us to swerve around the places where the snowplow has dumped out a wad of the corrosive material. In that respect one could argue it actually makes the roadway more dangerous. And, worst of all, it’s put the final nail in the coffin for one more Studebaker cruise I’d been hoping for. Gee thanks.
 
It’s hard to admit defeat and declare winter just yet. The sheep remain at the kindly neighbors for the time being. They were the beneficiaries of the kindly neighbors frozen pumpkins. It took them a few days to finally bore a hole in them but once they did, it was game on. Within a few days about all that was left were a few hunks of orange pumpkin flesh. After the last snow I was somewhat concerned they needed some supplemental forage so took a few bales of hay to tide them over. When I arrived they were way out in the pasture paying little attention to me. After seeing them come on a dead run in daylight hours, it convinced me that probably wasn’t necessary. At the ranch as well, the round bales I’d put in the lot the prior weekend had been picked at a little but only briefly before the flock took off for the back side of the pasture.
 
Elsewhere at the ranch, preparing for winter continues at breakneck speed. The pots that kept the hummingbirds attention all summer were placed upside down in the small garden. The hope is that a sunny afternoon would thaw the soil in the pots enough to allow them to be dumped. Light bulbs that had burned out in the barn have been replaced with a few more needed before crossing that off the list. The hazelnuts that had done well this past summer had nearly been forgotten about. I feared the bunnies or deer had likely gnawed them to the ground especially with the snowfall events since mid-October. I was pleasantly surprised to find them largely untouched. Anything worth having is worth caring for so tree warp was quickly put in place. Take that, bunnies!

I made a trip to Wagner’s to procure our Thanksgiving dinner supplies. As usual I was able to find everything I needed and probably some things I really didn’t. We’re very lucky to be living in a country where food is relatively inexpensive and plentiful. And it’s nice to share. Auntie Mar Mar once again took pity on me between Hallmark episodes and baked me rhubarb cake. In addition to that Unkie Gregory delivered frozen waffles without freezer burn. I think there are still some freezer burned egg rolls in my secret stash though.
 
It’s even nice to share with the livestock. We pulled into Addie’s Floral shop in Albert Lea on Sunday where Mrs. Cheviot bemoaned the fact the sheep at the ranch would have to forego their usual Thanksgiving Day pumpkin feast. We had no time or soil conditions fit once we did have time to plant pumpkins. Suddenly, right in front of us we noticed frozen pumpkins and squash that adorned the front of the shop. They were in need of removal by Wednesday anyway so the sheep were in luck. And it wasn’t even Festivus yet!

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #673 on: November 27, 2018, 11:32:22 AM »
Oh, rockin’ down the highway…

The scurs winter of discontent with the Weather Eye continues. Another week of below normal temps has them ready to call George Romney at AMC and demand answers for the Weather Eye’s inconsistency. Will the weather moderate this week or will the scurs be frequenting Misgen’s again? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of evening snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, cloudy with a slight chance or forenoon snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 30’and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with another good chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Cloudy for Sunday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20s. Monday, cloudy with a decent chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low 20’s. Tuesday, cloudy with highs in the low 20’s and lows around 10 above. The normal high for December 1st is 32 and the normal low is 16. The scurs are starting their Christmas shopping procrastination early this year. No time to waste like the present.

Another topsy-turvy week of November weather last week had tentatively put fall tillage and anhydrous ammonia applications to bed. But wait, there’s more! After rain fell on Friday night the soil surface turned muddy. The ground froze up Saturday night allowing some field operations to resume at least in some fields. Primary tillage commenced once again and even some anhydrous ammonia was applied. Not all fields were thawed enough however as evidenced by areas left where the implements simply wouldn’t go in the ground. Trying to work frozen soil has been tough on equipment. As one sage observer pointed out after  Thanksgiving weekend, 2019 probably won’t be a good year to buy a used ripper.

The weather has had an impact on activities at the ranch as well. Getting the equipment ready to haul manure without a heated shop takes a lot of the fun out of it. Between the skidsteer and manure spreader there are a lot of zerks to grease. Changing over from the bucket to forks on the skidsteer can be tricky at times. Everything has to line up. The oil changing process on older tractors and skidsteers also takes a little more finesse than it does on more modern models. Care needs to be taken to avoid pinching gaskets and rounding off corners on drain plugs. Being somewhat of a contortionist is definitely a plus. To get everything ready takes the better part of a day if one wants the equipment to hold up. Hauling pack manure as only sheep can pack it can take its toll especially when there happens to be some frozen hunks in it. Not my first rodeo so forewarned is forearmed.

Sunday allowed good footing in the field north of the ranch so it was go time. The weather rarely does us any favors especially this time of year so best take advantage of it. That meant working on the pack from the outside in so that if/when it decided to get colder, at least the pack inside would be less likely to be frozen, ideally. The northwest wind was raw and the temperature was falling when I got at it. Once the spreader was loaded at least I could get in the heated tractor cab for ten minutes while hauling and spreading the load. Once back however it was back out in the elements. I did manage to get a major hunk of the main barn done so was happy about that. The sun was down when switching the spreader over to run just the apron and the last dab of manure out the back. The new LED lights lit everything up so it was easy to see. I climbed back into the cab and surveyed the landscape around me. A lot of other lights moving about. I was not alone.

The sheep in the main pasture received their pumpkins on Thanksgiving Day along with ground fall apples and a few ears of corn. At first there was only one ewe deciding to take advantage of the sudden bounty. Within an hour or so the word must’ve spread and the rest of the gang descended on the treats. It is rather amusing to watch something without opposable thumbs or anything else remotely resembling intelligence try to eat pumpkins on a hillside. The next day I needed to head to Krause’s for some feed. I bumped into an old friend and mentioned we’d fed the pumpkins to the sheep the day before. The co-owner of the establishment asked if I wanted another pumpkin. In the window was a large specimen still in perfect condition. Best get it out of there before it deflated she said. The sheep were most appreciative. They discovered it wasn’t frozen and quickly gnawed a big hole in the most recent addition.
 
We’ve seen a lot of bird activity with the cold cloudy November. Lots of juncos, downies, hairies, blue jays and chickadees with a loyal contingent of goldfinches. One male red-bellied woodpecker favors the ear corn. The male cardinal has been busy banging off the windows and even took on the pickup, alternating between the side view mirror and windows. Mixed in with the juncos a few newcomers to the ground under the feeders included a white-throated sparrow and a fox sparrow. Not sure what they’re doing here yet but they likely won’t stay if the past is any indication. All of the birds appear to be eating well and are in good shape. The squirrels have been eating ear corn and are also in shape. Round is a shape.

It’s sure been a welcome relief to drive on the recently paved St. Olaf Lake road. I’ve been motoring to work on it every day for the past 33 years. It was getting old as rough as it had become. Many a day the last several years I’d take longer routes just to get around some of the roughest stretches. People who had tried to use the bike trail in the recent past told me it had become nearly impossible to ride on it. The expansion joints were like hitting a dead furrow straight on with a narrow front tractor. The road reputedly has one more lift to go yet in the spring if the info from one of the workers was correct. Nonetheless, it is already vastly improved, making the daily commute a lot more enjoyable. At least I keep tabs on the geese bitterly clinging to the hole in the ice on St. Olaf Lake. Still some there Tuesday morning by the way.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #674 on: December 04, 2018, 11:28:06 AM »
I was on my way to nowhere but now I'm coming home...

The scurs were satisfied with the Weather Eye’s sudden uncanny ability to forecast crummy weather. The crummy weather? Not so much. Is the Weather Eye finally broken in or are we set up for more ugly winter surprises? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows near 10 above. Thursday, mostly sunny and colder with highs near 10 and lows around 5 below. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low teens and lows in the low single digits. Saturday, sunny with highs in the upper teens and lows in the mid-single digits. Sunny for Sunday with highs in the low 20’s and lows near 10 above. Monday, sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the upper teens. Tuesday, partly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. The normal high for December 10th is 28 and the normal low is 11. The scurs continue recovering up from the weekend’s brutal shoveling bomb session. Some hot toddies soothe the aches and pains as they contemplate Christmas shopping for yet another week.

Very little in the way of fieldwork went on this past week and after last weekend’s snowstorm it may be a while if there was corn left to pick. 7” – 8” of wet heavy snow fell and to make matters worse, sustained winds of 20 – 30 mph with gusts of up to 45 mph were recorded at the Waseca Airport. Application of fertilizer to frozen, snow covered soils is not wise while those with confinement livestock operations may not have any other alternatives if the pits under the barns have reached capacity. One can smell it on the air occasionally and although we may not like it, the cold weather has been good for something. Much of the manure has frozen and until it thaws, the odor remains at least more tolerable. Waivers for surface manure applications must be obtained from the MPCA first so it’s not like operators are indiscriminately dumping it on top to save money and speed up the hauling process.

At the ranch and everywhere else there was a sense of urgency, a frenzy if you will of people putting things away and buttoning up their buildings. It had been a busy day at the office and getting to a stopping point it was time to bring livestock equipment back from the kindly neighbors’ pasture. From there it was on to load up a used snow blower I’d spoken for. When I got close to home with that I saw neighbors moving trucks, wagons and fertilizer equipment presumably to their winter storage areas. I parked the trailer where it wasn’t likely to be in the way at snow removal time and hooked onto the livestock trailer. It was time to bring the sheep home before they got snowed in.

Luckily I’d shut them in the barn the night before by feeding them inside. You can trick sheep into doing a lot of things for food, just like some people I know. Backed the trailer in and a few of the ewes hopped right in but as usually happens, they turned around and flew right back out. Restricting their enclosure with a hog panel forced them to suddenly change their minds and after one failed attempt they all jumped in. I quickly slid the door shut and pulled the trailer ahead away from the door. Tossing some tubs and buckets in the pickup, then closing up the doors on the shed, I was out of there in about 45 minutes.
 
Once home it was time to sort out a few of the bred ewes we’d opted to sell along with the ram that had been with the group. By then it was dark and tough to see. Fortunately there’s a light inside this trailer that actually works so it wasn’t long and I had them separated. I backed the trailer into the feedlot and let one group out the side door then when Mrs. Cheviot arrived home, we ran the last group out the back into the main barn. It was definitely time for all of them to be home. The sheep had been over at the pasture nearly six months. They were starting to look forward to their hay towards the last while the acorns and pumpkins they’d feasted on earlier were long gone. Likewise the ewes at the ranch had gobbled down the last vestiges of the Thanksgiving pumpkins.

Barn cleaning followed on Saturday with the inclement weather upon us. There was still snow left from earlier in the week making it slick on the north facing slope by the barn. Taking the first load out, the tractor and spreader slid sideways, making me grimace as it barely cleared the livestock trailer. It was snowing heavily. On the second load, it made me wonder if I’d make it out or back the next time. What I’d decided was the third and final load for the day confirmed my earlier suspicions. I had to back up and grind my way up the incline to get away from the barn. It was getting tough to see out the windows of the cab and where I’d been with the previous load. When the spreader finally went empty and the last hunk cleared the beaters, the traction was getting shaky even in the field. I shifted to a higher gear and made a run at the slant to get on the driveway. It grabbed on one side then the other as I alternately hit the brakes to finally scratch and claw my way onto the level. I’d made it although it ripped up the yard pretty good. Lucky it’s snowing hard I thought. That way the neighbors wouldn’t be able to see the divot.
 
I unhooked from the spreader leaving it where it wouldn’t become encased in a snowbank. It was time to do what I dread every season: Put the tractor chains back on. Seemed like I’d just taken them off. Indeed, they were still fairly shiny as I pulled them off their hangers and dragged them over to the tractor. They were shiny with good reason. I was still moving snow the week of April 20th. Looking back over the calendar year, we’ve had measurable snowfall in 7 of the last 12 months. And were not talking the fraction of an inch stuff. When it snows it’s been the make everything white, three to four inch variety at the ranch since mid-October.
 
It’s not my first rodeo so the chains went on relatively smoothly as the weather continued to deteriorate. There was no way to finish cleaning the barn by choretime. I’d have to hook up to the spreader, again. It would take moving some animals and gates around. It would also be dark in less than two hours. Ruby had been out there all day helping, her fur was caked with ice and snow. I’d had enough fun and games for one day anyway and for sure enough of the weather. Someone remind me, why is it we live here again?

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #675 on: December 13, 2018, 05:22:57 PM »
And you'll have to deal with pressure

The scurs continue to be with the Weather Eye’s recent accuracy not to mention the warmer temps. Are we in for more of the same or are our fortunes about to change again? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with highs near 30 and lows in the mid-teens. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 30s and lows in the upper teens. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny for Sunday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. On the 15th we have only one more minute of daylight to lose before the shortest day of the year on the 21st. The normal high for December 15th is 26 and the normal low is 9. The scurs are thinking that enjoying the sunshine after so much cloudy weather is cause to celebrate and put Christmas shopping on hold. Lots of time left.

Indeed it has been wonderful to see the sun after an ugly November and early December. It was especially rewarding to be treated to the rime frost collected on all the trees with the sun on Monday afternoon. It only served to amplify all that sunlight. Best of all the potential for an encore performance existed for some of the upcoming days. The sun this time of year tends to lift spirits and put everyone in a better frame of mind. And besides, after all the cloudiness and cold temperatures so far, we deserve it.

I wondered the other day why on the MN Climatology Working Group website our rainfall data at the ranch is reported in the daily sampler as coming from Vista. Odd. We don’t live in downtown Vista so guessed we must be in a suburb. I wondered too if perhaps I’d been named an honorary Swede or at very least an ornery Swede. Such was not the case. After digging through the Climatology website I found the results for each weather observer are linked to the city or town nearest them. My fears of being annexed were over.

Not much happening out here in farm country in the fields presently aside from some who didn’t have their corn picked yet to attempt harvesting it. There has been a lot of snow blown in along the outside edges although in the main bodies of the fields themselves it appears tolerable. There is a good reason people will sometimes leave rows along roadways. Standing corn makes an excellent snow fence. The snow also can make the corn more accessible for pheasants.
 
Along the north line of our place at the ranch we spied the first rooster pheasants we’ve seen in many months. Not sure just where they’ve been hiding although they do seem to be somewhat nomadic at least within a localized area. The birds appeared very healthy and not in any particular hurry to get anywhere as they moseyed slowly along the tree planting. They’d likely come up out of the CRP and through the EQIP corridor we planted for the wildlife. We frequently see other critters traveling that route as well. It’s gratifying to see them using it.
 
The last load of manure of the season was hauled on Sunday at the ranch. Much like the harvest season for area grain farmers, it seemed like barn cleaning would never end. Weather delays stretched what started out with hope into a battle to the finish. Sunday was no exception. After a successful Saturday finishing the main barn, it was time to tackle the smaller lambing barn. Unfortunately the cold weather had frozen the pack in that barn 3” – 4” deep. This required some work first with the pitchfork to break a hole in it so the forks on the skidsteer would penetrate. Some mechanical mishaps had me fixing the forks shortly after starting so that slowed progress.
 
Once that was completed everything clicked in spite of dealing with the frozen pack. I tried my best to break it up some first to avoid dumping huge pieces in the spreader. With only the fast apron chain speed operational m y fear was I’d shear a pin. I know where the spare pins are under the drive cover.  Knock on wood I’ve never needed to use one. My buns were pinched pretty tight several times as I watched frozen hunk after frozen hunk either chewed to bits or flung once the beaters caught it. Turning the function selection to run just the apron to finish the last load I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The pressure was off. As Chevy Chase said at the end of Christmas Vacation, I did it.

A friend the local LP man recently mentioned he’d been watching a Mr. Ed rerun on TV and while he was watching, it happened that Wilbur had been driving a Studebaker Lark, making him instantly think of me. Indeed, Studebaker automobiles were featured on the program and the Posts, Mr. Ed’s owners on the show drove a Studebaker Lark convertible. Studebaker was also one of the show’s sponsors from 1961 – 1963. However company sales were tanking in spite of some exciting, outside of the box product offerings such as the Avanti.
 
Popular as they were, the Lark and advertising on the Mr. Ed show were unable to save Studebaker from its demise. Bungled management from the early 50’s placed the company on shaky financial footing although the Lark breathed life into the faltering automobile maker in 1959. Competition in the compact car market such as that from GM’s Corvair, Ford’s Falcon and Chrysler’s Valiant in the early 60’s sealed their fate. Studebaker ceased US production in December of 1963 and moved manufacturing to Hamilton Ontario in Canada. After 143 episodes, Mr. Ed ended its run in February of 1966. In March of 1966, Studebaker closed their doors for good. Coincidence? I think not.

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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