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Offline mike89

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #690 on: February 13, 2019, 07:09:46 PM »
 :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #691 on: February 19, 2019, 03:19:24 PM »
Don't let It bring you down…

The Weather Eye continues to give the scurs fits after thinking they had the cold and snow problem licked. Will their woes continue or will Old Man Winter loosen his grip a tad? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows near 10. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the upper single digits. Mostly cloudy on Friday with an increasing chance of snow by evening. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows near 20.  Saturday, cloudy with a good chance of snow increasing by evening. Highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a good chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low teens. Monday, partly sunny with possible flurries and highs around 20 with lows in the low teens. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a continued chance of flurries. Highs in the low 20’s with lows around 10. On the 24th, the sun will rise before 7 a.m. On the 26th, we’re back over 11 hours of daylight for the first time since last October 15th. The normal high for February 26th is 32 and the normal low is 14. The scurs are rationing their Valentine’s Day candy as it’s a long pull until Easter.

Winter continues to drag on. After lulling us to sleep with some nice weather from December up through mid-January, it has started to wear on everyone. One has to remember it got an early start in November and even made us think twice in October when it snowed 4” in places. While our February snowfall isn’t record breaking in this area, several other areas are seeing record setting snowfall. Still, as February’s go, snowfall has been well above normal and temperatures have been well below normal. We are however already near the seasonal normal for snowfall at the SROC which is 52.8. We still have March and perhaps April left to go. Thus far in Bugtussle we’re at 53.8” and at the ranch 52.7” as of February 19th. Frost depth on bare soil as measured at the SROC is 19”. One saving grace of this snow is it has insulated the soil so that the frost hasn’t penetrated much deeper. We’ll have enough problems to worry about the way it is including the snow pack to our south.

Probably the worst thing about our snow in February is that it hasn’t thawed much since the 5th. We got a lot of mileage out of the snow that fell on the 11th and 12th, having to move it three times after the winds deposited and redeposited it. It hasn’t snowed huge amounts per snowfall event although it has snowed frequently. Measureable snowfall was recorded on 9 of the first 18 days in February at the ranch. This February snow has been relatively dry snow as well, making it easy for the wind to move it. Likewise, it’s been easy to move with the tractor and blower. In my rookie season as a snow blower owner/operator, that’s probably a blessing. Being able to take full swaths since the snow is so fluffy and not terribly deep has made the learning process less painful than it could’ve been.

The deep snow keeps our backyard bird population busy at the feeders including the pheasants. Didn’t mean to scare them out of their roosts but one night blowing snow into the pine trees sent about a dozen packing in disgust before dark. The next morning they were back at their corn feeder so they must not have been over it. It appears too we may have our very own cardinal at the ranch. In years past, we’ve shared one with neighbor David. Now it appears there are two males, one that stays here and one that comes up here from below the hill. Their spring song is evident already at choretime as the sun comes up. It’s a beautiful noise after a winter that’s largely quiet and devoid of much bird singing.

Lambing has been a slow process thus far. Not that it’s a bad thing. The cold weather has tried our patience more than once. The snow certainly hasn’t made keeping the feedlot clean a bowl of cherries. I discovered the snow blower can also doubles as a forage blower when getting into the hay build up around the mangers. The lambs don’t care and are demanding more space. Their wish will be my command very soon. Feeding small pens of anything is one of my greatest pet peeves. It takes a lot of extra time and more feed particularly hay gets wasted. Being the individual who ends up being the chief handler of 400+ small square bales annually at the ranch, I tend to take it personally. My aching joints second the motion.

Have you experienced some of the same issues with other drivers I have this winter? I recently read a ranking of drivers by state and MN ranked as 6th worst. I’d believe it. I don’t know how many nasty weather days with reduced visibility I’ve seen people driving around without their headlights on. They must assume they automatically come on or have a death wish. In my pickup, the running lights do come on once the vehicle is in gear. The tail lights however don’t come on unless the lights are manually turned on. That varies a lot by vehicle so the best bet is to turn them on. I’ve also noticed people driving with their parking lights on. Huh? It doesn’t help them to be seen for much distance but I guess it must be the cool thing to do.
 
Something else that I’ve asked for clarification on but have never received a consistent answer concerns the use of emergency flashers when the vehicle is moving. It’s confusing. When vehicles are moving slowly, it’s frequently difficult to know what they’re up to until you’re right on top of somebody. More than once in over 40 years of driving I’ve come across someone parked under an overpass in the driving lane with their flashers on. Talk about a death wish.
 
It’s time for some positive thinking before a person gets too far down. Seed catalogs provide warm thoughts of what one might be able to plant for spring. The garden area still needs to be moved at the ranch so that project is on the list. Along with that time needs to be allocated for the burning of several brush piles. Cooperation from Mother Nature and the People’s Republic of Steele Co. will be needed on that one. Time to make the annual trek to kiss the ring of the Trash Fire Police. Will this be the year that the trusty lawn mowers Whitey and/or Howard are replaced? They were still running well at the end of last season so odds are they’ll make spring training. The smell of freshly mown grass can’t be far behind.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #692 on: February 26, 2019, 11:43:29 AM »
That wind's howling and it seems mighty like a woman's screams

The scurs puzzlement continues as the Weather Eye continues to disappoint, stuck on the January snow globe setting. Do we get out of our weather rut or are we stuck with it? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a good chance of evening snow. Highs near 10 with lows in the single digits below zero. Thursday, partly sunny with a good chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the upper teens with lows near zero. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of snow. Highs in the mid-teens with lows near zero.  Saturday, partly sunny and breezy. Highs in the mid-single digits with lows in the low teens below zero. Mostly sunny for Sunday and continued cold. Highs in the low single digits with lows near 10 below. Monday, mostly sunny with highs around 10 above and lows near 5 below. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the mid-teens and lows around 0. The normal high for March 1st is 33 and the normal low is 16. The scurs are finding it easy to keep their frozen Milky Way bars hidden outside in a cooler. Now if they could only remember which snowbank they put it in.
 
Indeed it has been a stretch of cold weather some have perhaps become unaccustomed to. The way December and January started out it made one wonder if we weren’t heading for an earlier rather than later spring. That all changed of course. This makes two years in a row now that we’ve had “real” winter. The SROC in Waseca had already broken the all-time record for February snowfall before the Sunday blizzard hit. Temperatures have remained well below normal as well as you can see by temperature data above. Also looking at the SROC numbers as of the 25th we see the average temperature is 10.8 degrees below normal and the average low for the month was -2.9. That’s cold even by January standards.

This past weekend’s storm was reminiscent those of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s experienced. Heavy snowfall followed by plummeting temperatures and high winds. Sound familiar? As kids we were always hoping for a storm to show up on a Sunday night and frequently it seemed like we got our wish. Of course we didn’t have some of the snow removal equipment we have today so it wasn’t unusual for school to be called off for a couple days so people could dig out and crews could get the roads passable again. This one made me appreciate what my folks must’ve gone through having livestock to care for during weather like this. Luckily for us anyway, no bratty kids home from school to contend with.
 
The blizzard warning at the ranch caused an uptick in our activity level as we readied to hunker down. We needed to get some lambs processed by docking tails, ear tagging, and immunizing before we could move them and their mothers. We got that done in the a.m. and bedded the pens later in the afternoon. Then before evening chores we moved four pens to the main barn. It’s always an adventure as one is never sure if the ewe will follow her lamb or freak out and run back into the barn as Cheviots are prone to do. When there are twin lambs, each of us take a lamb and ideally the ewe follows. Ruby the Border Collie gets into the act, tailing the ewe. It’s comforting to look back and see her instinctive walking crouch. Along with comic relief that’s what we have her for.

I’d made a trip to the store where you go to the bathroom in the orange silo earlier that day. I hadn’t been north on our road for a few weeks so was amazed to see the amount of snow pushed back on either side. In places it was piled up as high as the cab on the pickup. If the forecast held true, blocking the road wouldn’t take much. Time to make sure our snow removal equipment was ready to rock at the ranch. Fluid levels checked, chains oiled and tanks fueled up. When the snow started about 5:30 that afternoon one could tell it meant business. Fortunately we’d put a new fabric door on the lambing barn minutes before it started to snow. Not a minute too soon.

When I checked for new lambs at 10 p.m. Saturday night I took my yardstick and measured the snow at several points between the house and barn. At that point 8” of snow had fallen and it was still snowing hard. The wind switched directions through the night and by morning the yard had completely blown shut. We climbed and rolled over drifts to get to the main barn. Once there we fired up the skidsteer to blaze a trail between buildings and back to the house so we could haul feed and water. It took some doing but after 20 minutes the yard was semi-navigable again. The animals were all glad to see us and were dry with the buildings being buttoned up before the storm.
 
Winds picked up Sunday causing the visibility to deteriorate. Midafternoon saw a gust of 52 mph at the Waseca airport. It wasn’t unusual for the Dubya’s building site a quarter mile away to disappear from sight entirely. At times we couldn’t even see our barn roughly 60 yards from the house. The snowbanks were enormous and had me questioning whether I’d be able to handle them with the blower. The winds subsided as evening choretime neared. We had to reopen the trail from morning first as it filled back in entirely in spots. Wading through snowbanks with water buckets is a good time said no one ever.
 
By Monday morning as we’d surmised by various media outlets the impact of the storm had been enormous. People were stranded across much of southern MN. I-35 and I-90 were both closed as well as numerous state and US highways. County blacktop roads were also blocked as I’d discovered after chores Sunday night. Two major drifts covered the road in front of our place and there was no going through them with an automobile. There was no sense in trying to move snow on Monday until it looked like we could get somewhere. Reality check: One would’ve only made it as far as the next spot where the road was blocked. There you’d sit or turn around and go home. That’s why everyone runs to the grocery store the day before. Can’t make French toast without milk, bread and eggs!
 
See you next week…real good then. 
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2fyFumisiU
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #693 on: March 05, 2019, 03:49:16 PM »
That's the way it oughtta be…

The scurs disappointment continues as the Weather Eye remains in a cold weather rut. Will the worm finally turn or will we just have worms? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-teens with lows near zero. Thursday, partly sunny with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the mid- teens with lows in the upper single digits above zero. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the upper teens.  Saturday, cloud with a good chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a good chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-teens. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. On March 7th we will see over 11 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, roughly the same as we had back on October 5th. The normal high for March 7th is 35 and the normal low is 19. The scurs will have their hands full after receiving all the fan mail for an improving weather pattern. Oh and don’t forget to get up at 2 a.m. Sunday morning to set your clocks ahead. Group hug!
 
Another week of ugly weather to end February and start March out like a lion. Below zero high temperatures in March? You heard it here first. We seem to be taking our sweet time to warm up and in the long haul that may be a good thing from a flooding perspective. A slow burn will let the water in the snow go more gradually and lessen the chances for flooding. The good news is that the snow falling in early February was relatively dry. The unfortunate thing is there was a lot of it. February snowfall totals for New Richland measured 36.9” and at the ranch 37.9”. Seasonal total snowfall for New Richland stands at 73” and at the ranch 75.7”. Another positive is the frost depth under that heavy blanket of snow has remained relatively constant. At the SROC in Waseca, 19” seems to be about as deep as it has gone. Once we can get some dark soil to peek through, it may not take as long as one might think if temperatures begin to cooperate particularly if the snow cover to our south in IA leaves. The two often go hand in hand for us.

The deep snow however has become problematic when it comes to filling the birdfeeders. Fortunately I still have my snowshoes, the old fashioned ash and rawhide kind, just like Sgt. Preston of the Yukon used to wear. Even though they’re not the high tech models, they still work great. It’s amazing how much snow one can just walk over the top of without breaking through. They certainly made filling the feeders for the smaller birds a breeze. Of particular concern though was making sure the pheasant feeder was filled with ear corn. They’ve been emptying it within a few days of each refill. The last time I filled it after the blizzard I sank up to my waist in spots. Enough of that. Once I donned the snowshoes and filled the bucket with ear corn we made it look easy. There were close to a dozen pheasants that flew off as I approached, a large proportion of them hens. If we can get them through this rough stretch at least they’ll have a chance.

Lambing has picked up the pace and is moving faster than it appeared it once would. After the last week’s arrivals we’re about ¾ done. As one wise observer noted, we’ll probably be done just in time for it to warm up. It’s been brutal dealing with the cold and snow. We’ve wrung about as much fun out of hauling buckets of warm water across the yard as we possibly can. The snow removal that seemed like a piece of cake in December and the first half of January turned ugly. It’s imperative to keep the small feed lot cleaned out. Even on some of the coldest days the ewes want to be out wandering around and accessing their hay mangers even after they’ve been fed inside. Overall, the animals seem to be handling this better than we are. Of course none of them are over 60 years old either.

Last week I was able to help someone who was having car trouble. They needed a ride to Ike’s after their car refuse to move once put in gear. It was no problem as I hoped if something like that happened to me someone would do the same. Flash ahead to Friday afternoon. I needed to get some bags of feed so I’d left work early that afternoon. I checked the lambing barn and seeing the coast was clear I headed for the store that has everything Fleet Farm doesn’t. It had been snowing hard prior to that and began snowing even harder. Along with that there was a haze in the air making visibility worse. I thought about turning around to wait until the snow let up then bought but thought I’d better get it done. It was tough to tell where the edge of the road was and I’d had a run in earlier in the week. I’d been clearing along the end of the driveway to widen it when suddenly one side went down. I gingerly made my way back up the side of the ditch hoping I wouldn't flop it on its side.

I was underway with the pickup when I approached the crest of a hill and decided I should squeeze over towards the shoulder a little to avoid hitting anyone coming the other way. The landscape was pure white and the edge of the road was indistinguishable.  All the sudden I could feel the pickup start to get sucked towards the ditch. After struggling to gain control it pulled me in to a stop. I shoveled frantically and a Good Samaritan came by and offered to help. Unfortunately there was no place to hook onto their vehicle so I sent her on her way. I’d made progress shoveling and was getting the pickup to move towards the pavement. Another Good Samaritan, this time a neighbor with a pickup. Good thing as I was about gassed after all that shoveling. I hooked up the chain and he got the tow strap attached. A couple good yanks and the pickup made it out. He wouldn’t take anything for it Best of all, I made it to get my feed in a timely fashion and we didn’t wreck anything.
 
After all this happened I had to think to myself that’s the way it ought to be. We help each other get through this and life’s other predicaments because one never knows when it’s your turn in the barrel. Pay it forward whenever you can.

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 #694 on: March 05, 2019, 06:29:57 PM »
After all this happened I had to think to myself that’s the way it ought to be. We help each other get through this and life’s other predicaments because one never knows when it’s your turn in the barrel. Pay it forward whenever you can.

yuppers!!!!   :happy1: :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #695 on: March 12, 2019, 12:01:20 PM »
I'm winning...

Finally the scurs have a glimmer of hope as the Weather Eye is pointed the right direction. Will we see a relapse or are we on the way out of the Ice Age? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, cloudy with rain likely changing to snow by evening. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the upper teens.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on St. Patrick’s Day with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. On March 17th we will see a full 12 hours of daylight. The normal high for March 17th is 40 and the normal low is 23.The scurs will have their corned beef and cabbage ready for the occasion.
 
Do you dislike this this time change stuff as much as I do? Well, it appears people are finally getting fed up with the Daylight Saving Time change and are doing something about it. Several states are proposing to stay on DST year round. While I wholeheartedly agree with stopping the nonsensical time change, I’m not jazzed about stumbling around in the dark for an extra hour or having kids waiting for the bus in the dark all winter. Maybe that’s OK in the south but in the north where odds of slipping and falling on your butt increase, not so much.  I’d rather see Standard Time return permanently. If businesses, government and other organizations choose to adjust summer/winter hours, they should have that flexibility. Most of us have cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc. While it might (god forbid) require a little forward planning, people would adjust without the rigmarole of messing with their clocks twice a year.
 
Of course all of these proposed time change measures at the state levels are contingent upon federal approval to be implemented. Leave it to our federal government to screw something up. If you’ll recall, they were the geniuses who pushed the time change back to early March to conserve energy in the first place. It didn’t work. I think of them every time I use one of those crummy new gas cans. People waste more time and spill more gas using the new-fangled contraptions than they ever did with the older gas cans. If they really wanted to save energy and all of us a lot of grief, they should outlaw these new gas cans!

Doing chores in the low light of Monday morning I was greeted by the singing of a male cardinal. In my semi-conscious sleep deprived state I thought to myself he must be close. Sure enough when I looked up could make out his shape singing from the silver maple sapling about 15’ away. The sun was just starting to peek over the horizon so he became more visible with each trip in and out of the lambing barn. Nothing better than listening to someone performing live music while you’re doing the chores.

Chickadees are singing their spring song too, “fee-bee, fee-bee”. They’ve been regular customers all winter as have the goldfinches whose yellow color is making a return. The pheasants put on a show this past week too. On Saturday there were 10, all hens at the corn feeder. Sunday, there were several roosters and no hens. On Monday morning the hens were there early and were joined by several roosters that came running over the tops of the snowbanks. The sun caught the roosters just right, making their breasts look almost red in color as they scurried towards their corn. It’s just nice to see them after a rough winter, all appearing to be in good rig. Most gratifying is the number of hens.
 
In the lambing barn we’ve whittled the number of ewes left to lamb down to three as of this writing. Thank goodness the weather has warmed some. Hauling numerous five gallon pails of water daily from the house to the barn was getting old. We’re still hauling some 6 quart pails to the lambing barn for the most recent mothers. The ewes like warm water and while they’ll drink cold water, the warm water stays thawed so they have access longer between feedings. Not only that it appears they drink more water and if they drink more water odds are they’ll milk better. The lambs are the clear winners in deals like that.

Speaking of lambs that are winners, we had one little buck lamb that wound up being orphaned. Doesn’t sound like winning just yet but I’ll explain. Our time to diddle around feeding bottle lambs comes at a premium these days. Luckily there’s Agnes’s Home for Wayward Lambs. After a few days of his noise in the house at the ranch it was time to make a move. I made the call to make sure it was OK and took off with the little tyke.
 
The gravel roads were a fright but we were careful and arrived in one piece. A spot was already prepared for the lamb on the porch, right beside a chicken named Myrtle who was convalescing after a broken leg. The lamb would receive care over and above what we could provide it not to mention being spoiled rotten. I even managed to get a dozen fresh eggs (11 of them were brown) and some chocolate chip cookies out of the deal.  If that isn’t winning I don’t know what is.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #696 on: March 19, 2019, 11:32:40 AM »
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
It's all right, it's all right


Finally the scurs continue to gain confidence in the Weather Eye after seeing sunshine and the snow melting before their very eyes. Is Old Man Winter down for the count or is he poised to get off the mat and make a furious comeback? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s.  Saturday, sunny with a modest chance of evening showers. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a modest chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. The vernal equinox is on the 20th and is considered as the astronomical first day of spring. The normal high for March 20th is 42 and the normal low is 24. The scurs are betting there will be angry chickens when their eggs stand on end during the equinox.

March 20th also corresponds to the Full Moon for March that goes by several names the most common of which is the Full Worm Moon. This is usually the month when the ground thaws, allowing the earthworms to make the surface and leave their castings behind. The robins are generally major beneficiaries of their actions. It also goes by the Full Crow Moon, The Full Crust Moon as well as the Full Sap Moon as the sap is running in the maple trees with the warming daytime temperatures and cooler overnights. The Ojibwe knew this as the Snow Crust Moon while the Sioux called it the Moon When Buffalo Cows drop their Calves. At the ranch it is known as the Moon of the Muddy Border Collie. Several months share that designation.

We finally got a glimpse of spring this past week. Temperatures warmed above freezing so that with the rain, localized flooding was enough to close roads and prohibit travel. Fortunately overnight temperatures went below freezing again last Friday and continued that trend through the weekend. This slowed the amount of water getting into larger tributaries which should help alleviate some of the flooding potential. However there is still plenty of snow left to melt in groves, ditches and wetland habitat so we’re not out of the woods entirely. Warmer temperatures later this week could send another wave through the system as temperatures will likely remain above freezing through the weekend. Luckily not much in the way of precipitation is expected so we can count our blessings. Many in parts of NE, IA and SD have not been so fortunate.

There are definitely signs of spring in the migrating bird arena. Robins were spotted at the Mall for Men on the 12th and on the 14th at the ranch where they feasted on the remaining nannyberries and crabapples. There are plenty of American cranberries as well should they run short. A red-winged blackbird was also heard on the 14th. While I was shoveling the snow off the patio Saturday I heard the distinctive call of sandhill cranes to the south. A tad early perhaps although maybe they know something I don’t. More geese are heading their way north daily and Tuesday morning a group of 13 swans flew overhead as I headed out to do chores.

In the meantime the male cardinals sing their hearts out while the chickadees are locked in on the sunflower feeders. A rooster pheasant has set up shop on the edge of our yard right next to the corn in the feed pan. Great horned owls were calling on St. Patrick’s Day evening around 10 p.m. lamb check. Fortunately all the lambs are inside, out of harm’s way. Besides, the owls have plenty of bunnies, skunks and opossums to dine upon.
 
The yard hasn’t really firmed up much yet. A week ago this past Sunday I was still blowing snow. That Monday I was removing snow off the roof where it was deep so the rain didn’t cause issues. Since that time the slush needed to be scraped off so we could get up the driveway more easily. It even made the pickup with four wheel drive scratch and claw so no telling what might happen if you driving a car. The solar lights I forgot to put away last fall finally reemerged from the snowbanks and some were already working. Others were sputtery, likely from the moisture in the snow melt.

More ewes and lambs made their way to the loafing area in the main barn. Ruby provided some additional backup, earning her keep once more. A ewe nicknamed Psycho for her nasty temperament was particularly unamused by our little red and white Border Collie. Pretty sure Ruby wasn’t on Psycho’s Christmas card list as the ewe charged her. Ruby quickly deflected the attempt, getting the ewe back on the balance point as we carried the lambs in front of her. The twins were heavy, causing our arms to ache by the time we made the gate in the barn. Psycho was right behind us though thanks in part to Ruby running interference.

One thing led to another after shoveling the patio off and moving more sheep over the weekend. To celebrate weather that hasn’t been hell-bent on trying to kill anyone the grill was ignited Monday night. After lighting the coals the exterior of the grill needed a good cleaning. The grunge from February’s storms had collected on it even though it was covered. Once that was accomplished the fire and the lamb burgers were ready to grill. The air was still as the evening was cooling down while the solar lights added their ambiance. It didn’t take long and the burgers were done. A tad chilly perhaps yet a great way to celebrate what hopefully will be the end of another winter that started in October. It’s been a long time coming.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #697 on: March 26, 2019, 11:49:14 AM »
T.N.T. - watch me explode

The scurs growing confidence in the Weather Eye continues with Mother Nature doing a good spring impression. Can we make bank on it yet or is one last flourish in store for us yet? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of a rain and/or snow shower. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. April Fool’s Day, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. On March 30th the sun will rise before 7 a.m. The normal high for April 1st is 49 and the normal low is 29. With all the nice weather as of late, the scurs are looking for some banana seeds to plant. April Fool’s!

As mentioned above it’s finally giving us some indications that spring might officially be underway. Snow that seemed like it would never leave suddenly did last week although there is plenty of snow remaining in fencelines, groves and wetland areas. In some instances it likely has kept temperatures from reaching their forecast highs. Frost in the ground has retreated as well. We’re now able to close the walk in door on the pole barn at the ranch. Typically when the frost gets about 18” – 20” deep the door frame heaves making it necessary to use a bungee cord to keep the door shut. No frost depth update from SROC as of press time so will have to take the word of the barn door at the ranch.
 
Saturday was fruit tree pruning day or at least one of them. I made a good start although the Gator having developed a leaky tire beyond repair limited my pruning to only what I could reach from the ground. The way the trees are pruned it’s handy to back the machine in under the tree, climb up into the box and prune standing on a nice solid surface. Certainly easier than using the pole saw and much quicker. Plus, after the job is completed one can pile all the brush in the back and dump it in a pile. It shouldn’t take long once the tire is repaired to finish the tree pruning job though. Starting with the trees when they’re young has made the process less painful although I was feeling it on Sunday. Shouldn’t have to worry about repairing cartilage in my left shoulder as I doubt there’s any to repair. Sure fun to listen to it make noises though.
   
Sunday we were finally able to catch up and get the last of the shearing that we’d postponed in February due to the bitter cold weather. Temperature-wise Sunday was almost perfect for shearing. Cloudy with a periodic light drizzle falling it was as good as it gets. No one got too sweated up and the sheep were comfortable with the temperature, a far cry from shivering through weeks of subzero low temperatures. It went smoothly and by noon we had everything done with lunch on the table. Another job that the winter had postponed and made matters certainly more complicated than we wanted them to be.

Speaking of those complications, even though everyone has spring on the brain, we’re waiting for the snow to get off the fences so we can turn the lambs out into the main lot. Deep snow banks and electric fences aren’t compatible. Neither are livestock owners when livestock is on the lam. Few things increase my vocabulary as when animals are where they’re not supposed to be. Couple that with living on a road where traffic flies along at speeds well over the limit and you begin to understand my anxiety. Using some hog panels we’ve been able to open the east door finally to help with air quality. One of these days though, the lambs will need to get out and run. When that happens watch them explode! Better them than me.

It’s become a debate what to do with the chains and snow blower on the tractor. Take them off and guaranteed it will snow. Leave them on and it limits what can be done with the tractor around the yard and pasture. Lord knows there are lots of things to do. The blower will have to come of soon anyway as it will be time to latch onto another round bale for the main lot. If it warms up enough the pasture may offset some of the hay consumed in that lot. The blower and tractor will both need some repairs so after moving a bale or two, it may be time to schedule that. It would be nice to park the blower in the shed and have it all ready to go for next winter. It’s called playing with the lead, pal.
 
Another Gopher winter sports season is in the books. We watched as much as we could and given the rotten weather since mid-January that was frequently. We even renewed our livestreaming capabilities so we could watch the Gopher women’s basketball team. Some wondered why we did that. As I pointed out to them we’ve been watching Lindsay Whalen since she played for Brenda Freese. It’s been interesting to watch her from being a high school standout to professional player to college head coach. Even though she was hired late, had little time to recruit, and the team struggled early on in Big 10 play, they did OK all things considered. It will be even more interesting to see how the team looks as Whalen begins to put her stamp on it. I look for toughness and durability.

Along those lines, one can’t forget the fond memories either we’ll have of seeing Jordan Murphy play these past four winters. When he was a freshman I remember saying to myself, watch this guy develop. He might be somebody. He had that lunch pail mentality and didn’t take plays off. He’d get knocked down, get back up, didn’t whine or complain and went about his business. When the dust settled there was frequently a double-double involved. Sure enough, four years later when coach Pitino gave him a curtain call at the NCAA tournament, there weren’t a lot of dry eyes in the house as they chanted “Jordan Murphy! Jordan Murphy!” Betting there were a lot of us at home who teared up as well. I’ve watched a lot of Gopher buckets over the years. Murphy was/is special and we were fortunate to have watched him play.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #698 on: April 02, 2019, 11:14:50 AM »
And I ran, I ran so far away

The calendar has the scurs thinking the Weather Eye will manufacture another forecast at least making it look like spring. Will the ground stay bare or does Old Man Winter have one last gasp, or several? Starting Wednesday, partly cloudy with a slight chance of an afternoon shower.  Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain and/or snow. Highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low mid-30’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the mid-40’s.  Saturday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with continued a continued chance of showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. On April 6th we’ll see 13 hours of daylight, about the same as we saw on September 5th. The normal high for April 6th is 52 and the normal low is 31. The scurs will be getting the patio furniture dusted off for placement around the cement pond. The still frozen cement pond that is.

Little in the way of progress in the fields just yet as temperatures this past week with the exception of last Wednesday remained on the cooler side. Precipitation fortunately has been on the lighter side so at least we’re making some headway with tile running. Frost has gone out of many areas although as of Saturday, there was still bale wrap frozen to the ground where I’d moved a bale back in February. Wanted to get it picked up as visions of cutting a wad of bale wrap out of a mower deck danced in my head. There was also evidence of earthworms being consumed by robins and other birds around the yard last week. Over the weekend however the robins were glad to still have access to crabapples. It was cold and the ground was frozen both Saturday and Sunday morning. It lent itself to the Dubya’s spreading pack manure and some primary tillage in other areas. The frost was officially out where it’s measured at the SROC back on March 25th. Fingers crossed.
 
The recent light precipitation and being frozen on top are a boon to keeping Ruby clean in the morning. As she’s aged, she tends to shy away from the water and mud anyway. If there’s a reason to run through it of course it doesn’t stop her either. Ruby turns 9 on the 4th. She’s been a great companion and for a Border Collie, is one of the friendliest around adults of any I’ve ever seen. I imagine she’ll want to stay up late on her birthday to watch dog shows, Clint Eastwood flicks, and eat popcorn. Even though she’s caught up to me in dog years, she’ll be doing it by herself as I’ll likely be fast asleep.

We’re still waiting for a couple straggler ewes to come in yet. It’s likely going to be their last rodeo as stretching out this lambing season stuff is overrated. The cold weather has stymied any potential for moving animals more into more spacious accommodations. The electric fence remains buried in the snow around the building site, in some places still 2’ – 3’ deep yet. It’s frustrating yet there really isn’t much a person can do other than be patient and hope the small square hay supply holds up. In the meantime the remaining ewes and culls have discovered the pasture. Counting eight head from the house on the hill below the house saves time looking for phantom lambs.

There were more swans in one place than I remember seeing last week. I received a call inquiring about them, particularly whether they might be snow geese or pelicans. Since I needed to make a run home to check for lambs I grabbed my spotting scope to ID the large white waterfowl. Sure enough when the scope was trained on them they turned out to be swans. From a half mile away it was difficult to tell if they were tundra or trumpeter swans.
 
Grilling last Thursday night was one of those evenings that one savors in retrospect. The air was very still so one could hear everything. There were killdeers calling in the pasture and sandhill cranes flying by, emitting their bizarre calls not more than 100 yards from the patio. Even more interesting when one really listened was the faint sound of chorus frogs emanating from the wetland. By Saturday the wetland had frozen over again. They must be full of antifreeze.

Pruning fruit trees has been a catch as catch can affair. After chores I’ve tried to get as many of them done as possible. I finished the eating apples up Thursday night and I got the award winning pear trees done Friday night. That was a relief. Their growth habit is a little different than our apple trees, focusing on growing vertically.  I really didn’t want to prune trees on Saturday but given some of the things on my plate I really didn’t see a way around it. I hammered out the largest crabapple tree which turned out to be a larger task than I’d thought. Not only that with the northwest wind howling it was as cold as I’d been all winter. Hot cocoa was in order to warm up again.

When the snow was largely gone I noticed the local track team out in force running the streets of Bugtussle. As a lad I remember doing the same thing although sometimes it was hard to approach it real seriously. Track was one of those sports the school didn’t spend a lot of money on. Good running shoes really weren’t readily available while the sweats and shoes were faded hand me downs from the 60’s or before. Few of them fit so we’d improvise. Carrot Top had a pair of sweatpants he’d pull up to his armpits He fashioned a set of suspenders from a pair of shoestrings to keep them up. A ragtag bunch, we were sent out the door to run for an hour so off we’d go. Fortunately the bakery was about a half mile away.  My buddy Bersample and I put money in our socks then made a detour. The track coach couldn’t figure out why we never improved. Maybe if they’d moved the bakery farther away…

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

Online glenn57

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #699 on: April 02, 2019, 11:22:50 AM »
 :scratch: :scratch: yea cool read!!!!!! but the only reason i imagine you where on the track tea was to make a feable attempt at chasing cheerleaders!!!!!!!!! :rotflmao: :rotflmao:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #700 on: April 02, 2019, 04:56:22 PM »
:scratch: :scratch: yea cool read!!!!!! but the only reason i imagine you where on the track tea was to make a feable attempt at chasing cheerleaders!!!!!!!!! :rotflmao: :rotflmao:

Actually it was an attempt to evade their advances. At least it worked on the fatter ones. They wouldn't fit in the backseat of the Lark anyway... :rotflmao:
« Last Edit: April 02, 2019, 04:57:28 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #701 on: April 09, 2019, 12:14:31 PM »
And the first one now will later be last…

The scurs and their Weather Eye have their eyes on taking another step forward in their quest for spring. Will progress continue or will Old Man Winter step on their toes? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of daytime rain turning into snow by evening.  Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain during daylight hours turning into evening snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of snow by evening. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. On April 15th the normal high is 57 and the normal low is 35. Even though their house looks like a rummage sale, the scurs will be paying their taxes. Wonder if the IRS takes used 8-track players?

Little in the way of real progress in the fields was made this past week, again. Some very scattered reports of some scratching around and rumors of fertilizer being applied with very little evidence backing it up. The pattern continues that there always seems to be more farming done in the coffee shop and on social media than in reality. Frost as reported last week is largely out so it’s a matter of getting soil conditions dry enough to allow fieldwork to commence. Precipitation has generally been light so the largest hurdle has been getting temperatures and breezes to cooperate. It wouldn’t take long if that were to occur. Some of the few area hay fields are starting to green up. Cool temperatures have made for a slow start in that department as well.

More signs of spring included a large salamander crawling along near the walk in door on the barn on the 5th. Apparently the frost gauge on the door frame is accurate as it’s highly unlikely a salamander would be out for a stroll with the frost still in the ground. I briefly traversed the wetland area for the first time in many moons. My curiosity was rewarded as I discovered the wood duck house wasn’t occupied yet; nothing other than deer mice had used it recently so it was time to clean it out. Some years I’ve been down there as early as late March only to find new wood duck eggs already deposited.

On that same excursion I also determined there was at least one pussy willow shrub. I clipped a few stems and brought them back to the house. My curiosity got the best of me so over the weekend I took a more thorough inventory and discovered not one but several of the bushes. Their existence was a surprise and Mrs. Cheviot was certainly glad to see them. This time of year they’re in demand for decorating and put them to good use. With pussy willows in the spring arrangements and a good supply of red osier dogwood for winter the wetland offers more than just wildlife habitat.
 
The chorus frogs in the wetland have grown a little louder every evening, reaching a crescendo Monday night after the 70 degree day. Pity it’s going to get much colder again before warming back up. Our first tree swallow appeared Sunday morning. More progress but again, cold weather may dampen their enthusiasm. Tree swallows are almost exclusively flying insect eaters. Not much for flying insects when temperatures are at or below freezing. In addition there was a brown creeper Sunday that clung to a window screen on the house. Later it was spotted looking for insects on the trees. There was also a yellow-bellied sapsucker attempting to tap into the Norway maple. The sap is definitely running. The male cardinal has developed a symbiosis with the squirrels. When the squirrels sit on the ear corn feeder the cardinal appears to clean up the crumbs they generate. Best of all the cardinal sings afterwards. Come to think of it, since it’s spring he sings almost all the time.

Striped gophers (thirteen–lined ground squirrels for the elitists) were spied right after press time last week and there was evidence of fresh pocket gopher mounds in some area road ditches. Spies report ice went out on St. Olaf and Beaver Lake over the weekend. On Saturday there were still some ice shelves floating around although they appeared to be gone by Sunday.  It’ll soon be time to put the docks in without fear of an iceberg crumpling them. Great to see kids fishing off the docks again.

We finally found the lamb we had been looking for: the last one of the lambing season. Since the ewe had twins however and we weren’t there for the blessed event, we’ll never know exactly which one was last. Oddly enough, the ewe that lambed last this time around was one of the first ewes to lamb last year. As a wise man of Bandwagon dancing fame once told me though, it’s not when they’re born it’s when you find them. Seriously, in the 30 years we’ve been lambing here at the ranch, this February was amongst the most brutal. That’s when two-thirds of our lambs were born, all without supplemental heat. Having to cut a path through the snow with the skidsteer from building to building got old too. We made it however. Now if we can just get most of the precipitation to remain in liquid form, we could start to see light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it isn’t just the train coming from the other end.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #702 on: April 16, 2019, 11:07:09 AM »
And if it snows that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain

After Old Man Winter’s brutality, the scurs invested time into reading the Gremlin owner’s manual Weather Eye section for spiritual guidance. Are we out of the woods now or still out in the sticks winter weather-wise? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain.  Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, cloudy with a fair chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny on Good Friday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s.  Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny on Easter Sunday with a fair chance of showers. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. On April 19th we experience the Paschal Full Moon. The normal high for the 19th is 59 and the normal low is 37. With Easter being late the scurs are hedging on a big Easter Basket, sure in the knowledge May baskets are just around the corner.

The Full Moon as mentioned above arrives on the 19th. It goes by several names the most common of which is the Full Pink Moon, named for the pinks or ground phlox that cover the ground in some wooded areas. It is also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon and the Full Egg Moon. The Ojibwe called this the Broken Snowshoe Moon while the Sioux knew it as the Moon of Greening Grass. Likewise at the ranch we know it as the Full Pasture Moon as the ewes can attest. They turn their noses up at the round bale in their feeder and head straight for greener pastures.

Goldfinches are more numerous and continue to show more yellow coloration. They also continue to consume more thistle seed. In general the birds were hungry when the snow cover was at its deepest. Even the obese squirrel was looking for a handout so I relented and placed a couple more ears of corn in their feeder. Some of it is eaten while some of it appears to be planted in the backyard. Perhaps if I didn’t keep the backyard mowed I could chop it for silage.

The winter storm last week was a major catastrophe and caused power outages beyond belief. It came just two days after we had seen high temperatures reach 70 degrees for the first time since October. April weather events such as these are not unprecedented, not by a longshot. If you recall, last year April was our snowiest month locally. When I was growing up, April was frequently more like winter than it was like spring. My parents reminded us of this about the time we were giddy about the warmer weather. Sure enough it would get cold and sometimes snow. The kind of damage this recent storm did was phenomenal. The sheer number of outages, lines and poles snapped was not part of April’s past.
 
Someone inquired about Ruby the other day. She didn’t seem to notice the storm other than it compromised her favorite bathroom areas. She seemed to enjoy the cooler temperatures in the house although she also liked snuggling up to us when we napped or went to bed.  She’s starting to show a little of her spring shed. There are little windrows of dog hair showing up along the baseboards. One of those little toy hay balers we had as kids might come in handy about now.

At the ranch we were more fortunate than many with our power being off only 36 hours. We had the good fortune to have a portable generator thanks to the generosity of the Dubya’s. Neighbor Jon also offered us one or we might’ve toughed it out. We did just that in the Halloween blizzard of ’91. We also melted snow on the gas stove for water during that storm. The red soil from the Texas-New Mexico area in this last snow made us think twice about that. We were also 28 years younger so heat and water are higher priorities. Luckily when we remodeled we had a generator hookup and a double throw switch installed. After a nifty rewiring job on our cord by the Dubya’s (wrong type of plug) it was plugged into their generator and voila! Power! Lights! Water! Heat!

In the aftermath of the storm it was time to keep moving forward. The frozen ground Sunday morning offered a perfect opportunity to take the chains off the tractor without chewing the yard up. It also was a good morning to tag, dock and vaccinate the last of the lambs and their mothers which would allow us to move all of them out of the lambing barn hopefully soon. The grass is in the pasture has greened up nicely. It’s time.

It was also time to do battle with the electric fence. Some wires were still buried in the reddish-brown snow/sleet as I shoveled to free them. Other places the wind and ice had the same effect on older fiberglass fence posts as it did on the power poles: it snapped them right off.  Resetting one of them was surprised to see a garter snake coiled around it. It was still a chilly day out in the wind. I wasn’t positive at first if the reptile was alive. The little forked tongue flicking in and out of its mouth convinced me otherwise. The process reminded me a little of some of the work being done on the power lines. Never know what you’ll find. Nowhere near the effort or danger of course but still a pain in the rump nonetheless.
 
At long last the fence was back up and charged throwing a hot, snappy spark. The sun was setting low and the air was cooling down rapidly. I repaired to the warm house to hang up my outdoor clothes and reflect on the events of the last several days. I was grateful for the kindness of my neighbors and thankful for all the hard work the linemen did to restore power in a timely manner. Most people I knew were back online. When I’d been parked on the end of the driveway with the Gator earlier I’d spied a power company boom truck from elsewhere heading south, I took my glove off and gave him a big thumbs up. He grinned and waved back. One doesn’t realize how much you appreciate electricity until you don’t have 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)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #703 on: April 24, 2019, 11:11:19 AM »
All I know she sang a little while and then flew on

Reading the Gremlin owner’s manual paid huge dividends. The scurs faith in the Weather Eye was once again renewed. Is the snow gone for good or will we conjure up memories of the ’92 Memorial Day snow? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain by evening.  Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a good chance of and evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms before noon.  Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. On the 27th we’re up to 14 hours of daylight, the same as we were back on August 15th.The normal high for April 27th is 63 and the normal low is 41. The scurs have their sweet tooth satisfied for now. Fortunately Peeps are noted for their shelf life.

Last week’s midweek rainfall slowed the start of fieldwork for many. We did however make progress towards that end with an incredible weekend of warm temperatures. Highs reached the upper 70’s on Saturday and the low 80’s Easter Sunday with breezy conditions drying fields nicely. Some tempted fate and worked that day while most were convinced the fields while getting closer still weren’t quite ready yet. Dark spots with moisture at the surface were still evident on many fields Sunday morning yet. Another day or two on those fields would likely be beneficial. Anhydrous ammonia was applied and I have yet to hear a farmer say it went on poorly.

At the ranch the over the weekend the latest crop of sticks was harvested under the ash trees in the backyard. The Indian name for the ash tree translates to “Tree that sheds Sticks out of Spite”. Well not really but it sure seems that way especially after an ice storm. It was also a good time to move the last of the apples from cold storage in the attic, drain, clean out and move water tanks, straighten a gate and move the last of the ewes with lambs to the loafing area in the main barn. It reached 82° on the official thermometer so staying hydrated was definitely in order.
 
Late April is one of my favorites when it comes to seeing our summer birds return as well as those moving through to their summer homes far to the north. This week brought back brown thrashers that have been made our yard home for many moons now. Their singing gives the cardinal some competition. Migrating birds spotted so far include some hermit thrushes and the largest group of white throated sparrows I recall. They were all over the evening of the 22nd so the appearance of their cousins, the white crowned and Harris’s sparrows can’t be far behind. And the orioles will be right on their heels.
 
Saturday in particular woke up the insect population as well. Sitting on his veranda in New Ulm having a libation with the Boy Entomologist we were able to see paper wasps, syrphid flies and dragonflies. Earlier in the day at the ranch we’d noticed a red admiral butterfly and checking the insect traps on Sunday I bumped into a painted lady. The butterfly, not an actual painted lady. It also had the cold blooded amphibian population in our wetland out in full force. One will never know how many chorus frogs are down there but judging by the decibel level it’s safe to say there are several.

The flora at the ranch is poised to explode with the next warm up. Buds on the trees have swelled with the warm weekend and it brought crocuses and dandelions out. The rhubarb while not huge just yet has a lot of leaves. Once it warms up and those petioles elongate, pie and sauce won’t be far behind. The fruit trees are also showing signs that they wintered well and soon will be flowering profusely. The pruning itself is now a distant memory although there are still enough aches and pains to serve as a reminder.
 
Some days I feel like a data collector probably because I am one. This spring I volunteered to maintain not one but two insect pheromone traps for the U of M. I’ve monitored black cutworm traps in my yard for somewhere over 20 years now and it’s become part of the morning routine in the spring. I was asked if I’d be interested in doing the same thing for armyworms so I said, sure, why not? The traps are basically the same, consisting of a white plastic and cardboard outer shell with a sticky bottom the insects can’t escape from. The lure contains an attractant that mimics the pheromone given off by the female of whatever species of moth you’re trying to catch. In this case it only attracts male moths. It does not work on male humans.
 
Along with the moth trap line I run, I read two rain gauges for the MN State Climatology Office, one at the ranch and one in Bugtussle. Again, it’s just part of the ritual after chores are done. Some days it takes longer than others when it involves measuring snow around the yard with a yardstick, cutting a biscuit and melting the snow. However it always gets done. If there are any noteworthy phenology items they are also noted. Once the data is recorded I feel as though I’ve accomplished something and can get on to something else, like maybe a cup of coffee. Always time for that.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #704 on: April 30, 2019, 01:41:42 PM »
You probably wouldn't remember, I probably couldn't forget

The scurs are keeping their eyes peeled for a Nash Rambler dealership for some pointers on the Weather Eye. Are we done with snow or will Old Man Winter make one last curtain call? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a moderate chance of rain..  Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s.  Saturday, sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening.  Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with continued chances of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. On the 6th we’re back to sunrise before 6 a.m. CDT. The normal high for May 6th is 66 and the normal low is 44.The scurs will be savoring those delicious May Baskets.  Remember, you gotta give ‘em to get ‘em.

For many it has been another spring in slow motion. Fieldwork has been spotty although there was a fair amount of anhydrous ammonia applied in addition to a few fields of corn being planted last week. The snowstorm over the weekend while not the ogre as advertised still dampened spirits when it turned the ground white once again. Concerns too were voiced by some concerning imbibitional chilling on recently planted corn. In my years of experience it has happened a handful of times, a few times when it was expected and other times when it wasn’t. A good seedbed is always a plus while planting into cold, tacky soil prior to a cold rain is seldom a positive variable.
 
About the only thing that seems to be running close to on schedule is the grass in area lawns and pastures including that at the ranch. A south facing slope in the lawn that has a lot of bromegrass creeping in from the pasture tends to take off in a hurry. The rest of the yard too is starting to look a little fuzzy in places. Indeed when one travels around the area, it’s not uncommon to see lawns that have already been mowed. That’s going to be a while at the ranch especially if it continues raining on weekends when Howard and Whitey are ready for action.

More bird action at the ranch as April 24th marked the return of the barn swallows. While some detest the mud nests and I’ve been annoyed with their placement at times, I’m always glad to see them back. They consume a lot of flying insects although probably not as many mosquitoes as the bats do. Speaking of that, I’ll be curious to see if the bats return as white-nose syndrome has been decimating bat populations across the country. In the meantime the brown thrashers have amped it up, their improvisational skills on display every morning at choretime. Presently they’re fairly easy to spot with the lack of foliage on the trees. Once the trees leaf out, brown thrashers and their pals the catbirds become difficult to see.
 
We did manage to find time last Thursday evening to get the Studebaker out for a car club run to Geneva. When we left the temperatures were pleasant and all systems were go. Everyone seemed happy to get their cars out after being cooped up all winter. We talked about future cruises and other business then our supper came. Food was great and after everyone had visited long enough it was time to go out, in the dark. The Silver Hawk’s lights work very adequately for a car of its age but by today’s standards they seem pretty dim. We kept an eye out for deer all the way home while enough heat bled through the heater core under the front seat to keep us comfortable. We made it back in one piece and as far as we know, so did the Studebaker.

Sunday finally offered us a long overdue opportunity to move animals around and let the ewes with lambs out into the main lot. A few yearling ewes that will be going on the show circuit were stashed in a pen and the others were scooted over into the main pasture with another small group. The ewes with lambs seemed overjoyed to be out of their winter quarters and into the fresh air. Their hopping and running seemed to make that point rather clear. That all went far more smoothly than we had imagined so I was encouraged that finishing the project by moving round bales, troughs and hay feeders would go just as smoothly.

Wrong! Something came up so I was suddenly scrambling to get things done. After I took the snow blower off I noticed a puddle of Hy-Tran under the tractor. Sure enough it was coming from one of the male hydraulic couplings that had been dangling all winter so I could use the directional spout on the snow blower. I figured the nipple on the coupling was probably wedged against something, releasing oil. Nope, it wrecked the tip and after struggling to get around that setback the rest of the afternoon went downhill. Since I’d spent a bunch of time trying to remedy a coupling debacle I had to leave moving the bale feeders for seed. The crowning touch though was getting zapped by the electric fence as I was hurrying to finish. I’d forgotten what a nasty wallop that fencer packs. When an afternoon starts off like that one did, sometimes you’re better off to just punt and go back in the house.

The next day after work went better. Still plenty of hassles but the chores were done and I wasn’t under the gun to stay on schedule. I replaced the hydraulic tip so I could pick up the bale feeders, then moved them back to the small lot where I’d plopped a couple round bales. Placing an enclosure around them brought a screeching halt to the ewes hay wasting entertainment. While it was a pain in the butt, I’d also unplugged the electric fence beforehand so there was no chance to get a jolt like the night before. I may be old but some things you never forget.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #705 on: May 07, 2019, 11:04:59 AM »
Get ready, cause here I come

Having fine-tuned the Weather Eye, the scurs have set their sights on warmer days ahead. Will Mother Nature cooperate or are we in for a cold backhand with a wet, sloppy kiss? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s.  Saturday, sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Mother’s Day with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a continued possibility of rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 40’s. The normal high for May 12th is 68 and the normal low is 47. The scurs will be investing in some pretty posies for Mother’s Day. Luckily dandelions are plentiful right now and the price is right.

Even though the weather tried its best not to cooperate, area farmers still managed to make some headway after missing the predicted weekend washout. While precipitation in April was frequent (23 days in April had detectable precip at the ranch) the amounts per event were modest relative to much of the Corn Belt. Coupled with a warmup this made for the best soil conditions of the spring by Monday. In the wee hours of Monday morning one could see lights crawling across the landscape. One could also hear the collective chorus of diesel engines as well as the high pitched whine from vacuum planters. With conditions holding up through Tuesday, a large portion of the corn was planted locally. Fears about imbibitional chilling appear to be allayed for the time being. Corn has sprouted and while there could be some unevenness in emergence, we’ll cross that bridge when/if we come to it. Some soybeans also made it into the ground and it’s definitely time. No reason to wait if conditions are fit.

Some area hayfields have suffered some winterkill on the alfalfa. Hay supplies are going to be tight again this year so there are some new fields being established. The ability to utilize mixed hay is one of the beauties of raising sheep or beef cattle. No one will argue that straight alfalfa is tough to beat. However, when one establishes a field of alfalfa and orchardgrass, at least one can feel somewhat confident that at least there will be something there to harvest to at least tide you over until you can establish more hay. Add a little nitrogen if needed and properly harvested, orchardgrass makes some very palatable, acceptable hay. 60 Cheviots can’t be wrong.

Speaking of Cheviots, the late lambing ewe and lamb are doing well. One has to admit the lamb is a cutie too not to mention being a livewire as Cheviot lambs typically are. Fortunately we had a spare pen in the main barn so it hasn’t been a major bother. Being the ewe’s only lamb, he has free rein at the snack bar. Plus, there’s plenty of room in the pen for him to hop and nap as well. Several times we’ve been doing chores and have come upon him sleeping. When that happens we make sure he’s OK before going any further. Every time so far, when we wake him he groggily gets up, yawns, then makes a big stretch and heads straight for mom much to her chagrin.

At the ranch this past weekend it was time to get Howard and Whitey prepared for another action packed adventure in lawn mowing. Howard started right up as if it had just been parked hours earlier. I had moved it on a warm day back in January and it started then too. I blew the dust off the mower, gave it a bath, checked the oil I’d changed oil late last fall so I greased it and fueled it up. Whitey was a little more problematic. It turned over fine but ran out of battery after cranking on it a while. Not unexpected after looking in the gas tank and seeing it was nearly empty.  The battery charger was employed. After three hours and a gallon of gas later it popped right off too. Whitey is my go to ditch and windbreak mower. Once it dries up enough so we don’t get stuck, we can proceed. Howard and I proceeded to mow the main lawn. Parts needed it, others not so much. Still, it’s nice to even it all out so areas don’t look like a hay field. Ruby didn’t care. Her white socks were green from an afternoon of following the mower through the fresh cut grass. Have to wash them with liquid Tide I guess.

It was a watershed weekend in the bird department as well. On Saturday I spied the first Harris’s sparrow in the yard. That and thinking I might’ve seen a hummingbird motivated me to put out the hummingbird nectar and oriole jelly feeders. Sunday morning brought a white crowned sparrow so could the hummers and orioles be far behind? I had my answer shortly before 5 p.m. when I happened to glance and notice the familiar hovering of a hummingbird at the feeder. It left and within minutes an oriole was atop the feeder, drinking the water out of the ant moat. It didn’t take more than a few minutes for him to figure out where the jelly feeder was. While we still lack abundant leafy cover at least the feeders are ready.  Next up: house wrens. Thought there might’ve been one scolding a cat Sunday night. Still haven’t heard the familiar house wren song yet however. Once that’s accomplished it can officially be summer. Mark me down as ready.
 
One of the rites of spring is the rhubarb getting big enough produce a pie. I’d mowed around it in the afternoon and it certainly appeared to be ready. My Spidey senses were tingling and my mouth watered as I thought of that first mouthful of warm rhubarb pie combined with recently purchased ice cream from Wagner’s. Shortly after that Mrs. Cheviot put her baking shoes on. After procuring the ingredients and combining them, the wonderful aroma of rhubarb pie filled the house. We did the chores and afterwards while the pie was cooling down, I grilled a pork loin and listened to the cardinals sing. The pie looked like something from a Martha Stewart show, almost too nice to eat. After the main course I cut a couple pieces and plopped some ice cream on top. Tasted every bit as good as it looked. My memory did not deceive me.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #706 on: May 14, 2019, 11:26:18 AM »
Every silver lining's got a touch of grey

While the scurs were disappointed with the cold air still being dispensed by the Weather Eye, they were glad last Wednesday’s rain wasn’t worse than it was.  Will we finally get a glimpse of summer or are we stuck in the refrigerator for another week? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny on Friday with and increasing chance of rain by evening. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s.  Saturday, partly sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Cloudy on Sunday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a continued possibility of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. The normal high for May 18th is 70 and the normal low is 49. The scurs are betting this will be their first chance to float around in the ceement pond.

The Full Moon for the month occurs on the 18th and goes by the name of The Full Flower Moon for obvious reasons. The April showers will bring the May flowers if it ever warms up. The moon also goes by The Full Corn Planting Moon. While many would argue the April Full Moon would be better for Corn Planting Moon, we don’t always get to choose. The Ojibwe knew this as the Blossom Moon and the Sioux called it The Moon When Ponies Shed or The Moon of the Green Leaves. Every moon at the ranch is the Moon When Border Collies Shed and we are glad to finally see some green leaves. Was beginning to wonder if the leaves on the bur oak trees in our yard were ever going to get as big as squirrels ears.
 
After last Wednesday’s rain, very little was able to be accomplished in area fields until about Monday. Sun, temperature and wind were uncooperative so equipment was at a standstill most of the weekend. Rumors of emerged corn were circulating but as a rule most of corn planted on April 24th still needed a few days as of last Saturday for emergence to occur. We are fortunate locally. Roughly 75% of the local area corn was planted as of May 7th. It’s been a slow process waiting for fields to dry though. One silver lining: weed growth and development has been slowed by the cool start to the growing season. Hopefully the upcoming warm forecast comes to fruition, corn emerges so we can row it and soybeans are planted by the weekend. It would help make everyone quickly forget the cold start we’ve had. We deserve it.

Indeed we do. At the ranch after mowing the lawn once, it really hadn’t done much overall as of the weekend. I did finally get Whitey out and mowed the road cut known as El Capitan. Thinking it had dried sufficiently I took on the challenge. It had dried some although it wasn’t as dry as I thought. Some discretion was necessary to avoid getting stuck in the bottom. The ditch staying as damp as it has makes sense though when one thinks about it. The weather simply wasn’t warm enough or dry enough to evaporate and vegetation simply hasn’t needed to take up much moisture with the cool temperatures. Where it was dry enough it mowed decently. Banking on the forecast holding so the portion of the ditch that was left can be dealt with later in the week.

Even with the cooler temperatures there were numerous new bird sightings. A red-breasted nuthatch was seen on the 10th along with a catbird that found the jelly feeder to its liking. A male orchard oriole was also a jelly feeder fan while a male rose-breasted grosbeak was busy cleaning up pieces of corn the squirrel had left behind. A female grosbeak was seen on the 12th at the jelly feeder. On the 14th, an indigo bunting was on the thistle feeder and our first wren was singing in the windbreak. If you build it they will come.
 
We’ve also had waterfowl and upland gamebirds hanging around the yard or not far from it at the ranch. A rooster pheasant has been camping on the edge of the yard, crowing and flapping his wings vigorously starting about 5:30 a.m. That’s approximately the same time the cardinal starts flying into the windows. While checking the moth traps one morning, a sandhill crane was picking through the manure spread last fall north of the buildings. Much too big to be a sparrow. The most recent sighting was from the seat in the oval office where I spied something about the size of a crow in the silver maple tree. Then I saw another one and there was no question it was a pair of wood ducks checking the cavities of the tree over. Since I still have a spare wood duck house, I’ll have to find a place to put it. If I put it in the maple tree outside the bathroom then I’d have live entertainment every morning. Of course I might never come out of there.
 
Ruby got her booster shots at the area immunization clinic last Tuesday. She was generally well behaved considering the wait in line was around an hour. No one’s fault really as the previous nights when the clinics were held the weather had likely been miserable. She was in heat during those sessions anyway so we had to settle on the last night offered.  Suck up that she is, Ruby made friends with some of the people in line, shaking hands and wanting her tummy scratched. While her behavior belies her age at 9, she is showing a little gray around the muzzle, not unlike her owner. She definitely can out-nap me. Think I still have her beat in the snoring department.
 
For Mother’s Day Mrs. Cheviot and I motored off to one of our favorite little eating spots in the Studebaker. It made the trip relatively effortlessly especially once it was shifted into overdrive. The 259 V8 doesn’t necessarily have a lot of power but there’s a lot of gas pedal left should a person decide to use it. After being used to driving today’s cars, hopping in and driving the 60 year old Silver Hawk is a trip back in time. One notices there are relatively few creature comforts or safety devices. There is no seatbelt to fasten, no buzzers or bells, no outside temperature thermometer or a clock. The radio doesn’t work so no need to monkey with that. Driving a piece of automotive history while keeping an eye on the gauges, shifting gears and listening to the machine’s performance is about all the stimulation one can handle.
 
See you next week…real good then.   
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #707 on: Yesterday at 10:41:44 AM »
Every move you make…

The scurs disappointment continues with the Weather Eye in the temperature department. Warm days have been hard to come by.  Will we string together more than two days in a row of 70 degrees or will Jack Frost make yet another appearance? Starting Wednesday, cloudy becoming sunny with a slight chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Thursday, mostly sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Cloudy becoming partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of rain in the forenoon. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 50’s.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Memorial Day, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a continued possibility of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. We’ll get over 15 hours of daylight on May 23rd . The last time we had that much daylight was July 19th. The normal high for this Memorial Day, May 27th is 73 and the normal low is 52. The scurs will be honoring those who served and thanking them for that service.
 
Progress was made last week in the fields with most able to finish corn planting and get closer to the finish line on the soybeans. It has been frustrating though to see temperatures lagging below normal. As of Monday, GDU’s at the SROC in Waseca totaled 119.5 which is only 63% of normal. Forecasts for improved temperatures should help although rainfall every few days remains part of the equation. We should probably count our blessings though as there are some areas that have very little planted while others haven’t even turned a wheel. Odds are unless the weather pattern breaks soon there will be prevented plant acres across large areas of the Midwest. Here our early planted corn has emerged and while as expected it isn’t always perfect, at least the stands are respectable. Soybeans are also starting to pop through. No frost please!

At the ranch we see more signs that spring is actually here although the patchy frost Monday morning made one question that. We continue to see more migrating birds passing through. Some of the early arrivals such as the Harris’s sparrows and white-throated sparrows have disappeared. It must’ve been warbler week though. The common yellow throat is back, adding backup vocals for the wrens from the plum thicket. One of my favorites also appeared over the weekend. A black-and-white warbler was working over the tree trunk of the ash tree. It had been a few years since I’d seen one so at first I thought it was a nuthatch. Looking closer it looked a little like a nuthatch wearing a striped suit.

The goldfinches have been numerous, building to a peak over the weekend then dwindling to a handful by Monday. The wet weather may have been a factor although I cleaned the wet seed out of their feeders and replaced it with fresh, dry seed. Their consumption has slowed and that’s OK as they were tagging the thistle seed supply pretty hard. Orioles, both Baltimore and orchard types continue to arrive almost daily it seems. The females of both species are evident as well as some younger males. The young males are lesser colored and have a tendency to bumble around before figuring it out, not unlike their human counterparts. One recently arrived young male oriole tried to pick at the thistle feeder a while and eventually decided the jelly feeder was probably more his speed. More hummingbirds are noticeable as well. One was working the crabapple tree over so it’s time to get the flowering plants in place. Sorting through the canna bulbs and planting some four o’clocks is next, weather permitting.

We saved back several yearling ewes from last year’s lamb crop to replace some of the models that are getting some age on them. It is a nice looking group and they look especially good on the move which is what they usually are. Seldom do they walk anywhere; they’re usually on the run. Not the brightest bulbs on the tree either except when you’re trying to go through a gate with a tractor or skidsteer. They’re on top of that in seconds flat, on a dead run of course. No gates have been left open but several times when we’ve come out for morning chores there have been one or two of them prancing around the yard. No big deal other than you wonder how they’re getting out.
 
It appeared we had our answer when doing chores Monday morning. None were present in the yard but there was a lot of commotion in the pen of ewes with lambs. Sure enough, three of the idiots managed to get mixed in with that group. Along with that they’d knocked the electric fence down and broken the wires to get in there. Nice touch.

Few things irritate a livestock farmer of the male persuasion more than animals that won’t stay in, especially when effort has been expended to see that fences are maintained. These yearlings had squeezed between the shed and the end of a panel to escape. It had been that way for years and we’d never had any issues. Like a good football team though, once livestock finds a weakness they’ll keep exploiting it until you stop it. Unlike a good football team, when you get sick and tired of their garbage, there are more permanent alternatives.
 
We got the yearlings back in with the rest of their group Monday night. Luckily they decided for the time being anyway that being with a group of sheep on limited feed where they weren’t welcome versus back with their buddies and able to consume as much fresh green grass as they’d like probably wasn’t a brilliant idea. At least until the next time. I’ll be watching them.

As I’ve said before, my Dad always had a special place for animals that got out. Back in his day it was Wilson’s in Albert Lea. Mine is Morgan’s in New Richland. I’m not above taking a high end animal out of the gene pool if they can’t behave themselves. They’re simply not worth the hassle nor is passing that trait on. Just one more good reason to eat them.  Besides, the obnoxious ones taste the same, maybe even a little better.

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 #708 on: Yesterday at 11:01:06 AM »
sweet revenge!!!!   :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

 

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