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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!!

Offline Dotch

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

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-20ís with lows near 10. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20ís and lows in the upper single digits. Mostly cloudy on Friday with an increasing chance of snow by evening. Highs in the mid-20ís with lows near 20.  Saturday, cloudy with a good chance of snow increasing by evening. Highs in the low 30ís and lows in the low 20ís. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a good chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the upper 20ís 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 20ís with lows around 10. On the 24th, the sun will rise before 7 a.m. On the 26th, weíre 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 Valentineís Day candy as itís 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 4Ē in places. While our February snowfall isnít record breaking in this area, several other areas are seeing record setting snowfall. Still, as Februaryís 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 weíre at 53.8Ē and at the ranch 52.7Ē as of February 19th. Frost depth on bare soil as measured at the SROC is 19Ē. One saving grace of this snow is it has insulated the soil so that the frost hasnít penetrated much deeper. Weíll 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 hasnít 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 hasnít 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, itís been easy to move with the tractor and blower. In my rookie season as a snow blower owner/operator, thatís 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 couldíve been.

The deep snow keeps our backyard bird population busy at the feeders including the pheasants. Didnít 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, weíve 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. Itís a beautiful noise after a winter thatís largely quiet and devoid of much bird singing.

Lambing has been a slow process thus far. Not that itís a bad thing. The cold weather has tried our patience more than once. The snow certainly hasnít 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 donít 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. Iíd believe it. I donít know how many nasty weather days with reduced visibility Iíve 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 donít come on unless the lights are manually turned on. That varies a lot by vehicle so the best bet is to turn them on. Iíve also noticed people driving with their parking lights on. Huh? It doesnít help them to be seen for much distance but I guess it must be the cool thing to do.
 
Something else that Iíve asked for clarification on but have never received a consistent answer concerns the use of emergency flashers when the vehicle is moving. Itís confusing. When vehicles are moving slowly, itís frequently difficult to know what theyíre up to until youíre right on top of somebody. More than once in over 40 years of driving Iíve come across someone parked under an overpass in the driving lane with their flashers on. Talk about a death wish.
 
Itís 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 Peopleís 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 theyíll make spring training. The smell of freshly mown grass canít be far behind.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #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 werenít heading for an earlier rather than later spring. That all changed of course. This makes two years in a row now that weíve had ďrealĒ 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. Thatís cold even by January standards.

This past weekendís storm was reminiscent those of us who grew up in the 60ís and 70ís 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 didnít have some of the snow removal equipment we have today so it wasnít 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 mustíve 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. Itís 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. Itís comforting to look back and see her instinctive walking crouch. Along with comic relief thatís what we have her for.

Iíd made a trip to the store where you go to the bathroom in the orange silo earlier that day. I hadnít 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 wouldnít 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 weíd 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 8Ē 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 wasnít unusual for the Dubyaís building site a quarter mile away to disappear from sight entirely. At times we couldnít even see our barn roughly 60 yards from the house. The snowbanks were enormous and had me questioning whether Iíd 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 weíd 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 Iíd 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 wouldíve only made it as far as the next spot where the road was blocked. There youíd sit or turn around and go home. Thatís why everyone runs to the grocery store the day before. Canít make French toast without milk, bread and eggs!
 
See you next weekÖreal 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)

Offline Dotch

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

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-20ís and lows in the upper teens.  Saturday, cloud with a good chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30ís with lows in the mid-20ís. Mostly cloudy for Sunday with a good chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the low 30ís with lows in the mid-teens. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-20ís and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 30ís and lows in the mid-20ís. 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 donít 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 36.9Ē and at the ranch 37.9Ē. Seasonal total snowfall for New Richland stands at 73Ē and at the ranch 75.7Ē. Another positive is the frost depth under that heavy blanket of snow has remained relatively constant. At the SROC in Waseca, 19Ē 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 theyíre not the high tech models, they still work great. Itís 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. Theyíve 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 theyíll have a chance.

Lambing has picked up the pace and is moving faster than it appeared it once would. After the last weekís arrivals weíre about ĺ done. As one wise observer noted, weíll probably be done just in time for it to warm up. Itís been brutal dealing with the cold and snow. Weíve 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. Itís 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 theyíve 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 Ikeís 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 Iíd 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 doesnít. 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 Iíd better get it done. It was tough to tell where the edge of the road was and Iíd had a run in earlier in the week. Iíd 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. Iíd 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 wouldnít take anything for it Best of all, I made it to get my feed in a timely fashion and we didnít wreck anything.
 
After all this happened I had to think to myself thatís the way it ought to be. We help each other get through this and lifeís other predicaments because one never knows when itís your turn in the barrel. Pay it forward whenever you can.

See you next weekÖreal 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 thatís the way it ought to be. We help each other get through this and lifeís other predicaments because one never knows when itís 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!!

Offline 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-40ís with lows in the upper 30ís. Thursday, cloudy with rain likely changing to snow by evening. Highs in the low 40ís with lows in the mid-20ís. Mostly cloudy on Friday with highs in the low 30ís and lows in the upper teens.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 30ís and lows in the low 20ís. Mostly sunny on St. Patrickís Day with highs in the mid-30ís and lows in the low 20ís. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30ís and lows in the mid-20ís. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 40ís and lows in the low 30ís. 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, Iím 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 thatís OK in the south but in the north where odds of slipping and falling on your butt increase, not so much.  Iíd 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 youíll recall, they were the geniuses who pushed the time change back to early March to conserve energy in the first place. It didnít 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 15í 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 youíre doing the chores.

Chickadees are singing their spring song too, ďfee-bee, fee-beeĒ. Theyíve 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. Itís 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 weíve 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. Weíre still hauling some 6 quart pails to the lambing barn for the most recent mothers. The ewes like warm water and while theyíll 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 theyíll 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. Doesnít sound like winning just yet but Iíll explain. Our time to diddle around feeding bottle lambs comes at a premium these days. Luckily thereís Agnesís 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 isnít winning I donít know what is.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #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 40ís and lows in the upper 20ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 40ís and lows in the upper 20ís. Sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 40ís and lows in the low 30ís.  Saturday, sunny with a modest chance of evening showers. Highs in the mid-50ís with lows in the low 40ís. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a modest chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the mid-50ís with lows in the mid-30ís. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 40ís and lows in the upper 20ís. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 50ís and lows in the mid-30ís. 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 weíre 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 donít. 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. Patrickís Day evening around 10 p.m. lamb check. Fortunately all the lambs are inside, out of harmís way. Besides, the owls have plenty of bunnies, skunks and opossums to dine upon.
 
The yard hasnít 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 didnít 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 wasnít on Psychoís 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 hasnít 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 Februaryís 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 didnít 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. Itís been a long time coming.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #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 60ís and lows in the low 40ís. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 50ís and lows in the low 30ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of a rain and/or snow shower. Highs in the low 40ís with lows in the upper 20ís.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30ís with lows in the low 20ís. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 40ís with lows in the upper 20ís. April Foolís Day, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40ís and lows in the low 30ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the upper 40ís and lows in the low 30ís. 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 Foolís!

As mentioned above itís 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. Weíre now able to close the walk in door on the pole barn at the ranch. Typically when the frost gets about 18Ē Ė 20Ē 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 itís 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 shouldnít take long once the tire is repaired to finish the tree pruning job though. Starting with the trees when theyíre young has made the process less painful although I was feeling it on Sunday. Shouldnít have to worry about repairing cartilage in my left shoulder as I doubt thereís 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 weíd 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, weíre 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 arenít compatible. Neither are livestock owners when livestock is on the lam. Few things increase my vocabulary as when animals are where theyíre 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 weíve 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.

Itís 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. Itís 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 womenís basketball team. Some wondered why we did that. As I pointed out to them weíve been watching Lindsay Whalen since she played for Brenda Freese. Itís 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 canít forget the fond memories either weíll 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 didnít take plays off. Heíd get knocked down, get back up, didnít 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 werenít a lot of dry eyes in the house as they chanted ďJordan Murphy! Jordan Murphy!Ē Betting there were a lot of us at home who teared up as well. Iíve 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 weekÖreal 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 #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 40ís with lows in the low 30ís. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain and/or snow. Highs in the mid-40ís and lows in the low mid-30ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 50ís and lows in the mid-40ís.  Saturday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 60ís and lows in the upper 40ís. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 50ís and lows in the mid-40ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with continued a continued chance of showers. Highs in the low 50ís with lows in the upper 30ís. On April 6th weíll 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 weíre 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 Iíd 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 Dubyaís spreading pack manure and some primary tillage in other areas. The frost was officially out where itís 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 sheís aged, she tends to shy away from the water and mud anyway. If thereís a reason to run through it of course it doesnít stop her either. Ruby turns 9 on the 4th. Sheís been a great companion and for a Border Collie, is one of the friendliest around adults of any Iíve ever seen. I imagine sheíll want to stay up late on her birthday to watch dog shows, Clint Eastwood flicks, and eat popcorn. Even though sheís caught up to me in dog years, sheíll be doing it by herself as Iíll likely be fast asleep.

Weíre still waiting for a couple straggler ewes to come in yet. Itís 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 2í Ė 3í deep yet. Itís frustrating yet there really isnít 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 Iíve 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 didnít want to prune trees on Saturday but given some of the things on my plate I really didnít see a way around it. I hammered out the largest crabapple tree which turned out to be a larger task than Iíd thought. Not only that with the northwest wind howling it was as cold as Iíd 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 didnít spend a lot of money on. Good running shoes really werenít readily available while the sweats and shoes were faded hand me downs from the 60ís or before. Few of them fit so weíd improvise. Carrot Top had a pair of sweatpants heíd 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 weíd 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 couldnít figure out why we never improved. Maybe if theyíd moved the bakery farther awayÖ

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

Offline glenn57

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #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!!!!!!!!!!

Offline Dotch

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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)

Offline 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 lastÖ

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 30ís with lows in the low 30ís. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain during daylight hours turning into evening snow. Highs in the upper 30ís with lows in the upper 20ís. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 30ís with lows in the mid-20ís.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of snow by evening. Highs in the low 40ís with lows in the upper 20ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 40ís and lows in the upper 30ís. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40ís and lows in the upper 30ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 60ís and lows in the low 40ís. 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 itís 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 wouldnít 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 itís 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 wasnít occupied yet; nothing other than deer mice had used it recently so it was time to clean it out. Some years Iíve 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 theyíre 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 itís 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 itís spring he sings almost all the time.

Striped gophers (thirteenĖlined 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.  Itíll 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 werenít there for the blessed event, weíll 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, itís not when theyíre born itís when you find them. Seriously, in the 30 years weíve been lambing here at the ranch, this February was amongst the most brutal. Thatís 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 isnít just the train coming from the other end.
 
See you next weekÖreal 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 #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 Winterís brutality, the scurs invested time into reading the Gremlin ownerís 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-50ís with lows in the upper 30ís. Thursday, cloudy with a fair chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40ís with lows in the upper 30ís. Mostly sunny on Good Friday with highs in the upper 50ís and lows in the upper 30ís.  Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-60ís and lows in the mid-40ís. Partly sunny on Easter Sunday with a fair chance of showers. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the low 40ís. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50ís and lows in the low 40ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 60ís and lows in the low 40ís. 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 didnít 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 Aprilís past.
 
Someone inquired about Ruby the other day. She didnít 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.  Sheís 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 Dubyaís. Neighbor Jon also offered us one or we mightíve toughed it out. We did just that in the Halloween blizzard of í91. 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 Dubyaís (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. Itís 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 wasnít 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 youíll 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 Iíd been parked on the end of the driveway with the Gator earlier Iíd 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 doesnít realize how much you appreciate electricity until you donít have it.
 
See you next weekÖreal 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 #703 on: April 24, 2019, 11:11:19 AM »
All I know she sang a little while and then flew on

Reading the Gremlin ownerís 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 í92 Memorial Day snow? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain by evening.  Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the upper 40ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the low 40ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with a good chance of and evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the mid-40ís.  Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms before noon.  Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50ís and lows in the low 40ís. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the upper 50ís and lows in the low 40ís. On the 27th weíre 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 weekís 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 70ís on Saturday and the low 80ís 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 werenít 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 ďTree that sheds Sticks out of SpiteĒ. 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 82į 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 Harrisís sparrows canít 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 weíd 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 itís 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 wonít 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. Iíve monitored black cutworm traps in my yard for somewhere over 20 years now and itís become part of the morning routine in the spring. I was asked if Iíd 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 canít escape from. The lure contains an attractant that mimics the pheromone given off by the female of whatever species of moth youíre 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, itís 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 Iíve accomplished something and can get on to something else, like maybe a cup of coffee. Always time for that.
 
See you next weekÖreal 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 #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 50ís with lows in the low 40ís. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50ís with lows in the upper 30ís. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the mid-40ís.  Saturday, sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening.  Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 50ís with lows in the low 40ís. Monday, mostly sunny with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50ís with lows in the low 40ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with continued chances of rain. Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the low 40ís. On the 6th weíre 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 Ďem to get Ďem.

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 wasnít. 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, itís not uncommon to see lawns that have already been mowed. Thatís 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 Iíve been annoyed with their placement at times, Iím 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, Iíll 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 theyíre 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 Hawkís lights work very adequately for a car of its age but by todayís 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 Iíd 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. Iíd forgotten what a nasty wallop that fencer packs. When an afternoon starts off like that one did, sometimes youíre 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 wasnít 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 Iíd 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, Iíd 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 weekÖreal 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 #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-40ís with lows in the upper 30ís. Thursday, cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 50ís with lows in the upper 30ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 50ís with lows in the low 40ís.  Saturday, sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the low 40ís. Mostly sunny on Motherís Day with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the low 40ís. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the upper 40ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a continued possibility of rain. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the upper 40ís. The normal high for May 12th is 68 and the normal low is 47. The scurs will be investing in some pretty posies for Motherís 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, weíll cross that bridge when/if we come to it. Some soybeans also made it into the ground and itís 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 canít 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 hasnít been a major bother. Being the eweís only lamb, he has free rein at the snack bar. Plus, thereís plenty of room in the pen for him to hop and nap as well. Several times weíve been doing chores and have come upon him sleeping. When that happens we make sure heís 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 Iíd 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 donít get stuck, we can proceed. Howard and I proceeded to mow the main lawn. Parts needed it, others not so much. Still, itís nice to even it all out so areas donít look like a hay field. Ruby didnít 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 Harrisís sparrow in the yard. That and thinking I mightíve 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 didnít 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 mightíve been one scolding a cat Sunday night. Still havenít heard the familiar house wren song yet however. Once thatís 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. Iíd 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 Wagnerís. 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 weekÖreal 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 #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 Wednesdayís rain wasnít 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-70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Partly sunny on Friday with and increasing chance of rain by evening. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 60ís.  Saturday, partly sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Cloudy on Sunday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 50ís. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the upper 40ís. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a continued possibility of rain. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 50ís. 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 donít 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 Wednesdayís 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. Itís 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 weíve had. We deserve it.

Indeed we do. At the ranch after mowing the lawn once, it really hadnít 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 wasnít 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 wasnít warm enough or dry enough to evaporate and vegetation simply hasnít 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.
 
Weíve 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. Thatís 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, Iíll have to find a place to put it. If I put it in the maple tree outside the bathroom then Iíd 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 oneís 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 Motherís 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 doesnít necessarily have a lot of power but thereís a lot of gas pedal left should a person decide to use it. After being used to driving todayís 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 doesnít 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 machineís performance is about all the stimulation one can handle.
 
See you next weekÖreal 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 #707 on: May 21, 2019, 10:41:44 AM »
Every move you makeÖ

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 70ís with lows in the upper 40ís. Thursday, mostly sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Cloudy becoming partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of rain in the forenoon. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 50ís.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the low 50ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Memorial Day, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of showers. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a continued possibility of rain. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 50ís. Weíll 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, GDUís 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 havenít 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 isnít 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 Harrisís sparrows and white-throated sparrows have disappeared. It mustíve 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 Iíd 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 thatís 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 itís time to get the flowering plants in place. Sorting through the canna bulbs and planting some four oíclocks is next, weather permitting.

We saved back several yearling ewes from last yearís 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; theyíre usually on the run. Not the brightest bulbs on the tree either except when youíre trying to go through a gate with a tractor or skidsteer. Theyíre on top of that in seconds flat, on a dead run of course. No gates have been left open but several times when weíve 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 theyíre 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 theyíd 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 wonít 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 weíd never had any issues. Like a good football team though, once livestock finds a weakness theyíll 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 werenít welcome versus back with their buddies and able to consume as much fresh green grass as theyíd like probably wasnít a brilliant idea. At least until the next time. Iíll be watching them.

As Iíve said before, my Dad always had a special place for animals that got out. Back in his day it was Wilsonís in Albert Lea. Mine is Morganís in New Richland. Iím not above taking a high end animal out of the gene pool if they canít behave themselves. Theyíre 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 weekÖreal 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: May 21, 2019, 11:01:06 AM »
sweet revenge!!!!   :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #709 on: May 28, 2019, 11:33:03 AM »
I'm gonna send you back to schoolin'...

The scurs frustrations with the Weather Eye diminished last at least in the temperature department. Warm days have been at a premium it seems. Will June bring more seasonal temps or will we get another April? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy becoming sunny with a good chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 50ís. Thursday, partly sunny becoming cloudy with a slight chance of forenoon showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-70ís and lows in the mid-50ís.  Saturday, partly sunny with a moderate chance for showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a good possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. The normal high for June 1st is 75 and the normal low is 54. The scurs will be keeping an umbrella handy.

With continued rains more was accomplished looking at the fields from the road than in the fields. Corn finally started to perk up after little sun earlier in the week. Some welcome sun and warm temperatures were just what the doctor ordered. Planting was observed in some areas on Sunday in a desperate attempt to finish. Some of the April 24th planted corn reached V2 as of Sunday with corn planted the first week in May right on its heels at V1. Weed control in most fields where a pre was applied is holding up well. Soybeans are beginning to emerge so any visions of applying pre-emerge chemicals have gone out the window if it wasnít done. Getting on the fields to make the applications has been like Mission Impossible.
 
A trip to SE MN Monday illustrated again how fortunate we are in this area. While fields were evidently planted, there was very little crop emerged on my route. To top it off it rained steady all the way to Chatfield and most of the way back. Ponded water in fields was the norm. Further comments from readers in places like IL where very little has been done make one wonder what kind of a corn crop nationally will be available. Until recently markets really havenít reacted much. The potential for an adequate supply of corn locally looks good for now. The potential for an adequate supply of hay? Donít even go there.

The wet weather has also put a serious damper on gardening at the ranch. The small break in the weather over the weekend allowed Mrs. Cheviot to get most of the flowering pots planted. They look inviting to whatever might in search of nectar. Planting anything in the garden has been challenging. The soil surface Sunday morning was still damp. Tilling the ground then wouldíve resulted in mud balls.
 
Trying to be patient, by Sunday afternoon the small garden dried enough so that it was at least marginal rather than just plain muddy to plant into. The canna bulbs Iíd carefully tucked away last fall kept remarkably well packed in shredded paper and stored in the unheated crawlspace. After manuring their garden spot well the cannas went in the trench and were covered up quickly under Rubyís close supervision. We were debating what to plant by the well so since there was an abundance of canna bulbs left over, another couple short rows went in there. Along with that, a couple rows of four oíclocks were planted in the small garden. The hummingbirds ought to be about covered.

The flowering crabs were pretty and the cooler temps seemed to allow them to maintain their blooms longer than some years. Right on their heels at the ranch are the aronia berries or chokeberries. Then we have the nannyberries to finish up. Not only do they provide food for migrating birds but they also provide plenty of opportunity for pollinators of many types. And for our olfactory senses few things are better than the lilacs of course.

The orioles and catbirds were going through about 16 oz.ís of grape jelly per day. Fortunately within the past week their consumption has slowed somewhat as nest building seems to have taken precedence. There have been pieces that look suspiciously like oriole nest building material in the jelly bowls. Theyíve definitely claimed the jelly feeder as their own though. If a house sparrow gets on it for longer than a few seconds at a time, an oriole or catbird comes out of nowhere to remind them.

The aforementioned trip to SE MN brought back memories. I took MN Hwy 30 all the way to Chatfield. On that route I went by several landmarks from my youth. The unique electrical substation to the north of where I was born, the brick Flatherís house to the north of 30, my grandparents building site which is no longer and my uncle Lorenís place where the cracker box house was replaced with a new, more spacious model. Farther down the road outside of Chatfield is the old Bernard School where my uncle Harvey had his art gallery. He moved it off the original site by my grandparentís farmstead. Itís the original building where I believe my Dad and his siblings went to school.

On the return trip I varied my route coming back on Fillmore Co. 2 to eventually get back to Hwy. 30. Again, there were memorable places along the way. The turn off to my uncle Bobís where we spent many days in his off the beaten path farmstead above the Root River. My Mom grew up there. The farmstead where weíd gotten a sweet little puppy we named Boots whose short life later came to a tragic end. And lastly the brick Dog Town country schoolhouse south of our farm at Stewartville. Iíd missed going to country school by just a few years. As it was I attended kindergarten in Chatfield. In those days kindergarten was only for a few months in the spring and classes in the forenoon. They didnít have enough room for all of us in the school so a small group of us were taught in the basement of the Post Office. Story of my life. Born in a basement and never brought up.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #710 on: June 04, 2019, 08:58:35 AM »
We better stop, now, what's that sound?

The scurs renewed faith in the Weather Eye was rewarded with some of the nicest weather of the spring thus far. Are we on a roll or about to get rolled? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the upper 50ís.  Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance for showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Monday, continued chances for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a good possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. On June 10th we will see 15 hours and 24 minutes of daylight with only 4 more minutes to gain by the summer solstice. The normal high for June 10th is 78 and the normal low is 57. The scurs have their first tanker of mosquito repellent on order. One can never be too prepared.

Crops are coming along although they arenít without their issues. Some of the early planted corn in some fields is undergoing the ugly duckling stage. This seems to happen to some degree most seasons although this one may be exceptional due to the cold start and continued wet conditions. The nodal root system on the first planted corn is developing and the plant is shifting its nutrient uptake from the seminal or initial root system. There is frequently a lag period when coupled with cool weather that has limited the availability such as sulfur. Several fields have plants showing sulfur deficiency symptoms, especially where residue is heavier. Fortunately the plants grow out of it but in the meantime everybody gawks at it and of course comments about it.

Not much in the gardening department at the ranch this past week. For the second year in a row, spring has been compressed. The time available has been limited by graduations and of course work for both of us. It has been gratifying to finally have some warmer temperatures so the flowering plants around the yard have blossomed. The nannyberries have been in prime form as have the lilies of the valley. The odor from the latter was almost as if someone had opened a pail of perfume on their side of the garage. The breeze carried the scent into the main yard for us to enjoy. Itís getting to be peony time pretty soon as well. The warmer weather has the buds look poised to perform once again.

There havenít been a lot of new bird arrivals although I did finally see a cedar waxwing. Iíd thought I was hearing them but could never quite spot any. That changed one morning as I was getting dressed for work as I spied one picking around in the spruce tree behind the house. The chipping sparrows have been busy in nest building mode. They like the fiber available around the ranch including wool and dog hair. There was one outside the garage stuffing its beak with nesting material to the point where it looked like a miniature Wilford Brimley. Ruby so happened to have some spare dog hair so she donated it to the cause.
 
Insects of the annoying variety are beginning to make their presence known. This past weekend the blackflies or buffalo gnats came online. While they do bite they also like to fly around your face while trying to sneak in somewhere to bite. The bites itch and sometimes the insect manages to draw blood. I also bumped into my first mosquito over the weekend. It was a large one and not particularly stealthy, landing on my T shirt sleeve right where I could see it. Didnít take me long to decide to deal with it. I can honestly admit that Iíve never felt guilty about swatting one of the little bloodsuckers.

The ewe and lambs were finally weaned at the ranch and not a moment too soon. The process was done in shifts this time around as weather and other commitments kept forcing delays. First we needed to get the fence operational at the kindly neighbors. The winter snows had ravaged portions of it and when electric fence wire gets snarled with barbed wire, itís tedious work unsnarling it. One bright spot in an otherwise mundane task was the discovery of bluebirds occupying their favorite house. I donít know how many years in a row itís been but they were back again busily feeding their youngsters while I tangled with the tangled fence. We dropped a group of ewes and a ram off at the pasture later that night and they buried their heads in the lush grass, making very little noise. It was as if weíd turned a whole group of Homer Simpsons out in a pasture full of doughnuts. Canít talk. Eating.

The last group weaned Monday night was a little more problematic. There were more of them and they have the ability to see their lambs through the fence. This tends to make the post-weaning bellering more intense and prolonged. Not a bad gig if one goes in the house and keeps the windows closed. These ewes also were happy to see fresh green grass so their protests were interrupted by sessions of eating followed by more protests. Unfortunately their route to the main pasture goes past the house. By about 5:30 a.m. their demonstration set up shop right outside the bedroom window. So much for sleeping. Still glad the ewes and lambs were weaned. Can always sleep when youíre dead, right?

See you next weekÖreal 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 #711 on: June 11, 2019, 09:01:22 AM »
Come down from your fences, open the gate

The scurs confidence in the Weather Eye continues to yield dividends. Not only was it warmer last week, it was also drier. Do we continue on a tear or is Mother Nature about to rip us a new one? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a moderate chance of forenoon showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Thursday, sunny with a slight chance of an evening shower. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 50ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís.  Saturday, partly sunny with a moderate chance for showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70ís and lows in the mid-50ís. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a decent possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 60ís. On June 17th weíll have 15 hours and 28 minutes of daylight gaining a few more precious seconds by the summer solstice. The normal high for June 17th is 80 and the normal low is 59. The scurs are thinking itís about time to dig into the strawberries and Schwanís ice cream. Get Ďem while theyíre fresh.

The Full Moon for the month also falls on the 17th and goes by The Full Strawberry Moon. With good reason. June is the month in which the strawberries are in season at least in this part of the world. The big, juicy red berries are hard to resist. The Ojibwe also called the Strawberry Moon as did the Sioux. At the ranch it is the Moon of Lush Pastures, certainly the case this year after all the rain in May. Sometimes I think it wouldnít be a bad idea to make some hay on part of it. When I think of all the extra work, it passes.

Some hay was made this past week and was exceptionally nice. The rains held off Tuesday just long enough to allow it to happen. Hay will be in tight supply once again in many areas so it will likely be worth the effort to bale it. Postemerge weed control applications took center stage last week as well thanks to the favorable weather conditions. Much of the earliest planted corn was V4 pushing V5. Some early season sulfur deficiencies were noted even though there had been broadcast sulfur applied to the fields. Sulfur along with some nitrogen banded near the row seemed to make a major difference this time around. Whether it translates into a yield difference remains to be seen. Final soybean planting and replanting was wrapping up earlier this week. Some holes needed it. Given the warm temperatures, the soybeans planted last week practically flew out of the ground.

At the ranch our planting continues as well. Mrs. Cheviot claims to have planted the last of the pots for the summer. Weíll see. Somehow there always seems to be a few more. The cannas are coming up as are the four oíclocks. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, the hummingbirds should have something to dine on. Not sure how much vegetable planting will be done. With free time after work and on weekends at a premium, it appears it will be limited. I feel fortunate just to get the lawn mowed once a week. Parts of it you canít see from the road missed the last rotation and it shows. Itíll get done eventually, just lots of other things higher on the priority list.

The birds have been starting their day off about 4:30 a.m. like clockwork. First, a robin starts off for a few minutes then a cardinal chimes in. Shortly thereafter an oriole pipes up and not long after the wren is off to the races. This goes on for about an hour then almost as suddenly as it started it goes quiet. It appears there are lots of nests in the yard and surrounding area so itís likely there are young to be fed. There are lots of bugs, worms and other high protein sources that it should be pretty easy to find something for all of them to eat. The lower amount of jelly being consumed at the feeder and the lack of female orioles is probably a clue.

I am somewhat concerned about the bat population at the ranch. I have yet to see one at dusk in June. Generally one can hear them scratching around under the soffit on the old part of the house just before emerging to feed for the evening. So far itís been silent. One reason may be white-nose syndrome, an epidemic fungal disease that has wiped out a large portion of the bat population nationwide. Even though they can carry rabies I like bats. As long as they stay outside and donít get in the house we get along just fine. In light of all the standing water weíve had, the notion of something flying patrol in the dark consuming mosquitoes appeals to me. In the absence of bats, it puts more pressure on other organisms such as swallows and toads to pick up the slack. Unlikely as swallows shut down at dark and toads donít fly.

The brood ewes are enjoying their lush pastures. Their primary occupation is eating as much as possible this time of year and theyíre wasting no time. The pasture fence at home was in desperate need of spraying Sunday so after battling to get the sprayer operational, I set out to take care of it. Not long after starting I found one spot where the fence was down so repaired that. I resumed spraying and ran across another area where the deer had raised Cain with it. Fixed that and finished the task. What shouldíve taken a half hour turned into a couple hoursí worth of messing around. To top it off, mowing the lawn later that afternoon, the crank on the mower deck snagged the electric fence making for yet another fence repair session. Somedays seems like riding fences is all I get done.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #712 on: June 19, 2019, 02:03:36 PM »
Will I see you in SeptemberÖ

The scurs are fortunate the Weather Eye has been close on the forecasts. Definitely horseshoe and hand grenade material. Will this week be more of the same or will it blow up in our face? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of evening showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. Thursday, partly sunny with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the low 60ís.  Saturday, partly sunny with a moderate chance for showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Monday, mostly cloudy with continued slight chances of rain. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a decent possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. On June 21st weíll see 15 hours and 28 minutes of daylight for our longest day of the year. The exact amount of daylight varies from location to location due to differences in the horizon. The normal high for June 21st is 81 and the normal low is 62. The scurs are thinking itís time to procure fireworks soon. Be a shame t for the fireworks police to be lollygagging.

Progress was made in the fields once more although we keep getting some beautiful September weather mixed in. This makes it hard to catch up on GDUís, something we were 15% below normal on as of last Wednesday. Much of the corn is V6 with some V7 in and around groves. Soybeans emerged well generally and are V2 to V3 on the earlier planted fields. We are reminded sometimes how far behind things are when looking at the flashback pictures from prior years. Last year we were seeing blooms already on some early planted, early maturing soybeans. This year, not so much. Dicamba applications should be done on Xtend soybeans when this reaches print. It has been a struggle and the June 20th date snuck up on us quickly. Luckily on the fields where a pre was applied the soybeans have remained relatively clean. Likewise in the corn. Overall the pre programs have been overachievers this year.

Was finally able to get loose on Sunday and get the pasture sprayed here at the ranch. Time consuming job when youíre going roughly six foot swaths with the four wheeler but it allows for spot applications. Few things give me more pleasure than watching large patches of Canada thistle all gnarled up the day following a herbicide application. We are lucky to have some of the newer chemistry like aminopyralid to use. Properly applied, it provides effective long term control. It doesnít volatilize and applications are in ounces per acre so no large containers required.

One downside however is the fact it goes right on through animal digestive tracts unmetabolized and is excreted through feces and urine. Caution needs to be exercised with this family of chemistry as it also comes along for the ride in crop thatís harvested for feed or bedding. My first hand-experience was with clopyralid being sprayed on the pasture many years ago. It resulted in weeds such as dandelions dying in circular patterns where the sheep urinated in unsprayed parts of the pasture. Likewise when clopyralid that was part of a herbicide premix sprayed on corn with the stalks baled off for bedding. A dead patch of soybeans with telltale symptoms right in the middle of the area where manure was spread left little doubt.

As mentioned last week the pace of jelly consumption continues to slow at least for the time being. I have yet to see any of the juvenile orioles appear at the feeders. Especially with the young Baltimore orioles, it always sounds like theyíre lost at first. They catch on pretty fast however and before you know it, youíre back to the grocery store more frequently. The hummingbirds too have been less frequently noticed at the ranch than some years. Theyíre perhaps more stealthy this time around as the nectar does disappear as long as the ant moat water is maintained. Itís not easy to keep it full since the catbirds deemed it their private drinking water source.

In an encounter with the Boy Entomologist last week, he reassured me that the black fly-buffalo gnat plague was nearing an end or at least they were being replaced by a less annoying species that was hatching out. The mosquitoes must not have received the memo as they are more ferocious than ever. At first the mosquitoes were a more docile larger model, big enough to be used for bait as Bemidji Billy pointed out. This most recent hatch however takes no prisoners. Get out of the wind and they attack, NOW! They also seem capable of biting through some clothing so even that doesnít stop them.
 
Most recently there has also been an uptick in the numbers of stable flies, those lovely little jerks that enjoy biting through your socks when youíre not looking. Couple that with the appearance of horse flies and deer flies, we are doomed by all orders of pestilence. About the only positives are the large numbers of monarch larvae on milkweed plants and the appearance of the fireflies. Everyone by now knows better than to go outside into the horde of mosquitoes in the evening. Itís nice the fireflies can be viewed from the safety and comfort of oneís home.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #713 on: June 25, 2019, 10:51:15 AM »
If I had the chance I'd do it all again
I would do it all again

The Weather Eye from the í74 Gremlin continues to run on the cooler side. Will the scurs tweak with it and warm it up this week or are we stuck in the AC another week? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a moderate chance of evening showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the low 70ís.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 80ís and lows in the low 70ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 70ís. Monday, mostly sunny with continued slight chances of rain. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a decent possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. On June 30th weíll see 15 hours and 26 minutes of daylight, having already lost two minutes since the summer solstice. The sun will rise at 5:35 a.m., two minutes later than it did on the solstice. The normal high for June 30th is 82 and the normal low is 61. The scurs are shuddering knowing the days are getting shorter once again. Odd reaction after such a pleasant winter.

Crops made some headway last week although it was measured. Early planted corn has reached the V7-V8 stage and is well past knee high so there is that. A generally drier June has meant that corn roots are heading downwards, a positive when it comes to anchoring the plants for the rest of the season, not to mention getting after nitrogen that moved down in the profile by May rains. The change from the ugly duckling stage to the deep, dark green came almost overnight in some fields. Soybeans too are starting to puff the rows out and are V3-V4 in many cases. This next week will likely see the start of flowering in some of the earliest planted fields as the shorter days intensify the plants inclination to reproduce. Rainfall has been spotty with some areas getting doused while others receive amounts measured in tenths. Soil moisture continues to be a non-issue however in those areas where rainfall has been less.

At the ranch we continue to see some of our meager gardening efforts progress. More cannas have appeared since last week as have numerous weeds. Weeds are survivors, much the same as organisms such as rats, carp and fruitcake. Many of the common weeds are imports, brought here by settlers of one sort or another. Some such as lambsquarters were at one time utilized as food in their native land. Nowadays about the only things utilizing lambsquarters as food at the ranch are the sheep. True to the name, lambsquarters are indeed one of their favorites. Then it should only follow that pigs would like pigweed, right?
 
With the drier weather some of the mosquito habitat has disappeared. Along with that, the mosquitoes themselves may be starting to slow down at the ranch. Not that one likes to stand around towards dusk to tempt fate but they arenít nearly as aggressive as they were last week. Still awaiting the appearance of some bats at the ranch. Havenít seen or heard them either one. I purposely watched for them at dusk Monday night to emerge from their normal annual hangout. Usually I hear them squeaking and scratching around under the soffit then later see them on the wing, consuming mosquitoes and other flying insects. Went outside every ten minutes or so to look. The sky stayed light until nearly 10 oíclock. Zero. Zip Nada.

While itís not a good thing to be minus the bats, it is amazing sometimes to see how Mother Nature steps up to the plate and fills a niche with other players. While I was keeping a vigil for the bats I noticed a brownish colored blob an inch long on the white siding. After one of my several trips out the door I noticed the blob had suddenly expanded and was covering an area about the diameter of a softball. I got my high powered light out to investigate and discovered thousands of tiny spiders. Were these some potential replacements for the bats? Time will tell.

Took the Silver Hawk to the Back to the 50ís car show at the State fairgrounds again last Sunday. H.B. was my copilot so thatís always a plus. The radio doesnít work so at least itís entertaining to pass the time visiting with a friend to and from a destination. That and sometimes they bring refreshments to be consumed after we stop!  The day was largely uneventful until it was time to go. Thunderstorms were brewing to the south and there was a sudden urgency to leave the fairgrounds. In retrospect, it probably wouldíve been a wise idea to look at the radar before we took off. We ran smack dab into the heart of it from about Faribault on and stayed in it.
 
The Studebaker performed admirably in spite of the heavy downpour. We had the side vents open and it kept the cabin pressure up so that very little water was leaking in around the door gaskets. It was also keeping the windshield clear so we could see. However when we stopped in Medford to wait out the storm a bit, then it began to leak. Once it leaked, the windows began to fog up. Good to know for future reference.
 
The Silver Hawk was a grimy wet mess when I pulled into the garage. I immediately started wiping it down and sopping up the wet spots inside, leaving the windows and trunk open to dry it out. Last I checked the garage fan with the humidistat was still running but the car was nearly dry inside. Seems old cars are a lot like old people. Itís fun taking them out but sometimes they leak and you have to deal with it. Itís reality and a small price to pay. You know youíd do it all again.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #714 on: July 01, 2019, 11:06:04 AM »
Slow down, you move too fast

The scurs finally got the Weather Eye to kick out some real summer heat. Will their tweaking continue to yield results or will we see more sneak previews of September? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Independence Day, partly sunny with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a moderate chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís.  Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the low 60ís. Monday, partly sunny with continued chances of rain. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a decent possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Heading into what is typically our warmest time of the year, the normal high for the 4th of July is 83 and the normal low is 62. The fireworks police will be kept busy with the scurs under surveillance for yet another holiday.

Crops really took off this past week with the welcome summer heat. Still lagging 16% behind on GDUís as of last week, early planted corn gutted down and exhibited results of getting into the applied nitrogen. Even some of the later planted corn has come around so itís not in the ugly duckling phase anymore. Soybeans too made progress with blossoms being found on some of the early planted earlier maturing varieties. The only fly in the ointment was that along with that, soybean aphids were also discovered. Appears those who were thinking that our cold winter had frozen them out were mistaken. The worst news though is that after two months of well below normal GDUís, it will be difficult to catch up with that much growing season already in the books. Chances are weíll need all of September, again, to get this SC MN crop to the finish line.

While crops were loving the heat most people who had to be out in it were not. Given the cool May and June most of us are simply not used to it yet. At the ranch on Saturday it was time to turn on the AC if nothing else just to dry out the air. Itís not like we keep it real cool but taking that humidity out makes it bearable with the thermostat set in the mid-70ís. Sleeping becomes easier and Ruby of course doesnít argue. She always seems to be looking for cool places to nap and with the AC on it opens up more possibilities.

Apparently the cooler weather has agreed with this yearís lamb crop. They have grown as fast as any group weíve ever had on the place. Visitors to the ranch have asked about their age and have been surprised when weíve told them theyíre this yearís crop. Unlike the field crops, theyíve been able to play catch up. With most of them being born into brutal February conditions, one wouldnít have bet on it. Itís a good thing theyíve come along as fast as they have. The lamb burger supply in the freezer has taken a major hit.
   
We do continue to enjoy a bountiful supply of birds to view although it appears many of them are still on parental duty. Almost all the orioles seen are males or maturing birds. Hummingbird sightings are on the increase. The goldfinches have been more faithful this year than weíve seen in a long time. I bought the last bag of thistle seed just about the time the major group decided to depart. Oh goody I thought, now Iíll have to sit on that until it gets stale. Not the case. The goldfinches that stayed on have kept at it. Wonít be long and theyíll be through their bag of seed. They probably werenít happy the thistles in the pasture got the boom lowered on them but they arenít talking with their mouths full either.
 
It has been interesting to keep track of what birds are building nests and where. We had a fair number of tree swallows occupying the bluebird houses at the ranch and one house wren in particular who decided to kick the house sparrows out and build in another bluebird nesting box. I did notice too that there seemed to be a lot of wren activity right next to the house. Sure enough, one had decided the gas grill which gets used infrequently was a prime location. Guess Iíll have to keep using the charcoal grill for now. Itís unlikely Iíd use the gas grill before winter anyway so theyíre in luck. Just need to check it out for bird nests the next time I use it.

If you travel the gravel roads as much as I do youíd have to agree that their condition coming out of winter was a fright in many cases. Large frost boils that became large soft spots were common across much of the area. Luckily as we keep moving into summer and gravel has been added along with the roads being graded more, the spots are coming around. Theyíre still not perfect but then thereís probably no good reason to be driving 120 mph on them in the first place. If youíre moving that fast you donít know what youíre missing.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #715 on: July 09, 2019, 11:35:31 AM »
Ride, ride, ride, hitchin' a ride

The scurs continue to get the Weather Eye to kick out some much needed heat. Will they extend the warm spell or have seen all the summer weíll get? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the low 60ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 70ís. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 80ís and lows in the low 70ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a decent possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 70ís. The Full Moon for the month occurs on the 16th. The normal high for July 16th is 83 and the normal low is 62. The scurs have their Farm and City Days button purchased and gunny sacks ready for all the candy.

As mentioned the Full Moon is on the 16th and as usual has several names. Most commonly it is known as the Full Buck Moon as the whitetail bucks are in the velvet stage of their antler growth. Itís also known as the Full Thunder Moon for the numerous thunderstorms common this time of year. The Full Hay Moon is yet another name and of course thunderstorms and haying generally donít mix. The Ojibwe knew this as the Raspberry Moon while the Sioux called it The Moon of Red Cherries. At the ranch we know it as the Chasing our Tail Moon for the numerous events weíre involved in this time of year.
 
Crops made great strides this past week. Worrying about knee high corn was the least of our worries. In visits to several corn fields on Monday much of the corn was well over my head. Given the leaves left to unfurl it appears we should start seeing some tassels the middle of next week if the weather continues to cooperate. Some issue has been made of the corn rooting depth and that may vary depending on where your fields are located. In New Richland for instance, June precipitation was just a hair over two inches. While it wasnít dry, average June precip at the SROC in Waseca is 4.69Ē. With warmer temperatures the end of June and into July and the crop taking up moisture at a rapid pace, root systems arenít getting any shallower. Soybeans also made progress albeit more subtle. Most of the fields are R2 or full bloom. The iron deficiency chlorosis that suddenly appeared has nearly as quickly disappeared with recent rains. Soybean aphids while detectable if you look hard enough are nowhere near threshold.

Garden progress also keyed on the past weekís warm temperatures as did the weeds. Iíd finally had enough of that and cleaned them up. The sheep were glad I did, fishing through the pile I tossed over the fence as though there was nothing to eat in their pasture. I got the tomato cages all in place after wondering if the tomatoes were ever going to grow. They suddenly did so it was time. The cannas too especially after weeding have hit full stride not unlike area corn fields. Around July 4th I usually make one last string bean planting although like last year it was my only planting. It had to wait until the 8th due to the heavy downpour on the 5th but theyíre in the ground. They beans were a 50 day maturity variety so they should make it, I hope.

The 4-H kids have been working hard getting their lambs ready for the upcoming fairs. Of course there are distractions such as Ruby begging for attention and a little black kitten that may go home with one of them. Then there are also our pet toads that frequent the barn this time of year. The fly population in the barn has really taken off so in turn several toads take advantage of the prey. We watched one large specimen gobble down numerous flies one morning. Itís no wonder the toad was as large as it was given its appetite.
 
Have had several people mention what has been up to now a relatively uncommon insect in this area. Itís the false Japanese beetle, dark brown beetle about 3/8ís of an inch long. They seem to enjoy annoying people by flying in their faces and getting stuck in the ladiesí hair. While harmless to humans, they will chew up lighter colored flowers like the kindly neighborsí roses and Mrs. Cheviotís while salvia. As the Boy Entomologist recently wrote, like the true Japanese beetle, they have one generation per year with the larvae feeding on grass roots. Unlike the true Japanese beetle they lack the more metallic elytra (hardened forewing) and the white tufts of hair on the abdomen.
 
False Japanese beetles arenít as voracious or numerous however as the real Japanese beetles where they become a real problem. They denude flowers and entire trees, fornicate constantly and make a general nuisance of themselves. Fortunately we havenít had the pleasure of dealing with the real Japanese beetles here yet but when and if we do, theyíll be a real treat, something you wonít soon forget. Having seen the crop damage theyíre capable of causing on the eastern leg of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour over the years, I can attest to it. A couple of them even hitched a ride home in my suitcase one year. No damage done but the annoyance factor was still there.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #716 on: July 16, 2019, 02:29:12 PM »
Giant steps are what you take walking on the moon

The scurs and the Weather Eye are keeping the heat coming. Will our warm spell continue or do we have a taste of September instead? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 70ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of an evening thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 70ís. Sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 80ís and lows in the upper 60ís.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. July 20th marks the 50th anniversary of the 1st lunar landing. The scurs will be heading to the hardware store where they are doing land office business in putty knives to remove Tootsie Rolls and bubblegum from shoes after Farm and City Days.

More crop progress this past week as Mother Nature keeps her foot on the gas. It was widely believed that it would be difficult to make up the amount of GDUís we were behind on after a miserable May and June. July has turned out to be warmer than normal thus far and as of last Wednesday at the SROC, we were only 6% behind  after being down 16% the previous week with calculations starting May 1st. Impressive but certainly not unprecedented. Many early planted corn fields should as predicted be showing tassels sometime this week. Some tassels on early planted, early silking hybrids were showing a few tassels already late last week. Soybeans continue to hammer along too with nearly all fields being R2 with some showing signs of some initial pods being set. The recent heat has pushed them along fast enough so that rows are touching on some of the early planted 30Ē row soybeans.
 
A recent journey to the west demonstrated how lucky we really are. Was fortunate to attend a field clinic on the soybean gall midge near Luverne MN. Not the end of the world but you can see it from there. Following I-90 the crop looked fairly decent until we got to about Jackson MN then it fell off the table. Many fields unplanted and many of those planted appeared questionable as far as actually making it to harvest especially given an early frost. The soybean gall midge clinic was eye opening. If this pest takes off like soybean aphids did, it could make them look like a walk in the park. No one knows where the soybean gall midge came from, how to control them or what their long term prognosis is. After being able to see them up close and personal it was downright scary. Stay tuned.

Along the insect lines, we heard our first cicada on Sunday. Later than some years but not terribly late either, lending credence to the fact that the warm weather has been catching us up more quickly than anticipated. It certainly has kept the flying, biting insect population active as well. Spraying the pasture fence at the kindly neighborsí on Sunday was a little like taking your life in your own hands. Between deer flies, horse flies, stable flies and mosquitoes, if one species wasnít attempting to bite me another one was.
 
The bird status at the ranch continues to show signs of a good hatch as the young orioles appear at the jelly feeder. They are equally as combative as their adult counterparts, taking little guff from the house sparrows that think they have a monopoly on the feeders. Itís very possible there was a nest of orchard orioles in the Norway maple as they seem to really like hanging out in that dense tree. In past years after the leaves are down, that tree usually has three to five nests of varying species in it.
 
As mentioned above the 20th marks the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon. I can still remember the lead up to the flight which blasted off on August 16th. All the Apollo missions starting with Apollo 7 were followed closely in school as they lead up to what was to become one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century. With Apollo 8 orbiting the moon we knew something very special was about to take place the following summer. Indeed it did.

When the Eagle landed on the lunar surface we were in school but I donít recall watching it on live TV. Some six and a half hours later when Neil Armstrong was about to begin his descent down the ladder from the lunar module we were already in bed. However, my folks decided that this was probably something that we should see so they allowed us to come downstairs to watch what was about to unfold. I was 11 at the time and staying up past nine oíclock was a big deal.  The black and white Motorola TV probably didnít do justice to the event but the picture was clear and there was no question about what was taking place. When the words ďThatís one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankindí were spoken, it sent shivers down my spine, knowing that we had just witnessed history being made.
 
We of course didnít hear about some of the hair-raising details at the time. Any miscalculations couldíve spelled disaster. It turned out there had been some computer glitches so amongst other things, Armstrong had to manually maneuver the spacecraft to a spot that wasnít so strewn with boulders in order to land. Something else that few recall was that the Soviets had attempted to steal some of the thunder of the US manned lunar landing by landing an unmanned probe and returning it to earth. The Luna 15 timing coincided closely with the Apollo 11 mission. The Soviet mission spacecraft however crashed into the moon about the time the Americans were already walking around and it did not return. There was a prepared congratulatory speech beamed to the astronauts from then President Nixon. What many didnít realize was there was also a speech prepared in case disaster had struck. Luckily it wasnít necessary and all the astronauts of course all returned to earth safely. After the successful all-out effort to land a man on the moon it was a very proud moment to be an American.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #717 on: July 23, 2019, 08:58:23 AM »
Sundown, you better take care
If I find you been creeping 'round my back stairs

The scurs had the Weather Eye a little too warm last week to the point where it boiled over. A heat index of 115 is overrated. Are we set to begin our descent into fall or are we in for more sultry conditions first? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the low 60ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of an evening thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid 60ís. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a slight possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. On July 30th the sun will rise at 6 a.m. CDT., roughly the same time it did back on May 5th. The normal high for July 30th is 82 and the normal low is 61.

Corn was busy this last week taking advantage of the heat and many tassels were noticed as predicted in a rea fields. Unfortunately Mother Nature decided to toss in more rainfall and damaging winds in places so one more wart on what has been another challenging growing season thus far. Corn plants that have tasseled have more limited capacity to right themselves as root development is considered mostly complete once the plant reaches the reproductive stages. Soybeans too were benefitted by the heat with pod set starting in earnest in many fields. More flies in the ointment here however. Recent rainfall followed by cooler temperatures could mean conditions favorable for the development of white mold, particularly if cool wet conditions persist.

I watched recent local weather developments from elsewhere namely Canada once again. When I left the ranch early Thursday morning the feeling was the potentially stormy weather was largely through the area. Aside for the Friday heat, heavy rains and high winds werenít part of the equation, yet. Coming out of international Falls Thursday night we were greeted by showers as we approached out destination. It was raining steady when we started to unload which was a good omen. Mosquitoes really donít like hanging out in a heavy downpour. If I have to choose between being a little wet or getting chewed by hordes of mosquitoes Iíll take the former.
 
Friday was a nice day at the camp and Friday night we were treated to an overnight low of 55. As is frequently the case, it means somewhere else is bound to get popped when that cooler air collides with a hot steamy air mass such as that in southern MN. Saturday morning the radar to the south lit up like a Christmas tree and about all we could do was watch, hoping that the damage would be minimal. For the most part it was although picking up the aftermath sometimes itís hard to remind yourself it always couldíve been worse.

This Canadian trip allowed me to get a little closer look at some of the birds that spend their summers in the forest. The white-throated sparrows that visit every spring at the ranch then suddenly disappear about the time the orioles arrive were the first to greet us when we unloaded. They along with the chipping sparrows are gregarious little birds, picking at the soil surface for seeds and perhaps small insects. While the white-throated sparrows may not be the same individual birds we see, they were still enjoyed nonetheless.

The hummingbirds were very busy at the two feeders under the eaves at the camp. One might think with two feeders there would be plenty of room for two hummingbirds. Not the case generally. When two show up itís usually a lot of maneuvering to first chase off the other hummingbird then spend some quality time on the feeder. This behavior repeats itself most of the day until well after sunset. No wonder they consume high energy food such as nectar and sugar water. It wonít be long either and weíll begin to see some of them start to migrate through our area. Theyíll need to refill their tiny fuel tanks as they move southward.

Before I left home last week I thought we had the corner on the mosquito market in south central MN. Once sundown came it was definitely time to get inside as theyíd show up out of nowhere and begin attacking. Lately theyíd been smaller mosquitoes, adept at getting up under the bill of your cap or anyplace else that wasnít covered up. Small in size but large on annoyance. I just thought they were annoying until grilling some lamb chops after sundown at camp Saturday night. When I started the grill there were individual mosquitoes searching for me. When the fire was ready and I came out of the grill to put the chops on the grill I couldnít believe it.

The earlier breeze had died down so as I approached the grill I heard the loud hum of flying insects. I opened the cover with one hand and immediately the swarm of mosquitoes attacked from all points. I had all I could do to keep them out of my eyes and nose while putting the chops on the grate. Once done with that I quickly slammed the lid on the grill and ran back into the cabin. I needed to make a couple more trips: one to turn the chops and one to retrieve them. Both trips were done at a high rate of speed as the mosquitoes only got worse. Of course I brought some hitchhikers in with me so we spent most of the evening and next day contending with them.
 
One always heard stories told of the Soviet era gulags in Siberia where theyíd take nonconformists, strip them naked and allow the mosquitoes perform their own brand of torture. While it may not have killed the prisoners outright Iím pretty certain it probably wasnít a positive. Iím guessing at the time it was probably an effective means of getting someoneís attention. I know they certainly got mine, comrade.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #718 on: July 30, 2019, 03:11:36 PM »
No one dared disturb the sound of silence

The scurs allowed the Weather Eye to get steamy once again before cooling down Sunday night into Monday. Will we see more fall-like temperatures or will August come in with other ideas? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the low 60ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the mid-60ís.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the low 60ís. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of an evening thunderstorm.  Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a better possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. On August 4th weíll slip below 14 hours and 30 minutes of daylight for the first time since back on May 8th. The normal high for August 4th is 81 and the normal low is 61. The scurs will be taking in the sights at the Freeborn Co. Fair and checking out Auntie Mar Marís baking exhibits. If you notice bites have been taken out of them youíll know why.

Last week was spent assessing damage to the corn from the July 20th storm. Being in Canada that weekend one could only imagine what was happening based on the radar images. In reality some of it was snapped, some of it was goose-necked, some was both and some of it escaped relatively unscathed. A lot of variables coming into play including hybrid, planting date, position on the landscape, row direction, etc. As is normally the case, wind speed and amount of down draft isnít necessarily consistent across the approaching front and varies as it moves through. Some fields exhibited up to 50% of the plants snapped. Others were substantially less. Fortunately the relationship to yield is not linear and distribution of damage across most fields is not uniform. Still unfortunate to incur damage to what was some of the better looking corn crop in the U.S.
 
Soybeans escaped relatively untouched as little hail was reported. Aphid detects are becoming more common although numbers remain on the low side. The situation is different than last year however as the stage of soybean development is R3 to R4 on early planted earlier maturing soybeans. Last year those same early planted earlier maturing soybeans were already R5. 30Ē rows are having a difficult time closing the rows and the plant size is nowhere near what it was last year at this time. This makes it more problematic not only for soybean aphid and other insect infestations such as thistle caterpillars, green cloverworms and forage loopers but also for weed control. Many of those same fields are showing breakthroughs in waterhemp control while their narrower row counterparts are to a lesser extent. The positive has been the recent warm temperatures and open canopies have helped forestall the development of white mold.
 
At the ranch we sustained little damage on the surface. However once one started picking up the mess it became obvious there were a lot of sticks to pick up. Not only that there were some good sized limbs that needed to be pared down in size before they fit easily into the Gator. Three or four heaping dumps and a bucket of ground fall apples later between Sundayís showers and it was back to normal. Lawnmowers, sticks and vinyl siding are not very compatible. I also took the liberty to take a limb out of an ash tree that had been hanging there since the April ice storm. It had been hanging there long enough and it was bothering me. Best of all I could finally get the skidsteer back there without rutting the lawn up.
 
The garden continues to show signs of promise. Tomatoes are coming along nicely and the late planted string beans have really stretched. Given another week or so and taking their protective bunny fence down might be an option. Best of all though is the hummingbird/pollinator habitat progress. Four oíclocks have just started to bloom and was wondering what the reddish colored spikes were I was seeing from the patio doors. Turns out the cannas are about ready for their initial blooms and their timing couldnít be better. After watching them in Canada a week ago, the hummingbird numbers appear to be on the increase here. Sadly I broke the base on the glass feeder I bought at Ednaís several years back so I had to replace it with a plastic spare temporarily. I liked the glass feeder as it was heavier and less apt to spill its contents in the wind. I suspect I can find a replacement somewhere.

It appears the bats have returned to the ranch! Was outside about dusk and heard the familiar scratching sound in the soffit. It had been silent until recently. The end of that silence was reassuring. Why would someone be so overjoyed to know there were bats around? If youíve been outside around dusk mowing at the ranch the mosquitoes come gunning for you. I figure also that with as much exposure to pesticides as Iíve had over the years, allowing Mother Nature to take care of insect problems isnít necessarily a bad thing. Sure we still use some pesticides but use them on a small scale and only as necessary.  Coupled with an arsenal including toads, frogs, snakes, swallows, dragonflies and a recent explosion of barn spiders, the bats help keep six-legged pestilence in check at the ranch, flying or otherwise.
 
Weíve had some faithful 4-H kids working with their lambs over the past month or so. Gracie was rewarded with a State Fair trip at the Waseca Co. Fair so we were happy for her. We had very little to do with it. Her hard work and parental support made this what a 4-H sheep project is supposed to be all about.  This past weekend one of our former 4-H kids from about 17 years ago got married so that was also gratifying on many fronts. Same kind of work ethic and parental support. The life lessons and friends made with that 4-H livestock experience are irreplaceable. The new brideís husband happens to like old vehicles too so thatís another plus. Iím finding at my age itís easier to put gas in an old car or pickup than it is to bale hay for a ruminant, no matter the size. Given the price of hay, probably cheaper too.

See you next weekÖreal 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 #719 on: August 06, 2019, 12:14:45 PM »
Iím just waiting on a friend

The scurs tweaking with the Weather Eye made for some fantastic sleeping weather sans AC until Sunday. Will July temps be in our future temperatures or is September more likely? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny becoming cloudy with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-70ís and lows in the mid-50ís. Sunny on Friday with a slight chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís.  Saturday, partly sunny with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with an increasing chance for evening showers and thunderstorms.  Highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the low 60ís. Monday, partly sunny with a modest chance of a daytime thunderstorm.  Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a slight possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. The normal high for August 11th is 81 and the normal low is 60. With another Freeborn Co Fair under their belts the scurs can get ready to feast at the Steele Co. Fair next. Fortunately their stomachs should still be expanded.

More crop progress as we get a good start on the month of August. We were still 4% behind on GDUís as of last Wednesday at the SROC in Waseca. Corn pollination has been excellent and some of the early planted hybrids are at brown silk. Leaf disease pressure prior to the Monday rainfall event has generally been light with common rust being the predominant pathogen found. Soybeans are starting to make their move. It was surprising how much they grew since last week at this time and some of the 30Ē rows are making a bid to close them. Soybeans are generally R4 with some of the earlier planted, early maturing varieties being a bonafide R5 with beans in the pods at one of the uppermost four nodes on the main stem with a fully developed leaf measuring 1/8Ē or greater. Some SDS has been found and may be more prevalent than typical given the type of spring we had. Time will tell. Soybean aphids have increased slightly although numbers are still relatively low.
 
Soil moisture while not short prior to the Monday night rain was starting to make one wonder if this would be one of those Augusts where we end up begging for rain. Cracks in the ground were common in most fields although corn and soybeans werenít showing signs of much stress. Relatively moderate daytime temperatures along with cool nighttime temps helped to prolong the soil moisture we had. Pulling some weeds in fields prior to the rain indicated there was still ample moisture there should we need it. With rainfall Monday night it became a moot point. The worst part about that is it will probably reignite the mosquito population in places. Just when we thought they were starting to taper off.

Speaking of that I actually saw a bat on the wing one night after the sun was down so apparently the white-nose syndrome hasnít eliminated all of them yet. On the wing in the daytime at the ranch there are already some subtle signs that fall is on the way. Chickadees and blue jays are making themselves heard more frequently even while the orioles continue gobbling down grape jelly. Looking at a long lateral limb on the silver maple tree I debated whether I should get the chainsaw out. It has continued encroaching on the patio despite my numerous efforts to prune it back. I spied a robinís nest attached to it. Since I couldnít be sure if it was still occupied or not I opted to leave it alone. Grilling one night I was being severely chastised by the owners of the nest. Lucky for them it was hot over the weekend or I mightíve regretted it.
 
Some of the migratory waterfowl have taken a shine to the Dubyaís barley stubble. Canada geese were thick in it one morning when I went by and they were joined by a couple sandhill cranes. All of them were sitting so still it was hard to tell if they were decoys or not. I didnít think there was any early season open yet and I was right. The field has had a lot of attention by would-be hunters. Unfortunately for them the field is likely to get seeded down yet so it likely will lose its allure for waterfowl and hunters alike when that happens.
 
Summer has started to head down the home stretch with the sheep feasting on garden weeds as well as out of code bread, sweet corn cobs and husks that find their way over the fence. Itís always interesting to see what they think of the offerings. Sometimes they gobble it right down and other times the stuff lays out there a while before suddenly disappearing. I donít know if it has to cure or if they have so much to eat in the pasture they just forget about it. I do know one thing: when they get out the first thing they eat is always something thatíll torque you off. Guaranteed.
     
Ruby has had a relatively good summer. She sleeps in air conditioned comfort wherever she feels like and has made some new friends. The 4-H kids have provided a new source of attention if we allow her out when theyíre working with their lambs. Sometimes she serves as a distraction which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Ruby is unlike many Border Collies in one respect. Sure, she has all the usual quirks, the incessant ball playing, an obsession with being around sheep, running at them like sheís possessed and shedding hair like a rat hat. Ruby is unusual in that she absolutely craves attention, something foreign to the nature of many Border Collies. She took that behavior to another level recently. We couldnít figure out why she was staring forlornly out the window with her head propped up on the arm of the couch. It dawned on us she was waiting for her newfound best friends to show up. Not always the brightest bulb on the tree but she is very predictable.

See you next weekÖreal 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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