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Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #720 on: August 14, 2019, 10:41:33 AM »
There are places I'll remember all my life though some have changed

The scurs are having continued success with the Weather Eye as of late. Are our weather fortunes about to change or do we continue living a charmed weather life? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a moderate chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny on Friday with an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a moderate chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a decent chance of a daytime thunderstorm.  Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Sunny for Tuesday with a slight possibility of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. The Full Moon for the month falls on the 15th. We’ll see 14 hours of daylight on the 15th, the same as we saw back on April 27th. The normal high for August 15th is 81 and the normal low is 60. The scurs have their fun money tucked away for their favorite edibles at the Steele Co. Fair.
 
The Full Moon for August goes by several names, the most common of which is The Full Sturgeon Moon as the tribes of the Great Lakes were able to catch this large fish the most easily during this month. It also goes by the Full Red Moon due to the haze common around the time of the moonrise. It has also been known as the Green Corn Moon or The Grain Moon. The Ojibwe knew this as the Huckleberry Moon and the Sioux called it The Moon when Cherries turn Black. At the ranch it is The Full Dog Brushing Moon, aptly named for the continual brushing of a Border Collie whom shall remain nameless.

Seasonal temperatures have prevailed resulting in steady progress of the area crops. Most early planted corn has developed those roasting ears, so named for the pioneer days before many sweet corn varieties had been developed. Soybeans have also made progress with many fields reaching R5. Some of the early planted early maturing fields have largely stopped flowering already. Along with additional SDS being found this past week, white mold was also discovered in some area fields. While it’s too early to tell how severe it may become, we were fortunate to have had a drier spell in late July and early August or it could’ve had the potential to be much worse. Soybean aphids continue to be present although few fields have reached treatable levels.
 
One of the most common questions I’ve encountered lately is “What are all these smaller butterflies?” Most of what we’re seeing are painted lady butterflies or thistle caterpillar butterflies. As the latter name implies, the larvae like to feed on thistles, primarily Canada thistle in this area. Unfortunately they also like to feed on soybeans. While there are plenty of Canada thistle patches around there are far more acres of soybeans conveniently available for them to dine on. The adults migrate into this area in the spring to lay their eggs and usually produce two generations. The larvae can be an economic pest from time to time in soybeans although generally they are just a novelty. There is some evidence that they may be producing a third generation although the hope is that the soybeans should be large enough that the 20% defoliation threshold for reproductive stage soybeans won’t be met. In the meantime, enjoying the large number of adults as they fly around and pollinate flowers is something everyone can appreciate.

More 4-H fair kids heading to compete this week for the first time so hopefully they do well. It won’t be for lack of effort. Olivia has been here most of the time twice a day to work with Nelly, a natural colored Cheviot. Typically Cheviot ewe lambs are wild and the natural colored Cheviots are the wildest of the wild. This lamb however is as tame as and even dispositioned as any animal on the place save for a bottle lamb or two. The fact it was worked with so frequently made all the difference. As cute as it is, it should be a crowd favorite if nothing else.

The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour starts beginning on the 19th. This will be my 16th installment and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. It’s a week plus out of my summer and with State Fair right on its heels, my thoughts turn more to sleep after such a bomb session rather than jumping out of corn and soybean fields to head to the State Fair on Saturday. I still think back to my roots when it comes to the agronomist position I maintain on tour.

It was 40 years ago this past spring I took a quarter off of college at the U of M to work with the Soils Dept. there. The job would change my life forever. It exposed me to most of the crops that MN had to offer at the time with the exception of wild rice and introduced me to a lot of people who are still friends and mentors to this day. It also involved a lot of travel. One day we’d be working on bluegrass and timothy plots near Roseau and the next thing we’d be working on corn and soybean plots in Houston Co. along with everything in between. Talk about a unique “hands-on” learning environment to gain knowledge about the state’s cropping systems.

Some of my favorite memories are working at the experiment stations and bringing back things like potatoes, sweet corn, strawberries and blueberries from the test plots. We lived at the time in an apartment on Brewster St. south of the St. Paul campus. There was more produce coming off the plots than we could eat so we made sure the elderly ladies in the apartment shared in our good fortune. We’d also made a point of hauling in Verna’s and Mom B’s groceries if we happened to be around when they came back from the store. Needless to say we had already reached tin god status in their eyes and giving them excess produce was just the icing on the cake. Frequently there was a knock at the door with a plate of cookies, cake or pie. There was method to our madness.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #721 on: August 27, 2019, 08:58:49 PM »
8/18/19


One more mile and one more road
One last bridge and one less load

The scurs and the Weather Eye are seeing eye to eye as of late. Will their close weather association continue or will quarrels end it in a lover’s spat? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of a daytime thunderstorm.  Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. On August 26th we slide back to 13 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, roughly the same as we had on April 16th. The sun will rise at 6:30 a.m. CDT and set at 8 p.m. The normal high for August 26th is 79 and the normal low is 58. Having saved enough of their shekels, the scurs have their hearts set on a foot long hot dog from the NE corner of the Coliseum at the Great MN Get Together.

Crops continue their march towards harvest. Corn is starting to show some dough stage and by the last week of the month, some should start to show some denting, particularly those early planted earlier maturing hybrids. Soybeans also are on the move with the vast majority solidly entrenched in the R5 stage locally. Some early planted 1.5 maturity soybeans should reach R6 sometime next week. Some of the later planted fields were still R4 as of last week but will quickly reach R5. More white mold detects this past week although as late as it got started it’s unlikely to have the kind of impact it did in 2017 when many of those same fields were planted to soybeans. Regardless those fields bear watching for future reference. Soybean aphids are increasing on some of the later planted soybeans that are lagging slightly in maturity. In other fields that are more mature, numbers have dropped. There is no way to know without actually looking at them.

We dodged a bullet east of town last Tuesday the 13th with some rough looking weather skirting generally just north of us. There was some hail that smacked crops around on the backroads to Owatonna causing some substantial crop damage. Perhaps scariest of all was the tornado that skirted just to the north of the ranch. Several videos and still photos were circulated with some making the evening news on TV. No damage from the twister at the ranch but watching from a distance, one had to wonder what was transpiring. Thanks to the magic of cell phones within minutes I knew what was happening and where. And the Dubya’s cows didn’t care.
 
Our garden continues to look underwhelming although some of the tomatoes are over 6’ tall. We did get our first vine ripened tomato of the season the other day so at least there was that. The July 8th string bean planting is flowering like crazy so in a few weeks we’ll likely start to dine on those. The flowering plants are pretty with the four o’clocks being especially beautiful this year. The mix of colors is fantastic and the flowers are about petunia sized As the name implies, they start to open about 4 p.m. in the afternoon and by nightfall they are wide open for business as foraging hummingbirds and sphinx moths can attest.
 
As had been my wont lo these many years, I headed off on yet another Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour last weekend. Also as mentioned last week this is my 16th go round and may be the most intriguing trip yet. There is far more prevent plant acreage scattered over more territory than we saw in 2013. That year it was primarily limited to parts of MN and IA. This time it extends across large areas of OH, IN, IL as well as parts of IA, MN and SD. Does rain make grain? We shall see.
Recently I noticed the electrical substation east of St. Olaf Lake was undergoing some radical changes. More like a total dismantling and elimination process. I had the privilege while filling with fuel one day to ask a Steele-Waseca Electric Co-Op employee about what was going on. Interestingly enough he said the substation there was indeed being removed, temporarily. He also told me it was originally constructed back in the late 1930’s. Fortunately they are totally rebuilding and replacing much of it. Why do I say “fortunately’?

Like many area landmarks, the substation has been a longtime navigational aid not unlike St. Olaf Lake, the golf course, and the pink schoolhouse near Wilton. Seeing these landmarks gives people a sense of confidence when they’re trying to find the ranch or anyplace else for that matter. I still remember years ago how many people became disorientated when someone painted the purple house. Of course these days everyone relies on GPS and Google maps. You’re taking a leap of faith that some electronic gadget won’t get you hopelessly lost in the weeds someplace.  Just remember, if you’ve come to the pink schoolhouse after crossing the Wilton River Bridge, you can’t get there from here.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #722 on: August 27, 2019, 09:02:54 PM »
You’re looking good just like a snake in the grass

The scurs and the Weather Eye clicked again last week. Will that clicking continue or eventually mean the wheels falling off the cart? Starting Wednesday, mostly clear with highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s.  Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Labor Day, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. The normal high for September 2nd is 79 and the normal low is 58. Oddly enough that same day the scurs have tickets to see that little ol’ band from Texas, a how, how, how…

Crops progressed in my absence while on the road for the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Checking some corn Monday, the earlier plantings are denting although most would not qualify as full dent. Still, generally speaking once corn dents it’s about a month before it reaches physiological maturity. Soybeans are in much the same bracket. The early planted beans are a full R6 and nearly all the soybeans save for the afterthoughts are R%. Aphid numbers climbed in some of the later planted fields and in some of the early planted fields have all but disappeared. The presence of large numbers of beneficial insects such as ladybugs and their larvae is very evident. Also noted in many fields are aphid mummies, the result of their being parasitized by tiny beneficial wasps. Beneficial to crop producers, not to the aphids. The wasps deposit an egg inside a live aphid and the resulting larvae eat the aphid alive from the inside. Then they use the aphid’s puffed up body to pupate, emerging through a small hole as an adult wasp.  Neato, huh?

As mentioned another Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour is now in the books for me. They have all been unique and interesting. This year, in light of all the prevent plant acres was more interesting than ever. As social media continues to play an ever larger role in our perception of the world one quickly realizes that many are quick to convince folks that because their area has a poor crop, therefore everyone has a poor crop. There is a grain of truth to that in that this year in particular as there was pain to be shared. Most areas struggled to get planting done and this probably won’t be a record crop for most. However, this crop is a long way from being the complete and utter disaster some would have you believe.
Going on the Eastern leg of the Crop Tour means a change to Eastern Time on Sunday morning and then a change back Tuesday as we head west to Bloomington IL. For me it means days that start at 4-5 a.m. and end about midnight. Four days of that takes its toll and the final night usually goes past 3 a.m. when we come up with the national production estimate.
 
This year security concerns due to a death threat made on the western leg of the tour to a USDA employee and another made the next night to my friend Chip Flory made it a little unnerving. Security was present at Iowa City Wednesday night and at the finale in Rochester Thursday night security was tight. Luckily these people tipped their hands before anything happened. People also spoke up and allowed the system to work. The threats were taken seriously and the individuals making them were dealt with accordingly.
 
It’s great to leave all that behind, sleep in my own bed and attempt to get back in the groove again. It takes a while though to get my biorhythms in sync. Toss in a trip to the State Fair Saturday to show sheep then catching up on storm damage and mowing an overgrown lawn Sunday. Suddenly you don’t feel like relaxing because there’s too much to do. By Monday afternoon I finally hit the wall. After nodding off in front of the confuser my body was finally telling me that hey, that’s enough, it’s time to sleep and get back on a normal schedule. I’m game.

Mowing the lawn is somewhat therapeutic after being on the road especially with the headphones on while listening to a Twins game. While it blocks out the noise one still has to be cognizant of his surroundings and small creatures that suddenly appear in the mower’s path. One large toad hopped out in front of the deck so I stopped and placed it in the safety of a flower bed. I also narrowly averted hitting a garter snake that slithered away just in the nick of time. I like having these amphibians and reptiles around the yard as they definitely are the “good guys”. Hitting them also means their decomposing carcasses are a favorite target for Ruby to roll in. Few things stink worse than eau de garter snake ground into a dog’s fur and collar. More than one dog bath has resulted over the years.

Even more therapeutic than lawn mowing is to watch the hummingbirds forage through the four o’clocks we planted for them this spring. I wondered why the hummers weren’t hitting the nectar feeder much and had my answer soon afterwards. Also rewarding is to look at the progress of the morning glories ascending the light pole in the middle of the yard. Earlier in the season I wouldn’t have bet they’d look as pretty as they do. Pale and spindly, they had a rough start with the cool May and June. Flea beetles also hampered their early growth, riddling their leaves with holes. Eventually the morning glories got their mojo back and now they look like a huge dark green anaconda encircling the pole, suffocating its prey. Harkens me back to watching Marlin Perkins safely upstream in a blind while Jim Fowler went the best two out of three falls with a giant reptile. Ah the good old days…

See you next week…real good then.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2019, 09:06:08 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online glenn57

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #723 on: August 28, 2019, 09:48:07 AM »
how can one get involved in the pro farmer crop tour????????? :scratch: :scratch:  i seen your email on what you guys do and want in!!!!!!!!!! :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #724 on: September 05, 2019, 10:14:12 AM »
I heard it, I heard it, I heard it on the X.

The scurs and the Weather Eye doled out more beautiful weather again last week. Will their success continue or will they be on the dole after hitting a bump in the road? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of daytime showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 40’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm.  Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a decent chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. On September 6th we fall below 13 hours of daylight, roughly the same as we had back on April 5th.  The normal high for September 6th is 76 and the normal low is 54.
 
While last week was absolutely gorgeous for humans particularly for sleeping humans, it probably wasn’t what we wanted to see in terms of crop development. As Chip Flory has mentioned, a slow burn on the end of the season allows the corn crop in particular to deposit a maximum amount of dry matter. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we are falling slightly farther behind on GDU’s as a result. While that in and of itself isn’t necessarily something to lose sleep over, the potential for injury from an early frost is heightened. Corn this past week was largely reaching full dent which typically means about three weeks until physiological maturity. Some was more like early dent so that adds another five to seven days onto the equation. Solar radiation is a wildcard and so far August was close to normal. Let’s hope we continue to get lots of sunshine as this crop needs all the help it can get to finish before Jack Frost makes his debut.

Soybeans showed some ugliness this past week as diseases suddenly made their presence known. SDS showed up in more fields as did white mold after giving little indication it was present earlier. Fortunately the late appearance of both diseases will likely limit the impact it will have on yield. Two years ago when white mold was a major problem it showed up in early August and spread like wildfire. Drier conditions this time around probably haven’t hurt either and as mentioned in a previous column or two, the slow canopy closure particularly in 30” rows was a blessing in disguise. Now the issue becomes remembering for the next time for these two diseases. Neither problem can be solved easily by rotation so that usually means more input costs to try to maintain yield.
 
Summer continues to hang on in some respects. There were still some fireflies September 1st rising out of the grass in the backyard at the ranch albeit more slowly than in July with the cooler evening. Some orioles are also still in evidence as of September 1st. Thought I heard them scolding me while I was tending some storm damage in the back yard  about August 25th. I’d stopped feeding them while I was gone. Since I had some grape jelly left I plopped some in their feeder just to see what would happen. Big mistake. Shortly afterwards several young orioles appeared and later that day male Baltimore and orchard orioles in full plumage were spotted. I even put a couple orange halves and a new nectar feeder out for them in case I couldn’t get their jelly feeder filled in a timely manner. They keep coming so I keep feeding them. Now they know I tried.

Hummingbirds have shown up sporadically. Along with the oriole nectar feeder I purchased a replacement for their favorite hummingbird feeder. As I discovered the hard way, glass still breaks easily when dropped in a porcelain sink. There hasn’t been much interest in it yet so again, was wondering if they were even around. After chores Sunday a.m. I walked past the cannas by the well and there was one busily working the red blooms over. Other times they’ve been seen feasting on four o’clock nectar. In either instance they’re very difficult to see as their coloration perfectly camouflages them against the green backdrop. The easiest time to spot them is when they take a break on the rungs of the tomato cages. One needs to look quick because they’re off in a heartbeat to their next flower.
   
The late planted garden has begun to yield some produce. Tomatoes appear to be ripening more quickly now the days are getting shorter and the evening temperatures continue to cool. So far the yellow pear and grape tomatoes have been the most prolific. After a closer look on Sunday the full sized tomatoes aren’t far off either, showing signs of blushing here and there. It was gratifying to see was the first meal of string beans from the July 8th planting. The 50 day rating on the variety until ready to eat was right about on target. These late planted beans were as frequently happens very sweet and tender once cooked.

Attended the Cheap Trick-ZZ Top concert on Labor Day and aside from being cut short by the heavy weather heading in, it was a great time. Took one of my little fat buddies along so that made it even more enjoyable after seeing the fair all day. I’d forgotten how many hits Cheap Trick had compiled and being a part of the generation that watched MTV when they actually played music videos, ZZ Top brought back great memories. It was also their 50th Anniversary Tour. I’ve been a ZZ Top fan for over 40 years. Much of that time was spent listening to them over the airwaves on rock and roll stations after hours. Thanks to Mrs. Cheviot’s diligence we had great seats, about 16 rows from the stage. Probably a good thing we sat that close. After listening to ZZ Top all these years, it’s likely one’s hearing isn’t what it once was.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #725 on: September 10, 2019, 11:51:49 AM »
Those windshield wipers slappin’ out a tempo

The scurs and the Weather Eye delivered yet more great early fall weather. Will they take a fall or continue on a roll? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of daytime showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the low 50’s.  Saturday, sunny with a modest chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Monday, sunny with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday becoming cloudy with a decent chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Sunset will be at 7:30 CDT on the 12th. The Full Moon for September falls on the 13th. September 16th we fall to 12 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, roughly the same as we had back on March 27th. The normal high for September 13th is 74 and the normal low is 51. The scurs will be on the lookout for Halloween candy arriving daily in stores nearby.
 
The Full Moon as mentioned arrives on the 13th and is known as the Full Harvest Moon as it is the closest to the autumnal equinox. Some years it’s in October but more often than not it falls in September. The Harvest moon allowed the pioneer farmers to work far into the night when it wasn’t cloudy and/or raining of course. They knew better than to put lights on their horses and kept normal hours that way! The Ojibwe knew this as the Rice Moon and the Sioux called it The Moon When Plums are Scarlet. At the ranch we have wild plums although by the time they turn scarlet the birds have them long gone. We have to go by the Full Apple Moon as the trees are usually heavily laden with fruit. When the wind doesn’t blow them off first anyway.

It is the Full Harvest Moon and at least as of this writing it appears we will escape Jack Frost’s wrath at least for now. Given the amount of earlier maturity soybeans planted after waiting for later maturing varieties to become fit last year, it may surprise us how quickly harvest may be upon us. The forecast is also finally giving us some hope. After a cooler than normal start to September it appears to be turning the heat up with some above normal temperatures on tap. This past week corn continued to move toward maturity as some of the earlier planted, earlier tasseling & silking hybrids started to show a milk line. Soybeans also were showing signs of turning although there were also areas of fields where pod and stem blight appears to be afoot. Some of these same areas of fields were apparent two years ago. The premature ripening that results frequently doesn’t do major yield damage on a field wide basis but in areas where it occurs it can reduce yield significantly.
 
At the ranch we continue to see the slow transition into fall even though summer tries its best to hang on just a little longer. There was still a male Baltimore oriole in full colors yet at the jelly feeder on the 9th. The morning glories, cannas and four o’clocks continue to do their thing as the hummingbirds are starting to be more frequent visitors. The barn swallows slipped away under the cover of darkness and the loud bird singing that was constant in June mornings is a distant memory. One can sleep undisturbed with the windows open again. Not a bad idea as the temperatures dip down into the 40’s and 50’s. That’s what they make blankets for.

Our rainfall in August was once again below normal at 3.16” at the ranch and in Bugtussle proper a measly 2.67” for the month. Normal at the SROC in Waseca is 4.75”, making it traditionally the wettest month of the year. Seems the sheep or at least one of the ewes decided the grass looked greener on the other side of the makeshift fence by the granary. It had been that way for 10 years and none of them ever bothered to mess with it. It only takes one agitator though and after a few episodes of putting the culprit back in, I decided to put a stop to that nonsense. Driving a couple steel posts, attaching some insulators and electric fence wire, I placed a hot wire about exactly where those erect Cheviot’s ears would make contact with it. Seems to have been effective. Hopefully l it completed the short circuit between the ewe’s ears.

It’s been a while but the Silver Hawk finally made it out of the garage for our anniversary. Wasn’t a long ride but it got the car limbered up and the thrill of driving a classic automobile returned once again. The road to town is now smooth so it makes the ride that much sweeter. We had supper and it was beginning to get dark.  As we were about to leave someone had noticed the car and asked if it had good lights. Yes, I replied, they’re sufficient. 12 volt? Yes was my response again. Actually Studebaker had gone to 12 volt systems in 1956 as did the US manufacturers who had done so earlier in the decade on a few models.
 
Something else that’s a common misconception is that the wipers are run by vacuum as many older cars were. It depended on the model and Studebaker was using electric wiper motors on some of their models as early as the 1930’s. The Silver Hawk has an electric wiper motor with a two speed switch. However, as with many old cars, the wipers are fickle and like some humans, only work when they feel like it. The wipers in this case only function on the slow speed, sort of. Sometimes they quit randomly about halfway through the cycle so it’s best not to monkey with them. That’s why copious amounts of Rain X have been applied to the windshield. One can see well as the rain beads off the windshield rapidly when you drive fast enough. Not a problem once you hit overdrive.
 
See you next week…real good then.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 12:15:06 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #726 on: September 10, 2019, 12:17:48 PM »
And may I add it's the first completely full moon on Friday the 13th since the year 2000....

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #727 on: September 17, 2019, 09:22:55 AM »
And the leaves that are green turned to brown

Things were wet and wild for the scurs as they discovered a leak in a hose. The Weather Eye had little chance. Will their forecast be drier or will we continue on a fall recharge pattern? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of daytime showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with increasing clouds and chances of a shower or thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the upper 60’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm.  Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Monday, sunny with a slight chance of a shower. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday becoming cloudy with a decent chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. The sun will rise at 7 a.m. CDT on the 21st and the autumnal equinox will occur on the 23rd. The scurs will be tuning up the leaf blower. One can never be too prepared.

Crops responded rapidly to last week’s rain and the warm temperatures that followed. While the temperatures were what everyone was asking for they come at a potential price. Pushing the corn hard on the tail end of the season tends to cause cannibalism of the stalk. If there are stalk rot organisms afoot the result can be disastrous especially in light of strong winds such as we had last year about this time. Checking corn this past week, some of the early planted earlier maturity hybrids had a milk line ¾ of the way down the kernel. The 105 day hybrids were closer to ½ milk line. On the soybean side, having the moisture was fine but a lot of those small pods up top on the plants are just a memory at this point. Some might say those pods really wouldn’t matter and they’re right if the soybeans compensate in bean size. The odds of that happening are decreased however when the soybean plant is pushed as it has been recently. At least they have dropped a lot of their leaves and should be ready to go towards months end.

The leaves on the trees have been hinting at an earlier fall than one might’ve imagined given the late start to spring. I thought perhaps one of my herbicide applications in the vicinity of the autumn blaze maple might’ve caused some premature color. Looking around at some others it appears they either had herbicide issues or they’re turning early too. The nannyberries in the yard are turning bluish black after being scarlet for a few weeks. The Haralson apples are closer to being made into pies soon and the Honeycrisp tree has apples ready to eat. The Fireside and SnowSweet trees will be a little longer, with mid-October being their target date.

The birds have been hinting as well that fall is in the air. The ranch’s last Baltimore oriole was seen at the jelly feeder on the 12th. I placed a dollop of jelly in both cups and aside from a blue jay or two, it’s gone untouched. Hummingbirds on the other hand have ramped it up, feasting on canna, salvia and morning glory nectar when they’re not at the nectar feeders. The four o’clocks have largely finished blooming although it doesn’t stop the hummers from picking through the foliage looking for the odd blossom still on the plants. The fall birds are more evident as well. Blue jays are calling as are the chickadees. Nuthatches are coming to the sunflower feeders with greater frequency. The squirrels are also transporting acorns from across the driveway to points unknown in the lawn. The rate they’re going it could become an oak woods in a matter of a few decades if we don’t keep mowing the seedlings off.

Lawn mowing has continued to be a necessary evil. Give the lawn some rain plus continued warm weather and it’s back to growing about like it did in July. It appears that Howard and Whitey will survive another mowing season. They still do a decent job of mowing but it would be nice to get something a little more nimble around the numerous trees and shrubs scattered throughout the yard. While the ditch still remains a challenge to mow, the days of mowing it may be coming to a close. I’m not getting any younger and there are probably better things to do with my time than see how long it takes before I roll it over on the slope.

Ruby doesn’t seem to care. She enjoys following the mower some of the time, in particular Whitey. When mowing the ditch, she’s right behind me when I glance over my shoulder. For some reason she must’ve been zinged with a stick or twig from under Howard’s deck once upon a time so generally steers clear, watching from afar. That’s OK. She’s put on a lot of miles following lawnmowers the past nine years. She still logs enough time that her white socks are green when we come in the house. Hate to think how green her socks would be if we fertilized the lawn. Might make a good advertisement for liquid Tide!

Have battled yet another alien to a draw. This most recent cold has been a persistent cuss, causing sudden coughing fits along with bouts of sneezing and nose blowing. At first I thought it was something I’d run across in some corn fields. Lord knows there are plenty of molds and dust to trigger allergic reactions. Later I determined it was more likely just the State Fair Crud that Mrs. Cheviot had brought home with her. The general malaise has led to feeling constantly tired as well so sleeping whenever there’s a chance to do so seems to help. Hydration has also been important although I always have to chuckle about that. It’s a vicious cycle once you get to a certain age. Yes hydration and sleep are important yet the two seem to be mutually exclusive all the time.
 
See you next week…real good then.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #728 on: September 26, 2019, 10:11:30 AM »
Locomotive pull the train, whistle blowing through my brain…

The scurs still haven’t stopped the leak in the hose so the Weather Eye is in for more repairs. Will it dry out or has the rainy season officially started? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with increasing clouds and a good chance of a shower or thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm.  Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of a shower. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday becoming cloudy with a decent chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. September 26th we slip below 12 hours of daylight for the first time since March 16th. The sun will set before 7 p.m. CDT on the 29th. On Tuesday we will have burned up the month of September. The normal high for October 1st is 67 and the normal low is 43. Time for the scurs to get their wood split and brace for another long, cold winter.

Crop progress was dampened and expedited by this last week’s weather events. More rainfall fell and soils are remaining wet as crops are no longer pulling on it as they did a month ago. Temperatures will also begin their annual descent. We’ve been fortunate though to get a warm second half of September to allow the crop that was behind most of the season to finish under the wire from Jack Frost. Corn yield checks appear to be variable from field to field with the stalk breakage and lodged corn from earlier thunderstorms weighing heavy on many minds. Soybeans have lost most of their leaves and now it’s just a waiting process for them to dry down before combines can roll. Cloudy, damp weather won’t help the cause at this point regardless of temperature.

Another rain delay put making the last cutting of hay for the season on hold. Hopefully the weather has one more window of opportunity left before it’s too late. It’s been another miserable year to try to get dry hay put up. Rainfall delaying earlier cuttings put us in the bind we’re in. Not getting this cutting of hay made will mean looking for additional bales of small squares on the open market which takes a lot of the fun out of it. Not that there was a lot fun in it to begin with. “Are you going to bale/haul/stack hay? Gee, can I help?” said no one ever…

Made another excursion to Canada to check up on things to the north with BB. It’s still there and the fall colors were just getting going in spots, primarily pockets of sugar maple. The loons were still on the lake, their echoing call soon to be gone for the season. Watching Saturday night’s rain moving in across the lake made for some interesting time as well when we ran for cover from the gazebo to avoid getting drenched. The light show was spectacular although the thunder was certainly something Ruby would not have enjoyed. Once the storm was over the sun was down but it did shine off the undersides of the clouds making it worth our time and effort to see it.

Much of the rest of the flora and fauna are winding down their season. The song of a white-throated sparrow greeted us as we unloaded our gear. It might be a while until I hear another one, probably in April or early May. A ruffed grouse nonchalantly moseyed by the lakeside porch the first morning we were there. The hummingbird feeders were empty so we partially filled them again. Afraid the hummers have flown south already but in case there happens to be a straggler, at least they’ll have something to tide them over. The asters attract a host of pollinators getting in their last licks. An underwing moth was trying to get in the cabin window Saturday night. Slightly smaller than a white-lined sphinx, the underwing moths are common in the Ontario forests. Their coloration makes them a natural. As my friend the Boy Entomologist points out, they’re engineered to blend in with birch and popple bark.
 
I checked the log book at the cabin to note that it’s been six seasons and a dozen odd trips now that I’ve been graciously allowed to be a guest there. I knew the number of visits was beginning to add up as I’ve begun to figure out where most of the light switches are. I still get turned around direction-wise as the roads aren’t exactly laid out in the mile square format as they are in prairie country. They just sort of meander off through the woods in a seemingly random fashion while avoiding lakes and streams. When it’s cloudy and one’s unable to see the sun it makes it tougher. I hear the train at night as it rumbles down the track to the north blowing the whistle occasionally at moose perhaps. In the evening, seeing where the sun sets and the moon rises I’ll eventually get a handle on it. For now it’s enough to know that all is as it should be in the land of toques and tamaracks.
 
See you next week…real good then. 
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #729 on: October 01, 2019, 10:52:09 AM »
All I have to do is dream…

The scurs continue to be mystified by the moisture emanating from beneath the Weather Eye. Will the forecast leave us crying or just misty eyed? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with increasing clouds and a good chance of a shower or thunderstorms in the evening. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s.  Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm.  Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Monday, sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday becoming with an outside chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. On the 6th we slide below 11 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, about the same as we were on March 7th. The normal high for October 6th is 64 and the normal low is 41.During Monday’s warmth, the scurs abandoned their wood splitting to lounge by the ceement pond. They know full well that it won’t last but they can always dream.

Harvest got started in places last week with some earlier maturing earlier planted soybeans coming off. Yields while not spectacular were satisfactory. Most were reporting upper 50’s to mid-60 bushel per acre yields and some of this was across the scale, not involving the combine monitor. The expectation is that as we get into the later plantings yields may tail off some. Some corn was also harvested although moisture content was in the upper 20’s yet. There is some time although those who are aware they have stalk and root issues will likely press the envelope as well they should. While farmers sometimes have short memories, the memory of picking down corn last fall is not something they’ll soon forget. The volunteer corn common in many soybean fields served as a constant reminder much of the season. LP was purchased right in many cases so picking and drying it while the air temperatures are warmer vs. colder only makes sense.
 
At the ranch we continue to slide slowly into fall. There isn’t much leaf color yet and aside from those being knocked out of the trees by the wind, not much on the ground. There have been plenty of branches, sticks and twigs to pick up however which makes for great recreational fire material. The trouble is we’re seldom able to burn anything due to the wet conditions or getting home later than we’d like. Eventually it gets burned up but the bigger piles are becoming problematic. Not only does one have to contend with Mother Nature’s bladder control issues, the Nanny State and trash fire police make it difficult to burn anything without feeling guilty about it. Things like raccoons, skunks, feral cats and opossums love it however and lord knows we know we all need more of those. Not.

We’ve been watching the yard as it transitions into fall. The four o’clocks have run their course aside from a few scattered blooms. The impatiens have remarkably hung on after a little additional nitrogen that greened them up and seemed to lengthen their flowering period. The cannas too have kept flowering, adding new spikes of red flowers almost daily. The white-lined sphinx moths have appreciated the impatiens and four o’clocks, making appearances in both daytime and after twilight. The last hummingbird was seen on Sunday the 29th. Last year the last one we documented was on September 30th. Regardless, they once again had a good run. We saw the first one on May 5th so almost five months’ worth of enjoyment on our part.

Bumblebees have been numerous this fall as well. They’re generally fonder of the blooms on the coleus and some have parked there for the day when we’ve had some of cooler nights. We enjoy seeing them now but as kids we were generally not bumblebee fans. Their relative size and the perceived potential for getting stung spelled trouble. There was a large nest in the old pump house that we had as a playhouse. The bumblebees had a perfect place to enter and exit as well as a dry spot in the insulation for nesting. When Dad tore the siding off the size of the nest was amazing. No wonder there was a humming sound coming from inside the wall!
 
Then there were times baling straw during a dry August when we’d disturbed bumblebees apparently nesting in the ground under a windrow. If you were driving the tractor you generally were oblivious to the situation. If you were on the rack however, the angry bumblebees suddenly flying around your head meant hopping off the rack and running to where they weren’t. When the coast was clear you’d jump back on the rack. Normally by the time you made the next pass the bees had forgotten all about it and weren’t an issue. Or so you hoped.
       
Monday was as mentioned a warm one. Temperatures climbed into the upper 80’s and made one think it was July once again. Looking at the calendar, trees and crops one knows better. Of course when done with work, I checked on the sheep at the kindly neighbors’ sheep pasture only to find the electric fence grounded out. It took a couple attempts walking around the fence to locate the ground but at long last I did, finding me sweaty and grumpy when I plugged the fencer back in. When I got home Mrs. Cheviot was already in the middle of chores so I started pulling water buckets out of the pens. As I grabbed the second one a buck lamb greeted me at the panel and blew snot all over my face as is their wont. Raise sheep they said. It’ll be fun they said.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #730 on: October 08, 2019, 11:00:13 AM »
It’s hard enough to gain any traction in the rain

The scurs continue their puzzlement over the leak beneath the Weather Eye. Usually a heater core issue. Will we receive heat or are about to see the big decline?  Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a good chance of rain in the overnight. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Thursday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Cloudy on Friday with a good chance of rain in the forenoon. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s.  Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Columbus Day, partly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday becoming with an outside chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. On the 15th the sun will set about 6:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for October 15th is 60 and the normal low is 37. The scurs are thinking that if people handed out candy on Columbus Day it would still be a thing.

Harvest came to a screeching halt with rain falling much of last week with rainfall totals from September 29th through October 5th of 4 ½” being common. Not only did it make soybeans too wet to combine, precipitation accumulated in places making combining fields problematic for those attempting it. Already reports of combines stuck on Monday. While one can’t blame people for wanting to get all they can before the precipitation returns, the ruts and compaction left from combing when too wet are sometimes difficult to overcome, with consequences lasting for many years. These clay loam soils are not very forgiving and compact readily when wet. Yes, the amount of tile put in the ground over the past several decades is enormous. It still doesn’t transform these soils into the loess soils found to our east and to our west. Not that they thrive on it but they tend to bounce back much more readily from abuse.
 
Snow in the forecast makes everyone anxious although one has to question how seriously it should be taken. When I was first out of college in 1981 working in north central North Dakota, the fall up until October 9th was pretty routine. The ducks and geese were coming down out of Canada right on schedule with fall tillage and fertilization progressing normally. I returned to Rugby that night after soil sampling near Rolette in a snowstorm and parked the Jeep behind my basement house. The next day the ground froze solid and stayed that way for about a week making it too hard to soil sample. Small grain was already harvested but sunflowers were still out in the fields with snow on the back of their heads. Many were convinced fall was over and winter had begun. After a week however the weather warmed back up, the ducks and geese returned and conditions stayed nice until Thanksgiving. Fall tillage and fertilization were completed for the upcoming season just like normal.

Mother Nature has been sending us some mixed signals locally so far. A flock of robins was in the yard at the ranch on the 3rd gobbling down nannyberries as fast as they could. Looked like this year’s late hatch, smaller birds with some of them still showing hints of stripes on their breasts. Juncos showed up over the past weekend and salamanders were seen crossing the roads the same time. Sunday there was still a small group of swallows grouped on the powerlines east of Mud Lake. On the 7th in town I heard a cicada and saw a dragonfly near the post office. When I returned home to the ranch, I heard tree frogs croaking as I grabbed the mail. Later after chores I cleaned some of the wet seed out of the birdfeeders. As I did I was greeted by numerous mosquitoes in my face speeding expediting the process. If it freezes as the forecast indicates, I seriously doubt that anyone will miss them until perhaps January.

Trees are also a bit of a puzzle at the ranch. Many of the trees are just starting to show a hint of color as of this writing. Some such as autumn blaze maple have been showing color and dropping leaves slowly for the better part of a month. Poplars and some of the ash are definitely showing signs their season is winding down as are the black walnuts, famous for their slow leafing out in the spring and their early leaf drop in the fall. The fruit on the nannyberries has been black for the past several weeks although their leaves that should be turning a bright crimson soon seem to be taking their sweet time.
 
The birdfeeders are slowly getting swapped out in anticipation of winter. Actually the red-bellied woodpeckers and nuthatches clued me in that their suet feeders were not filled or in place. While I was at it I removed the oriole’s jelly and nectar feeders, cleaning them up for next season’s spring flight. I did leave the hummingbird feeder out for at least another week just in case a straggler comes through. The second week in October has been about as late as we’ve ever seen them at the ranch. They keep trying to get me to drink the Kool Aid that this is climate change related but that happened several decades ago.
   
The lawn looks to be readying itself for winter. Letting the grass grow long then cutting it for what will likely be the last time before grinding the leaves up, it appears to have taken the summer well. It would be nice someday to have the time to tame the crabgrass in places and kick some of the bromegrass out of it so it doesn’t need mowing again within three days all summer. Still, it is a farm yard essentially. One never knows where and when it might be necessary to unload some round bales, blow the snow off or drive across it with the manure spreader to get turned around. I’m flattered yet amused when someone asks if it’s OK to back on the lawn to get down the driveway. If they only knew…

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #731 on: October 15, 2019, 10:46:49 AM »
Can you tell me, please don't tell me
It really doesn't matter anyhow

Having subdued the leak beneath the Weather Eye to a trickle, the scurs have set their sights on a kinder gentler forecast. Was the recent snow just a warning shot or the tip of the iceberg?  Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Thursday, sunny becoming cloudy with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s.  Saturday, mostly sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Sunny for Tuesday becoming with an outside chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. On the 16th the sun will rise at 7:30 a.m. CDT and we slide below 11 hours of daylight for the first time since back on February 25th. The normal high for October 19th is 58 and the normal low is 36. The scurs have rented extra space in anticipation of all the Halloween treats.
 
Preoccupied by the forecasts for snow, I failed to mention the Full Moon for October that occurred back on Sunday. It goes by the Full Hunter Moon and while some may be calling it the Harvest Moon but do not be deceived. The Full Harvest Moon is the one nearest the autumnal equinox. This Full Moon did however allow pioneer farmers to work into the night as well as it generally rises not long after sunset. If the sky is clear it will be very bright. It was also a time where Native Americans and settlers alike would be stocking their larders with staples for the long months ahead. The Ojibwe called it the Falling Leaves Moon. The Sioux who also knew it as the Moon of Falling Leaves or the Moon of Changing Season. At the ranch we know it as the First Chores Done in the Dark Moon. At least we’re not walking to the nearest stream to haul water. That’d be a hike.

Sending mixed signals last week, Mother Nature tipped her hand and introduced us to her pals Jack Frost and Old Man Winter. The growing season came to an end Friday night. After the growing season got off to a slow start, it kicked it in gear in July and September to make what seemed to be cold growing season into one that was close to normal in terms of GDU accumulation. The only trouble with that is the growing season GDU’s are calculated from May 1st. If your crop didn’t get planted until June, May didn’t matter. For the most part though much of SC MN was fortunate to get the crop in the ground in a relatively timely fashion. Where we couldn’t, earlier season hybrids and varieties were subbed in to help counter the later than desired planting date. The end result is that frost should have a minimal impact here, one of the few things that finally went right. No guarantees on what’s to come weather-wise however so it could still be the battle start to finish the past two cropping seasons were.

The crop harvested so far has been acceptable to mildly disappointing. White mold left a mark in some soybean fields, again. For those who decided to switch over and pick corn, moistures have had a difficult time getting much below 25%. Yields have generally reflected some issues with brittle snap and stalk rot issues as well. Many of those picking corn knew this in advance. Those who aren’t aware of the problem may be in for a rude awakening. Some also might do well to calibrate their yield monitors to be sure that they aren’t merely putting a number on the screen. Too many times over the years people have been either pleasantly surprised or sadly disappointed once the grain runs across a scale, the true gold standard.

At the ranch we continue to enjoy our late season tomatoes. The last of the crop was picked on Friday night before it snowed. Despite our shortened gardening season we still had to be pleased with their output. We had plenty of tomatoes to eat and some to share. I can see already that some of them that were just barely blushing when picked are showing signs of ripening. If we play our cards right we should have ripe tomatoes through the end of the month. We never complain about that at the ranch. Having one of those tomatoes in January or February would be something to cheer about.
 
Ruby has been enjoying the tomatoes too. She’s been the beneficiary of several meals of dog food soaked in bacon grease from the manufacture of BLT’s. Once she smells the bacon being fried she knows what comes next. Her coat shows it too, coming back in thick and heavy. Some might say that’s a sure sign of a cold, nasty winter ahead. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that it’ll be one huge bunch of dog hair to sweep up the rate she’s going.

Having warm fur or clothing is a must come winter. With winter breathing down our necks, we had a bomb session at the Mall for Men to determine what Steve Cannon called long underwear on his show. We were in a quandary as having last listened to the last Cannon Mess over 22 years ago, none of us ever deciphered what he said. Hearing it on an AM radio through tinny speakers in rattly old tractor cabs or diesel trucks probably didn’t help. It sounded sort of like “gotyas, gottias, gotchas”, or something to that effect.
 
Then Betsy’s Dad had a stroke of absolute genius: Given his discipleship of both Seinfeld and The Cannon Mess, why not look for a Yiddish word meaning underwear? After all, Seinfeld was chock full of Yiddish sayings and descriptive terms. Cannon was from The Range where Yiddish words were part of the vocabulary. Lo and behold, he found a term, “gatkes” that means underwear. Pronounced “got-kas”, the mystery was solved. Now when it gets cold, we can say with confidence that it’s time to get out our long winter gatkes. And they say we never accomplish anything that really matters in the office.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #732 on: October 16, 2019, 07:49:12 AM »
AND he got the money!!

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #733 on: October 22, 2019, 11:17:46 AM »
After the boys of summer have gone

The scurs resurrected the Weather Eye to its former self, delivering some wonderful harvest weather this past week. Will it serve up another beauty or will the beauty be in the eye of the beholder?  Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain and snow showers. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s.  Saturday, sunny becoming cloudy with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance for a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the mid- 20’s. On the 27th we slide below 10 hours and 30 of daylight for the first time since back on Valentine’s Day. The normal high for October 27th is 54 and the normal low is 33. The scurs are feeling entrepreneurial. They’ll be selling empty feed sacks to all the kids for their Halloween candy.

Last week was what most corn and soybean farmers had been waiting for. The sun shone and winds blew, allowing harvest to progress once again. It was still difficult to get soybeans to cooperate at first but once they did the result was that most were able to get them harvested and sold or in storage someplace. Yields as the season progressed were generally less than desired as the later harvested fields were frequently those that were planted last as soil conditions permitted. White mold was a factor as well as several other diseases that nickeled and dimed yields. Anthracnose in particular was noticeable in stubble of fields that were soil sampled last week. Corn harvest also picked up speed as soybeans were harvested. Moistures finally came down some after being stuck on 25% in many cases. Yields here too were disappointing where brittle snap had affected fields significantly. In other cases, yields were close to last year.

It was good to hear the corn dryers running once again. The Ten Man dryer in Bugtussle had run for a brief stint earlier then was on hiatus. Last week however it was back in business. Neighbor Jon’s dryer is still my sleeping pill at home. Something about the frequency between the hum of the fan and roar of that burner knock me right out. Most nights Ruby and I can’t make it through the second Gunsmoke and sleep until The Big Valley comes on before turning the tube off. I wake up through the night though when the dryer shuts off to refill or when it runs out of corn. I think it would be a good idea if Jon put in more wet corn holding capacity. I’d sleep even more soundly. In fact it would really be great if he dried corn for the entire neighborhood. I might turn into Rip Van Winkle.

The warm weather wasn’t all peaches and cream. Those pesky multicolored Asian lady beetles were out once again in full force Saturday and Sunday. They also became squatters in many area houses.  Some are still convinced that the lady beetles only come out of soybean fields but that theory doesn’t make much sense. There simply isn’t much for them to eat when the soybean aphids leave for the buckthorn once the soybeans turn. They do however have food in the corn in the form of bird-cherry oat aphids and English grain aphids. This was very evident when I drove past a recently picked field of sweet corn on Saturday. The lady beetles were practically flying out of there in swarms as they bounced off the windshield.

The autumn winds mean that baseball will soon be at an end. No Yankees! Yay! It also means that the leaves on the trees will be coming to a close. The sheep at the ranch appear content with that. With pastures running lower and likely getting monotonous, some freshly fallen leaves offer some welcome variety. The ewes certainly seem happy going leaf to leaf, gobbling them up soon after they’ve fallen. It makes for an interesting line between the yard and the pasture after a while. Leaves on the lawn side of the fence with none on the pasture side. I’m guessing if we opened the fence up they’d probably eat the leaves off the lawn. I’m also guessing they’d eat them along with anything else they could reach.

More of the fall birds are coming to the feeders as well as the squirrels on their ear corn. There’s a large group of chickadees in seemingly perpetual motion between the twigs and the red feeder during daylight hours. The large blue jays have arrived too, contending with the squirrels for kernels of corn from time to time. Some wonder why I feed the squirrels. There is a method to my madness. There is plenty of ear corn leftover from yield checks to feed squirrels and pheasants when needed.  It helps keep the squirrels from attempting to raid the bird feeders and watching them gives Ruby something to occupy her mind since we hide the TV remote when we’re gone. Don’t want her watching Gunsmoke unsupervised.
     
Mrs. Cheviot and I were finally able to make one more trip in the Studebaker with the nice forenoon on Sunday. Auntie Mar Mar and Unkie Gregory joined us about 10 a.m. and we motored for one of our favorite little spots in Madison Lake. Tweed no longer owns it but it has maintained its integrity. The leaves were somewhat disappointing along the way as the winds beneficial to harvest were detrimental to our leaf watching. Around Madison Lake itself and even locally there was still some color. The rest of the area was past peak with many of the leaves being down already. Didn’t matter. The food was tasty as always and we kept ourselves entertained without constant reliance on cell phones or other annoyances. Unkie Gregory and I discussing the Silver Hawk overdrive was about as deep as we needed to get into technology. Of course Auntie Mar Mar left some cookies for me to nosh on gain. Reckon she knows it’ll be another long hard winter.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #734 on: October 29, 2019, 11:40:43 AM »
Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?

The scurs and the Weather Eye got back making a good harvest forecast once again. The fly in the ointment was they didn’t see the s-word coming on Monday. Will we see weather to get us to the finish line or will we be stuck in a pit stop?  Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy Sunday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain and snow. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid- 20’s. On the 3rd we turn our clocks back one hour from that insipid human health experiment known as Daylight Saving Time. On the 4th the sun will set at 5 p.m. CST. The normal high for November 4th is 50 and the normal low is 30. The scurs will enjoy their extra hour of sleep Sunday a.m., nestled in with their Halloween loot.
 
Harvest continues to grind along. Most soybeans are harvested although it was amazing when out and about Monday how many scattered fields were still not combined. Much of the corn being harvested has reached the low 20% moisture range and will probably be stuck there barring an unforeseen warm up. It’s making it difficult for systems to move grain through as fast as some would like. One positive is that shelling at the head is minimal. Brittle snap continues to be a hot topic especially if you happened to be one of the unlucky recipients. Yields are all over the board on those fields depending on the severity. Where there were no excess water issues or brittle snap problems yields are similar to last year. Seems like those fields are the exception and not the rule the deeper into harvest we get. Tillage and anhydrous ammonia have also been challenging in some fields. Getting enough traction where surface soils were slick made some look for drier fields. Sealing properly has also been an issue for anhydrous applicators.

Just when it looked like we might get some late color out of the remaining trees in the countryside the hard freeze Monday morning dashed those hopes. The Norway maple in the yard at the ranch can be quite showy if the weather allows. It was starting to turn over the weekend but the Monday a.m. 23 degree low had the leaves coming off big time by noon in the breeze. The pale yellow leaves on the ground are OK to look at but those still on the tree are a a dead olive color which doesn’t do much for me or anyone else. The red oak was sending early signals that it might be pretty once again. There were subtle signs of red coloration in a few leaves, were being the operative term. A dull rusty brown is likely all we’ll see.

One is reminded quickly why so many of us detest winter. It seemed like we had an unusually short summer because in large part because it was so slow to get here. Snow was still present in mid-April and the furnace ran  much of May and probably in June a few nights. Then all the sudden it’s back to snowing and cold in October! Getting everything ready for winter seems like it takes more time than it used to as well. Draining hoses, putting heaters in water tanks, dumping flower pots, shoveling screenings and digging canna bulbs. Next thing you know I’ll be putting the tire chains back on to haul manure. Gee, I can hardly wait.

Taking a water break from winter preparations it’s fun to gawk quick at the birds coming to the feeders as well as the fruit trees. Sunday there were several small groups of cedar waxwings working over the nannyberries and crabapples. After replacing the hummingbird and oriole feeders the downy woodpeckers were picking away at the suet feeders. Fortunately we haven’t seen the sudden influx of starlings that usually monopolize the fruit and suet. Hopefully that’s the start of a trend.
 
I find it interesting to see a recent push by some fast food restaurants to promote burgers made from plants. OK, I’m fine with eating plants and I’ve been doing it for most of my life. We’ve had a garden every year, planted lots of fruit trees and I’ve eaten plenty of corn and soybeans raw at harvest time for decades. I’ve also eaten textured vegetable protein touted as a meat substitute. While not totally disgusting, you can tell it isn’t meat and it tends to lead to flatulence. I gravitate to locally produced meat including that which we raise ourselves. Been doing that most of my life too. I tend to shy away from highly processed food and that’s exactly what this fake meat is. The fewer chemicals and processes my food is exposed to within reason the better I like it. I’m crossing restaurants promoting fake burgers off my list of potential places to eat. What I find ironic is that no one’s promoting meat that tastes like plants. Now why do you suppose that is?

It was 35 Octobers ago that we first moved in at the ranch. It was a house on a 3.5 acre building site complete with an older set of out buildings but it was home. Hooked directly to the natural gas pipeline there was never a worry about running out of fuel or being cold. You just turned the thermostat up. Hadn’t thought of it but the Big Dubya mentioned this past summer that we’ve lived where we are longer than anyone else on the road. I hadn’t been keeping track I guess although it’s probably true. I know that there have been several neighbors who have come and gone before we even knew who they were. Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?

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

Online mike89

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #735 on: October 29, 2019, 11:53:35 AM »
I find it interesting to see a recent push by some fast food restaurants to promote burgers made from plants. OK, I’m fine with eating plants and I’ve been doing it for most of my life. We’ve had a garden every year, planted lots of fruit trees and I’ve eaten plenty of corn and soybeans raw at harvest time for decades. I’ve also eaten textured vegetable protein touted as a meat substitute. While not totally disgusting, you can tell it isn’t meat and it tends to lead to flatulence. I gravitate to locally produced meat including that which we raise ourselves. Been doing that most of my life too. I tend to shy away from highly processed food and that’s exactly what this fake meat is. The fewer chemicals and processes my food is exposed to within reason the better I like it. I’m crossing restaurants promoting fake burgers off my list of potential places to eat. What I find ironic is that no one’s promoting meat that tastes like plants. Now why do you suppose that is?

2nd this!!!!!!!!!!   :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #736 on: November 05, 2019, 11:35:50 AM »
Time may change me but I can't trace time

The scurs and the Weather Eye kept it relatively dry once again. Never mind the snow on Tuesday. This too shall pass. Will it slow harvest or bring it to screeching halt?  Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low teens. Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the low double digits. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance for evening snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny Sunday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper double digits. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows near 10. Cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows near 10. There is good news and bad news since we switched back to Central Standard Time. The bad news is sun started to set before 5 p.m. on the 5th and as of the 7th we’ll be below 10 hours of daylight. The good news is that the sun will rise at 7 a.m. on the 9th.  The Full Moon arrives on the 12th. The normal high for November 12th is 44 and the normal low is 26. Looks like the scurs will be getting out their long winter gatkes early this season.

Harvest continues as we continue on our colder than normal trend in November. Looking at this week’s forecast, we’re down about 10 degrees on both the high and the lows from last week. While we’re fortunate we haven’t seen a lot of precipitation, we certainly aren’t dropping much moisture on the corn. Evidence of yield losses from brittle snap continues to mount although as farmers have started picking later planted corn, there tend to be fewer issues with it. In fact in some cases those late May and early June planted fields have yielded remarkably well, certainly better than some of the horror stories from the brittle snap and down corn fields.

The Full Moon is on the 12th and generally goes by the Full Beaver Moon, named for the large part time water dwelling rodents trapped for their fur before the waters froze. Their pelts were a driving force behind the fur trade becoming very popular for the manufacture of hats in Europe. The Ojibwe knew this moon as The Freezing Moon and the Lakota Sioux called it The Moon when Winter Begins. That sounds pretty accurate right about now. At the ranch, it is the Moon when Barns are Cleaned, we hope.

At the ranch we continue our transition into winter. The first large pile of screenings was scooped up, deposited in the gravity box and brought home from the kindly neighbors. The sheep are fond of them and the kindly neighbors too for that matter. As the pastures begin to dwindle and they have done so rapidly with the cold weather, it’s important that the bred ewes start to receive a little better nutrition. Not so much however that you kill them with kindness. Overly fat ewes are notorious for going down before lambing. Treatments when it happens are often unrewarding. Frequently it means dead lambs, a dead ewe or both. Screenings offer a convenient source of nutrition that allows one a little leeway. The sheep seem to like the bees wings almost as much as they like the small pieces of cracked corn. There could be a whole new market there for farmers wanting to clean up around their bin sites. A few sheep to clean up the bees wings and problem solved.
 
The birds haven’t been as active as some years although with the cold weather, the suet feeding woodpeckers have staked a claim to the horizontal feeders. So did the house sparrows on the feeder not equipped with a deterrent. More problem solving. In the past, I’d used the same trick that some use to keep house sparrows out of bluebird houses, fishing weights suspended with fishing line on either side of the entrance on the blue bird house or on this case on at least two corners of the suet feeder. Since they’re not very adept at flying vertically or upside down sparrows and starlings don’t like being thrown off course running into the line and will avoid it. However, I discovered a woodpecker entangled in the fishing line last winter and after setting it free decided there had to be something with less injury potential. There was.
 
I swiped a few pieces of florist wire from Mrs. Cheviot and affixed it with the fishing weights to a couple of the feeders. It worked beautifully to keep both sparrows and starlings away. Initially last winter I’d tried putting a spacer between the suet and the screen on the bottom of the feeder so the sparrows with their stubby beaks couldn’t access it easily. That worked except when it was windy (when wasn’t it windy last winter?) the spacers would shift allowing the suet to get closer to the screen on one side. The spacers also had limited effects on the starlings with their longer beaks and once the sparrows figured it out, it was back to square one. That’s when I tried the florist wire and found it to be not only effective but safe as well. Last week I noticed the sparrows were already back at the remaining feeder without it so I wired up a couple of fishing weights as I had on the other suet feeders and voila! No more sparrows, only woodpeckers eating to their little hearts content.

Time continues to take its toll on our aging bodies at the ranch including Ruby’s. She’s always done a patented Border Collie triple spin move when we come out the door for chores. About a month ago she must’ve tweaked her hind foot doing that and has been favoring it ever since. Mrs. Cheviot has a foot that’s been bothering for going on a year now and can’t wait to get off it at night. Standing at work on it 6-7 days a week doesn’t help. Something in my left shoulder snapped many moons ago. I frequently wake up at night in pain. My left knee lost a battle with a ram’s head a few years back. It sorta locks up sometimes and I hobble around like Chester on Gunsmoke. Both joints make snapping, crackling, and popping noises. Pretty sure it’s not Rice Krispies related. Bottom line is we’ve all become gimps at the ranch and we’d better buck up, buttercup. When the going gets tough, it’s time to take a nap.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #737 on: November 12, 2019, 11:58:58 AM »
Clowns to the left of me! Jokers to the right!

Once the scurs got the Weather Eye dug out of the snow, it was time for this week’s forecast. Will they be digging out of the snow again or will it be mud this week? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s.  Saturday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance for evening snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy Sunday with a slight chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 30’s. Cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. At the halfway point in the month on Friday the 15th, the normal high is 42 and the normal low is 25. The scurs are starting to wonder when Indian summer will make its appearance. Apparently it skips a year or several.

Snow stopped corn harvest in its tracks last week. With wet snow amounts in the 4” range common locally it hung up on ears and leaves in the corn. It then proceeded to hang on for a couple days. Anyone who has ever plugged a combine full of snow knows that it’s simply not worth trying it until it comes off the plant at least at the temperatures we had. Corn dryers can be heard running almost constantly amidst rumblings of LP shortages. That was the one positive about the harvest delay: it allowed LP supplies to catch up at least temporarily. There are folks in this area drying with natural gas in places and there are more this fall now that the gas company has decided to run lines to several of the turkey barns and allow people to hook up on those lines. Natural gas is plentiful and cheap at this point so it only makes sense if you can get on the line. Many rural homeowners along those new lines were also allowed to hook up so it might be interesting to see if this trend continues.

With snow farmers keeping their distance waiting for the snow to come off the corn, tillage became the order of the day. With memories of last fall’s incomplete primary tillage there was a constant roar as the ground was worked. Unfortunately tillage was hampered in places not so much from the snow as from the cold. Ground froze fairly solid with low temperatures sliding into the single digits overnight on the 7th and 8th. That meant varying degrees of tillage success depending on cover particularly before and after corn was picked. For the third fall in a row there were tales of woe as primary tillage equipment came back to the yard with parts missing. The frozen soil also put a damper on some anhydrous ammonia applications as the ground wasn’t sealing properly in some fields.

The snowfall convinced me it was time to move bale feeders and round bales into their winter positions. Small square bales are tight at the ranch so feeding the more plentiful round bales would seem the prudent thing to do. Thursday morning the ground had frozen solid and kept me from rutting it up while transporting the bales and equipment. The sheep were well down in the pasture so I left the gate open as I started. Within a matter of minutes they smelled the open gate and were running across the yard for the road. That made me long for Mom’s good old Fudgie, the Border Collie who ruled open gates with iron jaws.  After a lot of on and off, closing gates, assembling feeders, hauling bales etc., the sheep seemed appreciative, at first. Within a matter of a few hours though they were back out in the pasture consuming plants that still had anything remotely resembling green tissue. Fussy.
 
At the ranch we’re getting closer to ready for barn cleaning although first we needed to get the sheep back from the kindly neighbors’ pasture. Sunday was looking like an unlikely day as the temperatures made the soil surface greasy in the early afternoon. Picking up screenings at the kindly neighbors’ it was apparent that the temps were starting to fall as the afternoon wore on. A tractor was parked where we needed to get into the pasture and when it suddenly moved that was our cue. I fed the sheep, locked them in and took the screenings wagon home. Mrs. Cheviot and I returned a few minutes later with the pickup and trailer to pick them and their equipment up. They loaded fairly easily and within a matter of a half hour we were down the road with them.
 
The ewes and one ram had a decent run from early June until November 10th. For several years it was tradition that we’d pick them up around Thanksgiving weekend. Weather being what it’s been it was logical to get them while the getting was good. Last year they came home in early December so their stay was shortened this time. It was still well worth it even though the fence seemed to be grounded out just about the time one needs to get home. The flying biting insects can make it a little more daunting as well. The bluebirds that inhabit the nesting boxes temporarily make one forget about that, gentle little souls that they are. Every year a few more broods are produced and make the summer’s passing more enjoyable.
 
At home the birds continue their winter behavior. Recently some goldfinches have returned to the feeders, dressed in their winter olive drab. They’re not numerous yet although their numbers are increasing. The downies and hairies have latched onto the suet feeders like it’s the middle of winter probably because the temperatures are like the middle of winter. The red-bellied woodpeckers compete with the squirrels for kernels of corn on the ears supplied to their feeder. I’m doing another squirrel experiment this year. It’s cheap entertainment and I’m easily amused. Last year it was white cob vs. red cob corn. This year it’s organically produced corn compared to conventionally raised GMO corn, alternating its placement in the feeder to see if there’s a preference. So far, regardless of which type is placed where, they eat the corn off the ear on the right first. About the only conclusion I can draw from this is that we have right handed squirrels.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #738 on: November 19, 2019, 01:08:10 PM »
Please don't bury me down in that cold cold ground

Once the scurs pried the Weather Eye loose from the frozen tundra to thaw out for another forecast. Will it get washed off or buried in the snow? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid- 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, cloudy with a good chance of forenoon snow and rain. Temperatures falling throughout the day to an overnight low in the upper teens. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny Sunday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. On the 20th we slip below 9 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. The normal high for November 20th is 38 and the normal low is 22. A sneak peek ahead to Thanksgiving indicates a high in the mid-30’s with lows in the low 20’s. The scurs have their larder full for Thanksgiving Day with special emphasis on pumpkin pie and whipped cream.
 
Fall tillage largely came to a screeching halt as the ground froze down to about 5” on the 11th at the SROC. This was confirmed by tiling operations in the area. It was reinforced by lows in the low single digits on the 12th & 13th. Even though the ground was frozen making it solid underfoot, the cold temperatures kept most from running their dryers to finish off the last of the corn they were picking. Temperatures remained below freezing until the weekend.
Once temps got above freezing then the soil surface became greasy and mud collected between the combine duals. That mud wound up on roads and had to be scraped off in many cases. Here and there tillage was being attempted although most were reporting less than ideal conditions or results. Several said it was depending on the area of the field. The upland areas would go while the lower ground would require the implement to be raised to get enough traction. On the north sides of groves soils remained frozen so tillage wasn’t an option.
 
Anhydrous ammonia applications were also not possible. The greasy soil surface if you could get the knives in the ground wasn’t sealing and again, there were more tales of applicators performing less than ideally. While the old adage that poor fall primary tillage is better than good spring primary tillage may be true, the same cannot be said of poor fall anhydrous ammonia application. If the primary goal of the application is just to cross tasks off the list, it’s probably OK. However, using that kind of logic might require some additional thought given the tight or nonexistent margins. While I’ve seldom heard anyone say their fall anhydrous went on poorly I’ve heard plenty say their crop ran out of nitrogen the next summer in such cases. Hmmm…

Neighbor Jon got the tractor ready to go so it’s ready for winter. A spin on oil filter conversion kit was installed as was another set of hydraulic outlets with an electric switch in the cab. This will allow me to turn the tilt on the bucket off and run the directional spout on the snow blower, all without leaving the cab.  In addition he did some surgery modifying the snow blower that also made me happy. It will be nice to back up to the blower and pick it up with the quick hitch as opposed to making several attempts to get it lined up with the three point. Somehow as I get older the notion of getting in and out of a warm cab in the winter is overrated.

At the ranch the weather has also put some of our operations on hold. I’d waited for the kindly neighbor to start up his corn dryer again following the cold temperatures so I could finish getting the screenings picked up there. Saturday morning arrived and I was able to complete that task while the ground was mostly frozen. I was informed by a former but not as yet retired pygmy goat farmer that he had some screenings to be cleaned up under the dryer so we scraped those up Sunday a.m. By the time the Vikings game was over I’d decided it was a good time to back the wagon in the shed. It also allowed the skidsteer to warm up while backing the wagon in so the oil could be changed for the winter.

The skidsteer provides a wonderful method for backing wagons into tight spots. Backing the wagon down the hill into the shed can be interesting though especially when traction is limiting. Sunday was no exception. While the surface soil on the north facing slope was thawed, there was still frost in the ground. Getting the wagon moving was a challenge although once I did, there was no stopping it until the wagon made the level. It was a helpless feeling as the skidsteer slid down the hill with wagon attached. Luckily the wagon didn’t jackknife and the skidsteer remained upright. When it reached the inch and quarter rock I was home free and stuck the wagon right where I wanted it. Another crisis narrowly averted.

A major hold up keeping me from hauling manure has been the same soil surface issues. I’d best not spread manure on the field going into soybeans around our buildings since the cornstalks we used as bedding contained clopyralid. Seeing what happens to soybeans after the fact isn’t worth the risk especially when it’s close to the road where everyone can see it! I can however haul down the road a quarter mile to the Dubya’s field that will be going into corn. It’ll add some time to the hauling but at least it won’t kill anything it shouldn’t next year. Cool temperatures won’t allow much soil surface drying to occur however. The ground needs to freeze solid enough so it’ll pull the spreader without tracking a lot of mud. Better than winding up buried in the cold ground where everyone can see it I reckon.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #739 on: November 26, 2019, 11:42:03 AM »
Outside's the rain, the driving snow

Once the scurs dialed the Weather Eye in last week and wound up with the rain as forecast. Are our fortunes about to change to snow, will we see more liquid instead or some of both? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-teens. Thanksgiving Day mostly cloudy with a good chance of snow by evening. Temperatures remaining steady throughout the day at 28. Cloudy on Friday with a good chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows around 30.  Saturday, cloudy with a good chance of morning rain changing to all snow. Highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy Sunday with a good chance of snow before noon.  Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low teens.. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows around 10. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows around 10. On the 3rd the sun will rise at 7:30 a.m. and on the 5th it sets at 4:46 p.m. and continues to do so up through the 13th. On the 9th we are down to 9 hours of daylight. The normal high for December 1st is 32 and the normal low is 16. Having put Thanksgiving under their loosened belts the scurs can focus on Christmas shopping procrastination.
 
2019 is likely going to go down as the year of ornery weather and rightfully so. As it has at the ranch, it seems like just about the time we’re getting a leg up, Mother Nature and now Old Man Winter backhands us into reality. One has needed to be opportunistic. With the freezing conditions late last week and into the early part of the weekend, much fall tillage was accomplished in a short period of time. Some attempts at anhydrous ammonia applications were made with largely disappointing results. As one astute observer put it, it was like knifing it into peanut butter. There were also some who desperately wanted to bale cornstalks for bedding yet. Last week’s rain put a damper on that and while a few days of nice weather teased us, the end result was no baling done. Moldy or wet cornstalks that wind up smoldering aren’t an option, not a good one anyway.

At the ranch it continues to frustrate us as well. 3rd cutting hay never materialized and we’ve been trying to stretch our hay supply as far as we can. Another round bale feeder designed for sheep is due for early December so the goofy yearling ewes will be forced to eat the round bales rather than use them for gymnastics. Watching the brood ewes completely devour their first round bale while working hard on a second one convinced me there’s no margin for error. Those feeders aren’t cheap but neither is hay. It doesn’t take long at these prices for them to pay for themselves. Best of all, these are steel and built heavy enough so they’ve passed the durability test. Even the rams haven’t figured out how to wreck them.

As with many rural residents we were taking the snowy forecast to heart. Being prepared is half the battle. The yard and feedlots were cleared of anything that might go through the snow blower. As many things as possible were put away and stored inside. Sure, it would have been nice to have the barns cleaned too but after the rain last week and greasy soil surface conditions I wouldn’t have been on a lot of Christmas card lists. If it snows as much as advertised, it will likely mean putting the chains on just to get in and out of the field. Running up and down the blacktop with chains on really isn’t an option. Even if it gets stockpiled, it will still get cleaned one way or the other.

Earlier this fall/winter Mrs. Cheviot spied some small cones in the spruce tree outside the living room window. They were just the right size for some of the decorations being made for the holidays so I grabbed a small container worth. I could only reach so high so on Sunday I backed the Gator up to the tree and was able to harvest a paper grocery bag full. Once inside and warmed up the pitch on the cones stuck to my hands. Sticking my head in the bag, the aroma was that of the north woods in Canada. Had wanted to make one more journey that direction but things are looking grim. The bag of spruce cones was a nice reminder though.

On Sunday Mrs. Cheviot requested another batch of red osier dogwood for holiday decorating. With the ground conditions not conducive to barn cleaning, I grabbed the pruners and set off to see what I could find. I’d been on foot last year but this time I wanted to explore into the CREP acreage so I took the Gator. I’d learned that decorators primarily want the single stemmed twigs, the longer and redder the better. Something I noticed this year after seeing where I’d taken twigs last year was there were frequently two nice long straight stems replacing the one I’d taken. It’s nearly impossible to kill dogwood by cutting it so I did some pruning on the main bushes to see if that would stimulate more desirable regrowth for next year.
 
My foray into the CREP acreage uncovered a goldmine. There was dogwood scattered all over the acreage. Some had been established a while as the bark on the bushes had turned from striking red to gray. While perch trees aren’t welcome, something shrubby with wildlife potential like is a positive. There were some nests in the dogwood bushes themselves and the white berries are bird favorites. That’s likely how they came to be in the CREP acreage in the first place. Along with the pussy willows, American cranberry and the spruce cones from the yard, decorating material originating from our humble little acreage may wind up in your house sooner or later. Better than in my garage!
 
And finally we planned ahead. Over the weekend we got the Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings locally as we almost always have. It’s great to have a plentiful supply of food and access to it locally. More than we know, we are blessed.
 
See you next week…real good then. 
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #740 on: December 03, 2019, 12:02:13 PM »
I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink

The scurs and the Weather Eye dished up a snowy forecast last week. Do they have it out of their system or will shovels and snow blowers be working overtime again? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Thursday mostly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens.  Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy Sunday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 20’s and lows around 10. Sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the upper teens. On the 9th we are down to 9 hours of daylight. The Full Moon will occur on the 11th . The normal high for December 11th is 27 and the normal low is 11. The scurs are wasting no time Christmas shopping. They’ll wait until the night of the 24th for that.

The Full Moon for the month of December comes on the 11th this year and goes by the name of The Full Cold Moon. It also goes by The Long Night’s Moon as the moon is high in the sky opposite a low sun. It is also known as The Moon before the Yule. The Ojibwe knew this as The Small Spirits Moon and the Sioux called it The Moon When Deer Shed their Antlers. At the ranch we not so affectionately call it the Moon of Frozen Water Buckets, something you can make book on from now until well into March.

Remaining field work and/or harvest came to another screeching last week as heavy snow falling on the 26th and 27th made getting traction difficult, especially after soils had thawed underneath. Fortunately most were able to get their corn harvest and a major portion of their tillage done. With frozen ground Monday there were scattered farmers out ripping again. Anhydrous ammonia and injected manure applications have been largely abandoned at least for the time being. Odds are unless we see the weather do a complete 180, that’s likely the way it’ll stay.

Area lakes that were well on their way to freezing over back in mid-November opened up once again. Not totally unexpected although some had already done some ice fishing on smaller lakes. A large flock of geese could still be heard within earshot of the ranch Sunday night. Monday a.m. they had kept the water open in the NW corner of the St. Olaf Lake. By Tuesday a.m. the ice covered the lake again and the geese were gone. They must’ve decided to get out while the getting was still good.

If you’ve been thinking this has been a strange year we have some evidence of this at the ranch. We had two ewes that came off the kindly neighbors’ pasture showing signs that they were likely to lamb sooner than later. Sure enough Saturday night after chores I’d decide to dump several buckets of water in the tank by the lambing barn. It was quicker than hooking up the hose and would hold them for a day. Just as I was dumping the last one and headed back to the main barn I heard what sounded like a new lamb. Sure enough when I turned the lights on I could see a couple sets of ears about belly high on a ewe.
 
I got them scooped up and with the ewe following as Ruby tailed her, we headed off to the main barn. It wasn’t the ewe I’d been keeping an eye on that had lambed back in early February last year. It’s very unusual for us to see lambs on the ground in November and December without doing some hormone treatments. In fact in the 32 years we’ve been raising Cheviots, this is only the 2nd time we’ve had ewes pull it off. Something else that was unusual was the twins were both ewe lambs. Typically when we’ve been caught off guard they’re almost always no account buck lambs. This ewe was bred in early July as the gestation on a ewe is 147 – 152 days, approximately five months. The moderate June temperatures probably didn’t hurt.

It’s been tough to clean barn yet although with the ground freezing up overnight Sunday and continuing to do so the rest of the week it should allow a window of opportunity to get it done. In the meantime the birds have shifted gears with the snow cover. More goldfinches are coming to their feeders, woodpeckers are hitting the suet harder and the chickadees run a relay from twig to the sunflower feeder and back. The squirrels have dibs on the ear corn feeder when the blue jays aren’t around. They have a symbiotic relationship going with the cardinal who picks up the pieces of cracked corn the squirrels leave behind. Pheasants are also coming through the yard. Five roosters and one hen cautiously made their way across the north side of the grove on Sunday. Was beginning to think they were extinct.
 
Ruby has been busy this winter despite her limp. Keeping an eye on the neighborhood during the day then barking at dogs on TV at night keeps her occupied. Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot more dogs being used in television advertising these days? There are more ads for dog related products but they’re showing up more in ads for everything from automobiles, beer, credit cards and snacks. This makes it tough to sleep when you doze off and Ruby is watching the tube.
 
Ruby recently had Thanksgiving to supervise along with keeping her olfactory senses and ears on duty in case something should happen to hit the floor. Plenty of dishes to clean off and best of all the traditional giblets from the turkey on the grill. Gotta keep that coat thick and shiny so we have lots of hair to sweep up. We’ve threatened to get a Roomba. Not sure how well it might work but it would certainly torment her. Odds are she’d hide for days after dealing with that. Might curtail some of the barking at the TV and allow us to get some shuteye.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #741 on: December 10, 2019, 10:56:49 AM »
There's lots of shady characters and lots of dirty deals

The scurs and the Weather Eye were on the mark last week with moderate temperatures and little precipitation. Will we get more of the same or suffer from freezer burn? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a slight chance of evening snow. Steady temperatures around zero with temps rising to around 10 above in the overnight. Thursday mostly cloudy with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper teens.  Saturday, cloudy with another modest chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the mid-single digits above zero. Mostly cloudy Sunday with highs in the mid-teens and lows in the mid-single digits above zero. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper teens with lows in the mid-teens. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-teens. On the 14th the sun will set at 4:37p.m. CST, one minute later than it did a week ago. The bad news is we are down to 8 hours and 55 minutes of daylight on the 17th. The normal high for December 17th is 25 and the normal low is 9.As the holiday approaches, the scurs are doubling down on their Christmas shopping procrastination courtesy of the shorter days.

Not much in the way of field operations except the odd field where manure was applied or some headlands were worked. One could smell some of what was likely surface applications of swine manure although it dissipated relatively quickly with cold temperatures. Some of the last corn in the area to be harvested made it into the bin. There is still the odd soybean field left to harvest. Those are likely to be there a while barring some miraculous turn of weather events. Snow between the rows makes them unlikely candidates for harvest any time soon.

At the ranch we were fortunate to get a shot at cleaning the main barn so we took advantage of it. I’d noticed a friend had spread some manure the day before and after gathering some advice from him, I hit the field. This of course was after pulling a wagon out of the barn, taking the chains off the tractor, putting the forks on the skidsteer and hooking up to the spreader after greasing everything prior to that. Oh yeah and then finally take down some panels in order to get at the poop. It’s almost as time consuming prepping as it is doing the actual barn cleaning.
 
Hauling went about like I figured on frozen, worked ground. In other words it was rougher than a cob. At least it was frozen and I didn’t break through, which might’ve happened the day before. Something I’d been forewarned about was the snow was deeper than expected. I loaded the first load about normal and found places where there was still a foot of snow. Not a problem when loaded going downhill but trying to get back off the field it was time to speed up in order to make it through those spots. Eight loads later the main part of the barn was finally clean, something I was starting to think would never happen.

The lambs born the prior weekend kept me entertained, sort of. While getting closer in the pack to their pen I noticed  a couple spots where there was an opening an ambitious lamb might slip through. My mind was preoccupied with getting as much done as possible so didn’t think much of it. After coming back from the field I heard a ewe having a hissy fit about something. From the cab I also noticed two small escape artists perched atop of the manure pack having the time of their life. In a week’s time they’d become nearly impossible to catch. I was reminded by my buddy Billy about his friend who used to use a landing net to capture escapees such as these. Not a lot of style points perhaps but who’s keeping score?

After dragging my beat up bones out of bed the next morning it was off to St. Cloud for a rendezvous with a sheep hay manger manufacturer. The yearling ewes’ habit of wasting hay had worn thin so time to invest in another round bale feeder to keep the hay where it belonged. Got there right on schedule. Within15 minutes the feeders were loaded and money along with BS was exchanged. If you see some suspicious activity between shady characters in a parking lot with livestock trailers and old pickups, chances are there’s a deal going down between a couple sheep guys. No contraband involved, just how commerce is done.

Sunday the feeder was put together and installed after unhooking the manure spreader and putting the bale spear on the 3 point. A bale was placed in it and just like that it was in service. No more ewe lambs using round bales as a gymnastic apparatus or a toilet. Off to work a Lion’s pancake feed which was followed by a short nap during a boring second half of Vikings football. Time to get things put away before Old Man Winter returned. Dropped the forks off the skidsteer, put the bucket back on and checked the lambing barn. Sure enough the ewe we’d been waiting for was starting the birthing process so time to move her after backing the screenings wagon back in the barn.
 
Started putting the chains back on the tractor rather than having them freeze down in the yard. Checked the small barn to see there was already a lamb on the ground. In a few minutes we moved the ewe with the lamb down the main barn and bedded the pen. A half hour later a second lamb hit the ground causing a huge sigh of relief. Both lambs got off to a good start in the mild conditions. With a cold snap on the way, having the lambs on the ground and started ahead of the onslaught was a definite plus. Do they know when rough weather is coming? Sometimes you wonder.
 
See you next week…real good then. 
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #742 on: December 16, 2019, 12:49:41 PM »
Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do

The scurs and the Weather Eye forecast little precipitation and that’s what we got. We also got cold temperatures. Are we due for a warm up or destined to remain buried at the bottom of the freezer? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Thursday partly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens.  Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. A sneak peek at Christmas Day calls for partly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the mid-single digits. We are down to 8 hours and 54 minutes of daylight on the 21st, the shortest day for daylight of the year. The normal high for December 21st is 24 and the normal low is 7. The normal high for Christmas Day is 24 and the normal low is 6. The scurs have another Christmas shopping season under their belts. The Human Fund has come in handy once again. Happy Festivus!

Since this is a shortened week this may be a slightly abbreviated column. Maybe not. Next week, you’re in luck. Since there is no column that one will really be abbreviated! I did however take the time to figure out about how many pages the past 17 years’ worth of columns has entailed. It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200, roughly the same as the Bible. I would suggest however that reading the Bible is probably better for you and parts of it are probably a lot funnier.

Snowfall this past week wasn’t plentiful but it was one of those weeks that snow accumulated without a lot of blowing. Across the countryside the snow amounted to around an inch after falling in several small doses. Not much reason to move it around the yard or plow it off the road so it’s a light velvet blanket on the landscape. One best not become too complacent however. I seem to recall buying a snow blower for the tractor last year and feeling smug when it didn’t snow much, until mid-January. 55” of snow later I was convinced  the purchase hadn’t been made in vain.

One thing about the snow is that one can get a handle on what’s out traipsing around simply by looking at the tracks. I was thinking perhaps we’d thinned the bunny herd this last summer. That observation turned out to be erroneous once the snow fell. There are cottontail tracks everywhere. Fortunately there are also indications that great horned owls are in the area. While watching Gunsmoke one night I could hear an owl during one of the scenes set around a campfire. The sound effects sounded very authentic I thought to myself. The odd thing was I kept hearing it when they cut away to a commercial and got back to a daytime scene. Opened the window a crack to listen. Sure enough, the owl had to be roosting in a tree nearby, hopefully waiting for a fat bunny to come along for supper.
   
The lambs born November 30th and December 8th continue to do well. Of course as soon as one writes about them, something bad seems to happen to one or more of them. Shortly after the column made print last week the ewe decided to lay on one of the latest arrivals. Not unusual and it happens, especially when the ewes aren’t shorn down ahead of lambing. Such was not the case this time as these were largely unscheduled lambs. Since the other ewes are likely to lambs in a few months and the shearer is booked that probably won’t happen. They are doing well and combining them into a group complete with creep feeder soon seems the logical course of action.

We should get a delivery of straw on Tuesday so it will be nice to have some bedding to finish our barn cleaning endeavors for the year. Straw has become like gold. If you can find it, good small square bales of straw go for $4 - $6 a bale. You read that right. If you want decent small squares of good hay, expect to pay anywhere from $6 - $10+ a bale. Making dry hay this past year was next to impossible over a large area of the upper Midwest. That and no one wants to go to all the work of baling, unloading and stacking small squares. Say the words “bale hay” and you can make even the most annoying individuals suddenly disappear.

As the cover continues to develop on our property the pheasants continue to appear over the course of the winter. Ruby was surprised the other morning to hear 8 – 10 of them take flight after they roosted overnight in the Scotch and Austrian pine. Numerous pheasants have wandered through the back yard as well, sneaking from spruce to spruce and eventually flying off into the CREP acreage. They’ve also been spotted in the windbreak under the arborvitae. There’s no need to feed them as the squirrels leave plenty of partially eaten kernels of corn behind after eating the germ.

The rest of our winter birds have been loyal about coming to the feeders. The branches of the smaller trees sag under the weight of the leghorn-sized blue jays. There are half-dozen chickadees that keep their favorite feeder busy when not hitting the suet feeder. Lots of juncos clean up on the ground although some use the thistle feeders on their own. A male cardinal appears from time to time and he is very wary. All the birds were cautious when a Cooper’s hawk set up shop in the yard this past Sunday. Bird activity around the yard came to a screeching halt aside from the round squirrel too busy stuffing its face to care. As fat as these squirrels have become odds are the hawk would never be able to gain altitude even if they did catch one. A rocket booster might help. I know several bird feeders who would like to put their squirrels in orbit.

Merry Christmas to all and may 2020 be a far better year than 2019!

See you next week…real good then.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 01:59:31 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #743 on: December 16, 2019, 01:36:14 PM »
No bullet points?  :tut:

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #744 on: December 16, 2019, 01:56:33 PM »
Better?  :rotflmao:

•   Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do...

•   The scurs and the Weather Eye forecast little precipitation and that’s what we got.
•   We also got cold temperatures. Are we due for a warm up or destined to remain buried at the bottom of the freezer?
•   Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-teens.
•   Thursday partly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens.
•   Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. 
•   Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens.
•   Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s.
•   Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s.
•   Cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of snow.
•   Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s.
•   A sneak peek at Christmas Day calls for partly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the mid-single digits.
•   We are down to 8 hours and 54 minutes of daylight on the 21st, the shortest day for daylight of the year.
•   The normal high for December 21st is 24 and the normal low is 7.
•   The normal high for Christmas Day is 24 and the normal low is 6.
•   The scurs have another Christmas shopping season under their belts.
•   The Human Fund has come in handy once again.
•   Happy Festivus!
•   Since this is a shortened week this may be a slightly abbreviated column.
•   Maybe not.
•   Next week, you’re in luck.
•   Since there is no column that one will really be abbreviated!
•   I did however take the time to figure out about how many pages the past 17 years’ worth of columns has entailed.
•   It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200, roughly the same as the Bible.
•   I would suggest however that reading the Bible is probably better for you and parts of it are probably a lot funnier.
•   Snowfall this past week wasn’t plentiful but it was one of those weeks that snow accumulated without a lot of
     blowing.
•   Across the countryside the snow amounted to around an inch after falling in several small doses.
•   Not much reason to move it around the yard or plow it off the road so it’s a light velvet blanket on the landscape.
•   One best not become too complacent however.
•   I seem to recall buying a snow blower for the tractor last year and feeling smug when it didn’t snow much, until mid-
     January.
•   55” of snow later I was convinced  the purchase hadn’t been made in vain.
•   One thing about the snow is that one can get a handle on what’s out traipsing around simply by looking at the tracks.
•   I was thinking perhaps we’d thinned the bunny herd this last summer.
•   That observation turned out to be erroneous once the snow fell.
•   There are cottontail tracks everywhere. Fortunately there are also indications that great horned owls are in the area.
•   While watching Gunsmoke one night I could hear an owl during one of the scenes set around a campfire.
•   The sound effects sounded very authentic I thought to myself.
•   The odd thing was I kept hearing it when they cut away to a commercial and got back to a daytime scene.
•   Opened the window a crack to listen.
•   Sure enough, the owl had to be roosting in a tree nearby, hopefully waiting for a fat bunny to come along for supper.
•   The lambs born November 30th and December 8th continue to do well.
•   Of course as soon as one writes about them, something bad seems to happen to one or more of them.
•   Shortly after the column made print last week the ewe decided to lay on one of the latest arrivals.
•   Not unusual and it happens, especially when the ewes aren’t shorn down ahead of lambing.
•   Such was not the case this time as these were largely unscheduled lambs.
•   Since the other ewes are likely to lambs in a few months and the shearer is booked that probably won’t happen.
•   They are doing well and combining them into a group complete with creep feeder soon seems the logical course of
     action.
•   We should get a delivery of straw on Tuesday so it will be nice to have some bedding to finish our barn cleaning
     endeavors for the year.
•   Straw has become like gold. If you can find it, good small square bales of straw go for $4 - $6 a bale.
•   You read that right.
•   If you want decent small squares of good hay, expect to pay anywhere from $6 - $10+ a bale.
•   Making dry hay this past year was next to impossible over a large area of the upper Midwest.
•   That and no one wants to go to all the work of baling, unloading and stacking small squares.
•   Say the words “bale hay” and you can make even the most annoying individuals suddenly disappear.
•   As the cover continues to develop on our property the pheasants continue to appear over the course of the winter.
•   Ruby was surprised the other morning to hear 8 – 10 of them take flight after they roosted overnight in the Scotch
     and Austrian pine.
•   Numerous pheasants have wandered through the back yard as well, sneaking from spruce to spruce and eventually
     flying off into the CREP acreage.
•   They’ve also been spotted in the windbreak under the arborvitae.
•   There’s no need to feed them as the squirrels leave plenty of partially eaten kernels of corn behind after eating the
     germ.
•   The rest of our winter birds have been loyal about coming to the feeders.
•   The branches of the smaller trees sag under the weight of the leghorn-sized blue jays.
•   There are half-dozen chickadees that keep their favorite feeder busy when not hitting the suet feeder.
•   Lots of juncos clean up on the ground although some use the thistle feeders on their own.
•   A male cardinal appears from time to time and he is very wary.
•   All the birds were cautious when a Cooper’s hawk set up shop in the yard this past Sunday.
•   Bird activity around the yard came to a screeching halt aside from the round squirrel too busy stuffing its face to
     care.
•   As fat as these squirrels have become odds are the hawk would never be able to gain altitude even if they did catch
     one.
•   A rocket booster might help.
•   I know several bird feeders who would like to put their squirrels in orbit.
•   Merry Christmas to all and may 2020 be a far better year than 2019!
•   See you next week…real good then.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 02:46:54 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #745 on: December 16, 2019, 01:58:29 PM »
 :confused: :doofus: :doofus: :laughroll: :laughroll: :laughroll:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #746 on: December 27, 2019, 11:30:36 AM »
  • Early print deadline this week. Don't ask me how that works  :confused:

It's the evening of another day and the end of mine

The last forecast of 2019 found the scurs and their vaunted Weather Eye predicting a warm up with very little precip. And we got it. Are our weather fortunes about to change in the New Year or will it be more of the same? Starting New Year’s Day, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thursday mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-teens. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the mid-single digits. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the upper teens and lows in the mid-single digits. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper teens with lows in the mid-single digits. We are slowly but surely gaining daylight. On New Year’s Day we will see 8 hours and 59 minutes of daylight, having gained 5 minutes from the winter solstice. The sun will rise at 7:48 a.m. and set at 4:47 CST. The normal high for New Year’s Day is 23 and the normal low is 5. With Christmas disappearing fast in the rearview mirror, the scurs can relax and watch the sun while settling in for a long winter’s nap.

Not a lot going on with field activity this past week. Frost depth was measured at 7” under bare soil at the SROC on the 23rd.  Snow melted off many of the blacker fields making it muddy again for those having some pack manure to haul. Fortunately we should return to sub-freezing conditions at least during evening hours so that should help lessen the potential for mud tracked on the road. The recent warmer temps did mean people were more willing to work outside on projects they meant to do in the fall. Eventually we should be ready for winter. If last year was any indication odds are it’ll be back with a vengeance.

It’s been no different at the ranch. Some of the things that have been sleeping outside were put away and some of the messes that were a nuisance were cleaned up with the warmer temps. There are still plenty of things to be put in their proper places yet so hopefully it stays warmer than much of November and early December. It seems like it’s been a long winter already and we’ve barely scratched the surface.
 
The recent warmth has made chores more pleasant that’s for sure. Anytime you don’t have to smash ice out of water buckets in December it’s a moral victory. The heaters don’t run as much in the water tanks so that’s a financial bonus. Lack of precipitation along with the warmer conditions means the ewe flock sleeps outside and that’s a plus from an animal health standpoint. Few things will make sheep sick faster than confining them in a barn and closing the door this time of year. Not only that, it burns a lot of bedding, something that continues to be a precious commodity.
 
Christmas Day meant cocooning at the ranch. It’s been a long hard stretch since the end of harvest. Mrs. Cheviot has put in some ungodly hours and that leaves me doing the chores and fending for myself. I’m pretty used to it by now. Living alone for several years forced me to cook and in particular to grill even in the winter. That experience has come in handy. I tire quickly of eating things out of boxes and bags. Being able to recognize what is being consumed as something or part of something that was actually once alive is important. Except maybe parsnips.
 
I will likely undergo DT’s from Norwegian sushi after the holidays. The pickled herring this year from Morgan’s has been outstanding. It caused me to make several trips back for more after running out. It also necessitated running to Wagner’s for more crackers and cheese, a must for consuming pickled herring properly. It’s also been a holiday season to go back to a Christmas Eve tradition we both enjoyed while growing up: oyster stew. Our parents would probably roll over in their graves if they saw what oysters go for these days. It’s one of those meals we consume so infrequently though that the cost isn’t an issue. Coupled with whole milk, oyster crackers and Hope creamery butter one is quickly reminded why it’s the special seasonal treat it is. And reheated, it doesn’t lose a thing.

Lamb chops on the grill were the main entree on Christmas Day. If you want to talk about expensive, at last check lamb chops were going for north of $13 a lb. in the store, if you can find them. As I told someone the other day, the price on the hoof is about 10% of that. The story is similar with beef especially when compared to the more expensive cuts. Someone’s getting rich on this deal and it isn’t the guy raising it. It’s different though if you’re raising it and eating what you raise. When you consider all the time and effort involved it becomes even more expensive!

The chops came off the grill after first having been marinated in raspberry-cranberry juice then smoked with apple wood. Everything else was ready on schedule so nothing was held up. A simple farm meal for a couple simple farmers. We were too full afterwards for the pumpkin pie so we took a raincheck on that until evening. In the meantime, Hallmark was on the living room TV so I snuck of to the bedroom and tuned in Andy Griffith. One of my favorite episodes! Barney gets a motorcycle with a sidecar for the sheriff’s department!
 
The beanbag chair looked inviting so I grabbed a blankie and made myself comfortable. Within a matter of minutes I was sound asleep. The next thing I knew Ruby was sticking her wet nose in my face and sniffing my ear. It was an hour later with the light of day beginning to fade. I muttered something about Ruby’s Christmas presents going back to the store where you go to the bathroom in the orange silo. It was approaching choretime though no doubt. Time to get up and start living the dream, again.

See you next week…real good then.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #747 on: January 07, 2020, 10:51:49 AM »
Good day sunshine…

The first forecast for 2020 had the scurs and the Weather Eye predicting continued warm temps with light precip. Nailed it. Are we about to move from the winter weather doldrums or will our luck hold? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with temperatures rising from the low 20’s into the low 30’s. Thursday mostly cloudy with a slight chance of drizzle. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low teens. Partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-teens with lows in the low single digits.  Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper teens and lows in the low teens. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low 20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the low teens. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the low teens. The Full Moon for the month occurs on the 10th. The normal high for January 10th is 22 and the normal low is 4. The scurs are feeling fortunate they laid in an extra few cords of wood for this winter. They aren’t regretting any extra insulation from the dwindling Christmas goody supply either.

The Full Moon for the month does fall on the 10th and goes primarily by the Full Wolf moon, aptly named as the wolves would set up shop not far from Native American encampments. This Full Moon also goes by The Old Moon or The Moon after Yule. The Ojibwe knew this as the Great Spirit Moon and the Sioux called it the Moon of Frost in the Teepee. At the ranch it commonly goes by The Rapidly Spinning Electric Meter Moon. Heating water tanks ain’t cheap folks.

We’ve continued a weather pattern that has included some prolonged stretches of normal to above normal temperatures as well as below normal precipitation. December turned out to be a slightly drier than normal month at the ranch when comparing data to the SROC in Waseca. Normal there is 1.48” and at the ranch we tallied 1.28”. In New Richland it was dead on with 1.48”. Interesting to note though was that nearly an inch of the precip fell as rain measured on the 29th & 30th. It was probably lucky as we could’ve easily wound up with 10” – 12” of snow as they did farther north. Instead, much of the rain ran off as the local creek levels would indicate. Anytime we don’t have to move snow it’s a moral victory.

After last year I know better than to get too smug about purchasing a snow blower to keep the snow away. I’ve only used it once this winter on the pre-Thanksgiving snow. Since then I’ve been able to manage the small nuisance snowdrifts in the driveway with the skidsteer. No cab but it gets the small jobs done in a minimal amount of time. Sure beats hearing a tale of woe if someone gets stuck trying to make it up the hill. If NOAA and other sources are right we may see our snowfall fortunes start to change after mid-month. Snow is one thing. Bone chilling cold like last year is another.
 
Probably the most disappointed people have been the ice fishermen. Rumblings of people driving on the ice with larger vehicles are increasing and so are reports of people going through the ice. Funny how that works. In places ice is reported to be 10” – 12” thick locally. However as we’ve mentioned before, it’s a good idea to know the lake and where the potential thin spots might be before taking the chance. It makes no sense to make the evening news or worse to become a statistic.
 
Life continues to roll along into the New Year at the ranch. The lambs born in late November and early December are huge, taking advantage of the moderate weather conditions. Save for the wind adding a little variety about all we could ask for might be a little more sun. Sun usually comes with a price this time of year however. If it’s clear especially at night it typically means it’s going to be cold. It would be nice to schedule sun for the daytime and clouds at night. At this point the memory of last winter is still etched in our memories and we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Will be very surprised if it doesn’t.

We’ve had the luxury of watching the wildlife around the yard not only in the mornings but in the daytime during the recent holidays. The pheasants leave the evergreen trees during morning chores about sunup. They tend to switch up where they roost around the dooryard each night, a wise idea to evade the owls and other predators. The cardinals can be heard about the same time every day as they continue to pick up pieces of corn left behind by the squirrels. The squirrels planted a fair amount of corn while the ground was still thawed. Enough so that one wonders what would happen if we sprayed the backyard with glyphosate since most of what they buried was Round Up Ready corn. Would sure save a lot of time on mowing and the input costs would be minimal. Tempting.

The plethora of recent sporting events on TV helps shorten the dreary winter days at least between chores. What a thrill to watch the Gophers upset Auburn in The Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day, achieving their best record since 1904. This was followed by the Vikings pulling off an upset in the playoffs over the Saint on Sunday. After having hit some bumps in the road, it’s amazing what they can do when they’re healthy. It’s more fun to be a fan when we can say ”They did it!” as opposed to saying “Wait till next year.” We owe our neighbors to the east and south several anyway after this past season. Anytime we can beat the Packers, Badgers or Hawkeyes in football or even tiddlywinks it’s a good day.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #748 on: January 14, 2020, 09:20:35 AM »
There’s a killer on the road…

The scurs and the Weather Eye predicted continued warm temps with light precip again. Nailed it, again. Is this the week Old Man Winter awakens from his slumber or does he roll over and go back to sleep? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s and lows dropping to near -5. Thursday sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of evening snow. Rising temperatures to around 10 above. Cloudy on Friday with snow likely. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the low teens.  Saturday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the low 20’s and lows back down to near -5. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the mid-single digits with lows just below zero. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the upper single digits and lows around zero. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs near 10 above and lows around zero. Sunset will occur after 5 p.m. on the 15th and on the 21st we start picking up daylight at about two minutes per day. The normal high for January 21st is 24 and the normal low is 4 above. The scurs have decided to get out the new long winter gatkes. Many moons to hibernate until spring is here.

We’re almost through what are statistically our coldest several weeks of the winter. If you’ll recall last winter however I wouldn’t start putting the patio furniture out just yet. Unless of course you wanted to run over it with the tractor so you can get new stuff next spring. So far it hasn’t been too bad though. We’ve had a day here and there that reminds us that it is after all MN but within a matter of a few days it passes. Probably the worst thing now is the snow with the ice lurking beneath. More than once I’ve come close to taking a digger hauling water buckets. Need to find my bag of cherrystone grit. For some it’s already too late for that. Lots of reports of falls, sprains and broken bones. If it snows and gets cold enough maybe it’ll slow the temptation to be ambulatory anyway. Works for me.
 
At the ranch we’ve started on the first of the round bales from this past summer. Actually it was part of a swap deal with the Dubya’s. It’s some beautiful hay. After taking the quick hitch off and putting the bale spear on, the ewes were most appreciative to be eating something green for a change. The bales have been stored outside so there’s a little spoilage on the outside. However employing an old hay knife, it peels off pretty easily with the pitchfork. Being the forage scavengers that sheep are, they pick at the peeled off outer shell until every last edible twig has been consumed. Then they lay on the duff and chew their cuds under the 4” wool comforters they’ve grown.

All that wool makes it more difficult to see how far a ewe is into gestation. It does appear however with the few precious minutes increase in daylight that more are on the way within a few weeks. Since there aren’t a lot of them showing just yet, it might be advantageous to wait a tad to shear. Last year we delayed shearing when it became bitterly cold and we weren’t sorry we did. This year may be different but it is still January and no one including the ewes likes being cold before, during and after shearing.
 
We have had some unusual bad luck lately in the barn though. We started off the winter with about a half dozen cats, about five too many. I’d found homes for some and needed to get them peddled before too much longer. I came down to the barn one morning to find one of last year’s kittens mauled to death. A few mornings later I found another one dead that was all chewed up. Yet another one was missing and hasn’t come back to eat when they’re fed. I wanted to get rid of some cats but would rather do it humanely rather than picking up the dead ones. The lord works in mysterious ways sometimes I guess.
 
One of the benefits of a leaner cat population should be lower selection pressure on the songbirds. Game birds too. The cardinals have become daily visitors to our yard and feeders. Fewer cats won’t hurt the pheasants either. Few things are harder on nesting pheasants and pheasant chicks. We continue to see the pheasants daily too on our way down to the barn. It still startles us at first when they come roaring out of the trees as they do but we’ll get used to it. Once back in the house after chores the blue jays, woodpeckers, chickadees and goldfinches entertain us as we get ready to head out for work. Beats watching TV that’s for sure. No impeachment proceedings or fake news in the backyard.

Ruby has wintered well thus far. She’s no longer the gimp she was earlier, having recovered from what caused the hitch in her giddy up. She still doesn’t wander far when it’s potty time though. There is a large deposit of Ruby logs in the yard right in front of the house. To some extent it’s convenient. Watch your step in front of the house but no need to worry about stepping on dog mines in the rest of the yard. That issue will be dealt with shortly if the next major snowfall forecast is correct. Last year the addition of the snow blower made short work of her deposits 7’ at a crack. So far there are no huge snow piles to contend either with so am confident we can launch a lot of them into the road once again. I might want to get the highway dept. to put some warning signs up first though.

See you next week…real good then.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #749 on: January 28, 2020, 10:05:51 AM »
From 1/21/20

Been crazy all day long and it's only Monday Mr. Mom

The scurs and the Weather Eye called it. Old Man Winter awoke from his slumber and dished up a storm. Will we see a repeat performance this week or will he doze off again? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of snow and rain. Highs in the mid-30’s and lows dropping into the lower 30’s. Thursday cloudy with a good chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s.  Cloudy on Friday with snow chances diminishing later in the day. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s.  Saturday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. On the 22nd we go over 9 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. The 26th begins the final week of the month. Seems like it just started. The normal high for January 26th is 23 and the normal low is 4.With this forecast the scurs will be tempted to dust off the patio furniture.
 
Not much happening afield last week although there were some individuals hauling some pack manure before the weather decided to change its mind. With the storm came roughly 4” – 5” of snow depending on location. Also along for the ride was some freezing drizzle that fell after the snow stopped. A glaze was apparent on the snow banks on our trek to the barn Saturday morning. It was probably fortunate as some of the snow tended to stay put and the heavier snow to the west earlier didn’t wind up here as was feared. Not so fortunately the roads were a fright, not so much from being blocked with snow but from being completely ice covered. Cold temperatures prevented the salt from working as quickly as some would’ve hoped and on Monday county blacktops were still icy.

At the ranch we happened to be one of those outfits spreading manure on Tuesday, one of the last nice days before temperatures and precip made life miserable. It was nice to get the lambing barn cleaned and bedded as we’re coming up on busy season in that department soon. The manure came out in big, hard -packed hunks as only sheep can do. It wasn’t frozen so as long as the spreader wasn’t overloaded, it was fine. Rather than hauling it down the road a quarter mile it was easier to put it on the pasture this time. Taking tractor chains off and putting them back on frequently is overrated. It’s bad enough to unhook from the snow blower and reattach that.

And it was every bit as fun as advertised to put that back on Thursday night. Temperatures were around zero so everything was a battle. The hoses were stiff, the PTO coupling wouldn’t slide on the spline and the hydraulic couplings had gotten a little ice in them, making them balk about moving back and forth. My fingers were getting about frozen by the time everything finally cooperated. It had been greased ahead of the storm back in November so at least that part was good. Was still a relief to have it back on after the barn cleaning was done. Wanna storm? Bring it on.

At least the weekend brought an abundance of sports to watch including college basketball and pro football. Luckily we follow the Big Ten religiously, both men’s and women’s basketball. Of course we’re partial to the Gophers but it’s interesting to see who else has decent teams and players too. Probably the worst part is finally prying yourself out of the chair to do the chores again once it’s dark, especially when it’s as cold as it was over the weekend. This storm though on a scale of 1 to 10 wasn’t in the running with a lot of them we’ve lived through out here at the ranch. We were just fortunate though that it didn’t involve a major number of ewes coming in. That takes a lot of the fun out of it.

Instead it appears we’re going to have more of a trickle in effect if what we’re seeing is correct. We had a ewe come in overnight on Monday. Of course it was cold but they were up and at ‘em. Unfortunately the ewe didn’t want to claim one of the lambs so after it was questionable whether it would make it, it wound up in the house where we’d have to deal with it. After tube feeding it I was relatively confident I’d wasted my time so went about my business for the day. Upon arriving home I looked in the box by the hot water jug and at first glance saw no movement. Oh well, I thought. Then it started to move and after moving the water jug it stood up and stretched. So much for thinking it wasn’t going to survive the afternoon.
 
It was a pretty ewe lamb and aside from a little black dot in the wool (medium grade wool is practically worthless anyway) it had great length, dark points and short, erect ears the way Border Cheviots are supposed to. Hmmm…better call the master of all feed suppliers in Hope to see if they had any lamb milk replacer. Sure enough they did, one bag. “Put my name on it. I’ll be there in a few minutes” I said. Good thing I did too as someone was in shortly after I’d called looking for a bag. A new shipment was coming in the next morning so they were covered. I got home and mixed up a batch then decided I’d see if the lamb would take a bottle. It started out slowly but within about 30 seconds the light bulb came on and it had the program figured out. Just call me Mr. Mom.

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