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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #750 on: January 28, 2020, 10:09:39 AM »
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

The scurs and the Weather Eye are on fire. Old Man Winter continues to nod off and we continue to reap the benefits. Will our fortunes change in February or are we golden? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with highs in the low 20’s with lows dropping into the mid-teens. Thursday cloudy with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low 20’s.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with snow chances increasing later in the day. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny on Ground Hog Day with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the mid-single digits. On Ground Hog Day we go over 9 hours and 54 minutes of daylight, having gained slightly more than an hour of the precious commodity since the winter solstice. The sun will rise just before 7:30 a.m. on the 2nd as well. The normal high for Ground Hog Day is 24 and the normal low is 5. The scurs are likely to see their shadow. Whether they do or not, spring here in the hinterlands is always 6 weeks away, even in May.

Still, this was a kinder, gentler January than last year’s model. Last year at this time we’d faced a couple snowstorms of major proportion, not to mention enduring some of the coldest low temperatures in years. It didn’t get any better in February and in fact, overall got worse. This February brings some promise even though some weather pundits are calling for below normal temps. How far below normal is what’s debatable. One of the sources is calling for a lot of highs in the 20’s and lows in the single digits. That’s bearable and some would say if it brings the sun along for the ride, all the better. Cloudy weather with nickel-dime snowfall is the price we have paid for the above normal temps we’ve enjoyed in January. Most furnaces are not complaining.

We’re not complaining either about the lower feed consumption or bedding necessary so far at the ranch. With the warmer temps the ewe flock has been glad to sleep outside most of January. The fresh air is healthy for them. Cramming them into a barn and closing the door at night without proper ventilation is probably the worst thing one can do. It helps spread diseases such as ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP). While it’s important to have shelter to allow them to get inside during windy and inclement weather, it’s amazing how fast they want to get back outside once the weather settles down.
Hay while not lacking at the ranch is still plenty tight. The round bale supply has held up so far but the small squares are the issue. Finding some decent hay to feed without breaking the bank is a challenge. I was fortunate enough last week to get a livestock trailer full of acceptable quality, alfalfa-grass mix small squares. It wasn’t as nice and green as what I’d baled but beggars can’t be choosers. I paid plenty for them but not as much as some ads I’d looked at. Good alfalfa hay in small squares is going for up to $10 a bale. If the bales average 50 lbs., that’s $400/ton. For that price it better be good.
 
The bottle lamb we saved last week continues to reside in the house in spite of a near fatal bout with some bug soon after press time. Whatever it was, the antibiotic treatment seemed to help. Feeding her some colostrum we’d saved from last year in the freezer probably didn’t hurt either once the antibiotic levels went down in her system. Without colostrum it’s difficult for a bottle lamb to get their immunity built up, especially when they’ve been stressed to start with. She definitely was picking up steam over the weekend, getting much more active and banging off the sides of the tote we had her in. Sunday night the banging stopped so we figured she’d gone to sleep. Nope, she was out of the tote and trotting through the kitchen to watch TV with us. Must be a basketball fan.

Ruby’s nose has been out of joint with the newcomer in the house. We have to feed the bottle lamb numerous times a day so that amount of attention doesn’t go unnoticed by an attention starved Border Collie. Actually I’ve tried to compensate by making sure to take Ruby out with me while doing jobs like moving round bales, unloading feed, cleaning out wagons, working on equipment, etc. She can let off steam biting tires and barking as we go about it. The extra time outside and exercise is good for her. Best of all, it seems to wear her out so she doesn’t need to go outside at night as frequently. The only downside is when she sleeps on the bed, she snores loudly. Not that I really notice. It can downright shake the windows and rattle the walls when I chime in.

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 #751 on: February 04, 2020, 11:58:42 AM »
Don’t turn your back on me, baby

The scurs and the Weather Eye continue on a tear. Someone must’ve given Old Man Winter a sedative. Do we start talking about an early spring or does the old curmudgeon have other plans? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows around 10. Thursday mostly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the mid-teens.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with slight snow chances decreasing later in the day. Highs in the upper teens with lows in the upper single digits. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the upper teens. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the low 20’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens. On the 9th, a week after Ground Hog Day we have a normal high of 26 and a normal low of 7. Whether the scurs saw their shadow or not, we will have six more weeks of winter. We always do even when we don’t.

We escaped January relatively unscathed. Sure we got some cold temperatures but they were a far cry from what we experienced last January. Snowfall too. This time around we measured 10” at the ranch and in Bugtussle as well. Normal snowfall at the SROC for January is 9.5”. Much of our snow this time around has melted. The view across the prairie on Monday revealed a lot of soil starting to poke through across many fields.  Last January snowfall was around 17” at the ranch and in town. The worst part of that was it fell during the last half of the month and much of it stayed. Once into February it got serious about snowing.
 
We finally saw the sun! Oh ye of little faith. It took until a brief spell on Friday then we got the forenoon sun on Saturday after many forecasts had changed indicating we wouldn’t see it period. Sunday was absolutely glorious with highs in the upper 30’s. People were downright giddy and who can blame them? One could hear the hustle and bustle across the landscape as snowmobiles were out on the trails, knowing their days might be numbered. Ice fishermen were out as well, knowing that with 16” – 18” of good ice they could drive out and park largely wherever it suited them.
 
At the ranch the cabin fever was starting to take its toll as well. Both Saturday and Sunday were good days to do things like move snow away from the LP tank, scrape the ice off the walk, fill the bird feeders and shovel the snow off the patio so the grilling could commence. It had been a while and there’s just something about preparing food outside that doesn’t have to be boiled, fried, baked or nuked that’s very satisfying. With the power the sun had already mustered it was amazing to watch the snow disintegrate on the dark colored pavers. To look out and see the large blocks of snow piled in testament to the effort it took made it that much sweeter.

The sheep liked the thaw as well. It’s interesting to notice them eating the snow when it becomes good snowball packing consistency. The subsequent reduction in water consumption is evident when you peer in the tank and notice not much has been consumed. The bad thing of course is in their full fleeces, there’s little reason to get inside to lamb. They’re warm and using sheep logic therefore everyone else is including a newborn lamb born outside. One ewe demonstrated that on Sunday, getting on the leeward side of a brush pile and completing the birthing process there. We were expecting nothing less and got them corralled in short order. We’ll change their strategy for them shortly with shearing slated in the near term. If temperatures remain moderate it should make everyone happy.

Chores have been much easier this winter than last so far without the constant snowfall and subzero temperatures to deal with. The additional round bale feeder makes the process go more quickly and there have been several times when the small water buckets haven’t frozen. We’re still graced with the presence of a surprisingly large contingent of pheasants to entertain us at choretime. Monday morning as we headed into the garage a group started flying out of the pine trees in the front yard. I lost count at about 20 and they kept coming. Good to see numbers that we hadn’t seen since the early days of the CRP.
 
The bottle lamb continues her extended stay in the house. She really grew this past week, a far cry from the half frozen baby beaten by her mother and left to die. The lamb’s wheels have really developed as has her Cheviot sense of curiosity. You really don’t want to turn your back on her. She’s gone in a flash, checking out the bedroom or the houseplants. The bedroom carpet and the houseplants attract her like a magnet. Fortunately she likes to be picked up and brought back to the entry way, convinced it’s feeding time. She’s usually right. And since she likes nibbling on the houseplants, we’ve given her a handful of hay and starter pellets to pick at. She’s about ready for the next step and that’s to move her kennel to the garage. Edging closer to time for her to learn she is a sheep.
 
Sometimes I get the urge to watch a movie especially on nights when Gunsmoke isn’t on. I saw The Last Picture Show Sunday night, a movie I hadn’t seen in over 40 years. Several Hank Williams tunes are featured and it sets the tone well for a movie about teens coming of age in a small dying town in north Texas circa 1951. The cast was star studded and including names like Cybil Shepherd, Jeff Bridges and Randy Quaid whose movie acting careers were in their fledgling stage. There was also some nudity and strong language which made it somewhat risqué back in 1971, at least in some circles. After watching the flick I had several thoughts, primarily that adolescents really haven’t changed much emotionally since then, small, dying towns are still dying and there were a lot of old Fords, Chevys and Buicks involved. No Studebakers however. Must not have been any dealers nearby.
 
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 #752 on: February 12, 2020, 11:14:16 AM »
Just leave a message, maybe I’ll call

The scurs and the Weather Eye are on a mission. Someone must’ve given Old Man Winter a stool softener Sunday. Is our early spring a wrong number or just on hold? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of snow Highs in the low 30’s with lows around -10. Yes, that’s a minus sign, Thursday mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs around -5 with lows in the mid-teens below zero.  Mostly sunny on Valentine’s Day with slight snow chances increasing later in the day. Highs in the mid-teens with temperatures rising overnight to near 20. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-teens. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows around 20. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the upper teens. The normal high on Valentine’s Day is 27 and the normal low is 9.After running on fumes the scurs will replenish their goodie supply.

I missed the Full Moon last week for whatever reason although the period between the Full Moons is actually what counts. Last Sunday’s Full Moon is known as the Snow Moon as this is one of the snowiest months across North America. It also was known as the Full Hunger Moon by the tribes as deep snow made harvesting game more difficult and winter food supplies were dwindling. The Ojibwe called this the Sucker Moon as the fish were running in rivers and streams. The Sioux named it The Raccoon Moon as the raccoons became active along with their pals the skunks and opossums. At the ranch it’s the Full Sleepless Moon for obvious reasons.

We got plenty of snow from a system on Sunday that in some circles was being called a clipper system. Typically clipper systems dump a few inches of snow and are on their way. While it moved through quickly, this one was an anomaly with snow measuring up to 15” in places. At the ranch it was closer to 10” and in Bugtussle around 8”. It contained more water than it seemed. Part of that may have had something to do with the snow pellets or graupel that fell on the tail end of the storm. It was easy to deal with as far as shoveling or blowing. It was the first significant snowfall for us for February and none too soon. It was definitely time to blow some of the Ruby logs off the yard and into the ditch. Unfortunately the east wind prevented me from hitting the road.

Recently I’ve been inundated with calls from telemarketers. Google business listing is one of the worst. It’s to the point where if it’s a number I don’t recognize I simply don’t answer it. If it’s important, someone will leave a message and maybe I’ll call back. Some suggest you should answer the telemarketers’ calls and ask them to take you off their list. That only seems to encourage more of them to call as near as I can tell. Probably the most annoying incident was recently I received a quick succession of calls from someone in Winona with no message. Finally, curiosity got the best of me and I called the number thinking it might be an emergency or better yet, I might be able to chew someone a new one. It turned out some telemarketer was using my number making the person on the other end think it was me making the calls. With what they cost in time spent blocking their numbers and missed business opportunities there has become no place for these parasites in our society. I know what John Wayne would’ve done and it wouldn’t have been pretty, pilgrim.

We survived another shearing session at the ranch. It’s always preferable when lambing season rolls around as it makes for a lot more pleasant experience. The ewes stay drier, they go inside to lamb rather than dumping them in a snowbank and the lambs can get at the business end of the ewe more easily if they’re not battling the wool. It also keeps the barn warmer when all those bodies are in there letting off all that body heat instead of keeping it under 4” of insulation. Something else that’s a factor and it relates to a question several have asked recently about sheep dying if they get flipped on their backs.

Yes, it’s true that sheep can die if flipped on their backs. They lack the capability to right themselves easily and humankind probably hasn’t helped. For lots of chops, we’ve selected for animals that are wide and flat over the top. This is also where shearing comes into play. Let’s say someone strapped a couch cushion on your back. Think how much more difficult it would be to right yourself. Same goes for a heavy fleece. Factor in being plump, heavy with lambs and full of feed. A sheep is like a cow only the skidsteer or minivan version. That four compartment stomach system is crammed in there pretty tight. Now fill it full of feed and gas. Flip the sheep on its backs and it puts tremendous pressure on the lungs. If you find the sheep quickly enough and get them righted, there is no damage. If they’ve been that way for many hours and have been struggling, the results are seldom rewarding. If the sheep get flipped over on some ice, they melt themselves into the ice and become hypothermic. That stress alone is usually enough to kill them and if it doesn’t, pneumonia seems to follow.

Ruby’s three days of torment will have passed by press time. I’m referring of course to the Westminster Dog Show. Starting with the agility trials on Sunday and two consecutive nights of shows, it’s almost more than a TV watching Border Collie can handle.  Certainly elicits large quantities of growling and barking. The effect of handlers circling their dogs around the ring seems to be the worst especially when the view shows the dogs close up on the move. It’s only three days though and the rest of the year, all it takes is to say the magic words, “dog on TV”. Ruby will awaken from a dead sleep and launch herself off the couch at one of the usual suspects. Instant entertainment.
 
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 #753 on: February 18, 2020, 02:56:24 PM »
I’m a man of wealth and taste…

The scurs are thinking the Weather Eye must contain Kelvinator freezer parts. Will we start to warm up again or is the Ice Age upon us? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-single digits and lows around -15. Yes, that’s a minus sign, again. Thursday sunny with highs around 10 above and lows in the mid-single digits.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Saturday, Washington’s real birthday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 30’s and lows around 20. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of a wintry mix, maybe even some graupel. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. The normal high on February 22nd is 30 and the normal low is 12. Having replenished their sweets, the scurs can focus their sweet tooth on April 12th.
 
It was another roller coaster ride last week as far as temperatures go. The below zero high on Valentine’s Day brought back memories of last year’s February when lows dipped below zero on 17 of the 28 days. That memory was short-lived though as by Saturday, temperatures rebounded nicely into the low 30’s. Sunday’s mid-20’s were tolerable too as was Monday’s low 30’s high. Old Man Winter dumped what appears to have been another 5+” of snow on us after being led to believe that we were in for a light dusting or a wintry mix. Can’t send it back as they say but we can shovel, push or blow it out of the way until the next storm shows up.

Speaking of moving snow, that reminds me of a conversation I had with my LP delivery man. I certainly don’t enjoy wading through waist deep snow to check to gauge on the tank and I’m reasonably sure the delivery man feels the same when he fills it. I asked him if people are good about that and he responded that only about 10% of people take the time to clean snow out around their tank. Yipped! I don’t know about you, but I’ve burned lots of different fuels to stay warm including, wood, natural gas, kerosene, fuel oil and LP. It’s comforting knowing that LP tank is full. I appreciate that when I come in the house from chores the house will be warm. I have to be out there moving snow anyway. It seems silly not to clean out around the tank. Likewise with the mailbox. This a.m. I was out there with the skidsteer cleaning up the mess the snow plow left and it took under a minute.
       
Some cold weather followed our shearing at the ranch and is frequently the case, the ewes started dumping lambs left and right. Our luck has been just so-so. There have been more ewes not claiming lambs and beating them. This makes me question what some of the rams we’re using and the subsequent ewes we have out of them have been crossed up with. Cheviots are traditionally some of the best mothers in the sheep industry. As is frequently the case, when some of this crossing is done with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, and the animal is passed off as “purebred”, some of the integrity of the breed no matter what kind of livestock it is, tends to go by the wayside. Bigger is not always better. When I’m out in the barn I like to see ewes mother their lambs and the lambs get up and be able to do it on their own. If I have a barn full of animals I have to babysit, I don’t want them and pretty sure no one else does either.

Ruby got no respite from the dog shows this past week. It turns out that there was a Rescue Dog show on for a couple more nights so more torment for a TV watching Border Collie. One can only bark and growl so much. She does seem to be getting revenge for our entertainment at her expense however. Whether it’s in response to the dog shows or just due to the warmer than normal winter, Ruby is already shedding like mad. I brushed several big wads of fur out of her coat and judging by the hairs my sweatshirt I certainly didn’t get all of it. Let’s hope she’s trying to tell us that spring will be coming sooner than later unlike the last couple years.

This winter is starting to wear on me. My vocabulary degradation has reflected that lately. First the Gophers basketball team got beat by hated Iowa on Sunday. Afterwards, trying to unhook from the snow blower took more time than it should have because everything was froze up on it. Then the bale spear for the three point dropped a bale requiring some readjustment to get it where it belonged. In the process the bale hooked and dragged a bunch of electric fence along with it, the yellow insulators zipping past the cab like bullets. I was getting pretty lathered up with all the diddling around, off and on and up and down. The air was getting pretty blue by the time the afternoon was over.
 
I still remember getting my mouth washed out with soap when I’d dare use some of those words. Mom wasted little time reacting. It was grab you by the scruff of the neck, drag you over to the sink and say “Open your mouth!” She used the heavy artillery too. Good old Lava soap, not some floral scented bath soap. For good measure if you’d really torqued her off she’d scrape the bar on your front teeth. The Lava soap tasted bad enough but the gritty texture of the pumice left a lasting impression, enough so you wouldn’t use those words again, at least not in her presence. Probably a good thing she wasn’t around to hear my performance Sunday. I can almost taste the Lava now.

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 #754 on: February 25, 2020, 11:12:20 AM »
Dream until your dreams come true

After making a call to their local Nash-Rambler dealer, the scurs got them to take the Kelvinator freezer parts off the Weather Eye. Will our warming trend continue or will the woolly mammoths invade once again? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs near 20 and lows around 5. Thursday partly sunny with highs in the mid-teens and lows around zero.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-teens and lows around 5. Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows around 30. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of a wintry mix. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. The sun will set at 6 p.m. CST on February 27th. The normal high for March 1st is 33 and the normal low is 16. The scurs are thinking that March will definitely come in like a lamb. Might have some diarrhea but a lamb just the same.

We did manage to get back out of the deep freeze once again, something that has been characteristic of this winter vs. last year’s model. It may get cold but the duration typically has been short. We did get plenty of mileage out of the last week’s February snow however. It laid around then blew and got stuck to the roads, making county blacktops an absolute fright to drive on for several days. Packed on snow and ice prior to that made the roads rutted so utmost attention was required if one wanted to avoid going in the ditch. The ditches filled up too which doesn’t bode well if we receive large amounts of March snowfall.

There are some subtle glimpses of spring already happening. Actually some of them have been in place since January. The horned larks that we normally start to notice in February have been in evidence since back in January. Does that mean it’ll be an early spring? No, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be either. The male cardinals were heard singing at choretime on Monday morning and the chickadees have begun their spring “fee-bee” song as well. The pheasants that spent much of February sleeping in the trees at the ranch in large numbers are dispersing more. They wing their way through the yard yet regularly with roosters appearing to stake claims to their turf. What has been comical to watch is the backyard encounters between the fox squirrels and the pheasants. Neither knows quite what to think of the other and warily keep their distance just in case. Oddly enough both share a common interest in the ear corn.

The weather warming up over the weekend allowed us to finally move some lambs out of the lambing barn into the loafing area in the main barn. It was definitely about time. Climbing over panels and gates to feed in the lambing barn isn’t my idea of a good time especially when there are a bunch of fat, knot headed ewes trying to get at the hanging feeders you’re carrying. Prior to moving the animals out of the pens, the lambs need to be docked, tagged and vaccinated while the ewes get an overeating disease booster along with ivermectin to rid them of external and any lingering internal parasites. The overeating disease shot does not work on humans.
 
It’s a noisy affair with lambs and ewes expressing their displeasure with being uprooted and transplanted to another facility. Sometimes for the ewes their protests take the form of downright defiance, heading in precisely the opposite direction that you’d like them to go. Usually if there are twins, the ewe follows fairly well as the scent and sound of the lamb serves as a beacon for them. With some of the single lambs, especially with younger ewes, the bond is there but the process hasn’t been experienced before. The tendency can be to bolt in any direction. Ruby helps run interference in those instances, at least making the ewe think twice and heading her back towards her lamb instead.

Once in the main pen the lambs come unwound like springs, hopping and running in their newly found, larger open area. Like most farm animals, fresh bedding makes their day. The hay is more accessible too so they can continue consuming more dry feed. In another six to eight weeks it would be wonderful to have enough pasture and room to wean some of these lambs we just moved. Chances are that won’t happen but we can always dream.

Ruby is somewhat happier as of late. The bottle lambs living in the entryway made their way into the garage finally. It isn’t as warm but the floor is heated. 50 degrees vs. below zero as it’s been outside feels pretty good. When the car is out of the garage they’re allowed out of their kennels to tear around and get a workout in while we prepare their bottles. Something we’ve tried to do and it appears to be succeeding is the inclusion of a starter pellet dish in their enclosures. They love it as well as nibbling on the small handfuls of hay we give them. If the weather continues to make progress, it won’t be long and they’ll wind up in a pen in the loafing area. Eventually they’ll discover they are sheep. If not we’ll always think they should have.

Auntie Mar Mar took pity on me once again as Unkie Greg paid a visit to my office Monday. Obviously concerned I might starve to death during lambing season, she’d baked a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies and had Gregory deliver them along with some frozen waffles for me. I’m not sure we have any frozen waffles on hand presently but if we do you can bet they’re freezer burned. These are fresh so I won’t know how to act. If I dig deep enough in the freezer though I’m betting I can find some freezer burned egg rolls to go with them.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #755 on: March 03, 2020, 10:53:59 AM »
You've got to carry weapons cause you always carry cash

With the woolly mammoths in full retreat thanks to the Nash-Rambler dealer the scurs and their vaunted Weather Eye set their sights on this week’s forecast. Has Old Man Winter gone into hibernation or is he just taking a power nap?  Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Thursday partly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the (brace yourself) mid-50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of a forenoon rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows around 30. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of a wintry mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Daylight Saving Time goes into effect on the 8th. We reach 11 hours and 30 minutes of daylight on the 9th. The normal high for March 9th is 36 and the normal low is 20. The scurs will be setting their clocks ahead at precisely 2 a.m. as per government mandate. The nanny state lives at least for one more year!

The Full Moon for the month occurs on the 9th and goes by several names. It is most commonly known as The Full Worm Moon. It’s during this period that once the soil thaws, the earthworms make it to the surface and begin leaving their castings behind. It is also known as The Full Crow Moon, The Full Sap Moon and The Full Lenten Moon as settlers considered it the last Full Moon of winter. The Ojibwe called it The Snow Crust Moon as thawing during the day and freezing hard at night leaves a hard crust on the snow. The Sioux knew it as The Moon when Buffalo Drop their Calves. At the ranch, it is The Full Mud Moon. One only needs look at Ruby the Border Collie after chores and the reason becomes obvious.

Daylight Saving Time as mentioned takes place on Sunday. Hopefully this will be one of the last times we’ll have to deal with the insipid time change. The message has finally made it through that people are sick and tired of this foolishness. They want their sleep and clocks left alone. As the federal law stands now, states have always had the right to opt out and remain on standard time if desired. Some places such as Hawaii and Arizona do just that. The state of MN is considering staying on Daylight Saving Time year round as are several other states. It must first get federal approval however before it is enacted if the bill passes at the state level. It really doesn’t matter so long as everyone agrees to a standardized method of dealing with it. If and when it happens, it’ll likely cause some issues in the winter with late sunrises. It won’t be surprising if some schools and businesses adjust their operating schedules accordingly.

It has seemed sometimes as though we haven’t had a lot of snow this winter. That is largely due to the thaws and melting that have occurred, removing much of our snow cover earlier this winter. We’re actually not far off the historical normal snowfall of 39.9” at the SROC in Waseca for the period October through February. For that timeframe at the ranch and at the office in metropolitan Bugtussle this winter we’ve recorded an identical 44.6”. Normal snowfall for March at the SROC is 10.2”. March used to be our snowiest month but has been supplanted by December. More of our precipitation in March has been falling as rain in recent decades.

March did come in like a lamb or several at the ranch. Fortunately the temperatures had moderated so it wasn’t a major factor when they hit the ground. Those born on March 1st were inside so it was a matter of finding the right lambs and matching them up with the right ewes. Not always the easiest task when there is scant evidence left behind. Good mothering sometimes confounds matters when ewes that haven’t lambed claim lambs that aren’t theirs. Then we need the Wisdom of Solomon to divine who belongs to who. Fortunately we must’ve decided right as there were few protests especially from the lambs that were getting plenty to eat.

Finding enough hay for the sheep to eat has been another challenge. Fortunately there is some to be had for a price and travelling outside the normal area is also part of the equation. I’ve run across some pretty nice people to deal with too. The hay isn’t always perfect and you have to carry large amounts of cash, making you feel almost like it's a drug deal going down. The primary thing is to supply roughage to keep the ewe’s rumens working. Both sources of hay so far have been what would qualify as mixed hay with a grass base and some legumes mixed in. Since sheep are more nibblers than gobblers that kind of hay works fine. Fishing the legumes out of the grass first gives them something to do. It helps keep their minds off jumping over panels or wrecking equipment.

The bottle lambs’ tenure in the garage will likely come to a close with the warmer weather. Space in one of the barns can be designated for them. Both have really grown and despite a few bumps in the road they’re generally healthy. We did have to give the buck lamb some oral antibiotic twice a day when the gland between his toes developed a staph infection. Have seen it a few times over my sheep raising career and it takes a while to clear up. The antibiotic smells and apparently must taste like bubble gum. It worked out well to give it to him after his bottle in the morning and at night. After the first dose he was looking for the syringe full of medicine after each bottle feeding. Makes me wonder what he’d do with a piece of bubblegum. Probably stick it to the bottom of his feed pan or spit it out where you’d step in it.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #756 on: March 10, 2020, 11:37:20 AM »
What a wonderful world this would be

More warmth courtesy of the scurs and the Weather Eye set well with almost everyone. Will Old Man Winter continue to snooze or are we in for a rude awakening?  Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Thursday mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-20’s.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of evening rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of rain and snow becoming all snow by evening. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of a forenoon rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows around 30. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of a wintry mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Depending on what day length chart one looks at, we go over 12 hours of daylight somewhere around St. Patrick’s Day. The normal high for March 17th is 40 and the normal low is 23. The scurs have plenty of corned beef and cabbage on hand for the occasion. Probably some green low carb adult beverages to wash it down with as well.

This past Sunday brought us a taste of what we’ve been longing for since October 27th: A high temperature over 50 degrees. It brought with it breezy conditions so if one was out in the wind, it didn’t feel quite that warm. Snow melt was rapid. Much of the scant snow left in the fields disappeared and snow piles along with that in the road ditches shrunk substantially. Luckily there had been a slow, sustained freeze and thaw cycle going on for much of the first week of March, which should help shorten the duration of flooding from the melt. Soils have begun to thaw in places and yards are beginning to firm up as well. At the ranch we generally have quagmire in front of the main barn. However this year it has already lost some of its normal sloppiness. Let’s hope it continues.

Likewise there is evidence that the frost is coming out of the ground. Using my trusty divining rod (electric fence post) on the south facing slope, there were places already on Saturday where the frost was limited and some cases was undetectable at 12”- 18”. In the small garden on that same slope, where the ground had no cover there was no frost at all. This prompted me to purchase some radishes Saturday in case the ground might be fit enough to stab a few of them in. Alas, checking Sunday afternoon there was still moisture wicking its way to the surface in spots, too tacky to consider planting. There will be better days. At least the ground is bare and the frost is out in that spot. That’s a big plus. A year ago on March 9th we were still looking at snow cover of around 20”. What a difference a year makes.

With the warmer temps it has me looking longingly at the Studebaker and getting it ready to go for another season. Seeing and hearing all the motorcycles out and about on Sunday made me especially antsy. There are some things that need to be done to get the Silver Hawk operational although being driven only about 500 miles last year, there wasn’t a lot of wear and tear. I’ll still have the oil changed and get it looked over so there are no major safety concerns. Then it would be nice to get enough rain to wash all the salt and other assorted material off the roads first. Getting some of the mud in the driveway to a more manageable level wouldn’t hurt either.

We are getting down there on the lambing front with only a handful of ewes left to come in. There was a mini-flurry of activity last week but luckily we had processed and moved enough so we had room. We also moved the bottle lambs out of the garage finally to the lambing barn. Warmer temps had a lot to do with it. If the weather had been like it was last year they probably would’ve been in there until Memorial Day! Instead since we always have to go out and check the lambing barn anyway, putting them in there was a slam dunk. The exposure to other sheep might cause the light bulb to come on, making them decide they are actually sheep. It’s also nice to know I can sneak out to the garage freezer once again for ice cream treats without setting off the bottle lamb alarm system.
 
The time change continues to wear on us at the ranch. Turning the clock ahead an hour this time of year is just exactly what we don’t need, especially when it means stumbling around in the dark doing morning chores. This just after starting to enjoy morning daylight, thinking there might be light at the end of the tunnel on what’s been a long, drawn out lambing season. Evidence continues to mount that the DST time change may cause more potential health concerns than first imagined. Studies have now linked it to migraines, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, miscarriages, suicides, diabetes, allergies, and injuries. It has also been linked to immune system suppression, just what no one needs if the coronavirus ever amounts to the media hype.
 
At the ranch we changed the time on as many clocks as we could remember. Each clock has its own quirks. Some of the battery powered models are finicky, stopping once you’ve changed the time. It usually takes some tweaking and swearing or a new battery to get them functional again.  Both of our microwave clocks have a different protocol to reset the time as does the one on the oven. The one in the Buick should be alright because I was too lazy to change it back last fall. Since no one enjoys turning their clocks ahead an hour each spring I’m thinking we should just omit that step. Using the same twisted logic some did when coming up with the DST folly, we should just keep setting our clocks back an hour every fall instead. After all, turnabout is fair play, right? And just think how much healthier and happier we’d all be!

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 #757 on: March 18, 2020, 09:28:28 PM »
Nothing has changed except maybe change for the worst

The warmer temps have been put on hold as the scurs and Weather Eye struggle with coronavirus mandates. Will Old Man Winter observe the social distancing guidelines or will he sneeze on us?  Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 40’s. Thursday cloudy with a good chance of rain turning to snow in the overnight. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 20’s.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows around 10. Saturday, sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Meteorological spring began on March 1st and astronomical spring begins March 19th. Either way you coulda fooled me. Depending on what sunrise sunset chart one looks at, the sun will set one the 23rd at 7:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for March 23rd is 43 and the normal low is 25. The scurs will be paying bills with toilet paper, unused of course.

Fields are once again bare. If temperatures and precipitation would cooperate, it wouldn’t take long for fields to become fit for some operations such as anhydrous ammonia. Those with pack manure to haul have taken advantage of frozen ground in the morning to trek across the fields. It’s short-lived though as soil surface turn greasy when the temps go above freezing. The ground has refrozen underneath in some instances as I found when trying to stab in some electric fence posts on Sunday. An inch or two down and it was no go. There were some pussy willows starting to show catkins nearby so at least there was that.

 We keep heading towards the finish line in the lambing department at the ranch. As this season has rolled on, nothing has changed except maybe change for the worst. We were starting to feel good about only two bottle lambs until a ewe that should’ve been culled last year for her lack of performance delivered triplets, She demonstrably hated one of the lambs and didn’t have enough milk for any of them. Instantly up to five mouths to feed by hand. It gets better. Tuesday a.m. a goofy natural colored ewe who was once a bottle lamb herself delivered a set of twins. Only trouble was one of the lambs crawled in behind the water tank so naturally, she wouldn’t accept that lamb. Might as well make it an even half dozen. (sigh)

We’re down to a handful of latecomers although this used to be primetime for lambing back in the day. It’s been a long, drawn out affair this time around with the first lambs hitting the ground back on November 30th, some in December, more in January with an explosion in February. The first 10 days in March were busy too but eventually we’ll run out of ewes. Hopefully we don’t run out of hay although it appears if we manage it properly and catch a break with an earlier than normal pasture season, we should be OK. To be on the safe side though, I monitor the potential hay sources. Don’t want anyone to go hungry.

Ruby has been dealing with the mud as well as can be expected so far. Lately the same frozen ground allowing manure spreading allows Ruby to stay relatively clean during morning chores anyway. After evening chores she’s good about letting us wipe her down when she gets muddy but then she should be as many times as we’ve done it. It’s a big job to personally supervise the filling of each and every water bucket. It shouldn’t be long though and the grass will green up and the mud bog in front of the barn will be gone. Of course that will lead to lawn mowing and grass stained socks on a small red and white Border Collie.

The recent hoarding of food and sundry items hit a raw nerve with a lot of folks including me. Emergency situations bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. Seeing some of the ridiculous amounts of product purchased by some takes the cake. Toilet paper has suddenly become legal tender in some areas. Yes, this is an emergency situation but as with any emergency, getting greedy usually results in product going to waste. After the Y2K situation much of the food that was hoarded was thrown out after it went out of code. What’s really frustrating is those especially the elderly who are on fixed incomes may have to go without thanks to a greedy few. If you’re one of those hoarders, as my Mom used to say when she was extremely disgusted with me, I hope you’re proud of yourself.

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 #758 on: March 24, 2020, 11:21:19 AM »
Please don't stand so close to me...

After suffering through some colder weather, the scurs have directed the Weather Eye to see what we can do about warming things up. Have we seen the last of Old Man Winter or is he waiting in the wings for an encore performance?  Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday cloudy with a modest chance of a rain and snow mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-30’s.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of a rain and snow mix. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid- 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of morning snow and rain mix. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On the 27th we creep over 12 hours and 30 minutes of daylight for the first time since September 15th. The normal high for March 27th is 46 and the normal low is 27. The scurs are thinking we may be seeing light at the end of tunnel yet. Or at least the light inside the Kelvinator.
 
Finally a little better forecast to sink our teeth into. I’ve already heard some whining about wanting to get in the field. Yes, driving tractor is fun but memories are short. It’s seldom we are able to get in the field here in March and the past two seasons have been no exception. When we do those with small grain have an opportunity for decent yields and better than average quality. For corn and soybean production that isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, it’d be wonderful to be able to do fieldwork ahead of planting and go at a leisurely pace but this is MN, not central IL. Those who slog through the mud a couple times a day taking care of livestock manage to keep things in perspective. The time will come so be prepared when it does. In the meantime quit whining and get the chores done.

The frost is officially out of the ground at the SROC where the measurement is taken under bare soil. Out feeding bottle lambs I checked on the north facing slope by the barn about 10 p.m. Still found frost down about 4”. It has refrozen several times over the past week, especially following the rain that fell last Thursday. Low temps were in the low 20’s three consecutive days after that. In addition to north facing slope, I’d venture to guess we still have frost on north sides of groves, fencelines and buildings. Some were able to haul pack manure  over the weekend. Reports were it sunk in a little but the ground seemed to hold up relatively well. It didn’t last long however until it got greasy on top and mud on the road resulted. That tends to take a lot of the fun out of it.

I’ve found the social distancing or lack thereof rather interesting. While waiting to get takeout food at The Willows a couple people looked at a friend and I like we had the plague. We were well out of the 6’ distancing guideline. On a Saturday trip for supplies to the store where you go to the bathroom in the big orange silo most were keeping their distance. Right away though I saw a couple people hug each other and later on a couple was walking around the store holding hands. Did these people not get the memo? Perhaps it’s because it’s second nature out here in the country where our closest neighbor is a half mile away. We’re usually just happy to see someone.
 
The coronavirus shutdown has had some positive effects at the ranch. I mentioned working on pasture fence. Getting the electric fence operating this early was a feather in my cap. Since I was in the area, I cleaned out a wood duck house that needed it for a few years. A snowbank extending out into pond on top of the ice held me up as I removed the old nesting material and dumped in a new supply of shavings. The ice had melted around the post so in another day or so it would’ve meant wearing waders in the ice cold water.
 
While I was at it I checked on the pussy willow progress in the wetland around the pond. Much to my surprise a couple of the bushes had nice catkins on them so harvested a supply for the floral shop where Mrs. Cheviot works. I couldn’t find a couple of the bushes I’d plucked some off of from last year. That’s probably OK. It was really wet where they likely were. Getting stuck wasn’t an idea that thrilled me let alone getting the tractor stuck trying to pull the Gator out. With funerals being more limited in scope anyway, there probably won’t be as much demand. Still, if you die and are reading this, you’ll know where they came from.

We do have things to occupy our time with livestock. As mentioned last week we had a recent uptick in bottle lambs. They seem happy as well they should. If someone fed you five times a day you’d be happy too. As of this writing there’s still one little natural colored buck lamb in the garage. His small size belies his lung capacity. For a little guy he is really loud! The BLAS 2.0 (bottle lamb alarm system) is armed at all times. Turn on the light, come in the garage, touch a door handle or make a hinge squeak and the alarm immediately goes off. Try to sneak out to the garage to get an ice cream treat out of the freezer? Just like the BLAS 1.0 system: Busted.
 
Inside the house Ruby is in charge of live entertainment, with an emphasis on the live part. This small red and white Border Collie has never had an off switch and shows no sign of developing one. One can only play about so much ball with her before going absolutely crazy. Wanna eat something? Nope. Time to play ball. Wanna relax and get under your blanket? No you’re not. Let’s play ball. No? OK, let’s play the growling game where you point the TV remote at me and I growl! Not good enough? Let’s watch a dog show so I can bark at them on TV! Lots of dogs on commercials to bark at as well as anything else that happens to set me off including horses, elephants, camels, Clint Eastwood and Julie Andrews. After an evening of Ruby, it wears a person out. Try a week’s worth of that and you begin to get the picture.

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)