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Offline Dotch

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Fencelines
« on: October 15, 2007, 04:45:24 PM »
Hi everybody! Was very kindly invited by staff here at MN Outdoorsman to contribute a column you may or may not be familiar with called Fencelines. They decided this might be a good spot to place it although I've been told by many where I could stick it.  ;)Seriously, have been writing technical/professional ag articles for my own company and others for over 25 years. Decided I'd write a column about the goings-on here in small town rural MN for the local paper when they were desperate for articles. I wrote one, they liked it and asked if I could write another one for the next week. The next week they wanted another one, and before I knew it, there was a full year's worth. It's been 5 years and a new owner; they're still desperate.

The column has little quirks to it that are unique to it and the area of the state we're in. To set the stage, Bugtussle is a nickname for New Richland, Mayberry is Ellendale and Mt. Pilot is Waseca. The scurs referred to when predicting the weather are the vestgial horns collected from the buck lambs and they serve no purpose other than to predict the weather. Just kidding of course, but they have taken on a cartoon like existence as the column has evolved, almost like Elmo in the Minnesota Daily. There is almost always a Seinfeld reference embedded in the column somewhere as it is a known fact that Seinfeld serves as a template for the universe.

My business working with local farmers (my little fat buddies) allows for near weekly observations of area crop progress. In addition, by spending the amount of time outdoors that I do, there are many wildlife sightings. A few years ago we enrolled some land in CREP and restored a small wetland. I enjoy waterfowl hunting but more and more, just seeing them and giving them a place to live has become equally important. Like feeding and watching the birds and you will usually see an update concerning their activities, especially with the passing of the seasons.

We encourage good land stewardship and conservation practices among the clientele in my crop consulting business where I'm completing the 18th season at the helm. Yep, I'm old! We raise Cheviot sheep on our acreage and have an offsite pasture at the "kindly neighbors" pasture. In the column, my wife is frequently referred to as Mrs. Cheviot. Gus and Lucy are loyal border collies, not always the sharpest tools in the shed but that is likely the fault of their trainer (me). One needs to be smarter than the dog.  This is a very Scandinavian area too so the closing on the column is always "real good then", the same closing you'll get out of many of the locals when ending a phone conversation or transacting business.

Enough already, that gives you an idea of what we're about. On with the show, this is it! Real good then...    ::welcome::
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2007, 04:50:08 PM »
Good men through the ages, Tryin' to find the sun;


The scurs were amiss by not predicting the weekend rainfall but what a day Saturday was. This week will likely offer up more rainfall and by early next week, we’ll get a taste of mid-November temperatures. Starting with Wednesday we get a brief respite from the rain with a high of 60 and a low near 50. Still no sunshine however. Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday the rain comes back with highs both days between 60 and 65 and lows of 40 - 45. Saturday and Sunday we see sunshine again with high temps of 55 and lows of 40. Slightly warmer Monday with possible showers, a high around 60 and lows crashing overnight to around freezing. Colder Tuesday, high of 45 and a low of 25. Normal high for October 19 is 59 and normal low is 35, the same we’d expect to see on April 18th. The high is 4 degrees cooler than it was last week and the normal low 3 degrees off the pace.  We’ve lost approximately 21 minutes of daylight in the past week. Given that cheery news, the scurs are keeping the batteries for the wireless charged and checking their kerosene supply for those long, lamp lit nights ahead.

Harvest progress was herky-jerky this past week. Lots of combines getting stuck and areas of fields left until conditions improve. Some soybeans left in areas and memories of the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 are in the back of everyone’s mind as the fall weather continues to put a damper on spirits. Progress has been made, just not at the record pace it started out.

The white bearded Cockshutt owner made his presence known last week as he trotted out his Cockshutt 40 Golden Eagle and #70 International plow to turn under his soybean stubble. Always brings back memories of the way things were back in the days of the 450 Farmall’s, the 730 John Deere’s and WD-45 Allis. Still remember as a kid fishing through a drawer and finding the metal sediment bowl used when Dad’s Co-Op E-4 was on the mounted International picker, either a 2-M or a 2-MH model. The metal sediment bowl was used when a picker was mounted on the tractor to protect against an errant ear from flying through under the gas tank, breaking the glass sediment bowl and causing a fire. They’re antiques now as are some of the guys who remember those days.

Miss those days of old sometimes when farmers got up in the morning, would milk the pigs and slop the cows.  Thos guys were tough! With all today’s new-fangled contraptions and specialization, it’s just not the same anymore. Me? I’m just content to wax my manure spreader like any other livestock farmer in anticipation of barn cleaning season. Still, with all the reality shows on TV these days, think it’s only fitting they start a show called “Farming with the Stars”. They could ride along with me when I feed the ewes at the kindly neighbors pasture, trying to avoid getting knocked on their rear in the mud by the ram in the dark. Afterwards, they could get a whiff of the fresh manure on their feet when the heater on the pickup kicks in sending the aroma wafting their direction. Just doesn’t get any better than that!   
 
Was time to give the lawn another shave weekend before last with all the warm weather and rainfall. It’s slowing down though and hopefully it won’t take more than once or twice more. Seems like I’ve been living on the lawnmower over the past 4 months, except when getting off to move the little toads out of harm’s way. Cooler weather has diminished the toad activity substantially and most have likely burrowed in for the winter.

More changes on the bird scene in the backyard. Time to take the hummingbird feeders down I’m afraid. October 9th is about as late as I can remember having a hummingbird appear at our feeders. This week was treated to more white breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers at the feeders. On the ground, some mourning doves were on clean up patrol as well as the first dark-eyed juncos of the season. The real treat was the red-breasted nuthatch who replaced last week’s brown creeper. Getting a red-breasted nuthatch to sit still long enough here for a photo would be a challenge and they’re easy to miss.

At the Mall for Men, squirrels continue to run back and forth, hiding black walnuts wherever they can put them. Usually the Dotch pickup is a good candidate for winter storage but so far haven’t found any stashed there. Some kind soul left some pumpkin and apple muffins on our training table for the little fat buddies dining pleasure. Excellent fall table fare. However, Saturday much to my horror I discovered someone had eaten part of one of them, leaving a muffin stump! I know what you thought. They don't have homes, they don't have jobs, what do they need the top of a muffin for? They're lucky to get the stumps.

The little fall spiders were out last week. Could feel the spider web strands and little spiders getting tangled up in my chin underbrush Thursday when driving the 4 wheeler across the fields. With the cloudy conditions the gossamer on the lawn wasn’t apparent until Saturday’s sunshine. These tiny spider hatchlings use the wind to transport them from one area to another in a process known as “ballooning”.  They do this to find new territory and a place to hunker down before Old Man Winter sets in. Not a bad idea.

See you next week…real good then.

 


« Last Edit: October 15, 2007, 05:26:21 PM by Spinach »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Randy Kaar

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2007, 05:24:14 PM »
thanks dotch,  brings back old memories from summers
at the farm.

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Offline Spinach

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2007, 05:27:39 PM »
Thanks Dotch, that was a great read.  happy2.gif
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Offline Grute Man

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2007, 10:38:59 PM »
Thanks Dotch.  I like the retreat to some relaxing times.

 ::cheers::
If ya don't know where ya are, go back to da beginnin.

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2007, 12:15:11 PM »
I've consulted all the sages,
I could find in the yellow pages,
But there aren't many of them.

While dire predictions of a temperature crash have been delayed by a week, the scurs have been working feverishly to get this one right. This week should be drier but it will be cooler and more seasonal as we trudge toward November. Starting Wednesday, we see highs of 55 – 60 and lows down to 40 – 45. Thursday, slightly warmer with a high of 65 and a low of 40. Friday is somewhat murky but with a high of 55 and lows of 30 – 35, the scurs are sticking with a slight chance of rain. Saturday will be cooler with a high of 50 and an overnight low of 35. Sunday through Tuesday, dry, highs of 55 and lows near 40. Normal high for October 26th is 55 and the normal low is 32, the same we’d expect to see April 10th. We continue to lose daylight at a rate of nearly 3 minutes a day. A sneak peek at Halloween could mark the start of an abrupt cool down. The scurs aren’t taking any chances and are sewing wool lining inside their costumes.

When it’s not cloudy, aside from the moon of course, Jupiter continues to be one of the first heavenly bodies seen in the southwestern sky shortly after sundown. This is the last month to see the giant planet until it becomes a morning visitor in December. October 26th marks the Full Moon for the month of October. This is not so surprisingly known as the Full Hunter Moon. It is the time of year when deer are fat as are ducks and geese. This was a time when the early settlers would fill their larders with the bounty Mother Nature had to offer. Before the settlers came, the Ojibwe knew this as The Falling Leaves Moon. The Sioux also knew this as The Moon of Falling Leaves as well as the Moon of the Changing Season.

There have been a lot of leaves falling making the leaf watching season rather abbreviated. All the precipitation this month along with the breezy conditions have knocked many of the leaves off before we had much of a chance to enjoy them. There are still scattered pockets of color here and there with some hard maples showing their yellows on the odd day when the sun has shone. The colors are not as vibrant as some years though and don’t blink or you’ll miss them. The leaves on the red oak trees in the yard at the ranch will be around for awhile but even their colors are muted somewhat this time around from the deep crimson we’ve become accustomed to.

Progress in the fields went at a snail’s pace last week with 2 rainfall events last week making wet fields even wetter. At the SROC in Waseca, a 93 year old precipitation record was broken for the 3 month period of August, September and October. This eclipsed the record set in 1924 and October isn’t over. Some have resorted to putting tracks on their combines and others have resorted to waiting out the weather at Karl’s playing pull tabs. That’s okay; we can always use a new fire truck. There are some grain quality issues apparent as some corn has been sprouting on the ear and the soybeans remaining in the field are not improving in quality either. We may see a return to days gone by where we felt good about finishing harvest by Thanksgiving.

 October is pasta month and being a former resident of North Dakota’s Durum Triangle area, am proud to have had the privilege to work with durum wheat growers there for 3 years after graduating college. North Dakota raises approximately 68% of the nation’s durum wheat. While durum can be used to make bread or occasionally cinnamon Bobka, its primary use is of course pasta. Hard amber durum is the hardest of all known wheat classes. To make pasta, rather than grinding the wheat into flour, durum is ground into a granular product known as semolina. The amber color of the durum wheat kernel gives the semolina and the resulting pasta its golden color.

At the Mall for Men, we’ve seen an increase in the number of little fat buddies wearing buttons saying “I got my combine stuck. Did you?” Some horror stories but mainly gallows humor to maintain a positive mental outlook. Most also had lists of outdoor fall honeydew projects but were betting some coffee and smart talk would postpone those until our office phone rings anyway. Have to go hide somewhere else.   

Indeed there are plenty of things to do outdoors. After taking down the hummingbird feeders was time to clean up some of the other bird feeders, making them more sanitary for our feathered friends. Didn’t take long and there was a whole flock of chickadees flitting about checking out the sunflower and thistle feeders. This marks the first chickadees we’ve seen in years. Maybe changing deodorant did help! They had to share however. There were also large groups of house finches and goldfinches alternating between feeding stations. Bluebirds are passing through and was witness to another of those perpetual strings of blackbirds Sunday morning while cleaning up the sunflower stalks around the well pit.

Inside the ranch house, Mrs. Cheviot has enlisted the services/opinions of several decorating consultants for advice about window dressings, wall hangings, tables, color coordination, etc. Oddly enough yours truly has not been consulted. Wonder if it has something to do with the velvet black light posters that graced the walls in the apartment shared with the Boy Entomologist, the pear-shaped centerpiece homemade blaze orange swag light fixture that adorned the living room or the blankets we hung over the windows when we were trying to sleep off Friday night on Saturday morning? Perhaps I should consult the sages at the Mall for Men for some decorating tips on my small assigned portion of the living space. I’d really hate to be left out of this process after all. Maybe if I iron that good old slightly rumpled Alan Parsons Project poster…

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

Offline Randy Kaar

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2007, 06:42:02 PM »
akways wondered why i was never consulted
in the home decor...  hmmmm

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Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2007, 01:56:36 PM »
Time, time, time
See what's become of me...

The scurs had more success last week predicting a pretty nice stretch of fall weather. What lies in store for us this week? Some rather seasonal conditions through the early part of the forecast and some downright cool conditions to start out next week. Wednesday’s highs reach 50 and lows are in the 30 degree range with a slight chance of rain. Thursday and Friday, slightly warmer with a high of 55 and lows near 30 with another slight chance of rain Friday night. Saturday through Monday, highs  of 50 with lows around 30. Tuesday, highs struggle to reach 40 with overnight lows near 20. Normal high for November 2nd is 50 and normal low is 29, the same we normally experience on April 2nd or 3rd. Again we lost about 3 minutes of daylight per day this past week. After masquerading as weather forecasters this Halloween, the scurs will be falling back and enjoying an extra hour of sleep on Sunday.

Don’t forget to get up at 2 a.m. to set your clock back an hour on November 4th. Changing it ahead of time is cheating and could reduce that imaginary 300,000 barrels of oil we will save you know. Occurring one week later than last year, we get the hour of sleep back that was stolen from us last spring. I have an idea, why don’t we just let bygones be bygones, call it even and leave the clock alone after this November?

Speaking of time, an apology to anyone who got their dander up because the last full moon actually occurred on October 25th rather than the 26th as most calendars said. Most calendars, especially the free ones that are handed out, set the timing of the phases of the moon according to Greenwich Mean Time or Universal Time, which is 5 hours ahead of us during Daylight Saving Time. The actual time of the moon becoming full was 11:52 p.m. on October 25th so technically, in last week’s column, we missed it by 8 minutes. However, either date was correct. The moon was still full at 12:01 a.m. on the 26th. Venus continues to shine brightly in the morning sky, looking like a mini-moon so we should all be happy about that.

Area farmers made generally good harvest progress this past week. There are still some chewy spots though and some gigantic ruts to serve as a reminder to call the tile man. Corn is coming out of the fields very dry and the amount of dryer gas being consumed is minimal. If the weather holds, the majority of the corn should be picked and in the bin as we near the weekend.

The season continues its march towards winter. A true killing frost occurred on the morning of the 28th around Greater Bugtussle so according to local Swedish tradition, we can now officially have Indian Summer. Leaves fell easily out of the trees that morning as the slightest breeze initiated their descent to the earth. The nasturtiums in the yard that had been robust the day before looked like deflated balloons by noon. The sheep were busy lapping up the soft maple leaves as fast they fell on their side of the pasture fence, not unlike kids picking up candy at a parade.

The lawn got one last shave on Saturday and while I almost got stuck in the ditch, the dry leaves in the rest of the yard were pulverized into confetti. There are a few leaves yet on area trees but they are becoming scarce. The bur oak leaves at the kindly neighbors pasture have fallen and the ewes there have to fish through the dry leaves to get to the green grass underneath. There’s enough forage there to last a few weeks yet, weather permitting but one knows that eventually the inevitable is coming.

The birds don’t seem to be all that concerned about the change in seasons at this point. The chickadees are busy going from feeding station to feeding station and there are some newcomers. Sunday morning saw the first red-bellied woodpecker of the season and the first purple finches that have been seen here in many moons. Having been so used to seeing house finches, these looked a little odd at first, slightly larger and the females with the white stripe above the eye made me look twice. It is gratifying after starting the remodeling project a year ago and removing 3 large trees to see that the birds still find the yard inviting. Not only inviting but more hospitable. There is more variety this year than ever before.

Mrs. Cheviot got the stools for the center island and was fortunate (or so she thought) that 2 out of the 4 were already assembled, saving us lots of time as there are lots of bolts in them. After actually reading the instructions and putting together the other two, discovered the previously assembled stools had bolts missing, not in just one or two places but all over. In addition, they hadn’t used the proper bolts or washers in the proper places if at all so they didn’t fit together well. Luckily none of the little fat buddies visited and got a chance to sit on them. Could’ve been disastrous.

The easiest solution was to ask for another hardware kit, disassemble each stool completely and reassemble them. The furniture company was gracious about getting us another hardware kit but apparently whoever had put the 2 stools together decided that lock washers were unnecessary, discarding part of them. We were still 4 short, making another trip to a hardware store necessary. Estimating that the pre-assembled stools actually cost us about 4 additional hours. On the bright side, figure I am now qualified to get a job at a furniture store. Better than working at the Pottery Barn I guess.

See you next week…real good then.       







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

Offline GOGETTER

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2007, 05:00:02 PM »
 happy2.gif
DOTCH:  GOOD READ.  KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.  GREW UP ON A FARM IN SO. DAK. BRINGS BACK SOME MEMORIES.   ;D
GENO

Offline Grute Man

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2007, 07:34:25 PM »
I thought something was funny about the moon and my calendar.  Glad I didn't blow up or anything.   ;D

Nice read.  Thanks.
Grute
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Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2007, 01:54:15 PM »
How soft your fields so green…

The scurs were on track for most of last week with some pretty decent weather. This week will bring some marked changes but not all that out of the ordinary for the second full week in November. After the early week winds, breezes should moderate making it feel a little warmer. Look for highs Wednesday and Thursday of 40 – 45 and lows around 25. Fridays high should top out at 45 with a low of 40.  Saturday, warmer. High of 45 – 50 and a low near 40. Warmer again Sunday with a high of 55 and low between 35 and 40. High for Monday around 50 and low plummeting to 20. Tuesday, much cooler with a high of 35 – 40 and a low of 15 – 20.  Normal high for November 9th is 45 and the normal low is 26. The normal high has cooled 5 degrees in the last week and the normal low is 3 degrees lower than a week ago. We’ve lost 18 minutes of daylight in the past week. The scurs are not worried however. There is plenty of leftover chocolate from Halloween to help keep their mood positive.

We experienced a fair amount of virga (not Viagra) this past weekend, a situation where rain falls out of the clouds but does not reach the ground, partially due to extremely low humidity. Skies last Saturday afternoon looked ominous and while radar showed rain, it never fell. Sunday it sprinkled lightly but didn’t amount to anything.

It’s amazing to drive around the countryside and see all the green lawns and hayfields. Actually mowed a little lawn this past weekend after getting the last of the apples picked up under the tree. Some operators have taken a late cutting of hay and the chances of damage to stands now that forages are essentially dormant are reduced as long as one allowed the alfalfa to bloom during one cutting. Still some corn to be harvested around the area but finding standing corn is getting tougher. Fall tillage is progressing well although who would’ve guessed a month ago we’d be this far along. There are also indications that some cornstalks will be left for no-till soybeans given the contract price for next year.

Asian multicolored ladybeetles have outnumbered the boxelder beetles inside the house for the first time this fall. Numbers are not as dramatic as in years past so one is left to wonder why. Soybean acreage was down and most acres were treated for soybean aphids which in turn also takes out a portion of the ladybeetles. It could also be that perhaps we are beginning to see the insects reach some type of equilibrium such as they have in China where soybeans have been raised for centuries.

At the ranch, the show sheep came back off the road, having traveled across much of the US with our friends from NY Mills. They always stick out once they’re mixed in with the rest of the group, their show coats still clean and freshly trimmed. The ewes in the home pasture have enjoyed the leftover apples. Now the grass has stopped growing it won’t be long and they’ll need to be hayed. The ram and ewes at the kindly neighbors pasture will have to come home in the next couple weeks too. Lucy is looking forward to bringing them up and holding them in the barn until I can get there to close the door.

In the yard, small groups of robins continue to pass through, snacking on the crabapples.  A hairy woodpecker was the most recent arrival at the feeders. The addition of suet cakes in the feeders met with his approval. While finishing the apple harvest, noted 9 bluebirds in a small flock flying overhead, calling as they made their way south as if to say “goodbye, see you next spring”.

The “Orange Army” was out in force this past weekend. Not sure just how many were successful in getting a deer but there were sure a lot of guys in pumpkin suits sitting in trees. As long as they didn’t shoot themselves or somebody else, most of us out enjoying the warm weather weren’t too concerned.

Recently checked the rat bait boxes in the barn the other night after chores and to my amazement, they were all empty again after just a few weeks. Restocked them and thought nothing of it until the next night when I decided to see how much poison these rats were eating on a daily basis. Opened up one of the boxes and to my surprise, there was a small opossum in it, hissing at me and baring his teeth. Quickly grabbed the pellet gun and dispatched the varmint, marveling at how the little contortionist got through a 2” diameter hole.
 
As if that wasn’t bad enough, when walking back to the house, I spied another one stumbling around in the dark, almost like it had a drug overdose, perhaps opium. White lotus. Yam-yam. Shanghai Sally. It was more likely suffering from the effects of the rat bait. Grabbed a pitchfork and made short work of that one as well. Decided to dust off the live trap once again. At $20 a pail for rat bait there are probably cheaper methods of controlling opossums.

See you next week…real good then.
 

 

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2007, 08:03:56 PM »
Hey, what's that sound?

Ah those scurs keep dishing out nice weather forecasts and wouldn’t you know, we keep getting nice weather. More on tap for this week and the deep freeze will have to wait another week. Starting with Wednesday and stretching through Friday,  highs of 40 – 45 and lows of 25. Saturday, slightly cooler. High 40 and low of 25. Sunday’s high should be warmer at 45 and low should be 25. Monday and Tuesday are out there a ways but it looks like 45 for a high on Monday with a low of 20 – 25. Tuesday looks cold with highs of 30 – 35 and a low of 20. Best guess for Thanksgiving is a 40+ degree day which will help all you turkey grillers save on charcoal. Normal high is 41 and normal low is 23, the same we’d expect to see in mid-March. We’ve lost 17 minutes of daylight since last week although the rate at which we’re losing it slows as we approach the winter solstice. After the warm weather, the scurs are starting to look around for that perfect Thanksgiving turkey.

My favorite female Star - Eagle columnist tossed a question my way concerning what happened to the woolly bear caterpillars (larva of the Isabella moth) this fall as she had not seen any. I saw relatively few but did see some crossing the road west of Ellendale this fall. The brown band was very narrow and they were fairly large. As you all know, the width of the brown band is according to folklore a predictor of how harsh the winter will be. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, the width of the band is related to the caterpillar’s age. It increases as the caterpillar gets older and is also related to the moisture conditions they developed under. Wetter conditions usually mean the caterpillar has wider black stripes and less brown and so forth.

Woolly bear caterpillars over winter as caterpillars, wake up in the spring and eat for a bit, then spin a cocoon. There are 2 generations of woolly bears per year in this latitude, with cocoons being formed in spring and summer. Why weren’t there as many this fall? It could very well be moisture related. With record rainfall for the 3 month period of August through October, there were many pathogens that could have affected insect larva including fungal diseases such as beauvaria. While one can’t count on the woolly bears to predict the winter, (we have scurs for that) at least Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are still real.

With all the leaves now gone, it’s amazing to look around the yard at the ranch to see all the bird nests, well over a dozen including those of the robins, grackles, doves and red-winged blackbirds. No wonder it was so loud in the morning this past summer. Herring gulls descended out of nowhere Sunday on the neighbor's plowing to the north, plucking earthworms and night crawlers as fast as they could. The red-bellied woodpecker has become a regular this week and the chickadees are everywhere. On the ear corn feeder, Scratchy the fox squirrel eats the hearts (germ) out of the kernels, then drops them on the ground for the pheasants to clean up later. Or perhaps a Cornish gamehen.

Opossums continue to plague me. As of this week, the score is Mr. Cheviot 7, opossums 0. May have had some close encounters I wasn’t even aware of as well. At the kindly neighbors, the light had been burned out in the barn so was doing chores there by the Braille method. When I asked about changing the bulb, got a profuse apology from the kindly neighbor as he agreed the light needed attention. Apparently there were opossums in their barn too, hissing in the dark when they’d go down there to feed the cats in the room with the water hydrant. Here I thought it was just their cats!

Deer hunters were out in force over the weekend and was very politely asked if it was okay to hunt the land around the pond. It would’ve been easy to just blow through the area without asking and if no one saw them, who would’ve been the wiser, right? It boils down to a matter of a hunter’s ethics. If you’re one of those who thinks it’s okay to trespass and go anywhere you please, all you do is spoil it for those who know better. Thank you to all hunters who ask permission first.

Was barn cleaning time at home once again. Under the close scrutiny of Lucy and Gus, put the heathouser on, changed oil and moved stuff around so when the snow flies, life will be easier. And it always takes a little while to find all the grease zerks and chains the first time out with a different spreader. Don’t mind though; I love the smell of JB chain lube in the morning.

The spreader got a workout and I put ‘er through the paces. Was so used to the old spreader clanking, whirring and banging that I had to look back a few times to make sure the new one was running. It was although it complained a little on the last load when I piled it on a little too heavily and made the belt squawk. That’s alright. Don’t have to load it quite so heavy I guess. The neighbor will get more loads of manure that way.

See you next week…real good then.

 



 
« Last Edit: November 12, 2007, 08:09:26 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2007, 03:24:14 PM »
It's fun to stay at the YMCA...

The scurs were on track except for the slight ugliness that was Sunday. Oh well, it is November. This week brings us back down the earth once again with some slightly cooler than normal conditions.  Wednesday through Saturday, highs will struggle to get above freezing. Highs in that timeframe near 30 with lows between 15 and 20. Perhaps a light dusting of snow leftover from Wednesday will greet you as you light the charcoal grill Thursday morning for that Thanksgiving turkey. A warm up on Sunday with a high of 40 and a low of 25. Slightly cooler Monday and Tuesday with highs of 35 and lows of 15 – 20. Normal high for a November 22 Turkey Day is 37 and normal low is 20, the same we’d see early in the second week of March.  We’ve lost about 13 minutes of daylight in the last week but take heart: In about 6 weeks the hours of daylight will start to increase again. The scurs will be napping between copious amounts of leftover turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie in the meantime.

8:30 a.m. November 24th brings us another full moon, this one known as the Full Beaver Moon as it was common practice to trap beaver when this time of year when their activity is at its peak. Several locals can attest to their activity as the beavers have been busy making dams to slow running water and creating lodges where they can over winter in comfort.

The little fat buddies have been busy training for the upcoming holidays, sharpening their rapier-like wits and expanding their stomach capacity for the onslaught. Cookie and bar samples are always accepted at the Mall for Men training table. If we survive, they’re probably safe to give to someone else. It has been revealed that local religious leaders are encouraging the need to take a day of rest and not a moment too soon. It’s hard work trying to find new places to hide this time of year.   

Are you ready for that after-Thanksgiving dinner nap? Good news for all nappers including the editor and fellow nap aficionado. Recent information indicates that folks who take at least three 30-minute or more daytime naps weekly cut their risk of dying from a heart attack by 37%. According to Michael Rossman, director of Agri-Wellness, the ideal nap is 10 to 30 minutes. That after-dinner snooze is one more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Birds continue to be active at the feeders and the latest new sighting: A flicker on the suet. First time we’ve actually seen one at a feeder. As if on cue though, large groups of greedy starlings have shown up again to consume more than their fair share of suet. European starlings were brought to the US originally to New York City back in the 1890 as a part of someone’s cerebral flatulence to populate Central Park with all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. They since have become nuisance birds, crowding many native species out of their original niches and the large flocks have become hazardous for aircraft safety.

Starlings have also been identified as carriers of Campylobacter and Salmonella, capable of spreading these pathogens from farm to farm. More recently starlings are being studied as possible vectors of some of the recent E. coli outbreaks on vegetable produce. Turns out the strain of E. coli found on some of the area dairy farms near vegetables identified as contaminated is the same as that carried by local starling populations. Studies are being conducted at Ohio State University thanks to a grant from USDA.

Area farmers are putting the finishing touches on fall field work. Anhydrous ammonia prices have skyrocketed, reaching $600 per ton commonly across the area. Supply has been less than stable as well with some able to only apply a tank or two a day. Fall tillage is nearly completed and fields have worked up surprisingly well, given the wet conditions that had us wondering not more than 6 weeks ago if we’d ever get the crop out.

Even managed to get the big barn at the ranch cleaned finally. Was wondering while loading the spreader if the snowflakes were real or there were just some beeswings floating around the yard. They were real alright. Sometimes it feels like barn cleaning has become more calisthenics for my aging joints although I do enjoy playing with the toys. Like every other farm operation, raising livestock is a rough sport. While the exercise component (Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!) of manure handling isn’t what it used to be, you still need to use the pitchfork to clean up the little messes left behind by the skid loader. Getting bounced around for a couple days and jumping on and off of equipment umpteen times, one is always stiff and sore. Reminds me of the visit I had one time with a dairy farmer from Owatonna. Not so long ago when milk prices were in the dumper he was convinced the only thing he was getting out of milking cows was the exercise,  If he wanted a fitness program, he told me, it would be a lot cheaper to join the YMCA. Hard to argue with logic like that.

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

Offline Randy Kaar

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2007, 03:36:10 PM »
another good read!  thanks dotch.
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Offline GOGETTER

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2007, 04:40:32 PM »
Dotch:  I remember those Honey hauling days in SD in the 60's. Those A and B John Deeres' just putted along all day.  I hated unloading those loads by fork when the chain broke from too much weight. The boots got smelly then. Good Read.  Thanks..  Geno
GENO

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2007, 09:43:51 PM »
Thanks guys! Geno: Those Poppin' Johnnies were quite the machines, little different operating with the hand clutch but tough as nails. Always enjoyed hearing their familiar yet distinctive sound across the fields as a kid. Forking loads off is never fun. Last load last fall my old New Idea 210 spreader finally gave up the ghost and I blew the beater out on one side. Had to get my pitchfork out and fork the load off in the dark. Apron chain still works though so I can use it to haul and unload brush and stuff. Replaced it with a New Holland 520 someone had bought new and parked when they retired from dairy farming. Less than a 100 loads went through it. Looks like new, paint was still on the beaters. Works great but it's a lot bigger than the old spreader. Gives the 656 a workout. Hope I never have to pitch a load off of it or I'll get one too.   :taz:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline deadeye

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2007, 07:59:40 AM »
Dotch,
AHHH, the good old days of farming.  Brings back memories, some good, some not so good.  You guys complain about hand unloading the occasional broken spreader.  You get no tears from me.  We never had a loader.  My brother and I hand shoveled the gutters every day in winter. 
Then there is the on about the Preacher, Banker and Farmer discussing what they would do if they won a million dollars.
The Preacher said he would give it to the poor and help improve many lives.
The Banker said he would loan it to business and help people prosper.
The Farmer said he would just keep on farming as long as the money lasted!

Thanks, for the memories.



***I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.***

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2007, 10:14:53 AM »
Those were the days deadeye+, weren't they? You dairy guys got the raw deal on a daily basis. Ours was more time delayed. We could just toss in more straw to keep the barn warm and dry. Holiday season approaching brings back more manure memories. We didn't have a skid loader growing up so when Christmas "vacation" came, had to pitch out the sheep barn. It was an area about 30' x 30', low ceiling, with about 3' of hard packed sheep manure, sometimes frozen. There's a reason they call those things they use to make roads "sheep-foot packers". Took a pick axe to bust the pack loose and then it came off in sheets with the 4 tine pitchfork. Had to plop it in the wheelbarrow, wheel it up a ramp and dump it in the spreader. Gave the Co-Op E-3 and old Schultz tandem wheel spreader all they wanted bouncing across the plowing. Too frequently we'd shear pins on some of the bigger frozen chunks. With 2 of us it wasn't so bad but by yourself, seemed like it took forever. Had to get it done though. We had other areas to pitch too including the henhouse but they were staggered over the course of the year. Pushing 50 now, can't imagine even attempting stuff like that anymore. Makes me hurt just thinking about it. :bonk:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2007, 10:39:23 PM »
Get your motor running, head out on the highway...

After surviving a pre-Thanksgiving feast dusting of snow, the scurs are setting their sites on the upcoming week’s forecast. Unfortunately it contains none of the warm temperatures from this past weekend. Wednesday and Thursday are twins with highs both days of near 30 and lows of 15. Slight chance of snow for Wednesday. Colder Friday and Saturday with highs of 25 and lows around 10. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday highs of 20 – 25 and lows around 10. Normal high for November 30th is 33 and normal low is 15, the same we experience the last week in February. We have lost approximately 13 minutes of daylight in the past week. The scurs have eaten their last piece of pumpkin pie as they peruse the circulars for Christmas bargains.

Did it seem like Thanksgiving came early this year? That’s because it did. Thanksgiving is traditionally the fourth Thursday in November in the US. That means that Thanksgiving can come anywhere from November 22nd to November 28th when the month begins on a Friday. The good news: The little fat buddies get to feast early. The bad news: They get one more week of Christmas shopping.

We had numerous guests for Thanksgiving Day. They included chickadees, blue jays, red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, a flicker, mourning doves, goldfinches, white-breasted nuthatches, dark-eyed juncos and the smallest of them all, a red-breasted nuthatch.

Stopped out at One Stop last week to get a bite to eat for lunch. I got the chicken and wild rice soup (No soup for you!) and the female half of the Bandwagon star duo informed me they had just caught the banty they made the soup from that morning with one of those “hooker-thingies”.  What she was referring to of course was those leg hooks that were commonplace on most of the farms we all grew up on. The hook on the end was used to slip under the chicken and when pulled would allow you to reel the chicken in. If you didn’t have one or couldn’t find the one you thought you had, a long piece of #9 wire could quickly be fashioned into one of those “hooker-thingies”. Oh yes, the soup was real good.

With the holiday weekend, the sheep were brought home from the kindly neighbors pasture. Not without a struggle however. The sheep were up around the barn which his usually a good sign. However, some of the ewes had other ideas. The dogs and I had them where we wanted them and were about to close the door when suddenly, 7 or 8 of them bolted for the hills. Noticeable amongst them acting as ringleaders were a couple ewes from a friend who had brought them over to breed. Penned the cooperative ram and ewes in and went off to see if we could find the others.

Sent Lucy to find the group and she brought part of them up but some were still being stinky about it. Made her go back and bring the others up which she did beautifully. After some coaxing they decided we meant business so they went in as Lucy held them while I grabbed the barn door and slid it shut. Earlier in the week was a little worried that Lucy might not make the trip. Had taken her to the vet to examine a lump on her leg. After a biopsy the news was good: Benign for now anyway. At 10 going on 11, not sure how many more sheep round-ups she has left in her. Was sure glad she made this one though. Seems like it’s getting a little farther to the north end of the pasture each year.

‘Tis the season to bring all the animals home including some of the rams we’ve leased out. We don’t lease very many rams out because frequently those who lease them are doing so because simply because they’re cheap. They’ll want to haggle on the price and when the animal is returned, it’s in poor condition. However, a gentleman by Chatfield has been leasing a ram from us every fall for years and this one was no exception. When we first met Gary Stolz years ago wasn’t just sure how it would turn out. Here was a guy wearing Harley clothing, sporting a bushy beard driving a little Suzuki 4x4 pulling a small 2 wheeled trailer with a pickup topper on it. He wanted to buy a half-dozen ewes, some with lambs at side. We had some and he didn’t bat an eye at the price. He’s increased his flock to about 30 head and keeps coming back every fall to get a ram to use. Every year the ram comes back in better shape than when he left.
 
Turns out he works at Mayo and since he lives on an acreage near Chatfield from which many of the Bernard clan hail, we’ve been able to connect the dots on mutual acquaintances. He spins wool into yarn and knits his own creations. Gary’s made stocking hats from the natural-colored (black) Cheviot ewe they had and the one thing he’s made I’ve always been impressed with is a neck warmer made to fit down inside your shirt for those cold winter days on the prairie when the wind blows.

When he showed up Saturday, we were able to back right up to the pen to unload the ram, something that made all of us happy since we didn’t have to handle the tightly wound beast. We visited about tractor restoration. He and his Dad recently restored the Massey 33 he'd had when he was farming. He brought photos along of the finished product and it was flawlessly done, his Dad proudly seated behind the wheel.  Gary paid me for use of the ram and then said “Oh, almost forgot”, as he ducked back inside the Suzuki and produced a neck warmer he’d made himself from the Cheviot wool he’d spun. “This is for you.” It was perfect. Somehow he knew. First impressions? Sure, they’re important but one should never judge a book by its cover.

See you next week…real good then.     


   
your motor running, head out on the highway...

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

Offline deadeye

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2007, 08:49:08 AM »
"Tis the season to bring all the animals home including some of the rams we’ve leased out. We don’t lease very many rams out because frequently those who lease them are doing so because simply because they’re cheap. They’ll want to haggle on the price and when the animal is returned, it’s in poor condition."

And, just what condition would you be in if you were leased out during the summer for "service"????

Maybe he's in poor conditon, but happy.

***I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.***

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #20 on: November 28, 2007, 12:44:04 PM »
Would depend on the "ewes", how many naps I could take and how much food I could eat I guess. A feller's gotta keep his strength up! :popcorn:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2007, 01:07:42 PM »
We come from the land of the ice and snow...

After getting their Christmas gift lists in order, the scurs get down to brass tacks with another week’s weather forecast. Below normal temperatures for much of the week with some snow potential. Some relief possible early next week. Wednesday through Friday, highs of 20 and lows between 5 and 10. Slightly warmer Saturday with highs of 20 – 25 and lows near 10. Chance of snow Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday and Monday it warms up with highs near 35 and lows of 15 – 20. Tuesday slightly cooler with a high of 25 and low of 15. Snowfall is also a distinct possibility. Normal high for December 7th is 30 and normal low is 12, the same range we’d expect to see in mid-February. We’ve lost another 9 minutes of daylight in the last week but the rate of loss is declining. The scurs are stoking the pot bellied stove in the parlor, mesmerized by the light flashing through the mica vents.

Last Saturday’s storm took many of us somewhat by surprise until we realized it is December. Still, after experiencing high temperatures near 50 on November 25th, it was a shock to the system to experience the sub-zero wind chills one week later. True enough we had to endure the greasy skid stuff on Friday but the glaze left from the freezing rain one day later caused church services to be cancelled and a tendency for those who didn’t need to travel to hunker down. A wise idea. There will be more church services and risking life and limb to get there doesn’t make much sense.

St. Olaf Lake froze over hopefully for good sometime during the middle of last week. Up until Thursday there had been ducks sitting on the ice shelf on the west end of the lake and 4 swans were sighted one morning on my drive in to the Mall for Men. Sunday, wedges of geese were spotted heading south almost like wave after wave of bombers. Not sure if they were locals from one of the area municipalities or if they’d seen enough and were heading south where water would be open for awhile.

Even though it’s been cold, the bird activity at the feeders has been at a fever pitch, especially on either side of the storm. All the regulars were feeding heavily along with some newcomers, the tree sparrows. Thought perhaps the flicker would leave but she’s still here. How can one tell it’s a female? It has no “moustache” same as most of the human female population. The chickadees were distraught when I let the feeder on the south side of the house run out. Was rewarded however when they decided the sunflower seeds in my cupped hand were safe to eat, landing, picking one out quickly and retreating to a nearby branch.

Gus and Lucy have put on some tremendously heavy coats thus far. They needed them too as they struggled to maintain their balance in the wind on the icy slopes as they did their business. They’ve become spoiled with their new winter abode in the heated garage. Their new doggie beds have made it even more comfortable and the leftover Lion’s pancakes hit the spot. Swallowed whole not sure they even tasted them. Reminded me of the little fat buddies inhaling a plate of Christmas cookies.

Moving snow for those who had to get out was a challenge. The ½ - ¾” ice on top coupled with the almost granular like snow underneath was tough to blow and equally as ornery to move with the bucket. Several times chunks that came loose resembling cement blocks or sheets of plywood. With no cab, it was definitely time to break out the long handles Sunday after that experience.

Marianne wanted to hear more possum stories and sure enough, there are more. They’re like fleas this year I swear and others have said the same. Wound up face to face with one at the kindly neighbors before leaving there before Thanksgiving and had to improvise with a fishing spear. Not sure when the possum spearing season starts but I’ll be ready for it. I was concerned the other night that one had wriggled up the downspout and was crawling around in the eave troughs or was on the roof as they can climb like a ring-tailed lemur. Went outside to look and nothing visible anywhere. Audible however was the ice falling off the trees on top of the ice, making an interesting echo off the side of the house. Mr. Cheviot 9, Possums 1.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2007, 10:51:36 AM »
My apologies for not getting this up sooner. The local "Decorating Nazi" has been keeping me busy.

Separate the wheat from the chaff...

The scurs were embarrassed when Sunday missed the high they predicted last week by only 20 degrees. They’ll be staying out of the holiday eggnog for awhile. After early week snow showers, this one is dry but cool. Wednesday high of 20 and low of 10 followed by a scorcher on Thursday with a high of 25 and low of 5 – 10. Back to reality Friday through Sunday with highs of 15 and lows of 0 to 5 above. Monday and Tuesday: warmer. Highs Monday of 20 and low of 10. Tuesday’s high is a blistering 25 and a balmy low of 15. Normal high for December 14 is 27 and normal low is 9. We’ll have 8 hours and 56 minutes of daylight on the 14th and we’ve lost only 6 minutes of daylight since the 7th. The scurs have rented “It’s a Wonderful Life” to see if George Bailey really can lasso the moon.

Days are getting shorter but that will soon change. Someone came in overjoyed that the sun will begin setting later December 14th. That’s the good news. The bad news is it continues to rise later until December 27th (7:48 a.m.) and continues to rise at that time until January 9th. Daylight hours will begin to get longer on December 26th, something to look forward to in what has started out to be winter as we once knew it. With the ground snow covered as early as it has been and with the days as short as they are, a substantial warm up is unlikely for awhile.

The ice the weekend before last has been treacherous. With the every few days’ worth of snow on top of it, it’s kept the hospital wards busy with their fair share of sprains and broken bones. Had the pleasure a couple times this past week of suddenly winding up on my behind. How I managed to keep from breaking the eggs and several glass jars when falling at the grocery store is beyond me. The yard at the ranch being on a slope, it’s easy to find places to go for a digger. Luckily no one saw me either place and hopefully they didn’t hear me. The air wasn’t just blue from the diesel exhaust.

Decided it’s time to go looking for a Christmas tree, all the while avoiding the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Hopefully as of this writing there are still some left. All is not lost however. If I don’t find a tree, Festivus is back! I’ll get the pole out of the crawl space. Maybe if I eat enough pickled herring in me I’ll be prepared for the feats of strength.

Wasn’t more than a few hours after the last column went to print that we had pheasants roll through the yard. With much of their food froze down and more snow piling on top of it, their survival may be compromised. Had a lone grackle at the feeders this weekend. Seems to like the suet and the ear corn feeder the best. More stragglers this year than we’ve seen in awhile. The flicker is still here and there are a handful of mourning doves that clean up under the feeders. The goldfinch numbers continue to swell and they empty the thistle sock in the crabapple tree every 2 – 3 days.

With the ice and cold, doing “chorse” every morning and night starts to wear on a person this time of year. Nothing like when we were growing up though. It was a few years before we had lights in the barn and we never had lights in the chicken coop. Always a trick to hold the flashlight and protect the egg bucket while attempting to dislodge some old biddy hen from the galvanized nesting boxes. Most frustrating when they’d jump out of the nest suddenly and upset the egg bucket on their way down. On the bright side, at least those eggs would usually be warm and not frozen as some laid earlier in the day.

Looks like field operations have ceased for the year. Tilers have encountered 10” of frost on soybean stubble. On the lakes, there is up to 8” of ice. Might be a good place to contemplate life and what the fertilizer prices will be for the upcoming year. Commodity prices continue to show strength; who would’ve thought old crop wheat would ever reach over $10 per bushel? While the cost of the wheat in a loaf of bread has roughly tripled in the past 3 years, the price per loaf locally for the store brand has remained relatively stable, not much different than 3 years ago. Too bad we can’t say the same about a gallon of gas or diesel.

Lucy’s 11th birthday is the 18th. Doesn’t seem all that long ago that I went to IL and picked up the little red and white smooth coat border collie puppy. She’s been a very special animal to be sure, and if I can communicate properly, one that always tries her best to do what’s asked. Fortunately, she understands more English than some people I know. Wish I’d had a dog like that when I was a kid. Think she really would have eaten my homework! Best of all, as she’s aged, she’s become more cunning. She knows 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)

Offline Randy Kaar

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2007, 11:03:32 AM »
good read, thanks dotch!

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Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2007, 02:10:03 PM »
A winter's day, in a deep and dark December...

The scurs were tracking more than snow last week with a pretty good idea of what the weather was up to. Can they deliver on a decent holiday forecast? All indications point to “yes”. Starting with Wednesday, look for a high of 30 and a low of 15 – 20. Much the same Thursday with a high of 30 and a low of 15. Slight chance of light snow. Slightly cooler Friday and Saturday with highs both days near 25 and lows of 15 – 20. Slight chance of light snow on Friday night into Saturday. Sunday and Monday highs range from 20 – 25 and lows dipping to 10 above. Christmas Day could see a slight thaw with a high of 30 – 35 and a low of 15. Normal high for December 21st is 25 and normal low is 6. Normal high for Christmas Day is 24 and normal low is 5. Starting on the 18th we experience our shortest day lengths at 8 hours and 54 minutes through Christmas Day. On the 21st, we will have only lost 2 minutes from 1 week previously. On the 26th, we get one more minute of daylight back so if you see the scurs out celebrating, you’ll know why.

The 23rd brings us the Full Moon for the month, becoming full at 7:16 p.m. Once again we run into the calendar vs. Universal Time issue. The free calendars most of us get this time of year are designed based on Universal Time and those of us on CST need to subtract 6 hours for the time to be accurate. The moon is actually full the day prior to when the calendar claims it is. This Full Moon is known as the Full Cold Moon or the Long Nights Moon. Indeed the nights are long and the moon stays above the horizon for a long time. On the 23rd for instance, it rises at 4:04 p.m. and sets the following morning at 8:44 a.m. making for 16 hours and 40 minutes of mooning pleasure, if it isn’t cloudy of course.

Birds continue to flock to the feeders although the flicker may have flown the coop. No matter, there are enough new goldfinches to make up the difference for several flickers. Did a little experiment with the goldfinches to see whether they could tell new thistle seed from some that had been in a feeder not being consumed for awhile. Thistle seed is not getting any cheaper. In the feeder they were consistently emptying, I secretly switched that seed with the old stuff they weren’t eating just to see if they could tell the difference. Sounds sorta like one of those old Folger’s coffee crystals commercials, doesn’t it? Nothing visually wrong with the seed, nor could one detect any musty odor. Sure enough, they went to the other feeders and still turned their noses, er, beaks up at the old seed in the feeder they had previously favored. Gotta get up purty early in the morning to fool a goldfinch.

At the Mall for Men the little fat buddies continue hiding and gathering near the Festivus pole. Every day high level discussions are conducted concerning crucial matters such as where the fish are biting, lying about crop yields as well as home economics. Yes, home economics. We’re especially concerned about food safety this time of year, particularly food spoilage. The consensus of the panel of experts was that the best way to avoid food spoilage is to eat it. Judging by the snug fitting “coverhauls” of one of the panel members, the strategy works despite claims of the Mrs. washing the Carhartts in hot water.

Went out and did my level best once again to Christmas shop for the staff at the Star Eagle. Enlisted the scurs help as there are a bunch more people to buy for. For Jim I found a nice pillow containing a tiny hidden speaker that constantly plays “Double Mark’s salary” for those long winter naps.  For Nancy, some of my homegrown 4 O’clock seeds. I know they’re out there under the snow and ice someplace. For Betts, some micro-chips; you know, like those crunched up Doritos at the bottom of the bag that fit so nicely down between the couch cushions. For Al, I figured he needed a new hat as the one in that photo has got to be getting a little gamey. For Jody, I located an autographed copy of “In the Navy” by the Village People. For Kathy, a Chatty Cathy doll with a really long string. For Dick, more of those now 2 year-old dehydrated wax worms. Just add water! Speaking of water, for Ray I procured a bottle of Bugtussle’s finest dihydrogen monoxide from the tap and a flu shot. For Reed I purchased a pack of heaters but he can only have them if he promises to smoke them outside. And for those wondering, yes, I am getting Kugie another athletic supporter but this year, I’m getting him a blonde.

See you next week…real good then.

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #25 on: December 24, 2007, 03:50:14 PM »
Got the soul of a ragpicker, Got the mind of a slug
I keep sweeping problems, Under my rug

After hitting a little bump in the weather road that was the weekend, the scurs are tanned, rested and ready for another week’s forecast. This week should be moderate temperature-wise but bring with it chances of snow mid-week through Friday. Wednesday’s high of 30 should be easy to take along with the low of 15. Thursday and Friday the highs should be 25 and lows should be 10 – 15. Saturday through New Years Eve Day, highs of 20 – 25 and lows of 10 – 15. New Years Day, high of 30 and low of 10 – 15 with a chance of snow. Normal high for December 28th is 24 and normal low is 4. We have gained 2 minutes of daylight since December 21st. The scurs are readying their snowshoes after watching Sgt. Preston of the Yukon reruns.

In the heavens, we are still seeing Venus as one of the bright features of the morning sky before sunup and after dusk, the red planet Mars is noticed in the western sky. It is the closest to Earth it has been in over 2 years. Look for Jupiter to reappear in the morning sky again next month as you continue to rise earlier than the sun to get to work. The sun pillar on Christmas Eve morning was nothing short of spectacular. Ice crystals suspended in the air made for an awesome view on the heels of the fleeing winter storm.

Was a weekend to entertain as we had the family get-togethers for both sides of the Cheviot family at the ranch. Yours truly spent lots of time cleaning and scrubbing the floors prior to that. My janitorial experience from my college days comes in handy once in awhile. Was great to have everyone together though and it went smoother than could’ve been expected. Everyone brought so much food and a good time seemed to be had by all. Even the dogs enjoyed themselves. Leftover giblets are prime doggie treats and special attention was paid to the canine guests as well as Gus and Lucy. Lots of petting and cooing over them and they loved every minute of it.

The weekend weather was foretold by lots of squirrel activity both in town and out in the country. Around the Mall for Men, lots of gray squirrels were on the move Friday including Stubby. Stubby is a gray squirrel with a 3” – 4” tail. Distinctive looking little bugger and can always tell which rodent it is. Outside Bugtussle, the fox squirrels were busy on Friday and Saturday. Stubby’s country cousin Tubby is the fox squirrel we share with neighbor David. Tubby was busy feasting after running from his home across the pasture to his favorite ear corn feeder. His behind was facing the wind and his tail was up over his back protecting him from the wind as he chowed down on kernel after kernel.  There’s a reason he’s called Tubby and it isn’t because he can coach basketball. With Sunday’s brutal wind and snow, was a safe bet he was busy sleeping off his feast in a nest or tree cavity someplace.

Bird activity was frantic most of the weekend as well. The goldfinches number nearly two dozen now and when they’re hungry, they pull pretty hard on the feeders. Even when the weather was whooping it up, they clung to the leeward side of the feeders for dear life. The mourning doves for being symbols of peace were pretty mean to the other birds. The blue jays were around too, prompting new brother-in-law Joe to proclaim them to be the biggest, fattest blue jays he’d ever seen. We made him aware they were small compared to the 22 lb. model grilled on the Weber as the main course.

Was wondering when I’d find time with the Vikings game changed to Sunday night to get this column done. After reeling off 5 in a row, was beginning to think they might have something going on. After seeing the results of the first half, that problem was solved quickly. Morgan Mundane pointed out on Saturday morning that Joe Gibbs was 5 – 0 at the Metrodome. After Sunday’s debacle, make that 6 – 0. Having watched all the Vikings Super Bowl losses and all the teams that looked promising but just never quite made it, have decided they’re pro football’s answer to the Cubs in baseball. Might as well go about your business and not get too excited about them because you know full well if you get your hopes up, they’re only gonna dash ‘em to bits. To quote a former Vikings head coach, they are who we thought they were. My only solace for the weekend: The Packers were annihilated by none other than “Da Bears”!

Mrs. Cheviot wasted no time recovering from last year’s Christmas tree-less Christmas with a flurry, placing 5 Christmas trees around the abode. There’s even one in the bathroom where I sit and read my toilet book. The “real” Charlie Brown tree purchased at the last minute even turned out pretty well although I sure had my doubts when tossing it in the back of the Silver Bullet. Took me awhile to find all the strategically placed trees. Hopefully when it’s time to take them down, I can be strategically placed so it’ll take Mrs. Cheviot awhile to find me. Will see if some of my training sessions with the little fat buddies have paid off.

See you next week…real good then.   








 


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

Offline Randy Kaar

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #26 on: December 24, 2007, 04:22:19 PM »
good to see mrs. cheviot is keepin you out of trouble!
have a great xmas!

randy aka bh
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Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #27 on: December 31, 2007, 02:27:04 PM »
The question to everyone's answer...

New Year’s Day wind up a little cooler than expected? Yep, but the snowfall pattern was exactly as the scurs thought. Wednesday starts off cool but the temps should warm as the week goes on. Look for Wednesday’s high around 10 with a low of 5. Thursday and Friday, highs of 25 – 30 and lows of 20 – 25. Warmer Saturday and Sunday with a slight chance of rain beginning what should be an early January thaw. High of 35 through Tuesday with lows staying 25 – 30 for Saturday and Sunday. Lows should taper off to around 20 for Monday and Tuesday. Normal high for January 4th is 22 and the normal low is 2. We’ve gained 5 minutes of daylight since December 28th. We’re now up to a whopping 9 hours and 1 minute. The scurs will be sharpening the blades on their ice skates to take advantage of the warmer than normal temperatures.

Does it look like winter out there? You betcha, although it has been moderate temperature-wise thus far. The 30 day outlook for January looks to continue the above normal pattern we’ll see this week. Oh sure, there will be some seesawing and if winter holds true to form, March could dump a pile of wet heavy snow on us. However, we’ve chewed off a large hunk of winter already and it hopefully won’t seem to drag on forever. The one fly in the ointment is the ice thickness on area lakes remains inconsistent. With no extended cold snap, there are thin spots, especially where there is current or waterfowl worked at keeping areas open for awhile before migrating. Yes people are driving on the lakes but with warm temperatures forthcoming, always a good idea to exercise caution. 

Weren’t the trees gorgeous on Sunday morning? Covered in hoar frost, they looked just like they’d been coated with that white flocking used on Christmas trees. What exactly is hoar frost and how does it form? Hoar frost is defined by the NWS as: “A deposit of interlocking ice crystals formed by direct sublimation on objects, usually those of small diameter freely exposed to the air, such as tree branches, plants, wires, poles, etc. The deposition of hoar frost is similar to the process by which dew is formed, except that the temperature of the frosted object must be below freezing. It forms when air with a dew point below freezing is brought to saturation by cooling”. All I know is the trees just look pretty.

Did Little Jerry the rooster pheasant make reappearance in our yard recently? Could’ve been. A large, beautifully colored rooster was busy taking advantage of the ear corn feeder in the corner of the lawn. He’d managed to pull an ear out of the feeder and was busy rolling it around in the snow, trying to get every last kernel off it he could. After getting his fill, he slunk back in the thicket to hide for a couple days. With the pheasant hunting season closing on January 1st, he was taking no chances. How are the pheasants doing across the area in general? They are certainly visible and so far there sure have been lots of hens spotted on the road picking up grit for their gizzards. While the earlier ice didn’t help their cause, the amount of header loss in both corn and soybeans was substantial. Moderating temperatures and some melting off in the fields should continue to help. A special thank you to my neighbor Mark for leaving such a generous food plot along his CRP. The pheasants spend a fair amount of time in there.

Are the gray partridge making a comeback? There is a small group of Hungarian partridge hanging around between the ranch and neighboring farmsteads. Saw them flying around the Dubya’s yard the other day then heard them calling to each other north of the house here as the group must’ve become separated. Slowly but surely it looks like the Huns are on the increase again. In my travels over the summer, ran across more of these little “round rockets” than I’ve seen in quite some time.

What are Gus and Lucy up to? They’ve been keeping the stray cats, bunnies and squirrels exercised. Lord knows there are enough cottontails around the ranch that if one sewed all their pelts together, you could make a furry hot air balloon. Other than that, the doggies took care of the last morsels from the holiday turkey and Gus is shedding, like all border collies constantly do.

Have I been enjoying my Christmas gifts so far? No doubt, particularly the goodies from the crack management staff at the Star Eagle. It helps me maintain my fighting weight. Especially liked the fruit cake. For those who don’t know, some wiseacre had taken cleverly taken the label off a fruitcake and glued it onto a wooden box. Not wanting to offend anyone or look a gift horse in the mouth, I ate it anyway.  It was a little dry but with a glass of milk and lots of butter, much better tasting than most fruitcakes. I hope they enjoy the possum sausage and jerky I’m sending them for New Year’s.

See you next week…real good then.

   

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

Offline Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2008, 09:26:21 AM »
Purple haze all around...

Just as the scurs thought, the speed-bump like cold snap didn’t last long and were treated to lots of fog and haze. It did melt plenty of the ice on area driveways and city streets however. The cause of the recent warm spell? No question it was due to the hot air being blown up from IA during last week’s caucuses. This week we ease our way back into winter with colder temperatures and an increasing promise of more snow. Highs Wednesday and Thursday should be near 30 and lows of 15 – 20. Chances of snow both days. Friday, highs of 25 – 30 with a low of 10 – 15. Saturday and Sunday, highs near 20 and lows around 10. Snow possible Sunday into Monday. Monday and Tuesday, colder with highs of 15 and lows of 5 – 10. Normal high for January 11 is 22 and normal low is 2. We’ve gained nearly 9 minutes of daylight since January 4th even though the sun will continue to rise at 7:48 until January 12th, the same as it has since December 28th. Our gain thus far has come from a later sunset. After taking down their Christmas decorations, the scurs are ready to settle in for a long winters nap.

The sun dogs on New Year’s Day were nothing short of marvelous. With as much blowing snow in the lower atmosphere and ice crystals aloft, the parentheses around the sun were huge. And following weather lore to a “T”, it did become much colder just as we all knew it would. The minus 8 reading on the truck thermometer the morning of January 2nd served as a reminder I didn’t need after chores.

It is amazing to watch the birds respond to the increase day length. In mid to late December, by 4:30 in the afternoon, they had left the feeders for their overnight roost. Now one can see them until 5 pm, still picking that last sunflower seed out of the feeder and flying up into the tree to crack it open. The warmer weather seemed to make a difference too. The goldfinches that were crowding the thistle socks were more erratic. Suspect when the temperatures cool down they’ll be back. Did discover there wasn’t just one Little Jerry the rooster pheasant, there were actually 5. Some armchair wildlife biologists might argue that it’s too many in a group. However, there are 4 to 5 times that many hens right in the same general proximity. Mother Nature takes care of her own fairly well. As predicted last week, now the fields are fairly free from ice and snow, there is plenty of access to grain from this past season’s harvest.

Was good to see my little fat buddy from Ellendale was hired by the crack management staff to cover Ellendale city council events. Would expect he will get plenty of valuable advice and input from his little fat buddy in Geneva while they’re moonlighting together on their daytime jobs.

With Christmas and New Years Day falling in the middle of the week, has been one of those holiday seasons where one is never just exactly sure when it’s really over with. Seems like it depends on who you are. Some won’t leave the decorations up a day past New Years Day and others will keep their lights up and going until well into February. The easy solution to that problem: Just don’t put any up.

Was afraid with the holiday season winding to a close, the little fat buddies would go into mourning as the Christmas goody supply is dwindling. However, hope was restored Monday morning when a huge pan full of apple crisp and whipped topping appeared. There really is a Santa Claus!

Mrs. Cheviot got her dander up and decided it was time to remove the Charlie Brown Christmas tree on Sunday. Yours truly had just awoken from his 2nd nap of the afternoon. Tanned, rested and ready, it was time to do battle. Almost hated to see the tree go but the needles were starting to be an issue. After we stuffed it out the patio doors, we discovered it left a gaping hole in the dining room decor. Of course as usual, my ideas to fill that void met with disapproval. Thought a gun cabinet might’ve added a nice touch or maybe with that much space, one of the old couches from the office would fit to catch those winter afternoon’s sunrays. Or perhaps a basketball hoop. It’s a good thing we’re both short.

See you next week…real good then.


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

Offline Bobby Bass

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2008, 10:40:31 AM »
Nice to only have to travel a short distance on the sled across the bay to find Fencelines. As always a good read.. Bobby
Bobby Bass


Bud and now Barney working the trail again in front of me.

It is not how many years you live, it is how you lived your years!

 

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