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Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 194538 times)

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Offline Dotch

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Well, I'm a vampire, baby, sucking blood from the earth

Warm and dry after wondering when the snow would fly, the scurs had the Weather Eye dialed back into mid-September. Are Jack Frost and Old Man Winter on vacation or planning their comeback? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the mid-50ís. Partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy on Thursday with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 40ís. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of showers. Highs in the mid-40ís with lows in the upper 30ís. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 50ís with lows in the low 40ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with a fair chance of showers early. Highs in the low 50ís with lows in the low 30ís. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of a shower. Highs in the low 50ís with lows in the low 30ís. Mostly cloudy with a fair chance of showers on Election Day Tuesday. Highs in the mid-50ís with lows in the mid-20ís. On the 7th we slide below 10 hours of daylight and wonít see that much again until February 4th. The normal high for November 8th is 45 and the normal low is 28. On the 6th, the scurs will be up at the crack of 2 a.m. standing on chairs to set their clocks back.
 
Daylight Saving Time comes to an end as mentioned on the 6th. It comes with a sigh of relief after being robbed of an hour of sleep earlier in the year. Of course, those who like the extra hour of daylight on the end of their day donít think itís so great. As rural America has morphed from being less and less evening livestock chore oriented, it matters less than it once did. We have electric lights that make the process less involved than carrying kerosene lanterns to the barn as once was the case. To a large extent, that rural America is long gone. Public opinion polls have shown the time change to be unpopular with a majority here in the US. Itís a matter of deciding which time regimen we can agree on. In this day and age, businesses should be able to set their own hours according to their personal preference, winter hours vs. summer hours. With all the social media, internet and even the lowly telephone where heaven forbid you talk to someone, we ought to be able to get it done. Just do it.

By coincidence, the Full Moon falls on the 8th as does Election Day. We seem to elect a lot of blood sucking vampires to office anyway so what could possibly go wrong? This Full Moon goes primarily by the Full Beaver Moon, however. The settlers and traders spent much of the month trapping beaver in the shallow waters, so theyíd have plenty of warm furs for the long cold winter. It is sometimes called the Frosty Moon. The Ojibwe called it the Freezing Moon and the Sioux named it the Moon of Falling Leaves. At the ranch we know it as the Wrap up Moon as we prepare the lawn, garden and livestock for what is usually a long, cold and sometimes snowy winter ahead.
   
After some extremely cold low temperatures earlier in the month, conditions rebounded quickly and put harvest ahead of schedule. It dried the crop quickly so that if one had room for it, the corn harvest was completed in rapid fashion. Some corn was dry enough to be dumped directly in the bin without artificial drying. If it needed drying, it went through the systems quickly as the warm dry air took less heating to maintain a drying temperature. It was one of the most dramatic changes in a short period of time of any fall in recent memory. Many were convinced it would take most of September for the crop to reach maturity as most of it did. One wouldnít have bet though weíd be lucky enough to draw an October with above normal temperatures so one could essentially harvest at will. Not our first rodeo. Aside from some scattered fall fertilizer application, it has become eerily quiet once again across the landscape.

It has us ahead of schedule at the ranch to some degree as well. As is normally the case, once we get done with everyone elseís farming, we can focus on things like getting screenings all picked up and covered in a wagon, procuring enough straw to bed the sheep for the winter, grinding up the leaves on the lawn once theyíve fallen, and barn cleaning. Hopefully this fall will allow us to get some of the items cleaned out of the barn that are just in the way, so we have room to store more of our equipment inside. If anyone is looking for a couple flare boxes in good condition, I know where there are a couple really nice ones. Better in your shed than mine. All you have to do is call.

The backyard bird population continues to ebb and flow as migrating birds stop, refuel, and move on towards their eventual destinations. The robins have been more numerous than ever, and the birdbath shows it. When it gets empty the bottom is covered with nannyberry pits. I suspect the cedar waxwings are also culprits, but their stealthy nature makes them more difficult to detect. There are other birds such as an occasional white-throated sparrow. Most others move through so quickly and are elusive, so they go unnoticed. Some of the ear corn I kept after doing yield estimates or gleaned while soil sampling has been put to good use. The squirrels like it of course but so do the blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers. They become vocal when theyíre out of corn and let me know their feeder needs to be refilled. Fortunately there is no hurry. Theyíve got plenty of other sources of food, especially with the warmer temperatures keeping insects active well into the first week of November.

Poppy will have the first appointment with the veterinarian under her belt by the time this reaches print. Her shots and worming were kept well up to date by the breeder so it should be a fairly uneventful visit. All of our dogs have liked going to the vet. The vets and their staff have all made their visits a positive experience. Poppyís still small enough so itís easy to pick her up for a while anyway. The neighbor girls stopped up to trick or treat and a good time was had by all. Socializing dogs as puppies is important. It helps make them more user friendly as adults when company arrives, especially children. Kids often donít realize that their behavior can trigger an aggressive response by the dog through no fault of their own. A lot of dog training winds up being human training. Luckily, Corgis are wired a little differently, are cuddly, and seem to genuinely enjoy the attention people give them. Itís easy to give them lots of attention even if it means bending down a little farther to accomplish it.
 
See you next weekÖreal good then.     
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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I gave you all fair warning

After more warm temps, the scurs are hoping the Weather Eye is still stuck on at least October. Is Old Man Winter ready to assume the reins or will he remain on vacation a little longer? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the low 60ís. Cloudy on Thursday with a good chance of rain. Highs around 60 with lows in the mid-20ís. Mostly cloudy on Veteranís Day with a slight chance of snow showers. Highs in the low 30ís with lows in the mid-teens. Saturday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-20ís and lows in the low teens. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 20ís and lows in the low teens. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 20ís and lows in the low teens. Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow showers on Tuesday. Highs in the mid-30ís with lows in the mid-teens. On the 9th, the sun will rise at 7 a.m. The normal high for Veterans Day is 44 and the normal low is 26. A sneak peek ahead to Thanksgiving Day shows us cloudy day with highs in the upper 30ís and lows in the low 20ís. The scurs are honoring the veterans not only on Friday, but every day. Without their sacrifice this great American experiment would not be possible.

It doesnít appear promising for a major warmup anytime soon. We were given fair warning in mid-October with some of the lows in the mid-teens and some seeing the occasional snowflake. Even though the NOAA predictions were for a better than even chance of above normal temps for November, we likely have seen the best of it. The precipitation for the entire fall has been below normal, not unlike the previous two falls. November appears on track to continue that trend. Might argue this fall recharge is critical. No one would disagree that itís nice to have some moisture to draw upon in the soil profile. However, if one looks at our yields the past two seasons, one could also make a case for timely rains being equally if not more important. Weíll address more on the weather in the harvest column Eli has me slated to work on.

Field work is still winding down. Just about the time one thinks itís over, anhydrous ammonia tanks and applicators appear with dry fertilizer being applied just ahead of them. It should be about ideal. Given the weather forecasts, soil temperatures will very likely remain well below the magical 50-degree mark for the duration. Not to fret just yet if anhydrous was applied earlier and was subject to soil temps above that. Even if there was some conversion, there has been little precip to leach the nitrate nitrogen or for denitrification to occur for that matter. Along with that, there is likely to be some residual nitrogen left in the profile from this past cropping season. All of this comes into play and worrying about it will drive you crazy.
 
Fieldwork brings back memories and some of them not always fond. Having a cab on a tractor was a dream that never materialized growing up. Consequently when plowing in the fall, it was common to keep one hand on the wheel and sit on the other one for a round to keep it warm. When turning on the headlands and dropping the plow in the furrow, swapping their positions the next round. There was no sound protection either so after several hours of plowing, getting off the tractor for the night meant ears ringing from the sound of the six-cylinder International gas engine. I have plenty of excuses including loud rock and roll music for hearing loss although some that I claim is probably selective. The older you are the easier it becomes to use that one.

At the ranch, progress continues to be made towards getting the lawn and garden put to bed for another season. The apple trees that bore so heavily have been the focus of much of that energy. Sanitation is key to keeping pests and disease to a minimum. The sheep have been beneficiaries of copious amounts of apples as well as the leaves that largely fell while they were still green due to the extremely cold temps in October. There were plenty of apples as the birds and windy conditions made for a large amount of ground falls. It was definitely time to put the bunny guards around the hydrangea and the burning bushes. There were signs on the burning bushes that the cottontails had already been pruning them. Getting as many of the leaves on the rest of the yard pulverized with the mulching attachment on the zero turn would be a feather in my cap before the rain and/or snow flies.

Got the radiator replaced on the pickup so hauling the bulk of the lamb crop to Zumbrota could happen. As weíve gotten older, weíve resorted to more trickery and deception to load them. Livestock as slow to catch on as sheep it makes the process easier. Depriving the group in question of hay and tossing it in the trailer seems to work wonders. Sorting gates that pinch the group down tighter, so they have little other choice than to jump in the trailer donít hurt. Iím getting used to the trip to Zumbrota after several excursions. Itís pretty country and allows me a chance to compare harvest progress. I become frustrated with Google Maps when it routes me down gravel roads then on the return home, routes me on all nice smooth blacktop. Whatís up with that? Pretty sure someone just throws darts at the map. The main thing is still getting the livestock off the trailer and getting back home in one piece.
 
Poppy has been a MN resident now for a month. She has changed dramatically in a monthís time. Her puppy fur is being overgrown by a beautiful, shiny, thick winter coat. The only bad thing about that is that Corgis have a reputation for shedding that precedes them. I have to wonder how much worse it could be than some of the Border Collie shedding weíve experienced over the years. They were bigger dogs so it would follow that there was apt to be more fur. At any rate, Poppy has made herself at home. She barks at things that are out of place, much like the Border Collies did. Move a vehicle, park a wagon or leave a shovel someplace where it wasnít before, and the barking ensues. Still a lot of chewing going on as her adult teeth work their way under the baby teeth. Another couple months and we should be through the worst of that. Poppyís a bundle of energy until her batteries wear down. Then she likes to find a nice warm spot to nap. In light of the cold weather forecast, not a bad idea.
 
See you next weekÖreal good then.   
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)