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Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 247987 times)

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Offline Dotch

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I wouldn’t want to be like you

After the Weather Eye’s additional rainfall last week, more praise from the scurs. Will that adulation continue, or will it be misplaced? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 90’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Sunday, sunny with highs in the mid-90’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Sunny on Monday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-90’s and lows in the low 70’s. Ish. Tuesday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-90’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the mid-60’s. The normal high for August 20th is 79 and the normal low is 59. Once again, staying indoors making fondue in the AC may appeal more to the scurs than sitting outside by the fire roasting weenies. Those days are coming but not just yet.
 
Corn and soybeans continue their trek to the finish line. This past week, we saw corn denting as predicted. That meant roughly a month to physiological maturity depending somewhat on the conditions Mother Nature provides. On the replant corn, we’re looking at closer to six weeks yet. With any luck Jack Frost stays away. There are indications once we get out of the forecast heatwave, we’ll encounter some cooler than normal conditions. This may help stretch the moisture we’ll have left but it will also put some of the later and replant corn in potentially greater jeopardy. The good news is we are likely to see some rainfall during the cooler spell. Also being worried about, again, is tar spot. No doubt, the cooler, wetter conditions are more conducive to its development. The hot, dry weather preceding it may slow it temporarily if it occurs. Also, the amount of tip back on the ears seen by anyone who has looked at these fields critically not to mention the corn price, would make one think twice about pouring money on fungicide into a corn crop that hasn’t caught a break over much of the growing season.
 
The soybeans on the other hand may be the bright spot. Recent rains caused this ugly duckling to suddenly put on a lot of top. growth and along with it, a lot of blossoms on the uppermost nodes. Non-factor diseases such as downy mildew and bacterial blight have appeared, but white mold has stayed out of the picture thus far. Along with that, the soybean aphids, while they haven’t completely disappeared, are on the run from a host of beneficial insects. Any given field will yield insects such as syrphid fly larvae, ladybugs (both adult and larval stage), minute pirate bugs, soldier beetles, lacewing larvae, and tiny parasitic wasps. Some of these are capable of biting humans and leaving small welts when they come out of the field on your body. There is usually a line of bite marks around my ankles above my socks this time of year.
 
Pirate bugs, ladybugs and lacewing larvae are the usual culprits. The parasitic wasps are tiny and don’t sting humans. Their ovipositor is capable however of piercing and depositing an egg inside the body of an aphid. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae feed, pupate and kill the aphid. The wasps go on to produce multiple generations once they emerge from the parasitized body of the soybean aphid, also known as mummies. Some of those parasitized aphids make it to new fields where the wasp larvae inside them eventually kills the aphid. The resulting new wasp population parasitizes more aphids, and the cycle continues, even when the aphids go to their overwintering sites on buckthorn. Their activity is not limited to soybean aphids. They also parasitize aphids in the corn. As I’ve told many folks, I wouldn’t want to be an aphid in a corn or soybean field right now. You’d likely wind up being munched by some predatory insect.
     
The lawns have roared back to life and the ranch lawn was no exception. I needed to perform an oil change on the zero turn and while I was at it, discovered the air filter needed replacement. It’s powered by a common 24 hp Kohler motor so should be easy to find, right? Since the Bugtussle parts store was closed, went to my old standby where you go the bathroom in the orange silo. I’d seen the proper filter in the store a few months ago but didn’t need it then. The dusty summer mowing changed that. I was disappointed to find only a few V-belts hanging where the filters had been and a measly handful of air filters on a shelf, none of which would fit the mower. It irritated me enough that I decided not to purchase anything there. I went to another big box store. Same result. No purchase there either. Luckily, I was able to find the parts store open down the road. They had the right air filter and pre cleaner both. Turns out, they sell lots of farm related necessities at several other outlets when I need them. Filed for future reference.
   
When I jumped in the pickup the other morning to head off to work, I thought it smelled a little gamey, perhaps more than normal. It usually doesn’t smell that great to begin with during a hot summer, what with several ears of corn fermenting, a dead weed or soybean desiccating on the floor, a mineral block behind the seat and the usual sweat from all the trips in and out. This was different but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. As I got underway, the smell got worse to the point where I had to roll the window down. That helped but when I got to the stop sign, it intensified again. Then I recognized the odor. I’d seen Poppy unload one of her Corgi presents near my pickup at chore time and I must’ve stepped right in it. I got to the office and cleaned my boot off then looked to see what else was still lurking. Good thing. There was a hunk stuck to both the gas pedal and brake pedal along with a large hunk on the floormat. One of Poppy’s surefire methods of making sure she wasn’t forgotten.
 
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 LPS

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I encountered one of those presents today.   :angry2:  Very interesting about the wasps and aphids.  :happy1:

Offline Dotch

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Missing you, missing you...

The scurs are puzzling over the Weather Eye’s late summer heatwave. Will the Weather Eye’s antics be short-lived or are they the tip of the iceberg? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-90’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Sunday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Tuesday, partly sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny on Wednesday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-50’s. On August 26th, the sun will rise at 6:30 a.m. CDT and set at 8 p.m. We also slide below 13 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. A second Full Moon for the month of August will be upon us Wednesday. The normal high for August 26th is 78 and the normal low is 58. The scurs are betting the Weather Eye will straighten out and fly right with threat from the three lb. hammer.

A Blue Moon occurs Aug. 30th. From the Space website, a Blue Moon occurs approximately every 2 ½ years. It connotates the third full moon in a season with four full moons or the second full moon in a single month. A season is defined as the period between solstices and equinoxes, for example the time between June 21st and September 23rd. This makes the second full moon in August a calendrical and not a seasonal blue moon. This is also categorized as a Supermoon as it is as close to Earth as the moon can get, making it larger and brighter than normal. It will also cross paths closely with Saturn so a lot of heavenly activity for late August.

With tremendous promise after the mid-August rains, the later August heat likely won’t do the corn or soybean crop any favors. Corn appeared poised to be able to keep most of the tip kernels given normal temperatures and rainfall. Ditto with the upper pods set after the recent impressive growth spurt on the soybeans. Our subsoil moisture is likely tapped for the season so relying on late season rains is where we’re at. With heat reaching near 100, aborting more tip kernels on corn and upper pods on soybeans is almost a given. The best we can hope for is that it’s a short-term heatwave and for once, that maybe the forecasters are wrong.
 
Gardening has meant more bean harvesting and freezing. The heat pushed them pretty hard, with the Tendergreen variety producing more flat pods that tend to be tough woody. The Blue Lake variety we have seems to maintain its integrity and flavor through the hot spells. We’ve had plenty of good beans and with any luck, should have enough put away after this week to last the winter. We still had a couple bags left from last year. They’re still very tasty so will use those up first before they change their mind. The one weed on everyone’s lips this summer has been purslane. When conditions were dry, it seemed like I could stay ahead of it with the hoe, leaving it on the soil surface to dry up. Once the rains started, that’s no longer an option. It almost has to go over the fence to the sheep or get tossed in the lawn where the lawnmower grinds it up.

This version of Fencelines is coming from you on the road once again. It’s Crop Tour time and gearing up for the 2023 version. The trip out has been one that appears much the same as the previous 19. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s not to judge a book by its cover. There has been some extremely good-looking crop from the road and there’s also been some that look rather ugly. Most of the very ugly crop is from dryland areas near obviously irrigated fields. However, the only way to tell how good it really is, is to get out into it and examine the plants up close and personal. Aerial and satellite views can only measure so much. Of course the only measurement that matters is the one once it’s combined and in the bin.

Easy to miss Poppy with a road trip like this one. With no dog to look forward to last year upon our return, it’s easy to see why. Both Mrs. Cheviot and I will be gone from the ranch periodically over the next week. The interactions with people for a young animal such as this one are crucial. Fortunately, we’ll have kind friends and neighbors doing chores and caring for the little Corgi. Even though she can be more than a handful at times, it’s still nice to know she’s being well cared for. Even nicer will be to see that happy little face when we’re home again.

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

Offline LPS

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I have more purslane around the house where I don't think I have seen it before.  Of course in the garden too.

Offline Dotch

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Missed getting this one posted when I was on the road... :coffee:


Missing you, missing you...

The scurs are puzzling over the Weather Eye’s late summer heatwave. Will the Weather Eye’s antics be short-lived or are they the tip of the iceberg? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-90’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Sunday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Tuesday, partly sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny on Wednesday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-50’s. On August 26th, the sun will rise at 6:30 a.m. CDT and set at 8 p.m. We also slide below 13 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. A second Full Moon for the month of August will be upon us Wednesday. The normal high for August 26th is 78 and the normal low is 58. The scurs are betting the Weather Eye will straighten out and fly right with threat from the three lb. hammer.

A Blue Moon occurs Aug. 30th. From the Space website, a Blue Moon occurs approximately every 2 ½ years. It connotates the third full moon in a season with four full moons or the second full moon in a single month. A season is defined as the period between solstices and equinoxes, for example the time between June 21st and September 23rd. This makes the second full moon in August a calendrical and not a seasonal blue moon. This is also categorized as a Supermoon as it is as close to Earth as the moon can get, making it larger and brighter than normal. It will also cross paths closely with Saturn so a lot of heavenly activity for late August.
 
With tremendous promise after the mid-August rains, the later August heat likely won’t do the corn or soybean crop any favors. Corn appeared poised to be able to keep most of the tip kernels given normal temperatures and rainfall. Ditto with the upper pods set after the recent impressive growth spurt on the soybeans. Our subsoil moisture is likely tapped for the season so relying on late season rains is where we’re at. With heat reaching near 100, aborting more tip kernels on corn and upper pods on soybeans is almost a given. The best we can hope for is that it’s a short-term heatwave and for once, that maybe the forecasters are wrong.
 
Gardening has meant more bean harvesting and freezing. The heat pushed them pretty hard, with the Tendergreen variety producing more flat pods that tend to be tough woody. The Blue Lake variety we have seems to maintain its integrity and flavor through the hot spells. We’ve had plenty of good beans and with any luck, should have enough put away after this week to last the winter. We still had a couple bags left from last year. They’re still very tasty so will use those up first before they change their mind. The one weed on everyone’s lips this summer has been purslane. When conditions were dry, it seemed like I could stay ahead of it with the hoe, leaving it on the soil surface to dry up. Once the rains started, that’s no longer an option. It almost has to go over the fence to the sheep or get tossed in the lawn where the lawnmower grinds it up.

This version of Fencelines is coming from you on the road once again. It’s Crop Tour time and gearing up for the 2023 version. The trip out has been one that appears much the same as the previous 19. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s not to judge a book by its cover. There has been some extremely good-looking crop from the road and there’s also been some that look rather ugly. Most of the very ugly crop is from dryland areas near obviously irrigated fields. However, the only way to tell how good it really is, is to get out into it and examine the plants up close and personal. Aerial and satellite views can only measure so much. Of course the only measurement that matters is the one once it’s combined and in the bin.

Easy to miss Poppy with a road trip like this one. With no dog to look forward to last year upon our return, it’s easy to see why. Both Mrs. Cheviot and I will be gone from the ranch periodically over the next week. The interactions with people for a young animal such as this one are crucial. Fortunately, we’ll have kind friends and neighbors doing chores and caring for the little Corgi. Even though she can be more than a handful at times, it’s still nice to know she’s being well cared for. Even nicer will be to see that happy little face when we’re home again.

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

Offline Dotch

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The sun shines and people forget

The scurs are puzzling no more. The Weather Eye’s heatwave was for real. Are we done with that nonsense or are we in for an encore? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 90’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Sunday, sunny with highs in the low 90’s and lows in the low 70’s. Sunny on Labor Day with highs in the low 90’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with highs a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly cloudy with a decent chance of rain on Wednesday with highs in the low 90’s and lows in the mid-60’s. We slide below 13 hours of daylight on the 6th, about where we were back on March 6th. The normal high for September 6th is 76 and the normal low is 54. For Labor Day, the scurs will be lounging in their hammock and catching up on their magazines.
 
Crops took a beating in the recent heatwave and the upcoming forecast won’t do it any favors.  Still, how badly the crop got hurt is somewhat dependent on where you live. The heavy May rains that were a curse at the time may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Earlier in the season where they were spared from the heavy May rain, crops just east of I-35 looked uniform. After missing subsequent rains, they still look uniform only not in a good way. Lack of moisture took its toll, and this most recent heat pushed it to the limit. A lot of short corn and soybeans with corn fired up to the ear and soybeans losing the battle in patches throughout many fields, ripening prematurely. Some disease pressure is also present in the soybeans, and it’s being amplified by the hot, dry weather. Not the first time this has happened, but it’s been a while. People forget.

So what kinds of things are happening in the fields locally? In the corn we’re seeing maturity hastened due to the heat. That means the potential is there given the accompanying dry soil conditions that stalk, and ear shank integrity could be compromised. Since uptake from the soil isn’t possible under dry conditions, stalks will be cannibalized, making them weaker than usual. Harvest may need to begin sooner than later. There may also be a test weight penalty if the ears drop too soon and pinch the flow of nutrients through the ear shank. On the soybean side, look for the loss of some of those pods that were set late after the rains back in the first week of August. Beans per pod could be compromised along with bean size. Ain’t I just the bearer of glad tidings?

We don’t have an exclusive on these conditions, however. The recent Pro Farmer Crop Tour bore this out as we moved west into IL. Getting out of the air-conditioned pickup to pull samples on our route, the humidity was so high our glasses would steam up. Not being able to see, it was sampling by the Braille method at first. Stumbling into stalk after stalk and hearing them snap was an eye opener, pardon the pun. Sampling soybeans in IA demonstrated some of the pod abortion mentioned above. Toss in some of the disease issues just getting rolling in those fields and there will be plenty of misery to go around.

On a happier note, upon my return from Crop Tour there were lots of overgrown zucchini to toss over the fence to the sheep. Made their day. Being back home also keeps a steady supply of sweet corn husks and cobs coming their direction. Luckily the sweet corn still had some younger ears interspersed with some the heat had blown over the dam. Sometimes uneven emergence can work in your favor but wouldn’t make a habit of it. Tomatoes are coming on full bore so BLT’s are on the menu along with about every other means of eating them. Still some string beans left although we’re done freezing them. What’s there we’ll eat fresh or give away as many as possible. A garden is never truly appreciated if it is not shared. Just ask the sheep.

While I was in a holding pattern Sunday waiting for the sheep to be released from the State Fair, I cleaned out the hummingbird feeders. They are nuts right now between the cannas, the planters, and the feeders. The 4 o'clocks are just getting cranked up so they'll have even more variety to choose from. Hadn't seen any orioles for a while but filled their jelly feeder just for laughs. It sat empty for a week or two. Could still hear the occasional catbird so thought what the heck. Monday morning, there was a fully colored male Baltimore oriole feasting on it. The goldfinches are starting to taste test the sunflowers as they ripen. They're also plucking a few sunflower seeds out of the feeder. This last batch of sunflower seed purchased was open & we wound up with a whole bunch of Indian meal moths flying around the garage. The silk threads the larvae leave behind tend to make the seed bridge up and not feed through some of our feeders. Makes for grumpy birds.

Some of the sheep at the MN State Fair went on to another show and some made it back home late Sunday afternoon. Some wonderful friends brought them back to their place in Faribault, so I didn’t have to battle the Sunday fair crowd. I brought Poppy along to meet some new people and get her accustomed to riding. She loves people but we’ve got a steep learning curve in the riding department. We got spoiled after all the years of Border Collies who lived to ride in the pickup. It didn’t take long to learn to leave the door shut or there would be at least one of them in there. Poppy gets worked up and won’t sit still. It’ll take some repetition but as we all know, you only get good at things by doing them.

Real good then…see you next week.
« Last Edit: August 08/29/23, 09:54:17 AM 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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Come Monday it'll be all right

Sure enough, just as the scurs were told, The Weather Eye’s encore heatwave arrived right on schedule. Now can we be done and get some rain or does the desert continue? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Sunny on Saturday with a slight chance of an evening shower. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with a good chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 70’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Tuesday, cloudy with highs a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny with a slight chance of a passing shower on Wednesday. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. The sun will set at 7:30 p.m. CDT on Tuesday the 12th. The normal high for September 12th is 74 and the normal low is 52. The scurs will be waiting with bated breath, hoping that AMC brings out another car as exciting as the Gremlin or the Pacer.

In a more typical year we might welcome weather such as we’ve had ahead of harvest. Unfortunately, it appears that this time is different. Corn that was half milk line last week suddenly has been pushed rapidly and prematurely to physiological maturity. The result is likely to be lighter than anticipated test weight corn and less than ideal kernel depth. I left what were some nice-looking ears on Friday in the pickup over the weekend. I was shocked to see on Sunday how much the kernels had shrunk. Not only that, in the field, stalks that were dead with ears already tipped down were kinking over when giving them the lean test.
 
While I had no soybeans roasting in the cab over the weekend, what I saw on Friday wasn’t positive either. Several pods on the plants exhibited pods that had been aborted or soon would be. More signs or premature ripening as well, some of it disease related and some just because there was no moisture to take up and they were dying. Sad to see it ending this way after getting our hopes up at the end of the 1st week in August. It’s as though someone put the Soup Nazi in charge of rainfall.

Silage harvest has been going on in earnest now for a couple weeks, depending on where you are and what was planted for silage corn. Definitely time to get after it upon seeing the half milk line corn last week and experiencing the blast furnace over the weekend. Silage yields and estimated crop yield for insurance purposes have been all over the board across the state. Some places have been as low as 15 bu./acre with others as high as in the low 200 range. Making corn silage is a lot less involved than the good old days when corn was bundled, shocked, hauled from the field and run through a shredder. From there it was either blown into a silo or into an area of the barn depending on what the intent was.
 
As it’s turned out, apparently I was one of the few in my generation outside of the Amish to ever to operate a corn binder and actually shock corn. Many moons ago, I wrote about the experience although I can’t remember when. We’d experienced a late August frost in 1974 so Dad borrowed the neighbor’s McCormick corn binder, and we shocked about 7 acres in a low area that froze. Operating the ground drive binder was fun. Since this model had a bundle carrier, you had to be thinking about where to unload 8 - 10 bundles into piles once they accumulated. That made it easier and more efficient for the shockers, which turned out to be me and the neighbor kid. That part wasn’t nearly as fun.
 
I had the good fortune to get up close and personal with a corn binder recently, this time a John Deere power binder. It was also left-handed where the McCormick I’d used almost 50 years ago was a right-handed model. There was no bundle carrier on this John Deere binder although the drive mechanism for it was intact. Ideally, Dad said the bundles should contain somewhere in the vicinity of 7 – 10 stalks. Otherwise they got pretty heavy and awkward to handle. The shocks should also consist of 35 – 40 bundles in order for them to stand on their own. He was right as he usually was. Some of them stood in the field all winter as we retrieved them, feeding the bundles to the beef heifers he had purchased.

So when and why did corn binders die out? Corn binders became a common piece of farm equipment starting in the late 1800’s and increased in popularity as steam and tractor power became available. Silos were also being erected on more farms in that timeframe. Power take-off binders or power binders appeared in the early 30’s although with the Great Depression and later WWII, they weren’t as popular as they might’ve been. They had some definite advantages, including rubber tires, making them better in softer soil conditions. The beginning of the end came about when pull type choppers arrived after WWII through the mid-1950’s. This eliminated the process of making bundles, shocks, and hauling all the bundles back to a stationary shredder. IH made corn binders through 1953 although they could see the handwriting on the wall prior to that. As C.H. Wendell wrote in 150 Years of International Harvester, “few people missed the corn binders when they were gone.”

Poppy took the heatwave in stride. She’s figured out where the air conditioning vents are and likes being in their proximity. She still comes outside at chore time, but it’s usually cooled down then, so she gets her requisite zoomies in. Poppy’s found new creatures to pursue as frogs have recently appeared in the lawn. Gardening continues to be one of her favorite pastimes especially the string bean patch. One night while picking beans, I heard this strange munching noise. Sure enough Poppy has developed a taste for string beans. She’s still eating crickets too so that cuts down on the pesky chirping in the house. As we like to tell her, it’s a darn good thing you’re cute. There’s been some anxiety on her part though as we’ve been on the road so much lately. Could tell when Labor Day Monday rolled around that all was right in her little world. An extra day with her people.

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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I watch the birds fly south across the Autumn sky
And one by one they disappear

The scurs were unsure what to expect after The Weather Eye’s blast furnace bonanza. Do we ease into fall now or does summer never end? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny Friday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunday, sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. On the 16th, we drop below 12 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, about where we were back on March 27th. Makes sense as we approach the autumnal equinox on September 23rd. The normal high for September 16th is 73 and the normal low is 50. The scurs will check out their rakes for the upcoming leaf drop.

Leaves are falling off the soybeans in places already although the pace has slowed somewhat once the weather cooled down to more seasonal temperatures once again. It appears we’ll be about on schedule for a more normal start to harvest than we might’ve guessed during the heatwaves. I’ve been asked many times how yield estimates are stacking up. I think Tom Hoverstad probably said it best when he mentioned in a recent podcast that the rain we cursed back in May came back to benefit us, especially when you happened to benefit from subsequent rainfall when others didn’t. Even some of the replant corn has been surprisingly good when doing yield checks. The proof will be in the pudding though when combines roll and bins are measured. The 10-man dryer has already been operating drying some early maturing corn so it's only a matter of time.

In the garden at the ranch, we’re still enjoying the fruits of a bountiful harvest with more to come. Tomatoes are ripening full bore like everywhere else, and the pepper crop has been outstanding. Heat and dry weather agreed with both of these nightshade family plants. There is still plentiful sweet corn to be had for a while yet as well. The squash, pumpkin and gourd vines are starting to die down so we can see what was under that heavy canopy. There appear to be a lot of all the vine crops. Even our meager attempt at cucumbers has been yielding some nice cukes as they responded to the frequent watering and more recently, the welcome half inch downpour late Saturday afternoon. He sunflowers are about done blossoming and have set a lot of seed already. Just in the nick of time.

The birds at the ranch are in transition mode. Male goldfinches are losing their sunny yellow coats, all the better to blend in with the sunflowers as they dry down. We saw the last Baltimore orioles on the 6th. There were still some catbirds but there are so many berries and crabapples, I decided it was time to suspend the jelly feeding operation. The bald-faced hornets were becoming increasingly annoying when trying to fill the feeder during daylight hours. They’ve also been a nuisance at the nectar feeders for the hummingbirds. The hummers have been crazy with the numbers difficult to determine. At any given time there are three or four whipping past. When the hornets get too aggressive, the little birds just head for any number of different plants including cannas, salvia, petunias, four o’clocks and coleus. When darkness arrives, the white-lined sphinx moths take the night shift.

Last week I wrote about the corn binder experience and after looking at ads on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace, it brought back memories of my first days plowing. One fall, we had some set aside acres that needed to be plowed up so they could be put back into production.. I was probably in 7th grade at the time and Dad’s pride and joy, the Co-Op E4 was hooked to the 3 14’s IH plow he had purchased. Plowing the set aside was a slow, tedious process. Pulling the plow in 2nd gear, it was probably moving no faster than 2.5 mph given the slippage. The plow had rigid beams, not trip beams or automatic reset. When it contacted a rock solidly it would unhook from the tractor to avoid springing the plow. Since the set aside was on the rockiest field on the farm it happened frequently.
 
It also unhooked the hydraulic hoses from the tractor back to the cylinder, you hoped. The old Aeroquip couplings were sometimes a bearcat to reconnect when they were under pressure. It took a long pry bar with a pointed end stuck in the coupling body just right along with a prayer to reconnect them. Then you hoped it wouldn’t spit the coupling back out when you attempted to raise or lower the plow. Sometimes diddling with the hydraulic control handle helped and other times not so much. Coupled with the slow rate of speed, one had to set stakes to see progress. I remember getting a ride home after football practice one night from my best friend’s sister and her boyfriend. She asked if I’d get done in time to come over and play with her little brother Kenny that night. Her boyfriend laughed and told her the rate I was going, I’d be lucky to finish by Christmas. Good times.

Poppy has taken the cooler fall weather in stride. No longer does she need to go inside to cool down, so we try to keep her outdoors with us as much as possible. She still enjoys going to the garden where she helps herself to what’s left of the string beans. Fine by me. No longer in bean picking mode. After that, she’ll do some cricket, grasshopper and moth chasing. Lately, being outside means staring at the sky and listening. Poppy watches the geese like a little statue as the honking waves fly past. Closer to the ground, she’s also interested in sound and movement of the hummingbirds buzzing from flower to flower in front of her. She doesn’t attempt to grab them although they are so quick, there’s little danger she would harm one. They say that dogs take after their owners. Next thing you know Poppy will want to drive the Studebaker.
 
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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And I got a peaceful easy feelin'

The scurs are becoming more comfortable with The Weather Eye’s recent data. Will we make it through September without a visit from Jack Frost or is he lurking in the shadows? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny Friday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy on Saturday with a good chance of showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Monday with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 50’s. Tuesday, sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Wednesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. On the 22nd the sun will rise at 7:01 a.m. CDT. The autumnal equinox will occur on September 23rd. On the 26th, we slip below 12 hours of daylight, the same as back on St. Patty’s Day. The normal high for September 26th is 69 and the normal low is 46. The scurs are thinking raking leaves is overrated.

Some early harvest progress as some combine early maturing soybeans and continue picking early maturing corn. Yields have been variable depending on location and soil type. As we get deeper into harvest we’ll have a better idea of where this crop really is. Yield estimates have looked particularly promising on the corn. While it doesn’t appear to be the crop we had in 2021 or 2022, it should still be respectable and meet local demand. The stalks attached to this corn crop are somewhat suspect and the upcoming rainy, windy forecast may test the stalk quality. One other potential question may be the grain quality, especially where it involves the replant corn. It’s always a good idea to pull the centers out of bins anyway but it may be one of those winters to pay particular attention to snowfall on the bin rooftops.
 
Where is our fall precipitation potential heading? In the near term it appears more promising than it has been for a while. Sure, we could’ve used the rain back in August, but we’ll need to get our soil profile recharged again somehow. We can’t rely on a winter like last year where wet snowfall melted and percolated into the soil much of the winter with little or no frost. Spring rains such as we had in May are no slam dunk either or at least many of us would rather they weren’t. When the El Niño was being talked about earlier in the year, one of the possible scenarios was no major increase in precip until the fall. Some of the private weather outlets are indicating that may be the case. We shall see.
 
The cooler weather allowed us to finally get some of the sheep moved around and into the pastures with the proper rams. We purchased a ram lamb, JJ, from John and Judy Moore in MI earlier this summer so it was nice to see how big he’d grown. He had a fair amount of fleece on him but no more than some of the brood ewes. Pleasantly surprised to see he compared favorably in size. So far I’ve really liked his demeanor too. Sometimes rams develop an ugly temperament when breeding season arrives and it intensifies once they’re brought home off of pasture. So far he’s been a teddy bear, not offering to take a whack at me when feeding grain or being mean to the ewes if they don’t stand for him. It cuts down on productivity when brood ewes and shepherds are battered and bruised.

Auntie Mar Mar comes through again in the clutch. I subsist fairly well on produce from the garden and can fend for myself in the kitchen or grill when it comes to main courses. When it comes to dessert though, I struggle. Not that I can’t make things, it’s time consuming. After a long day, it’s probably not high on my list of priorities. Taking pity on me for having to stay home keep the home fires burning, I was the recipient of a pan of peach crisp. The peaches were fresh from Colorado so nothing could be better. Microwaved and paired up with some ice cream, it was absolutely heavenly. A more than even trade for a few tomatoes and peppers I’d say.

Got the Studebaker out for a run over the weekend with the car club. We kept it closer to home this time with a visit to the Faribault Woolen Mills. Sometimes those trips to places you’ve never been in your own backyard are the best. I’d seen the signs for years but had no idea where the place even was. The tour was very interesting and being a longtime sheep producer, it was fun to connect the dots. The tour guide grew up in Hartland so that made the experience all the better. Afterwards there was time for me to attend the 30th anniversary of some sheep friends in Faribault. Another interesting venue in an old limestone apple orchard building. That was fun too, visiting other sheep friends and the family. And when it came time to leave, it was real easy to find my car.

Poppy continues to rid our home of household insects. Just say the word “bug” and she goes into a frenzy looking to see where the offending intruder might be. Not unusual to see her snapping at flies or trapping crickets between her paws. The only trouble is we can’t usually get them away from her before she devours them. That’s OK. Crickets are safe for dogs to eat as long as the insects haven’t been exposed to insecticides. On the bright side, it’s certainly made a difference on the amount of racket they’ve made inside the house this fall. There’s a lot to be said for peace and quiet.

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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A little voice inside my head said, "Don't look back. You can never look back"

The Weather Eye made the scurs day with rain materializing, finally. Are the odds of receiving more rain good or will we be in full soybean harvest mode again soon? Starting Thursday, mostly cloudy becoming sunny. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Tuesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. On the 28th the sun will set at 7:00 p.m. CDT. The September Full Moon occurs on the 29th. Sunday is October 1st. The normal high for October 1st is 67 and the normal low is 44. The scurs are gathering firewood for their recreational fires, contained in a regulation 36” Trash Fire police approved fire ring of course.

The Full Moon for the month as mentioned happens on the 29th and this time around it goes by the Full Harvest Moon. Some years the Harvest Moon is in October as it is the Full Moon nearest to the autumnal equinox. In the days of horse-drawn agriculture, farmers could work into the night by the light of this moon if necessary. The Ojibwe called this the Rice Moon as wild rice harvest would begin and continue for several weeks. The Sioux knew this as the Moon of Brown Leaves or the Moon of Drying Grass. At the ranch it is a Harvest Moon as the fall garden produce takes its place around the yard. It’s also the Bad MN Football Moon. It ain’t looking pretty for the Gophers and Vikings folks.
 
Harvest was put on hold as we suddenly had consecutive days of measurable precipitation. Some of the TV weather pundits have declared it won’t help farmers and they’re right for the most part regarding this year’s corn and soybean crop. However, if you have pasture and hay ground these fall rains have brought some hope that maybe next year will be better. Both have greened up significantly. If looking at a 4th cutting before plowing the hay up, this should really help. Ditto with being able to graze pasture to stretch tight hay supplies. Also beneficial for fall tillage, soil sampling and anhydrous ammonia application. Crop that was harvested ahead of the rain continued to be generally better than expected. There are areas that haven’t been as fortunate with reports of corn as low as 20 bu./acre. Contrast that with some reports locally of corn running over 200 bu./acre and one has to feel fortunate indeed.
 
We continue to harvest the fruits of our labor in both the garden and the orchard areas. The pears suddenly became the top priority when they started to blush. The bald-faced hornets that have graced us with their presence obviously like pears too so picking them towards dark has kept confrontations to a minimum. With varying degrees of ripeness, we should have pears for a few weeks. The Honeycrisp apples are ready as well although we’ll need to clean out some space in the refrigerator for them. They keep well so we should have some to snack on for many moons. Of course there are always some casualties as the birds help themselves so need to get them picked as soon as we can. The sheep don’t mind the ground falls but feeding the sheep wasn’t the point of planting the trees.

We were finally able to both be in one place long enough to load up lambs that needed to go to market. Despite the genetics they don’t all make the cut as breeding stock. There are always a few that one has to debate about keeping or shipping. When the cut is made, you never look back. One has to remember the animals you’re keeping are never perfect and those that you don’t have a fault or faults that put them on the trailer in the first place. The drive to Zumbrota is a long and winding one. When the animals are unloaded, they count them, then take your name and address. It’s out of your hands until the check arrives sometime later in the week after the sale on Tuesday.

It’s a little different scenario than the good old days hauling fat lambs to Wilson’s and later Farmstead in Albert Lea. As the lambs ran down the alley, you closed the heavy wooden gates behind them as they moved closer to the scale. Once they got to the scale, the buyer took a look at them and there usually wasn’t much dickering on price. The weight and grade slip was placed in a vacuum tube that arrived for the lady behind the desk upstairs. You walked up the stairs and they cut you a check. You then walked out the office door to the catwalk over the roof of the building, down the steps and you were on your way. When I was a kid up through high school that’s the way it worked. When we started hauling sheep there again nearly 15 years later, same thing from the smell right down to the pea soup green paint on the office walls. Some things never change.
 
Poppy has been able to see the part of a MN late summer and early fall that she didn’t get the chance to see last year. Given her interest in catching and eating insects, have been a little surprised she hasn’t tried to snatch any of the white-lined sphinx moths as they move from flower to flower. One would think snacking on their stocky little bodies would be right up her alley. She’s curious but so far has left them alone. It won’t be too long and the corn shock along with the mice will reappear in the yard like last October. Poppy will have something familiar to occupy her time with. The cycle will have repeated itself for another year.
 
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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Who's that knocking on my door?

The Weather Eye lulled the scurs to sleep with a warmer than normal forecast. Will the slumber continue or does Jack Frost issue a wakeup call? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Partly sunny Friday with a fair chance of rain showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s with potential light frost in spots. Sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s with a good chance of a frost. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows around 40. Sunny on Columbus Day with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Tuesday, sunny with highs near 70 and lows in the upper 40’s. Partly sunny on Wednesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs around 70 with lows in the upper 40’s. On October 6th we slide below 11 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, about where we’ll be again on March 6th. The normal high for October 6th is 64 and the normal low is 41. The scurs will be turning off the AC and covering their ‘maters Saturday night. Gotta have that one last Halloween BLT.
 
Harvest has begun in earnest across much of the region. However, there are only so many hours in a day and even this large, modern equipment can only harvest so much. The recent warm temps over the weekend dried the soybeans quickly causing much snarling and gnashing of teeth. Harvest loss increases and selling water versus dry matter is always preferable. Not usual and neither is the grumbling about it. Corn has dried down as well and some are eying the possibility of dumping a portion in the bin without drying once again. This was almost unthinkable six weeks ago although this probably won’t be the case with the replant corn. At least that made it to black layer without frost which should boost the test weight well above what it might’ve been. The replant only comprises about 25% - 30% of the acres locally so even if it takes more drying, it’s not the end of the world. So far, stalk quality hasn’t been the issue it could’ve been, yet, in either planting. Still have to get it picked, dried and in the bin.
 
Birds continue to migrate through our backyard. It appears we may have seen the last of the hummingbirds although last year, they took a few days off before reappearing again. The last date we saw one so far this year was September 26th. Last year it was October 4th. I put the last of the small batch of sugar water out in case a straggler needed to recharge. The warm, breezy weather dried up many of the puddles the birds were using so keeping the birdbath full is an every other day occurrence. There have been a lot of robins in particular using it. There are usually a half dozen nannyberry pits in the bottom when it’s time to refill it. Even though there aren’t many earthworms near the soil surface, the robins and other birds seem to be doing just fine on the berry and crabapple offerings here at the ranch.

Warm weather has brought out some of the more annoying insects recently. Al Batt wrote about the minute pirate bugs last week. Not only do we have them to contend with, we have an abundant supply of multi-colored Asian lady beetles. Like the minute pirate bugs, the lady beetles have run out of soft-bodied insects such as aphids to eat in both the corn and soybeans. They don’t appear to be particularly specific about their aphid preferences. With the replant corn remaining green and the lack of a hard frost, there have been aphids to keep them occupied up until recently. Now the corn has reached relative maturity, the lady beetles are back knocking on your door for a place to hang out for the winter. After they’re done messing up as many apples as they possibly can in our yard first of course.

A more pleasant and less intrusive insect in our yard has been the white-lined sphinx moth, or more correctly moths as there are several of them coming to the petunias, salvia, impatiens and four o’clocks nightly before and after dusk. Their hovering from flower to flower is almost hummingbird-like but they’ll allow you to get fairly close to them before they fly out of the way and onto the next flower. Purslane is one of the favorite plants for their larvae to feed on. Since we had plenty in the garden this year, it should come as no surprise that we have lots of sphinx moths. Watching them work over the petunias almost every fall as a lad was a treat that made a lasting impression. It’s still a treat to admire their flying skills, knowing that their days are numbered as the inevitable draws closer.
   
The Fall Car Cruise came and went again over the weekend as a slightly abbreviated version in Black River Falls WI. As they say, half the fun in driving these classic automobiles is getting there. Others may poo-poo that notion since they grew up driving old cars. They’d really rather not go back to driving them. One more good reason for those of us who do enjoy driving them to leave those people at home. Then we don’t have to listen to them whine! JJ’s chopped ’38 Chevy with the 350 in it was a sweet ride and the candy apple red color catches everyone’s eye. No AC but it wasn’t unbearable wearing shorts even when it was 90 degrees. We found some great places to eat including J&J BBQ in Nelson, as well as Re-Pete’s and Gimi’s in Black River Falls. I think JJ and I should start a restaurant review guide after this trip.
   
Got looking at the calendar and it doesn’t seem possible that Poppy will have resided with us now for a year on Columbus Day. She has really turned into a good little companion and while she still has a lot of work to do in the obedience dept., she’s making progress. All part of being a Corgi. As we say, it’s a good thing she’s cute sometimes. The garden and the barn are her two favorite spots as we spend much of our time in both places. She adapted well to winter having come from Missouri, where I hesitate to call what they have in December, January and February winter. More like our late fall or early spring. She really did enjoy the snow as our winter wore on. We on the other hand did not. One can definitely see her shiny coat thickening up as winter approaches. Not sure if that’s an omen but am pretty sure Poppy wouldn’t be putting it on if she was expecting 70 and sunny for the next six months.

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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Green, green, it's green they say on the far side of the hill

The Weather Eye had the scurs convinced the frost would come a few days before it did, so they were well prepared. Will they be as prepared when Old Man Winter comes calling or will they be left out in the cold? Starting Thursday, cloudy with rain likely. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Cloudy Friday with a fair chance of rain and a possible thundershower. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Saturday with a fair chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Sunday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the low 40’s. On October 16th we slide below 11 hours of daylight, about where we’ll be again on February 26th. The sun will rise at 7:30 a.m. CDT on October 17th. The normal high for October 17th is 58 and the normal low is 36. The scurs will be burning some of that warm you up three times wood and staying close to the fire.

Harvest progress continues ahead of schedule overall. Corn harvest is guesstimated locally to be somewhere in the 20% – 25 % range as of Monday and soybean harvest is nearing 70% - 75%.. Friday’s light rain slowed harvest progress briefly but most who had soybeans to combine were back at it again Saturday once the dew came off. Soybean moisture was back in the low teens again. The soybeans combined easily and there was a minimum of shoving due to sticky ground. That may not be the case much longer looking at the near-term forecast, so most are trying to get soybeans wrapped up before Thursday’s predicted rainfall. Given the windy conditions predicted with the rain, it could put some of the stalk strength in the corn to the test as well. At least the frost should have taken care of some of the harvest loss that appeared after fields suddenly greened up with volunteer “cover crops”.

The upcoming rain may be the first substantial October rainfall moving us towards recharging the soil for next year’s crop. Some of the September rainfall likely will count towards that as well. Both corn and soybean crops were nearly mature when most of that fell. Soils when soil sampling recently appear to be moist down at least a foot from September’s rainfall so more would be welcome. If it gets too carried away it may mess up our best laid plans for deep tillage to help alleviate some of the compaction. Headlands in particular were ugly to start the growing season and stayed that way. However, suspect that after hoping for rain much of the summer, most would gladly take the rain.
 
Harvest progress at the ranch was in full swing over the weekend. The pumpkins, gourds and squash were gathered into the snow bucket on the 656 and deposited in the front yard. That way they could be covered in case of frost and more easily moved into decorative position once Jack Frost was done with the planters. Like most of the area corn and soybean producers, we were pleasantly surprised. Was certain after it dried out enough so we could plant and was like pulling teeth to get rain afterwards, we would get little or nothing. Such was not the case. We wound up with a large pile of all our favorite vine crops. The pumpkins were a nice variety of sizes as were the somewhere over 100 buttercup squash. The gourds went absolutely nuts, with some of the volunteers from last year’s crop in what was sheep pasture also coming to play.

Lawns certainly greened up nicely after September’s rains and October’s cooler temperatures. It necessitated mowing at the ranch Sunday while listening to the Vikings get beat. Can sit inside and watch it happen on TV or one can slap the headphones on and listen while actually accomplishing something. Had applied some Milestone leftover from the pasture to an area in the lawn to get the sprayer empty. Looked like it did a pretty good job on the dandelions even though it only lists them as being suppressed. Time will tell but it reminded me that I had some 2,4-D getting some age on it that could be applied to the rest of the lawn. Should be time to apply it yet with good results. There are some stinging nettles and Canada thistle patches in the lot that are inaccessible with the mounted sprayer. The hand sprayer should still work wonders with the proper product(s) however.

With Monday and Tuesday’s frost, the year in insects is winding down somewhat. Guessing we’ve seen the last of our white-lined sphinx moths at the petunias. The adult moths we’ve been seeing were living on borrowed time although their progeny are likely in pupal form, tucked safely into the soil for next year’s first generation. Likewise with many of the bumblebees we’ve been seeing on the coleus blossoms. Some of the smaller bumblebees are likely workers that will soon be towards the end of their life expectancy. The large models are likely queens that will find a place to overwinter and start new colonies come spring. All part of the plan.
 
Poppy’s first year at the ranch was celebrated with some extra time and attention for the Corgi. As we say, she likes her people. Just ask anyone who’s stopped by to visit. Working on getting her to curb her enthusiasm in the form of jumping. That’ll come but she’s still basically a puppy and full of energy. She still does lots of zoomies both inside and outside. Ball playing inside can wear both participants out after a half hour or so. She can be a workout. Pretty sure the living room carpet will need replacing eventually once she gets through this phase. There are times Poppy does finally wear down and takes long naps not unlike the humans she tuckers out in her house. Dogs do take after their owners.

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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They was a-splishing and a-splashing

The Weather Eye was on track, so the scurs predicted rain and rain it did. Is there more where that came from, or do we coast until it snows? Starting Thursday, cloudy becoming mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. The normal high for October 22nd is 55 and the normal low is 34. The scurs will be getting their Halloween costumes out of mothballs. Not only will people see them coming, they will smell them.

Harvest came to a halt last week as measurable precip fell across the area for parts of three days. It was a welcome rain for the most part. Falling as slowly as it did, very little if any ran off. There were still plenty of cracks in the ground in many fields so much of it went right in. Rainfall totals varied from 1.5” to well over 2”. It doesn’t mean an end to the drought, but it may decrease its intensity for the time being. The soybean harvest is largely completed and a rough guesstimate on the corn harvest is in the 40% - 50% range. Some potential stalk quality issues as mentioned in last week’s column appear to be apparent in some fields. Some of those fields showed their hands early on, especially those hybrids that were black layered over a month ago. It was a good idea to go after those before they became trouble. Soil temp questions will likely be asked so anhydrous ammonia applications can begin. We should be in good shape this upcoming week and with the soil moisture in good shape it should seal well.

Looks like the gardening has about run its course for the season at the ranch. I took the time on Sunday morning to manufacture a corn shock as promised. Before I did, however, a deer walked past the living room window while I was having coffee. She sauntered around the yard like she owned the place, helping herself to some apples before suddenly spooking. Earlier Poppy had sent something running by the sweet corn patch. Thought maybe it was one of the sheep on the other side of the fence. Might not have been. I harvested some of the green sweet corn and Indian corn stalks to make enough bundles for a corn shock. Typically, shocks consist of 35 – 40 bundles containing 7 – 9 stalks per bundle. After tying all those bundles by hand, I decided there was a good reason corn binders were invented. I cheated a little when I built the shock. There’s a steel post in the middle of it. It probably would’ve stood on its own but since this one is just for decoration, wasn’t about to take any chances.

More birds passing through at the ranch with each passing day. Can probably take down the last hummingbird feeder as that ship likely has sailed. The juncos were spotted this past weekend for the first time this fall. I suspect they may have been here prior to that but it was the first time they got close enough to the patio to easily identify them. There have been lots of robins in particular this fall. They feast on the nannyberries, crabapples, and American cranberry. They also love to bathe in the bird bath. Frequently one can be seen frantically flapping its wings and splashing water around like an out-of-control pressure washer hose. Some days, when enough robins use it, the birdbath needs to be filled a second time. Once the migratory birds are gone, plenty of chickadees, nuthatches, house finches, woodpeckers and blue jays seem to be setting up shop for winter. We’re ready for them. Winter? Not so much.

The sheep appreciated the recent rain as it continued to help their pasture stay green and actually grow. That should help take a little pressure off the hay supply. The kindly neighbor still runs a rotary screener so the sheep in their pasture have enjoyed gobbling screenings down daily. The forage quality in both pastures has dwindled somewhat as the season nears a close. That’s apparent in the ewes’ mineral block consumption. No one’s fault, that’s just how it works this time of year. To supplement their diets, the sheep in both pastures serve as little garbage disposals. Apple, cucumber and squash peelings, whole zucchini, ground fall apples, lettuce hearts, bread crusts, radish tops, sweet corn cobs, out of code pumpkins and the list goes on. All of it makes its way over the fence. They come on a dead run when it looks like something might be heading their direction.

With autumn progressing, Poppy has been taking notice of the changes in the yard. Sometimes she tends to be rather vocal about it. The thing that’s interesting is trying to figure out what set her off in the first place. It doesn’t take much although we were trained by 25 years’ worth of Border Collies so we should be used to it. Last week it was a pile of vine crops that showed up outside the living room window. This week it was apple harvesting equipment being left by the apple tree overnight, the Gator being parked in front of the granary rather than on the trailer and the addition of a corn shock in the front yard with pumpkins, gourds and squash surrounding it. Makes for lots of growling which is somewhat tolerable. The loud barking that often follows? That gets old pretty fast. Yes we know it's there. Get back to your regularly scheduled programming, Corgi.
 
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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It was an attitude adjustment; it’ll work every time.

The Weather Eye was tracking right again as the scurs delivered more harvest weather. Do we make it through before more rain slows us again or will it be snow this time? Starting Thursday, a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a slight chance of lingering forenoon showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Saturday with a fair chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunday, partly sunny with a good chance of a rain/snow mix in the forenoon. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Halloween Tuesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on Wednesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. The normal high for Halloween is 50 and the normal low is 31. The scurs emptied their Halloween contractor-sized trick or treat bag. Bigger is definitely better once you they got past people’s recycling.

The Full Moon for the month falls on October 28th and is known as the Full Hunter’s Moon. Some years the October Full Moon is the Full Harvest Moon as it’s the Full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox. Not this time. It’s known as the Hunter’s Moon as this was the time when the pioneers and native Americans alike were busy stocking their larders and pantries with wild game fattened up to go through winter. The Ojibwe knew this as the Falling Leaves Moon or the Freezing Moon. The Sioux called it the Moon of Drying Rice or the Moon of Falling Leaves. At the ranch we refer to it as the Freezing Water Pail Moon or the Moon of Frozen Corgi Poop.

More harvest progress as many crossed the finish line beginning their fall tillage and fertilizer applications. Even with recent rains, soils seem to be working up nicely. Anhydrous is sealing well with soil temps cooling down more as we head into the upcoming week. There is the promise of more significant rainfall on tap, something we haven’t seen much of the past several fall seasons. It would be nice to go into winter and spring with a soil profile containing substantial amounts of moisture, rather than wondering where it will come from. The only issue may be Old Man Winter firing a warning shot over the weekend. Yep, that swear word starting with “S” is back in the forecasts already without much promise of significantly warmer temps. Most aren’t ready for it and aside from some snowbirds, few are truly ready for it in late October.

Since last Thursday, I’ve been in Canada for an attitude adjustment. At the camp near Flanders, we’ve been cutting and splitting wood as well as cleaning up so everything will be ready for the first campers of the season next spring. Leaf drop is nearing completion with some scattered pockets of color remaining. The tamaracks are edging closer to dropping their yellow needles. They’re pretty but are at their very best when the sun peeks through the clouds placing them in the spotlight. Mother Nature was a little stingy with the sunshine this trip, yet generous with the rain as is sometimes the case this time of year. Just as with our farming area in southern MN however, rain is welcomed by most. Lake levels are lower than in several years so adding to the lakes and groundwater is usually a good thing.

Looking at the upcoming forecast, once I touch down at home, it’ll be full bore towards prepping for winter. Lots of projects to complete before facing the glacier once again. Oil to change on the tractor and skidsteer on a warmer afternoon. Scraping up the screenings that accumulated and changing over to barn cleaning mode once crop is off around the building site. That doesn’t usually take long given the size of today’s equipment and is usually long gone before I get at it. Hoping there’ll be time and suitable conditions to grind up all the leaves and do some strategic tree pruning. Never fails, about the time I think I’ve got all the face slappers and headphone grabbers under control, a new batch shows up. Mowing lawn is enough fun without that.

The weekend in Canada by the lake was interrupted from time to time by lots of dog barking. Sunday afternoon, when everyone left for home they took their dogs with them. It was almost eerily quiet. While I’m not necessarily fond of barking dogs, I couldn’t help but think about Poppy and wonder what she was up to. Like most Corgi’s, she’s capable of doing her share of barking. She’s getting better about it as long as there aren’t a lot of changes made to her yard since the last time she looked. That may be tough for a while with our upcoming fall season preparations in anticipation of our least favorite season. No matter. Poppy should be ready for winter. Her coat was already getting pretty thick and shiny before I left. I’d expect it to be even denser upon my return. The best thing about that is her shedding has slowed to a minimum and that’s makes everyone happy. If forecasts are right, she’ll need every hair she can get for a while.

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 glenn57

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safe travels tomorrow bud!!!!!!!!1 :happy1: :happy1:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Offline mike89

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safe travels tomorrow bud!!!!!!!!1 :happy1: :happy1:

yup 2nd that!!!   
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline Dotch

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You're everything that a big bad wolf could want

The Weather Eye had the right idea as the scurs predicted snow last weekend. Are we in for more frozen precip or will it be the liquid form again? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a slight chance of rain showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy on Saturday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Sunday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Tuesday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 30’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 30’s. On the 4th the sun will set at 6 p.m. and like magic on the 5th, it will set at 4:59 CST. On the 7th we slip below 10 hours of daylight. The normal high for November 5th is 47 and the normal low is 29. The scurs will dutifully change their clocks back an hour at precisely 2 a.m. on the 5th.
 
Harvest continues as roughly 70% - 75% of the corn has been harvested locally. Rainfall brought most fieldwork to a standstill last week with total accumulations locally from 1.5” – 2”. The snowfall on Saturday didn’t help as snow clung to the ears. Anyone who has plugged a combine full of snow knows better. Anyone who hasn’t may experience a sudden steep learning curve. The rainfall generally remains welcome as once it percolated into the soil a few days, field operations could resume with a minimal amount of mud on the roads. Tillage was also still a “go” as some tried it Sunday once the snow left. It may not allow the shattering that was occurring earlier, but the ground still appears to be working up nicely. Best of all the worries about wearing the points off the ripper in rapid fashion have been tossed on the trash heap, right on top of spraying for tar spot.

Gardening at the ranch has wound down with the digging of the cannas on Sunday. The bulbs were enormous once again and took some effort to pry loose. Ideally it would’ve been nice to dig them earlier when the soil was drier. However, I was able to get a firsthand look at the soil moisture conditions up close and personal. Wearing insulated rubber gloves, it was plain that while a little tacky, it probably would work fine for primary tillage in the field.  Harvesting red osier dogwood the day before made me wonder as I didn’t track much mud back into the yard. It was a good time to get some of that cut before the snow prevented it and the wildlife gnawed off the very best stems. There were some twigs that were fire engine red. Luckily dogwood thrives on abuse. Cutting the oldest third of the branches back to the base of the shrub every year or two enhances the number and quality of the stems for the upcoming year.

The fall colors hung on a while although you just knew that after the rains, one day of strong wind and they’d be gone. At least there were still a few days’ worth of color in the trees when I arrived home from Canada. The lack of sunshine, however, made even the brightest trees seem a little dull. Thursday afternoon after a little shower, the sun suddenly peeked through the clouds. I grabbed my phone, hoping to capture some better shots than I had earlier. As I started snapping photos, I noticed a rainbow coming down over the top of the red oak tree. The tree was about at its peak, so the sunshine was just what the doctor ordered. Now if the doctor would just order the weather to warm back up and be spring again in a few weeks, we’d all be happy.
 
It’s a slow transition into winter with the sheep. Still enough pasture and fallen leaves to keep them occupied but where pasture is dwindling, it’s definitely time to supplement them with some grain. The mineral block tells the tale. The screenings supply hasn’t been as bountiful as it once was either so will be relying more heavily on cracked corn. That’s OK with the price of corn being more reasonable and being able to feed it more sparingly than the screenings. Probably a good idea to get it ordered when the ground is frozen solid unlike last year. No one’s fault, it’s just part of the deal. It took some doing to get all the ruts filled in and smoothed over, so no one was killed or maimed while mowing the lawn.

Poppy got reacquainted with the snow over the weekend. Her attitude hasn’t changed. She still loves it. One quick look at the large circular patterns from the high-speed zoomies in the snow and there’s no doubt. Once inside though, she morphs into a lap dog. This is always nice when you come in from chores and crawl under a blanket. Having 20 lbs. of dog adding warmth to your chilly bones never hurts. After about an hour or so there’s still a Corgi sleeping on your leg that’s fallen asleep. Eventually something has to give especially when you’re hungry. Since dogs evolved from wolves, Poppy likes to follow suit. It isn’t surprising she’s ready to grab anything that accidentally hits the floor during food prep. Gotta earn your keep when you live with a kitchen klutz.
 
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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Like a leaf on the breeze you blew away

The Weather Eye’s thermostat may need some adjustment. The scurs were a little light in the high temp dept. this last week with some 50’s and even 60’s in the mix. No complaints, however. Do we lead a charmed life for another week or does Old Man Winter spoil our fun? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny on Veteran’s Day with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of rain showers. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny on Wednesday with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. On the 9th, the sun will rise at 7 a.m. CST. The normal high for November 11th is 44 and the normal low is 26. The scurs are looking forward to firing up the grill for Thanksgiving. Forecast high of 45 with a low of 23. A nap and a replenished goody supply. What’s not to like?
 
Harvest continues to wind down for most although there are still fields of corn scattered here and there. Best guess is corn harvest is 90% - 95% complete. The drone of corn dryers heard across the evening landscape has greatly diminished, replaced by bin fans to keep the corn cool. Still plenty of anhydrous ammonia and tillage operations although those too are coming to the end quickly. Conditions have been ideal as rainfall and snowfall have been sparse in our little part of the world anyway. Still, we were fortunate to come out of September and August with 6” of rain or more. While it hasn’t entirely alleviated the drought (we’re still considered to be in a moderate drought) it has gone a long way towards helping us breathe a little easier. There should be enough moisture to get seeds to germinate and grow come spring, something we weren’t so sure of last year at this time.

What about our winter prosects? So far, many of the weather folks are saying odds are better than even of seeing a warmer than normal winter. El Niño is expected to persist through spring which will tend to favor above normal temperatures across much of the northern US. It will also increase odds that areas of the southern US that have been suffering from severe drought will see some substantial relief. We stand to see even chances of above or below normal winter precipitation in our part of MN while northern MN may trend towards below normal winter precipitation. Odds of us completely losing the drought designation over the course of the winter appear slim. Well, can’t it at least get rid of these pesky boxelder bugs?

No help there either I’m afraid. They have been particularly annoying this fall and it comes as no surprise. I should be used to it. At the Pleasant Grove farm, I can remember them being a nuisance as a kid. I enjoyed putting them under the muzzle and blowing their wings off with my Daisy popgun. When we have a warm, dry summer it tends to bring them out of the woodwork. Someone asked what they eat during the winter. They don’t. Like the Asian ladybeetles, the adult boxelder bugs are just looking for a warm place to hang out. Once they find it, they hunker down until it warms up. They then move out of their overwintering digs, feeding on seeds and plants a few weeks before mating. The females lay eggs on boxelder trees although the nymphs may feed on ash and maples as well.
 
As we well know, not all the boxelder bugs make it out of the house. Some die and their bodies can be found years later. Light fixtures are among their favorites where they bunk with the ladybeetles. Tearing old siding off buildings or moving bales along the barn wall tends to reveal mass graves of both species as well. No one said they were smart. 1988 was probably high-water mark for boxelder bugs at the ranch. They had free run of the house and were everywhere. I remember them crawling on us when sleeping, awakening us when they’d land on our faces. Ten years later, we had our furnace replaced. The new furnace had a lot more fan power. When they started it up, it blew all the dead boxelder bugs out of ductwork. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.

https://extension.umn.edu/nuisance-insects/boxelder-bugs

Looks like any leaf watching cruises in the Stude are history. No leaves and once they’ve spread salt on the roads, we’re done. Since the leaves are mostly down, it gave me a chance to grind them up at the ranch. Starting mid-morning once the dew was off, I knocked out the whole yard in about five hours. Not bad considering it took Mother Nature all summer to grow them. Once again, I find riding and pulverizing the leaves into confetti is preferable to raking them all up. Ash and soft maple leaves don’t take much. Even the oak leaves when they’re nice and dry disintegrate after a couple times over with this mower. Not all the leaves are off all the trees yet. Those that are left will be released in staggered fashion over the remainder of fall and the upcoming winter. If they get too thick yet this fall, it won’t take long to fire up the mower and eliminate them. The sheep do their part too if the leaves happen to blow their way, whether they’ve been run through the mower or not.
 
Poppy has graduated from her puppy food and is on to adult food. One still has to beware of the DDF (deadly dog flatulence). For a small dog, one is taken aback sometimes when she cuts loose. The inner workings of a Corgi’s digestive tract are something to behold when watching TV at night. It’s about enough to make your eyes water and peel the paint off the walls. Sometimes it’s an indication that it’s time to take her out for a bathroom break. Not always though but unless you want to clean dog poo off the floor, best to err on the side of caution. Frequently those trips make for a lot of hanging around out in the cold waiting for something that never happens. Sorta like deer hunting I’m told.
   
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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See the world, laugh at the farmers feeding hogs

The Weather Eye’s thermostat still needs some adjustment. The scurs have concluded the warmth makes up for those long stretches this past summer without rain. Do we still have one more week of nice temps or will we get cut short? Starting Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunday, mostly sunny becoming cloudy with a fair chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Tuesday, cloudy with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with a chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 20’s. On the 20th, we fall below nine hours and thirty minutes of daylight and won’t regain that amount until January 23rd. The good news is our loss of daylight on a daily basis slows to less than two minutes per day on November 21st. The normal high for November 21st is 38 and the normal low is 22. Sneak peek at Thanksgiving has a forecast high of 38 and a low of 18. The scurs will be busy thawing that turkey in the fridge in anticipation.

After throwing a scare in us during the last week in October, Old Man Winter continues to be a November no-show. Best of all, no one misses him. What a great fall it’s been for catching up on some of the projects that got backburnered last year. Last year we were already starting to measure accumulating snow. At the rate this is going, there should be no leaves in anyone’s yard, or any brush left in drainage ditches or fence lines. Anhydrous ammonia tanks are getting frequent flyer miles as well. Even worked corn fields are showing up in the corn planting intentions column as the tanks leave their telltale tracks behind. Dry fertilizer applications are also being made as time is suddenly available to do it. Nice to have that luxury again. The only bad news as of this writing is there has been no measurable precipitation recorded here so far in November. Typically at the SROC in Waseca we see 1.89”. The good news is there’s still time.

At the ranch we continue to take advantage of the nice weather was well although there needs to be some selectivity. Don’t want the bunny protection to be in the way when the basement windows are repaired. A garter snake made its way into the house a while back and in fact on November 9th, there was still one crawling around the backyard. Better hope it finds its way into a striped gopher hole soon or it’ll be wishing it had. Still odd jobs to finish such as grinding a few leaves that the wind hasn’t seen fit to blow out of the yard. Oil changes on the tractor and skidsteer need to be completed for winter and the manure hauling prior to that. The weather is still too nice to think about cleaning barn for a few days, but it would be nice to haul without putting the chains on. Or to have to dig through the snowbanks to get to the field like last year. More fun than a person should be allowed to have.

The battle rages on over Daylight-Saving Time versus Standard Time. I can’t speak for anyone else but as I get older, it’s getting more difficult to adjust on either end of it. It’s only been made worse since the decision was made to extend it to a full eight months out of the year. Used to be I looked forward to setting the clocks back in the fall and regaining that lost hour of sleep. Now I find myself waking up and calculating how much time I have left sleep rather than rolling over and dozing off again. Time to stop beating this dead horse and bury it for good.
 
Read a commentary placing a large degree of blame on the farm lobby for abolishing DST back in 1918 after WWI, making light of farmers’ milking schedule being disrupted. A few things: Electrification hadn’t taken place yet across the vast majority of American farms. Bumbling around in the dark with kerosene lanterns wasn’t easy and could have disastrous consequences. Just ask Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. Most cows in 1918 were still being milked by hand. Farmers had lots of kids for that in those days. Lights on tractors weren’t something you could rely on either, that is if you actually had a tractor. From the 1921 USDA Yearbook, a mere 8.3% of MN farmers reported owning a tractor in 1920! In the same year across the U.S., only 10% of farms had water in their houses. Hard to blame farmers if they were grumpy about someone messing with their clocks. They already had plenty of things to be grumpy about.

At least our sheep aren’t grumpy. Shannon Shonrock’s uncle delivered a huge pickup load of pumpkins last week that they’ve been enjoying. I’ve parceled them out, so they’ll be ready for the bonanza come Thanksgiving. I’ve seen the Cheviots eying the pumpkins, Turk’s turban squash, and the corn shock for quite some time now. I also picked up some screenings the former pygmy goat farmer scraped up for them. The brood ewes will definitely enjoy those early in their gestation. Even the beeswings agree with their palate although they’re not real fussy. One needs to remember that stale bread, out of code apples, and banana peels are among their flavor favorites.

Speaking of odd palates, I watched as Poppy sat on the couch, pawing, and nibbling on something. Before I could get it away from her, she chewed it up and swallowed it. It appeared to be a boxelder bug. A few days later I saw her pursuing something crawling on the floor. It was definitely a boxelder bug and since I was curious, I watched to see what she’d do with it. Sure enough, she eventually ate the thing! It made me shudder thinking about it. They simply can’t taste good. Being in the “true bug” family, tasting bad is one of their protective mechanisms, with bad odor frequently following close behind. While it’s nice of Poppy to rid our house of these pests, she really doesn’t have to take one for the team.

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 LPS

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A good friend that is a farmer and is in his upper 70's told me that day light savings had nothing to do with farmers.  They started working at daylight and worked till sundown so time didn't matter.  He said they all talked about how it was for businessmen so they had time to hit the golf course in the afternoon whilst still light out.

I thought this was pretty interesting and never heard it before he told me.  He was a history major so loves this type of thing. 
« Last Edit: November 11/14/23, 12:59:49 PM by LPS »

Offline Steve-o

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Indeed, LPS, From Time Magazine (2017):  The Real Reason Why Daylight Saving Time Is a Thing

Across the pond, the first U.S. law on Daylight Saving Time went into effect on March 19, 1918, for the same fuel saving reasons, about a year after the country entered the war. But again, though the official reason was fuel saving, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the major backer for the policy, Downing argues, because Americans getting off work while it was still light out meant they would be more likely to go out shopping in the evening.

Sports and recreation industries saw the light, too. “Golf ball sales skyrocketed during Daylight Saving Time,” according to Downing. “Baseball is a huge early supporter, too, because there’s no artificial illumination of parks, so to get school kids and workers to ball games with the extended daylight, they have a later start time.” Some even considered Daylight Saving Time a good health policy, given the extra time people had to be outdoors.

Offline LPS

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Thanks SteveO.

Offline Dotch

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Agree Barry. Daylight hours were all that mattered as far as getting the work done. The problem came from suppliers and markets running on DST, making it more difficult to get the job done for farmers on a daily basis. Luckily the farm economy was strong. Corn reached $1.30/bu. in 1919. In today's dollars that'd be the equivalent of $28.16/bu. Just think of all the new pickups they could've bought! :rotflmao:

It truly was an interesting time in history. WWI was a major factor and while the US wasn't directly involved until late in the war, it still had a major impact on the economy, particularly on the ag sector. Once Europe recovered, things went south in a hurry and stayed that way a long time. Something none of the articles mention is the negative impact the sudden, abrupt, time change can have on livestock productivity and health. Gee, wonder what happens to humans then? :scratch: 

https://time.com/4549397/daylight-saving-time-history-politics/

https://www.mnopedia.org/agricultural-depression-1920-1934
« Last Edit: November 11/14/23, 03:55:34 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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Tired of waiting for you

The Weather Eye’s current thermostat settings seem to agree with most, including the scurs. Despite the wind, no complaints in the temp dept. last week. Can we count on one more week or has our luck run its course? Starting Turkey Day, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Partly sunny Black Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Partly sunny on Saturday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Sunday, partly sunny with an outside chance of a few flurries.. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Tuesday, sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper teens. Sunny on Wednesday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-teens. The normal high for this year’s Thanksgiving Day, the 23rd, is 37 and the normal low is 21. Having roasted their turkey to perfection, the scurs can enjoy their after-dinner nap while visions of leftovers dance in their heads.

The Full Moon for the month falls on the 27th and goes by the Full Beaver Moon, named for the large rodents that after finishing their lodges for winter, were harvested for their valuable fur. During the days of the European fur trade, their pelts were used for coats and hats. When dealing with outfits such as the Hudson Bay Company in 1733, trappers could buy necessities and other supplies with the pelts. What were the pelts worth?  With one pelt, trappers could buy either one brass kettle, one and a half pounds of gunpowder, a pair of shoes, two shirts, a blanket, eight knives, two pounds of sugar or a gallon of brandy. It took 4 pelts to purchase a pistol and ten to twelve pelts for a long gun. The Ojibwe called this the Freezing Moon while the Lakota Sioux knew it as the Deer Rutting Moon. At the ranch, it’s known as the Do Chores Twice in the Dark Moon.

Field operations are wrapping up in area fields. Most of the last fields of corn have been harvested and anhydrous ammonia should be about finished by Thanksgiving. While the rains that fell in September and October delayed harvest and tillage slightly, it also made anhydrous application and primary tillage go much smoother than anticipated in late August. If conditions had remained as dry as they were, no doubt ripper points would’ve been burned up more quickly and anhydrous ammonia might not have sealed up as well as it did. November rainfall has been very short, so we’ve gained virtually no soil moisture. Only .03” has fallen at the ranch and likewise in Bugtussle as measured Tuesday morning. Not to fear. We had very little precip last September and October although we had 10” – 11” of snow in November. Think most would rather have the dry November with the warmer temperatures and take our chances.

At the ranch, operations are still transitioning into winter mode. Still things that need to happen although they don’t happen as quickly or with as much enthusiasm as they once did. There still needs to be more bedding and small squares of hay procured and stored. The well pit has to be covered. The pumpkins and corn shock have to make their way down the hill into the sheep pasture on Thanksgiving and barns should be cleaned yet. The small barn skipped a year so it’s likely to contain an extra load or two. Round bales will be plopped in their feeders and the group of ewes and lambs that spent their summer at the kindly neighbors’ will be coming home. All the breeding animals will have had the good fortune to enjoy pumpkins for their own version of a Thanksgiving feast.

Whittled off the “to-do” list this past weekend included grinding up the remaining leaves the wind knocked off. The obnoxious river birch branches that were my nemesis over the summer were dealt with severely. The remainder of the bunny guards were installed, and another crop of sticks was deposited on the brush pile. The first batch of leftover gourds and pumpkins made their way to the sheep at home while their water tank filled after being cleaned. About that time, I decided to check the electric fence. Grounded out. Our wonderful deer overpopulation had shredded it after checking it the week before. They broke off over a dozen fiberglass posts, popped the insulators off another half dozen steel posts and strung wire halfway across the pasture. Two hours, a bunch of “by gollies” and “gosh darns” later I had it up and running. Deer have been crossed off my Christmas card list.

The birds are more appreciative and less destructive. They’ve continued their transition into winter as well. Been a while since we’ve seen many robins although there’s lots of evidence of their passing through. Many of the crabapples are picked bare as are the nannyberries. The American cranberry have also been heavily picked over. The fruit clusters diminished to a large extent since I picked some a few weeks ago for decorative purposes. Aronia berries are still holding on in places, their fruit drying down and becoming slightly sweeter. Still pucker you up and would take a lot of sugar to make jam. In the yard, a loyal contingent of goldfinches has returned as have most of our winter birds. Chickadees scold when filling the feeders as nuthatches, house finches, downies, hairies, red-bellies, blue jays and juncos wait more patiently. At least one male cardinal is back helping the juncos clean up after the fox squirrels selectively eat the germ out of the ear corn kernels.
 
Poppy comes along during my bird feeding excursions although she’s preoccupied with retracing the squirrels’ steps from tree to tree. Since there are at lest a half dozen squirrel nests visible, there are lots of trails to sniff out. It gives her plenty of exercise, something we’re concerned about. Corgis can develop back problems if they’re lethargic and overweight, so exercise and diet are critical. We were relieved to hear the breeders comment that Poppy was in excellent physical condition upon seeing pictures of her. She is a very physically active dog although one of our favorite times is when her batteries wear down and she curls up on your lap. More often than not, the ensuing naps are contagious.

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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I never said I was a victim of circumstance

The scurs suffered a letdown after the Weather Eye’s temps were suddenly more January-like than November-ish. Do we regain some of our warmth or has Old Man Winter given us the permanent cold shoulder? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Partly sunny Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny on Saturday with a slight chance of rain and snow in the overnight hours. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Sunday, partly sunny with a slight chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of light morning snow. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. On December 3rd the sun will rise at 7:30 a.m. CST. The normal high for December 3rd is 33 and the normal low is 17. Uncharacteristically, the scurs have started their annual Christmas shopping procrastination early this year.

The fields are bare and there is quiet across the landscape once again. Even the Ten Man Dryer seems to have ceased its mighty roar. One never knows, however. Last week, it was running again after assuming the corn drying season was over. Field operations have ended as well with soils freezing solid once lows reached the teens and single digits. Precipitation is predicted to continue on the sparse side, with only .09” being measured at the ranch in November and .07” total in Bugtussle. No one is complaining after last year. Heard one weather pundit gleefully exclaim over the weekend that there has never been a November in his jurisdiction without measurable snow. As if on cue, we received an inch of greasy skid stuff on Saturday. The roads were slick, and it made our sloping dooryard so slippery that moving wagons, trailers, pickups, etc., suddenly became an adventure. Thanks a lot fella.

At the ranch we continue our slow, steady but mostly slow transition to winter. The main decorating pumpkins made their way to the home pasture on Thanksgiving Day. The next day saw the corn shock and remaining pumpkins follow suit. The water tank in the main barn was cleaned, refilled and the heater installed again. Manure was stockpiled from the lambing barn lot for future reference. The well pit was also covered with bales after seeing low temps drop into the teens. Saturday was move hay feeders and troughs into their winter positions day in anticipation of the ewes returning from the kindly neighbors’ pasture. More lot manure was stockpiled in front of the main barn as well. If it’s thawed enough it’ll get hauled yet. If not, it’s not going anywhere. Sunday morning meant getting a nice load of small square cornstalk bales for winter bedding. Despite everything being a battle with winds howling and snow squalls making life miserable, we still managed to bring the ewes home ahead of the coldest weather of the season. Something to be thankful for after their 23-week engagement there. Yet somehow the kindly neighbors keep allowing them back.

Still plenty to get done yet although the weather should remain favorable. Don’t want to become complacent though as it can turn on a dime when you’re not prepared for it. Not one to be a victim of circumstance, but a few too many years’ worth of lengthy, unplanned events cropping up and shortened windows of opportunity have created a lengthy backlog of activities. Still some small squares of hay to be brought home yet and manure hauling to commence. The remaining equipment can be readied quickly so barring breakdowns, there should be ample time to complete that task. After that, there are always trees to cut up, brush to burn, buildings to be repaired and/or taken down, dogwood to harvest, and the list goes on. The next thing you know, there could be early lambs on the ground. It’s happened before and given some of the low temperatures back in July, it could happen again over the next several weeks. As a local male Bandwagon star once told me, it’s not when they’re born, it’s when you find them.

There was more bird activity at the feeders starting last week when temps were warmer, and it ramped up even more this week. Consumption of all their favorites increased significantly so Poppy and I have been busy trying to keep them happy. All the usuals were on hand and the number of male cardinals has swelled to three. Like most years they appear as it nears dark, feeding primarily on the ground. Not sure if a couple of them are this year’s hatch or just not as colorful. One of them is just striking, especially when one of those all too rare rays of sunshine happen to catch him before sundown. There were several reasons cardinals were one of my Mom’s favorite birds. That’s one of them.

Poppy continues cementing her position at the ranch primarily as a mascot. She does have the responsibility though of keeping the squirrels exercised. Most times she’s content to sit and gaze out of the sliding glass doors as the sheep graze on the slope below. When enough squirrels show up, however, it’s game on. She’ll put up a fuss and let you know it’s time to get after them. The squirrels have figured out that if they make it under the electric fence, they’re home free. With short days and more time being spent inside with Poppy, it’s been entertaining to see what kind of sounds set her off. Sneezing always gets her dander up as do doorbells, timers and buzzers when they go off. While it’s not quite like watching TV with Ruby was when she’d launch herself at the TV, it’s still puzzling what the stimulus was that makes you scratch your head briefly. Once you figure it out, all is calm again and Poppy goes back to sleep. Good thinking when it’s cold and dark outside.

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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Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

The scurs rallied once the Weather Eye got back to some late October temps. Do we retain our newfound warmth or is it our last hurrah? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-50’s (not a typo) and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Partly sunny on Saturday with highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Partly sunny on Monday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Tuesday, sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens. On December 9th, we start losing daylight at less than a minute per day. We also are down to just under nine hours of daylight, with just under six minutes left to lose before the winter solstice. The normal high for December 9th is 30 and the normal low is 15. While it’s time to retrieve the Festivus pole from the crawl space, the scurs successfully procrastinated for another week without Christmas shopping.

The unbelievably nice stretch of fall/early winter weather continues, allowing more projects to be completed around area farms. Among them have been tiling projects, some of which arose after the heavy May rainfall pointed out places where additional drainage wouldn’t hurt. I have too much tile, said no farmer ever. Frost depth remains shallow if frozen at all. A week ago this past Monday 1” of frost was measured on bare soil at the SROC in Waseca. This was before temperatures hit below zero- and single-digit lows on November 28th and 29th. Both air and soil temperatures have warmed since that time. St. Olaf and Beaver Lake were nearly frozen over with only small areas staying open. The open areas have enlarged, and one has to wonder if the warm temps predicted will allow them to become ice-free once again. If the warmer temps and lack of snow don’t help shorten our winter, it’s at least a far cry from where we were last year at this time.

It was a busy week at the ranch continuing to get everything in place for winter. Two livestock trailer loads of small square bales were procured thanks to help from my little fat buddy. Sure, I could’ve probably done it myself but there would’ve been a lot less of me left to perform the rest of my tasks. Wednesday a.m. the carpenter who was putting in the basement windows came after having to punt on Monday when the low at the ranch reached 0. Helping him get his bearings and giving an occasional assist, it allowed time to unload and stack one trailer’s worth of hay. What a great job to have those windows done as I admired his handywork while the boxelder bugs came to life on the south side of the house. The new windows should help keep them out of the basement. It’ll also mean fewer snakes, frogs, mice or even larger livestock gaining entrance to the premises.
 
The next day meant another load of hay in the trailer and parked alongside a load of cornstalks that had been setting for several days. Friday could’ve been a potential day to unload and stack both commodities but email notices for Poppy to make a vet appointment kept cropping up. An opportunity to do just that presented itself that afternoon so away we went. More on that below. When we got back it was too late to start another major project so Saturday became D-Day. After a morning feed run, the hay was unloaded and stacked. Once I had a little lunch, the cornstalks were unloaded and temporarily stashed under a roof, waiting to be stacked on Sunday. Thought I’d throttle it back a little. Chores were done, garbage taken to the dumpster, fall decorating tossed over the fence to the sheep, cornstalks were stacked, the hayrack hauled back to its owner, paid for the cornstalks and plopped a round bale in the yearling ewe lot. Chore time again. So much for throttling it back a little.

Cornstalks make wonderful bedding for sheep. Not a lot of people bale them in small squares, however, so was very fortunate to find some not far from home. Was first introduced to them by a former Cheviot breeder and Bandwagon star. They were crispy-crackly dry, and this year’s version was exactly that. One of the most important factors in keeping sheep healthy is keeping them dry. Damp wool prior to shearing makes that more difficult. Poor ventilation and wet conditions mean more bedding needs to be used. In order to keep ewes and newborn lambs from having respiratory issues, they have to start dry and stay dry. Sure, one can treat with antibiotics, and bedding isn’t cheap but losing a valuable breeding animal or an entire bloodline because of negligence is a lot more costly in the long run.
     
The highlight of the week though was Poppy’s trip to the veterinarian. After figuring out Friday morning she needed her vaccines updated, there was an opportunity to do that in the afternoon. She’s not the greatest rider yet but upon exiting the vehicle and seeing people, she’s anxious to meet them. Once I got her in the exam room, she became an instant favorite with the vet techs who cooed and squealed about how cute she was. After she got her shots, they also trimmed her toenails so now she’s much stealthier. It helps her sneak up on those big, nasty cluster flies when they start buzzing around the house. The warm weather woke a bunch of them up this past week and if they get close to Poppy, she suddenly turns into Taz. If you grab a flyswatter to assist, her bark is ear piercing. Under no circumstances utter the word “bug” or she’ll level the place. Who knew something so cute and cuddly could instantly become a weapon of mass destruction?

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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Ooh, jealousy

With the Weather Eye dishing out more above normal temps almost daily, the scurs may retire to a private island in the Caribbean. Do we continue pinching ourselves or does Old Man Winter drop the hammer? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a slight chance of evening snow or rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Sunny on Saturday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 20’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 20’s. Sunny on Wednesday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. The sun will begin to set later each day starting on December 17th at 4:37 p.m. CST. Our loss of daylight slows to less than half a minute per day on the 18th, and by the 20th, drops to only six seconds per day. The normal high for December 20th is 26 and the normal low is 11. The scurs haven’t made any lists let alone checked them twice. Plenty of time for that yet.

So will we see a white Christmas? Not looking good for any large amounts of snow anytime soon. The El Niño remains solidly in place and odds are it’ll remain that way into the spring months. As predicted, the winter has started out warmer and drier than normal for the northern US. It has also been somewhat drier in the south although predictions are that will be changing from the west over the course of the next several weeks. For here? Same ol’ same ol’. Not complaining. Reduces the odds of people slipping and falling, bruising bodies and breaking bones. When might we see a trend towards more significant precipitation again? As we head towards the vernal equinox and the northern hemisphere tilts more towards the sun, we may see better odds. Hopefully it is in liquid form and above freezing. Not a lot of fans around here of April snow or May for that matter.

What a week of weather we had last week! As of Monday, St. Olaf Lake wasn’t completely ice free, but had largely opened up. Beaver remained frozen, more like some of the shallower wetlands. Soils thawed enough so that some last-minute primary tillage could be performed. Highs akin to late October to mid-November are responsible for soils remaining relatively frost-free. Exceptions include north sides of building sites, as well as groves, and north facing slopes. This has meant farmers are able to work at many of the projects that weren’t near the top of the priority list until now. They have to be cautious, however, not to overachieve or they’ll wind up working on the dreaded honeydew list. Gotta leave some for seed.

What a difference the weather has made at the ranch as well. Thursday afternoon a mid-50’s high called for harvesting additional dogwood from the wetland. It also meant pruning out some of the old growth to provide more new growth for next year. Barn cleaning commenced Friday afternoon with the stockpiled manure hauled first should Old Man Winter suddenly return. As it was, there were still some frozen chunks, leftover from the colder temperatures in late November. The weather looked potentially uglier Saturday so the pile in the lambing barn lot was hauled in the forenoon. The snowy afternoon made good prep time so that pack manure could be hauled from the main barn without so many obstacles to contend with. Sunday I got the majority of it spread. All told there were 14 loads hauled and I felt every one of them Monday morning.
 
The process is about two-thirds complete, with the toughest loads to come. Still a far cry from last year when I felt lucky just to get the main barn clean. I had to put the chains on the tractor and dig my way through the snowbanks just to get to the field to spread the loads. Moving the handling system was a bearcat and the animals were uncooperative, particularly the ram that hopefully someone has eaten by now. Still repairing equipment he wrecked. The lambing barn was left uncleaned so one way or the other that has to happen. Clearance becomes an issue with the skidsteer so rather than take the cage off mine, it’s easier to borrow the sheep shearer’s sans cage. Just need to be extra careful not to set it on its nose when picking up and moving one of those gargantuan hunks.

The sheep have really enjoyed the start to this winter. Many years by this time, they’re snowed into the lot and unable to access their pasture. They’re even still picking at the fall decorating leftovers in case something new has been deposited recently. The freezing and thawing softened up some of the gourds, allowing them to devour those this time around. Most years the sheep don’t get that chance as they can’t get there and the cucurbits are buried in the snow. Even in the lot, the ewes appear content to lounge around on the waste hay, mill around the mangers, then amble off into the pasture to see what they might find to dine upon there. If nothing else the fresh air and exercise is fantastic for them. It helps cut down on problems later on.

Poppy’s growing up more quickly in the past few months, becoming more reliable about coming when called. She’s also been much easier to read around potty time. When Poppy starts climbing on you and carrying on, odds are it’s a signal that she needs a bathroom break. Sometimes those events come closer together than others so need to keep the outdoors clothes at the ready just in case. After missing out due to Mrs. Cheviot’s rehabilitation, Poppy is also getting a better taste of Christmas this time around. Unlike last year, there are several Christmas trees for her to inspect. Surprisingly, she’s sniffed at them but hasn’t really tried to yank anything off to play with. The only decoration that really annoyed her was the light-up Corgi, causing much growling. Jealousy?

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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Now me I play for fortune and those velvet curtain calls

The Weather Eye doled out more above normal temps and the scurs could not be happier. Do we skate or swim this upcoming week? Starting Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a miniscule chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Saturday with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Christmas Eve Sunday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Christmas Day Monday with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of showers. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with a fair chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the upper teens. December 21st marks the winter solstice, our shortest daylight period of the year. On the 22nd, we’re gaining daylight again. While the sun started setting later on the 16th at 4:37 p.m. CST, it will continue rising later until December 30th at 7:48 a.m. CST. The normal high for Christmas Day is 24 and the normal low is 9. The scurs are pressing the Christmas shopping easy button with donations to the Human Fund. Money for People.

The well above normal temperatures continue to delight those who are accustomed to working in much colder conditions. Those who relish the cold for recreational activities will have to wait their turn or venture farther north. It has definitely helped heating and electric bills as well as feed consumption for those with livestock. Hearing similar tales from others that their animals are carrying more condition due to the warmer temperatures. Normally they’d be burning more calories trying to stay warm. We did pick up some precipitation in the form of rain this past week with .44” falling in Bugtussle and .37 total measured at the ranch. Frost depth remains variable with some noting very little on open, fall tilled ground, while north slopes, etc., still exhibiting signs of frost in the ground. No indications for substantial precipitation anytime soon. While a white Christmas might be pretty, it loses some of its luster when the snow removal equipment becomes involved.

At the ranch we’re certainly not missing the snow at all after last year. Even though temperatures were relatively moderate, working around snow and ice starting in mid-November was no one’s idea of a good time. It’s wonderful to do chores without moving snow first in order to get feed and bedding to where it needs to go. It’s also nice to have the luxury of a positive forecast for the remaining barn cleaning. After the Friday-Saturday rain event, it was decided rather than track the yard up with mud to let it freeze dry a few days, fairly confident there was no major precipitation in the forecast. It allowed me to go grocery shopping, burn up the ugly backyard brush pile and freeze the last of the buttercup squash. Should be plenty in the freezer to last until next season. The sheep were delighted to see the squash skins and innards from the process as well as some squash that had gone out of code. They’re not particularly difficult to shop for.

40 years ago, December of 1983 brought about one of the most intense blizzards of my lifetime. It was preceded by some mind numbing cold where I lived at the time in north central North Dakota. Since my Little House on the Prairie (literally) was only about six miles from Canada, there was good cause. Overnight air temperatures plunged to -40 the week before Christmas, rising into the -20’s before dipping back to -40 again. The northern lights were spectacular, with velvet curtains of orange and green rippling across the northern sky. With Christmas approaching I’d made the trek to visit the not yet Mrs. Cheviot in Charles City IA. I drove my trusty Chevy Luv, complete with Offenhauser intake manifold and header. It made it growl like a small Corgi herding cats. It also had a defroster that only cleared off a diagonal strip on the side windows, making for a cold ride. It started, was 4-wheel drive and had good tires. Those were about the only positive things going for it. Roads were shut down on Christmas Eve as the storm dumped up to 20” of snow. The high winds reduced visibility to zero with drifts 10’ – 15’ deep in places. No one was going anywhere.

By Christmas morning we were finally able to get out of IA and head towards my family Christmas at Spring Valley although many of the highways remained blocked. We were somehow able to sneak around via Harmony and using the gravel roads, almost made it to our farm. As we climbed the last hill from the east, we came across Dad out in the road on the 656, trying to dig his way through a monster drift with the bucket. Given the size of the drift, it would likely be Christmas again before that happened. About that time, looking westward we could see a grader with a V-plow blasting through the huge snowbanks. Dad got out of his way and within minutes the snowdrift was reduced to rubble on either side of the road. What a relief. We were able to pull in the driveway so festivities could begin. Unfortunately, due to cancer, there wouldn’t be another Christmas for Dad. I was only 25, but it was a special Christmas, one I’ll always remember.

Poppy continues her exposure to the whole Christmas experience. Every day it seems there are more decorations in the house and more arrangements going out the door. She has proven to be a curious dog but one that resists temptation to mess with things she shouldn’t, especially after being warned once. Her overall obedience is vastly improved, and she simmers down when seeing visitors after a while. Watching her grow up so quickly in the past year serves as a reminder of how relatively short a dog’s life is. The early time spent with any of our dogs has been critical to their behavior and making them feel like they’re part of the family. Sure, they can be a burden at times but then so can a lot of people. A faithful reader commented the other day that Poppy must mean a lot to us. Indeed she does as there are many hours we’re by ourselves. With Poppy, we’re never alone. She makes sure of 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 LPS

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Thanks, good one.  RIP Dad!

Offline Dotch

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Cripes sake! New Year & I'm already behind. Doesn't help that I still think today is Wednesday... :scratch:

Run me out in the cold rain and snow

With the Weather Eye still cranking out predictions of above normal temps into the New Year, the scurs are thinking about getting out the patio furniture. Are their intentions premature or right on the money? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Partl sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Sunday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-teens. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-single digits, above zero. January 4th we creep above 9 hours of daylight. On the 5th, our daylight increases by just over one minute per day. By January 8th, our sunrise is finally earlier at 7:47 a.m. CST. The normal high for January 8th is 22 and the normal low is 6. The scurs should have enough Christmas goodies stashed away to last until Valentine’s Day, maybe.

In the heat of the battle, we missed discussing the last Full Moon on Dec. 26th. As most are aware, the time between the full moons is a shade over 29 and one-half days. The period between the moons is what typically gives them their names and this Full Moon is no exception. It is known as the Full Cold Moon for good reason. The coldest part of the winter typically falls between the end of December and the end of January. It is sometimes known as the Long Night’s Moon or the Moon before the Yule. The Yule was the Pagan celebration of the winter solstice, which happened of course back for us on December 21st. The Ojibwe knew this as the Small Spirits Moon and the Sioux referred to it as the Moon of Popping trees or the Moon when Deer shed their antlers. At the ranch, The Cold Moon generally gets the nod although the Long Night’s Moon can be apropos should those January lambs appear.
 
Even though we weren’t blessed with a white Christmas, Mother Nature still gave us a big, sloppy wet kiss. We received abundant precipitation in the form of rain recorded on the 25th and 26th.. Anywhere from 1.3” – 1.5” fell in the vicinity, welcome for use in the upcoming growing season. The ground was thawed so the rain percolated down into the soil with virtually no runoff. It brought some of the tiling operations to a temporary halt, but most were able to conclude their projects once it stopped. We finally got some measurable snow for the New Year that fell overnight on December 30th. Since it only measured about a half inch, it wasn’t truly a white New Year, more of a brownish-gray. A lot of brown grass and tilled soil in the fields poking through the light coating from the last snowfall of 2023.

I’ve had several ask about the water content of snow, particularly after the rain fell at Christmastime. A general rule of thumb on the early snows when temperatures aren’t very cold is about one inch per tenth of an inch of liquid precipitation. In other words, had that rain fallen as snow, it could’ve very easily have been 13” – 15” or more worth. Ick. It varies greatly with the temperature as colder air will hold less moisture; hence the snow will be drier and contain far less water. Frequently when we get into the coldest part of January, the snow may contain .07” or less of liquid equivalent precipitation per inch of snow. Once we start getting closer to spring, the moisture content of the snow tends to go up again. The trend for quite some time has been for more of our precip in March to fall as rain.

Even with a week’s delay, we managed to finish barn cleaning on the 22nd. Big deal you say. Ya, it is a big deal considering I do it by myself and I’m retirement age. It’s not just tossing some loose bedding in a dinky little spreader and heading to the field with a couple loads. Sheep manure pack inside buildings comes out in heavy, densely packed hunks. It means working in tight quarters and involves moving a lot of gates, panels, and feeders to get the job done. Pitching with a four-tine fork as I grew up doing, it was easy to snap pitchfork handles if you weren’t careful. A five-tine fork, while prized for pitching looser material, was useless on our sheep manure pack as it usually wouldn’t penetrate sufficiently. Using a skidsteer with forks as we do now, it can tear the pack loose in pieces weighing hundreds of pounds. It’s heavy enough to tip the skidsteer on its nose if you’re in a hurry. Plopping those big hunks in the spreader can shear pins in a heartbeat, especially if they’re partially frozen. Our spreader handles it fairly well and I’ve never sheared a pin on it. I’m always nervous though whenever those hunks land in the bottom with a loud thud. After surviving 21 heaping loads on pins and needles, any geezer would be glad to be done with it for another year.
       
Someone asked if feeding pumpkins and squash is an effective method of worming small ruminants. Good question as it has been rumored for years. Anecdotal evidence exists but unfortunately not many replicated scientific studies.  The plants contain a compound called cucurbitacin. Interestingly enough, this is the same chemical that was used a few decades ago as part of an attractant combined with Bt to control rootworm beetles in corn, unsuccessfully I might add. When feeding the pumpkins and squash, it’s difficult to get the concentration of the cucurbitacin high enough to effectively control internal parasites in sheep and goats. At best, it might help thin the herd somewhat on the internal parasite population. It certainly won’t hurt anything, in addition to supplying large amounts of vitamin A in the pumpkin and squash flesh and a large number of minerals and vitamins in the seeds. And besides, they enjoy eating them!

Poppy made it through her second Christmas with flying colors. She left the tree ornaments, plants, and other decorations alone and was generally good around company once she settled down. The highlight of her holiday season though was probably the snow that appeared on Sunday for the New Year. She was off and running her short-legged Corgi zoomies, leaving a rooster tail of in celebration. The squirrels were kept well exercised throughout the holidays. Pretty sure they’ll be breathing a sigh of relief once we get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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)