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Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 166631 times)

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Online Dotch

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Always good to see a fellow scribe and someone who shares a sense of humor along with a love of the outdoors.   :toast:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

For those wanting snow, the scurs have been having a rough time getting 2 snowflakes to rub together to make a snowball. That’s OK, that’s what they predicted for this past week. This week may generate more of the same light flurries but result in little in the way of accumulation. It will definitely generate a higher heating bill however. Starting Wednesday, we’ll be blessed with highs of 15 – 20 and lows of 0 to 5 above. Slight chance of snow in the afternoon and evening. Thursday, cooler with a high of 10 – 15 and lows of 0 to 5 above. Cold Friday, a slight chance of light snow, with a high of 5 and an overnight low of – 10. Saturday, it will struggle to make 0 for a high and lows will remain at – 10. Sunday, slightly warmer, a high near 5 with lows between 0 and 5 below. Monday and Tuesday, a tad warmer with highs around 10 and lows of 0 to 5 below. Normal high for January 18th is 22 and normal low is 2. We’ve gained approximately 11 minutes of daylight in the past week. The scurs are staying toasty by burning old Fencelines rough drafts in their pot-bellied stove.

The cold we’re experiencing is certainly not unprecedented and in fact, it’s somewhat unusual we haven’t encountered s deep cold snap long before this. The period from January 4th – 20th usually brings with it some of the coldest weather we’ll encounter over the course of a winter. We’ve used up a large portion of January and hopefully the duration of this Arctic air will ease up as we head toward month’s end. It will make ice conditions on area lakes more stable, something that will make anglers smile. Often times though, when we encounter extreme cold, fishing slows down. There is no law however stating that one actually has to fish in a fish house.

Monday morning’s sun dogs and sun pillar brought in the new work week with an indication of what’s in store for us. – 5 temps also were a part of the equation. The Full Moon this month occurs on the 22nd and is known as the Full Wolf Moon as the wolves would be around the Indian settlements at this time of year. It is also known as the Moon after the Yule. The Sioux knew this as the Moon When Frost is in the Tipi. One can only imagine especially given the temperatures experienced in January on the plains.

Saw a lot of squirrel activity this past week along local roadways. Squirrel? Well, we have no deal with THEM! Was asked an intriguing question by Milf the other day regarding the gestation period on squirrels. When asked why, he indicated that he was seeing activity under his bird feeders suggesting they were mating. Indeed the tree dwelling rodents are mating. The 2 primary species of squirrels we see here in SC MN are gray squirrels and fox squirrels. The greatest concentration of gray squirrels tends to be in towns while the fox squirrels tend to be more rural inhabitants.

There are 2 main periods of squirrel mating activity, one occurring from late December to February and another one in June and July. Males are polygyandrous meaning they aren’t tied to any one female. Female fox squirrels normally produce 1 brood per year but do sometimes produce a second. Gray squirrels more commonly produce 2 broods per year. Gestation for both squirrels runs about 44 – 45 days. Both squirrel species average 3 offspring per litter with the young being born naked in tree cavities or those leafy nests one sees in the treetops. Gray squirrels are weaned at about 10 weeks whereas fox squirrels are weaned closer to 8 weeks.   

More leftover goodies continue to surface at the Mall for Men. Yet another pan of apple crisp graced the hallowed halls last week. Along with the goodies, all last week’s cloudy, gloomy weather was fodder for many an afternoon snooze. Given a tummy full of food, a murmuring football or basketball game on TV and a warm blankie, naps broke out across much of the greater Bugtussle area this past weekend.

While getting ready for church the other day, found myself still confused by the definition of “good clothes”. It’s all backwards. Seems like if they were really good clothes, they’d be warm, versatile and comfortable. Instead, they’re usually some thin fabric with little functional qualities to them. If you’ve ever had to change a flat tire in the middle of a snowstorm in a suit and tie or chase some critters around the mud when they’re out you know exactly what I’m talking about. “Good clothes”? Good for what? Never have to worry about getting every day clothes dirty because it’s usually already too late for that. And, they’re warm. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t put them on in the first place. Give me my “cufferhauls” and longhandles any day.

Made a trek to my favorite store outside of Bugtussle, the one where they use the big orange silo as a bathroom. Decided that it was time to stock up on some supplies and I needed to get some razor blades as well. Was dreading going across the street to Target (definitely a women’s store) for those but luckily was able to find acceptable toiletries while perusing the aisles discovering other bargains. Appears camo must be “in”. Found a camo extension cord which I thought would be real nice until I didn’t see it and ran over it with the lawnmower. The other product that really caught my eye was a camo nose hair trimmer. I mean, is someone actually concerned that ducks, geese and deer might see you sticking something on your lanyard up your nose? Apparently so.

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

Online Dotch

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Sheltered inside from the cold of the snow...

Despite missing the overnight lows on the weekend by 5 degrees, the scurs forecast definitely made the heating fuel man smile. By Friday however, the below zero weather will be a faded memory as we head into some warmer days. Wednesday will continue the cooler pattern with a slight chance of snow, high of 5 and a low of 10 below. Thursday, high of 10 and low of 0. Friday we’re greeted with 20 degrees for a high and a low of 10. Warmer yet for the weekend with highs Saturday and Sunday of 25 and lows of 15. Monday and Tuesday, slightly cooler with highs around 20 and lows of 10. Possible snow both days. Normal high for January 25th is 23 and the normal low is 3. We’ve gained about 15 minutes of daylight in the past week and since New Years day, a whopping 38 minutes. The scurs will be able to stay out a little later as they take their toboggan down the hill one last time before supper.

The extra daylight is indeed becoming more noticeable. The birds at the feeders are often there past 5 p.m. and are starting their day by around 7:30 a.m. This past weekend’s – 15 degree lows may have put a damper on some activities but for those with chores, they have to be done regardless. Takes a lot of the fun out of it but once they’re done, there’s not much reason to stay outside. Makes it much easier to stay inside and watch basketball or football in the meantime.

As mentioned, the birds stay active later and the snow and colder weather brought more numbers to the feeders. The goldfinches came back and cleaned out the thistle feeders on Saturday. The chickadees, juncos and blue jays are in constant motion it seems. Decided this was good weekend to put the heated birdbath out again. Not many takers right off the bat except for one starling which made my trigger finger begin to itch. We’re down to 1 lone mourning dove now. Apparently the dozen or so that had been hanging around sought a different locale, hopefully a warmer one.

The recliner provided an excellent spot for yours truly to rest his bones on Saturday and catch a few Z’s during halftime. Never fails, something usually disrupts those savored, peaceful moments when the world goes away for awhile. The phone usually rings, the dogs bark or Mrs. Cheviot wakes me up. Always amazes me how women can state the obvious. While about midway through sawing a log I hear this, “You’re snoring!” I’ve solved that: When she asks if I’m sleeping the answer is always “Yes!”

The dogs have made it through the winter so far relatively unscathed. As well they should. Sleeping in a garage with floor heat isn’t exactly a terrible existence and I remind them of that every time I feed them and change their water. They are the quintessential border collies, not unlike those that Jon Katz writes about in “A Dog Year”. Like Orson, when I come home with the truck, Lucy always lets out a big ‘rooooo!’ and Gus comes boiling out from under the garage door when it opens. Both like routine and structure of course, and anything incongruous with that receives their immediate scrutiny. Lately they’ve taken a shine to barking at those C-130 transport planes flying low level routes over the area. Could hire them out to the Air Force for tracking planes although they also bark when a neighbor sneezes. 

We ventured forth Thursday night to the new restaurant in town only to watch Tubby and the Gophers go down to defeat against Indiana. We sat in the non-smoking area as the smoking area looked a little chilly.  So happened that our guest that night was from Indiana and was actually a Hoosier fan. Was nice to treat her to a taste of our home town cuisine although before the Willows opened, I had secretly hoped for a Pakistani restaurant. Maybe with a steaming hot face cloth for your pleasure.

At The Mall for Men, goodies continue to arrive in mass quantities. The last delivery was a 5 gallon bucket of cookies. The crowd was somewhat diminished what with several meetings to attend this past week so the cookies lasted almost 2 days. We’re considering putting up a bulk bin outside. The trick is to auger the cookies into the building without crumbling them all up. Maybe an air delivery system. Fortunately we have the rest of the winter to work on that problem. It’s what we do.

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

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There are pyramids in my head, there's one underneath my bed...

The scurs managed to forecast their way out of another cold snap and not a moment too soon. With a low on the 24th of – 20 and the mercury struggling to get above zero for highs, 40 degrees on the 28th was a welcome respite from the icebox we were stuck in. What’s in store this week? Unlikely to reach 40 anytime soon but we should resume seasonal temperatures after a cold midweek. Highs Wednesday of zero to 5 above and lows of 0 to – 5. Thursday a little warmer with a high of 15 and a low of 0 to 5 above. Friday through Monday, highs of 20 to 25 and lows hovering between 5 to 10 above. Chance of snow Monday into Tuesday, with Tuesday’s high near 15 and the low of 5 to 10 above. Normal high is 25 and normal low is 5, much the same as we’d expect over the Christmas holiday. We’ll have 9 hours and 52 minutes of daylight on February 1st and have gained 16 hours since last Friday. Before you know it, the scurs will be getting their lawn furniture out.

Last week was a good one to stay close to the fire. Luckily no pipes or hydrants froze. Doing chores in the cold really tuckers one out but the sheep with their long fleeces don’t seem to notice. Some of them actually sleep outside on those subzero nights as long as it isn’t windy. After a lively hour of hauling pails, tossing bales and smashing ice out of buckets, one really doesn’t feel like venturing out much. Unless of course it’s to go ice fishing.

Yep, finally got the fish house out last week thanks to the “Cherman”. Yours truly had to affix the license on it first as we planned on leaving it out overnight. The DNR has some work to do on their licenses methinks. Fish house licenses come as a printed-off piece of plastic material without adhesive backing. They do however have some slots or tabs where it’s suggested that one place string or wire through them. As the Cherman noted, attached that way, the licensing wouldn’t stay on past the end of the driveway. Maybe part of their grand plan to generate more tickets, I’m not sure. Anyway, was proud of myself for taking the window out and doing a stellar job of taping the license to it. However, upon putting the window back in, noticed we could read the information inside the house! Quickly remedied that as I tore it loose and reattached it on the outside of the window and inside the screen. Why does one have a window screen on a fish house? To keep the ice flies and snow fleas out, of course!

The Cherman hauled the fish house out to the lake where one of my little fat buddies lives. Very handy if we need to use the bathroom or run out of refreshments and munchies. And, with 500’ of extension cord we can also borrow his big screen TV although it gets a little crowded in the fish house. Reception is pretty good though. As long as we put it back and don’t drop the thing, he’ll never know we borrowed it. Probably a good thing to have some entertainment. too. So far, we haven’t managed to catch much other than a cold. Oh well, someone will probably have a cake for us at the Mall for Men and sing “Get well soon, we wish you to get well…”

Not much new bird activity to report here the past week other than one can see lots of pheasant tracks in the yard after the fluffy snow. They love to hang out under the pines and around the dogwood. When the days were cold, goldfinch activity was high but as temps warmed, they became scarcer. The downies, chickadees and juncos are always faithful though, usually the first one’s there in the morning and amongst the last to leave in the evening. Mom had a pileated woodpecker at her feeder right outside the kitchen window last week, something not all that common even in that area of the country.

This column marks the start of the 6th action packed year of Fencelines and my stint as a regular columnist, as opposed to an irregular columnist. To all my loyal readers: Thank you; your check is in the mail. Some have had some questions about how it’s written. Normally the writing happens on Sunday night although there are literally dozens of little square sheets of paper containing ideas scattered around the house from my notepad. The column’s written on a laptop confuser known as the Latitude with an attitude, not unlike Cannon’s Terrible Tone from the basement studio. We try to write in plain old-fashioned everyday rural southern MN English although from time to time, there are references to our ethnic heritage that apparently give the editor’s spell-check a hissy fit. For example “chorse”. Chores are what non-Scandinavian farmers do and “chorse” (rhymes with horse) are what the Swede and Norwegian farmers do. This week the alien is back so after a nonproductive treatment with couch grass, cramp bark and a  pyramid, the column is being written under the influence of over the counter cold medicines. Can just hear some readers now: “See? I told you he had to be on something!”

See you next week…real good then.     

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

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I tried so hard to stand as I stumbled and fell to the ground...

The scurs were as on target as an Eli Manning pass last week, pulling off an unbelievable upset. Eli Manning that is. The scurs are thinking we should see more near normal conditions this week. Starting with Wednesday, highs should make 25 with lows of 15. Thursday, highs of 25 – 30 and lows of 10 – 15. Chance of snow Wednesday night into Thursday. Friday and Saturday, high of 20 – 25 with lows ranging from 10 to 15. Sunday and Monday, warmer, with highs of 30 – 35 and lows of 20. Tuesday will cool slightly with a high of 25 and low of 15. Snow possible Monday and/or Tuesday. Normal high is 27 and normal low is 7. We’ve gained about 18 minutes or approximately 2 ½ minutes of daylight per day since February 1. After cashing in on the Super Bowl, the scurs dipped the chip, took a bite and dipped again.

The ground hog did not see his shadow last Saturday which by folklore means spring should be just around the corner. In reality, can only remember one time when it was actually fit to plant anything in the field in late February and that was some small grain back in 1987. It got cold after that, the ground re-froze and it was nip and tuck as to whether the crop would survive. One could pry the frozen inch of crust off the top and peer at the sprouted seedlings just beneath it and wonder how much longer it was going to stay cold. The crop survived, the stand was adequate, and it yielded respectably but was no record breaker. Apparently a bit more to it than just planting early.

The goldfinches are becoming more numerous again, well over two dozen at the feeders at last count. They’ve taken a real liking to the birdbath and use it routinely. For the first time in several years, they outnumber the house sparrows coming to the feeders and not just by a little. Control methods can pay off if one sticks to them.

While the snow we’ve received to this point has contained relatively little moisture, it’s been just enough to make nice patches of ice to trip and fall on around farm yards. Disguised by a skifting of snow, it makes walking around treacherous especially with bales or buckets in tow. Every few days one goes for a digger if you’re not careful making it that much easier to scrape the yard bare the next time it snows to help avoid that situation.

And what would cold weather be without colds? One thing about it, it gives one time to practice up on their farmer nose blowing technique. This was one of the things growing that my Dad did that totally impressed my younger brother and I. Outside, without a hankie, he’d use one finger and voila! Didn’t need one! Took awhile but we mastered it although we did later figure out why he never grew a full beard at least on our watch.

Had the zipper blow out on my “cufferhauls” the other day and really didn’t want to quit wearing them just yet. After all, it was just the zipper that was worn out. What to do? I remembered the pair of coveralls my Mom used to wear to the barn. The buttons on those were shot so she improvised and used diaper pins. Well, if you show sheep, especially breeding stock like we have, you have an abundance of sheep blanket pins that look like a diaper pin on steroids. They’re useful not only for pinning hoods on sheep blankets but have dozens of other uses. Have seen them used in a pinch as safety pins in implement draw pins, as replacement suspender snaps and in hasps in place of padlocks. Work on “cufferhauls” too. Darn near as useful around the farm as duct tape and bale twine.

Some dear friends and Cheviot breeders near Janesville WI experienced the unthinkable during last Wednesday morning’s bitter cold: A fire consumed the Richard and Judy Schambow family’s steel pole building containing their flock of sheep. Of the 75 or so sheep, all their Cheviots were lost and all but 3 Suffolks perished. Check out the story at: http://www.channel3000.com/news/15180342/detail.html

Fortunately, we own a ram jointly with them and he happens to be over-wintering here. Since BernaRRd is a mild-mannered big fellow, loves to be scratched and eat out of your hand, you can bet he’s been receiving special attention. Along with that, the outpouring of help to rebuild the Schambow flock from people across the country has been incredible. People have offered their excavation help to bury the rubble, brought food and even offered to give them sheep to help replace those they lost. There really are some wonderful people out there and their response shows that they, especially the sheep people are some of the most giving, caring individuals you’ll ever want to meet. It truly isn’t about the money.

See you next week…real good then.       


 





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

Offline Randy Kaar

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thanks dotch for another great read, sorry
to hear about you friends fire and loss....

randy aka bh
Voted #1 Outdoors Website in MN ( www.mnoutdoorsman.com )!
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Online Dotch

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They had to count them all...

After laying an egg forecasting last weekend’s bone-chilling conditions, the scurs have set their sights on delivering a sure to warm your heart Valentines Day prognostication. Starting with Wednesday, look for a high of 25 and a low of 10. Snow likely Wednesday night into Thursday. Cooler Valentine’s Day, with highs of 15 – 20 and lows near 5. Cooler yet on Friday. High of 10 and low of 0. Warmer Saturday, high of 25 and low of 10 with a chance of snow. Sunday and Monday, highs of 25 and lows near 15. Warmer Tuesday, high of 30 and low of 20 with a chance for sleet and snow. Normal high for February 15th is 30 and normal low is 9, the same we encounter in early to mid-December. On the 15th, we’ve added another 20 minutes of daylight since last Friday, or approximately 2.8571428 minutes per day, give or take .0000001 minutes. The scurs are getting out the slide rule to calculate next week’s daylight changes.

While the weather took a nasty turn last Saturday, we were definitely fortunate that the snowfall amounts in the last couple “mini-blizzards” were as light as they were. The snow from the last storm really didn’t fill in much around most people’s yards but as usual, plopped drifts in front of doors and gates where they’re unwelcome. With the ice crystals forming snowflakes being so severely beaten and broken up by the wind, the resulting snow banks packed like concrete. Hitting them on the road was like running over a plank. 

If you look at your calendar, you’ll notice we should experience a total lunar eclipse on February 21st. However, do not be fooled by the old Universal Time trick again. In our area of the world, the eclipse will actually take place on February 20th with totality occurring at 9 p.m., the middle of the eclipse coming at 9:26 p.m. then coming back out of the eclipse at 9:51 p.m. If you wait until the 21st, you’ll be waiting until 2010 to see another total lunar eclipse. Might miss it anyway if it’s cloudy; we’ll see next week.

What have the little fat buddies been up to at the Mall for Men? Why, we’ve been busy planning for Valentine’s Day of course. Naturally, we need to keep our strength up and given the brownies, leftover Christmas cookies, chocolate covered cherries and extremely creamy fudge we consumed last week, we might survive this week’s grueling forays to the shopping mall or flower shop. Of course in order to buy Valentine’s gifts, we’ve first focused on making sure our money was legal tender. We counted the ridges on the edges of dimes and quarters and conclusively determined there are 118 on dimes and 119 on quarters. If they have more or less than that, they are likely counterfeit.

We can’t help watching the grain markets either. Last week’s nearby wheat closes were nothing short of astounding, at over $15 per bushel. New crop September bids are over $11. Now if there was actually any wheat seed to be had, there is a chance we’d see more of the amber waves of grain sung about in America the Beautiful. As it is, the competition for acreage is fierce and there are few kernels of wheat to be had in bins and granaries across the land.

Area pheasants appear to be wintering well even with the recent cold snap. Some took shelter in the plum and sumac thicket on the edge of the yard during the storm where they had ear corn to eat. The next morning, a group of hens thundered out of their overnight roost and sailed into the Indiangrass, still erect despite all the wind and snow. The little birds in the yard even favored the feeders on the south side of the house. The goldfinches are beginning to show the faintest hint of a color change. Maybe it will be spring someday after all. After last weekend, you coulda fooled me. They fooled me, Jerry.

The weather even cancelled the local fishing contests but fear not, they are back on for this coming weekend. The Beaver Lake contest is Sunday February 17th from noon until 1:30 p.m. and the St. Olaf Lake contest follows from 2 – 3:30 p.m. Speaking of ice fishing, have the honor of taking a young lady from deep in the heart of Texas ice fishing for the first time in a couple weeks. Since driving on the ice usually freaks newbies out, I’ll be sure to let her know that we typically only fall through 4 or 5 times a season but someone always comes along to fish us out. That should calm her nerves.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Long ago it must be, I have a photograph...

Calling the mid-week forecast about right, the scurs are having a rough time recently getting the longer range call correct. Not easy to do this time of year when the jet stream suddenly sags and leaves the back door from Canada open. Starting with Wednesday this week we should see warmer conditions return. Wednesday’s high should be 5 – 10 above with a low of – 5. For those lunar eclipse watchers, partly cloudy skies should allow a glimpse starting around 9 p.m. Warmer Thursday and Friday with a high of 20 - 25 and a low of 10 - 15. Chance of light snow starting Friday night and continuing into early next week. Saturday and Sunday bring highs of 30 and lows of 15. Monday, above freezing with a high near 35 and a low of 15 – 20. Cooler Tuesday, highs of 25 – 30 and low of 15. Normal high for February 22 is 32 and normal low is 12. Days are continuing to get longer; there isn’t nearly as much time for the scurs wet mitties and snow pants to dry before their next go-round.

February 20th marks the occurrence of the Full Moon for the month. This moon is known by the Indian tribes of the Northeast as the Full Snow Moon or the Full Hunger Moon as food stocks were often dwindling. Closer to home the Ojibwe called this the Full Sucker Moon as the suckers were running in rivers and streams. The Sioux called this the Raccoon Moon or the Moon of Dark Red Calves. The raccoons do start becoming active again when we have warmer weather and the prior year’s buffalo calves would turn a reddish color due to the weathering of their outer coat, not unlike that which occurs on a natural colored sheep fleece over the course of a year.

Speaking of fleeces, was time to shear once again this past weekend and just in the nick of time. The sheep barely noticed the difference when the high reached 37 degrees on Saturday. With dry fleeces, wonderful catching help and an expert shearer shearing, it went about as smoothly as could be expected. Ralph and George got to watch the process, something not every kid growing up these days gets to see anymore. Not sure what they thought about the shearing but they sure seemed to like the ice cream we had for dessert after lunch.

The morning after shearing as if on cue, there were new lambs on the ground. A black ewe had a set of twins during chores, one white and one black and a yearling had a big single ewe lamb around noon. It is so nice to have ewes shorn prior to lambing for several reasons. The lambs can get at the food source more easily, the ewes lamb inside out of the elements, they give off more heat to keep the lambs warm and the barn stays drier without those fleeces carrying moisture into the building, just to name a few. By keeping the building dry, getting the ewe stripped out and making sure the lambs get colostrum into their system, little in the way of supplemental heat is necessary.

On the mornings when it’s calm out, the birds greet us when we come out the door for chores. Upon seeing their thistle feeders filled the night before, the goldfinches say “sweeeeeeeeeeet!” and the chickadees always add their “dee-dee-dee-dee!” to the mix. Blue jays have been competing with Tubby the squirrel for corn and the mourning dove numbers have been increasing as of late at the feeders. Was a little surprised Sunday afternoon to see a rough-legged hawk sitting in the elm tree in plain view of the bird feeders, yet the feeding birds seemed to pay little attention to him. Not too surprisingly, the squirrel and the bunnies were nowhere to be seen as this hawk has a preference for rodents.

We lost another icon this past week in New Richland. With Paul Pfeffer’s passing, it left a gaping hole in the town’s color and character as well as in the hearts of those who knew him. Here was a guy who always could make you smile and you just knew by the big grin on his face that he was going to get his squawker out and say something to make you laugh. Personally didn’t get to know Pauly all that well until we moved our office to New Richland back in ‘92. Wouldn’t you know, the telephone number the phone company gave us happened to be the same as Paul’s disconnected towing business number. Wasn’t exactly sure what to do at first when callers would insist they had called the right number, so would look up his home number in the book and give it to them. After awhile, I just called him myself and told him to call so and so back. Without realizing it, I had suddenly become his dispatcher! Only in a small town.

One could always bet if there were practical jokes being played on people around town, Paul and his A & P Corporation partner in crime probably had a hand in it.  Margaret Engesser and Joyce Hansen always seemed to be among their prime targets. Even when they hadn’t done the deed, it was easiest just to assume they had. Others caught onto this and found great amusement in it when an accuser would confront the A & P CEO’s about a prank they hadn’t committed. One knew they were guilty until proven innocent. 

Countless numbers of us had our autos towed over the years by Paul in his tow truck, nicknamed the “hooker-truck” by the gang at the restaurant. Wearing his signature dark blue two-piece uniform, didn’t matter where you were, he’d come and scrape your dead vehicle off the road, then haul it to the repair shop. Somewhere, in one of the drawers in my messy desk at work, there are some Paul’s Towing billing slips. We had talked about sending someone a falsified bill as a joke several years back but we never finalized the project. While he’d probably appreciate the humor in it if I pulled a stunt on someone from beyond the grave, will more likely keep them as a memento along with a receipt from Bruzek’s Hardware and a newspaper clipping with Margaret’s picture on it. Be in pretty good company I’d say.

See you next week…real good then.             

 



   



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

Offline Bobby Bass

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Well done and a fitting tribute.  :happy1: Bobby
Bobby Bass


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

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

Online Dotch

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And the band played on...

Took awhile for the scurs to get untracked last week but by the weekend they were on the money. For the last week in February, they’re thinking we should see conditions closer to normal. For Wednesday, a high of 20 and a low of 10. Thursday and Friday, warmer with highs of 25 – 30 and lows of 15. Chance of snow Thursday into Friday.  Near normal Saturday and Sunday, highs of 35 and lows of 15 – 20. Chance of snow Sunday into Monday. Monday and Tuesday, highs of 20 and lows of 10 – 15. Normal high for February 28th is 34 and normal low is 15. As of February 29th, we will have gained 2 hours and 16 minutes of daylight since the winter solstice. The scurs will be celebrating Leap Year on their toboggan.

Friday marks the additional day to our calendar making it known as Leap Year. Normally, those years evenly divisible by 4 are so designated. There are exceptions to this rule as those years evenly divisible by 100 must also be evenly divisible by 400. There is a long drawn out explanation for this in that the Solar Year contains slightly less than 365.25 days. To adjust for this, the designers of the Gregorian calendar determined an additional day would be added to the calendar to keep the vernal equinox very close to the same date. Thus Easter can remain on the 1st Sunday following the 1st Full Moon on or after March 21st.

Back here on planet Earth, spring is beginning to peer out from under the snirt, in the form of blackened fields. With as little moisture as there has been in much of the snow that has fallen this winter, it doesn’t take long on exposed soil for melting to occur. Was wondering where the horned larks were and on Friday, they appeared along the side of the road. There still isn’t enough bare ground in the pasture for them to show there but given the south facing slope, it won’t take long.

Recently read an article indicating that we receive abundant nitrogen in snowfall, positively impacting farmers producing crops. It’s not the first time I’ve read something like this but guess it depends on what one calls abundant and where one lives. On average, the nitrogen content in the total precipitation for a year amounts to somewhere in the vicinity of 5 – 10 lbs./acre. More recent studies at Waseca showed an average of 10 - 14 lbs./acre total. Since roughly 20% of our precip falls as snow, that amounts to 2 - 3 lbs./acre of N from snow annually. When one considers that nitrogen fertilizer recommendations for a corn crop are in the 110 – 120 lbs./acre range for corn following soybeans, the amount contained in snowfall is essentially a drop in the bucket. And, even if there were more substantial amounts of nitrogen in snow, given that the ground is frozen, nitrate nitrogen moves with water, and much of the water contained in snow runs off, it would have very little impact regardless of the concentration in the snowfall.

Nutrients contained in snow runoff are definitely a factor in surface water however and that’s why places such as wetlands are so important. They serve as filters or buffers to help keep the nutrients on the landscape and provide valuable habitat for many species of wildlife. Visited our CREP wetland on Sunday for the first time this winter and while it appeared pretty lifeless on the surface, one could see the tracks of the wildlife using it including fox, pheasants, cottontail rabbits and deer mice. Checked the wood duck house to see if it might be harboring a winter guest. Nope, just a little snow so it will need a good cleaning out and fresh cedar shavings to start the season.

It may be a slower than what we’ve become accustomed to start to the spring if the depth of the ice and frost in the ground are any indication. Most area lakes are sporting a couple feet of ice and frost depths are at least that deep on bare soils. Permanent ice shelters need to be off the ice as of Friday night but can be put back on for the day after that as long as they’re occupied. Thank goodness the fishing & shelter licenses now follow the fishing seasons so the license you bought last year is good through April 30th. Makes sense.

Had the privilege to take in the Waseca Co. Corn and Soybean Growers banquet last weekend. Lt. Governor Carol Molnau was the guest speaker and being a dairy farmer, she does have man hands. With Tim Pawlenty being touted as one of McCain’s potential running mates, who knows? We may have been looking at the next governor of Minnesota. Because of her arm wrestling credentials (she was a national champion once upon a time) no one should give her much sass.

Will never forget the first banquet I ever went to. Think I was 6 or 7 and it was a Father-Son banquet held at the old Methodist church in Spring Valley. When told about it, it came across as “The Band Quit”. Being the inquisitive young lad I was, was curious to know why the band quit or for that matter why anyone would be celebrating that fact. Imagine my disappointment when I got there to find there was no band, quitting or otherwise. Another of life’s mysteries that remains unsolved to this day.

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

Offline Randy Kaar

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thanks dotch! :happy1:

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Will the wind ever remember...

The scurs forecasts continue to be steady by jerks. Following the early week cool down, the weekend and early week promise to bring warmer temperatures. Wednesday, cloudy with highs of 25 and lows near 10. Chance of snow. Thursday and Friday, partly cloudy, colder with a high near 20 and low of 5. Saturday, high of 30 and low of 15 with partly cloudy skies. Warmer Sunday under partly cloudy skies, high of 40 and low of 25 – 30. Warmer Monday and Tuesday, cloudy skies with a rain/snow mix overnight. Highs of 45 and lows of 30. Normal high for March 7th is 37 and normal low is 18. We are gaining daylight at approximately 3 minutes a day. The scurs are scouring the instruction book to reset their aging VCR clock.

Yes, it’s that time again. At 2 a.m. on March 9th, you must get up and set your clock ahead one hour. Of course, you could set it ahead before you go to bed but that just wouldn’t be the politically correct thing to do. I mean, after all we’re all in this together to save that hypothetical 300,000 barrels of oil by running Daylight Saving Time for a good chunk of March. Any bets that the hypothetical price of oil doesn’t come down and that farmers who have livestock would like to perform some hypothetical surgery on the rocket scientists who keep coming up with such nonsense?

Losing that hour is cause for a nap however. I read in Betty’s column that she is not a napper and remember that Al Batt once told me he isn’t either. Sounds like there’s potential for a cottage industry in Nap Therapy. Everyone likes free professional advice so here goes: Given all the cloudy weather we saw in February and wind we’ll likely feel in March, first buy a flock of sheep due to lamb in those months. I can definitely help you out there. After turning off your phones, start off with a big noon meal on Sunday and set the TV on murmur tuned to something like watching paint dry. Usually golf, bowling or car racing will suffice. Sitting in a recliner while reading a newspaper or magazine will normally help set the tone.  Rest your eyes during commercials and when you wake up, it will be time to go back outside and do chores again. Fortunately, they are partially done. You will have already counted the sheep.

At The Mall for Men, well rested napping professionals continue to meet daily to solve the world’s problems. With Valentines leftovers becoming scarce, the Girl Scout cookies arrived last week just in the nick of time. One has to be careful however not to leave your stash lying around where someone else might find it. Always pretty easy to spot the culprits however. Chocolate in the corners of their mouths and the hint of Thin Mints on their breath are both dead giveaways.

The goldfinches continue to pull hard on the thistle socks and the chickadees are singing their spring “fee-bee!” song more frequently. Hairies, downies and the occasional red-bellied woodpeckers keep consuming suet at a near record pace. A few Lapland longspurs were checking out the pasture on Monday morning. At the Willows, the distinct “Whoit! Whoit! Whoit!” song of a male cardinal could be heard from the brush. More subtle signs that spring is coming.

Was sad to see the little ice shelter villages disappear from the frozen surfaces of the area lakes for yet another year. The Cherman and I retrieved our house from St. Olaf late Friday afternoon and there were still a few shelters left. Didn’t see much evidence of the trash that gets left behind on a lot of lakes. Know there was nothing we left behind and no reason to. If you haul it out with you, you haul it off with you. Simple rule but it works. Was hoping our friend from Texas would make it ice fishing but alas, due to some conflicts those plans had to be scrapped. How was the fishing? Who cares? With no real vacation in over 20 years, most importantly it’s time not spent at work with people you enjoy.

Speaking of work, getting to work close on time during lambing season gets tough. Takes awhile to get cleaned up. Started off the other morning feeding a bale of hay when a ewe decided to blow her nose, leaving a nice mess on my spectacles. Part of the job. After feeding, haying and hauling water to the pens, had to check a ewe for milk. Sprayed colostrum all over my “cufferhauls” and chore boots. She hadn’t cleaned yet so while she was whipping around the jug as I was trying to grab her, she was also smearing placenta all over me. By the time I got in the house, I stunk. Showered up, jumped in the truck and headed off to work and thought to myself, it still smells! Got to work, sat down, had a cup of coffee and it was still there. Couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Smelled my shirt, looked at my pants, ran my fingers through my hair, smelled my hand; nothing. Happened to look at my wrist watch and sure enough there was a big hunk of sheep goo stuck on it. Not unlike humans, guess ovines are just full of the juices of life.

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

Online Dotch

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Three years on this range since they started the range war...

The scurs are beginning to realize the snow pack in IA has had a nasty impact on area temperatures. After some subzero starts last week, it’s not warming as fast as we’d like to see. There is better news on the horizon however. Under mostly cloudy skies on Wednesday, we should toy with the mid to upper 40’s for highs. We should also see a chance for precipitation with an overnight low of 30. Cooler on Thursday, mostly cloudy with a chance of snow, a high of 40 and a low of 20. Friday, partly cloudy with a high of 35 and a low of 15. Cool sunshine on Saturday, high of 30 and lows of 15 – 20. Partly cloudy and warmer Sunday, high of 35 and lows of 15 – 20. Monday’s high tops out at 40 under partly cloudy skies with a chance of rain changing to snow developing. Lows of 20 – 25. Tuesday, cooler, highs of 30 – 35 and lows of 10 – 15. Normal high for March 14 is 40 and normal low is 21, about what we would experience the week before Thanksgiving. The scurs are hoping they’ve built their last snow fort for the winter.

As of this writing, have seen no robins but with the warmer temperatures, that’s bound to change. Rooster pheasants appear to be setting up territories as they can be heard during morning chores scattered across the landscape. At the feeders, the heated birdbath continues to be a big attraction. The cold weather has made puddles nothing but a fall on the ice waiting to happen. While birds will eat snow, it takes more energy for them to convert it to water than when in liquid form.

March has come in like a chilled lamb and there have been plenty of them this past week. Checking the lambing pens, one needs to make sure the new arrivals are alert and not suffering from the cold. Getting them prompt attention makes the difference between saving them and losing them when the weather has been as cold as it’s been. Usually this involves taking the lamb out of the pen, getting them inside, putting them in a box and warming them up, just as Grandpa and Grandma used to do behind their wood burning kitchen range. Nowadays, tube feeding them with some warm milk warms them from the inside out and having floor heat makes the job easier.

Was one of those weekends where staying busy was no issue. Good thing Mrs. Cheviot had run to get some milk replacer before leaving to visit her folks in Ostrander. Even at $46 a bag, the show must go on. On Saturday after chores, went to get some straw from the cattle feeding Dubya’s. Always entertaining but as Matt pointed out, I’d probably have a bunch of lambs to deal with when I got home. Little did he know….upon arriving home decided it was a good idea to toss off a couple bales by the lambing barn. Peeked in the door and sure enough, a set of twins had been born while I was away. There was another lamb that was groggy and chilled in one of the pens. To make matters worse, another ewe was telegraphing signs that she wasn’t far off in the maternity ward. First things first, so told the ewe with twins to hold that thought as I took the chilled lamb to the house.

After stabilizing that situation, headed back out to the barn. No room at the inn so time to spring into action and move a couple ewes with lambs to the loafing area in the big barn. With Gus and Lucy helping, it didn’t take long and it’s important they feel included. No sooner had I penned up the ewe with twins and checked her for milk, the other ewe suddenly dumped out the first lamb with the next one right on its heels. Not a problem, with pen space available, the ewe followed eagerly as I picked up the soaking wet youngsters and closed the gate behind her. Checking the ewe, all systems were “Go” so time to get on to feeding the bottle lambs. After feeding them, it was time for feeding me, and you guessed it, a quick but well deserved snooze. My excuse: Had to get mentally prepared to unload and stack the straw!

Sunday brought with it the dreaded Daylight Wasting Time and doing chores again at dark thirty in the morning. Was a day brightener though as the wind was down and the temps had moderated. That and we had tickets to the 4-H Pancake Breakfast. Anything to get away from the barn for a few hours and relax. Even had an extra ticket that I tried to scalp outside but all my little fat buddies had already bought theirs. Later in the afternoon we had guests: Our adopted 60-something year old son Roger and the 4-H kids with a guest who helped feed bottle lambs. As they were leaving, another ewe decided to start the birthing process and after a short delivery, a natural colored lamb was born. Aren’t sheep naturally colored white?

Mankind selected for that trait. When sheep were first domesticated some 10,000 years ago, they were assorted in color, ranging from black to brown to gray and some white. As man selected more for wool-type sheep and less for hair-type, spinning wool evolved nearly 3500 years ago. Even today, breeds such as the multi-colored Jacob sheep can be traced back to a well established sheep and wool trade prevalent during Biblical times. A long time prior to the Revolutionary War (partially fought due to sheep and wool trade) and our western range wars, white wool became preferable as it would take dye and the resulting colors would be more vibrant. Even though the white wool color trait has been selected for centuries, one will occasionally see a throwback to natural colors common in early domestication, not unlike that of the little gray Cheviot lamb we nicknamed Ashley.

See you next week…real good then.     


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

Offline Randy Kaar

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sounds like them sheep are keeping you out of trouble!
hope it warms up soon!

randy aka bh
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There's a bad moon on the rise...

Some nicer days this past week as the scurs predicted, with sunshine and highs topping out near 50 for many on the 13th. This week appears to be closer to the “slightly below normal” category. Under partly cloudy skies, Wednesday’s high should be near 40 with lows dropping to near 20. Thursday partly cloudy, high of 40 and low of 20 – 25. Friday and Saturday, cloudy to mostly cloudy, chance of rain and/or snow. High of 40 and low of 25. Sunday, partly cloudy becoming cloudy. High of 40 and low of 25. Chance of a snow/sleet mix Sunday night. Monday, high of 35 with a chance for more of the snow/sleet mix. Tuesday, partly cloudy, high if 35 and low of 25. Normal high for the first day of spring, March 20th, is 43. The normal low is 23. On St. Patrick’s Day, the scurs consumed only green clovers from their Lucky Charms to improve their forecasting fortunes.

St. Patrick’s Day this past week was on Monday the 17th but at the urging of church officials and others, the day was celebrated in most places on the 15th so as not to interfere with Holy Week. Oddly enough, St. Patrick’s Day will not occur again during Holy Week until 2160 so mark your calendars and adjust your schedule accordingly.

The Full Moon for the month is on Good Friday and has many very apt names. It is known as the Full Worm Moon as when the ground begins to thaw, earthworm castings will begin to appear. Not too surprisingly so do the robins. The Indian tribes of the northern US knew this as the Full Crow Moon and the Ojibwe called this the Full Crust Moon as the snow would thaw during the day and freeze at night crusting the snow. The Sioux called this the Moon When Buffalo Drop Their Calves.  Maple syrup is being tapped during this moon and so it also known as the Full Sap Moon. To settlers, this also known as the Full Lenten Moon being the last full moon of winter. And not moment too soon I’ll bet. 

The Vernal Equinox officially happens March 20th. To some this means an equal length of day and night. Actually, during the equinox, we already have slightly more daylight than darkness and will have had since the 17th. A loose definition of equinox allows that the center of the sun will spend nearly an equal amount of time above and below the horizon of every location on the planet. A more technical definition involves the refraction of light, arcs, geometric horizons, etc. In other words, more complicated than we have space or attention span for.

There are signs that spring is on the way. Some of the migratory birds have begun to show up. In and around our yard last week, geese were flying around on the 11th, ducks were quacking and male red-winged blackbirds were singing “konk-a-ree!”  from the tree tops on the 13th. A robin was eating leftover crabapples after chores on the morning of the 14th. Little Jerry the rooster pheasant is back crowing and drumming in the plum and sumac thicket on the edge of the yard on the 16th. While more nomadic than migratory, house finches are back at the feeders once again in numbers. The goldfinches continue their subtle color change, with the males looking less olive drab and becoming more sunny yellow. Speaking of sunny yellow, thank you to all those who brought a little sunshine to our lives last week with the American Cancer Society daffodils.

Insects in the house are also coming back to life. After being on hiatus for a month or so, the ladybugs are crawling on the ceiling and getting into the milk replacer again. The boxelder bugs along with some of those big flies are also becoming active too. When one hears something crunch underfoot on the floor, odds are when you look down, it’s another one biting the dust.

Outside, the fruit trees have been pruned and the pesky volunteer ash and boxelder saplings pruned at ground level under the pines. The mud has been much to Gus’s liking. While Lucy tends to trot around puddles, Gus blasts through them with gusto, making his big feather duster tail look more like a wet mop. Will soon be time to get the fence back up and charge it so the lambs can get outside and take advantage of the warm spring days that are surely to come.

At the Mall for Men, the little fat buddies are beginning to dream of getting their planters out to look them over and make repairs to ready them for the upcoming planting season. Fortunately, most of them have wintered well so even if they don’t have a heated shop, they’re prepared to brave the elements and head to town to see what everyone else is up to. Have a hunch it’s more likely to see if Carol S. has made any more of those excellent cinnamon rolls.

See you next week…real good then.

 

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

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I wanna live with a cinnamon girl...

Wow! Too bad the scurs have been banned from most local NCAA basketball pools. Last week’s forecast was deadly accurate; just as messy and chilly as advertised. This week promises slightly better although that’s a relative term. Wednesday we should see a high of 40 under partly cloudy skies. Those pesky snow showers return for the evening however with a low of 20 – 25. Thursday, cloudy with a chance of a rain/snow mix. High of 35 and low near 20. Friday, cloudy with a slight chance of snow. High around 35 and low of 20. Saturday, sun breaks out and we stay around 40 for the high. Sunday, more clouds and ugliness with a chance of rain showers. High of 40 and low of 25. Monday, partly cloudy, high of 45 to 50 with a low near 30. April Fool’s Day, partly cloudy, high of 40 to 45, low of 25 to 30 with a chance of overnight flurries. No foolin’. Normal high for March 28th is 47 and normal low is 26. The scurs are eating their chocolate bunnies while checking the tournament brackets for an obscure offshore gambling account.

The cinnamon roll fairy came through again on Good Friday at the Mall for Men. Running behind without breakfast as is my wont, was especially tickled to find the rolls were still warm when I arrived that morning. Sitting around the training table with a pan of rolls on it is almost like watching vultures sitting on a fence to see who’s going to make the next move. We’re a little concerned however that one of the little fat buddies is claiming to be on a diet. Maybe have to put him in the sick pen, give him a shot of vitamin B-12 and feed him some molasses to get him back on feed.

Migratory birds showed up in force last week. There were close to a dozen robins picking at the crabapples on the pruned branches on Tuesday. Lots of grackles (known to most in greater Bugtussle as blackbirds) and killdeers calling in the pasture below the house. Geese are setting up shop and can be seen strolling around the ice on the pond when they’re not flying overhead to the fields, where they glean them for last years crop. Pheasants were mobile too, with Little Jerry the rooster pheasant flappin’ his wings and struttin’ his stuff.

If the “three snows on the robin’s tail and then it’s spring” postulate has any validity to it, this past week and weekend should have qualified. In reality, robins migrate in loose flocks along a 37 degree average daily temperature isotherm, frequently ahead of warm fronts, traveling on average roughly 40 miles per day. While they survive on fruits upon arriving here, their favorite food is earthworms. In order for earthworms to be active and near the surface, the ground of course needs to be thawed and above 36 degrees.  So keep an eye out for robins with stubby tails because this greasy skid stuff has been as wet and heavy as oatmeal. It very well might tear ‘em right off. 

Had one of those strange moments Easter morning when hooking up the hose to the hydrant. Getting mentally prepared to fill water buckets, just happened to be daydreaming about the Easter Bunny. All the sudden out of a chunk of plastic tile that was lying by the hydrant, Peter Cottontail came tearing out like he’d been shot out of a cannon. Checked for Easter eggs but found none. In the house however he left me some Jr. Mints. Those can be very refreshing.

Sunday was also one of those days when lambing seemed to hit a snag. With only a handful left to lamb it shouldn’t be so bad, right? Depends on your perspective I guess. While Auntie Mar-Mar was visiting, an old ewe that somehow escaped the trip on the cull trailer last summer had lambed, producing a large buck lamb and no milk. Having more than enough bottle lambs to keep us occupied, puzzled what to do. Agnes C. seemed like a likely candidate although she already had one bottle lamb. When Mar-Mar left she took the lamb by Agnes’s place in a box, sort of a take off on the old leave the baby on the doorstep and ring the bell routine. Agnes was of course delighted and while she wanted a ewe lamb, she loved the little tyke anyway.

Much to our chagrin later that afternoon, the old ewe decided to sneak another lamb out, this time a flashy ewe lamb. Too nice to destroy, Agnes was contacted once again and bless her heart, was willing to take on one more. May have to organize a pancake benefit to keep her in milk replacer however. The positive in all this in addition to finding a loving home for them, hopefully her grandkids will wind up with a 4-H project out of the deal. One thing is for certain, at least the lamb will be tame.

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

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That wind's howlin' and it seems mighty like a woman's screams...

The scurs were ahead of schedule, predicting the snowfall on Sunday instead of Monday. Oh well, the way things have been going, having a day in the mid-50’s by mistake is worth it. This week, we should see the weather begin to act more spring-like. Starting Wednesday, partly cloudy becoming cloudy with a chance of rain/snow mix by late afternoon, high of 40 and low of 30. Thursday, cloudy, chance of rain. High 45 and low of 30. Friday through Sunday, partly cloudy, highs of 45 – 50 and lows around 30. As the scurs always say, when in doubt, predict clouds and rain on Monday. Monday’s high should be in the 45 - 50 range with the low dropping to 30. Tuesday, cloudy, high of 45 - 50 and low of 30 - 35. Normal high for April 4th is 51 and normal low is 29. The scurs are eating flapjacks with their recently manufactured maple syrup.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The sappers, syrupers, or whatever you want to call them are out and about, tapping trees and boiling the sap. Up until recently, reports from most of the purveyors of this sweet natural treat indicated the sap was not running very well this year. Too cold and not enough variation in temperature to make the sap run as one would like.

So where did we wind up in terms of average snowfall and how far behind are we from normal on ice-out dates? At the SROC in Waseca, the average annual snowfall for the 30 year period from 1971 – 2000 is 54.7”. For the 50 year period from 1951 – 2000, the average snowfall is 47.7”. As of this writing, for the present winter season at the SROC, they have tallied 35.2”. Let’s hope we don’t catch up to the averages! Ice out dates approximate the date at which soils become free of frost. Last year, the ice-out date on Clear Lake was March 27th. While we didn’t make that, the average ice-out date through 2001 is April 3rd.

We’re starting to head the right general direction however. Saw a striped gopher running along the side of the road on March 28th, indicating that their long winter’s nap is coming to a close. Haven’t noticed any fresh pocket gopher mounds yet. Not that there couldn’t be some in areas but they are generally a good indicator that the frost is out of the ground where they’re digging. Still plenty of frost in areas and area lakes are still covered with albeit deteriorating ice.

Small, shallow wetlands have thawed however. Began noticing this the middle of last week. The numbers and variety of waterfowl they contain and temporarily attract are always fascinating and their breeding plumage simply beautiful. Saturday morning during chores there was a flock of white-fronted (speckle-bellies) geese up high with the pedal to the metal heading north. No layover apparently. On Sunday though while checking the electric fence, noted over 100 ducks on our 3 acre pond alone, primarily mallards, blue-winged teal, and ring-necked ducks. When they spooked and took off, was like a swarm of bees. Could’ve sworn I was back in North Dakota again. And of course, there is nearly constant Canada goose music to be heard almost any hour of the day as they set up nesting territories.

In the yard, the goldfinches are getting closer to yellow. In another couple weeks, they’ll make the still leafless trees look like those Easter egg trees, complete with all yellow eggs. There has been a large influx of house finches, more than we’ve seen in quite some time. Their song is pretty and so are the males, especially this time of year. They nest here at the ranch someplace and bring their young to the feeders in the summer. And, there are finally some white-breasted nuthatches back again. They nest here too, am guessing in one of several hollow boxelder trees. Aren’t they all hollow?

Mrs. Cheviot and I got all the lambs moved out of the lambing barn on Sunday and opened up their loafing area in the big barn so they could all get outside. No sooner had we done this, we created our own version of a gawker slowdown. Someone stopped on the road to watch the lambs run and play. After we went in the house, heard several other vehicles slow to a crawl as the lambs enjoyed the warm afternoon. Not sure if they were watching the lambs or trying to figure out where all the racket was coming from however. It gets loud. How loud? Imagine youngsters being cooped up for over a month then suddenly turning them loose at a playground with their doting mothers hollering at them. Times 10.

Need to blame someone for Monday’s snow? Look no further than me and one of my little fat buddies. Was decided that seeding lawn just prior to a snowstorm this time of year was just the ticket. Lots of moisture and heavy, wet snow tamps the seed into the ground ever so slightly so it will sprout when the weather warms up. Last week it was supposed to snow a bunch so we kicked it in gear to “git ‘er done” and consequently, it didn’t snow more than enough to make the ground white. Thinking we had screwed up in reverse and discovered a way to straighten out the weather, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. Then came Monday’s mess. Not so sure everyone will be happy if our little grass seeding experiments are successful.   

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

Offline Randy Kaar

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hope you had a great b-day dotch! hope to catch
ya in chat some nite!

randy aka bh
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Offline deadeye

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Dotch, "So where did we wind up in terms of average snowfall and how far behind are we from normal on ice-out dates?"
Is't it a little early to recap the winter?  I think we will get some more snow before the skeeters come out.  :bonk:
***I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.***

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You're right deadeye but bear in mind down here in the banana belt, many crop farmers have been lulled to sleep with many years of above normal temperatures and early springs. Many of the younger operators in particular have begun to believe that once we get into April, winter's over and we ought to be able to conduct fieldwork. Peas and small grains are typically planted in the first and second week in April with corn planting coming right on their heels. Judging by the behavior of some, they're already getting antsy but how soon they forget! I know last year about this time we were assessing alfalfa winter survival as it had broken dormancy. Not the case or even close this year. And there are still guys out ice fishing so we're quite a ways from ice out and completely thawed soils. Add the forecast for liquid precipitation to the equation every few days and it could end up being a later spring than we've seen in recent years. One thing about livestock operations, one knows spring comes when it gets here, not when you'd like it to. Just thankful when the mud dries up and the pastures are green again.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Seasons don't fear the reaper...(I know, more cow bell!)

The scurs were pleased to see the mercury rise into the 60’s on Friday and Saturday but not totally surprised. We were due. For the upcoming forecast cycle however, they’re thinking we may be in the “2 steps back” category. Wednesday, partly cloudy, with a high of 45 and a low near 30. Thursday and Friday, cloudy, precipitation likely, rain during daylight hours and rain/snow mix during the overnight hours. Highs of 45 and lows near 30. Mostly cloudy Saturday with a chance of lingering rain/snow showers, 50 degrees for the high and low around 30. Sunday, partly cloudy, highs reaching 55 - 60 and low of 35. Partly cloudy Monday becoming mostly cloudy with a chance of rain into Tuesday, highs of 55 - 60 and lows of 40. Normal high for April 11th is 55 and normal low is 32. And as of the 11th, we will have gained an hour and 6 minutes of daylight since the vernal equinox. The scurs are leaving their old aluminum snow saucer outside the door to ward off any remaining evil winter spirits.

Last week was a week of contrasts with the wet snowfall on Monday giving way to some beautiful spring weather by week’s end. Checking frost depths with a probe on Saturday, there were places where it was still about a foot down. Other places, such as on the south facing slope of the pasture, it was completely out, with robins able to find earthworms at will and striped gophers out sunning themselves. Like the ice in lakes, frost melts both from above and below this time of year. Speaking of lake ice, the St. Olaf Lake ice as of this writing is fading fast, with a ring of water surrounding it. The ice also turned darker following the weekend’s wind and warm temperatures. It will likely be history this week sometime. Even put 3 rain gauges out but dumping them all together, they wouldn’t have added up to a tenth of an inch on Sunday.

Lots of signs that spring is upon us with lawns, golf courses and pastures showing a hint of green. The first of the spring peepers (frogs) can be heard from area wetlands. Lots of human activity showing up too with motorcycles and golf carts coming out of hibernation. Even some golfers noted on Friday and who can blame them? With all the gloomy, cloudy weather, playing hooky had crossed my mind. Garden seeds arrived at the ranch this past week although I had to make a trip to Edna’s to get some of those special onion sets as well as some radish seed, the latter of which were planted upon arriving home. With a little rain on Sunday and some warmer temperatures, I figure the rabbits should have something in the flower bed to chew off in a week or two other than the red carpet of tiny lambsquarters seedlings.

Bird activity is a barometer of how spring is progressing. About the same number and variety of ducks on the pond from last week but in the sky above, have seen great blue herons in addition to tundra swans, lumbering along like the low altitude B-52 bombers I saw in my younger days in ND. Monday morning, the first meadowlarks were scoping out the pasture, dodging snowflakes while the red-winged blackbirds were feeding on the ear corn, flashing their red epaulets. Grackles are flying around the yard with beaks full of wool and other nest building material and the goldfinches continue to molt, the males’ appearing to be mottled yellow in color. Flickers are back, calling from their bug hunting expeditions in the boxelder trees behind the house. Rooster pheasants continue to crow to woo prospective mates and wild turkeys are on the move. There were turkeys by the golf course and 6 hens passed through our yard Sunday evening. They managed to pick their way through the electric fence and head off to parts unknown.

Was trying to keep my 50th birthday relatively quiet last week but someone must’ve let the cat out the bag. Got lots of cards. Even got a card and a gag gift from the Star/Eagle crack management staff, both of which were very humorous. Got to meet Dick Herfindahl and that was a treat. Always enjoy his column. Felt somewhat relieved when the paper came out to find no one had sent them any old grade school pics where I was doing my hockey player impression and missing a tooth. The little fat buddies celebrated in style at the Mall for Men with birthday cake followed by a brownie chaser. All was not so rosy last week however. Somehow, when you turn 50 that AARP mail finds you like the grim reaper, so promptly threw that away. The crowning touch though was a card from some funeral home. Good grief! I’m just old, not dead. On the other hand, maybe those turkey vultures circling overhead are trying to tell me something.

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

Online Dotch

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So get all those blues, must be a thousand hues...

Although Saturday’s high wasn’t close to what the scurs were thinking, the precipitation forecast was spot-on, complete with rain and snow. For this forecast period, we should see conditions turn more seasonal for a change. Partly cloudy Wednesday with a slight chance of rain Wednesday afternoon and a better chance Wednesday evening. High of 60 – 65 and low of 40. Thursday, mostly cloudy, with a decent chance of showers, high of 55 and lows of 40 – 45. Friday, partly cloudy, slight chance of lingering showers in the morning, high of 55 and lows of 45 – 50. Warmer Saturday, partly cloudy, high of 65 and low of 45 – 50. Sunday, partly cloudy with a chance of showers. High of 65 and low between 45 and 50. Monday, warmer, becoming cloudy with rain likely in the evening. High of 65 – 70 and lows of 45 – 50. Lingering isolated showers on Tuesday. Highs of 65 - 70 and lows of 45 - 50. Normal high for April 18th is 59 and normal low is 35. We are still gaining daylight at about 19 minutes per week. The scurs are trading in their snow shovels for garden hoes and rakes.

This month’s Full Moon will occur on April 20th and is commonly known as the Full Pink Moon because of all the wild phlox that begin to show up in the wooded areas. It’s also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon. The Ojibwe knew this as the Broken Snowshoe Moon and the Sioux knew this as the Moon of the Greening Grass, important as they kept tabs on the buffalo across the plains. With the recent showers and warmer temperatures, the grass in lawns and pastures will be greening up soon enough for gasoline-powered and four-legged lawnmowers to sample those tender shoots.

Last week’s rain varied somewhat across the area but amounts tended to range from 1” – 2”. While there’s no question the rain did help take some of the remaining frost out of the ground, the weather during the first 2 weeks of April has been like thawing the Thanksgiving turkey out in the refrigerator. As of this writing Monday morning, there was still time to ice fish on St. Olaf Lake or to do some shallow trolling in the water encircling around the deceptively white, frost-covered ice sheet. In the fields, the soil is generally saturated and there are areas of the country that are starting to get behind. In a weekend phone call from an acquaintance in IN and a visit with some friends in IA, nary a wheel has turned there yet. The strong winds this week and warmer temperatures should help. We’re still in the running for a relatively normal start here yet but any major rain event will push planting dates back a few more days.

With last weekend’s cold conditions, the ground froze up again and frozen ground yields few earthworms. That sent the robins scrambling back into the crabapple tree, feasting on the fruit. The black-capped chickadees have disappeared again after coming to stay last fall and while the dark-eyed juncos are still around, they’re likely to move on soon. A brown creeper was busy checking out the tree trunks for insects on Sunday morning. Activity on the pond has become a mallard and Canada goose show as of late with the residents feeding in the untilled cornstalks surrounding it. The goldfinches were more yellow again this week and by next week, they should be back at full color. Between them and the house finches, they’re keeping area sunflower and thistle seed merchants in business. Bluebird houses are ready anytime the bluebirds are ready to use them.

Frozen ground in the morning means a fast track for the lambs who were eager to get out and tear around after being cooped up inside for several days. Sounds like some kids I used to know. We’re down to only one more ewe left to lamb at the ranch. The most recent ewe to lamb telegraphed the blessed event for several days including during the nasty gray, windy day that was Thursday. Going home to check on her during lunchtime, my back side got drenched by the horizontal rain on the 20 foot walk from the truck. As I peeked in the door, she looked up at me from the shelter of the lambing barn as if to say “What are you doing here?” and went back to chewing her cud. I shook my head, muttered something unintelligible, turned and got my other side soaking wet on the trip back to the vehicle. Fortunately, she waited until after my Sunday afternoon nap. While they’ve been one black, muddy, stinky mess for much of the spring, Gus and Lucy helped us move them. It’s tough for a farm dog to stay clean and dry this time of year.

Had a little get together at the ranch on Saturday night and it turned out more like a little fat buddy convention. With representation from many of the precincts including Ellendale, Geneva, Waldorf and Bugtussle we could’ve conducted a straw poll. Actually, there was hay to unload so was tempting to make it a hay poll but Mrs. Cheviot nixed that idea. There were many who came bearing gifts, including a marble rye from Schnitzer’s. Can you say Rueben sandwiches boys and girls? I knew you could. Oddly enough the bread was still there in the morning although there was a window open and on one end of the loaf, it looked like it had been impaled on a sharp object, perhaps a fishhook. Strange.

See you next week…real good then.   



 

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

Online Dotch

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But you did, but you did and I thank you...

After basking in the afterglow of last week’s forecasting accuracy, the scurs are ready for another week of spring prognostications. Wednesday might be our nicest day of the upcoming forecast period. Should be sunny then becoming partly cloudy, high of 65 – 70 and low of 45. Thursday, back in the soup again. Cloudy with a good chance of rain, high near 65 and low of 45. Friday, cloudy and cooler, with possible rain lingering into the morning and afternoon. High of 55- 60 and low near 35. Saturday and Sunday, partly cloudy, high of 60 and low of 40. Monday and Tuesday, cooler and cloudy with rain likely. Highs of 60 - 65 and lows of 50. Normal high for April 25th is 60 and normal low is 38. On the 27th we will have exceeded 14 hours of daylight here in Bugtussle. With all the recent rainfall, the scurs are buying up old reel mowers to get a corner on the market in anticipation of more high gas prices for the summer.

The past week’s rainfall illustrated exactly what we said about a full soil moisture profile slowing down progress in the fields. Apparently there is still frost in the ground in places according to those who have been doing some tiling. However, witnessed my first fresh pocket gopher mound of the season on the 15th. The ice went out on St. Olaf Lake on the 16th. A little field work was done last week as some small grain was put in. Some anhydrous ammonia also went on with varying reports on the success of the applications. According to little fat buddy law, if you were putting it on, it went on great. If you’re not, it couldn’t have gone on too well. Rainfall at the ranch was about .9” for the Thursday/Friday rainfall event. Soil temperatures have not been real conducive to growing much of anything either, save some early cool season weeds such as lambsquarters and giant ragweed, not to mention the wheat that fell out of some straw bales in my pickup box. At the SCROC in Waseca, the average soil temp at 2” was in the mid-40’s much of the week, and slightly cooler than that at the 4” depth. As many are saying, once this thing breaks, it will likely break quickly so one will need to be ready to take advantage of a narrowing window of opportunity.

The last ewe finally lambed Wednesday when it was nice and warm so that process is over for another year. Sunday was a good afternoon to get some of the crushed rock and sod picked up from the lawn, piled from the winter we had. Didn’t realize there was that much rock left on the driveway in the first place. Under those piles, there was still some ice. The lawn is greening up however and the ewes managed to find their way out to the pasture to gobble up those first blades of green grass. Can’t say as I blame them. Being able to traipse around on the firm hillside versus being stuck in a muddy lot sounds much more appealing. The radishes planted two weeks ago have not emerged yet so may have to file a disaster claim. As damp and cloudy as it’s been, probably should’ve planted mushrooms.

Birds are moving at a frantic pace to get their nests constructed. Robins and blackbirds have developed an affinity for using leftover nasturtium vines as nesting material. Saw my first tree swallow of the season on the 16th and heard the first brown thrasher on the 17th in the dogwood. Little Jerry the rooster pheasant has been busy hanging out by the house. His incessant crowing and drumming almost rattles the windows since he’s so close. I tell Mrs. Cheviot that just like me, Little Jerry has the “kavorka”. She’s not convinced.

Waterfowl continues to pass on through. Some bluebills recently and there may be activity in the wood duck house. Not sure how the waterfowl can stand the racket from the little spring peepers and western chorus frogs however.  These are a few of several small frogs and tree frogs that inhabit our area wetlands. When we get warm spring days and nights, the decibel level on ponds such as ours can be almost deafening especially if you’re not used to it. Watching the tiny inch-long creatures is a treat also. Only the males call and they have a large air sac they inflate like a bubble when calling, reputedly to help attract a mate. If you’re quiet, move slowly and watch carefully, you can get quite a show.

At Mrs. Cheviot’s behest, got most of my “Thank-you” cards mailed last week. Don’t know about you, but especially as I’ve gotten older, always appreciate getting them. Sure they could’ve e-mailed me or said so in person or on the phone but there’s something special about getting a card or note of appreciation. Maybe some of it’s the fact that it’s not a bill or a piece of junk mail. Think mostly though it’s that someone took the time and effort to let us know what was done or given was remembered. Every time I open a thank you note, it always makes me think back to Bruzek’s Hardware and hearing Tom say after the transaction was complete, “Thank-you!”. If I haven’t said it enough, “Thank-you!” for reading and hope you’ve enjoyed the column. If you didn’t, thanks anyway for trying to unravel the twisted ramblings of a warped mind.

See you next week…real good then.



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

Online Dotch

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Still the rain kept pourin'...

After late in the week, the scurs forecasting acclaim was called into question. With cooler than normal highs and some snow on the ground Saturday morning, spring seems to want to add insult to injury. This week doesn’t look like much of an improvement but on the bright side, no snow in the forecast. Wednesday is our token nice day, partly cloudy with a high of 65 and a low of 45. Slight chance of rain Wednesday overnight. Thursday, cloudy with a chance of rain. High of 60 – 65 and low of 45. Friday, cooler and cloudy with a chance of rain. 55 degrees for a high and 40 for a low. Saturday, cloudy, chance of rain, high of 55 and low of 35. Cloudy Sunday, high of 55 – 60 and low of 40 – 45. Cloudy with rain Monday, 50 – 55 for a high and low of 40. Tuesday partly cloudy and high of 60 and low of 40. Normal high for May 2 is 66 and low is 40. The scurs are drawing up plans for an ark complete with solar heating panels.

It has been a cold damp spring so far if you haven’t noticed. Fortunately we were spared the brunt of what is hopefully winter’s last gasp. With up to 15” of sloppy wet snow to the north, we can consider ourselves fortunate. The 1” – 2” of rain was plenty. What was a little disarming was Friday night traveling out to the barn to feed bottle lambs while it was snowing and hearing the frogs down on the pond croaking away. The grass sticking out of the snow the next morning looked like a 3 day beard growth. The radishes planted 3 weeks ago emerged last week just after press time but haven’t grown more than a quarter inch since then. Still, the yearling ewes can get out to pasture and apparently they’re finding plenty to eat, leaving some of their usual ration of hay behind in the bunk.

While the weather has been ugly, there have been a few nice days between rains and one needs to take the time to smell the roses. The junco’s have headed for points north where they’ll spend their summers, only to return again in October. On the 21st, saw my first yellow-rumped warbler of the season. On the 23rd, saw the first mating dragonflies rising up out of the alfalfa fields. The horned larks flying out of those fields reminded me that they actually think this is nice weather. However, when I got home and a pair of mallards was parading around the yard (we live on top of a hill) that was not a good omen.

One thing this weather has been good for is planting and transplanting trees. Got some replacement arborvitae for those the rabbits ruined or the lawnmower amputated at ground level. Was hoping with his excavating prowess that Gus could help me dig the holes but he and Lucy were busy watching the sheep as I toiled. In some holes, there was water 8” down, one reason that area is a windbreak. Also started a new horseradish patch as one of the missing shrubs was smack dab in the old patch. All the planting went well and decided to move a couple spruce where they’d been doubled up and a few spare nanny berries to fill in some gaps left when the septic system was replaced. As I was putting the tools back in the shed, the first raindrops hit my cheek. Once in the house, had a little lunch and upon hearing the pitter patter of rain on the roof, was out like a light on yet another patented power nap. Mission accomplished.

With all the cold, wet weather, the little fat buddies have been putting in overtime at the training table and holding regular therapy sessions. Locally baked rolls and bars are in much shorter supply than smart talk so needless to say, there has been some suffering. This is a resilient bunch however. They know it’s only a matter of time before someone takes pity and whips up a pan of bars or makes a trip to Casey’s for donuts.

Someone was wondering how one goes about achieving little fat buddy status. It’s rather nebulous but there are some indications: You might be a little fat buddy if you hang out at the Mall for Men, drink coffee and/or eat donuts there in the morning. You might be a little fat buddy if your favorite TV programs are on TV Land. You might be a little fat buddy if you know which area Dairy Queens have the cheapest malt prices. You might be a little fat buddy if you used to work or do business at Huntting Elevator. You might be a little fat buddy if you drive a company truck. You might be a little fat buddy if your kids show sheep. You might be a little fat buddy if you know what scurs are. And, you might be a little fat buddy if this is the first column you read when you pick up the NRHEG Star.

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 HD

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I only know what a scur is.....do I still qualify?


Another good read Dotch!


Hunter
Mama always said, If you ain't got noth'in nice to say, don't say noth'in at all!

Online Dotch

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Thanks and absotively hunterdown. BTW, you might be a little fat buddy if you read Fencelines on MNO!  :dancinred:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline tripnchip

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I can still see the belt buckle so I better quit reading fenclines  before I become a little fat buddy. lol
« Last Edit: April 04/30/08, 12:03:33 AM by tripnchip »

Offline Randy Kaar

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too late trip! :rotflmao: :rotflmao:

randy aka bh
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trip, you wearin' them pants up under your armpits again?   ;)
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline tripnchip

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Oh heck just drive another fence post for me to set on.lol