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Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 164602 times)

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Offline Dotch

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Oh, all I see turns to brown as the sun burns the ground

Another rash of heat from the Weather Eye has the scurs ready to dial up the AMC dealership, again. Are cooler conditions on the way or will our friendly electricity provider be our best friend? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 80ís and lows in the upper 60ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 90ís and lows in the low 70ís. Ish. Sunny on Friday with a fair chance of rain in the evening. Highs in the low 90ís with lows in the mid- 70ís. Double ish. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 90ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 90ís and lows in the mid-60ís. Monday, sunny with highs in the low 90ís and lows in the upper 60ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. The Full Moon occurs on July 23rd. We start losing daylight at over 2 minutes a day on the 25th. The normal high for July 25th is 81 and the normal low is 61. With Waseca Co. fair in their rearview mirror, the scurs can focus their attention on Freeborn Co. Fair & Auntie Mar Marís baked goods next.

The Full Moon for the month of July will be on Friday the 23rd and goes by several names. The primary name is the Full Buck Moon, so named for the antlers that are starting to adorn the buck deer. Indeed, several have been seen locally already in the velvet. It also goes by the Full Thunder Moon for the thunderstorms common this time of year and the Full Hay Moon as hay is harvested for the long winter ahead. The Ojibwe knew this as The Raspberry Moon for the wild delicacy common this time of year. The Sioux were also into fruit, calling this the Moon when Wild Cherries are Ripe. At the ranch, we call it The Full Weeding Moon. Odd how quickly those pesky little weeds suddenly become competition for garden space.

Crops are continuing to move at warp speed after the rain and return of warm temperatures. Most corn is tasseled completely with a large portion having already pollinated. One can tell when husking it if the silks fall off the ears easily, itís pollinated. Conditions locally for pollination couldnít have been much more favorable. Soybeans are also smoking right along. Most fields are R4 already with some planted early to early maturing varieties already exhibiting some plants at R5. A few soybean aphids have been found but finding them has been the exception and not the rule. At this point we may be in much the same position we were locally last year. These soybean plants are generally large, and the aphids will have their work cut out for them.
 
Likewise with the corn rootworm infestations. While beetles can be found in significant numbers in some fields, not all fields are infested. In fact, in many of the fields where we installed sticky traps, there were none to be found at that time. Keep in mind these fields were chosen because they had the potential for rootworm issues such as lengthy corn on corn and corn on corn in their histories. Crop health thus far looks excellent with little to no evidence of significant disease pressure. Fungicides have been applied to both corn and soybeans. Not surprising since almost no one bales hay or cultivates anymore.
The ďjust toss in the insecticideĒ discussion has moved from the soybean arena to the corn. If corn is less than 50% pollinated and silks are being clipped to less than Ĺ inch, rootworm beetle control may pay. That may take 10 or more beetles per plant. Again, spraying for an insect that isnít there is a waste of money, not to mention playing Russian roulette when it comes to rootworms developing resistance down the road. This has already happened in NE to at least three families of insecticides including the organochlorides, organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids. Know your enemy. Panic, emotionalism and knee jerk reactions are seldom good methods of dealing with crises, real or imagined.

The garden has flourished after the rain and the ensuing heat. I was able to slip through the garden one last time with the tiller. It took some time and effort to move the vines out of the way and carefully put them back again. Luckily this ainít my first rodeo. The upcoming heat and sun meant a scorched earth policy for the weeds, almost literally. Crispy brown unidentifiable weeds are my favorite kind The vine crops are all blooming and the bees couldnít be happier about it. Iíve mentioned it before, and it still holds true that the bumblebee population is thriving at the ranch. Their favorites have included plants such as salvia, catnip, hostas, and Solomonís seal. Theyíve also been seen on the tomatoes. While tomatoes donít necessarily need their help, the bumblebees wiggle and shake the blooms around enough so they pollinate.
 
I may not be attending a lot of car shows the rest of the summer. For starters, the Silver Hawk has been on the temporarily disabled list limiting it to short runs. Earlier in the year Iíd noticed the oil was down a quart after one of our longer cruises. On one of the shorter expeditions after that, I could detect the faint smell of burning oil. When we attended the Back to the 50ís show back in June, I made sure the oil was full before leaving. Upon our return home I checked it again and it was down two quarts. There was a leak coming from somewhere as the rear bumper and rear of the trunk were speckled with microdroplets of oil. Got an appointment scheduled and the diagnosis was better than expected. It was leaking from a shaft on the fuel pump. Once installed, we should be back in business. At least I hope so. Nice to look at it but more fun to drive a piece of automotive history.

Speaking of that, the Ď60 Lark project has suddenly been resuscitated. The organ donor í59 Lark was hauled to Waseca where a kind gentleman removed the glass for me. Heíd warned me that sometimes windshields donít make it out intact, so I was braced for that possibility. As luck would have it, everything came out as planned and Iím sure wanted the coon condo off his property before any new tenants showed up. I enlisted the services of Vistaís noted Swedish astronomer to help me load the glass. I feared if it was wet which was a possibility, the odds of dropping a windshield or rear window might be increased. Besides, with help Iíd have someone else to blame! Such was not the case. All the glass was set on some dog pillows and securely wrapped with blankets. It all made it home in the original sized pieces rather than thousands of little ones. Wasnít taking any chances. A difficult to find windshield going for over 500 bucks a pop mightíve had something to do with it.

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

Offline Dotch

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And I am amazed at how they stumble homeward through the haze

The scurs were dumbfounded after another trip to the AMC dealership only to find parts were backordered for the Weather Eye. Will the parts arrive soon or are we in for another week of blistering temperatures? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of rain by evening. Highs in the mid-90ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-80ís and lows in the low 60ís. More like it. Mostly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-80ís and lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the low 60ís. On July 30th, the sun will rise at 6 a.m. CDT. Is it possible that Sunday is August 1st already? Yes indeed. The normal high for August 1st is 81 and the normal low is 61. After this heatwave, the scurs have decided that in some respects, January may not be such a bad thing.
 
More heat and little precipitation this past week has farmers starting to get more nervous about the potential damage this may do to a crop that has largely led a charmed life. From a crop health perspective, it should hang on about as well as one could expect. Both the corn and soybeans have shown little in terms of disease thus far and while those promoting fungicides will be quick to declare itís a preventative if something comes in later, Iím merely reporting whatís out there now. The odds of a response to fungicide are generally enhanced when certain diseases are present in the canopy.
 
Insect pressure while present, overall hasnít shown its hand just yet. More soybean fields with aphids detected this past week although they were most easily found in areas where weíd likely expect to see them first, near higher concentrations of buckthorn. The concern comes if this soybean crop is put under sever moisture stress to finish. Our best responses to insecticides locally came during drier seasons such as 2003. Spider mites are also a concern although they follow the same scenario the soybean aphids do: These are presently some big healthy beans. If we come under severe moisture and heat stress, that could change.
 
Corn rootworm beetle numbers have also followed in that they are typically highest in fields with continuous corn. Even those had little silk clipping and as of last week, little in the way of gravid female rootworm beetles as a proportion of the population. Those fields rotated and using rootworm traits properly have exhibited little adult pressure thus far. Beetle bombing as some have proposed and killing primarily male rootworm beetles probably isnít a prudent course of action. There will likely be plenty of adult males emerging later to keep the females satisfied.

Some on social media have been fretting about the haze from the forest fires cutting down on our solar radiation, possibly affecting the yields of soybeans in particular. While Iím unaware of any data relating to a precise number of Langleyís on crop yields, I do know that the haze this past week kept our temperatures from reaching the forecast highs on several occasions. In the situation weíre in with soil moisture becoming a more precious commodity, these more moderate high temperature days may have bought us some time. One thing for certain, it has slowed the speed of drying hay, as some of us can attest.

It has been interesting to watch this yearís group of lambs develop at the ranch. Itís been fascinating to note their selectivity in forages. Their lot in front of the barn became overgrown with roundleaf mallow. Itís a weed that has been on the increase in recent years, thriving in just about any waste area or other seldom disturbed areas around our yard. Along with it in their lot are several other weed species including Canada thistle, waterhemp, pigweed and a few velvetleaf. Starting a few weeks ago, the lambs tore into the roundleaf mallow and chewed off any waterhemp or pigweed that wasnít near the electric fence. They declined to eat the Canada thistle, likely for obvious reasons. They also passed on the velvetleaf plants. Oddly enough, roundleaf mallow and velvetleaf are both in the same (mallow) family. However, the velvetleafís fuzzy texture and odor, reminiscent of tomcat urine, probably donít help their palatability.
 
The Studebaker made it through last weekís surgery after a few bumps in the road. The oil leak was stopped, and the electric fuel pump was a nice addition. For some reason though the ammeter was charging at 35 + amps and after a little sleuthing, the ace mechanic determined the voltage regulator had expired. Fortunately, I had one that worked OK but was a little shaky at home. It solved the problem temporarily until a new one could be installed. The next step if it happens again is to switch the charging system over to an alternator. Up until 1960, all automobiles were using generators. The first US production car with an alternator was the 1960 Valiant. Mopar strikes again!
 
Was hoping that the Studebaker would be ready for the cruise to The Little Log House at Hastings last Saturday. With the charging system being a little iffy and the hot day forecast, I wasnít sure that was a good idea. Luckily someone was looking out for me. The cruise leader told me his wife wouldnít be going due to the heat and wondered if I wanted to ride along in his air-conditioned Corvette. Didnít have to ask me twice. Once we got there, we rented a golf cart and saw an incredible amount of tractors, old farm equipment, trucks, old cars, you name it. The worst part of going to these shows is the sudden realization that somewhere along the line, youíve actually used a lot of this stuff people are calling collectibles and antiques. You donít suppose someoneís trying to tell us something?

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

Offline Dotch

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Talkin' is cheap people follow like sheep even though there is nowhere to go

The scurs got their parts finally and with the Weather Eye functioning more comfortably, the world was once again safe for democracy. Were these parts cheap imported knockoffs or were these the real made in the USA deal? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a fair chance of rain by evening. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain by evening. Highs in the low 80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-80ís and lows in the upper 60ís. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm by evening. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 70ís. Sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 90ís and lows in the low 70ís. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 90ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a continued modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. On August 6th the sun will set at 8:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for August 6th is 80 and the normal low is 60. The scurs will be watering their lawn and washing the í74 Gremlin X to make it rain.

Rainfall this past week was rather limited but welcome, nonetheless. Accumulations of nearly a half inch were common in places and in others not so much. Crops really havenít shown much stress yet with pollination several weeks behind us in most cases in the corn. A lot of the corn I was in this past week has shown some milk to dough stage kernels. It is moving at warp speed. Soybeans have set pods and in most cases are full blown R5 and will be roughly two to three weeks until we reach R6. Some slight SDS symptoms noted in places this past week although no white mold yet. The heat may have done us a favor. Soybean aphid numbers are reflecting the R5 growth stage. The soybeans suddenly have B.O. seemingly and the aphids donít seem all that fond of them. One field exhibited some spider mite movement from an area that had recently been mowed. Again, more of a novelty than a problem but interesting to see them display what they are capable of should things start to go south in terms of heat and moisture. That may take some doing as soybean plants in some fields this last week were armpit high.

If we donít receive much rainfall, some have speculated that this could be a scenario similar to 2012. It could be, however there are some key differences. Thus far we have been very fortunate in the precipitation department. The temperature department not as fortunate. We also came into the growing season with what was likely better stored soil moisture thanks in large part to an early finish on the crop in late August and early September. Plus, we had a large portion of snow melt that went into the soil rather than running off. That said there also some parallels. Looking back at my 2012 rainfall data, August was a dry month. Not far to our east, the Claremont area received some timely rains then harvested some unbelievable corn and soybeans. The crop here had everyone saying what couldíve been. We probably can hang on a few weeks with moderate temps this time around. Again though, with no rain and excessive heat and high evapotranspiration (think wind) we may see more tip back on the corn and pod abortion than we like to see. If we receive some rains in the meantime, this could still be a tremendous crop locally.

I mentioned the field border having been mowed above. The positive was it lessened my worry about encountering wild parsnip. Itís one of the first things I look for when I get out of a truck to go look at a field. I wear shorts a lot when itís hot and wild parsnip can leave some nasty blisters on your skin. I also mentioned black nightshade last week in the lot at home. It can easily kill a young, healthy lamb in a matter of a day or two. All you can do is watch it happen. Iíve had a fascination for lack of a better term for poisonous plants since I was a lad. When Dad was an insurance agent, heíd take us along sometimes on insurance claims (probably at Momís behest) where livestock was involved. Weíd get to see some toxic weed issues firsthand. Milkweed poisoning while not common would occur occasionally, usually when cattle ran out of anything better to eat. Likewise with poison hemlock which resides in the kindly neighborsí pasture. The sheep have plenty to eat, itís not very palatable and they donít touch it. By the time the pasture becomes thin, itís long gone especially if I nuked it first with some deadly agro-toxins.

The fall garden continues to take shape. It started back on July 5th with three rows of string beans that miraculously escaped the bunnies, deer and wild turkeys. It recently increased with the addition of three double rows of snap peas and seven rows of fall and winter radishes. I started fall gardening back in 2013, the year my Mom passed away. We had 18í of snow on the ground on May 3rd at the ranch and it never got dry enough after that to put anything in the ground. Frequent trips to the care center also came into play. When Mom passed away mid-summer, I still had all the seed Iíd intended to plant in the spring.
 
Much of it come to find out could be planted for fall so I did. I was pleasantly surprised at the results. I continued it until the garden area eventually became too shaded. Moving the garden area to a south facing slope took some doing, starting with a couple kind souls working it down for us last year. It was essentially fallowed a year, accumulating both nitrogen and moisture. As a result, the vine crops have just exploded, growing off into the lawn and under the pasture fence. It took some watering early on but when it got rain, itís been truly amazing despite all the recent smoke.
 
Auntie Mar Marís annual bake off otherwise known as the Freeborn Co. Fair has arrived. I seriously donít know how she does it. Numerous kinds of nut breads, bars, cookies, you name it. Whatís in it for me? Iím an official taste tester, at least of the excess that wasnít exhibited. Itís a little like the sheep at home. This time of year, when we come out the door and walk towards the fence, they come on a dead run, bellering in anticipation that goodies might be forthcoming. They have nothing better to do and nowhere to go so why not? Could be in the form of weeds, corn husks, cobs, vegetable peelings or even stale bread. Thatís one difference: The goodies from Mar Mar never get a chance to get stale. I make darn sure of that.

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

Offline Dotch

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I'm talkin' 'bout that outlaw X is cuttin' through the air

With the Weather Eye functioning in more routine fashion, the scurs breathed a sigh of relief after washing the Gremlin and squeezing some precious rain from the sky. Will another car washing be required or are we doomed for more dry cleaning? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the mid-80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the mid-50ís. Sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the mid-50ís. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Monday, sunny with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the low 60ís. On August 15th we slip below 14 hours of daylight for the first time since April 26th. The normal high for August 15th is 79 and the normal low is 59. The scurs have decided that washing their windows and mowing the lawn might be the last resort to bring rain.

Crops continue to thunder along despite the dry conditions. Some cooler days with more moderate highs and lows may have bought us some additional time although eventually time will run out without rain. Some tip back was noticed last week but people are cautioned that some hybrids are prone to this especially when stands are on the higher side. There appears to be moisture yet deeper in the profile particularly as one moves east so weíre not out of the game yet. Soybeans have largely finished flowering and are primarily R5 with many reaching mid-R5 very quickly. R5 is defined as the stage at which one pod contains a seed 1/8Ē long or longer at one of the uppermost nodes on the main stem with a fully developed trifoliate. R6 may come more quickly this year if warm temperatures persist. Typically, are in R5 stage for approximately 15 days. However, judging by the development over the past week, it may be shorter than that. R6 is defined as a pod containing a green seed that fills the pod cavity at one of the four uppermost nodes on the main stem with a fully developed leaf. Once R6 is reached, odds of seeing a response to insecticide for soybean aphid control becomes slim and none, especially when there are few to begin with.
 
The week before last reminded me why my disdain for baling hay only increases as I age. I cut the hay at the kindly neighborís July 25th thinking it would surely be dry by Wednesday or Thursday. Even though the smoke from the Canadian forest fires was keeping the sun from helping us out much, I raked it on Tuesday the 27th, betting it would be ready given the heat. It rained July 28th, about a quarter inch and soaked all the way through the windrow. Drat! Turned it again the 29th to get the wet stuff on top and guess what? The smoke confounded things again and it rained another tenth on Friday the 30th! It didnít soak though and was more like a heavy dew on top. I left it on Saturday and after checking it, determined it would probably dry given the breezy conditions. The Dubyaís had mentioned theyíd rather not bale on Sunday, and I wasnít arguing. I got a call on Sunday August 1st asking if Iíd go rake it. I did and it was rolled up in round bales late in the afternoon. Never seen less than 5 acres of hay take more work than this last time. It should keep though having been smoked like that.

Bird song in the yard has been diminishing over the past several weeks. There is an occasional wren singing in the front yard but thatís about it. The orioles have started to slow down on jelly consumption finally. Some days there were a half dozen at a time hopping between the two feeders and by evening theyíd exhausted the jelly supply in the cup type feeder. Load it up the next day and same thing by nightfall. Hummingbird numbers are beginning to swell as more are feeding at the nectar feeders and flowering plants scattered throughout the yard. The goldfinches are likely nesting and appear to eat sunflower seed. They regurgitate digested seed as food for their young. If cowbirds have laid eggs in a goldfinch nest, the cowbird young will starve on this diet.
 
The four oíclocks experiment has so far been a big success. There are two large pots of them flowering on the patio, every evening opening up and staying that way until late morning. Three out the four plants were red with one pink. Their fragrance is intoxicating on a warm night. The blossoms are frequently visited by the hummingbirds. Also in bloom are the cannas with their red spikey inflorescence. The morning glories shook off a slight hit from some herbicide drift and have wrapped themselves around the light pole like a giant anaconda. So far theyíre up the pole about 12í. How high they will go, nobody knows.
I was saddened recently by the loss of ZZ Top founding bandmember and bassist Dusty Hill. Spent a lot of great times listening to the bottom of ZZ Top as Billy Gibbons called him recently. First heard them on the radio in the early 70ís, a few tunes here and there like ďLaGrangeĒ and ďHeard it on the XĒ. Some others too that we wonít mention as this is a family program, usually anyway. I remember borrowing the ďDegŁelloĒ album from Wilson Library when I was at the U of M and recording it on cassette, something many of us did at the time. Awesome album with ďCheap Sunglasses,Ē plenty of blues, rock and roll, with Dusty rumbling along on bass. Still have the tape though I play it only sparingly.

Pre-MTV, in 1981 ďEl LocoĒ was released but shortly afterwards I was living in North Central North Dakota, roughly 6 miles from the Canadian border. Prior to that Iíd moved from Rugby to Cando then finally to my bachelor pad, a newer small two-bedroom bungalow farmhouse located northwest of Armourdale Dam. The area was known as the Finnish Reservation due to the predominant Finnlander population that had settled there. There was even a rustic outdoor woodburning sauna as part of the building site. Remote and discreet, but basically, I could walk out the door and go hunting and fishing. I wasnít about to starve.

There wasnít a lot on TV at night, so frequently Iíd listen to rock and roll on an FM station from Winnipeg. Iíd hooked up the tuner on the stereo to the TV antenna so I could turn the rotor to get a better signal. On clear nights, the signal was clean and powerful. Iíd heard previously that the station was going to be playing ZZ Topís new album Eliminator in its entirety. I aimed the antenna at Winnipeg at was amazed at the clarity coming through the Kenwood 5300 tuner as I rolled the tape. Eliminator was a unique album as it incorporated the use of a synthesizer into what was previously pretty straight atcha rock and blues. When the DJ started side 2, I hit pause momentarily as Legs started playing. I was briefly uncertain that it was indeed still ZZ Top. I quickly determined it was and let the tape roll. Still have that tape too, complete with some of the DJís commentary. Brought me back to the lyrics from "Heard It on the X". Thanks Dusty for being part of that memory. You will be missed.

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

Offline Dotch

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Double Album set!!!

8/15/21

Well time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of glory days

The Weather Eye seems to be wavering again and with no rain in sight, the scurs are weighing their options. Will another trip to the AMC dealer be necessary or are we in for some precious precipitation? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of an evening shower. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a fair chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Saturday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance of a shower or a thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. The Full Moon is on the 22nd. The normal high for the 22nd is 79 and the normal low is 58. The scurs are pulling out all the stops to make it rain. Even though they detest mowing, watering the lawn may be next on their list.

The Full Moon on August 22nd goes by The Full Sturgeon Moon as the fishing tribes were busy catching sturgeon this month. It also goes by The Full Red Moon or the Full Grain Moon as spring seeded small grains were harvested during this month in the northern country. The Ojibwe called this the Berry Moon while the Sioux knew it as The Moon when Cherries are Black. At the ranch we know it as The Full Cucumber Moon for the cucurbits threatening to take over what little remain refrigerator space we have.
Crop progress this last continued its rapid pace. Corn was nearly full dent in many cases, meaning that physiological maturity should be in three weeks to a month. So far so good with little tip back on the ears being noted other than a short nose in many cases. As some have pointed out, thatís a sign that the population was about where it shouldíve been. Likewise with the soybeans. Many are mid-R5 presently with little sing of pod abortion or decreased beans per pod yet. With continued warmer weather, they should be mature in three weeks to a month as well. While present observations donít necessarily guarantee either crop will be out of danger of a frost, the odds certainly appear in our favor. A good rain soon would certainly make many rest a little easier.

This article is being written from the road as Iím participating in my 18th Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. Time has certainly flown since that first one back in 2004. The crop weíve seen on our way to Columbus OH where we kick off the event looks about as expected from the road. As we get into the fields, weíll have a better handle on how good or bad it is as we take yield data and meld it into something more tangible other than looking one way or the other from the road. According to the prognosticators, odds are weíll be getting wet somewhere along the line with rain in the forecast. Weíll see if we canít bring some of that rain back with us when we return on Thursday.

Despite the sparse rainfall, the garden at the ranch continues to amaze. Last week we were able to find homes for the string beans that were starting to accumulate, taking away space from the burgeoning cucumber crop referred to above. I had little faith that the string beans would amount to anything as erratic as their emergence was. So little in fact that I blew grass clippings from the lawnmower on them. Pro tip: Do not blow grass clippings on your string beans. It is a royal pain to get it off after harvesting them! Cucumbers are taking over the ranch. We measure their output by the 5-gallon bucket full. Some have become overripe, so they get tossed over the fence. The sheep have figured this out and come running anytime someone is near the garden. Theyíre not going hungry anytime soon.
 
The hills of buttercup squash are showing signs that they too have been equally prolific. They have expanded beyond the garden and set fruit everywhere including the lawn. Tomatoes are ripening more quickly, and the zucchini have kept production to an acceptable level. The fall gardening effort is also showing promise. The July 5th planted string beans have started flowering so barring catastrophe, we should have a continued supply. The fall seeded spring-type radishes and the winter radishes emerged very evenly and not so thick to require major thinning. The snap peas were a lit more sporadic but being planted in double rows, should fill in. Off to a good start, they have potential to develop if the weather cooperates. The weeds also appear to be off to a good start although putting the hurt on them when small, their days are numbered.

40 years ago, I was sitting in the upstairs of the house I was living in on Raymond Ave. in St. Paul contemplating my future. Iíd finished college and had my degree. There was no opportunity to come home and farm. Jobs were few and far between in agronomy right out of college. Iíd applied and had been accepted to work at the State Veterans Hospital. The day before I was to report to work, I was scheduled for an interview with a then subsidiary of Cenex known as Centrol. It was a crop consulting company with a new branch opening in Rugby ND. While I wasnít thrilled with the idea of working for Cenex or in ND, I went to the interview anyway. It went smoothly and I returned home afterwards figuring it would be several days before Iíd hear back from them. I started getting my things together to start work at the hospital in the morning when suddenly the phone rang. The individual Iíd interviewed with was offering me the job. I didnít hesitate, figuring their money spent as well as anyoneís.

Little did I know the start of the adventure it was to be. It exposed me to a very different cropping system than what Iíd grown up with. What I didnít realize was my two years working as an undergrad at the U of M would pay handsome dividends. Iíd been exposed to small grain production other than the oats we grew on our farm as well as things like sunflowers, sugar beets, potatoes, grass seed, and even adzuki beans. The soil fertility basics Iíd experienced in those two years were of tremendous value. The soils in NC ND were typically high pH with most being very high in potassium and low in phosphorus. Soluble salts were also an issue with some areas being so alkaline, the only crop that would grow on them would be barley.
 
Suddenly I was living in Rugby ND, the heart of the Durum Triangle. Hard amber durum wheat is grown primarily for pasta. Malting barley was important as was flax. Commercial mustard, both Oriental (brown) and yellow were also grown in the area. Black oil and confectionery sunflower had made a major impact as there was little insect pressure present at the time as opposed to the Red River Valley where sunflower moths and midges had frequently decimated the crop. There were even a few acres of corn scattered around along with a limited acreage of soybeans, just starting to make its mark on ND agriculture. Ah, glory days!
 
See you next weekÖreal good then.


8/24/21

Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer

After more repairs, the Weather Eye has suddenly been making overtures that our dry spell may be coming to a close with Mother Natureís help. Will the scurs become believers, or will they continue their role as doubting Thomasís? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of an evening shower. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. Thursday, partly sunny with a good chance of showers or thunderstorms with possible heavy rain. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a good chance of continued showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Saturday, mostly sunny with a good chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in mid-60ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a fair chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of a shower. Highs in the low 87ís with lows in the low 50ís. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the upper 50ís. On August 26th, the sun will rise at 6:30 CDT and set before 8 p.m. The scurs will have more time after sunset to study plans for building an ark if the Weather Eye is correct.

Heavy rain was not an issue for most in the area this past week; quite the contrary. With a dab of rain falling last Friday night, while welcome it likely was too little too late at least for the corn. Checking corn upon my return from the Pro Farmer Crop Tour, I was disappointed but not surprised by what had transpired while I was gone. No rainfall and warmer than normal temperatures had taken its toll, with ears starting to droop on the outside of several corn fields. Getting up close and personal in one 98-day relative maturity hybrid, the milk line was already halfway down the kernel this past Saturday! Found more of the same earlier this week. The soybeans fared somewhat better although the gravel pockets and eroded slopes are more prevalent. A field of group zero soybeans was turning and dropping leaves on Monday when I drove by. Translation: Harvest will be here before we know it.

Another Pro Farmer Crop Tour came and went without too much fanfare. I find myself more like the Tin Man every year, having to get motivated prior to its occurrence. For some reason though itís become more of a force of habit than it once was. You know itís coming so you just go with it. I meet up with my old boss and mentor Jerome then proceed to Cedar Falls which is always a treat, sharing old stories of our days at the U of M. We hook up with Brian, our Fearless Leader on the eastern leg of the Tour and blast off for Champaign IL. The next day we head to Columbus OH and the adventure back west begins. Due to COVID, there were no foreigners on the tour again this year and we were limited to only a rider and driver per vehicle. While this works, I long for the day when we can have the foreign contingent back as well as those who stayed home due to corporate or government restrictions. Itís time for living in fear to be done.
 
Harvest has been ongoing at the ranch in the garden. Weíve given away several shopping bags worth of string beans. Pretty amazing considering how ratty the first planting looked after it came up. They even got a reprieve on Sunday after picking. Iíd planned on tearing them out and planting some fall greens in their place but there appeared to one more decent picking left on them. The cucumbers havenít let up much either. With me on the road for a week and Mrs. Cheviot too busy to tend them frequently, there were at least two 5-gallon buckets worth that wound up going over the fence in the sheep pasture. They loved that and gobbled them down like candy. There were another two 5-gallon buckets of cukes that made their way into the house. The cucumber vines are so thick and tangled itís a like playing Twister trying to find an open space to step in order to avoid trampling them. Great stretching exercise but you can feel it the next day.
 
Our summer birds are transitioning. After wondering if the orioles would still be around when I returned from the road, I had my answer Saturday morning. Sure enough, there were still a few. Iíd loaded a light batch of jelly into their feeder and that was probably a good thing. The consumption has dropped off and if history is any indication, by Labor Day theyíll be gone. Swallows continue to gather on powerlines on their move south. There are still barn swallows in our buildings and wasnít sure why until Sunday. I heard what sounded like bats squeaking in the rafters and investigated to locate the source. I traced the sound to a barn swallow nest that was still occupied. Itís later than I remember seeing them nest although Iím usually not paying that much attention to them until theyíre gone. There should be plenty of flying insects to get them on their way south yet, house flies in particular. Hummingbird numbers have stayed relatively steady although itís hard to keep track of them. They move around the yard so abruptly, one is never sure if itís the same birds. All I know is weíll only have them for about another month, so weíd best enjoy them while we can.

Rubyís lived through the dog days of summer in style, spending most of them in air-conditioned comfort. Chore time is still her favorite part of the day, but sheís also been glad to head back inside afterwards. Plopping on the cool floor suits her just fine. Sheís claimed the walk-in closet as her favorite sleeping area almost anytime. No surprise as itís nice and dark, not to mention secluded. Itís a perfect spot for suiting a Border Collieís privacy needs. It took me a while to determine where she was hiding but being a sound sleeper like myself, it didnít take me too long to detect the snoring emanating from the closet. As long as sheís happy and answers the bell for chores, thatís OK by me.
 
See you next weekÖreal good then.
     
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Yet another double album set...


8/31/21

And usually it's too late when you realize what you had

The scurs had the Weather Eye back working at peak performance as rain fell on the days forecast like clockwork. Will that level of continue or will more erratic performance be forthcoming? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of evening showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a fair chance of a forenoon shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of a daytime shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in upper 50ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the low 50ís. Labor Day Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of a daytime shower. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the low 50ís. Wednesday is Sept. 1st, and, on the 5th, we slide below 13 hours of daylight like were back on April 5th. The normal high for September 5th is 76 and the normal low is 55. The scurs have a lot of time for Christmas shopping. Never too early to start procrastinating.

Crops continue to signal that harvest will be here sooner than later although the cooler temps forecast may temper any notions that weíll be far ahead of schedule. This past week saw corn that was half milk line back on the 23rd reach the point where it was ľ left to go. It should be physiologically mature in 5 Ė 7 days. Thatís the exception and not the rule, however. Most corn this past week was anywhere from half milk line to the milk line just starting to show. It will still take most of September to get the crop to a harvestable finish line. Some of the early soybeans are making headway as well with leaf drop occurring and pods starting to change color as well. Again, so much of their harvest date will depend on what the weather does between now and mid-September. If the cooler upcoming temperatures persist as some models indicate, harvest may be closer to normal for most soybeans as well.
 
This past weekís rainfall brought some welcome relief to the dry conditions but in some cases also brought with it some damaging winds. It appears most of it occurred in the rainfall events from the 26th and 27th. There was even some damage from earlier in the week when we were priming the pump with close to a half inch on the 24th. In the areas that didnít sustain damage, the rains likely came too late to benefit most of the corn. On the soybean side however, there is some reason for optimism especially on the later maturing varieties that werenít turning yet. It was amazing though, with most areas garnering anywhere from 3.5Ē Ė 5Ē, most drain tile are not running. Part of that may be due to the spread-out nature between the rainfall events and part of it is likely due to the fact it was just that dry. Without any significant rainfall from mid-July to late August, it becomes easier to understand why.

On the garden front at the ranch, the second planting of string beans has taken shape nicely, already yielding one nice gallon bagís worth. The cucumbers have started to slow some much to the sheepís chagrin. They were getting used to seeing buckets full of them tossed over the fence. The sheep also got the first planting string bean vines when I tore them out and planted fall greens in their place. Now they beller anytime we get near their enclosure although the recent rains also benefitted their pasture. Theyíll have to be content for a while with that until we get into the pumpkins and squash. There are more of them than first thought as those vines also begin to show signs that fall is on the way. The winter radishes and snap peas are coming along nicely as well but theyíll need some weeding as soon as itís dry enough. Most of whatís there is purslane. Some advocate eating it. After taste testing some and finding it slimy and mealy, they can keep advocating it but Iím not eating it.

The summer birds continue to show sign of making their way through the backyard at the ranch. The orioles continue to appear but less frequently and fewer in number. However, about the time I think Iíve seen the last one, another one appears. I keep some jelly in the feeder and while itís not full, it should keep them occupied through Labor Day. Thatís usually about their last hurrah. The hummingbirds have shown no sign of slowing down and in fact seem to be more numerous. They have more flowering plants coming online now and a couple nectar feeders for their dining pleasure. Our last nest of barn swallows is still hanging in there. At least this week they actually sound like barn swallows rather than bats. Looking at them from below, itís evident that itís becoming increasingly crowded in that nest. One of these morning or evening chore sessions, they will have departed. If itís like normal, I wonít notice it until itís freezing cold, well after theyíre gone and wishing it was warm again.

Saturday meant a road trip to the State Fair with Auntie Mar Mar. As luck would have it, I was treated to a whole pan of blueberry coffee cake, date bars and a dozen fresh brown eggs from Agnesís chicken coop. Our sheep did well in the open class show, winning champion ram, reserve champion ram and reserve champion ewe. The show help was outstanding and presented them well. I met up with Bemidji Billy and we plotted strategy for a trip to the Great White North later this fall if the powers that be still allow it. The day went by quickly and after dodging a few raindrops, we were back home. I got the chores done and settled in to savor the events of the day. The next morning, I was savoring the coffee cake and after warming it in the microwave, I placed a rather large piece of Hope creamery butter on it. I sent Auntie Mar Mar a picture of the morningís table fare and Agnes claimed it was too much butter. I contend that there is no such thing.

See you next weekÖreal good then.     


9/7/21

She'll only come out at night...

The scurs have the Weather Eye dialed in. Rains when they say it will then we get beautiful early September weather to boot. Are we looking at more of the same or are we in for a hiccup soon? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the upper 40ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the low 50ís. Sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-70ís and lows in mid-50ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-70ís and lows in the mid-50ís. Monday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. On September 12th the sun will set before 7:30 CDT. The normal high for September 12th is 74 and the normal low is 52. Since the scurs are guessing Jack Frostís appearance isnít imminent, they opted not to drain the cement pond just yet. Maybe theyíll have time to determine if Baby Ruth bars really do float.

While crops in the area are certainly not floating, the rain last week was a nice addition to that falling in late August. While it did little to help most of this yearís crop finish, it did go in the tank for next year. It was dry and that tank was running on empty judging by the drain tile which are not running at least not at the ranch. I monitor one that drains into the culvert under the driveway. It was dry as a bone before the recent rains and remains that way. Some corn should be black layered as of this week and the milk line on that which hasnít will be getting to the point where a frost will do minimal damage should it occur anytime soon. Likewise with soybeans that are starting to turn. Some of the group zero soybeans may be ready to go within a week or so given the forecast. Otherwise, weíre on pace for a relatively normal starting date to harvest.

At the ranch we continue harvesting in the garden daily. Some of the experimentation has worked better than others. Some has worked almost too well. Expecting the local varmint and turkey population to raise havoc with the cucumbers when planted was obviously a miscalculation. Was suspicious of that when even last yearís leftover seed all grew. Iíve lost track of how many buckets Iíve picked and Iím beginning to think the sheep are tiring of eating the overgrown ones. Harvested the first of the radishes Sunday that were planted in late July. Very nice and theyíre just getting warmed up. They warm you up, too. Their flavor is sweeter than in the spring, but the radish bite is still there. Some grumble about radishes being hot. If I wanted to eat a radish with no kick to it, Iíd eat a turnip or a rutabaga. The July 5th planted string beans are going full bore. They along with the tomatoes are extra sweet. Speaking of sweet, the snap peas are just starting to flower so keeping my fingers crossed theyíll produce.

Something this garden plot continues to reinforce is the importance of due diligence when it comes to weed control. Most of my weed control has been with the tiller, hoeing or hand weeding. While Iím not averse to chemical weed control, I like the idea of not using pesticides unless necessary in the garden. Besides, the sheep have enjoyed the waterhemp, pigweed and even the purslane that makes its way over the fence. In fact, they kinda follow me around these days when Iím weeding. Something else that Iíve noticed over the years in the fields that is readily apparent in the garden is the will to reproduce that some species have. Waterhemp is a prime example. Many of the waterhemp Iíve been pulling out of the snap peas recently are tiny, no larger than 1Ē Ė 2Ē. However, they have an inflorescence on them that will be full of seeds if I donít yank them out! Not that theyíll produce the thousands of seeds that a full-sized waterhemp plant will, but theyíre still capable of adding to the weed seed bank in the soil if not dealt with harshly. As Barney Fife used to say, nip it in the bud.

We continue to enjoy our fall bird migration. We may have seen the last of the orioles although there was still one at the jelly feeder Tuesday a.m. I took the jar-type jelly feeder down and replaced it with a suet feeder. The hummingbird feeders were also thoroughly cleaned over the weekend and filled with fresh nectar. The hummers have it made and itís almost as though they have a hard time deciding which flowers to feed on, whether it be the cannas, four oíclocks or salvia. As the nannyberries are ripening, there have been numerous cedar waxwings in the yard. Theyíre very inconspicuous with all the leaves on the trees just yet and not in the large flocks that we see later at the ranch when they descend on the crabapple trees. Their one-note song is about the only thing that gives them away. The young barn swallows in the barn have finally left the nest although theyíre still being fed by their parents. They sit on a rafter waiting for them to return with some kind of flying insect and chirp in unison when they approach. There are still plenty of swallows on the powerlines yet so one day they will leave, only to return next April or May.
 
The aforementioned flowers have also attracted plenty of moths and butterflies. Monarchs are floating lazily through the yard at the ranch. They still havenít clustered up on the trees as they did when we first moved here but we are seeing more of them. Hopefully Mexico gets a handle on the deforestation in the area where they overwinter soon. Without that, it wonít matter how much habitat we continue to create here. The white-lined sphinx moths are nocturnal visitors to our four oíclock plantings. About dusk they can be seen starting to move from flower to flower. Sphinx moths were some of our favorite September visitors growing up on the farm in SE MN too. Every calm September night theyíd appear on the petunias. The light shining through the glass blocks in the garage probably helped attract them but they knew what they were after. Their hummingbird-like movements made them unique and fascinating to watch. Along with my brother Johnís fantastic 4-H insect collection and eventual introduction to the Boy Entomologist, probably led to my interest in the insect world as we know it.

I was asked if Iíd write a short plea for people to subscribe to The Star Eagle. Soitanly. I think Eli has done a pretty good job all things considered. Heís still learning but by the same token, heís written some pretty darn nice articles about people I know. And Iíve told him as much. Print media according to most is on the way out. Been that way for years but oddly enough, itís still here. They must not visit small town America often enough to know itís interwoven into the fabric of life here. Yes, we have internet and slow as it may be, it suffices for the bare necessities OK. However, if youíre one of the generations that doesnít own and I-Pad or hates trying to read newspapers on your phone (it sucks), have I got a deal for you! Thereís nothing that compares to holding a newspaper in your hands and being able to turn the page ahead or back to something you glossed over but wanted a closer look at. And when youíre done with the paper, it can be recycled or in our case at the ranch, repurposed to pack canna bulbs away for the winter or to line the bottom of a bottle lamb box. Letís see you try that with your I-Pad!
 
See you next weekÖreal good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline mike89

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good picture of ya in the Star!!   :happy1: :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline Dotch

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Picture? Must be my evil twin!  :evil:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline mike89

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Picture? Must be my evil twin!  :evil:

really!!????   ya right!!!    :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline Dotch

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I was lying in a burned-out basement with the full moon in my eyes.

The scurs continue to have the Weather Eye operating at warp speed. More gorgeous, seasonal September weather as advertised. Is there more in the picture or will Jack Frost photobomb us soon? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Thursday, sunny with increasing chances of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a fair chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Saturday, sunny with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in low 60ís. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Monday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. The Full Moon occurs on the 20th with the sunrise on the 21st at 7 a.m. CDT. The normal high for September 21st is 71 and the normal low is 48. The scurs are celebrating as there is more time to keep people in the dark.

September 20th ushers in the Harvest Moon, aptly named as it is the time of year for harvest to commence in earnest, just as it was for Native Americans and the settlers that followed. The light of the moon allowed work to continue long into the night before pioneers put headlights on their horses. The Ojibwe knew this as the Rice Moon for the wild rice being harvested during this timeframe. The Sioux called this The Moon When Plums are Scarlet. At the ranch we typically know this as The Full Apple Moon although this year our crop is somewhat limited. The squirrels have been helping themselves to the few apples we do have. It could rapidly become The Full Barbecued Squirrel Moon if they donít knock it off.
 
Some harvest has been underway locally and the results have been very favorable. Corn moisture has been in the upper 20% - low 30% range. Yields have been far better than expected and with the warmer temps, drying costs have been offset somewhat. Lucrative early basis contracts make it work. Otherwise, corn continues reach or is approaching physiological maturity in most fields. Likewise with the soybeans, most are turning rapidly or are dropping leaves. Some have nosed into those early soybeans and while some late group zero varieties are dry enough according to the moisture tester, there were reports of a lot of green beans yet in the sample. One might get by with that hauling them to town. However, storing them in a bin along with some green pods for any length of time may make one wish theyíd been more patient. Seen the movie, know how it ends.

I donít think the garden here will ever quit until the ground freezes. As it is the string beans are yielding like their possessed. Itís been nothing to harvest three or four gallons at a crack. The radishes need to be harvested periodically to keep them thinned down and produce as their capable of. The earliest variety of snap peas is in full bloom and the next earliest variety is just starting, increasing the odds weíll see some of those sweet pods yet this fall. The cucumbers may be, just maybe be about done. While there are a few edible-sized ones to pick yet, the sheep watch me closely as there are still plenty overgrown ones hidden under the foliage.
 
Speaking of that, a quick inventory of the buttercup squash patch showed somewhere in the north of 30 Ė 40 squash emerging from the vines as they run out of steam. Pumpkins were also numerous with 15 Ė 20 of them showing themselves while the leaves continue to senesce. Probably the thing Iím most curious about though are the greens with interspersed radishes broadcast seeded after the initial string bean planting. There are all kinds of different seedlings continuing to emerge, many of which I have no clue as to what they are, yet. Betting if the bunnies and deer leave them alone, weíll have a chance to find out.

Last week meant the end of the haying season thanks to the help of the Dubyaís and The Holeman. Trying to finish up yield estimates and plant health assessments in the corn was taking more time than I liked so hiring someone to cut and rake the hay seemed the prudent thing to do. Like usual, it was difficult to get the hay dry even though it was almost pure orchardgrass. Eventually though, one just has to bale it and hope it keeps. It has so far just fine with no sign of heating. It is some beautiful hay, something any Cheviot would be happy to nosh on a chilly winter morning.

The cooler mornings have apparently coaxed the last of our barn swallows at the ranch to depart. There were still large groups of them massing just to our north this past week. Hopefully those living at the ranch joined up with them. The flying insect numbers are on the downhill slide although someone mustíve forgotten to tell the mosquitoes. They were after one last meal when I was picking string beans Sunday night. Wonít be long before they freeze and weíll all feel bad for them, not. The last oriole at the ranch was spotted on the 7th. They had another good run though. Thereís still one oriole nectar feeder doubling as a hummingbird feeder so if a straggler happens by, theyíll have something to eat. The hummingbirds are still operating but the handwriting is on the wall. Reports from north of the border indicate theyíve been gone for a while.
   
Sunday morning, we loaded up a ram lamb for the fellow from Chatfield who has been leasing rams from us for many fall seasons. Lost track of how many. His ewe flock numbers are down so using a buck lamb is a logical course of action. The lambís name was Leo, the same as Garyís dad. The lamb even bellered when we introduced him, so it was a slam dunk. Running the lambs through the sorting chute made it easy to catch Leo and within minutes he was in Garyís trailer ready to head to Chatfield and his newly found harem. Gary as usual had gifts for each of us. This year it was a pair of mittens made from natural-colored Cheviot wool heíd hand-knitted. This is the kind of friendship that makes it all worth it.

My college days over, it was 40 years ago in September I made the move from Raymond Ave. in St. Paul to Rugby ND. Rugby was touted as the geographical center of North America although the actual center was south of town a few miles. My brother Roger gave me an assist with Dadís í77 Dodge pickup as I recall. I must not have had much stuff. I couldnít have had if it all fit in a pickup and my í74 Gremlin. The stucco basement house I rented was owned by the Miltenbergerís. They operated a short-line equipment dealership on the north side of Rugby. It was very hot outside when we arrived, so it was a pleasant discovery that it was nice and cool inside. The basement house was unique, making one wonder what its origins were. It resembled a bomb shelter, decorated in late 60ís garage sale motif. The dark paneling and multi-colored shag carpeting though were what made it the real bomb.

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

Offline Dotch

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Motoring...

The scurs had complete control of the Weather Eye this past week with some above normal September temps to move the crops along. Is there more on tap or is our good fortune tapped out? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the mid-60ís and lows in the low 40ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 60ís and lows in the upper 40ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 60ís and lows in the low 40ís. Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-60ís and lows in the mid-40ís. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the upper 40ís. Monday, sunny with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the upper 40ís. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-40ís. September 22nd ushers in the 1st day of autumn or the autumnal equinox, whereby we experience equal duration of daylight and darkness. However, the equal light and dark wonít occur locally until about the 25th. The sun will set on the 28th just before 7 p.m. CDT. The normal high for September 28th is 68 and the normal low is 45. Seeing some of the forecast lows, the scurs will be digging through the dresser drawers for their long winter gatkes. One can never be too prepared.

Letís hope we donít need our long johns just yet after seeing a crop heading rapidly towards harvest over the weekend. More soybeans came out and the results again were favorable relative to expectations. Mondayís rain will slow some down a tad although many fields remain uneven, with lots of green stems in areas. Those stems arenít pulverized well by the combine choppers and can be problematic, coming out in bunches and wads. This can impact next yearís seedbed and emergence if the residue isnít more evenly distributed. Some corn also was harvested although there is a limited acreage of early maturing corn. Many tried to take advantage of the earlier than normal planting season and good soil conditions by planting more full season hybrids, hoping to capitalize on their increased yield potential. Anecdotal reports of moisture contents as low as the mid-20% range are around although most are not tearing into the early corn that is out here. Switching back and forth is no oneís idea of a good time.
 
At the ranch it appears the cucumbers are finally done. The vines are dying back and there are few flowers on the remaining vines. Thatís good thing because Iíve grown tired of picking them. The sheep got one last feed out of the overgrown models but there are very few edible sized cukes remaining. Likewise with the string beans. Think I picked the last bucket full this past Sunday. We froze several quarts worth and after freezing what was in the fridge, I should be down to Sundayís picking left to freeze. I can make sure this was the last picking by yanking them out and tossing the plants over the fence to the sheep. Everyone should be happy then. The radishes keep coming along, thriving on the cooler temps and should appreciate this last rain. The plants are more efficient with the moisture once it cools down and the days gets shorter. The snap peas are coming on as well. Ate a couple Sunday night ahead of the rain. Sweet as honey; left me wanting more.
 
Along with the hint of color in the trees, the birds are telling us itís fall too. I thought weíd seen the last barn swallows as of last Tuesday but there were a few that hung on until Thursday or Friday. Theyíre gone now. Probably a good thing as the flying insect population begins wanes and becomes less active with the cooler temperatures. Havenít seen an oriole since the 7th so we can probably close the book on them for another year. There are/were still hummingbirds Monday night. Their days are numbered as well. The cannas are still providing plenty of flowers, but many including the four oíclocks are starting to slow down. Typically, we see the last hummer at the ranch around September 25th. Even after we see the last one, weíll leave the nectar feeders out a week or so. The worries that leaving the feeders out will make them stay around too late are unfounded.

We had a great car club fall cruise even though an oil leak caused the Studebaker to stay home. I was able to make plans however with my old pal JJ so we carpooled and took his í80 AMC Eagle wagon. Friday, we took in the Spomer Classics in Worthington MN with a display of vintage automobiles and neon advertising signs unlike any other. From there it was on to the Wild Rose casino in Emmetsburg IA. With fruit being our biggest gamble, JJ and I opted out of the casino, deciding it was good idea to take in the Clay Co. Fair, only 25 miles away. Iíd never been to that fair even though our sheep have been exhibited there many times over the years. Sad when your animals are more well-travelled than you are.
 
Once we got there, we checked out the old cars and tractors we could find then debated about going to take in the grandstand show. Ventriloquist and Americaís Got Talent winner Darci Lynne Farmer was to perform. JJ had seen her at the Freeborn Co. Fair back in August and Iíd heard good things about that show. Standing by the ticket booth, out of the blue a kind lady dropped a couple free tickets on us, saying sheíd won them from a local radio station and was unable to attend. The price was right and made the decision a no brainer. Best of all we were well entertained.

The next day we went to The Grotto at West Bend. The story behind The Grotto and the grounds were impressive. After grabbing a bite to eat it was on to Okoboji Classic Cars LLC. This was another unique collection of classic automobiles set against the backdrop of a mural of Spencer IA inside of a huge building. Time for a nap after that then on to a drive-in movie theater a few miles west of Estherville where the new Clint Eastwood movie was playing. The now 91-year-old Clint was decent although the setting that evening was the real star. The moon was nearly full, and the cool mid-September breeze took me back to my youth at the drive-in theater in Spring Valley. This time though, we didnít attempt to sneak anyone in in the trunk. We mightíve been able to crawl in the trunk but most of us wouldnít have been able to climb back out again.

The return trip to South Central MN on Sunday took us across areas of crop in IA that were hurt more than ours was by the hot, dry summer. Harvest was going full bore in many fields. As we approached home, harvest progress slowed and became more sporadic. More cars dropped out as members left the group and returned to their prospective homes. Iíd hopped in with Jim & Barb in Blue Earth so JJ could bolt for his place Albert Lea. By the time Jim deposited me at the ranch and I got inside, I was amazed at how tired I was. I shouldnít have been. Weíd covered a lot of miles over the weekend and visited several unique venues, many of which wonít be around forever. And weíd had a lot of fun playing. As my buddy Bemidji Bill is fond of saying, this playing is a lot of work.

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