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Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 164577 times)

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Offline Dotch

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Sign, sign, everywhere a sign...

With the scurs on track for last week’s cool, damp forecast, they’re betting on some gorgeous above normal temperatures for the upcoming period. Starting Wednesday and extending through Friday, mostly clear with highs of 75 and lows of 55. Warmer Saturday under partly cloudy skies. High of 75 – 80 and low of 55. Partly cloudy Sunday with a high of 75 and low of 55. Partly cloudy becoming cloudy Monday high in the low 70’s and low of 55. Tuesday, clearing once again. High of 75 with a low of 50. Normal high for September 19th is 72 and normal low is 46. The scurs are thinking about getting out the lawn chairs for another week to enjoy the weather sans mosquitoes.

September 22nd marks the autumnal equinox, which will occur at 10:44 a.m. The equinox to many means the beginning of autumn although we have been experiencing fall-like weather conditions since the first part of the month. In actuality, it is the point in time at which the center of the sun can be observed directly above the earth’s equator. While the length of day and night is close to the same on the 22nd, it is not of equal length here until September 25th. And on the 25th, we will have lost 3 hours and 28 minutes of daylight since the summer solstice. There, aren’t you glad you’re aware of how much closer we’re edging towards winter?

There were some signs last week that summer was still trying to hang on. There was an oriole at out feeders on September 10th and there was a lone firefly blinking on and off in the back yard on the 11th. The sphinx moths shared the 4 o’clocks with the hummingbirds that same evening. The barn swallows continued to hang around and the goldfinches are sampling the ripening sunflowers while they continue to bloom. The garden also produces a few cucumbers as well as bountiful muskmelons and tomatoes. Unfortunately, one had best not be lulled to sleep thinking this will go on forever.

There are far too many signs we’re closing in on the beginning of the inevitable. There was the frost that was in evidence Tuesday morning, of course after the print deadline we follow on Monday. At the ranch our low was 41º and there was some plantain in the mowed road ditch that resembled a salt rimmed margarita glass. However at the SROC in Waseca the mercury reached 35 and at the Waseca Airport, 34º was recorded. What this meant in low lying areas was frost occurred and some crops were injured. Fortunately, the areas were not large and the frost generally did not kill entire plants. The plants were also advanced far enough so that injury will be relatively small percentages of potential yield.

Across much of Minnesota, we’re seeing plants such as hemp dogbane and common milkweed turning bright yellow while the sumac is beginning its red early fall blush. Some of the aspen leaves and walnut leaves are starting to turn while the New England asters are showing their lavender blooms in the CRP. Yes, it’s coming, much as we’d rather it didn’t.

The fall fishing trip came off without a hitch and very few snags. There were also signs there that fall is here. The loons have lost their summer colors and one in particular was very interested in what we were up to, especially after a 6” perch was tossed back in. Had never seen a loon up that close, especially when it decided to swim under and by the pontoon several times in full view as we watched curiously. Streamlined and swimming powerfully, one can see why they are as proficient at fishing as they are, much more so than the little fat buddies.

We accomplished what we had set out to do namely relax, eat and catch some fish. Nearing dark-thirty Saturday evening, we were in our secret fishing spot while taking a few crappies and sunnies. Every now and then we latch onto something larger however and that night was no exception. Readying the landing net and looking into the somewhat murky water, it was hard to see exactly what we were dealing with. Tried to scoop up whatever it was but couldn’t seem to get underneath it. About that time, something suddenly swam to the surface making all of us glad it hadn’t managed to find its way into the net.

The “something” turned out to be about 20 lbs. of ornery in the form of a snapping turtle. Folklore has it that there are 7 kinds of meat on a turtle. Maybe during daylight hours but relatively unarmed we weren’t interested in finding out in the dark. Fortunately, the snapper broke the line and went back to lurk in the depths. Upon arriving at the Mall for Men Monday morning, fresh caramel rolls from our regular supplier greeted the little fat buddies. Much safer than dealing with a snapping turtle and probably a lot tastier too.

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

Offline Dotch

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I dream of rain...

The scurs batted 1000 last forecast period and while the weather was a “10”, we could use some rain to help the lawns. Some relief should be in sight but temperatures should remain above normal. Starting Wednesday, we’re looking at partly cloudy skies becoming cloudy, chance of showers in the evening, with a high of 75 and a low of 50 – 55. Mostly cloudy Thursday, slight chance of showers, high of 75 and low of 55. Mostly cloudy, clearing by evening Friday, high of 75 and low of 55. More rain possible Saturday with skies becoming mostly cloudy, high of 70 and low of 50. Mostly sunny Sunday, high of 65 - 70 and low of 45 - 50. Monday and Tuesday, mostly sunny, highs near 70 and lows near 50. Normal high for September 26th is 69 and normal low is 44. The scurs will be building corn shocks and gathering pumpkins.

There will be some harvest activity in the area for the upcoming week. One of the little fat buddies always resolves to pick corn on his birthday so don’t be surprised to see a large green combine north of town. Both corn and soybean maturity moved along rapidly with the warm weather of the past week. Much of the corn planted May 15th should be black layered and the soybeans with the exception of the replants and pea beans are R7 – R8. Frost should be of no consequence although a good hard frost prior to soybean harvest wouldn’t hurt. As it is now, the ripening has been rather uneven so farmers may be writing their names in the fields to get started. Still lots of areas of fields with green pods resulting in pods and lima beans in the grain tank. Some early soybeans have been harvested and the results have been somewhat disappointing.

There are still some soybean aphids hanging on in some fields yet. This is about as late as we’ve ever seen them, giving more credence to the concept that we have a lot to learn about them and their habits. Also noted last week by the Boy Entomologist Bruce Potter, the winged adult soybean aphids have begun to make their move to the overwintering site on buckthorn. Checked out this information locally on Saturday, went down to the fenceline between us and neighbor David where there are a few buckthorn trees. Sure enough there were lots of winged adults congregating there as well as some multi-colored Asian lady beetles. Not unexpected either with the leaves coming off the soybeans and the leaves on the corn drying down. The aphids in both crops are thinning down and the ladybugs will be looking for something to snack on before moving into your house for the winter.

Hummingbirds continue to keep the flowers and nectar feeders hopping. There are also some young red-bellied woodpeckers who have been showing up to snack on corn and sunflower seeds. Still waiting and hoping for the chickadees to show up. Maybe when the leaves come off. Geese make their morning flight out to feed about 7 a.m. With many of the small wetlands dried up or drying up, could be a slow waterfowl opener if rain doesn’t begin to fall soon.

If the early colors are any indication and we’re lucky enough for the wind to hold off, this should be a fantastic year for fall color viewing. Wild grapevines are turning vivid yellow and the Virginia creeper or five-leaved ivy is revealing its scarlet color where it climbed up tree trunks. Sumac is more intense than last week and there are hints of color showing in the woods and river bottoms.

Speaking of color, the fall migration of the monarchs is on. They can be seen slowly drifting across the landscape and making their way towards Mexico. They’ve been particularly common recently in the flower beds and CRP this year. Monarchs are fascinating in that they are the only butterflies in the world making such a long distance migration. Early generations of monarchs, those that hatch in early to mid-summer generally only live a couple months. Those that emerge in late August however are those that are migrating and will live up to 7 months. This generation of monarchs fattens up on nectar on the trip south, sometimes actually gaining weight on the way, similar to a little fat buddy fishing trip. The monarchs however will mate and lay eggs in the spring and several generations are produced on their migration back to the north. The butterflies we see by next fall will be their children’s grandchildren. A very good website dedicated to monarch butterflies is hosted by the University of Kansas can be found at: http://www.monarchwatch.org/ 

Lots of good things to eat coming out of local gardens and orchards. Grabbed a Fireside apple off the tree in the yard on my way out to check the sheep at the kindly neighbors pasture. Very sweet and was almost disappointed to throw the core over the fence when I got there. Was amusing however to watch a dozen sheep pounce on it at once, much the same as they do when an apple falls off the tree in the north end of the pasture. Many squash to pick after the vines began to die down, exposing the results of their summer production. A bountiful harvest to be sure.
 
See you next week…real good then.   
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Keep me searching for a heart of gold...

Was a warm week and almost everyone enjoyed it, save for those wanting some rain. This forecast won’t do much to alleviate that and we’ll see it cool down. Starting Wednesday, we should see partly cloudy skies and a high of 60 and a low of 35. Thursday through Saturday, mostly sunny with highs of 65 and lows of 35 - 40. Warmer Sunday through Tuesday, partly cloudy, highs near 70 and lows of 45. Normal high for October 3rd is 67 and normal low is 41. With the sun rising after 7 a.m., the scurs will be getting used to hitting the snooze bar one more time in the dark. Covering and uncovering their garden produce has them tuckered out.

The evening autumn skies are indeed dark but there are signs of the season in them. The Big Dipper has assumed its position in the northwest sky, letting us know that fall is here. Venus is now low in the western horizon at sunset, easily identified as the brightest object in the sky after the sun is down. Not visible on cloudy nights, we still look up and wonder at the heavens after all these years while waiting for the combine to come to the end of the field.

Progress began to be made in area soybean fields a little more quickly than anticipated. That’ll happen when we see days like Friday. The truck thermometer reached 88 and with the strong southerly breezes, drydown occurred rapidly. Still disappointing yields being reported on the soybeans so far. The disease and dry conditions the last month of the season took their toll, reducing the seed size significantly. Some have nosed into the corn and the results so far have been favorable with moisture on some early planted early maturing hybrids being in the low 20 percent range.

Lost a great actor this past week, one of my favorites in the person of Paul Newman. Who could forget some of his performances in movies such as The Sting, Slap Shot and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? My personal favorite though would have to be Cool Hand Luke. Even though Newman didn’t win an Oscar as Best Actor (he was nominated), it’s still one of those movies I try to watch when I can get the remote away from Mrs. Cheviot. Several lines always stuck in my mind. Strother Martin (Captain) addressed the prisoners and said, “What we have here…is failure to communicate.” Another gem was when Boss Paul addressed Luke after being captured and being broken in front of the other prisoners. “You got your mind right, Luke?” And of course, the ending where George Kennedy says, “Old Luke, he was some boy. Cool Hand Luke. [PoorWordUsage], he’s a natural-born world shaker.” Yes, he was.

Young rooster pheasants have been cackling around the area. Found one pheasant chick with a hen last week over by Pemberton. Unfortunate really because the odds of the little tyke making it are exceedingly small especially after the insects small pheasants need to survive are gone. Looks like the last of the hummingbirds may have pulled the pin at the ranch. Haven’t seen one since early last week when they were hanging onto the perch on the nectar feeder for dear life. In fact, bird activity at all the feeders has been rather quiet as of late. Just a few goldfinches occasionally, the odd blue jay and toss in one or two red-bellied woodpeckers. A sad day when the hummers are gone. Always wish they could stay a little bit longer.

Gave the lawn what will hopefully be one of the last shaves of the season. Since it looks like it might be a cold winter, underwent one of my last shaves of the season a few weeks back. Think some of the goldfinches are hanging out in the CRP and know they’re in the garden gobbling down sunflower seeds. The garden is the place to be this time of year. Hunted down some squash after forgetting where they were planted. The vines are dying down so it was time to harvest some so we could get an idea how they turned out. Sunspot, Heart of Gold, Mooregold and of course, the old standby, Buttercup were scattered about the vine crop area, waiting for those cold autumn evenings. We don’t store them in the oat bin like the good old days. Processing them and freezing them is a better way to go and one doesn’t have to worry about cats using the storage area as a litter box!

Made a journey back to SE MN last Saturday to visit my Mom and drop off a little of the bounty from the garden. With the ripe muskmelons lending their fragrance to the vehicle, was a little like driving a mobile produce aisle from Wagner’s. It’s a great deal; deliver vegetables, gourds and Indian corn and get a home cooked meal in addition to being able to take some of it back home. Mom whipped up a meal in short order, capitalizing on the veggies. While savoring our feast we were bemoaning the fact that the hummingbirds were probably gone for the season. Then, as if on cue, one appeared at her window feeder and all was right with the world once again.

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

Offline Dotch

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Purple haze all around...

With rainfall messing up the last day of their prior week’s forecast, the scurs set their sights on at least getting close once again. Starting Wednesday, partly cloudy, high of 70 and low of 45 with a slight chance of rain. Mostly sunny Thursday, high of 65 and low of 40 – 45. Friday, slight chance of showers again under partly cloudy skies. High of 60 and low of 45 – 50. Better chance for showers Saturday and Sunday, partly cloudy, highs of 65 and lows near 50. Cloudy Monday and Tuesday with rain likely, highs of 65 – 70 and lows around 50 – 55. Normal high for October 10th is 64 and normal low is 38. On the 15th, we’ll be down to 11 hours of daylight. The scurs will be gathering wood for a bonfire to make Hobo Stew.

The Full Moon for the month will occur on the 14th. Early settlers called this the Hunter Moon as there was game for the larder, with deer fattened up and furbearers with their prime pelts going into winter. Both the Ojibwe and the Sioux knew this as the Falling Leaves Moon. All of the above apply and the leaves are just getting a good start.

Gave up on the hummingbirds and took down all but one of their feeders. They can use the remaining feeder or there are still plenty of petunias and impatiens blooming yet. Cleaned up the nectar feeders and replaced them with suet feeders. Goldfinches are spending time between the sunflower patch, our feeders and the CRP. Some area CRP is absolutely beautiful, with the warm season grasses now mature. Maximilian sunflowers add their blazing yellow and New England asters create the appearance of a purple haze from a distance.

Finished up lawn mowing and the aforementioned leaves were actually a big plus. With grass of unequal length depending upon its position on the landscape, was nice to have them as a guide to see where I’d been sometimes. Also good to grind them up as raking leaves is not in my groundskeeper contract. The sheep have been equally glad to see them fall on their side of the fence. As fast as they hit the ground the ewes are happy to gobble them up. Going into October, their pasture at home is getting sparser and sparser. Translation: There may be some hay fed sooner than we’d like with the shorter day length and lack of rain. Replaced 3 of their burned out light bulbs in the barn that had been that way most of the summer so we can see what we’re doing. Having done that, would put money on the other 5 randomly burning out within the next two weeks.

With dry conditions this past week, tremendous progress was made in the fields particularly on soybean harvest. Yields are still generally disappointing and there are many factors involved, not the least of which was the lack of rainfall in late July, August and September. The crop is dry too with samples testing in the low double digits to upper single digits. Some corn has been harvested and yields look promising relative to the soybeans. That excess moisture we all grumbled about last fall came in mighty handy. Chances of us going into this winter with a full soil moisture profile become less likely with every day that rolls by.

No question it’s dry but just how dry is it? In a communication with Gyles Randall at the SROC, he informed me the available soil moisture in the top 5’ is less than 4.5”, the lowest it has been since 1988 and 1989, two very dry seasons. Gyles also went on to comment that between July 19th and September 30th, at the experiment station only 4.04” of rain was received with much of that coming in small increments. Rainfall was recorded there on 22 days in that time period. Given that the top foot of soil holds about 1.25” of available soil moisture, he figures that a .5” rain will only move 3” – 4” under the drier conditions we experienced. The rain gauge at the ranch mirrors the SROC data, with 4.74” being collected in the same timeframe and rainfall being recorded on 21 days. Of the 21 days, only 4 of the rainfall events were .5” or greater, 3 in August and one in September. Of those four, only one totaled more than an inch at 1.04”. Moisture movement into the soil was also reflected similarly. Over the summer, when gawking at the garden the morning after rainfall, moisture seldom met moisture.

Combining soybeans has sure come a long way from the olden days. Sitting on the Co-Op E-3 pulling the old Ford left-handed combine eating dust going one way and freezing going the other way seems pretty primitive relative to the fancy new rotary machines with their temperature controlled cabs and gee-whiz technology. These new machines take up to 35’ where we could take two 38” rows, three if the guess row happened to get pinched on that round! By the same token, if one had taken that old tractor and combine 50 years back in time to the 1920’s, people would’ve been wowed by it. One has to wonder sometimes though where this is all going. The October issue of Crops, Soils and Agronomy News featured an image of small robots roving the fields, scouting for who knows what. Sometimes seems a lot of the physical parts of farming that once kept us fit and gave us some satisfaction upon completing a task keep going by the wayside. What will they think of next? Maybe as one old timer put it, farming really did start going downhill when they put lights on tractors!

See you next week…real good then.
« Last Edit: October 10/06/08, 07:25:08 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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It's a beautiful day...

The scurs made it look easy last forecast period with rain falling as if on cue. What’s in store for MEA week? Starting Wednesday, slight chance of showers, partly cloudy skies, high of 65 and low of 35 – 40. Mostly sunny Thursday becoming cloudy overnight with a chance of rain. High of 55 and low of 35 – 40. Partly cloudy Friday, high of 55 – 60 and low of 40. Saturday, mostly sunny, high of 60 and low of 45. Sunday may be as warm as we’ll see for awhile with a high of 60 – 65 under partly cloudy skies. Low near 40. Partly cloudy Monday becoming cloudy Monday evening with a good chance of rain. High of 60 and low of 45. Cloudy Tuesday and rainy. High of only 50 and clearing Monday night with a low of 30. Normal high for October 17th is 60 and normal low is 36. With the sun rising after 7:30 and setting before 6:30, the scurs will be curling up next to the fire with their Halloween pumpkin.

After last week’s rain, we were blessed with one of those fall days we all dream about. Gorgeous sunshine and the fall colors beginning to hit their stride. Each passing day they become more intense and even with the weekend winds, they’ve hung on fairly well. Even the white and bur oak have more color this time around than usual and am waiting to see just what shade of red the 2 red oaks in the yard will turn this year. Hard maple trees are flame orange this time around too making this one of the best for viewing Mother Nature’s tapestry in recent memory.

The only fly in the ointment so to speak has been those pesky multi-colored Asian ladybird beetles. Some were asking where they had been keeping themselves and the answer to a large degree has been in the corn. When picking Indian corn at the ranch, one notices them and also notices the remaining corn leaf aphids particularly on the husks where plants remain green. With cooler weather on the way, they will become increasingly occupied with finding a place to hole up for the winter, along with the boxelder bugs. Their numbers are down but particularly on south facing exposures, they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Also on the guest list in many homes and businesses this fall have been millipedes. We have them at the Mall for Men and also in the house at the ranch. Amazing how something with up to 400 legs can move so slowly.  They really don’t hurt anything, coil up when touched and generally don’t survive the winter in the house as it becomes too dry for them. They do give off an odor when crushed however. About the best thing to do is to remove any leaves or other decaying vegetation from around the outside of the house and keep sweeping them up if they persist.

Found out the kindly neighbor had started picking corn this past weekend and was once again screening his corn. Not many people still screening corn anymore with all the rotary combines but am glad he does. The sheep are glad too as they gobble down screenings like candy. With the price of feed where it is every little bit helps so am trying to squeeze every beeswing out of it I can. Probably a movie title in there somewhere: A Scoopful of Screenings or For a Few Screenings More.

Harvest underway as it is, it’s been difficult for the little fat buddies to get their training sessions in. The rain brought some relief however and the world’s problems were solved for at least one more week anyway. Seems like it’s always a good idea to get together, figure out where people live or used to live and keep one’s Obie’s  and Orly’s straight. Did you know a farm can’t be named after you until after you no longer live there? There’s been construction going on at the Mall too. Rumor has it it involves some kind of confessional. We’ve got some church pews, now all we need are kneeling pads.

Exciting news too from the little fat buddy who was named New Richland Idol this past summer. His fame and fortune has spread, so much so in fact that he’s recorded a video. It can be viewed at: http://cornandsoybeandigest.com/firstharverstreports/coey_two/
I think the guy who introduces him is his manager. Apparently the Colonel was too busy with Crazy Boyd’s Karaoke to take on any more clients.

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

Offline Dotch

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Among the fields of gold...

With rain holding off until Tuesday evening, the scurs were a day ahead on their rain forecast. That’s not too bad; could’ve been a day behind! What’s on tap for this forecast period? Glad you asked. Starting Wednesday, highs of 45 – 50 under cloudy skies and rain. Low of 35. Still cloudy Thursday with a slight chance of lingering showers, the high reaching 45 – 50 and low dropping to 35. Friday, partly cloudy, high of 50 and a low of 40. Slightly warmer Friday under partly cloudy skies. High of 50 and overnight low of 35. Cooler Sunday through Tuesday, skies remaining partly cloudy, highs of 45 and lows falling to 30 – 35. Normal high for October 24th is 56 and normal low is 33 so our weather will be trending cooler than normal. The scurs will be putting another log on the fire and nodding off in front of the World Serious while avoiding as many political ads as possible.

Rainfall has fallen on 10 out of 19 days as of this writing in October. Fortunately for those trying to harvest the soils and subsoils are generally dry and it hasn’t accumulated much. At the ranch in that time frame, only 1.45” has fallen and the pattern of a dab at a time continues. Some cool mornings as of late, with 28º recorded at the ranch on the morning of the 16th and 30 on the 18th. We’ve had our killing frost as the temperature on both nights was below freezing for several hours. That’s good news as Swedes from the reservation will tell you, Indian Summer does not occur before a killing frost. The gossamer strands on the morning of the 18th were particularly striking. Where do those webs come from? Thousands of recently hatched tiny spiders using the breezes to scatter them to the 4 winds across the landscape.

Cooler temperatures triggered some to apply anhydrous ammonia last week and it was plenty early. BMP’s for Nitrogen Application in South Central MN allow for fall application but it is at greater risk than applying in the spring due to increased chances for nitrogen loss. Soil temperatures should be at 50º at the 6” depth and remain there. In this area, historically this does not occur until the last week in October. With nitrogen prices being what they are (outrageous), the soils having the lowest available soil moisture in the top 5’ coming out of September since 1989, it might be prudent to wait until November. With high moistures, corn harvest is also taking some time. Coupled with the forecast of a significantly warmer than normal November by some climatologists, fall application of nitrogen at this time is probably not high on most folk’s priority list. It’ll get done; it always does.

Dark-eyed juncos were back under the feeders again this past week on the 14th, a sure sign that fall has firmly cemented its grip. Robins are moving through and have been spending quality time devouring crabapples. Saw one of those seemingly perpetual strings of blackbirds forming not far from home as I wound my way back towards home Saturday afternoon. Also saw neighbor JL north of Beaver Lake out grinding ear corn out of the crib for his cattle, something we don’t see all that often anymore. Brought back memories of all those now long gone corn cribs and the mounted ear corn pickers with flare boxes towed behind working well into the month of November to finish the harvest.

Made another journey to Spring Valley on Saturday, this time to help put Mom’s lawn and garden to bed for another year. The trip was much the same as many others this time of year, the leaves accented by the bright sunshine as the harvest activity surrounded me in those fields of gold. Some things have changed over the years though. A windmill farm by Dexter seems to have sprung up around the Pine Cone restaurant that everyone still calls the Windmill. The railroad trestle on US 16 & 63 where one comes into Spring Valley is long gone now and it’s getting harder to remember exactly where it went over the highway. Where the old drive-in movie theater once stood complete with “birth control lights” now stands the new grocery store. The A & W is still where it’s always been however, one of the few remaining that actually still has car hop service. They’re adding indoor dining however so that must mean they’re planning to stay open year-round. Good to know if you’re a little fat buddy headed that direction.

Arriving at Mom’s was welcomed by Fudgie and upon seeing the lawn, was glad I’d loaded up my mower before heading over. Mom had a big kettle of homemade soup on, perfect to take the chill off before heading out to do battle with the lawn for the afternoon. Mom got her riding mower fired up after I’d opened things up and thank goodness she did. Within a few hours we had things wrapped up for another year. The tomato plant “borrowed” from the local shop this spring after being branded a tomato thief was done for the season and along with its companions wound up in the compost heap down by the field. After finishing, we had a little lunch and as usual in return for my labor, I get the better end of the bargain. Some of that soup made its way into my cooler along with some crackers, a fresh baked loaf of banana bread and her specialty, ginger snaps.

When picking the last of our Roma tomatoes at home on Sunday forenoon, could feel the fall chill in the air. That soup along with all the other goodies sounded pretty good about then as I disturbed some of the little native pink spotted ladybird beetles while sifting through the ash leaves, trying to find that special tomato, the last one. Upon finding it, another garden season was in the books and it was dinner time, just like it was across greater Bugtussle and environs.

See you next week…real good then.






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

Offline Dotch

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And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes...

Aside from the minor detail of snow on Sunday, the scurs were tracking nearly on target. Good thing that will be a distant memory come midweek. Starting Wednesday, under clear skies, we’ll see a high of 55 and a low of 35. An even better Thursday will bring a high of 60 and a low of 40 under clear skies. Partly cloudy on Halloween, high of 55 – 60 and low of 40. Cooler Saturday and Sunday, high of 50 and low of 35 – 40. Warming up again for Monday and Tuesday, high of 55 – 60 and low of 40. Normal high for Halloween is 51 and normal low is 30. The scurs will be snacking on Halloween candy while basking in the afternoon sunshine. They’ll need to save their strength to get up at 2 a.m. and set their clocks back on Sunday.

This past Sunday’s snow was the warning shot we all knew was coming. More fell than was expected making the lawn at the ranch white. Prior to that, the woolly sheep were busy gobbling down the silver maple leaves the wind was ripping loose. Upon arriving home and hitting the garage door opener, equally woolly Gus and Lucy ventured forth, quickly decided it was much nicer in the garage, then turned around and went back inside.

Harvest progress has been slowed by wet corn and in some cases wet fields. The rainfall has accumulated to the point where the surface soil is greasy, making it difficult to get traction to get trucks in and out of fields. Corn moisture has been all over the board and as farmers are getting into the later maturing hybrids, it’s not unusual to see them in the mid to upper 20’s. Sunday’s high winds and snow caused down corn in areas so there will be a mad scramble to get those fields harvested before damage gets any worse. Corn dryers and bin fans pay little heed, playing a resonant tune when one pokes his head out the door.

Soil temperatures are trending downwards. Typically starting ammonia application the last week in October when average fall soil temperatures reach 50 degrees or less at 6” with a nitrification inhibitor is considered acceptable risk. Something to keep in mind however is that when 50 degrees is reached, it does not mean that conversion of ammonium to nitrate stops, merely that the rate is slowed to the point that the amount lost is acceptable, the thinking being that with ground freezing within a few weeks, the microbial conversion largely comes to a screeching halt. However, when we have some longer stretches of nice fall weather, there can be significant conversion and this is what we need to be careful of. Too many times over the past decade or so we’ve seen strange things like people baling hay around Thanksgiving.

There were many comments from farmers who found their combines, tractors, trucks, wagons, etc., covered with spider webbing so an update on all the spider activity we saw a week or so back: I wrote a paragraph or two on the process a few years ago and it’s known as ballooning. Little spider hatchlings climb up on plants, trees, leaves, etc., point their little behinds skywards and release a strand of silk. The breezes catch the strand and the little spiders become airborne, the breezes redistributing them across the countryside. Queried some of my entomologist buddies about what types they might be and it appears there may be one of several or combinations of types. Next time we see this phenomenon, will have to get the sweep net out, capture some of the spiders and send them off for identification. Nice to catch the culprits responsible for TP’ing the landscape in miniature.   

On the bird front, the fall birds continue to replace their summer counterparts. The nuthatch has been faithfully picking at the sunflower seeds one at a time while the goldfinches are more interested only when the weather is threatening on days like Sunday. The huge blue jays we had last winter are back again, gulping corn and sunflower seeds like so much Halloween candy. A few mourning doves are usually around cleaning up under the feeders and with the snow, the juncos will likely become more regular visitors. There are still plenty of robins apparently migrating through. Interesting to see if the old “3 snows on the robins tail” postulate works in the fall too.

Went home once again and spent the day at Mom’s as she recovered from surgery. She’s doing very well and whipped together another great meal after we made a quick trip to the grocery store. She’s really into this election too. Mom discovered a good use for those stiff paper political ad slicks that keep clogging our mailboxes and killing our trees: They’re excellent for scraping up those pesky ladybugs and escorting them to the bathroom for a swim. Tempting to do the same with some of the politicians!

And finally, attended a confirmation on Sunday at the Lutheran church in the city on the east bank of Little Jerusalem. Always fun to go there, rub elbows with my little fat buddies and catch up on the latest goings as well as catch an afternoon nap upon returning home after consuming way too much food. Speaking of food as is a little fat buddies wont, discovered there is reputedly a bakery going in in the aforementioned metropolis. May need to explore establishing a donut drop point at the Mall for Men.

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

Offline Dotch

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I have only come here seeking knowledge...

Ah, the scurs are waiting for the hate mail to start pouring in after saying it would cool down over the weekend. But wait, it’s early November not early September. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. Starting with Wednesday’s forecast, we’ll see cloudy skies, highs near 60 and lows around 45. We’ll also see a good chance of rain. Cloudy Thursday, high of 45 and low near 30 with continued chances of rain. Friday, cloudy and colder, high of 40 and low of 30 with a chance of a rain and snow mix. We see some sun finally on Saturday with a high of 40 and a low of 25. More sunshine for Sunday with highs of 40 – 45 and lows of 25. 40 – 45 for highs with 20 – 25 for lows on Monday under partly cloudy skies. Colder and mostly cloudy Tuesday, highs of 35 – 40, lows of 20 – 25 with a chance of snow. Normal high for November 7th is 46 and normal low is 27. On the 7th we’ll also be under 10 hours of daylight causing the scurs to burn more of those leftover political ads and candles from the Halloween pumpkins as they glean the NRHEG Star for the latest in wisdom and knowledge.

What a week this past one was though from a temperature standpoint. With several days in the 60’s and some registering in the 70’s following a chilly start to the week, it was Indian Summer in Swedish textbook fashion. Most long-term outlooks agree too that we’re looking at an increased chance of above normal temperatures for the months of November, December and January. That would be nice although unfortunately chances we’ll see more 70 degree weather are becoming slimmer every day.

Harvest activity this past week made great strides with corn harvest getting past the halfway point. By the time this reaches print, it’ll probably be over 80% complete. Drydown was evident as the crop went from the low 20’s to the upper teens in many places. A lot of clear nights and when the dryers and holding bins can keep up, a lot of work going on into the evening. On those clear nights, it’s fun to gaze at the autumn sky at dusk where Jupiter takes its place in the S – SW sky and Venus is in the SW sky. These are the first two heavenly bodies to appear in the evening, very distinctive after shutting off the lights and heading into the house after chores.

On those nice days, one tries to think up excuses to get outside and enjoy it. Such was the case on Thursday when I decided to go down by Lake Geneva to do some soil sampling for FJ, one of the noted area farmers. While there I got to meet a couple real area jackasses, complete with 4 legs and long ears. They were most interested in my activities while enjoying the warm sunshine. Kept expecting to see Festus saddle up one of them. Then on to Harmony Park where I was greeted by the welcoming committee, two dogs, one black with a white bib and one chocolate that were apparently very friendly and very well fed. Wondered if the friendly part would change when I started the 4 wheeler to unload it but had little to worry about. The chocolate Lab was so portly that there was no way he would’ve even considered chasing me as he laid down to watch as the machine rolled down the ramp.

The last weekend in October pretty well took care of the leaves on most trees. It also revealed where all the bird nests were as well as where the fat squirrels built their winter hangouts. Birds are coming to the feeders in spite of the temperature, especially the goldfinches, house finches, downies and hairies. The blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers have continued their corn feeding, splitting time with the fat squirrels. Had a new visitor we’ve not seen at our feeders before. Mixed in a group of house finches there was a slightly larger yet similarly colored bird with distinctive white wing bars. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a male white-winged crossbill. When startled, he flew to the nearest pine trees, perhaps closer to the habitat he was used to in the boreal forests.

Houseguests at the ranch over the weekend. My 6 year-old pal Zip from Texas was in town so Friday night we watched Gopher hockey. His eyes glazed over as I tried to explain the terms “offside” and “icing” to him. Shortly afterwards, he fell fast asleep on the couch. After cleaning up the screenings at home Saturday morning, we went for a ride to return the wagon and see the sights of greater Bugtussle, including the infamous Mall for Men and the 10 Man Dryer. Warm day and had to turn the AC on in the truck for our riding comfort. Played in the leaves in the yard when we returned as he helped me pick up some of the sticks that had blown down in the wind. After that, we went inside and I gave him a fresh bowl of water as I really didn’t want him drinking out of the toilet. Did I mention he’s a Border collie?

Monday morning started off with a bang with the barber shop operating in full swing. Somehow, it doesn’t take as long to cut hair nowadays as there’s less on top of a lot of these melons than there used to be. As Leo pointed out, there’s no extra charge for polishing. Still takes awhile though for coffee and all the conversation to take place prior to the haircut as waiting customers discuss such heady topics as genealogy and geography. Eventually we will know who everyone is related to and where they used to live. All takes time.

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

Offline Dotch

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And I ran - I ran so far away...

The scurs thermostat got stuck on the weekend temperatures but the high of 76 at the ranch back on November 3rd met with everyone’s approval. The 17 degree low on the 10th did not. This forecast period promises more of the typical November weather we’re accustomed to. Wednesday’s cloudy sky brings with it the chance for freezing rain. Highs should reach 40 with a low of 30. Thursday looks to be the warmest day of the bunch with partly cloudy skies becoming cloudy. High of 45 and low of 35 with a chance of rain changing to snow. Friday, cloudy becoming partly cloudy as the day wears on, high of 40 and low of 25 with a slight chance of snow. Mostly sunny Saturday, highs of 35 and lows of 20 – 25. Sunny again Sunday, high of 40, low 20. Slightly warmer Monday under cloudy skies with a chance of rain changing to snow. High 45 and low of 25. Cooler Tuesday with cloudy skies and a chance of snow. High of 35 and low bottoming out near 25. Normal high for November 14th is 42 and normal low is 23. We’re losing daylight at the rate of approximately 3 minutes per day. The scurs are pondering why as we were supposed to get the hour back we lost last spring, weren’t we?

November 13th marks the date of the Full Moon for the month and it is known as the Full Beaver Moon, as beaver traps were set this time of year before freeze up to ensure a good supply of warm fur for the long winter ahead. The Ojibwe knew this as the Freezing Moon and the Sioux as the Moon of Falling Leaves. The last of the leaves did fall this past week from trees such as elms and a few hard maples that were stubbornly clinging to their clothing, until the midweek wind and rain stripped them bare.

Progress in the fields largely came to a screeching halt last week as about 1.5” of rain fell across most of the greater Bugtussle area. That probably wasn’t as much of an issue as the snow that coated the cornstalks, daring farmers to see how far they could get before their sieves would plug. Most avoided that temptation due to past experience. Corn harvest is somewhere in the 80 – 85% complete. As we move east, there is still more left to harvest. Some tillage was still able to be accomplished over the weekend as the ground surface was beginning to freeze, allowing for improved traction. With the subsoils being so dry, following a few days of moisture moving downward into the soil profile, conditions should become suitable for more field operations.

The rain was welcome however even though tile are not running and wetlands remain as low we’ve seen in decades. Our own wetland has a trough the little muskrats dug connected to their burrows into the bank of the basin but there is no water for them to even get a drink. Likewise for the deer and other wildlife. It could shape up to be a long winter for them, especially if the above normal snowfall predictions turn out to be true.

Around the yard there is still plenty of work to be done yet although it appears the lawn may have to forego its final shave for the season. That’s alright, the leaves I was concerned about grinding up largely blew into the thickets and the garden atop the septic tank. The petunias still haven’t thrown in the towel yet which is amazing. About time to get the manure spreader limbered up and clean the barns out for the season again. Lucy gives Gus an assist making sure neighbor David’s big white kitty doesn’t set up a permanent residence in the granary while Gus with his superior speed keeps the squirrels well exercised. Observing them this weekend, between the squirrels and blue jays, there seems to be a lot of corn being buried in the lawn. Was wondering who the culprits were. The weather that set in on Thursday and Friday caused a feeding frenzy, bringing out even larger numbers of goldfinches and house finches. No chickadees but more nuthatches, downies and hairies hitting the sunflower and suet feeders. The heated birdbath needs to go out too. Never enough time seems like.       

Speaking of never enough time, once again Mrs. Cheviot dropped the “is there any way you could” line on me when some folks needed some ewes hauled back to LaCrosse so they could get them ready for Louisville. Of course, being the gullible, dumb schmuck I am, I arranged midweek to do just that on Saturday, knowing I’d reap great rewards at home.(as if) In the meantime, I was offered a chance by one of my little fat buddies to go to the Gophers/Michigan football game. It’s only been 3 years since I’ve been able to go to one of my alma mater’s football game and I’ve never seen them play Michigan at home. I even had season tickets back in ’77, the last time the Gophers defeated them at home in old Memorial Stadium. And people wonder why I avoid weddings like the plague to this day, but I digress.

Of course there was no way sheep hauling plans could be changed on the other end, short of me getting up before 3 a.m. Still would’ve cut it too close to make an 11 o’clock game. 3 a.m. for goose hunting maybe, but hauling sheep , bucking the wind on the ice and snow in the dark, it ain’t gonna happen. A word to the wise for all you young bucks out there: When you hear the words “is there any way you could” come out of your spousal unit’s mouth, that’s a clue. Run as fast as you can the other direction.

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

Offline Dotch

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You're making me dizzy...

The scurs weather forecasting prowess showed once again as we experienced seasonal weather along with the expected precipitation. What’s in store this time? Let’s consult the oracles and see. Starting Wednesday, look for partly sunny skies, with a high around 40 and a low of 20. Slightly cooler under mostly sunny skies Thursday, high of 25 – 30 and low of 15. Mostly sunny Friday, high of 30 and low of 25. Warmer Saturday, high of 40 – 45 and low of 25. A tad cooler Sunday, mostly sunny, high of 35 – 40 and low near 20. Partly cloudy Monday, high of 35 and low of 25 – 30 with a slight chance of snow. Better chance for snow Tuesday under mostly cloudy skies, high of 30 – 35 and low of 15 – 20. Normal high for November 21st is 38 and normal low is 20. While November is typically our cloudiest month the scurs will be enjoying the sunshine this week as they shop for their Thanksgiving turkey at Wagner’s, then hitch a ride to Lerberg’s for the trimmings.

Rainfall and snow hampered progress for those with corn yet to pick. So far in November, we’ve tallied somewhere around 2.11” of precip at the ranch. At the Mall for Men where we have a 5-man rain gauge (no one knows who dumped it last or when) we suspect we’ve had 2.5” as that’s what it contained last week. With little major snow or rain expected, this week should help some to get closer to the finish line. Some have had problems maneuvering equipment and school buses around the fields but there is very little in the way of field tile running.

With the precipitation though, some of the wetlands have made a slight comeback. The pond by the North Plant has some water in it again as does our CREP wetland at home. No sign of any waterfowl coming through at home that I’ve noticed but with the Orange Army out in force over the weekend, that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Think the deer slug season is over now so can go back to wearing my Carhartts with the white hanky sticking out of the back pocket.

Lots of bird activity at the feeders especially when the weather looks like it’s going to get snowy or colder. Sunday afternoon there were 17 mourning doves under the feeders only to be outdone by the goldfinches that numbered 24. A couple rooster pheasants were in the trees Saturday morning after chores, then proceeded to glide from the treetops to heavier cover below the hill. Am thinking our blue jays must’ve gotten into some NFL players stash of steroids as we continue to see some of the largest jays we’ve ever seen. Tubby the fox squirrel looks like he’s been eating some too while his buddy Scratchy continues to remain more slender.

And speaking of slender, one would be a lot skinnier if they had to deal with a group of wild sheep at the kindly neighbors like Lucy, Gus and I did on Sunday. Lucy has slowed to the point where this will probably be her last roundup. The will is there but the speed is gone. I can relate. While Gus is a great pet he has no concept other than he’s outside tearing around. He’s still a valuable asset however if you need Bubba’s in their monster truck wannabes or airplanes barked at. To be sure, that group of ewes had their track shoes on with no intention of leaving that pasture any sooner than they had to. Was beginning to think about calling my little fat buddy over by Beaver Lake to see if he could spell us for a minute so we could catch our breath. That and the thought also crossed my mind to look around for some hunters as it might’ve expedited the process by loading the sheep with a gun. After numerous trips over hill and over dale and around in circles they finally got tired out. They must’ve been dizzy because one by one, they slowly peeled off and went in the barn.

Upon unloading the sheep and dollying the trailer down, decided to take a break, have a little lunch and watch the Vikings for a bit. As bad as the Vikings have been, I can really appreciate their head coach. I mean, who else could design an offense that’s so boring to watch in the second half that I can count on getting my naps in? Although, as Jack Handey once said, before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

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

Offline Dotch

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I can't get no satisfaction...

The scurs got their temperatures flip-flopped over the weekend but all in all, some decent November weather, including some sun. This week? More sun starting with Wednesday, mostly clear skies, high of 40 and low near 20. Thanksgiving Day, partly cloudy, high once again near 40 and low of 20. Slightly cooler Friday through Sunday, highs around 35 and lows of 20. Monday December 1, skies will be cloudy with a chance of snow. High of 25 – 30 and low of 5 – 10. Cloudy Tuesday, high of 20 – 25 and low of 5 – 10. Normal high for November 28th is 34 and normal low is 17. After a good Thanksgiving Day snooze, the scurs will be ready to head to Edna’s Friday at the crack of dawn for those early bird bargains.

Most have managed to get their corn harvested as the weather has generally been cooperative. Soils froze pretty solid after a low of 2 recorded at the ranch shortly before sunrise on Friday morning. Suspect the petunias finally succumbed. Contrast this with the high back on the 3rd of 76 or even the 44 degrees on Sunday and one realizes just how changeable November weather can be. Frozen soils have not lent themselves anhydrous application according to those who attempted it and wound up picking up pieces of equipment as a result.

Was a great weekend to get the barn cleaned however. Worst part of it is getting prepared, greasing everything, (I know, it came greased) putting the heat houser on, taking panels down, bedding pens, moving animals around, etc. Seems like there’s a lot more time spent on those mundane things than actually loading and spreading manure. Sheep don’t appear to mind as long as they’re not the ones in the crosshairs to be moved. And they really do enjoy having new cornstalks to paw through and play in. Always a sense of satisfaction to have the manure hauled out of the main barn. Also feels good though after a weekend of climbing on and off of machines designed to jostle these aging bones to sit down on something stationary. Ground stayed frozen and I’m stiff and sore enough to prove it.

This used to be the time of year when we put things away around home for the winter. There were always some things to put away so Dad didn’t hit them when it came time to move snow. Bales were banked around houses and pump houses and snow fence was erected to stop the snow from going where it wasn’t wanted. Plowing was usually done by Thanksgiving although there were some exceptions. As most did in those days, we always greased the bottoms to keep the plow scoured for next season, then parked it out in the pasture. Only problem was over the course of the year the sheep would generally find it and lick all the grease off the moldboards. Cattle people have told me their cows would do the same thing. What ever possessed them to eat the stuff is beyond me. Must’ve had a grease deficiency back in those days, much the same as the little fat buddies on a donut run.

With Kugie gone, I feel compelled to comment on sporting matters again. This past weekend, the Gopher football team embarrassed itself losing to the archrival Iowa Hogeyes 55 – 0. Thought perhaps Saturday night, the Gopher men’s hockey team would be able to put a little salve on the wound but alas the previously undefeated maroon and gold pucksters lost too. Who should come through on Sunday? None other than the Vikings! Only managed to catch a few minutes of the game when I took a little lunch break and they were up 30 – 10 at that point. Figured even they couldn’t botch that up with less than 10 minutes to play in the game and for once, I was right. For once, no nap.

Speaking of naps, did you happen to catch the recent report about the link between heart attacks, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure and lack of sleep? My ears pricked up when I heard the news and no question, it made sense. We won’t go into the government perpetrated sleep deprivation plan known as Daylight Saving Time but it appears the only bad nap is probably the one you didn’t take. Something to be thankful for about the time your eyelids start fluttering following all that tryptophan ingestion on Thanksgiving 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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Dotch getting old?  good read as always!

randy
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Offline Dotch

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Thanks randy. Yep, I'm a geezer and proud of it! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! :coffee:
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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Starry, starry night...

The scurs had a pretty good idea what would happen after a nice Thanksgiving; it would snow! Just a day ahead of schedule, again. What’s up for the first week in December? The scurs will divulge the answer. Starting Wednesday, cloudy skies with a chance of snow. High of 30 and low of 10. Colder Thursday under partly cloudy skies. High of 20 and low of 5 – 10. Mostly sunny Friday becoming partly cloudy with a chance of snow in the evening. High near 25 and low of 10 – 15. Saturday, partly cloudy, chance of snow. High of 25 low of 10. Sunday, partly cloudy. High around 25, low near 10. Monday and Tuesday, partly cloudy. Highs near 20 and lows of 10 – 15. Normal high for December 5th is 31 and the normal low is 13. On Monday the 8th, we’ll be down to 9 hours of daylight. The scurs will be eating their candlelight dinner of leftover turkey sandwiches a little earlier every evening.

November gave us some tremendous variability, from a high of 76 back on the 3rd to a low of 2 on the 21st. At the ranch, we registered 2.29” of liquid equivalent precipitation with about 5.5” of snow for the month. The most recent snow, measuring about 1”, contained .12” of water. Unfortunately, with soils frozen it won’t help recharge much. Took a walk Sunday to check out the wetland and aside from the snow, it was dry once again. The muskrats dug some tremendous trenches and bored holes into the banks. No sign of them however.

At the bird feeders, some newcomers in the form of pine siskins. While we’ve seen them a few times over the years, don’t recall seeing the numbers we’ve had so far. We tend to see them when there have been seed crop failures in the boreal forests to the north. Could hear some different bird songs in the morning after chores so they’ve probably been here for a week or so. What do they look like? They’re little brown, striped finches with some yellow at the base of their flight feathers (more on males), slightly smaller than the goldfinches with sharp little beaks designed for picking seeds out of tight places. They seem to have taken a shine to our leftover bachelor button and cosmos seeds. This weekend was the first chance to get a glimpse of the siskins during daylight hours. It may have been the last look we’ll get at the migrating geese. On Saturday afternoon, they were enjoying flying from the fields to the water they were keeping open. By late Sunday afternoon, they were booking south, not unlike the UP freighters highballing through Ellendale.

Thanksgiving was wonderful, with a good bird, good wine, good company and an all too rare day to just relax outside of chores twice a day. Lucy and Gus got to share in the festivities, gobbling down some giblets after they’d cooled. The sheep were uncooperative though after tossing them some frozen pumpkins over the pasture fence, where the large cucurbits resembled orange billiard balls scattered on the hillside. Hoping for a pastoral scene of sheep gnawing on pumpkins on the sidehill during our feast, the Cheviots largely ignored their good fortune. Maybe it was because they didn’t like the wind blowing in their pointy little ears or perhaps they just weren’t into frozen food.

On a starry night, Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer Roger Johnson reminds us to look to the SW sky where Jupiter and Venus will be in close conjunction with each other during the early part of the month and then with Mercury at the end of the month. The Big Dipper is sliding lower in the northern sky as winter approaches. You may have to get outside of the light pollution from Bugtussle to see all this action.

Parked the dually for the winter and have been driving the minivan lately. Even though the price of diesel is down, am taking advantage of the van’s mileage and lower priced gasoline. When I get in, I pull my blonde wig down over my ears, grab the red-headed mannequin out of the back and toss her in the passenger seat so people just think it’s a couple women out Christmas shopping. Suspect some maybe onto me however. Was asked the other day who the ugly blonde soccer mom with a beard was driving a white minivan that looked suspiciously like ours. They said that red-head sure looked hot though.

Which reminds me, after reading Betts story about those free samples we no longer receive in the mail, it brought back memories of one of my favorites, a Gillette Mach 3 razor. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I tried it and proceeded to slice the living bejeezus out of my face. Following that incident, I stashed the deadly weapon in a drawer, much safer than keeping a tourniquet handy every time I shaved. Wouldn’t you know, I ran out of the 10 for a dollar disposable razors I normally used a few months later and given no quick alternative, was forced to try it again.

Nervous at first, I found that with a light touch it worked exquisitely. My mug was as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Still used the disposables as everyday razors to scrape my face but for special occasions when I wanted to look pretty, kept a fresh supply of blades for my free sample model. I did that is until I discovered Mrs. Cheviot had gone on a cleaning rampage and thrown my prized possession away. After registering my displeasure decided I’d just go buy another one. How expensive could they be if they were sending them out as free samples, right? Try about $8 - $10 just for the handle, way too expensive for a tightwad like me. Asked why I quit shaving: I’m saving up to buy a new razor!

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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quote: I pull my blonde wig down over my ears, grab the red-headed mannequin out of the back and toss her in the passenger seat so people just think it’s a couple women out Christmas shopping.

well...   :rotflmao:


randy
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Offline Dotch

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Rockin' in the USA...

Rockin' in the USA...

The scurs were all over the board last week temperature-wise but had a good grip on the snowfall, although after shoveling 5” – 8” of Monday and Tuesday’s partly cloudy, you may not agree. This week looks like more of the same with more Alberta Clipper action and below normal temperatures. Wednesday, look for cloudy skies, with a high of 15 and a low near 5. Possible evening snow. Cloudy Thursday, same temps with a chance of snow. Friday, cloudy again, high of 20 – 25 and low around 10. Chance of snow. Saturday, partly cloudy, high near 20 and low of 5. Chance of snow in the evening. Partly cloudy once again on Sunday, chance of snow with a high near 20 and low of 5. Mostly cloudy Monday with a chance of snow. High of 15 and lows near 0. Partly cloudy Tuesday with 15 for a high and 0 for a low. The normal high for December 12th is 28 and the normal low is 10. Believe it or not, after this week, there’s only one more week of the days getting shorter. The scurs will celebrate the snow by playing White Christmas and watching It’s a Wonderful Life nonstop until after holidays.

Snow continues to accumulate, with roughly 3” being recorded this past week at the official ranch gauge. Dry snow, amounting to only .05” of liquid equivalent. While it looks nice snow also causes some concern on area lakes. Looking from the road, they’re frozen over alright, but one can’t tell where there may have been waterfowl keeping a stretch open, where the lake froze last due to the wind or where there may be current from springs, etc. Most are reporting 6” – 8” in most spots but there are almost nightly reports of people going through so proceed with caution.

The snow also will help keep our winter weather on the cool side. The white cover on the landscape is reflective and doesn’t absorb heat. A late corn harvest with many fields still un-worked may also have an impact, particularly as we look to the south in Iowa. Good for erosion control and snow catch but not so good for an early spring warm up as the breezes that warm us will have to blow across a cooler soil surface.

The Full Moon this month will occur on the 12th. It is known as the Full Cold Moon (well, duh!) or the Long Night’s Moon. The Ojibwe knew this as the Small Spirits Moon and the Sioux call this the Moon of the Popping Trees or the Moon When Deer Shed Antlers. We cut down the ash tree that popped in our front yard a few years ago but did notice what appeared to be a buck recently sans antlers. Must’ve loaned them to the Grinch’s dog Max.

At the Mall for Men, lots of time to start Christmas shopping yet so we continue to discuss our television viewing habits. Surprisingly there were several who watched Dancing With the Stars. The reason? Most were watching intently for wardrobe malfunctions, and sure enough, someone’s boot (or was it their shoe?) fell off. With all the goodies gracing our training table, one of the little fat buddies has been talking about starting a series of our own. Instead of the Biggest Loser, with all the holiday goodies to eat, he figured The Biggest Gainer might be more appropriate.

The economy has also been a hot topic and we’re doing our part to keep the economy going. We’re consummate supply side economists, consuming plenty of bars and cookies, helping to decrease the sugar and wheat supply, thus keeping those farmers in business. They in turn eat lots of the turkey, ham and bacon produced here, which amounts to free trade. While solving our economic woes, we somehow got on the subject of the bail out for the Big 3 automakers. No biggy. I get a bale out for the sheep every morning!

Goldfinch numbers at the feeders continue to swell, over 40 at, around or under the feeders on Saturday afternoon. Trouble is they keep bringing more of their little fat buddies with them. There were more house finches this week, somewhere around 10, about the same number of pine siskins, a dozen American tree sparrows and in the late afternoon, 13 mourning doves. Add juncos, blue jays, white-breasted nuthatches, red-bellied, hairy and downy woodpeckers to the mix over the course of the day and there is always action. If anyone has a chickadee to spare would gladly trade a goldfinch or two.

Can always tell when there’s been a Lion’s pancake feed in town and who was in attendance. Just like at the ranch, open their closets and take a whiff; they’ll smell like a pancake. After slaving over the grill at the most recent benefit, fed Lucy and Gus their obligatory leftover pancakes and French toast when I returned home. I then repaired to the living room couch, announcing I was shot and not in the mood to do much of anything other than perhaps take a nap.

Was about this time Mrs. Cheviot decided to spring into action and decorate for Christmas. Shouldn’t be too loud I thought to myself, as I closed my eyes, while visions of almond bark pretzels danced in my head. Suddenly things proceeded to crack! boom! bam!! all around me in the living room. This was more than I could stand and after a half hour of the racket, escaped to the solitude of my confuser and started writing copy for next week. If this looks like it was written in someone’s sleep now you know why.

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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Always a good read and good to know the Mall for men is hard at work..
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!

Offline Dotch

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It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it... :banghead:
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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Takin' care of business...

After a warm weekend, the scurs are thinking last week was downright balmy compared to what’s in store for this week. Starting on Wednesday, skies will be partly cloudy with a high near 15 and a low from 0 to 5 above. Cloudy Thursday with snow expected. High of 20 and low of 5 above. Partly cloudy Friday, with highs of 10 to 15 and a low near 0. Saturday, partly cloudy with flurries, high of 10 and low of – 10. Mostly sunny on Sunday, high around 0 and low of – 10. Monday brings in another chance of snow under partly cloudy skies. High of 20 and low of 15. Cloudy Tuesday, scattered flurries with a high of 20 and a low of 5. Normal high for December 19th is 26 and normal low is 7. Starting the 18th, we will see our shortest days of the year at 8 hours and 54 minutes of daylight. The scurs will be unfazed, staying warm by burning old Fencelines columns.

What an up and down week for weather! Recorded 41º for a high on Saturday and was sweating profusely Sunday morning trying to get all the sheep pens bedded before the forecasted temperature slide. By the time evening chores rolled around it was already – 2º. Would’ve been much warmer to stay inside under a blanket and let Mrs. Cheviot do the chores when she got home. As one of my little fat buddies always says, she’s just darn lucky to have me.

Was a model patient this week too after contracting the alien. Was enough sneezing, snuffling, hacking and coughing to last for the rest of the winter. No amount of vitamin C, cough drops or cold meds seem to make it go away any faster but they might have shortened the duration. As icky as those cough drops taste, my body is telling me it will get better as long as I don’t feed it any more of that stuff. Most of us at the Mall for Men have had the crud and after two weeks, one starts to feel like a “human bean” again.

Gus and Lucy have been very good this year so have bought them each a new pillow and some treats. Haven’t given them the beds just yet because was afraid they’d get them all mud. Was right too. With the thaw over the weekend, Gus was muddy and happier than a lark as he ran back and forth in the trench he’s created along the fence. Don’t tell the dogs about their new beds. Would rather it be a surprise.

The birds settled in and hung around all week, the numbers remaining about the same judging by the amount of feed consumed when filling the feeders. Having some brushy cover along the edge of the yard for them to duck into doesn’t seem to hurt. Many of them seem to hole up for the night in the numerous pine, fir and spruce trees planted in and around the yard. Even the pheasants have been taking off from there in the morning before sunrise. Can see them glide after hearing the thunder of their wings in the cold morning air while graining the lambs.

December 9th made for the first snow emergency around the yard. Luckily the feedlot stayed clear but the rest of the yard was a mess. Had to move the grill out of the way so the snow could be moved away from the front of the garage. Pulled one of those “should know better than that” moves where I parked the grill in front of the middle garage door as I really had no plan on moving the truck anytime soon. I’d be able to drive the van instead.

Of course, Saturday morning Mrs. Cheviot was ready to take off for work and her car was completely dead. Being the extremely swell guy I am I told her to take the van and I’d see what was wrong with the car. In addition to going Christmas shopping, I needed to get feed and a Christmas tree, not all of which would fit in the car. The car fix turned out to be an easy one; a loose battery cable. However, I needed to press the truck into service again.

About that time my little fat buddy (aka “Crankshaft”) called and decided it was a good idea to head to Owatonna for some Christmas shopping so it was agreed upon we’d carpool from the ranch. In the meantime, needed to unload a 4 wheeler to so pushed the garage door opener and proceeded to back the truck out the garage. All the sudden I heard a major unusual crashing noise behind me. What the…?!?! That stupid gas grill was back there! Turned out I’d only knocked it over but of course all the innards under the cover were scrambled. OK, not so bad but after backing out the door wouldn’t go down. Now what? One of the border collies had bumped the sensor on one side and after looking at it a minute, it was another easy fix. Low tire on the truck, needed to pump that up. Uncharacteristically, everything worked.

About that time my little fat buddy appeared and we were off to the races. After the rocky start, there was no screwing around. Four stores, a fuel stop, and two hours later, we were done Christmas shopping. Mission accomplished. Was time for a little lunch and a libation or two. After returning home and sending Crankshaft on his way, you guessed it, time for a nap and not a minute too soon. Will need to summon all my strength and have my faculties honed to a razor’s edge to shop for the Star-Eagle employees next week. Am sure they’re waiting with bated breath.

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

Offline Dotch

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Well the weather outside is frightful...

The scurs were a little off on the 4 to 5 inches of “flurries” we had on Saturday but all things considered, pretty close. With any luck Christmas week will bring us a respite from the extreme cold. Starting Wednesday, partly cloudy, high of 10 and low of – 5 Christmas Eve. Clear on Christmas Day, high of 20 and low of 10. Friday, cloudy with a chance of snow by evening. High of 25 and low of 10. More snow for Saturday under cloudy skies, high of 20 and low of 5 – 10. A little cooler Sunday, partly cloudy, high of 20 and low of 15. Warmer Monday under partly cloudy skies, high of 25 – 30, low of 15 with a chance of evening snow. Tuesday, cloudy with a chance of snow, high of 25 – 30 and low of zero to minus 5. Normal high for Christmas Day is 24 and the normal low is 5, with the days beginning to get longer at 8 hours and 55 minutes of daylight. The scurs recently erected their Festivus pole after extracting it from storage under the crawl space.

Snow removal was on most people’s agendas last week with the Thursday and Saturday storms dumping somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 – 10 inches total. While there was little wind with the Thursday snow, it was fluffy and hung around for Saturday’s additional accumulation as well as the 30 mph winds. Looks like one of those old fashioned winters alright. Have to admit we’ve been pretty spoiled for a number of years so we were probably about due.

Moving snow at the ranch is not any easy task. There essentially is no flat spot in the yard and few nice long straight shots to push the white stuff around. Using tractor and bucket, it takes an hour or better to get it all pushed back as far as possible so it doesn’t completely fill in again. About the time yours truly was finishing up on Thursday, the snow plow went by in a cloud of powder. When it settled I looked out to see the mailbox was no longer attached to its perch. Decided since it was already gone, it’d be a good time to clean the snow away from the as yet intact post. Finishing that project, managed to find a spare chunk of 2 x 6 to reattach the mailbox to its original mount although the way things are going, suspect this may not be the last time I have to retrieve it from the road ditch. That should bring out the Grinch in me.

Fortunately, I’m not alone. Crabbiness abounds among the legions of designated driveway cleaners. It’s not even the end of December yet and there are already horror stories of things being run over or through snow blowers, the ensuing wreckage, and people getting antsy when the snow removal fairy doesn’t show up exactly when they think they ought to. The solution: Slow down and take your time or stay home. This notion that we can somehow make the weather do what we want and pretty much do whatever we want on our schedule needs to change. Last I checked this is still MN and the weather pretty much dictates what happens, not the other way around. Putting someone else at risk to come and rescue your silly rear after ignoring this fact isn’t too brilliant either. The sooner this sinks into some of the thicker melons the better off we’ll all be.

The birds always follow the weather closely. Watching them, one can get an accurate picture of what’s in store if you do venture out. When we were in the middle of Sunday’s ordeal they were primarily staying on the leeward side of the house and feeders. Didn’t have to tell them twice that wind chill values were – 40 and it’s best to stay out of it.

Ah, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. After shopping efficiently as is my wont, (anything over 2 hours is wasting time), the gifts for all those richly deserving NRHEG Star-Eagle employees. Let’s start off with the easy one’s first and work our way up or down depending upon your viewpoint I guess. For Jim, a new blankie and pillow for those much sought after naps after lunch. I know, my jelly of the month certificate is probably in the mail. For Kathy Purdie, a copy of “The Godfather”. With a little practice, when you call for an ad and do your best Marlon Brando the results should be nothing short of amazing. For Ray, a little known book, “Conspiracy Theories and the Conspiracy Theorists Who Love Them”. Who knew? For Cathy Paulsen, #2 font to make it easier to cram all those birthdays, anniversaries in the allotted space. For Dick, some gummi worms soaked in lutefisk juice. I’m too cheap to buy Gulp but look on the bright side, if they don’t catch any fish, they’re sure to attract some Norwegians. For Al, some of the lutefisk I squeezed the juice out of for Dick’s gift. Think of it as “lutefisk-lite”. No re-gifting by the way. For Jody, just what you’ve always wanted: One of those coveted little fat buddy secret decoder rings. Nice to show off your bling-bling when eating bars at morning coffee in your casual attire. For Reed, a haircut at the Mall for Men. Let me know when you’re coming though so Leo can sharpen his hedge trimmer. For Betts, my blonde mini-van driving wig. Since you’re the closest thing to a First Lady Bugtussle has, you could use it when you and the mayor are role playing. Just pretend you’re Hillary Clinton

After all that shopping, I’m shot and need a nap. Spying Jim’s blankie, I see it’s still unwrapped. Hmmm…sure is nice and soft. Wonder of it works? Just saunter over to the recliner for a spell and …oh, baby…Zzzzzzzzz….Zzzzzzzzz…

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

Offline Dotch

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Oh, back on the chain gang.

The scurs made the best out of a bad forecast with some downright warm temps for this time of year. What’s on tap for the New Year? Starting New Year’s Eve day, mostly sunny, high of 15 and low of 5 with a chance of snow in the evening hours. Cloudy New Year’s Day, chance of snow, high of 20 and low of 10. Friday, partly cloudy, chance of snow during the daylight hours, high of 15 and low of 5 – 10. Cloudy Saturday, chance of snow during the day, high of 20 and low of 5. Sunday, partly cloudy, high of 20 and low of 5. Monday, cloudy with a chance of snow. High near 30 and low around 15. Cloudy Tuesday, high of 20 and low of 5 with a chance of snow in the overnight hours. Normal high for New Year’s Day is 23 and the normal low is 3. At 8 hours and 58 minutes, we will have gained 4 minutes of daylight since the winter solstice and we’ll reach 9 hours of daylight on the 3rd. The scurs are contemplating what to do with all this new found daylight.

Some rough driving conditions last week especially the evening of the 25th. Many who had ventured forth during the daylight hours found themselves in the middle of some hazardous travelling after dusk. Not unusual for this time of year and this winter seems to have being able to turn on a dime patented thus far. It can be 40 above one day and well below zero the next. It was a white Christmas until the 26th when we saw temperatures turn much of the snow to ice. The good news is the snow has not contained much water so the ice isn’t very thick. Another thaw and much of that will leave too.

Was time to repower the indoor/outdoor thermometer as the batteries had given up outside, about a year from when the remote sensor was placed outdoors. All this new fangled stuff is nice but it always takes a mad scramble to find the instruction book to make sure you’re doing everything according to Hoyle. For some reason waiting for 10 minutes to put the batteries in is one of those things that usually falls under the “nice if you’d do this but not absolutely necessary” category. Nope, they mean it. Patience is a virtue.

Warmer temperatures recorded by said thermometer are reflected in the bird numbers at the feeders. They also seem to take turns showing up. For instance, on Saturday morning at the thistle feeders it was primarily siskins sans goldfinches. Sunday, it was all goldfinches. Given that many of their natural food sources were back above the snow banks, their reliance on the handouts was less.

With all the ice that has suddenly formed, it was time to put the chains on the tractor over the weekend. This used to be an annual ritual growing up. We had two sets of chains, one for the E-3, which made it easier to haul manure out to the field and one set on the snow moving tractor, the E-4. When Dad would be moving snow at night, those chains used to sound almost like Santa’s sleigh bells. With the advent of radial tires, have managed to get by the last several years without putting the chains on the 656. Figure if by putting them on we don’t have any more snow storms this winter, it was worth it. It’s still a hassle though and has to be done properly. There is a right way and a wrong way to put them on. Fortunately, was tutored by one of Ellendale’s finest chain putter on-ers, DG, when he lived across the way from us before moving to Thompson Oaks. I still have the set of chains he sold me all those years ago.

Getting the chains out of the back of the shed and dragging all the junk in the way along with them is a given. Getting them on the tire straight and not twisted of course is crucial. It’s a slow process and a lot of off and on if you’re doing it by yourself. It’s also important to get them on right side out and not backwards. They’ll go on the other way but the hooks where the chains attach to the outer ring should face away from the tire so as not to dig into the sidewall. If they’re on backwards, the latch on some types would catch and the chains would come off. Also, after the chains have been on the tires awhile, it’s not a bad idea to check to see if they’ve loosened up. If they have, one can always pick up a link or two so they don’t come flying off in the dark. Of course, nowadays people don’t mess with chains much anymore what with bigger tractors and front wheel assist but they sure come in handy when icy conditions make it impossible to move snow without them.

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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good read as aways Dotch!

randy






























« Last Edit: December 12/30/08, 08:57:27 PM by Randy Kaar »
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Offline Dotch

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Nothing changes on New Year's Day

Playing close to the vest on the snowfall, the scurs forgot to omit the first digit off of some of last weekend’s temperatures. This week finds us cold but seasonal with chances of light snow. Starting Wednesday, skies should be partly cloudy with the high reaching 20 and lows of 0 to 5 above. Partly cloudy Thursday with a slight chance of snow in the evening, high of 15 - 20 and low of 10. Friday, partly cloudy, chance of snow, with a high of 20 and a low of 0 - 5. Saturday, partly cloudy, high of 10 and low of 5. Clear on Sunday, slightly warmer, high of 20 and low of 5 – 10. Monday and Tuesday, cloudy, chance of snow, high of 25 and low of 5. Normal high for January 9th is 22 and the normal low is 2. On the 9th, we begin to see the sun rising earlier in addition to setting later. Hoping to stimulate the local economy, the scurs are divesting in their used Vikings memorabilia.

The Full Moon for the month will occur for us on January 10th in spite of what the calendars say. If you read the fine print, the calendars say 3:27 UTC and since we’re on Central Daylight Time, we subtract 6 hours from that to arrive at 9:27 p.m. This is known as the Full Wolf Moon as the wolves would move in closer to the overwintering tribes hunkered down for the winter. The Ojibwe knew this as the Great Spirit Moon and the Sioux called it the Moon of Frost in the Teepee. After coming home late a few times, suspect several of the little fat buddies can relate.

Rainfall on Saturday made our slippery conditions even more slippery. Stopped over at my favorite feed store in Hope and the proprietor claimed he’d sold over 3 tons of grit in 50 lb. bags this past week. Thinking that it probably isn’t because people are suddenly feeding more chickens, there are lots of people out there who would rather remain upright as opposed to falling on their own private hockey rinks or in our case, a bobsled run. One can only imagine that emergency rooms are doing a land office business as a result of all this ice. I know it doesn’t pay to be in a hurry as I was very careful during chores Sunday night until filling the bird feeders when I decided it was a good idea to hustle to see the last quarter of the Vikings game. In the dark, down I went. Somehow the bucket of sunflower seed escaped unscathed. My wrist is another story.

It’s always fun to see some of the projects one started several years ago starting to bear fruit. The windbreak we started nearly a decade ago has begun to take shape. While out gawking on New Year’s Day, was amazing to see how much snow the dogwood was stopping and how the same was true of some of the larger spruce and arborvitae. There has been a noticeable reduction in the amount of snow in the feed lot, even though the way the wind howls out here on the prairie, one would’ve expected more.

The birds have provided some enjoyment on these cold winter afternoons. There are still hordes of goldfinches that descend seemingly out of nowhere. Sunday afternoon, noticed the first common redpoll at the feeders seen in many moons. They may be named “common” but along with the pine siskins and a white-winged crossbill back in November, they’ve been anything but common in our yard. This redpoll was a male; however with feeding stations on 3 sides of the house, it’s hard to tell who might be where at any given moment. Didn’t see the mourning doves this past weekend so suspect they headed for warmer climes. Mrs. Cheviot saw a large group of pheasants in the sumac and plum thicket when she came home from work the other day. Now that the hunting season is closed, they apparently know where the feeder is judging by the tracks around it. They also know where the foodplot is. Checking that while looking at the windbreak, the snow is about ear-level on the corn. Lots of pheasant tracks there also and the rows of red cobs indicate they’ll probably be looking for additional food if the winter continues pulling some of the stunts it has.

Can’t believe that doing “chorse” in the winter has ever been anyone’s favorite. Fighting the ice and feeding hay outside on these blustery days makes one question why. If you have animals though, they must be cared for regardless. It’s your duty. Getting to the shed to feed hay out of the wind is always a goal. Growing up on the farm too, there were always locations where the tasks were more pleasant than others.

The chicken coop was also one of those “nicer” places. Tucked between the granary and barn, the wind wasn’t a factor. Inside there were enough laying hens to keep the henhouse from freezing although, Dad kept an electric heater plugged in under the 2-part galvanized waterer. Every few days we’d haul a 5 gallon bucket of hot water out to dump in it. When it got bitterly cold sometimes a few eggs in the nests would freeze even though they were gathered twice a day. Was amusing after throwing to watch them bounce rather than splat! Under icy conditions, the biggest challenge about gathering the eggs (aside from the tossing the old biddy off the nest who’d tweak the skin on your wrist between your coat and the cuff on your glove) was making it back to the house intact. While our chickens laid brown eggs with slightly tougher shells than their white counterparts, more than once the pails wound up a gooey mess after taking a spill. Nothing to do other than pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and resume the shuffle towards warmer quarters and the hot breakfast Mom had prepared.

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

Offline Dotch

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It's winter in my consciousness...

The scurs were on track last week, calling for cold and snow and by golly, it snowed and got cold. This week? We get treated to some major cold. Fortunately the duration of the deepest part of the cold will be short. Starting Wednesday, cloudy, chance of snow with a high of zero to 5 above. Low of – 15 to – 20. Thursday, clear, high of – 5 and low of – 15 to – 20. Partly cloudy Friday and slightly warmer with a chance of flurries in the evening. High of 5 above and low of 5 below. Warmer Saturday, partly cloudy with a chance of more flurries. High of 10 – 15 and low of 5. Sunday, partly cloudy, high of 25 and low of 15. Monday and Tuesday, cloudy, highs of 25 – 30 and lows of 15. More ice showers expected on Monday evening with the ice changing to snow on Tuesday. Normal high for January 16th is 22 and the normal low is 2. In the past week, we’ve gained approximately 11 minutes of daylight. The scurs should be breaking out the suntan lotion and lawn chairs in celebration anytime now.

So far this has been the winter of nuisance snowfall. Doesn’t snow a lot but it seems to do it at inopportune times. Since it’s nice fluffy snow, it manages to blow it into inopportune places. About all that can be done is to move it around and get ready for the next few inches. The grit is still selling like hotcakes at my favorite feed store in Hope. Even my kindly neighbor was there stocking up on it so it isn’t just at the ranch. Putting hay into the feeders the other morning, the snowplow went by sending plumes of snow into the air with every finger drift he hit. Could even smell the odor of metal from the sparks being created as the blade scraped the pavement. Darned ice is still glued on!

The birds are still responding to the weather also. The days before major weather events there’s a feeding frenzy and the amount of seed consumed is higher. The male redpoll was still here over the weekend and did locate a female so there are two of them. They took a shine to the finch mix in the small metal screened feeder, generally the only two on it Saturday. No siskins that day however. No redpolls on Sunday but the siskins were back. Goldfinch hordes both days. Stocked up on more suet for the woodpeckers with the colder weather forecast. They’ve fastidiously been working over the dead limbs on the silver maples. Could take them down but since they’re not hurting anything and the downies and hairies enjoy them, no reason to move that task ahead on the “to do” list.

The dogs await choretime morning and night with great anticipation. There really isn’t that much for them to do although they like to believe they have a purpose, not unlike most people I know. Lucy likes to check the yard and granary for kitties while Gus is initially interested in chasing the rabbits and treeing the squirrels. Being 12 years old, Lucy gets cold after a half hour or so. When Mrs. Cheviot finishes her portion of the chores, they repair to the warmth of the garage once again. Gus usually remains behind, “helping” me finish watering. Once the water is turned on to fill each bucket, he lives for putting his front paws on the gate and snuggling up next to me, all the while his tail wagging furiously as I tell him how silly he looks. Not exactly certain how Gus learned how to do this. As long as he enjoys it, that’s OK with me.

Getting a look at the ewes in the daylight, it appears they will be due to start lambing in about another month to 6 weeks. Always difficult to tell exactly when although once they’re shorn, one can see changes occur more readily. That’s coming up too. Normally we shoot for Lincoln’s birthday, sometimes not a moment too soon. Lambs occasionally hit the ground a day or two afterwards.

Last week I wrote about places growing up where one could get in out of the elements during chores. The main barn under the haymow where the sheep overwintered was another one of those areas. Kept well-bedded, it was dry and warm, especially after shearing. The haymow was drafty but out of the direct wind. Watching our Lab, Chico, climb the ladder to the haymow was always entertaining, even if it was cold. It always felt good though after tossing the hay down out of the mow to get back in to the warmer part of the barn. After snapping the twine strings (knot side up), and plopping the bales into the mangers, one moved on to the next task, watering, bedding or whatever the case might be. Standing around wasn’t an option.

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

Offline Dotch

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And I'm hungry like the wolf...

If the scurs get any more accurate, they will be banned from betting on the Super Bowl! Cold and snow abounded last week and the warm up on its heels were just as predicted. This week? More below normal but minus the abysmal drop in temperatures. Wednesday, partly cloudy with a high of 30 – 35 and a low of 15. Thursday slightly cooler, partly cloudy, a high of 25 and low of 5. Cooler Friday under partly cloudy skies. High of 15 and low of 0 to – 5. Still cooler on Friday and Saturday, highs of 5 to 10 and lows of 0 to – 5. Slight chance of light snow Saturday. Partly cloudy Sunday, high of 10 and low of 0 to – 5. Monday and Tuesday, cloudy becoming partly cloudy. Highs of 10 – 15 and lows near 0. Normal high for January 23 is 23 and normal low is 2. In the last week, we’ve gained 13 minutes of daylight. Some of the weather gurus are saying this week is traditionally the coldest of the year. The data however would say last week was colder. Let’s hope so. With a -28.9 for the overnight low on the 15th, the scurs have been catching a lot more ice while ice fishing.

This installment completes 6 years of Fencelines columns. No, I’m not stopping although some probably wish I would. It’s been a fun ride and hopefully it continues to be so. Sure, there are weeks when the words flow more easily and the columns practically themselves. Other times, it’s more of a struggle although, sometimes, not always, those are the weeks someone finds something they really enjoyed and lets me know about it. Just goes to show, not everyone enjoys everything about the column every week including the writer. The biggest problem continues to be where to spend all the extra cash being generated by this venture.

Despite the Gopher men’s basketball team stubbing their toe against Northwestern on Sunday, it was a great week to watch Gopher sports. The men’s hockey team swept St. Cloud St. over the weekend and one had to be impressed at the overtime men’s basketball win against Bucky Badger at the Kohl Center, the first time ever. The women’s basketball team upset The Ohio St. University at Columbus too so that warmed us all last Thursday even though it was a tad chilly outside. The best thing about basketball is the halftime when on those chilly Saturday afternoons; a nap can easily break out as the snow blows by the window.

The birds have been busy catching up at the feeders after Saturday’s blustery weather. Was so glad RH from Little Jerusalem came to pick the load of lambs when he did. The bird feeders were relatively quiet during the inclement weather that followed. There was a rooster pheasant hunkered down by the ear corn feeder all afternoon however. Sunday to the west of Mom’s a group of 4 Huns flew off from the edge of the road where they’d been picking up a little grit just before sundown. Good to see they’ve made it this far.

Had some sad news in the food department last week: After the cold spell last week, I checked the squash I’d so dutifully hauled upstairs in the house last fall and they were frozen! Had hoped there were still a few survivors but alas, ‘twas not to be. Oh well, the sheep will enjoy still enjoy them, after they thaw out again of course. A little extra vitamin A at this point won’t hurt them.

The little fat buddies enjoyed more warm, fresh cinnamon rolls last week courtesy of CS. Those are tough to beat, especially after a cold start to the day. Makes it worth coming in to work just to see if might happen to be a pan of those delectable coils of caramel, walnuts and cinnamon. Mom made her signature bars of caramel, cocoa, chocolate and walnuts and slipped them into a pan she was returning. Am hoarding those. Betsy and her Dad were in bright and early Monday morning at the Mall for Men with the Girl Scout cookie order blank. No sign of an economic downturn anytime soon at the cookie factories. Makes your mouth water just thinking about it, doesn’t it?

Have to confess, the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street was patterned after me. Few things more enjoyable than a warm, fresh out of the oven pan of cookies and a glass of milk, especially after working outside in the cold. At the ranch, the cupboards and drawers have been scoured for the last of the Christmas goodies. They are scarce but when discovered they become a short-lived endangered species. As a lad, Mom used to uncover our goodie-seeking operations. There was typically something in the baking ingredient department worth snacking on when those hunger pangs would strike, which was frequently. When Mom would ask who’d eaten all the chocolate chips, we’d usually leave a few rattling around in the bottom of the bag so we could honestly say we didn’t eat them all.

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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Congrats on the 6 years anniversary!
 :toast:

randy
Voted #1 Outdoors Website in MN ( www.mnoutdoorsman.com )!
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Offline HD

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mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm......cooooooookies......


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

Offline Bobby Bass

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Did I hear cookies!!!!  congrats Dotch! always a good read..
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!

Offline Dotch

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Thanks guys! After a morning of office cleaning, some cookies (and not the internet kind) sound pretty good right about now. There's no bakery in town anymore so those Girl Scout cookies can't get here fast enough! :chef:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline kingfisher1

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Thanks guys! After a morning of office cleaning, some cookies (and not the internet kind) sound pretty good right about now. There's no bakery in town anymore so those Girl Scout cookies can't get here fast enough! :chef:

hope you stocked up!!!!!!
walleyes, pannies, esox, cats, I don't care, let's go fishing!!