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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #750 on: January 28, 2020, 10:09:39 AM »
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

The scurs and the Weather Eye are on fire. Old Man Winter continues to nod off and we continue to reap the benefits. Will our fortunes change in February or are we golden? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with highs in the low 20’s with lows dropping into the mid-teens. Thursday cloudy with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low 20’s.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with snow chances increasing later in the day. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s.  Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny on Ground Hog Day with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the mid-single digits. On Ground Hog Day we go over 9 hours and 54 minutes of daylight, having gained slightly more than an hour of the precious commodity since the winter solstice. The sun will rise just before 7:30 a.m. on the 2nd as well. The normal high for Ground Hog Day is 24 and the normal low is 5. The scurs are likely to see their shadow. Whether they do or not, spring here in the hinterlands is always 6 weeks away, even in May.

Still, this was a kinder, gentler January than last year’s model. Last year at this time we’d faced a couple snowstorms of major proportion, not to mention enduring some of the coldest low temperatures in years. It didn’t get any better in February and in fact, overall got worse. This February brings some promise even though some weather pundits are calling for below normal temps. How far below normal is what’s debatable. One of the sources is calling for a lot of highs in the 20’s and lows in the single digits. That’s bearable and some would say if it brings the sun along for the ride, all the better. Cloudy weather with nickel-dime snowfall is the price we have paid for the above normal temps we’ve enjoyed in January. Most furnaces are not complaining.

We’re not complaining either about the lower feed consumption or bedding necessary so far at the ranch. With the warmer temps the ewe flock has been glad to sleep outside most of January. The fresh air is healthy for them. Cramming them into a barn and closing the door at night without proper ventilation is probably the worst thing one can do. It helps spread diseases such as ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP). While it’s important to have shelter to allow them to get inside during windy and inclement weather, it’s amazing how fast they want to get back outside once the weather settles down.
Hay while not lacking at the ranch is still plenty tight. The round bale supply has held up so far but the small squares are the issue. Finding some decent hay to feed without breaking the bank is a challenge. I was fortunate enough last week to get a livestock trailer full of acceptable quality, alfalfa-grass mix small squares. It wasn’t as nice and green as what I’d baled but beggars can’t be choosers. I paid plenty for them but not as much as some ads I’d looked at. Good alfalfa hay in small squares is going for up to $10 a bale. If the bales average 50 lbs., that’s $400/ton. For that price it better be good.
 
The bottle lamb we saved last week continues to reside in the house in spite of a near fatal bout with some bug soon after press time. Whatever it was, the antibiotic treatment seemed to help. Feeding her some colostrum we’d saved from last year in the freezer probably didn’t hurt either once the antibiotic levels went down in her system. Without colostrum it’s difficult for a bottle lamb to get their immunity built up, especially when they’ve been stressed to start with. She definitely was picking up steam over the weekend, getting much more active and banging off the sides of the tote we had her in. Sunday night the banging stopped so we figured she’d gone to sleep. Nope, she was out of the tote and trotting through the kitchen to watch TV with us. Must be a basketball fan.

Ruby’s nose has been out of joint with the newcomer in the house. We have to feed the bottle lamb numerous times a day so that amount of attention doesn’t go unnoticed by an attention starved Border Collie. Actually I’ve tried to compensate by making sure to take Ruby out with me while doing jobs like moving round bales, unloading feed, cleaning out wagons, working on equipment, etc. She can let off steam biting tires and barking as we go about it. The extra time outside and exercise is good for her. Best of all, it seems to wear her out so she doesn’t need to go outside at night as frequently. The only downside is when she sleeps on the bed, she snores loudly. Not that I really notice. It can downright shake the windows and rattle the walls when I chime in.

See you next week…real good then.
 

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #751 on: February 04, 2020, 11:58:42 AM »
Don’t turn your back on me, baby

The scurs and the Weather Eye continue on a tear. Someone must’ve given Old Man Winter a sedative. Do we start talking about an early spring or does the old curmudgeon have other plans? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows around 10. Thursday mostly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the mid-teens.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with slight snow chances decreasing later in the day. Highs in the upper teens with lows in the upper single digits. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the upper teens. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the low 20’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens. On the 9th, a week after Ground Hog Day we have a normal high of 26 and a normal low of 7. Whether the scurs saw their shadow or not, we will have six more weeks of winter. We always do even when we don’t.

We escaped January relatively unscathed. Sure we got some cold temperatures but they were a far cry from what we experienced last January. Snowfall too. This time around we measured 10” at the ranch and in Bugtussle as well. Normal snowfall at the SROC for January is 9.5”. Much of our snow this time around has melted. The view across the prairie on Monday revealed a lot of soil starting to poke through across many fields.  Last January snowfall was around 17” at the ranch and in town. The worst part of that was it fell during the last half of the month and much of it stayed. Once into February it got serious about snowing.
 
We finally saw the sun! Oh ye of little faith. It took until a brief spell on Friday then we got the forenoon sun on Saturday after many forecasts had changed indicating we wouldn’t see it period. Sunday was absolutely glorious with highs in the upper 30’s. People were downright giddy and who can blame them? One could hear the hustle and bustle across the landscape as snowmobiles were out on the trails, knowing their days might be numbered. Ice fishermen were out as well, knowing that with 16” – 18” of good ice they could drive out and park largely wherever it suited them.
 
At the ranch the cabin fever was starting to take its toll as well. Both Saturday and Sunday were good days to do things like move snow away from the LP tank, scrape the ice off the walk, fill the bird feeders and shovel the snow off the patio so the grilling could commence. It had been a while and there’s just something about preparing food outside that doesn’t have to be boiled, fried, baked or nuked that’s very satisfying. With the power the sun had already mustered it was amazing to watch the snow disintegrate on the dark colored pavers. To look out and see the large blocks of snow piled in testament to the effort it took made it that much sweeter.

The sheep liked the thaw as well. It’s interesting to notice them eating the snow when it becomes good snowball packing consistency. The subsequent reduction in water consumption is evident when you peer in the tank and notice not much has been consumed. The bad thing of course is in their full fleeces, there’s little reason to get inside to lamb. They’re warm and using sheep logic therefore everyone else is including a newborn lamb born outside. One ewe demonstrated that on Sunday, getting on the leeward side of a brush pile and completing the birthing process there. We were expecting nothing less and got them corralled in short order. We’ll change their strategy for them shortly with shearing slated in the near term. If temperatures remain moderate it should make everyone happy.

Chores have been much easier this winter than last so far without the constant snowfall and subzero temperatures to deal with. The additional round bale feeder makes the process go more quickly and there have been several times when the small water buckets haven’t frozen. We’re still graced with the presence of a surprisingly large contingent of pheasants to entertain us at choretime. Monday morning as we headed into the garage a group started flying out of the pine trees in the front yard. I lost count at about 20 and they kept coming. Good to see numbers that we hadn’t seen since the early days of the CRP.
 
The bottle lamb continues her extended stay in the house. She really grew this past week, a far cry from the half frozen baby beaten by her mother and left to die. The lamb’s wheels have really developed as has her Cheviot sense of curiosity. You really don’t want to turn your back on her. She’s gone in a flash, checking out the bedroom or the houseplants. The bedroom carpet and the houseplants attract her like a magnet. Fortunately she likes to be picked up and brought back to the entry way, convinced it’s feeding time. She’s usually right. And since she likes nibbling on the houseplants, we’ve given her a handful of hay and starter pellets to pick at. She’s about ready for the next step and that’s to move her kennel to the garage. Edging closer to time for her to learn she is a sheep.
 
Sometimes I get the urge to watch a movie especially on nights when Gunsmoke isn’t on. I saw The Last Picture Show Sunday night, a movie I hadn’t seen in over 40 years. Several Hank Williams tunes are featured and it sets the tone well for a movie about teens coming of age in a small dying town in north Texas circa 1951. The cast was star studded and including names like Cybil Shepherd, Jeff Bridges and Randy Quaid whose movie acting careers were in their fledgling stage. There was also some nudity and strong language which made it somewhat risqué back in 1971, at least in some circles. After watching the flick I had several thoughts, primarily that adolescents really haven’t changed much emotionally since then, small, dying towns are still dying and there were a lot of old Fords, Chevys and Buicks involved. No Studebakers however. Must not have been any dealers nearby.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #752 on: February 12, 2020, 11:14:16 AM »
Just leave a message, maybe I’ll call

The scurs and the Weather Eye are on a mission. Someone must’ve given Old Man Winter a stool softener Sunday. Is our early spring a wrong number or just on hold? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of snow Highs in the low 30’s with lows around -10. Yes, that’s a minus sign, Thursday mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs around -5 with lows in the mid-teens below zero.  Mostly sunny on Valentine’s Day with slight snow chances increasing later in the day. Highs in the mid-teens with temperatures rising overnight to near 20. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-teens. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows around 20. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the upper teens. The normal high on Valentine’s Day is 27 and the normal low is 9.After running on fumes the scurs will replenish their goodie supply.

I missed the Full Moon last week for whatever reason although the period between the Full Moons is actually what counts. Last Sunday’s Full Moon is known as the Snow Moon as this is one of the snowiest months across North America. It also was known as the Full Hunger Moon by the tribes as deep snow made harvesting game more difficult and winter food supplies were dwindling. The Ojibwe called this the Sucker Moon as the fish were running in rivers and streams. The Sioux named it The Raccoon Moon as the raccoons became active along with their pals the skunks and opossums. At the ranch it’s the Full Sleepless Moon for obvious reasons.

We got plenty of snow from a system on Sunday that in some circles was being called a clipper system. Typically clipper systems dump a few inches of snow and are on their way. While it moved through quickly, this one was an anomaly with snow measuring up to 15” in places. At the ranch it was closer to 10” and in Bugtussle around 8”. It contained more water than it seemed. Part of that may have had something to do with the snow pellets or graupel that fell on the tail end of the storm. It was easy to deal with as far as shoveling or blowing. It was the first significant snowfall for us for February and none too soon. It was definitely time to blow some of the Ruby logs off the yard and into the ditch. Unfortunately the east wind prevented me from hitting the road.

Recently I’ve been inundated with calls from telemarketers. Google business listing is one of the worst. It’s to the point where if it’s a number I don’t recognize I simply don’t answer it. If it’s important, someone will leave a message and maybe I’ll call back. Some suggest you should answer the telemarketers’ calls and ask them to take you off their list. That only seems to encourage more of them to call as near as I can tell. Probably the most annoying incident was recently I received a quick succession of calls from someone in Winona with no message. Finally, curiosity got the best of me and I called the number thinking it might be an emergency or better yet, I might be able to chew someone a new one. It turned out some telemarketer was using my number making the person on the other end think it was me making the calls. With what they cost in time spent blocking their numbers and missed business opportunities there has become no place for these parasites in our society. I know what John Wayne would’ve done and it wouldn’t have been pretty, pilgrim.

We survived another shearing session at the ranch. It’s always preferable when lambing season rolls around as it makes for a lot more pleasant experience. The ewes stay drier, they go inside to lamb rather than dumping them in a snowbank and the lambs can get at the business end of the ewe more easily if they’re not battling the wool. It also keeps the barn warmer when all those bodies are in there letting off all that body heat instead of keeping it under 4” of insulation. Something else that’s a factor and it relates to a question several have asked recently about sheep dying if they get flipped on their backs.

Yes, it’s true that sheep can die if flipped on their backs. They lack the capability to right themselves easily and humankind probably hasn’t helped. For lots of chops, we’ve selected for animals that are wide and flat over the top. This is also where shearing comes into play. Let’s say someone strapped a couch cushion on your back. Think how much more difficult it would be to right yourself. Same goes for a heavy fleece. Factor in being plump, heavy with lambs and full of feed. A sheep is like a cow only the skidsteer or minivan version. That four compartment stomach system is crammed in there pretty tight. Now fill it full of feed and gas. Flip the sheep on its backs and it puts tremendous pressure on the lungs. If you find the sheep quickly enough and get them righted, there is no damage. If they’ve been that way for many hours and have been struggling, the results are seldom rewarding. If the sheep get flipped over on some ice, they melt themselves into the ice and become hypothermic. That stress alone is usually enough to kill them and if it doesn’t, pneumonia seems to follow.

Ruby’s three days of torment will have passed by press time. I’m referring of course to the Westminster Dog Show. Starting with the agility trials on Sunday and two consecutive nights of shows, it’s almost more than a TV watching Border Collie can handle.  Certainly elicits large quantities of growling and barking. The effect of handlers circling their dogs around the ring seems to be the worst especially when the view shows the dogs close up on the move. It’s only three days though and the rest of the year, all it takes is to say the magic words, “dog on TV”. Ruby will awaken from a dead sleep and launch herself off the couch at one of the usual suspects. Instant entertainment.
 
See you next week…real good then. 
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #753 on: February 18, 2020, 02:56:24 PM »
I’m a man of wealth and taste…

The scurs are thinking the Weather Eye must contain Kelvinator freezer parts. Will we start to warm up again or is the Ice Age upon us? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-single digits and lows around -15. Yes, that’s a minus sign, again. Thursday sunny with highs around 10 above and lows in the mid-single digits.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Saturday, Washington’s real birthday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 30’s and lows around 20. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of a wintry mix, maybe even some graupel. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. The normal high on February 22nd is 30 and the normal low is 12. Having replenished their sweets, the scurs can focus their sweet tooth on April 12th.
 
It was another roller coaster ride last week as far as temperatures go. The below zero high on Valentine’s Day brought back memories of last year’s February when lows dipped below zero on 17 of the 28 days. That memory was short-lived though as by Saturday, temperatures rebounded nicely into the low 30’s. Sunday’s mid-20’s were tolerable too as was Monday’s low 30’s high. Old Man Winter dumped what appears to have been another 5+” of snow on us after being led to believe that we were in for a light dusting or a wintry mix. Can’t send it back as they say but we can shovel, push or blow it out of the way until the next storm shows up.

Speaking of moving snow, that reminds me of a conversation I had with my LP delivery man. I certainly don’t enjoy wading through waist deep snow to check to gauge on the tank and I’m reasonably sure the delivery man feels the same when he fills it. I asked him if people are good about that and he responded that only about 10% of people take the time to clean snow out around their tank. Yipped! I don’t know about you, but I’ve burned lots of different fuels to stay warm including, wood, natural gas, kerosene, fuel oil and LP. It’s comforting knowing that LP tank is full. I appreciate that when I come in the house from chores the house will be warm. I have to be out there moving snow anyway. It seems silly not to clean out around the tank. Likewise with the mailbox. This a.m. I was out there with the skidsteer cleaning up the mess the snow plow left and it took under a minute.
       
Some cold weather followed our shearing at the ranch and is frequently the case, the ewes started dumping lambs left and right. Our luck has been just so-so. There have been more ewes not claiming lambs and beating them. This makes me question what some of the rams we’re using and the subsequent ewes we have out of them have been crossed up with. Cheviots are traditionally some of the best mothers in the sheep industry. As is frequently the case, when some of this crossing is done with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, and the animal is passed off as “purebred”, some of the integrity of the breed no matter what kind of livestock it is, tends to go by the wayside. Bigger is not always better. When I’m out in the barn I like to see ewes mother their lambs and the lambs get up and be able to do it on their own. If I have a barn full of animals I have to babysit, I don’t want them and pretty sure no one else does either.

Ruby got no respite from the dog shows this past week. It turns out that there was a Rescue Dog show on for a couple more nights so more torment for a TV watching Border Collie. One can only bark and growl so much. She does seem to be getting revenge for our entertainment at her expense however. Whether it’s in response to the dog shows or just due to the warmer than normal winter, Ruby is already shedding like mad. I brushed several big wads of fur out of her coat and judging by the hairs my sweatshirt I certainly didn’t get all of it. Let’s hope she’s trying to tell us that spring will be coming sooner than later unlike the last couple years.

This winter is starting to wear on me. My vocabulary degradation has reflected that lately. First the Gophers basketball team got beat by hated Iowa on Sunday. Afterwards, trying to unhook from the snow blower took more time than it should have because everything was froze up on it. Then the bale spear for the three point dropped a bale requiring some readjustment to get it where it belonged. In the process the bale hooked and dragged a bunch of electric fence along with it, the yellow insulators zipping past the cab like bullets. I was getting pretty lathered up with all the diddling around, off and on and up and down. The air was getting pretty blue by the time the afternoon was over.
 
I still remember getting my mouth washed out with soap when I’d dare use some of those words. Mom wasted little time reacting. It was grab you by the scruff of the neck, drag you over to the sink and say “Open your mouth!” She used the heavy artillery too. Good old Lava soap, not some floral scented bath soap. For good measure if you’d really torqued her off she’d scrape the bar on your front teeth. The Lava soap tasted bad enough but the gritty texture of the pumice left a lasting impression, enough so you wouldn’t use those words again, at least not in her presence. Probably a good thing she wasn’t around to hear my performance Sunday. I can almost taste the Lava now.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #754 on: February 25, 2020, 11:12:20 AM »
Dream until your dreams come true

After making a call to their local Nash-Rambler dealer, the scurs got them to take the Kelvinator freezer parts off the Weather Eye. Will our warming trend continue or will the woolly mammoths invade once again? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs near 20 and lows around 5. Thursday partly sunny with highs in the mid-teens and lows around zero.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-teens and lows around 5. Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows around 30. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of a wintry mix. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. The sun will set at 6 p.m. CST on February 27th. The normal high for March 1st is 33 and the normal low is 16. The scurs are thinking that March will definitely come in like a lamb. Might have some diarrhea but a lamb just the same.

We did manage to get back out of the deep freeze once again, something that has been characteristic of this winter vs. last year’s model. It may get cold but the duration typically has been short. We did get plenty of mileage out of the last week’s February snow however. It laid around then blew and got stuck to the roads, making county blacktops an absolute fright to drive on for several days. Packed on snow and ice prior to that made the roads rutted so utmost attention was required if one wanted to avoid going in the ditch. The ditches filled up too which doesn’t bode well if we receive large amounts of March snowfall.

There are some subtle glimpses of spring already happening. Actually some of them have been in place since January. The horned larks that we normally start to notice in February have been in evidence since back in January. Does that mean it’ll be an early spring? No, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be either. The male cardinals were heard singing at choretime on Monday morning and the chickadees have begun their spring “fee-bee” song as well. The pheasants that spent much of February sleeping in the trees at the ranch in large numbers are dispersing more. They wing their way through the yard yet regularly with roosters appearing to stake claims to their turf. What has been comical to watch is the backyard encounters between the fox squirrels and the pheasants. Neither knows quite what to think of the other and warily keep their distance just in case. Oddly enough both share a common interest in the ear corn.

The weather warming up over the weekend allowed us to finally move some lambs out of the lambing barn into the loafing area in the main barn. It was definitely about time. Climbing over panels and gates to feed in the lambing barn isn’t my idea of a good time especially when there are a bunch of fat, knot headed ewes trying to get at the hanging feeders you’re carrying. Prior to moving the animals out of the pens, the lambs need to be docked, tagged and vaccinated while the ewes get an overeating disease booster along with ivermectin to rid them of external and any lingering internal parasites. The overeating disease shot does not work on humans.
 
It’s a noisy affair with lambs and ewes expressing their displeasure with being uprooted and transplanted to another facility. Sometimes for the ewes their protests take the form of downright defiance, heading in precisely the opposite direction that you’d like them to go. Usually if there are twins, the ewe follows fairly well as the scent and sound of the lamb serves as a beacon for them. With some of the single lambs, especially with younger ewes, the bond is there but the process hasn’t been experienced before. The tendency can be to bolt in any direction. Ruby helps run interference in those instances, at least making the ewe think twice and heading her back towards her lamb instead.

Once in the main pen the lambs come unwound like springs, hopping and running in their newly found, larger open area. Like most farm animals, fresh bedding makes their day. The hay is more accessible too so they can continue consuming more dry feed. In another six to eight weeks it would be wonderful to have enough pasture and room to wean some of these lambs we just moved. Chances are that won’t happen but we can always dream.

Ruby is somewhat happier as of late. The bottle lambs living in the entryway made their way into the garage finally. It isn’t as warm but the floor is heated. 50 degrees vs. below zero as it’s been outside feels pretty good. When the car is out of the garage they’re allowed out of their kennels to tear around and get a workout in while we prepare their bottles. Something we’ve tried to do and it appears to be succeeding is the inclusion of a starter pellet dish in their enclosures. They love it as well as nibbling on the small handfuls of hay we give them. If the weather continues to make progress, it won’t be long and they’ll wind up in a pen in the loafing area. Eventually they’ll discover they are sheep. If not we’ll always think they should have.

Auntie Mar Mar took pity on me once again as Unkie Greg paid a visit to my office Monday. Obviously concerned I might starve to death during lambing season, she’d baked a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies and had Gregory deliver them along with some frozen waffles for me. I’m not sure we have any frozen waffles on hand presently but if we do you can bet they’re freezer burned. These are fresh so I won’t know how to act. If I dig deep enough in the freezer though I’m betting I can find some freezer burned egg rolls to go with 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)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #755 on: March 03, 2020, 10:53:59 AM »
You've got to carry weapons cause you always carry cash

With the woolly mammoths in full retreat thanks to the Nash-Rambler dealer the scurs and their vaunted Weather Eye set their sights on this week’s forecast. Has Old Man Winter gone into hibernation or is he just taking a power nap?  Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Thursday partly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the (brace yourself) mid-50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of a forenoon rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows around 30. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of a wintry mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Daylight Saving Time goes into effect on the 8th. We reach 11 hours and 30 minutes of daylight on the 9th. The normal high for March 9th is 36 and the normal low is 20. The scurs will be setting their clocks ahead at precisely 2 a.m. as per government mandate. The nanny state lives at least for one more year!

The Full Moon for the month occurs on the 9th and goes by several names. It is most commonly known as The Full Worm Moon. It’s during this period that once the soil thaws, the earthworms make it to the surface and begin leaving their castings behind. It is also known as The Full Crow Moon, The Full Sap Moon and The Full Lenten Moon as settlers considered it the last Full Moon of winter. The Ojibwe called it The Snow Crust Moon as thawing during the day and freezing hard at night leaves a hard crust on the snow. The Sioux knew it as The Moon when Buffalo Drop their Calves. At the ranch, it is The Full Mud Moon. One only needs look at Ruby the Border Collie after chores and the reason becomes obvious.

Daylight Saving Time as mentioned takes place on Sunday. Hopefully this will be one of the last times we’ll have to deal with the insipid time change. The message has finally made it through that people are sick and tired of this foolishness. They want their sleep and clocks left alone. As the federal law stands now, states have always had the right to opt out and remain on standard time if desired. Some places such as Hawaii and Arizona do just that. The state of MN is considering staying on Daylight Saving Time year round as are several other states. It must first get federal approval however before it is enacted if the bill passes at the state level. It really doesn’t matter so long as everyone agrees to a standardized method of dealing with it. If and when it happens, it’ll likely cause some issues in the winter with late sunrises. It won’t be surprising if some schools and businesses adjust their operating schedules accordingly.

It has seemed sometimes as though we haven’t had a lot of snow this winter. That is largely due to the thaws and melting that have occurred, removing much of our snow cover earlier this winter. We’re actually not far off the historical normal snowfall of 39.9” at the SROC in Waseca for the period October through February. For that timeframe at the ranch and at the office in metropolitan Bugtussle this winter we’ve recorded an identical 44.6”. Normal snowfall for March at the SROC is 10.2”. March used to be our snowiest month but has been supplanted by December. More of our precipitation in March has been falling as rain in recent decades.

March did come in like a lamb or several at the ranch. Fortunately the temperatures had moderated so it wasn’t a major factor when they hit the ground. Those born on March 1st were inside so it was a matter of finding the right lambs and matching them up with the right ewes. Not always the easiest task when there is scant evidence left behind. Good mothering sometimes confounds matters when ewes that haven’t lambed claim lambs that aren’t theirs. Then we need the Wisdom of Solomon to divine who belongs to who. Fortunately we must’ve decided right as there were few protests especially from the lambs that were getting plenty to eat.

Finding enough hay for the sheep to eat has been another challenge. Fortunately there is some to be had for a price and travelling outside the normal area is also part of the equation. I’ve run across some pretty nice people to deal with too. The hay isn’t always perfect and you have to carry large amounts of cash, making you feel almost like it's a drug deal going down. The primary thing is to supply roughage to keep the ewe’s rumens working. Both sources of hay so far have been what would qualify as mixed hay with a grass base and some legumes mixed in. Since sheep are more nibblers than gobblers that kind of hay works fine. Fishing the legumes out of the grass first gives them something to do. It helps keep their minds off jumping over panels or wrecking equipment.

The bottle lambs’ tenure in the garage will likely come to a close with the warmer weather. Space in one of the barns can be designated for them. Both have really grown and despite a few bumps in the road they’re generally healthy. We did have to give the buck lamb some oral antibiotic twice a day when the gland between his toes developed a staph infection. Have seen it a few times over my sheep raising career and it takes a while to clear up. The antibiotic smells and apparently must taste like bubble gum. It worked out well to give it to him after his bottle in the morning and at night. After the first dose he was looking for the syringe full of medicine after each bottle feeding. Makes me wonder what he’d do with a piece of bubblegum. Probably stick it to the bottom of his feed pan or spit it out where you’d step in it.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #756 on: March 10, 2020, 11:37:20 AM »
What a wonderful world this would be

More warmth courtesy of the scurs and the Weather Eye set well with almost everyone. Will Old Man Winter continue to snooze or are we in for a rude awakening?  Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Thursday mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-20’s.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of evening rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of rain and snow becoming all snow by evening. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of a forenoon rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows around 30. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of a wintry mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Depending on what day length chart one looks at, we go over 12 hours of daylight somewhere around St. Patrick’s Day. The normal high for March 17th is 40 and the normal low is 23. The scurs have plenty of corned beef and cabbage on hand for the occasion. Probably some green low carb adult beverages to wash it down with as well.

This past Sunday brought us a taste of what we’ve been longing for since October 27th: A high temperature over 50 degrees. It brought with it breezy conditions so if one was out in the wind, it didn’t feel quite that warm. Snow melt was rapid. Much of the scant snow left in the fields disappeared and snow piles along with that in the road ditches shrunk substantially. Luckily there had been a slow, sustained freeze and thaw cycle going on for much of the first week of March, which should help shorten the duration of flooding from the melt. Soils have begun to thaw in places and yards are beginning to firm up as well. At the ranch we generally have quagmire in front of the main barn. However this year it has already lost some of its normal sloppiness. Let’s hope it continues.

Likewise there is evidence that the frost is coming out of the ground. Using my trusty divining rod (electric fence post) on the south facing slope, there were places already on Saturday where the frost was limited and some cases was undetectable at 12”- 18”. In the small garden on that same slope, where the ground had no cover there was no frost at all. This prompted me to purchase some radishes Saturday in case the ground might be fit enough to stab a few of them in. Alas, checking Sunday afternoon there was still moisture wicking its way to the surface in spots, too tacky to consider planting. There will be better days. At least the ground is bare and the frost is out in that spot. That’s a big plus. A year ago on March 9th we were still looking at snow cover of around 20”. What a difference a year makes.

With the warmer temps it has me looking longingly at the Studebaker and getting it ready to go for another season. Seeing and hearing all the motorcycles out and about on Sunday made me especially antsy. There are some things that need to be done to get the Silver Hawk operational although being driven only about 500 miles last year, there wasn’t a lot of wear and tear. I’ll still have the oil changed and get it looked over so there are no major safety concerns. Then it would be nice to get enough rain to wash all the salt and other assorted material off the roads first. Getting some of the mud in the driveway to a more manageable level wouldn’t hurt either.

We are getting down there on the lambing front with only a handful of ewes left to come in. There was a mini-flurry of activity last week but luckily we had processed and moved enough so we had room. We also moved the bottle lambs out of the garage finally to the lambing barn. Warmer temps had a lot to do with it. If the weather had been like it was last year they probably would’ve been in there until Memorial Day! Instead since we always have to go out and check the lambing barn anyway, putting them in there was a slam dunk. The exposure to other sheep might cause the light bulb to come on, making them decide they are actually sheep. It’s also nice to know I can sneak out to the garage freezer once again for ice cream treats without setting off the bottle lamb alarm system.
 
The time change continues to wear on us at the ranch. Turning the clock ahead an hour this time of year is just exactly what we don’t need, especially when it means stumbling around in the dark doing morning chores. This just after starting to enjoy morning daylight, thinking there might be light at the end of the tunnel on what’s been a long, drawn out lambing season. Evidence continues to mount that the DST time change may cause more potential health concerns than first imagined. Studies have now linked it to migraines, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, miscarriages, suicides, diabetes, allergies, and injuries. It has also been linked to immune system suppression, just what no one needs if the coronavirus ever amounts to the media hype.
 
At the ranch we changed the time on as many clocks as we could remember. Each clock has its own quirks. Some of the battery powered models are finicky, stopping once you’ve changed the time. It usually takes some tweaking and swearing or a new battery to get them functional again.  Both of our microwave clocks have a different protocol to reset the time as does the one on the oven. The one in the Buick should be alright because I was too lazy to change it back last fall. Since no one enjoys turning their clocks ahead an hour each spring I’m thinking we should just omit that step. Using the same twisted logic some did when coming up with the DST folly, we should just keep setting our clocks back an hour every fall instead. After all, turnabout is fair play, right? And just think how much healthier and happier we’d all be!

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #757 on: March 18, 2020, 09:28:28 PM »
Nothing has changed except maybe change for the worst

The warmer temps have been put on hold as the scurs and Weather Eye struggle with coronavirus mandates. Will Old Man Winter observe the social distancing guidelines or will he sneeze on us?  Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 40’s. Thursday cloudy with a good chance of rain turning to snow in the overnight. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 20’s.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows around 10. Saturday, sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Meteorological spring began on March 1st and astronomical spring begins March 19th. Either way you coulda fooled me. Depending on what sunrise sunset chart one looks at, the sun will set one the 23rd at 7:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for March 23rd is 43 and the normal low is 25. The scurs will be paying bills with toilet paper, unused of course.

Fields are once again bare. If temperatures and precipitation would cooperate, it wouldn’t take long for fields to become fit for some operations such as anhydrous ammonia. Those with pack manure to haul have taken advantage of frozen ground in the morning to trek across the fields. It’s short-lived though as soil surface turn greasy when the temps go above freezing. The ground has refrozen underneath in some instances as I found when trying to stab in some electric fence posts on Sunday. An inch or two down and it was no go. There were some pussy willows starting to show catkins nearby so at least there was that.

 We keep heading towards the finish line in the lambing department at the ranch. As this season has rolled on, nothing has changed except maybe change for the worst. We were starting to feel good about only two bottle lambs until a ewe that should’ve been culled last year for her lack of performance delivered triplets, She demonstrably hated one of the lambs and didn’t have enough milk for any of them. Instantly up to five mouths to feed by hand. It gets better. Tuesday a.m. a goofy natural colored ewe who was once a bottle lamb herself delivered a set of twins. Only trouble was one of the lambs crawled in behind the water tank so naturally, she wouldn’t accept that lamb. Might as well make it an even half dozen. (sigh)

We’re down to a handful of latecomers although this used to be primetime for lambing back in the day. It’s been a long, drawn out affair this time around with the first lambs hitting the ground back on November 30th, some in December, more in January with an explosion in February. The first 10 days in March were busy too but eventually we’ll run out of ewes. Hopefully we don’t run out of hay although it appears if we manage it properly and catch a break with an earlier than normal pasture season, we should be OK. To be on the safe side though, I monitor the potential hay sources. Don’t want anyone to go hungry.

Ruby has been dealing with the mud as well as can be expected so far. Lately the same frozen ground allowing manure spreading allows Ruby to stay relatively clean during morning chores anyway. After evening chores she’s good about letting us wipe her down when she gets muddy but then she should be as many times as we’ve done it. It’s a big job to personally supervise the filling of each and every water bucket. It shouldn’t be long though and the grass will green up and the mud bog in front of the barn will be gone. Of course that will lead to lawn mowing and grass stained socks on a small red and white Border Collie.

The recent hoarding of food and sundry items hit a raw nerve with a lot of folks including me. Emergency situations bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. Seeing some of the ridiculous amounts of product purchased by some takes the cake. Toilet paper has suddenly become legal tender in some areas. Yes, this is an emergency situation but as with any emergency, getting greedy usually results in product going to waste. After the Y2K situation much of the food that was hoarded was thrown out after it went out of code. What’s really frustrating is those especially the elderly who are on fixed incomes may have to go without thanks to a greedy few. If you’re one of those hoarders, as my Mom used to say when she was extremely disgusted with me, I hope you’re proud of yourself.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #758 on: March 24, 2020, 11:21:19 AM »
Please don't stand so close to me...

After suffering through some colder weather, the scurs have directed the Weather Eye to see what we can do about warming things up. Have we seen the last of Old Man Winter or is he waiting in the wings for an encore performance?  Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday cloudy with a modest chance of a rain and snow mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-30’s.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with a slight chance of a rain and snow mix. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid- 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of morning snow and rain mix. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On the 27th we creep over 12 hours and 30 minutes of daylight for the first time since September 15th. The normal high for March 27th is 46 and the normal low is 27. The scurs are thinking we may be seeing light at the end of tunnel yet. Or at least the light inside the Kelvinator.
 
Finally a little better forecast to sink our teeth into. I’ve already heard some whining about wanting to get in the field. Yes, driving tractor is fun but memories are short. It’s seldom we are able to get in the field here in March and the past two seasons have been no exception. When we do those with small grain have an opportunity for decent yields and better than average quality. For corn and soybean production that isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, it’d be wonderful to be able to do fieldwork ahead of planting and go at a leisurely pace but this is MN, not central IL. Those who slog through the mud a couple times a day taking care of livestock manage to keep things in perspective. The time will come so be prepared when it does. In the meantime quit whining and get the chores done.

The frost is officially out of the ground at the SROC where the measurement is taken under bare soil. Out feeding bottle lambs I checked on the north facing slope by the barn about 10 p.m. Still found frost down about 4”. It has refrozen several times over the past week, especially following the rain that fell last Thursday. Low temps were in the low 20’s three consecutive days after that. In addition to north facing slope, I’d venture to guess we still have frost on north sides of groves, fencelines and buildings. Some were able to haul pack manure  over the weekend. Reports were it sunk in a little but the ground seemed to hold up relatively well. It didn’t last long however until it got greasy on top and mud on the road resulted. That tends to take a lot of the fun out of it.

I’ve found the social distancing or lack thereof rather interesting. While waiting to get takeout food at The Willows a couple people looked at a friend and I like we had the plague. We were well out of the 6’ distancing guideline. On a Saturday trip for supplies to the store where you go to the bathroom in the big orange silo most were keeping their distance. Right away though I saw a couple people hug each other and later on a couple was walking around the store holding hands. Did these people not get the memo? Perhaps it’s because it’s second nature out here in the country where our closest neighbor is a half mile away. We’re usually just happy to see someone.
 
The coronavirus shutdown has had some positive effects at the ranch. I mentioned working on pasture fence. Getting the electric fence operating this early was a feather in my cap. Since I was in the area, I cleaned out a wood duck house that needed it for a few years. A snowbank extending out into pond on top of the ice held me up as I removed the old nesting material and dumped in a new supply of shavings. The ice had melted around the post so in another day or so it would’ve meant wearing waders in the ice cold water.
 
While I was at it I checked on the pussy willow progress in the wetland around the pond. Much to my surprise a couple of the bushes had nice catkins on them so harvested a supply for the floral shop where Mrs. Cheviot works. I couldn’t find a couple of the bushes I’d plucked some off of from last year. That’s probably OK. It was really wet where they likely were. Getting stuck wasn’t an idea that thrilled me let alone getting the tractor stuck trying to pull the Gator out. With funerals being more limited in scope anyway, there probably won’t be as much demand. Still, if you die and are reading this, you’ll know where they came from.

We do have things to occupy our time with livestock. As mentioned last week we had a recent uptick in bottle lambs. They seem happy as well they should. If someone fed you five times a day you’d be happy too. As of this writing there’s still one little natural colored buck lamb in the garage. His small size belies his lung capacity. For a little guy he is really loud! The BLAS 2.0 (bottle lamb alarm system) is armed at all times. Turn on the light, come in the garage, touch a door handle or make a hinge squeak and the alarm immediately goes off. Try to sneak out to the garage to get an ice cream treat out of the freezer? Just like the BLAS 1.0 system: Busted.
 
Inside the house Ruby is in charge of live entertainment, with an emphasis on the live part. This small red and white Border Collie has never had an off switch and shows no sign of developing one. One can only play about so much ball with her before going absolutely crazy. Wanna eat something? Nope. Time to play ball. Wanna relax and get under your blanket? No you’re not. Let’s play ball. No? OK, let’s play the growling game where you point the TV remote at me and I growl! Not good enough? Let’s watch a dog show so I can bark at them on TV! Lots of dogs on commercials to bark at as well as anything else that happens to set me off including horses, elephants, camels, Clint Eastwood and Julie Andrews. After an evening of Ruby, it wears a person out. Try a week’s worth of that and you begin to get the picture.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #759 on: March 31, 2020, 08:59:06 AM »
Almost cut my hair...

Having dodged much of Old Man Winter’s wrath  last week with only brief appearances of Jack Frost, the scurs have dialed the Weather Eye in to April. Is spring finally upon us or will April be our snowiest month as it was in 2018? Starting April Fool’s Day, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper mid-50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Thursday cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of rain turning to snow. Highs near 40 with lows in the upper 20’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. On the 6th we will have reached 13 hours of daylight for the first time since last September 5th. The normal high for April 6th is 52 and the normal low is 31. The scurs have it on good authority that we will see no more snow. April Fools!

No fooling about the Full Moon on the 7th. It has many names but is primarily known as The Full Pink Moon for the ground phlox that cover the ground in the woodlands during the month. It also goes by The Full Paschal, Egg, Fish, Hare and Sprouting Grass Moon. The Ojibwe called this The Broken Snowshoe Moon or The Frog Moon. The Sioux knew it as The Moon of Greening Grass. At the ranch we hope it is The Moon of Greening Grass as the hay supply won’t last forever.

Very little in the way of field operations underway as rain has fallen frequently the last half of March. At the ranch we wound up with 2.9” of liquid precip with only 1.1” of snow. Likewise in town where 3.1” of liquid precip was measured and just under an inch of snow fell. The good news is with the rain and warmer temperatures the frost is largely out of the ground and the snow in most road ditches is finally gone. The ice was completely off St. Olaf Lake Monday morning. That usually coincides closely to the frost being out on a wholesale basis. So does pocket gopher and striped gopher activity, both of which are evident.

A night crawler was on top of the ground Sunday at the ranch and the western chorus frogs in the wetland were heard that night at bottle lamb feeding time. I’d tried to listen for the frogs earlier but the ducks and geese were causing such a ruckus I couldn’t hear them. Our rhubarb has come to life as well with one hill being about 4” tall already. The pasture greened up nicely Monday after the rain, beckoning the ewes to nibble on those first blades of tender green grass. Goldfinches are showing more yellow as they come to the feeders. Yet more proof of global climate change. We always hope it changes by this time of year.

Something else we try to change is the living and feeding arrangements for the ewes with lambs. It’s time and with everything operating day to day due to the coronavirus, it should give us an opportunity. Waiting a day for the mud to subside seemed prudent so Tuesday is probably the day we’ll get most of the ewes with lambs in the main lot in front of the barn. This presents an opportunity for those who are aware of it to come out and watch the lambs run and play. It’s OK if people want to stop by. I know there are some who are going stir crazy looking for things to do. The only thing we ask is that folks pull in the driveway to avoid accidents and stay in the car due to social distancing precautions.

Ruby will be 10 on April 4th. Sometimes she doesn’t act like it while other times she snores loudly during a good, long snooze. She’s still just as goofy as ever and loves attention, especially a good tummy scratching. Most of all as mentioned last week, she loves her ball. She wears one out every year. The Chuck It balls are about the only kind we can make last. While tennis balls are cheaper, we quickly learned they lasted less than a day. Usually it took about 15 minutes for her to tear the covering off and within a few minutes to pop them. Sorta defeats the purpose of having a ball when it doesn’t bounce or roll.
 
Regardless she’s been a good little companion, helper and confidant. Helps move ewes with lambs between barns and never judges or criticizes while communicating well. Some people could take lessons. When it’s time to go outside for potty there’s little doubt. She gives you “the look” and nuzzles you to get your attention. If you ask if she wants to go outside, she’ll go stand by the door. We’ll probably try to do something special for her big day. Steak fat or lamb chop fat are her favorites. She usually communicates frequently afterwards however.
 
One of the grave errors I made prior to some of the governor’s orders was a failure to schedule a haircut. I’d thought about it but with things busy in the lambing barn and elsewhere I’d forgotten. The day before I was ready to schedule it, the business closure orders came down.  With no one supposed to be cutting hair legally anyway I was in a quandary. Should I call my sheep shearer? Come to find out he’d hurt his back so that wouldn’t work. Cut it myself with a hand shears? I might end up minus a hunk of an ear. I’ve read several tips for women concerning their hair but haven’t seen any advice about what men should do with their overgrown locks. One thing I do know: I refuse to wear a man bun! Good thing I have plenty of caps I guess.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #760 on: April 07, 2020, 10:19:12 AM »
You got to roll with the punches and get to what's real

Old Man Winter must’ve taken a little more laxative late last week, enough so snow remained on the north sides of buildings yet Monday morning. Will the scurs ever get the Weather Eye back or are the repair parts still on backorder at the Nash Rambler dealer? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday mostly cloudy with highs in the low 40’s with lows in the mid-20’s.  Mostly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of rain and snow. Highs upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a fair chance of forenoon rain and snow showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny on Easter Sunday with a slight chance of rain and snow showers. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain and snow showers. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the mid-20’s. On the 9th the sun will be back to rising at roughly the same time it did the day before the time change. It’s also setting about an hour and 41 minutes later. The normal high for April 12th is 55 and the normal low is 34. The scurs will hope to make their goody supply last until they get a May basket.

Very little progress of note in the fields as we saw it start to dry off on top only to be rained and snowed on the 3rd & 4th.To go along with that, temperatures were slow to warm back up and the sun didn’t shine much either. I did notice a few loads of pack manure being spread on some high ground prior to that but that was before Mother Nature hit the brakes. It is still early and with the ground being thawed, we’re still in better shape now than we were the past two April’s. A year ago on the 11th we dealt with snapped power lines and poles while looking at reddish-brown colored snow. The snow didn’t last long but it didn’t have to. It only added insult to injury. And we won’t talk about the 28+” of snow that fell in April of ’18. No reason to tempt fate. Let’s channel April of ’17 when no snow was recorded in April.
 
At the ranch we’ve been following the stay at home requests, going out only when we need feed or groceries. There have been a few trips to the office to pay bills but with both of us having head colds that don’t go away, it’s prudent not to give anyone that stuff as well as trying to avoid COVID-19. Being in an age bracket that’s more vulnerable it seemed the prudent thing to do. When we have gone off the ranch, the trips have been quick with the intent of keeping exposure to a minimum. Back home it’s been focus on what really matters. Eating well, getting rest and doing what needs to be done. We’re just rolling with the punches like everyone else.

We did get the ewes moved so we can watch the lambs run in the evenings. The small group of ewes and a ram are able to graze the main pasture already. It greened up nicely thanks to the rain and warmer temps. That’ll definitely help take some heat off the hay supply. Still a few more pens to move yet but as tired as we’ve become of feeding small pens, that should happen relatively soon. Individual feed pans, slices of hay and buckets of water create a real drain on efficiency. When it’s been going on since late November, that’s probably long enough.
   
Feeding the bottle lambs still gets done five times a day. One of the things we’re both concerned about is catching orf from one of the bottle lambs that broke with sore mouth, known more correctly as ovine ecthyma. It can infect humans as well but needs cuts or abrasions in order to make the jump. Guess what? In addition to the normal scrapes and abrasions, our hands are so cracked and split open from the frequent hand washing we’re probably more concerned about orf than COVID-19. Orf can cause a fever, fatigue and swelling of the lymph nodes not to mention some really ugly pus filled lesions at the point of infection. The best way to avoid it is to wear latex or rubber gloves. Not many of those to be found given the current circumstances.

With some extra time spent at home most of the fruit trees have been pruned. Prior crummy weekend weather and not feeling 100% had delayed the process. Not unlike baling hay, pitching manure or picking rocks it ranks right up there when it comes to people wanting to jump right in to help. Ruby faithfully came out to help, primarily to stare down the twigs and branches once they hit the ground. On the bright side, it’s another one of those activities that encourages social distancing. One might fall out of the tree and break your leg but there’s very little danger of catching anything in the meantime.
 
After being cooped up, we had visons of taking the Studebaker out for its initial run. I know it’s been requested that we stay home but just sightseeing with no intent of stopping anywhere would seem relatively harmless. The salt that was spread all over following the snow and ice pellets earlier in the week squelched that idea however. Had my fingers crossed until I saw the orange People’s Republic of Steele Co. truck go by with no blade on it. Gee, wonder what’s up there? The salt residue on the pickup after the trip to town left no doubt. With a snow and ice pellet accumulation of only .7”, by afternoon the roads were melted off again, even where no salt had been spread. Since they like salt so much, maybe I should pay the property taxes with it. If I got it on sale, it’d only be about 450 bags of the 40 lb. variety. I could put it in the mail but to be a nice guy, I’d even deliver. They should be able to handle it. We put up with it all winter.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #761 on: April 14, 2020, 09:45:06 AM »
Badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog

Old Man Winter was up to his old tricks, wearing out his welcome. Will the scurs get the proper parts from Nash Rambler the repair the Weather Eye or will they have to resort to Misgen’s U pull it? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. Thursday mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s.  Mostly sunny on Friday with highs mid-40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Monday, sunny with highs in the mid- 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On the 17th the sun will set around 8 p.m. CDT. The normal high for April 17th is 58 and the normal low is 36. The scurs are penciling in a trip in the Gremlin to their favorite restaurant for takeout.
 
Another April snowstorm for the third consecutive year. Seems to be a pattern developing here. Snowfall across the area was general from 5” – 7” which melted out to somewhere in the range of .6” - .8” of liquid equivalent precipitation. Lovely when one needs it and not so much when one doesn’t. In 1988 it was a blessing on dry soils after corn was planted or even before. The moisture carried the crop for quite some time until August burned it up. In most years such as this one however it’s a time released type of moisture. Frequently as is the case, it stays cold for several days afterwards. The reflective snow and breezes blowing across it makes it feel even colder than it is. Fortunately the ground was thawed and while snow tends to melt slowly this time of year, it has a chance to percolate through given the circumstances.

Social distancing was the order of the day last Saturday. Anhydrous ammonia was being applied and it was going on well. Suppliers had their hands full keeping farmers supplied with tanks. Rock picking was in full swing with soil conditions better than they’ve been for the past several Aprils. Reports were that some small grain went in here and there and alfalfa continued to show it had made it through the winter in good shape .Sunday’s snow may actually be a blessing in disguise in this case. With low temperatures expected to dip into the mid-teens, having a blanket of snow may offer some needed protection. Local quality hay supplies are still tight and this would not be a good time to lose the crop when it’s just barely getting started.
   
Back on April 7th, I saw tree swallows, had a garter snake slither through the garden and the chorus frogs were cranked up full volume. After a Saturday forecast that had earlier pointed to rain, we stole a day to work outside. I finished the last of the pruning around the yard. I looked at the winter bird feeders and thought perhaps it might be time to think more about putting oriole and hummingbird feeders out. I even planted three rows of radishes that evening. Then Sunday happened. It’s got to be frustrating to the robins. They’ve taken more than three snows on their tails. At least there are plenty of crabapples left on the trees along with plenty of American cranberries at the ranch and neighbor David’s down the hill. The goldfinches give us hope with their brilliant yellow color getting brighter by the day that this too shall pass.

It is frustrating is to look out the window when one wakes up in the middle of the night. In a fuzzy state of mind it’s almost as though someone had played a not so funny joke. Reality would say otherwise. Yes it’s still white out there and there’s still snow on the ground. I did find some humor in it Sunday though when I went to feed three bottle lambs at noon. It was snowing harder and harder but they needed to be fed. Ruby went along out to the lambing barn as she normally does. She typically waits outside until we’re done. When I came back out of the building, I couldn’t see her anywhere. I called for her then all of the sudden I saw her get up and shake off the half inch of caked on snow. The old disappearing dog trick and I almost fell for it.

We were nearly in shock when we saw the People’s Republic of Steele Co. snow plows go by as the storm was winding down on Sunday. Normally the snow gets packed on then they resort to loads of salt when they can’t scrape the packed on snow and ice off around noon the next day. This time, the next day their timeliness paid off. By noon the roads were already dry and clear with little evidence of any salt being used. Not the case elsewhere so I’ll give credit where credit is due. Atta way! I knew they could do it!

The yard took a beating from my snow removal efforts. It’s never fun to move snow on thawed ground especially heavy wet stuff like this last go round. No matter how one tires on a yard with only one small flat spot, it’s easy to tear up the sod and gravel. I’d done such a good job over the winter too. I had less than a scoop shovel of gravel to pick up so I was feeling pretty good about myself. Looking at the aftermath from this last episode could only shrug my shoulders. When the snow melts it’ll be time to get out the skidsteer and assorted wooden handled instruments. Little like doing a jigsaw puzzle, finding the right hunk of sod and piecing it back in where it belongs. Not the first time and probably won’t be the last.

Was reminded how even though we are being separated by the COVID-19 routine in many ways we are still close together. Auntie Mar Mar and Unkie Gregory made their way up to the ranch for a visit while I was trimming a hackberry tree. Ruby gave her greetings then I turned Lynch, the attack bottle lamb loose on them. So mean he eats rocks. He was a hit and liked his new company so much I thought he’d  wind up in the car.  We received homemade candy, blueberry coffee cake, a sheep coffee mug and designer face masks to protect us from the onslaught of the virus. Agnes even donated some of her fresh homegrown brown eggs to the cause. Not sure what we did to deserve such generosity but we’ll return the favor. Betting this summer we can freeze a mess of aronia berries for Auntie Mar Mar. Keep them right next to the freezer burned egg rolls and frozen waffles.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #762 on: April 21, 2020, 10:18:13 AM »
When you're strange...

The scurs discovered that Nash Rambler had mistakenly sent them a Kelvinator freezer part for the Weather Eye. No wonder they were having issues! Has Old Man Winter made his last curtain call or does he have one more encore up his sleeve? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Thursday partly sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s.  Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of forenoon showers. Highs mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain.  Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 60 are with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On the 24th we will have gained 5 hours of daylight since the winter solstice. On the 27th we go over 14 hours of daylight for the first time since last August 15th.The normal high for April 24th is 61 and the normal low is 39. The scurs are planning on getting parts direct from Nash Rambler for the Weather Eye. They’re probably shut down for COVID-19.
 
Snow woes were nearly a memory after this past weekend in area fields. However upon closer examination, there was still a lot of snow left in fencelines, groves and road cuts. Field borders were still damp on Tuesday morning making fields fit to be planted the exception and not the rule where heavier snowfall occurred. As one ventured north and west, snowfall was less allowing field edges to dry more quickly. The ground is in better shape than it’s been for several springs. The last snowfall had abundant moisture but it wasn’t evenly distributed, blowing clear in areas and creating drifts along field boundaries. This week’s forecast while promising rain doesn’t appear to be a washout. Let’s hope we can keep this going.
 
At the ranch we were starting to wonder if it was ever going to warm up. Smashing ice out of water buckets last week was getting old. Finally being able to leave a garden hose hooked up without draining it was a major milestone. I was concerned too that the snow on the electric fence had grounded it out. Checking to see if it would arc proved otherwise, producing a big, fat, healthy spark. Apparently the wire wasn’t touching the soil surface or anything else that would ground it out. As my Dad once told me, snow itself is not a good conductor of electricity. I wasn’t about to grab onto the fence just to see though.

In the yard the overnight lows from 12 to the mid-teens showed the results on the rhubarb. It was coming along nicely when it turned cold. The leaves were brown tinged from the and some of the larger leaves were wilted. When warmer temps returned the plants took off again giving us hope that we should be harvesting some of the spring favorite soon. Some Schwan’s vanilla ice cream awaits the first pie and sauce of the season. Can you say impatient?

Around the yard I continue to wait patiently for the appearance of the first white-throated sparrows. I’ve heard the calls briefly in the morning but haven’t actually seen one, yet. Normally what happens is within minutes after copy deadline, several show up. There was a brown thrasher over the weekend but alas it hasn’t been seen since. The cold temperatures all but silenced the frogs in the wetland area temporarily. When it warmed up over the weekend they turned the volume back up. It had to have frozen the pond area some of those mornings so one wonders how and where they survive those episodes.

The bottle lambs are surviving nicely. We still haven’t figured Lynch out yet though. As mentioned last week, he continues to eat  rocks, primarily small pieces of crushed rock (limestone). He picks them off the driveway when we let him out for exercise. Strange. We’ve put mineral in his feed pan but to no avail. When you try to dislodge the rocks it’s easy to get your finger sliced open on those sharp little molars. It probably won’t hurt him but we’re beginning to think Lynch might be part chicken. If he starts laying eggs then we might have something to worry about.
 
Speaking of eggs, the brown eggs we received from Agnes C. last week have been the gift that keeps on giving. Some of the eggs were larger than others and I had a little surprise when I cracked the first one open to fry it. It had a double yolk! There was another larger one and that was the same way. I hadn’t seen a double yolk egg since we had laying hens growing up on the farm. Typically they result when pullets first start laying and that turned out to be the case here. I don’t recall ever getting a double yolk egg in the store. They probably have it figured out so that doesn’t happen. It might turn some off but as a farm kid, it’s almost like a twofer. Someone asked if a double yolk egg can produce two chicks. The answer is yes, occasionally, but when they do it usually results in one live chick that out competes the other inside the egg before they hatch.

It also helps to have a rooster involved as we almost found out the hard way when we were kids. One winter my sister and I procured a couple eggs out of the bucket including a peewee. After lining some decorative snowman candy containers with Kleenex, we put the eggs under my bed near the heat register to incubate. We thought it would be pretty neat to have baby chicks hatch out in the bedroom to play with. Unfortunately the odds were stacked against us. Peewee eggs normally don’t hatch and the only roosters we had on the place were in the freezer. Fortunately Mom was always on alert for that sort of thing. When cleaning the dust bunnies from under the bed she discovered our little snowman incubators and fished them out before the eggs exploded. She wasn’t laughing then but I bet when she told Dad they probably couldn’t stop.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #763 on: April 28, 2020, 11:33:42 AM »
With a little luck, we can turn it on

The scurs got the part they needed and the Weather Eye performed like a Swiss watch. Will it keep time or will our time run out? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a modest chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, sunny becoming cloudy with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the mid-40’s.  Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 50’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of late day rain.  Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the low 60 are with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Saturday is May 1st. On the 4th the sun will rise at 6 a.m., the first time since last July 30th. The normal high for May 1st is 64 and the normal low is 42. The scurs are cleaning out the spacious back seat of the Gremlin to haul all their May baskets booty.

Major planting progress in the fields after the lingering snow early last week made people wonder if they were doing the right thing Temperatures warmed and in spite of the Thursday rain, people were able to go over the weekend once it dried up again. A majority of the corn is in the ground locally as farmers took advantage of some of the best soil conditions overall in many moons. Average soil temps at 2” in the mid-50’s allowed corn planted early last week to sprout and a continued favorable forecast is at least giving us something positive after numerous tough spring planting and fall harvest conditions. Pop up showers over the weekend made conditions dicey but we prevailed and should be in decent shape for now.

Around the yard things are looking and sounding more like spring all the time. The grass is greening up, radishes are emerging, the rhubarb is getting closer to ready and there’s a greenish tinge to the trees. A toad was crawling across the yard on Friday and one can hear them starting to call in the wetland area. The pheasants continue to use the yard as their stomping ground, racing past the windows then back again. The white-throated sparrows finally made themselves visible over the weekend after hearing their song for the past week. Talking to TP at Wagner’s, she was ready to put her oriole feeder out. I purchased a jar of jelly and need to follow suit. If she says it’s time and the white throated sparrows are back, who am I to argue?

At the ranch it’s been a time to catch up on a few things that weather had delayed for a while. The last of the purchased hay was hauled home and tucked away. It’s nice to start the season out with a cushion for a change rather than wondering where the next bale was coming from. The chains were removed from the tractor between showers on Sunday, one of those jobs that could be done even if Mother Nature was incontinent. The sod torn loose after the Easter snowstorm was replaced and watered in. Hopefully it takes quickly, hiding the scars resulting from operator error. Moving snow when the ground is thawed is one of my favorite jobs and replacing the sod is even better, said no one ever.

The last of the bottle lambs were shuffled around to their new accommodations on Sunday. Lynch, the black lamb who had been living in the garage got a roommate in the form of a disowned triplet. They’re both obnoxious so it was a perfect match. It should help cut down on the amount of crushed rock Lynch was consuming as well as starting to convince him that he is indeed a sheep, not a human. His little companion is well versed in eating solid food so competition as well as the monkey see monkey do principle should also benefit him. All I know is it’s nice to have him out of the garage and not squealing on me when I sneak ice cream treats out of the freezer.

After moving the sheep around it was time to move something else out of the garage: The Studebaker. After a fall that cut short opportunities to drive around, it had been a long spell without a ride. I’d charged the battery and done the once over looking for any serious issues. Seeing none it was okayed for the trip to Waseca for takeout from El Molino. The dust from the layoff was still evident when the sunlight caught the long nose of the hood. We weren’t going to a show though, just glad to be out after all the COVID-19 hoopla. Also nice to have some culinary variety after eating our own cooking for the past several weeks.
 
For having set since October, everything on the Silver Hawk operated as smoothly as when it was parked. Oil pressure running about 50 psi, temp around 180, the ammeter showing a nice steady 5 amp charge and the fuel gauge working, displaying a quarter tank. The overdrive performed as it should, kicking in when letting off on the accelerator. It kept us running at the speed limit with minimal effort on the 259 V8’s part. When we got there the order was ready and the cashier who rang it up admired our ride from the window, asking what year and make it was. I was just happy being the first time out that we’d made it there in uneventful fashion. With a little luck it’s an omen of better things to come.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #764 on: May 05, 2020, 11:03:29 AM »
Funny how time flies…

The scurs had the Weather Eye dialed in and delivered a week that was a thing of beauty. Will this next week bring us back down to earth or will we continue our high flying ways? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s.  Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s with frost likely. Saturday, partly sunny with a fair chance of late day rain.  Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a modest chance of morning rain. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a fair chance of rain showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. The scurs are cleaning out the spacious back seat of the Gremlin to haul all their May baskets booty. The Full Moon for May is on the 7th. On May 8th we’ve reached 14 hours and 30 minutes of daylight and on the 12th the sun will set at 8:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for May 7th is 67 and the normal low is 45. The scurs may want the heater on the Weather Eye working again. Sounds like they’ll be wishing it did if it doesn’t.

The Full Moon as mentioned for May is on the 7th and goes by The Full Flower Moon. It’s sometimes called The Corn Planting or The Milk Moon. Back in the day, cows were pastured and the milk would get more yellow coloration from the carotenoid pigment in the fresh green grass. The Ojibwe called this The Blossom Moon and the Sioux knew it as The Moon When Ponies Shed or The Moon of Green Leaves. At the ranch it’s The Full Lawnmower Moon as the shaggy lawn is needing its first haircut of the season. Hmmm…my last haircut was January 16th.  My hair looks more like the lawn every day.
 
The progress this past week in the fields this past week was nothing short of phenomenal. It’s been several years since we’ve had weather cooperate to the degree it has this spring. Farmers have wasted little time taking advantage of it after memories of the past two years. Most corn in the area has been planted and soybean planting should be soon coming to a close barring some unanticipated precipitation events. Some of the first planted corn has begun to emerge although it’s tough to row it completely in many cases. That might not be such a bad thing if temperatures drop as low as forecast for the week. Frost doesn’t usually damage newly emerged corn that much although it seldom does it any favors.
 
At the ranch the extent of our gardening is the radishes that are doing nicely, yet. Frost generally doesn’t hurt them either but never say never. I have seen it get cold enough to toast the leaves pretty severely. The cold temperatures back in April definitely took its toll on the rhubarb here at the ranch. It caused some of the stems to be hollow, damaged and unfit for pie. Mrs. Cheviot did manage to manufacture one however. That first pie with Schwan’s vanilla ice cream is always a special treat. This one was no exception. Now my concern focuses on the apple and pear trees, all of which have the most buds we’ve ever seen. A frost capable of killing the flower buds followed by cool temperatures limiting bee activity could be a devastating blow not only here but to commercial operations. Crabapples and mast crops could also be subject and that might translate into less food for critters of all kinds going into fall and birds returning next spring.

Speaking of returning birds, there have been several notables this past week including the barn swallows on April 29th and the first house wren being heard on May 2nd. Conspicuously absent so far have been white-crowned sparrows and Harris’s sparrows. Along with them of course are the orioles and the hummingbirds. A jelly feeder and a nectar feeder replaced a couple of the suet feeders so the table was set. So far only unwanted guests in the form of house sparrows. Yep, the little rats with wings have taken a shine to the jelly just like last year and to further infuriate me they’ve also been spotted on the nectar feeder. I foresee a new pellet gun in their future.
 
The fence at the kindly neighbors was resurrected on Saturday. As usual it took a couple trips around it to figure out where the electric fence wire was tangled with the barbed wire. It was a nice morning to get it done and while we didn’t put any sheep in there just yet, nice to know it’s ready when we are. I did spy a fresh bluebird nest in one of the nesting boxes. It’s one they’ve fledged many broods in over the years. It was gratifying to see with all the human turmoil that life still goes on in spite of all that. In reality it’s just noise after all.
 
The lawnmowers were readied for another campaign Saturday. Not sure precisely how old they are but I think Whitey is about a ’96 model when ordering parts and Howard is roughly the same age. Oil, fuel and air filters were changed, the tires were pumped and both were blown off and washed.  Lucky for me both batteries held a charge. Better yet, both mowers started and ran. Sunday, I attempted El Capitan, the road cut in front of the house. I was successful much to the delight of Ruby, who had her first grass stained stockings of the young lawn mowing season.

Sunday was also a good day for a drive to Waseca and Barney’s Drive-In. We took the Studebaker after it went through its annual checkup last week. We saw many others out enjoying the nice day, riding motorcycles and cruising in their collector automobiles. It was great to get out if only for a while. We had a couple approach us after we’d parked and placed our order. They reminisced how they’d grown up around Studebakers and were curious about the Silver Hawk. I was obliged to bore them with stories.
 
When the food came it was just like the old days. The fries were fresh and hot and smelled so good that digging into them was impulsive. Something about eating fresh French fries in the car made them that much more delicious. I managed to spill a little stuff on my shirt although I avoided getting it on the upholstery. I probably wasn’t that lucky in the ’57 Buick when eating at the Tastee Freez in Chatfield. The little cracker box seasonal drive in with a root beer barrel in it was located on the corner of MN Hwy 30 and Fillmore Co. 2. When opened the glove compartment door in the ‘57 Buick became a cup holder. The little light came on so you could see what you were about to spill on your pants and the seats. That was only 57 or 58 years ago but it’s like it happened last night. Funny how time flies…

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #765 on: May 12, 2020, 11:21:21 AM »
I wanted to be with you alone and talk about the weather

The scurs keep turning the dial slowly on the Weather Eye and the positive results are even slower. Will we finally see some relief from this cold weather bondage or are we doomed to be locked down indefinitely? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 50’s. Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-40’s.  Partly sunny on Friday with a good chance of rain in the evening. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain.  Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of morning rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of evening rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a fair chance of rain showers. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. The normal high for May 15th is 69 and the normal low is 48. After a week of running the heater, sounds like the scurs may want to get the AC working on the Weather Eye. That’d be cool.

Aside from most finishing up soybean planting, very slow progress was made on crop development. Corn emerged ever so slowly over this past week and most soybeans remained below the soil surface as of this writing. It was probably a good thing as temperatures on Saturday and Tuesday mornings got as low the upper 20’s on some thermometers. At the ranch we saw 31 and 30 respectively. The position on the landscape has a lot to do with what your temperatures are, in particular low temperatures when the air is still. Something else that was unique about the Saturday freeze was there was little actual frost noticed on plants. The extremely low dew points probably had a lot to do with that. Dew points both mornings were in the upper teens and low 20’s. The air has been extremely dry as of late and it hasn’t changed much, yet.

Some area lawns including the one at the ranch have grown extremely unevenly. Well below normal precipitation and cool temperatures have slowed growth in places, particularly where the dog hasn’t used it for a bathroom. At the ranch, we mowed the road ditch weekend before last but stopped once the temperatures started behaving like it was still early April again. Grass wasn’t growing much and it was too blasted cold to sit on the mower for any length of time. Even the radishes planted back on April 11th and have made minimal progress planted on a south facing slope in full sun. The rhubarb hasn’t been setting any growth records thus far either. Others have complained of the same thing. At least we have the weather to talk about.

We have to have something to talk about other than the obsessive all COVID-19 all the time coverage on the airwaves and social media. Life is going on out here in spite of all that. Crops are growing, trees are leafing out and flowering and birds are returning to their summer homes. Getting outdoors and enjoying fresh air and sunshine is probably the best thing one can do. The physical and mental health benefits are well documented. There’s a reason your Mother told you to go outside and blow off some steam. She was right.

I enjoy watching sports on TV and admit I’ve missed it. I’m fortunate that I grew up liking westerns in both movie and TV format. I’d forgotten how well some of the shows were written. The Virginian was one such show I’ve revisited. Lee Jay Cobb starred along with the late James Drury and his sidekick Doug McClure. It centered on life at The Shiloh ranch with lots of horses and cattle. I could also see how Dad easily fell asleep during that one. It was an hour and a half long making it unique among the westerns popular on TV in the 60’s. He’d sometimes doze off during Bonanza or Gunsmoke but the Virginian would’ve been a slam dunk.

Birds are indeed returning at the ranch anyway. On the 5th we saw our first catbird and white-crowned sparrow of the season. A quick trip to the wetland revealed a pair of blue-winged teal, a pair of mallards and a drake wood duck. It’s likely the female is occupying the nesting box out in the water. On the 7th, we saw a male Baltimore oriole and a rose-breasted grosbeak the next day. On the 9th there was a red-headed woodpecker in the trees along with three Baltimore orioles keeping the jelly feeder occupied. Still looking for a hummingbird and an orchard oriole. Afraid the Harris’s sparrows we’ve seen passing through over the past 20 years skipped over us this time around or at least weren’t there when we were watching. They’ll likely be back and sometimes we catch them in the fall too. Keeps it interesting that way.
 
We’re nearing the end of our commitment to the lambs we’ve faithfully bottle fed. This year’s edition has been a long haul starting in late January. The lambs through no fault of their own wound up either orphaned or simply weren’t provided enough nutrition from the ewe. Several of them could’ve been left for dead in the freezing temperatures but it’s hard to stand by and allow that to happen. By the same token, they have to have a will to live. There are limits to our resources and patience. This group took to the bottles and was on to solid feed quickly so that was a definite plus. The way they blow through it now, it’s a lot easier to pull the pin and stop mixing up milk replacer.  At least when they get their last bottle we can have a little graduation celebration for them. Might need a bottle ourselves.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #766 on: May 19, 2020, 10:28:37 AM »
Just a hippie dream

The scurs keep turning temperature up on the Weather Eye last week with very little success. With a new cable on order from American Motors, will it finally warm us up or are we stuck with global cooling? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 50’s.  Partly sunny Friday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of rain.  Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Memorial Day Monday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. On May 23rd we surpass 15 hours of daylight for the first time since last July 19th. The normal high for May 23rd is 72 and the normal low is 51. The scurs are still fixin’ to fix the AC on the Gremlin Weather Eye. Baby you need coolin’.

Abundant rains finally came last Saturday night into Sunday morning. Amounts ranged from 1.2” to well over 3” in places. At the ranch we garnered 1.67” while in Bugtussle proper we tallied 2.05” total. While some thought we might have more than that based on the amount of water ponding and running in area streams, some points to remember: We had tremendous reserves still in the soil after a wet September and October. Drain tile was still running prior to the recent rain. While it had been dry, there was still not much crop growth pulling moisture from the soil profile. And further, temperatures have been on the cool side over the past several weeks. At the SROC for the entire seven day period from May 7th – May 13th, they accumulated 28 GDU’s. On a single sultry day in July or August with overnight temps in the low 70’s, we’d typically accumulate around that many. Even with the dry air mass that parked over the top of us, there wasn’t enough heat coupled with wind to evaporate a great deal of soil moisture.

Crops are moving although not exactly at breakneck speed. Much of the corn has emerged yet looks relatively pale due to the cool and cloudy weather. Soybeans too have begun emerging and up until now, the changes have been fairly subtle. If the warmer forecast comes to fruition finally, that should change in a hurry. Weeds will likely follow suit although the pre-emerge chemicals that some were convinced did little good may still buy us some time should soil conditions be too wet for postemerge applications. While present, weed growth like crop growth has been slowed by the cooler temps as well. Very few runaways in evidence, yet.

The frost that had concerned us in area fields, gardens and orchards appeared to have done very little real damage. There were some corn plants with leaves that were definitely frozen but they’ve recovered nicely despite the cool temperatures. Even the flowers on the apple trees at the ranch escaped relatively unscathed. Strong winds over the weekend tried to dislodge the petals but the trees weren’t that far into flowering at the ranch for it to have much impact. The pear trees were nearly done flowering when the wind hit so it did little to change that. It would be great to have pears again in the late summer. Getting a taste two years ago left us wanting more. The radishes planted the day before Easter at the ranch were untouched by the frost. They’re showing signs of good bulb development. Not that the store bought ones from Wagner’s haven’t been good. There’s just something about raising your own.

More birds have moved or through at the ranch since last week. The first hummingbird appeared on the 14th as did the orchard orioles, male and female. Lincoln’s sparrows were new arrivals on the 16th. The Baltimore oriole numbers have swelled with up to a half dozen brightly colored males along with their female counterparts. As a result they’re burning through grape jelly like candy, emptying the feeder by evening. In the morning the males perch on the patio railing vocally demanding that we get up and give them a refill. Nothing like some noisy, orange and black entitled birds to start your day.

I finally broke the law Monday afternoon and had someone cut my hair. The black market has thrived under this pandemic and hair care has been no exception. Ironic that Ruby, a smooth coated Border Collie with naturally short hair would be allowed to get her haircut by a professional but I as a shepherd desperately needing shearing was not. Lest we forget, this is MN, the state where absolutely nothing is allowed particularly out here where there are mostly rocks and cows. In the morning I’d shaved off the beard that adorned my mug much of the winter. The facial fur that kept me warm through the coldest days was making me sweat when temps got much above 50. Time to part with it. The removal was a cold slap in the face, sorta like those old Skin Bracer ads. “Thanks, I needed that!”.

My last haircut was on January 16th, a little over four months ago. It had been fun to reminisce about the good old days when my hair was even longer. The difference was then it was on purpose, not just growing out of control. Time was of the essence however. My mop was becoming too warm even on the cooler days. It felt better and better as the COVID coif gradually came off my melon. Once finished, the glasses restored my vision so I could see the results. I was pleased. I looked more my age again. When I gazed downward, at first I thought there was a dead furry animal lying on the floor. Nope, just a hippie dream.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #767 on: May 26, 2020, 11:06:13 AM »
Well, maybe next year...

The scurs put the new control cable from AMC on the Weather Eye last week and it made a difference. Will that be the end of the problem or is there still a gremlin in the Gremlin? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s.  Sunny Friday with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of rain.  Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a good chance of rain by evening. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On May 23rd we surpass 15 hours of daylight for the first time since last July 19th. Monday is June 1st already. The normal high is 75 and the normal low is 54. The scurs are convinced if there are May baskets there should be June truckloads.

This past week finally brought us some warmth but it also brought more clouds and moisture. While it wasn’t a washout per se, it still delayed any notion farmers had about applying postemerge weed control products. Measureable rain was recorded on five consecutive days yet amounted to just over an inch total accumulation at the ranch and only .78” in Bugtussle. Still conditions coupled with little sunshine meant little drying. Crop growth wasn’t as rapid as one might’ve guessed given the weekend warmth. The biggest corn is still showing only three fully exposed collars on a field wide basis and is turning some ugly colors in places. Soybeans are emerging although they too could use more sunshine in order to look like a crop in the making. Weed control will be the order of the day once it dries up and decides to be June.

At the ranch, the primary thing growing is the lawn. The first time over was to even out the grass and weeds that were growing with the areas that weren’t. This last go round was for real and it needed it if nothing else to put the dandelions out of sight and out of mind for a few days. The area in front of the house gets extra fertilizer thanks to Ruby so that takes priority once I fire up Howard and engage the blades. The ditch is still the bugaboo. One of these years I’ve threatened to stop mowing it and every spring I decide to do it for one more year. People think I’m nuts anyway and that only confirms it.

Bird sightings at the ranch have slowed at least on the surface. An indigo bunting appeared on May 20th and was helping himself to the bits of corn the squirrel has been churning out. The resident male cardinal was there shortly after he left. Another summer mainstay at the ranch is the common yellowthroat. These warblers provide song much of the summer from the plum and sumac thicket. Like most warblers they’re not the easiest to see. When they are seen, the males with their black mask are unmistaken for any other warbler, until they move again which is frequently.
 
Last week was one of our favorites at the ranch as the apples and crabapples were in full bloom. As is the case every year, it suddenly comes to an end. It should be fun to watch the results of pollination unfold. The bee activity was phenomenal, especially the bumblebees. The apples set more fruit than any year in recent memory. They’ll certainly drop a lot of what they set but given enough rainfall, the ingredients are in place for a good crop. The pears also appear to have set a plentiful amount of fruit. The Parker is the tree that had the most on it two years ago and it’s the same this time around. It would be interesting to see if we get some pears off the Patten tree. It’s supposed to be the pollinator but it’s capable of producing a few pears as well.

Around the ranch the toads are out in force. There were three large diameter models right outside the walk in door on the barn. There are lots of flies for them to catch and the halogen light attracts numerous insects at night. It’s no wonder they’re so large. There are plenty of smaller models as well almost anywhere one happens to look. Shouldn’t be a surprise given all the precipitation the last several growing seasons. There are plenty of both toads and frogs singing at night in the wetland. The toads are trilling and the gray tree frogs add a different sound to the mix now the western chorus frogs are waning. They crank up the volume with these warm still nights.

While grilling recently, I noticed a barn spider already setting up camp near the patio sliding glass door. It’s a little like the Charlotte’s Web tale. Last September I noticed a large female barn spider there. Every day it would rebuild or repair its web and catch whatever insects happened by. The porch lights attracted plenty of flying insects at night and being on the south side of the house meant better insect activity during the day well into the fall. Eventually the cold weather came and sadly the spider disappeared. I was pleased to see its replacement appear. It’s already been able to capture a June bug in its web, pretty amazing considering the beetle is four or five times the present size of the spider. That should be the equivalent of having a side of beef to feed on. As long as the spider doesn’t get squashed by the door it should make for interesting observations in the months to come.

The State Fair was cancelled last week amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It was obvious early on to most of us who have been exhibiting there that it likely wouldn’t happen. Just the sheer volume of people who go through the gate on a daily basis and ensuing wall to wall crowds wouldn’t allow it. Social distancing in the show ring would’ve been problematic as well especially with sheep where the judge handles the animals while the exhibitor holds them. There were subtle signs along with many of the large livestock shows and sales already cancelled. It was disappointing at the ranch as a lot of hard work had gone for naught. The yearlings we’ve been feeding since last year may as well go out to pasture. For the first time in years we had fall lambs, born without the use of hormone treatments along with plenty of January, February and March lambs to fill the age brackets. Unfortunately they won’t get a chance to experience the State Fair. Maybe next year.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #768 on: June 02, 2020, 08:12:52 AM »
And as we wind on down the road…

The scurs had the Weather Eye back at peak performance last week. Is summer here to stay or just a fleeting glimpse? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with an increasing chance for rain by evening. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s.  Mostly sunny Friday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of rain by evening. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. The Full Moon for the month falls on June 5th. The normal high for June 5th is 76 and the normal low is 55. The scurs will be laying in a large supply of ice cream in anticipation of the Full Moon.

Why you ask? Because this Full Moon goes by the Full Strawberry Moon of course! Given the recent warm up and abundant rainfall we should be seeing ever increasing supplies of one of Mother Nature’s true delicacies. Topping ice cream, made into malts, topped with whipped cream or just by themselves few things say June better than the strawberry. Both the Ojibwe and the Sioux were in agreement as this was also their Strawberry Moon. It’s been many moons since we had a patch at the ranch but as we move along in years, hopefully more free time will allow us to reestablish one. Then it will feel more official.

Crops have been loving the heat. This past week at the SROC showed us gaining ground in the GDU department, only 8% behind normal after a dismal couple first weeks in May. After a dry first half of May we made up for lost time in the second half. We finished the month ahead of what would be considered normal at the SROC with 4.78” at the ranch and 4.25” in Bugtussle. 4.27” was recorded at the SROC. Normal rainfall is 3.93”. Thanks to that rain, the pre-emerge chemistry has once again proven its worth. Those fields tend to be very clean yet, buying growers some time for postemerge herbicide applications.
 
The corn has really jumped and has been desperately looking for more sunshine. Some of what appears to be weather induced potassium deficiency is apparent in some fields, especially on lighter soil. It’s not present in fields where potassium was included as part of starter fertilizer in a 2” x 2” placement. That’s a clue. This past week corn was V3-V4 with some reaching V5 in sheltered areas. Soybeans are coming along with the earliest planted fields showing a fully expanded trifoliate. Of course some plantings are still emerging so to say all are a certain stage wouldn’t be correct.
 
At the ranch we continue to enjoy the fruits of the early garden. The rhubarb after appearing to struggle during the early May cool dry spell took off thanks to some heat and rainfall. Some additional supplemental nitrogen probably didn’t hurt matters. It’s back to what we’d expect it to produce. The radishes have also come a long way since being planted the day before Easter then getting snowed on. It took some of them only two months but they’re finally ready. We shared some rhubarb and radishes with Auntie Mar Mar and Unkie Gregory. We were treated to a large bag of homemade cookies in return. Gotta love it when a plan comes together.

The lawn has become a force to be reckoned with. Rainfall and heat without a lot of free time makes it difficult to stay on top of as many of you know. That’s why I decided after abandoning mowing the windbreak last fall, the fence will be removed around it and the sheep will be allowed to graze it. It should help keep the volunteer trees down as well as keeping the grass at a more respectable level. Of course the hazelnut bushes will need to be protected first. I learned at young age with sheep or any other livestock: If you don’t want them to eat it, that’ll be the very first thing they’ll destroy.
 
I did manage an albeit short cruise in the Studebaker Sunday night. It had been a long time and was long overdue. It was a nice way to forget about all the negativity on TV and any other media source. Fortunately the radio doesn’t work in the Silver Hawk. There’s no clock either. It’s better that way. There’s no reason to be looking or listening to those artificial distractions anyway. Looking at the scenery, seeing who was doing what in the field and how the crops were progressing rather than viewing riots, burning buildings and repetitive COVID-19 briefings. Just listening to the machine communicate as I wind on down the road. It’s enough for me right now.

Looks like final weaning time is looming at the ranch. When this reaches print the cull ewes will finally be down the road so we can turn everything aside from this year’s lamb crop loose on the pasture. Thanks to plentiful rains the last half of May the grass is also bountiful. A few of the yearlings will be destined for the kindly neighbors’ so they’ll have to learn how to fend for themselves after being pampered for the past year. No livestock shows for them but the silver lining is there will be less expense. Coming home after work, fewer chores are always a bonus.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #769 on: June 09, 2020, 11:39:50 AM »
Far away across the field, the tolling of the iron bell…

The scurs still have the Weather Eye performing at astonishing levels. Will the brakes come on or will our warm spell continue? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s.  Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. On June 15th we have only about one more minute of daylight to gain before the summer solstice. The normal high for June 15th is 79 and the normal low is 58. The scurs have their eyes on the prize: A hammock to savor these long days while we still have them. Maybe some mosquito repellent to go with it.

Corn and soybeans have been savoring them that’s for sure. Corn that didn’t get hailed on anyway added more leaves and should be V6-V7 at this point. Soybeans too took advantage of the warmth, most of the early planted beans are sporting a fully developed trifoliate and are V2. Rainfall has been coming in smaller, more measured amounts this growing thus far. That may change if Cristobal knocks at our door. Some positive recent developments on the weed control front this past week as MN chose to follow the present label for dicamba tolerant soybeans rather than knuckle under to pressure from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Farmers had product purchased in many cases so it was foolish on the court’s part to attempt to nullify intentions for this cropping season anyway. Politics and agri-chemicals are not good tank mix partners.

At the ranch we slowly but surely are getting more garden planted as time allows. With off-farm work taking up much of the recent weekends it makes it difficult to accomplish much. It’s been a few years since we’ve had cucumbers so we made room for several hills, some in places we typically put flowers. Not to worry. The pollinators will still have Mrs. Cheviot’s planters, cannas and 4 o’clocks. Turns out it was fortunate that I saved 4 o’clock seed from last year. I’d kept the seed from the red colored flowers separate from the mixed colors. Trouble is I forgot which batch was which. Guess we’ll figure that out when they start to bloom. I shared some of that seed in exchange for some Tendergreen string bean seed, an heirloom variety from Betsy’s Dad. Since he’s no longer raising peaches he has more time to save bean seed.

We finally got the ewes and lambs all weaned off. In the process I took a ewe’s hard head to my left thigh. It hurt like crazy but only made me more determined that ewe was going in the alley whether she wanted to or not. Later, along about mid-afternoon upon climbing in and out of the pickup numerous times, I was hobbling around. I was once again a gimp. That evening I applied an ice pack to the affected area to keep the swelling down. The next day it was less painful. By about day four, a multicolored, 4” long bruise began to emerge on my leg. If someone didn’t know better they’d think Mrs. Cheviot had been beating me. Pretty sure she’d like to sometimes.
 
There’s been a slowdown in bird activity at the ranch, likely due to a lot of them nesting. What was a three ring circus some days with black and orange male orioles keeping the feeders hopping has become an occasional sighting with a lot of song. It’s been fun though to hear the orioles, cardinals, robins, common yellowthroats and wrens in a song competition on a daily basis. The wrens in particular are up to their usual tricks. I wondered why there was frequently one singing on the porch railing making it sound like it was in the living room. I was scrounging around in front of the house doing some weeding and happened to open the gas grill. Sure enough they’d commandeered it and built a nest consisting of hundreds of little twigs. That’s OK. They can use it for the time being. I’m more of a charcoal guy anyway.

Last week’s hail storm brought back memories along with some coincidences. The first storm I remember as a kid meant the fiber board siding on the house getting pounded with the telltale pock marks left behind. Dad was not amused between trying to get insurance, the lumberyard and the manufacturer to stand behind it. Another storm that stands out hit a sunflower field when I lived in North Dakota. We’d recommended treating it for cutworm not long before a hail storm mowed the sunflowers off. Sure solved the cutworm problem. The most memorable hail storms though were in 1977 when my folks were on a trip to Africa. I’d been left in charge at the farm and up until that point, had no real experience dealing with hail on crops.
 
The first storm must’ve occurred in early to mid-July. The corn was about waist high and the oats were headed out. It stripped the corn up pretty good and shelled a few of the oats out of the heads. Essentially it didn’t do that much damage but it had me worried. Things had been going way too smoothly up until that point. First cutting hay was put up and we were on second cutting. Corn and soybeans were all cultivated with the two row cultivator, twice. Dad had put hail coverage on the corn but not on the oats.  It was a relief when the hail adjuster looked at the corn and said while it looked bad, it wasn’t hurt much. A kind older farmer neighbor looked at the oats with me and he too reassured me the damage was minimal. He also helped me decide when I should start combining.

I breathed a sigh of relief and got back to business. My brother & sister helped on second cutting hay and I readied the left-handed Ford Dearborn combine. The Co-Op E3 and its live PTO paired with it made a nice unit for combining oats straight. I shelled some oats out of the heads in my hand as I’d seen Dad do then chewed the groats. It was go time. I had most of the 20 acre patch combined by the time Mom and Dad returned home. When that was done, there was straw to bale.
 
We were almost finished with that when a vicious wind and hail storm tore through the area. It blew most of the remaining windrows of straw into the corn field. Another problem solved! The wind also drove the jagged hail stones into the corn stalks and smashed most of the windows out of the west side of the house. As one looked to the east, the steeple from St. John’s Lutheran in Wykoff was gone. It was seven miles from our place and not unlike the Le Sueur River Lutheran steeple, it was a landmark that had been a part of the landscape for many moons. They rebuilt it and it remains to this day.
 
  http://stjohns-wykoff.org/ 
 
See you next week…real good then. 
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #770 on: June 09, 2020, 12:21:35 PM »
 :happy1:

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #771 on: June 16, 2020, 10:56:14 AM »
You make the rules, you say what’s fair

The Weather Eye continues to amaze the scurs after dishing up some of the nicest sleeping weather in many moons. Will we continue our lower electric bills or will the AC be required? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a modest chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the low 70’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the mid-60’s.  Mostly cloudy Friday with a modest chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. On June 20th we’ve reached the summer solstice, the longest day of the year at 15 hours 28 minutes and 23 seconds. The normal high for June 20th is 81 and the normal low is 59. We lose a second of daylight already on the 21st but who’s counting? Certainly not the scurs, sure in the knowledge that the winter solstice is always closer than anyone wants it to be.

Corn and soybeans made steady progress this past week in spite of the cooler temperatures. We finally got to see the sun for extended periods of time. This made not only people happier but corn and soybeans as well. Corn was largely V8-V9 stage and soybeans V3-V4. Soybeans replanted after the hail have emerged rapidly and are filling in the blank areas nicely. Some of the corn on corn locally has been in the ugly duckling mode. Corn on corn with heavy residue in a spring like this one was going to increase the odds of looking tough. The good news is with the drier soil conditions, corn should be rooting down well so far, something that hasn’t necessarily been the case in recent years. Wind such as we’ve had should also help alleviate the “tie-ups” that resulted from the hail. Soybeans are also starting to show some signs of iron deficiency chlorosis. It may be amplified this growing season by the drier soil conditions.
 
It was gratifying to finally get some decent haying weather. Most who had forages to harvest were able to take advantage of this past week’s breezy conditions and low relative humidity. Several mornings such as this past Monday there was no dew so one could pick up where you left off the next morning if the hay was dry the night before. This is a welcome change from the constant battle attempting to make dry hay had become. The only issue was for those who were trying to make haylage and found their hay had dried more quickly than they had imagined. Oh well, roll it up into round bales and move forward into the next cutting.

Making hay has always been a laborious task. Cut with a scythe before the advent of the sickle mower, one had to marvel that enough hay was harvested for anything to survive the long winter months ahead. The sickle mower Dad had was a McCormick Deering #8 with manual lift. After getting the hang of it, hopping the sickle bar over rocks and gopher mounds became routine. Lifting the bar slightly on the corners helped ensure it wouldn’t plug once the bar started moving forward after the sharp turn. It helped to have live PTO on the Co-Op E3. Pushing in the clutch on a tractor without it frequently meant unplugging the sickle. Crimping the hay with the steel-roller Brady crimper afterwards made the hay dry more quickly. Imagine my amazement as a kid the first time I ran the neighbor’s haybine. Mowing, crimping and windrowing all combined in one operation. Who knew?
   
At the ranch we finally accepted the fact that the yearling ewes we’d faithfully fed and cared for weren’t going to see the show ring this season. Chalk up another casualty to the COVID-19 “pandemic”, real or imagined. They loaded up with some difficulty. The windy conditions seemed to have spooked them even though several of them had been loaded into and unloaded from a trailer. They finally went in and we were able to update their CDT vaccine before separating them into the groups for their respective rams and pastures. Once in those pastures they seemed to assimilate quickly into the rest of the group. They still like to beller and stay in their original group when checking on them. I suspect they’re of the belief there might be a grain bucket in their future.

The birds at the ranch have had a relatively good spring especially since one of the better hunting cats bit the dust. The robins are on their second brood already and the babies from the first brood are learning to fend for themselves. The hummingbirds have been particularly faithful lately, claiming both the oriole and hummingbird nectar feeder as their own. One small problem however. One of the new crop squirrels suddenly decided it liked sugar water. Worst of all it made the grave error of chewing and wrecking the plastic parts on the feeder. This after attempting to appease them with a constant supply of ear corn in their feeder. Wrong answer on their part.

I replaced the chewed up parts with some I’d saved from a previous feeder of the same design. I also hung the feeder with a hook fashioned from a hunk of #9 wire then greased it up good with Vaseline. Should that not prove a sufficient deterrent, more drastic measures may be deemed necessary. We have rules about certain things at the ranch. We don’t make idle threats about consequences that never materialize. Instead we actually enforce the rules. Sheep that jump panels, gates and fences suddenly disappear never to be seen or heard from again. Likewise squirrels and bunnies that chew things up or eat things they shouldn’t. Abide by the rules and we get along. Misbehave and it may shorten your lifespan. Certainly cuts down on repeat offenders.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #772 on: June 26, 2020, 10:02:33 AM »
Oospsies! Fergot to post this earlier in the week!  :confused:

I was mistaken, only another stranger that I knew

The scurs had the Weather Eye on track last week. Will we stay on course or will we jump the track? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s.  Mostly cloudy Friday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On June 26th the sun will rise at 5:33 CDT and we will have lost slightly over one minute of daylight since the summer solstice. The normal high for June 26th is 82 and the normal low is 66. The scurs will be floating around their ceement pond in their zubaz given the upcoming humid conditions. January will be here before we know it.

Tremendous crop progress this past week with plenty of heat and some welcome rain falling last Thursday. Since that time we garnered more precipitation Sunday evening so we’re sitting good for now. Given a forecast with more heat and moisture to burn, we’re in a good spot for now. Corn went from V9 last week to V11-V12 and was well over knee high. In sheltered areas it approached waist high. Soybeans that were V4 went V5-V6 and initial blooms were spotted in some earlier planted fields. The heat and wind from last week made corn roll in places and should have helped root systems to tap into moisture and nutrients down below. The noticeable improvement in color over what we were seeing just a few weeks ago is an indication that that’s exactly what’s been happening. Some beneficial rains will also help carry nitrate nitrogen mineralized from the organic matter into the root zone. The rain should also help make the appearance of iron deficiency chlorosis shorter lived than it would’ve been had conditions stayed drier.
 
As mentioned last week haying went quickly due to the heat and windy conditions. We got ours done and hauled home Monday thanks to the Dubya’s then helped them haul a few of theirs. Tuesday I got fertilizer ordered and was able to spread it that night. It had been warm that day too but by evening it had cooled down so it was almost bearable to be in a tractor cab with no AC. The main thing was to get the fertilizer on ahead of the next rain. As luck would have it by Thursday night we received a nice rain, enough to incorporate the nitrogen and sulfur portion of the fertilizer anyway. With hay that’s primarily orchardgrass, those are important nutrients at this point. To get just over an inch of rain following the application is a real feather in your cap. Watching the second cutting take off like a house afire is even better.

At the ranch we continue to attract a fair variety of birds to our yard and the feeders. The oriole feeding pattern has changed somewhat. We saw fewer of the fully colored male Baltimore Never mind that some of them start singing about 3:30 some mornings. They’re still welcome as long as they keep it short orioles. It’s likely they were helping feed the young. There have been some younger males and the orchard oriole males are still showing up routinely. We did purchase a jar-type jelly feeder. It works OK although it needs to be tweaked with in order to get the jelly to come out of it properly. The main thing is the orioles like it and it gives them an additional feeder so they’re not fighting over the cup-type feeder. They and the catbirds like to peck at the outside of the jar which is comical. The hummingbirds have been very faithful. When filling the feeders at dusk one can hear their squeaky little voices and the buzzing of their wings, knowing they’re around even when you can’t see them.

Insects in particular bumblebees are having a good early summer thus far at the ranch. They were present to help pollinate the apple trees that are loaded and they’ve continued to find flowers to feed on. The Solomon’s seal berries that I brought back from the farm at Spring Valley have become a patch of plants on the north side of the house. They’ve been flowering this past week and every time one looks the bumblebees are there working them over. Fireflies also showed up, with the first ones noticed on the 19th. They may well have been there sooner but that’s when they were first spotted. The light show they provide gets a little better every night. Lots of milkweed around the yard and road ditch yet no sign of any monarch butterfly larvae yet. At least there are still plenty of mosquitoes. One might’ve surmised after we’d been through a relatively long dry spell they would’ve let up a little. After spraying both pasture fences for weeds and feeling like a pincushion, I’d say not so much.

The Stude made the care center parade Saturday. It was a treat to see all the residents finally able to be out and enjoying the fresh air lining the circle drive. Great to have all the folks in automobiles and motorcycles wishing them their best. Being able to make the drive to Barney’s afterwards for a bite to eat was an added bonus. Rains had dispersed and it warmed up in the afternoon after the coolish start to the day. Eating outside in the shade seemed to make the burgers and fries washed down with cold root beer taste that much better. Being in the company of friends and fellow old car enthusiasts was the icing on the cake.

Made my annual checkup at the local clinic the other day. Had to wear a mask and while it’s not my choice those are the rules. It was comical as several people who I should know were there too but with the masks on, I didn’t recognize them at first. There’s a reason the Lone Ranger and the bad guys on Gunsmoke always used to wear masks. I’m just glad we still have a clinic to go to here in town. Many small towns have not been so fortunate. It’s much more convenient than driving to Albert Lea or Rochester especially for the elderly. The staff here is knowledgeable and the services they render demonstrate they really care. I’m sure some bean counter has their sights set on closing down more small clinics such as this one. Rather than try to make the numbers work, it’s more convenient to hit the easy button without caring about the end result. When people wonder what’s become of some of these small towns, look no further.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #773 on: June 30, 2020, 10:35:02 AM »
Charcoal burning everywhere...

The scurs had the Weather Eye functioning at a high level once again. Will we be high on the weather or will we be ready for it to change? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the upper 60’s.  Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Independence Day, mostly sunny with a slight chance of p.m. showers. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the low 70’s. On July 4th we will have lost roughly 7 minutes of daylight since the summer solstice. The normal high for the 4th of July is 83 and the normal low is 62. The scurs will continue shooting off fireworks while eluding the defunded fireworks police.
 
Coincidentally the Full Moon for the month happens to fall on July 4th. It generally goes by The Full Buck Moon as this is generally the month where the male deer begin to grow their antlers. It also is called The Full Thunder Moon for the numerous thunderstorms that occur and The Full Hay Moon for the hay that is harvested during the month. The Ojibwe called it The Raspberry Moon as more of Mother Nature’s bounty can be sampled after last month’s strawberries. The Sioux called it the Moon when Chokecherries are Black. At the ranch we usually call it The Full Central Air Moon as the heat and humidity finally take their toll. Oh well, opening the windows at night was fun while it lasted.

Crops progressed nicely once again with corn getting to be 4’-5’ in height with about 10 days before we see a lot of tassels. We continue to lead a charmed life thus far as we missed much of the heavy rain that fell just to the north. Corn color and overall health is as good as it’s been for most. Soybeans progressed as well with many having reached R2 or full bloom. Post emerge herbicide applications on soybeans are done for the most part. Products such as Flexstar GT need to be on in this part of the world by early July in order to minimize the potential for carryover in the next year’s corn. Some second cutting hay should be on the docket soon as well. With the timely moisture, most of it looks pretty nice. Some timely dry weather would help it to be harvested in the same fashion.

Ruby usually looks forward to this time of year. She’s able to enjoy the comforts of the AC without needing the fan blowing on her. She really does have it made. Playing ball in the house and napping wherever she chooses when we’re not around consumes a large portion of her day. She frequently snores loud enough to wake the dead which for a dog is an accomplishment. Lawn mowing has slowed somewhat with the heat and so has Ruby. Trimming her toenails becomes more frequent when this happens. She still lives for doing the chores of course. I think most Border Collies probably do. Not all of them have sheep to keep in line though so at least there is that.
 
The garden we have pales in size and stature to some we had in years past. However, we still have a nice planting of green beans thanks to Betsy’s Dad. The tomatoes are thriving and the cages were put on in a timely fashion. The cucumbers have been pokey but given the upcoming hot forecast, they should take off like the zucchini have. A little fertilizer seemed to work wonders for them so what’s good for the goose is probably good for the gander. The four o’clocks are making their move as well. The four o’clocks that we plant from seed are actually a perennial and native to a warmer climate. Here though they are planted as annuals and won’t survive the freezing temperatures. There is a wild four o’clock that is native, also a perennial. It inhabits rural roadsides and waste areas. The plants look similar but the flowers are nowhere near as showy as their cousins, consisting of a reddish-purple calyx with no petals.
 
Our cannas are another plant of tropical origins that with the heat are making rapid progress. If the upcoming forecast holds true they should also thrive in the tropical conditions. It takes a while for them to bloom although once they do the hummingbirds pay attention. Mrs. Cheviot’s petunias are their main focus presently as they triangulate between the two nectar feeders then back to the planter. Morning glories like the heat too and will provide some a.m. flowers for hummingbirds to forage on. The vines are starting to make their ascent skywards on our makeshift trellises. They grow quickly and seems like if you turn your back they’ve covered the trellis.
 
More nesting progress in the yard at the ranch. The brown thrashers have a nest in one of the backyard spruce trees. The female tends to be flushed off the nest when mowing so it makes another good excuse not to mow. That and the mosquitoes come looking for you if there’s no breeze. We have several barn swallow nests in the pole barn but didn’t realize just how many until a blue jay got in there one morning. It had every barn swallow in the building fired up and dive bombing the jay. After the door was put all the way up the jay eventually departed leaving the swallows in peace. The wrens have hatched in their gas grill nest. Not exactly sure how many of them there are as the scolding from the parents is pretty severe upon opening the lid. Eventually they’ll leave although I’m curious to see if they’ll raise another brood or if we can have our grill back. In the meantime we have charcoal and know how to use it. Stay tuned.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #774 on: July 07, 2020, 11:57:20 AM »
Outside in the cold distance a wildcat did growl

The scurs and the Weather Eye were operating at full capacity. Will they sustain they’re recent streak or are they just full of it? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the low 70’s. Thursday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, sunny with a modest chance of p.m. showers. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Monday, sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. The normal high for July 11th is 83 and the normal low is 62. The scurs will be looking for one of those fair food carts pretty quick. Enough is too much.

Enough is not too much when it comes to GDU’s for the corn and soybean crops. We’re running well ahead of normal and it shows. We’re only about three days off the pace we were on in 2012. Scattered tassels appeared over the 4th of July weekend with the promise of more to come. Soybeans are in full bloom and given a timely rain or two along with continued warm temperatures, 30” rows will be closing rapidly. That’s probably a good thing as the weed escapes, particularly waterhemp will remain hidden under the canopy at least for a while. Our overreliance on chemical weed control has come back to haunt. So much so that the “c” word (cultivation) has been muttered by several area farmers with 30” rows.

The rainfall timing has been interesting this growing season. So far the tendency has been to be dry the first half of the months of April, May and June, then make up lost ground the second half. We’ve started off July with an oh fer as well. Normal rainfall for July at the SROC in Waseca is 4.42”.  We’ve also had the good fortune to dodge the heavy rainfall events surrounding areas have experienced resulting in crop and nutrient loss. Not that there haven’t been some bumps in the road but all things considered, we have been very fortunate.
 
At the ranch the garden playing catch up has made great strides. Lots of tomatoes being set and the string beans from Betsy’s Dad will commence flowering soon. They’ve done well and haven’t taken their foot off the gas since emerging. Likewise with the four o’clocks that were thinned to the desired spacing. The zucchinis? Well they do what zucchinis do. Each plant grows then flowers like mad to produce more than anyone would ever possibly want to eat. There are four plants. Do the math. The cucumbers have struggled. We’ve had some come up and croak, some eaten off and some that never came up period. With a little perseverance though we have one decent hill with seedlings in the other two. The seed package said they should be ready in 55 days and I’m going to hold them to it.

The whole garden & cucumber planting received a thorough hoeing Sunday morning. It had me sweating like a butcher by the time I finished. It was cooler with enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes away so I soldiered on until it was finished. Those couple summers spent weeding and maintaining test plots for the U must’ve taught me a few things. It’s still much easier to hoe weeds when it’s cooler and the weeds are small as opposed to yanking them by hand on a hot afternoon several weeks later. A breeze is always preferable too. Our plot crew, young ladies included getting up at dark thirty, smoking cheap, stinky cigars to ward off mosquitoes while hoeing sugar beets isn’t something I care to revisit. It might’ve been dark and somewhat effective, but it definitely wasn’t pretty.

The breeze or lack thereof has been an issue. So much so that along with the AC being turned on in the house, the fans in the main barn were pressed into service. It appeared to be appreciated by the lambs as they’ve gone about their days in more comfort than they otherwise would have. It’s important to make sure they have clean fresh water every day too. The main groups at the ranch have water tanks and at the kindly neighbors there is an automatic waterer. It’s cleaned every day too on my way through doing a head count and checking the fencer so none of them go very long without. Sheep don’t sweat and rely primarily on panting to cool down when it’s hot. When they can get into the shade it helps too not unlike humans outdoors. The mosquitoes and stable flies have to eat sometime.
 
The heat has put a damper on the car cruising as has the lack of venues to explore when the heat isn’t a factor. It doesn’t help matters that the heat control valve in the Studebaker bleeds coolant through to the heater core that happens to be underneath the front seat on the passenger side. This was not uncommon for vehicles manufactured back in the day. While it can play to one’s advantage in winter or by requiring frequent stops to quench your thirst, it doesn’t allow the vent system to cool the vehicle as it should. That should change next week once a shutoff valve is installed to stop coolant from reaching the heater core. Opening the side vents on the fenders and the rear vent windows it should pull cooler air through quite nicely. It’s not AC but it’s the next best thing.

The past holiday weekend seemed like the holiday weekend that wasn’t. There really was no time off per se. We were fortunate to be invited to our friends place on Beaver Lake to relax a few hours but otherwise it was business as usual at the ranch. The heat again was major factor. I did manage to get the road cut mowed that evening however and that was a load of my shoulders. I followed up the next day mowing the backyard which contains some 40-odd trees and bushes. It’s nice to get the job done but it usually means getting scratched and gouged by the plum brush and Siberian crabapples. As many scratches as I have on my arms and legs sometimes, I’m pretty sure people are convinced I have a pet wildcat.

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

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #775 on: July 08, 2020, 06:56:12 AM »
 :happy1: :happy1:   

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #776 on: July 14, 2020, 12:26:04 PM »
I feel it in the air. The summer's out of reach

The scurs and the Weather Eye seem to be able to discern possible rain farther out than some of the normal sources. Will they build on this streak or will it come down like a house of cards? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Thursday, sunny with a slight chance of late evening rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny Friday with a modest chance of rain.  Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the low 70’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a good chance of rain by evening. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Monday, partly sunny with a fair chance of morning showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On the 19th we’re down to 15 hours a daylight having lost 28 minutes since the summer solstice. The normal high for July 19th is 82 and the normal low is 62. With no Farm and City Day parade, the scurs may be forced to buy their own candy.

Crop progress continues to impress although the Saturday storm was less than favorable. A lot of tassels started to show this past week although the number of fields completely tasseled remained relatively small. A timely start to the growing season meant many planted more full season hybrids. The July 11th storm caused major panic. After experiencing the debacle on July 20th a year ago, it appeared we had witnessed a repeat performance. Fortunately much of the corn hadn’t started to pollinate so 48 hours later, it managed to right itself. Not that it’s going to be fun to harvest as it’s a royal pain to walk in due to the goosenecking. The good news is not much snapped as it did last year, at least not yet. The bad news is it’s still extremely brittle. Tripping over lodged stalks when attempting to walk in the fields, they snap at the nodes very easily. Soybeans are starting their initial pod set and some are heading into R3. The iron deficiency chlorosis was short-lived as we said due to the rains. Given a few more days of warm temps and favorable moisture, soybeans planted in 30” rows should close the canopy soon. White mold hasn’t been an issue yet but if canopy closure occurs and cooler temperatures prevail, watch out.
 
With the time drawing closer to mid-August some have been under the impression that the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour isn’t going to take place this year. They would be mistaken. At this point it is a “go” albeit with numerous adjustments for COVID-19. The format will be different with no evening farmer meetings as in the past. Instead it will follow a more virtual format. There will still be evening gatherings for the scouts as I understand it and it may resemble the days before I started participating in 2004. It will be the same as it will still require copy be written nightly and posted online. Hopefully it allows us a little more sack time. After a week on the road of late nights it takes its toll on a person. With no State Fair to run to afterwards it may help soften the blow somewhat.

The wrens finally left their nest in the gas grill. There was no need to use it as we generally use the charcoal grill anyway. It was amazing all seven of them made it. One had to feel for those parents feeding those hungry mouths from sunup to sundown and beyond. The youngsters are scattered all over the yard and one finds out fast when you stumble across them due to all the scolding. The orioles are busy bringing their young to the jelly feeders now too. Seems like they just got here the way the summer is flying by.

The present small garden spot took a beating similar to that experience by the corn fields. The string beans were pummeled and the zucchini flattened. The next day though much of it reacted like the munchkins after Dorothy’s run in with the Wicked Witch of the West. It was almost as though Glinda showed up and told them it was alright to come out again. The string beans are flowering so expect to see some pods worth eating in 7 -10 days. They might be a little beat up and lower to the ground but I’m betting they’ll still taste pretty darn good.
 
This past weekend presented an opportunity to make some positive change at the ranch. We’d lost much of the larger garden area as the windbreak matured and it became too shaded. What was likely once part of a cattle lot worked great for many years and produced a lot of fruits and vegetables but the time had come. One of my buddies volunteered their services to till up a new spot for us should we decide where to move it. He’d even offered to drop everything earlier and do it during spraying season, something I would not allow. Killing weeds comes first. While I was in town running errands Saturday then heading to Krause’s for feed, I got a call wondering if it would work to till the spot that afternoon. Well, sure but I should move the fence and mow the area off so it doesn’t wrap up in the tiller. Give me a couple hours and I’ll be ready.
 
Two hours later and I was ready. Within 15 minutes they were there. The air was getting sultry and looking at the radar, there was a storm a brewing. Shades of my Dad who got the tiller out every time it looked like it might storm.  Didn’t faze my buddy and his brother. Within about a half hour the job was done to perfection. The sky was getting darker and it was thundering loudly after they loaded up and pulled out of the driveway. They refused any payment.  Some parents raised their children right I guess. I hope they realize there are likely to be many opportunities for fruits and vegetables of their choice in the future. No charge.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #777 on: July 21, 2020, 10:26:03 AM »
Like the singing bird and the croaking toad

The scurs and the Weather Eye had perhaps anticipated more rain last week and managed less than an inch. Are they still banking on rain or is their account overdrawn? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers by evening. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Partly sunny Friday with a modest chance of rain.  Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the low 70’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chances of rain. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the low 70’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of morning showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. The normal high for July 26th is 82 and the normal low is 62. The scurs are looking at the calendar for the next celebration with goodies. Halloween is a long ways off.

More good crop progress sans the wind and hail present well to our north. Most of the area corn tasseled this past week and pollination so far looks excellent. A timely cool down and some unexpected showers early Saturday morning didn’t hurt. With lows in the low 60’s once the front passed through it was hard to believe it would reach 90 on Saturday but it did. Soybeans too were beneficiaries of the rainfall, moving many fields into the R4 stage quickly. Soybean aphids are becoming easier to find although they are nowhere near threshold yet. Threshold is 250 per plant on 80% of the plants with numbers increasing. There has been a push by some to include insecticide in with their fungicide applications on soybeans for a variety of reasons. This is the same mentality that allowed soybean aphids develop resistance to synthetic pyrethroids. When dealing with an insect population that is all female in season, born pregnant, and is capable of doubling in population every two to three days, well, do the math. Exposing aphids to an insecticide unnecessarily increases the odds we’ll select for resistance and shortens the time an insecticide will remains an effective tool. We humans remain slow learners.

The car club made a cruise to Spring Valley and my hometown A&W last week. Thursday was an almost perfect day. Temperatures reached the low 80’s and the skies were as blue as they get. Our fearless leader led the way and found some of the smoothest roads for cruising in Southern MN. Everyone and their automobiles including the Silver Hawk made it there in one piece. No one in the back of the pack even complained of running over parts that fell off either. With all the venues closed due to COVID it was a breath of fresh air to get the vehicles out and let them run. The food was good and after an informal meeting to talk about what we might be able to find for activities. After that we headed for home and at last check, everyone made it safely. The work Ike & Co. performed on the Studebaker worked to perfection. Not only did it stop the heat emanating from the heater core under the front seat, the switch installed made it easy to turn the heat back on for fall cruises. Nice to have options.
 
There have been some notable occurrences including the first morning glory flowers on the 17th and the first cicada of the summer at the ranch on the 18th. Actually we heard one on the cruise as we passed through Dexter but that doesn’t count. No produce resulting from the garden yet although we were lucky to get our hands on some sweet corn courtesy of a kind donor from Waldorf. The sheep were appreciative too of the husks and silks that came their way over the fence. I’m sure they’re convinced there will be many more feedings. They are probably right. If there’s one thing we do well in MN it’s sweet corn, always among the leaders in US production. Some of that toilet paper people were hoarding a few months ago might come in handy about now.

The hummingbirds have taken a break recently but the orioles appear to be picking up steam. A lot of young orioles are coming to the feeders right now. The amount of activity reminds me of when they first appear in the spring. A lot of acrobatics and jockeying for position at the feeders. The catbirds have also recently reappeared making me wonder how many of them are young birds as well. As a result we’re going through about three quarts of grape jelly per week. Pretty sure they’ve figured out at Wagner’s we’re not making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with all of it.
 
Mrs. Cheviot has done her usual bang up job of planting and maintaining the planters and pots at the ranch this summer. Pollinators have been enjoying the fruits of her labor with numerous bees, butterflies and hummingbirds casting their votes. Even the toads have gotten into the act. When grilling some nights on the patio I spied a large toad and was happy to see it patrolling the area for winged biting insects. Earlier Mrs. Cheviot had complained that something was digging in one of the succulent pots up on the patio landing. I suspected it was likely four-legged and tree dwelling. I even stopped putting ear corn out for the squirrels as I tired of their burying corn and digging it up in the garden. It stopped the garden digging but something continued harassing the succulent planter. Could it be the toad she wondered?
 
A few days later I stopped by the house at noon to manufacture some lunch and noticed there was a large toad sitting in the pot. It was behaving itself so I left it alone. Could this be the culprit? I left and didn’t happen to check the pot that night after chores. The next morning I looked at the pot something had been digging in it. Sure enough when I looked more closely, I saw a toad’s head sticking out of the moist soil in the pot. I grabbed the amphibian and took it down to the barn where there were many toads happily hopping around gorging themselves on the fly population. The next day it was back and Mrs. Cheviot flung it off into the yard in disgust. The next morning it was back again so I relocated what I thought was the same toad once again into the road ditch where it was shaded and moist. Seems we not only determined what was digging in the pot, we also discovered we had a homing toad. Or several.

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

Online Dotch

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #778 on: July 28, 2020, 12:00:15 PM »
On the side of a hill in the deep forest green

Everything is moderate for the scurs and the Weather Eye. They predicted a moderate chance of rain last Saturday night after all. Will it be moderation in all things or will we overdose on nice weather? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Monday, sunny becoming cloudy with a fair chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Breaking it to you softly, on August 3rd we’ve lost roughly an hour of daylight since the summer solstice. It also happens to be the Full Moon for the month this time around. The normal high for August 3rd is 81 and the normal low is 61. The scurs will be looking for an excuse to howl.

The Full Moon is indeed on the 3rd and goes by many names. The most common of them is the Full Sturgeon Moon, so named as the tribes of the northeast and the Great Lakes could catch these large fish most easily during this moon. It has also been known as the Full Barley, Fruit, Grain, Red, and Green Corn Moon. The Ojibwe called it The Berry Moon and the Sioux knew it as The Moon when Cherries Turn Black. At the ranch we used to know this as The Fair Moon for the county and state fairs that the sheep would attend. This year after working our tails off,  all we can do is look at the lambs in the barn and wonder what might’ve been.

Hopefully the crop gives us something to be proud of. The recent rains arrived in an unexpectedly timely fashion. After several swing and miss forecasts it was beginning to look like time was starting to slip away from us. Soils were cracking and tile was ceasing to flow. Then in the wee hours of Sunday morning much of the area received what in some years could’ve been considered excessive rain. However, if there was ever a time in the stage of development the crop could handle 3”- 4” of rainfall this was it. Corn pollinated very well and is using large amounts of water to run the factory producing the kernels. Likewise soybeans were racing along with all the heat becoming thirstier and given a drink of water were poised to set some of the impressive clusters of flowers they’d developed. The color of the soybeans in particular is almost bluish-green. Fortunately this rain fell over a seven hour period of time. Sure, at times it rained hard and tapered off only to rain hard again. Across the border into IA very little rain fell. If the sun, the moon and the stars align we may be in for a very special crop.

Some of the small grain crops have started to come off and reports have been surprisingly positive both from a yield and quality perspective. Given the heat one might not have guessed that but getting the crop sown early with small grain is almost always a positive. The only complaint heard was the straw was shorter than some years. Pea yields have also been relatively decent with reports of up to 6000 lbs. Some of the later peas have suffered of course but again earlier planting is usually better. Some are heading into third cutting hay while some of us have felt fortunate to get our second cutting put up. No complaints on the tonnage or quality on the ranch hay crop. At nearly two ton per acre of some wicked looking green orchardgrass hay, the Cheviots should be well fed this winter.

The TRP (toad relocation project) at the ranch has been a success so far. There has been no more evidence of their digging and burying themselves in Mrs. Cheviot’s flower pots. Both toads found suitable new homes. After seeing how many insects they’re capable of eating firsthand it only made sense not to harm them. Granted there are untold dozens of smaller ones from this year’s hatch hopping around but combined they probably can’t consume nearly the amount of pests the larger models do. While I’ve never shed a tear or felt one iota of remorse over any flies or mosquitoes I’ve swatted, I’d just as soon something else was taking care of them for me.

The orioles and their pals continue to devour grape jelly at a breakneck pace. Last check they’re consuming not just a couple quarts a week but more like four quarts. According to my farmer math that makes a gallon. The extra feeder has made a difference allowing them more opportunity. The orioles and catbirds seem to be more apt to hang around in the trees, waiting until the coast is clear to gobble down as much jelly as they can. I was amused when a blue jay was picking on some of the smaller birds at the feeders and ran afoul of a kingbird’s territory. The larger jay suffered the consequences. With the kingbird in hot pursuit he vacated the backyard at least for the time being. That’ll teach him to be a bully!

Area gardens and other plantings have really flourished after the rain as well. The ranch is no exception. The rain was a blessing and kept us from having to water. No small feat with all the pots and planters not to mention garden areas. Everything has shot up and taken off since then. The fruit trees have held onto most of their burgeoning apple and pear crop. There are also plenty of nannyberries and aronia berries that the birds share with us. Our gardens on the hillside are not unlike the area crops, lush and deep forest green. The only downside is the grass in the lawn has been rekindled and the mosquitoes that appeared to be waning will likely catch a second wind. Hopefully we keep getting some wind or they’ll carry us off.

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

Offline glenn57

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Re: Fencelines
« Reply #779 on: July 30, 2020, 09:18:19 AM »
hey DITCH!!!!!!  :rotflmao: i've always wondered how many of your kind do what you do???? is there a person like you that covers all corners of the state?? do this in different areas. who finances this??  i worked for a feed mill in my high school days and i dont  recall anyone coming into talk about the things you do of looking at crops etc. granted we just did animal feed????????

ever since i've began reading these reports you post i've wondered that and i find it really interesting.

 :banghead: :taz: training-087 oh no.....did i just give you a complement??????? :sleazy: :rotflmao:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!