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Offline Dotch

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 :banghead: :banghead: :taz: :swords:

Glad you find it interesting. Coming from a furloughed union thug, I suppose I have to take it.  :rotflmao:

There are perhaps between 20 - 30 individuals like myself scattered across the state. We are independent consultants with varying backgrounds however. We're not tied to a seed, chemical or fertilizer supplier or supported by a govt. agency. Farmers or other individuals hire us to provide unbiased technical services and data for them. I haven't seen everything but I've seen a lot. I've been working in crop management for 39 seasons between MN & ND; 36 of it has been as an independent consultant and 3 years working retail fertilizer, feed, seed & chemical in MN as well. Not bad experience to have because it gives one an understanding of that side of the industry as well.

I've expanded my reach to a more national and international level too. In two weeks it'll make 17 years of participating on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. I've been able to see a lot of the eastern corn belt and become friends with a lot of folks not only in the US but from all over the world. It's been very interesting to see & hear about what goes on other than just in our own backyard.

As Extension budgets have been increasingly slashed, I also find myself answering a lot of questions over the course of a year from individuals about yard and garden weeds, insects and diseases. Tracking down someone in Extension to answer a question has become more and more difficult. It's much easier to dump it on my desk and leave a note. I have in a sense become Hank Kimball, sans the govt. funding.  :doah:       
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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 :happy1: :happy1: :rotflmao: thanks dotch......... very interesting.
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Offline mike89

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:happy1: :happy1: :rotflmao: thanks dotch......... very interesting.

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

Offline LPS

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Good for you Dotch.  That sounds great and you have done well Pilgrim! 

Offline glenn57

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Good for you Dotch.  That sounds great and you have done well Pilgrim!
:tut:. Now don't tell him stuff like that. :confused: it'll go to his head. :rotflmao:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Offline Dotch

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It's the politics of contraband
It's the smuggler's blues

After a moderately successful forecast, the scurs and their Weather Eye will hone in on this week. Will our September temps continue or does summer return? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening showers. Highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny Friday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Monday, sunny becoming cloudy with a fair chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On August 6th the sun sets at 8:30 p.m. CDT as we’re losing daylight at about 2 ˝ minutes per day. The normal high for August 10th is 81 and the normal low is 60. The scurs will be dialing their alarm clock back as a result of the lessening daylight. Got too much sleep said no one ever.
 
Mother Nature put the brakes on this past week with very mid-September like temperatures. That’s OK. There’s plenty of time and we’ve been playing with the lead. Much of the corn has reached the dough stage and would make those prime roasting ears as they used to say. Many of the soybeans have progressed into the early R5 stage. Flowering in many fields has ceased and this should make it more difficult for white mold to get going. The heat in July and lengthy periods of drier weather didn’t hurt the cause either. Soybean aphids are present and while they bear watching, making a blanket statement that they are on the increase in every field would be a scare tactic. It applies to some fields and not to others.
 
Some followed the old “toss it in with the fungicide” insecticide routine and rumblings from these fields are that aphid numbers are increasing. No surprise there. Knock out the beneficial insect populations and prevent beneficial fungi from developing. Soybean aphid populations respond accordingly. Also not surprisingly in areas where this wasn’t done, there is a subtle presence of beneficial insects on the increase including multi-colored Asian ladybeetles, lacewings, syrphid flies and minute pirate bugs. One of the latter was drilling its piercing-sucking mouthparts into my arm while I was driving the other day. Amazing how a tiny insect with a noticeable bite can get your attention in a hurry. Later that day I saw one in action, taking out aphids on a soybean leaf. My eyes weren’t deceiving me.

Just as it has for the crops, the cooler weather has slowed our later planted garden progress. The cucumber vines expanded during the warm weather although there aren’t many setting yet. The heirloom Tendergreen string beans from Betsy’s Dad did come through though. That first meal is always the best. The four o’clocks are starting to bloom just in time for what appears to be an increase in hummingbird activity. The cannas too are just about to flower, the red spike inflorescences ready to burst open with the next warm day. The morning glories continue skyward up the electric pole in the middle of the yard. Each year one wonders if they’ll ever make it the way they start out. The zucchinis? I’ve never heard anyone admit they had a zucchini crop failure, unless of course it was self-inflicted.

We may be starting our lambing season early again if indications are correct. With the cooler temps we’ve been noticing ewes sparring in the mornings. This is usually a good sign they’re coming in heat, something that happens about every 14 – 16 days. If what we saw comes to fruiting it would put lambs on the ground sometime around the end of December to early January. In the meantime the sheep come on a dead run the instant something is tossed over the fence, knowing it’s most likely edible. I know people like that.
 
Sunday saw the potential for another cruise for the car club as the weather looked extremely favorable. Clear Lake IA was our destination. Arrangements were made and invitations were sent out. The week prior I’d helped coordinate procurement of some parts through an Owatonna implement dealership for my brother in IA. As luck would have it the parts arrived in Owatonna Friday making a weekend hookup a possibility. A made only in MN delicacy of bovine origin also became part of the equation. My great uncle was a bootlegger so I felt up to the task.

The cruise was largely uneventful. Relaxing actually to escape the political climate of MN. No masks required or checkpoints and Mrs. Cheviot riding shotgun as we crossed the border I had a positive feeling. With the Silver Hawk gliding along the smooth two lane roads in third gear overdrive, it made for pleasant cruising. Likewise when we’d slow down for a town, running in second gear overdrive was about the right speed for those patented Iowa 25 mph speed zones. Once to Clear Lake and The Other Place we were well accommodated as they opened up their outdoor seating area for us. With 14 cars and 25 people wanting to be seated together, that’s not always an easy task. While there the drop went down undetected in the parking lot: A skidsteer muffler and three lbs. of Hope Creamery butter changed hands. Contraband safely making its destination across state lines in a Studebaker. Who’d a thunk it? Maybe I should buy a plane…
 
See you next week…real good then.       
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Everybody knows this is nowhere

The scurs and the Weather Eye got the rain right again. Is summer back on for August or do we take another sneak peek at September? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny Friday with a fair chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, sunny becoming cloudy with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. On August 15th we’re back under 14 hours of daylight for the first time since April 26th. The normal high for August 15th is 81 and the normal low is 60. The scurs know all too well it’ll only get worse until after Christmas. Time to build up those reserves for winter.

Crops continue to make good progress although the cooler temperatures did slow it down a tad. That’s not all bad. With our rainfall tending to come in bunches with extended periods between rains, conserving the moisture doesn’t hurt. Some of the early planted, early maturing corn hybrids were starting to exhibit some dimpled kernels this past week. At full dent, it takes roughly a month for corn to reach physiological maturity. Likewise early planted 1.5 – 1.8 maturity soybeans were rounding the corner on R5 last week with perhaps a week to go until they reach R6 when the seed fills the pod cavity entirely. Soybean aphids, while becoming easier to find, are likely to pose the biggest threat to the later maturing, later planted soybeans and in particular those replanted after the June hailstorm event.

I’m leaving on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour on Saturday. The weather events of August 10th have flattened corn across much of IA, IL and IN. While we received some hail in the early hours on the 10th and more about mid-morning, the damage it caused pales by comparison to what was evident on social media across the border to our south. While it would’ve been better had we not experienced the windstorm event here that goose-necked a lot of our corn pre-tassel, at least it had some opportunity to stand back up. Much of the corn pictured on social media from IA is flat, much of it with a month to six weeks to go until maturity. Some of it is snapped off entirely which will decrease yields right off the bat. That which isn’t snapped is flat and will stay that way. Harvesting it will make what we have to deal with presently look like a cake walk.
 
Meanwhile, back at the ranch we continue to see our late planted garden slowly but surely come online. The first cucumbers we’ve produced in several years made their way into the house Monday. Many more are on their way. Recent rains and warmer temps will expedite the process. String beans have been producing well and the rain will suit them just fine as well. The cherry and grape tomatoes have been productive enough to satisfy our tomato fix for a while. That first BLT may not come until September however. Even the zucchinis have gotten into the act. Not sure how many we’ll actually eat but hey, the sheep love them! We’ve been fortunate to have plenty of sweet corn from local sources too. Between the cobs and husks the sheep are living the dream.
 
They’re also the beneficiaries of the numerous ground fall apples and now pears at the ranch. This is the first year they’ve been exposed to the pears so it’s interesting to see what they do with them. The ram in the pasture at home seemed to take a shine to them right away. However, once his harem moved off to the pasture he felt obligated to follow them. When I checked the offerings I’d tossed over the fence the next day, there were a few of both the apples and pears left. There aren’t nearly as many pears as apples but there’s no doubt there will be ground fall apples for them to eat for several months.

We continue to see orioles although we know full well that after the first week in September all bets are off at our feeders. Several I’ve talked to indicate they’ve seen no orioles for quite some time so they stopped feeding them. Not us. For a while we were seeing primarily young orioles. Whether they were locals or travelling through was anyone’s guess. Then on Sunday morning we saw the first fully colored Baltimore male we’ve seen in a long time. He apparently liked something enough to stick around on Monday. The jelly feeders had run dry so he helped himself to the nectar feeder with no complaints. He’s got lots of company. The hummingbirds had staked a claim to it earlier so they had to use the other nectar feeder. They also have the option to feed on petunias, salvia, morning glories, four o’clocks and the cannas that flower increasingly daily. No one goes hungry at the ranch.

Speaking of that, Auntie Mar Mar’s visit Saturday night was long overdue. We dined and laughed most of the evening. She blessed us with a large container of sugar cookies and a fresh baked pan of blueberry coffee cake. Paired with Hope Creamery butter it’s to die for. She also brought fireworks. Since we couldn’t get together over the 4th we shot them off out in the yard. We’re out in the middle of nowhere so it’s no big deal. As long as no one was killed or maimed in the process was the main thing. There might have even been a couple adult beverages consumed somewhere along the way. When the dust settled it was well past 1 a.m. and way past bedtime for old geezers. After cleaning up some of the aftermath the next day I took the best nap since Gov. Walz started doing those daily COVID briefings. I figured they must serve some useful purpose.

See you next week...real good then.

https://t.co/XGGubYYMf2        
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Have some sympathy and some taste

The scurs and the Weather Eye set their sights on another week’s forecast disappointed in the temperature but dancing in the rain. Does September mean fall or does more August lie ahead? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 90’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with a good chance of thunderstorms in the overnight. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny Friday with a modest chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with increasing rain chances into the evening hours. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, partly sunny with a good chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Tuesday is September 1st and the 2nd ushers in the Full Moon for the month. The normal high for both days is 77 and the normal low is 56. The scurs have no plans for the week other than to planning to make plans.

The Full Moon as mentioned occurs on September 2nd and this time around anyway goes by the Full Corn Moon. Typically two out of three years anyway, the September Full Moon is the Full Harvest Moon. Due to its early date in September, the Full Moon in October is close to the autumnal equinox. This September’s Full Moon is the Full Corn Moon as this is the month the Native American tribes began harvesting their corn. The Ojibwe knew this as The Rice Moon for the wild rice they would harvest over the next month. The Sioux called it the Moon when Plums are Scarlet. At the ranch, it will go by the Full Apple Moon as the trees like the field crops have been pushed along in rapid fashion. Can pie, apple crisp and ice cream be far behind?

With the weather turning on the afterburners we’re moving this crop along at warp speed. Corn has largely dented as of this week and most of the soybeans are now in the R6 stage. Some soybean aphid treatment was required on some replant fields which was only logical. Soybean aphids are looking for protein and that’s the best place to find it presently. Some fields are starting to turn. Some of this is normal depending on maturity. Along with that, SDS has reared its ugly head although its appearance is later than some years. Soybean breeding programs have made steady progress against it and seed treatments have also helped. The advanced maturity of this crop will likely mean minimal damage from the disease in most fields. Also present has been the diaporthe/phomopsis disease complex, noticeable particularly in areas of fields that have been under some moisture stress or on compacted headlands. There have even been some scattered plants of white mold identified along with a midge that feeds on it. It looks very much like the soybean gall midge but doesn’t cause the same issues at least not all by itself.

Something that became very evident while I was on Crop Tour last week was how fortunate we’ve been so far in South Central MN when it comes to rainfall and avoiding wind of the magnitude they had in IA. Crops in IA, IL, IN and OH were all in need of rain to help them finish out the season on a positive note. As of this writing, rainfall has been spotty across IA and the eastern corn belt. Temps are also very warm. Many of the small pods we counted as potential on the soybeans will likely abort in those states. Corn will likely be tipping back so the yields we measured will likely be reduced in many areas. Conversely, in this area of MN, we should be able to maintain what we saw and what we measured here was very impressive.
 
The rainfall has been good for lots of things. If you wished you could mow lawn more often you got your wish. Our garden at the ranch is rolling right now. The cucumbers we’ve missed out on the past few years now give us about 10 a day so we’re back into giving them away. Given the slow, rough start they had I wouldn’t have bet on them being anywhere near that productive. The zucchini has developed powdery mildew so at least there is that. The green beans are close to being done after several gallons worth of production. The full-sized tomatoes are coming online and they are vegetable exhibit quality so far.  The plants have also been very healthy with some of them being around six feet tall.
 
The flowering plants have also been outstanding, responding to the bountiful rainfall and warm summer temps. The morning glories, scourge of farmers including former IL ice cream store magnate Bob Willerton, have reached a record height this year on the power pole. They show no sign of stopping soon either much to the hummingbirds delight. Speaking of that, the hummers are extremely active right now, hitting petunias, cannas and the four o’clocks when they’re open. Betsy’s Dad and I concur: These four o’clocks don’t open until the sun is getting low. That or they’re on Hawaiian time. We’ve concluded they should probably be renamed eight o’clocks. The orioles I thought would be absent upon my return from Crop Tour reappeared shortly after filling the jelly feeders. There is still an assortment of both Baltimore and orchard orioles. There were four of them taking turns on the feeders Tuesday a.m. as I walked out the door and headed for Bugtussle.

As mentioned the apple trees are just loaded and others are saying the same thing. Not sure if my getting up in the wee hours of the morning and spraying the trees with the garden hose to keep the blossoms from freezing back in May had anything to do with it; it apparently didn’t hurt. Some of the branches are so heavy they’re touching the ground. The trees are sloughing off a few apples so there are some to pick up daily. While I sympathize with the Cheviots in their wool coats during this heat they’re tickled about their endless supply of ground fall apples. Again, doing some investigative work it’s been determined their favorite is the Honeycrisp. That pile disappeared more rapidly than the other pile did. The pears that made their way over the fence are also on the Cheviot’s approved list. I think there are humans who would agree they have good taste.

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

Offline Dotch

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There's something here that doesn't last too long

As if on cue the scurs and the Weather Eye predicted a cooldown and we got it. Will it be permanent or is this just a brief intro to autumn? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Saturday, sunny with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with fair rain chances into the evening hours. Highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Labor Day, partly sunny with a modest chance of  rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On September 5th we drop below 13 hours of daylight for the first time since April 5th. The normal high for Labor Day September 7th is 76 and the normal low is 54.The scurs have Labor Day off. Actually they have every day off.

The crops didn’t take any days off this past week and were pushed hard by the heat. Fortunately the abundant August rainfall kept them from going backwards and moderating temps over the weekend didn’t hurt. Monday’s surprise rainfall started to refill the tank for next year as we had plenty of moisture to finish our crop already. The milk line on the corn has started to come down in most fields. Many of them were closing in on half milk line as of Monday. Likewise with soybeans with everything except replants being well into R6. Some earlier planted earlier maturing fields are starting to change fast especially with the rain. Leaves are turning and lower leaves in particular are dropping. It’s entirely possible with normal temperatures that we could see some soybeans combined as soon as 3 weeks from now. With warmer temps it could come even faster than that.
 
I made another journey into IA this past weekend and couldn’t believe how rapidly the heat has changed their crop. Corn that had still been green two weeks ago on the Pro Farmer Crop Tour was burning up. It added insult to injury in areas where the derecho had hit. Not only was the corn flat it was dying prematurely as well. Soybeans weren’t faring much better. It was easy to see in places in fields where they were out of gas and cashing it in. Some of those pods there was a chance of filling were history with the heat and no rain. It was easy to see small areas that were lucky enough to receive a timely rain. The crops looked very similar to what we’re seeing here.

It is a transitional time of year and one that I’ve always enjoyed even though it doesn’t last too long. The bird song that was constant well into July has become quiet. The orioles are still here though and while buying one last jar of jelly, TP at the grocery store confided that she had started feeding them again too. Seems one had shown up and it needed to be fed. Apparently it told its friends. At the ranch we still have a half dozen regular customers since my return from Crop Tour. All of them appear to be Baltimore type with a couple full colored males. Also increasing in numbers are the hummingbirds. The cannas are in full bloom now and along with everything else, they should have it made up until the time they decide to pull the pin.

The white-lined sphinx moths show up in late August to early September and this year has been no exception. The first one spotted was working over the petunias on the patio. No surprise there. When grilling a few nights ago I didn’t see any so decided to check out the four o’clocks about dusk to see if any of them were working them over. Sure enough, there was one taking its time helping itself to the recently opened flowers. It had cooled down some and the flowers had responded with another explosion of the lightly scented blooms. Monday night I checked and I heard the sudden whirring of wings not unlike that of a hummingbird. That too will be coming to a close. The shortening day length has the four o’clocks beginning to set seed. I’ll be thinking of the flowers, birds and moths fondly in January. Oh would that it could stay like this until then.

Ruby has had a relatively easy summer. Staying in air conditioned comfort for much of has caused her shedding to be delayed up until recently. I brushed a grocery bag full of hair off of her then turned around a week or so later and got another partial bag full. There have been plenty of storms to keep her occupied. The surprise thunderstorm early Monday morning was no exception. I’d heard something around 2 a.m. so rolled over and fell back asleep. I was until about 2:30 that.  All the sudden there was a scared red and white Border Collie on my head trying to burrow underneath me. I tend to like garden variety thunderstorms. Ruby not so much.
 
Labor Day has been one for some great memories. Last year I saw ZZ Top and Cheap Trick with my little fat buddy on Labor Day. I’m sure my Mom might’ve remembered Labor Day in 1968 fairly well. It was the year she got her first automatic washing machine after using an old wringer washer ever since she and Dad were married. The first one she had was even powered by a gasoline motor that had a kick starter on it. I was young enough so I never saw it in action but loved to crank the old motor over in hopes that it’d take off. A little gasoline might’ve helped. The rinse tubs also were a thing of the past. Dad also purchased a new clothes dryer for Mom that Labor Day. The old one had likely seen its better days. It was a gas dryer. At the other farm when sparrows got into it through the vent there was always the concern they’d get lit up and start the dryer on fire. We were just happy to have the appliance boxes to play in. They probably got lit up too after Dad got tired of us fighting in them. Good times.

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

Offline Dotch

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But we missed that shift on the long decline
Long may you run.

The rain befuddled the scurs and their Weather Eye last week. Otherwise it was generally some beautiful early fall weather. Are we edging closer to October or can we avoid Jack Frost one more week? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid- 40’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a good chance of evening showers & thunderstorms.  Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Monday, partly sunny with a modest chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 50’s. On September 11th the sun will set at 7:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for September 11th is 75 and the normal low is 52. Fresh off a restful Labor Day the scurs are ready to tear into it. After a nap of course.

Crop progress was slowed somewhat due to the cooler conditions of this past week. Most corn was at or near half milk line with some earlier planted early maturity hybrids barely showing any milk line left. Preliminary estimates are this is a great corn crop but may have lost some of its potential when the winds blew pre-tassel the 2nd week in July. Soybeans are turning in some cases rapidly and in others where the maturities are later, some expression of a color other than green is starting to be noticeable. The soybeans may be the sleeper in all this. They’ve quietly filled their pods and more than one individual has expressed excitement once they’ve seen just how many pods the plants set. Conditions for them to finish have been ideal. Plenty of warmth and rainfall. Just like the doctor ordered.

It appears the fall bird migration is underway at the ranch. It appears the last of our local barn swallows may have flown the coop. On Saturday there was a large number of swallows on the electric lines across from the dooryard. Am guessing they convinced them to come along. The orioles are faltering although after seeing none Monday a.m. there was one on the jelly feeder just before sunset. Will probably keep a tablespoonful in the feeder dishes in case there are more stragglers this week. If nothing else the blue jays will eventually clean it up. The hummingbirds have been just nuts especially on the warmer days. I was convinced a couple of them were going to take my head clean off when I looked up and saw them flying right at me. I ducked but didn’t need to.  As adept as they are at maneuvering they would’ve missed me.

The recent rains have certainly kept the lawns green and lush including the crabgrass. The fall bluegrass regrowth after never really going dormant in the first place has made for more lawn mowing ad nauseum. It takes a five hour commitment to mow the lawn at the ranch. It only happens once a week therefore whether it needs it or not. I can honestly say it needed it all summer. Fortunately it looks like Howard and Whitey have made another mowing season. Maybe next year it’ll be time to see what’s available on the market to possibly speed up the process. I could see many more hours being spent on endeavors other than sitting on a mower seat trying to keep ahead of an out of control lawn.

Endeavors such as more road trips such as I took Monday with the Studebaker. With Mrs. Cheviot working I once again forced to fly solo on a longer cruise. Driving older automobiles one realizes very quickly how far the technology has advanced. The automatic transmission is something we take for granted. In the hills along the Mississippi the amount of shifting and listening to the overdrive takes some anticipation and effort. In overdrive descending steep downgrades the car will freewheel not unlike pulling the TA back on a Farmall. Brakes are a plus. The primary thing with any of these cruises is to make it home in one piece. Or as the former pygmy goat farmer used to put it when we’d make a safe landing in his small plane, cheated death once again.
 
The evening skies this September have been interesting to look at so far. Mars will become more evident as we move through September, rising in the east about two hours after sunset but less than an hour by early October. At that point it will be brighter than Jupiter. Look for Venus below the crescent moon on the 13th and to the right of it on the 14th. The Big Dipper is entrenched in its fall position, said to be holding water. It remains that way until spring when it is said to be “pouring it out”. I’m pretty sure some to our south are probably hoping that will be the case if they don’t see a good fall moisture recharge. Thanks to Dale Niefeldt past president of the Steele Co. Astronomical Society and Vista’s Noted Swedish Astronomer, without whom all this sage wisdom and knowledge would not be possible.
 
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of the 65th anniversary of Gunsmoke on TV. It first aired back on September 10th 1955 and ran until March 31st 1975.. Many a young lad probably first watched it as I did, listening to Dad’s pocket watch in the breast pocket of his bib overalls. When Gunsmoke started out, it was a half hour program. In 1961 it changed to an hour long format. The list of notable actors to guest star on the program was seemingly endless, many of whom including Buddy  Ebsen, Lee Van Cleef, James Whitmore, Deforest Kelly, Leonard Nimoy, Strother Martin, Ed Asner, Katherine Ross, Mariette Hartley and Melissa Gilbert to name a few. They all went on to major success on other television programs or the silver screen. Ruby and I still make an effort to watch Gunsmoke daily although the amount of “watching” is debatable. I think of it this way: Gunsmoke has been putting men and small boys to sleep for generations. Long may it run.

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

Offline Dotch

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One foot on the brake and one on the gas, hey!

Cooler temperatures and rain showers prevailed last week making the scurs and the Weather Eye scramble. Otherwise it was generally some beautiful October weather. Will Mother Nature take her foot off the gas again or will it just shift us into overdrive? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny Friday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Monday, sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 50’s. The sun will rise at 7 a.m. DST on September 21st . The normal high for the 21st is 71 and the normal low is 47. The scurs have big plans for a repeat performance of August. No need to drain the ceement pond just yet.

Corn and soybeans made slow progress towards the finish line although it was muted by last week’s cooler temperatures. Corn milk lines changed very little last week with many hybrids stuck on half milk line or nearly at maturity if they were early planted early maturing hybrids. Soybeans also continued to change color although the beans in the pods themselves moved at a snail’s pace. That should change this week with warmer temps and breezes to knock more of the leaves off. Here again some of the early planted early maturing fields will be close to maturity and the combining will commence quickly in those cases.

Looks like the orioles have finally left the ranch as of the 12th. None were spotted on the 13th or have been since. They had a good run though with our first sighting on May 7th, a tad over 4 months. A shame of sorts that we don’t have more time with them but one has to be fortunate we see them at all. North farther such is not the case. The last barn swallows snuck off over the weekend as well. At least the hummingbirds will keep us entertained for a few more weeks until the inevitable. They’ve been staying busy with the nectar feeders and all the flowers that too will soon will come to a close for winter. Some migrating warblers, the black and white warblers in particular have moved through recently making one believe that summer is indeed over and not coming back anytime soon.

Apple & pear harvest began at the ranch primarily in the form of ground fall harvest. The Honeycrisp apple tree is loaded and a fair number of apples, particularly the smaller models have fallen off. Some of them are bird pecked or are otherwise undesirable. Regardless, they still need to be picked up for sanitation reasons. Likewise with the pears although they were harvested over the weekend due to the heavy pressure from the squirrel and blue jay population. The variety Parker was designed to be picked green and ripened inside anyway. The pests still ruined a number of them as well. Their loss is the sheep’s gain. They last a matter of minutes when tossing the odd apple or pear over the fence to them. A five gallon pail full of ground fall fruit doesn’t last them a day.
 
With each passing day it appears more unlikely that a Canadian adventure will occur. Recent news articles seem to indicate the possibility of opening the border anytime soon is slim. While commerce has continued, nonessential travel from the US has been forbidden. Sad really. 90% of the Canadian population lives within 150 miles of the US border. Yet, the overall population is only about 11% of the US population. The Canadian population density is about 3 people per square mile whereas the US is closer to 93 people per square mile. There are areas of the US that are sparsely populated as well. It would seem that if someone living out in the sticks in the US testing negative for COVID wanted to visit someone living out in the sticks in Canada who also tested negative for COVID there ought to be a way for it to happen. Just sayin’.

Another cycle repeats itself. A regular customer, Gary, had told us last fall it was his last year raising sheep. He unexpectedly called a few weeks back and needed a ram. Come to find out he had kept some ewes and had decided to go one more year. Fortunately we had a few buck lambs we’d kept back for replacements and show purposes. We’d separated a couple off in a pen, unsure how many he might need to breed to the ewes. Turned out he had kept only a dozen ewes that were intended for lambing next spring so only one would be necessary. Had it been 20 – 30 it might’ve been a tall order for one buck lamb.
 
When Gary showed up Saturday morning with his topper converted to a trailer, it was business as usual. We got him backed in close enough so as two old geezers, we didn’t need to do a lot of chasing and catching. Using the panels we were able to quickly direct the candidate into the trailer without even having to touch him. I think the buck lamb was almost as surprised as we were when Gary shut the gate on him. When it came time to leave, Gary produced a bag containing a pair of wool slippers he’d made for both me and Mrs. Cheviot. Those will be mighty handy after coming in frozen from chores at night over the winter months. They’ll also provide fond memories whether it’s truly Gary’s last year raising sheep or not.

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

Offline Dotch

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And you will see it come to its fruition

Mother Nature stepped on the gas again and the scurs made the Weather Eye work overtime to forecast more beautiful August weather. Will it come to its fruition or be wishful thinking? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny Friday with a slight chance of an evening shower. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. On September 25th we fall below 12 hours of daylight and on the 28th the sun will set at 6:59 p.m. CDT. The scurs are scouting the stores for the best buys on Halloween candy. Then they are telling their neighbors.

Harvest has officially started after making one wonder with cool overnight lows last week. The breezes began to blow last Friday with temperatures warming from the mid-60’s to the upper 70’s by Monday. Soybeans changed rapidly although there are many who checked them and decided they weren’t as ready as they appeared from the road. Some samples moisture tested out of the field at around 13% but when loads sat on the truck overnight, they were closer to 15%. Still plenty of green beans in those samples. Smoke from the wildfires has also been a factor. The sun hasn’t had the punch it otherwise might. Yields have been decent for early varieties with anticipation that the later varieties may have the upper hand, taking advantage of the longer growing season. Corn silage harvest is largely over with and there have been scattered reports of early maturing hybrids being in the mid-20’s in moisture. Yields are tough to pin down yet the anecdotal evidence is encouraging, well over 200 bu./acre.
 
At the ranch we got our final cutting of hay put away for the winter. Not that it wasn’t a challenge. The cool overnight temps and the smoke from the wildfires forced the hay cut Monday to lie until Friday before it was dry enough to be raked. Prior to that it was about like pipe tobacco in moisture. When it was raked, the orchardgrass made nice big fluffy windrows that flattened out and blew around in Saturday’s breeze. When the dew came off making it fit to bale later afternoon, running the baler was like driving a NASCAR race with a yellow caution flag. It meant zigging and zagging trying to fit the windrow in the baler pick up. In places the wind made them too wide so had to just take what I could get.
 
When the Big Dubya dumped the last load to the ranch, it made nearly 230 bales of 3rd cutting off of just under five acres. That meant about 500 small square bales total going into the winter. What a difference a year makes. Last year we had plenty of round bales but only 80 small squares of 2nd cutting. 3rd cutting never materialized as it rained most of September and October along with staying cold. 80 bales wasn’t going to last long feeding 35 ewes with lambs at their side. Much of last winter was spent procuring hay from various sources. Promised myself I wouldn’t allow that to happen again. Thanks to the Dubya’s, I’ve kept that promise.

Speaking of the Dubya’s, the cover crop seeded after the peas came off made me curious what they might do with it. I had my answer one late afternoon coming home from work. Their beef cows and calves were grazing inside the newly installed electric fence surrounding the forage mixture. They looked so pretty, nice and slick in the lush green growth. What made for an even more pastoral scene was our brood ewe flock on the hillside. They were busy staring across the road at the cows kitty corner to their pasture. Our ewes aren’t lacking for condition either after bountiful rains kept their pasture lush this summer. Fruit and vegetables probably haven’t hurt either.
 
I probably should’ve written something in last week’s column about Tuesday’s autumnal equinox although meteorological fall has been here since September 1st. I think most people can look out the window and figure that out. While it doesn’t last long enough, fall is one of most people’s favorite seasons. Why? For starters, lawn mowing finally slows down. At the ranch for instance, Howard the orange mower has taken an early break after five hour a week bomb sessions. After not charging the battery and relying on the battery charger most of the summer, neighbor Jon allowed me to bring the aging machine to his shop to repair the charging system. As I told him, it’s no rush. I’m in absolutely no hurry to do more lawn mowing. If Howard returns before winter to grind up leaves that’ll be plenty soon enough for me.
 
Pockets of fall colors are making themselves more evident each day. A patch or two of sumac has begun to turn red and there are some ash and soft maple turning in the yard. The autumn blaze maples are beginning to turn reddish and even the oaks are indicating it won’t be long until they reach peak color. Our expected peak should be in the next two weeks. The warm summer and early fall has definitely moved the trees along rapidly just as it has the crops. We typically do have some pretty color although it generally doesn’t last very long before the wind blows it all away until the next year. Then we get to clean it all up and start over again.

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

Offline Dotch

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We do the Curly shuffle

With Mother Nature hitting the brakes unexpectedly, the scurs and Weather Eye almost hit the windshield. Will we see temperatures rebound to more seasonal levels or are we just heading off the cliff into the abyss? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Frost likely. Partly sunny Friday with frost likely. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Thursday is October 1st already. The normal high is 67 and the normal low is 43. The scurs will be getting those grabby brakes checked out on the ’74 Gremlin X. Don’t need to be spilling latte on those pristine Levi’s denim seats.

Crop progress continued to be made although it was spotty. Soybean harvest has been limited primarily to those early planted early maturing varieties. Yields while not necessarily record breaking have been a pleasant surprise. Rotational effects are also evident as those rotating out of soybeans for multiple years are seeing yields exceeding expectations. Amazing what can be done without major white mold and SDS to contend with. The biggest issue thus far has been getting dry conditions for enough hours to get the crop off the field. Corn harvest is also somewhat spotty but results here follow somewhat the same pattern. Corn rotated with soybeans has been excellent. Corn on corn lags behind with a yield penalty for most. Moistures on early maturing early planted hybrids were in the lower 20% range while the fuller season hybrids were still in the mid to upper 20% range. Plenty of time to let it dry a while yet.

It’s always tough to admit the hummingbirds have likely left the ranch. The last one we saw at the feeders was on September 24th. The first one’s were spotted on May 14th so it was a decent run once again even though they’ve stayed almost another week the past couple years. As usual, I keep expecting to see one descend from the leafy branches to perch on the nectar feeders. I’ll leave the feeders up a while yet as there may be a straggler or two we may or may not see. There are also plenty of flowers yet and unless it freezes awfully hard, there should be for a while. Cooler weather and lack of flowering plants are a couple factors that keep them moving south to their eventual overwintering areas in Central America.
 
In the meantime the fall birds have taken center stage. The blue jays and chickadees make it look and sound very much like fall and their consumption of sunflower seed makes it even more convincing. Eventually the nectar feeders are replaced with suet feeders, bringing the woodpeckers to the backyard in force. The red-bellied woodpeckers appreciate the ear corn as well, shuffling along the tree trunks adding their almost Curly Howard-like call to the mix. Missing recently have been the goldfinches. Some of the reference books deem goldfinches to be nomadic and that seems to fit them to a “T”. Occasionally one will venture through but they appear to be preoccupied with some of the native seed sources such as that found in the CRP wildflowers. The worst part is the yellow color on the males that have been seen is fading rapidly. Summer is definitely over.

This is definitely the perfect time of the year to be a sheep at the ranch or at the kindly neighbors’ pasture. Any number of goodies including apples, pears, cucumbers or cornstalks seem to make their way over the fence. Some of the yearling ewes haven’t had the opportunity to be exposed to much fruit before. They cue on the white plastic bucket pretty well as that’s where grain comes from at feeding time. The older ewes figure it out pretty quickly when a bucket of ground fall apples gets tossed over the fence. It doesn’t take the yearlings long to figure it out. Before you know it there are a dozen sheep crunching away on the apples. Since they chew with their mouths open, the noise becomes almost annoying.

The gardening year is coming to an end. It was largely a success even though it was done on a more limited basis than what it once was. Cucumbers seem to appear out of nowhere under some of the dwindling foliage. Like the tomatoes these late arrivals seem to have an extra level of sweetness to them. Whether it’s from the cool fall conditions or just what it doesn’t matter. We still continue to enjoy the tomatoes coming fresh off the vines as of this writing. I suspect the frost this week might have something to say about that. In the meantime we have plenty to keep those BLT’s coming for quite some time.

The pear season has come to a close. They were excellent although we need to stay on top of them better for the next time. They ripen very quickly and when they do, they get mushy inside. Refrigerating them and only taking out the amount one plans to ripen and eat over a short duration should solve that. The Honeycrisp apples have been the new star of the show. The tree hasn’t always been my favorite to deal with. It had a double leader initially so getting that whipped into shape was a top priority. After that, it would bear a few apples sporadically that the birds and four legged creatures would ruin before we got a chance. The tree almost received a death sentence as a result. It started to come around last year and this year bore impressively. Just goes to show that fruit is still a gamble.

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

Offline Dotch

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Like Columbus in the olden days…

Mother Nature continued her erratic driving and allowed her copilot Jack Frost take a turn behind the wheel. Will the scurs and the vaunted Weather Eye straighten them out or are we destined to hang on for a ride? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 50’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of showers by evening. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Monday, partly sunny with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a declining chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Monday October 12th is Columbus Day. The normal high is 62 and the normal low is 38. The scurs will be locating their Trick or Treat pillow case, a step ladder and batteries soon. With Halloween, another Full Moon and an earlier time change in store for later in the month, best be prepared.

We forgot to write about the most important moon of the year last week, the Full Harvest Moon. It was on Thursday and while it was cloudy for much of the evening, the moon did peek through during the wee hours of the morning at the ranch. It was the Harvest Moon as it is the moon closest to the autumnal equinox. During that time the pioneers were able to work late into the night by the light of the moon. The Ojibwe and Sioux agreed in principle on the name, the Ojibwe calling it The Falling Leaves Moon and the Sioux knew it as the Moon of Falling Leaves. At the ranch it’s known as the God I’m Shot Moon in honor of one of the little fat buddies. This getting ready for winter stuff is a lot of work.

Harvest was a mixed bag last week. Some were diehards and waited for soybeans to dry. Other became impatient and switched over to corn in the name of getting something done. Neither approach is wrong. When conditions were suddenly fit again Sunday afternoon, the heathens were back at combining soybeans. Work on Sunday fix on Monday they as they say. The moisture on the soybeans wasn’t the same in every field either as some had to wait until Monday afternoon to get going full bore. All in all though if the forecast for this week holds we should see most of the beans harvested by weeks end. Corn harvest too has been spotty generally speaking. Moisture was hung up in the mid-to upper 20’s until recently, one more reason some were hesitant to switch over. The weekend frost should help even things up for both crops.

Indeed it did freeze both Saturday and Sunday morning with temps as low as 28 reported locally. At the ranch it did a number on any of the vine crops including the cucumbers and volunteer gourds the sheep were nursing along. However, given the location of the tomatoes, they managed to escape with only some of the upper leaves singed. It appears we may have tomatoes for a while yet. The fruit itself was untouched and continues to blush. The cannas and four o’clocks in the same area behaved much the same way. Not that there are a lot of pollinators left, it’s just nice to know that those remaining have an opportunity for some nourishment. I harvested some four o’clock seed Monday night, making sure that I got a good mix including some with white flowers. The red, yellow and pink were predominant and it would be nice to have a more balanced mix for next year. Fussy ain’t I?

Hoping that the breezes will keep a few leaves on the trees for a possible weekend cruise in the Studebaker. At last check we’d logged over 1000 miles for the season, nearly doubling last year’s dismal total. I’m positive that I drive Mrs. Cheviot’s car a lot fewer miles than that over the course of a year. It takes me a lot longer to settle in when driving the family roadster as opposed to the Silver Hawk. Perhaps it’s something about the vehicles one grew up with not having all the whistles and bells to figure out. I continually bump the windshield wiper switch in her car by putting the key in the ignition and usually get the hairy eyeball when it occurs. In the Studebaker you don’t dare turn the wipers on for fear they’ll stop halfway and not return to their original position. As a result, I’m guessing I must have a quarter inch of Rain X on the windshield by now. Problem solved.
 
As mentioned above, Monday is Columbus Day. I’ll always remember it as Columbus Day as that’s what it was called when I grew up. Means nothing other than it’s observed as a paid holiday for banks and Post Offices. It also holds some memories of my days as a lad. One damp freezing cold Columbus Day when I was in 5th grade, Ricky Hovden and I were on school patrol over the lunch hour. We were excused from class to do crossing guard duty. It was raining so we donned the large yellow slickers provided, grabbed the crossing guard flags and proceeded to take up our positions on either side of the street.

Once we reached our stations I looked across the street and saw Ricky leaning on the wooden flag pole with one leg pulled up under his rain slicker. It looked like he only had one leg! Way cool! Not to be outdone, I followed suit. We looked at each other and had a good laugh. Pretty soon people were driving by pointing, laughing and honking. We were loving it while making the best of a bad situation. I’m guessing Mrs. Young probably wasn’t laughing when she looked out the window based on the scolding we got. At least not on the outside anyway.
 
See you next week…real good then.     
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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How years ago in days of old,
When magic filled the air.

Mother Nature ditched Jack Frost last week and Friday she had a July weather flashback. Will her flashbacks continue or will Jack Frost thumb another ride? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of overnight snow/rain showers. Highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of rain/snow showers. Highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 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. The sun will set before 6:30 p.m. on the 15th and on the 16th we slide below 11 hours of daylight for the first time since February 25th. The normal high for October 16th is 60 and the normal low is 37. Being the bearers of bad news, the scurs will likely receive more hate mail. That’s OK. It’ll cut down on the heating bill.

Farmers wasted little time taking advantage of good going last week. They got after the soybeans in short order and by week’s end, there were few fields left to be harvested. There were still some fields of later maturing beans not ready and ditto with beans replanted after the hail. As warm and windy as it was Friday it still didn’t quite get the job done. Last year at this time soybeans were wet and few as an added bonus it snowed on the 12th. Think we’re OK without that. Corn dried down immensely however. Reports of some early planted early maturing hybrids already in the mid-teens for moisture. Even the adapted maturity hybrids have been in the upper teens and low 20% range. Yields have been decent although perhaps not the homerun some were thinking or hoping for. As suspected when looking at the pollinating corn following the July 11th wind storm event, those goose necked stalks were later to pollinate and resulting ears smaller in size than their non-goose necked counterparts. This has shown up in the combine and in the grain dryer both. Got away from the area where the wind affected it and it’s a different ball game.

It is definitely corn picking time though although it’s been that way a while. The ten man dryer has been running almost nonstop for three weeks already. I was also pleasantly surprised upon coming home to hear neighbor Jon’s corn dryer running. There are few things that put me out like the hum of that dryer fan and best of all there are no side effects. I was surprised to learn there are others who are also mesmerized by the sound of dryer fans. I’m almost thinking maybe we should drying soybeans routinely just to help people sleep. Get some of those pillows from the My Pillow guy and insomnia should be a thing of the past.

Here at the ranch subtle preparations are underway to get ready for winter. Made a trip to the basement and changed the furnace filter so when that starts up it doesn’t smell quite so much like burning dirt. Also cleaned the filter on the dehumidifier. Said it needed it and for once, it appeared the little idiot light was being honest. Washed the dirt down the sink and after air drying it, stuck the filter back in. The machine roared to life and within a matter of a few minutes the dampness was out of the air. Also peeked at the softener salt just to make sure I hadn’t been checking it frequently enough. It was in great shape too so at least we’re through some of the checklist preliminaries.

The tomatoes in the garden benefited from last week’s warm temps. Having been only lightly touched by the frost, they had plenty of photosynthetic area left to move the remaining fruit along nicely. If we’re careful we should have some tomatoes yet into November. Ruby won’t mind. The BLT’s have been a good way to consume a fair number of tomatoes fresh. The bacon grease winds up being drizzled over her dog food, making her coat nice and shiny. After she shed off back in August and early September, we were wondering if she’d have time to develop a decent fur coat before winter. Not to worry. The fun part is sweeping it up for the next 12 months.

The apples still need to be harvested yet, something the sheep have to be looking forward to. There are plenty of damaged apples that will find their way over the fence. Certainly hoping the birds have left us some SnowSweet apples. They’re a little later apple but are wonderful when sliced and dipped in melted caramel. It helps that they don’t turn brown quickly too. They can be sliced and eaten later after staying in the fridge for a day or so. The Honeycrisp apples are reputed to keep in the fridge for up to 7 months and Haralson’s up to 4 months. We should be set in that department.

The recent windy conditions have put a quick end to much of our color. Ash trees that had good color Friday night were totally denuded by Monday morning. The thunderstorm didn’t help even though I slept right through most of it. Now with the weather cooling down, it’ll be time to don the long winter gatkes that we heard Steve Cannon speak of lo those many years. The possibility of snow will likely expedite the process I fear. Listening to Steve-O and the Little Cannons back in those halcyon days would warm the soul. Over 23 years ago the a.m. radio in the pickup was always tuned in to The Evil Neighbor for the chilly late fall afternoon ride home. The airwaves were full of magic. Best of all, he always got the money.

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

Offline snow1

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Dotch,curious to you have irrigation wells in you're fields?or depend on mother nature.

Offline Dotch

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Very little in the way of irrigation around here snow. Some down by Austin. My neighbors put in a pivot over by Hope 8-10 years ago when it looked like we were heading into a dry cycle. Kinda goofy light textured soil but the water table underneath it is pretty high. They've run the irrigation once.  :doah:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline snow1

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  Dotch,My younger days I drilled water wells for a company out of anoka,got roped in to irrigation wells on farms near little falls one late summer,I remember this because the farmers up there hired a local "witcher",pivet irrigation wells were12" casing,screened gravel set above the first layer of clay,soil up that way was crapty for everything but farmers wanted yield,well following that old timer "witcher" was a hoot.he would show-up at day break with a jug of apricot brandy for breakfast,had to follow him around the dang cornfields looking for a water vein as he called it,could've popped a well like this anywhere and get 3,000 gal/minute but this was a learning experience and the more the witcher drank the drunker he got and funny as hell,fun times,never had a dry well so maybe it was money well spent to hire this guy?I tried his hickory Y shaped water finder ,but no luck.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2020, 09:01:35 AM by snow1 »

Offline Dotch

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You want to know what they say about the bird in my hand

Mother Nature was picking up hitchhikers again last week. Not only was Jack Frost a rider, he brought his buddy Old Man Winter along. Will the scurs & Weather Eye forecast a reprieve or are we doomed to serve our sentence? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, cloudy with a good chance of rain changing to snow by Friday a.m. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a modest chance of snow.  Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of overnight snow/rain showers. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a fair chance of rain/snow showers. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain/snow mix. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. The normal high for October 23rd is 56 and the normal low is35.Trying to find something positive, the scurs point out that the rate at which we are losing daylight has slowed by a about a second a day. That’s about like hearing your tax increase isn’t as much as they’d planned on.

As the fall has unfolded, the weather has made for relatively good going. Much of the corn remaining to be harvested is taking very little propane to dry, much to the chagrin of the LP man. Moisture contents are in the mid-teens to lower 20’s. Fall tillage has progressed quickly with many fields already put to bed. Relatively light precip has left soil in better condition than it’s been for many falls as well as lessening any fire danger. Anhydrous ammonia is being applied in some fields. The soil temps are definitely low enough. With no sign of change to appreciably warmer weather, it may allow us to get fall application done before Old Man Winter fires more than a warning shot. Granted the calendar date is perhaps a week earlier than some would like. However, getting excess moisture or ground frozen beyond what applicator knives will penetrate is always a distinct possibility. Not that applying everything in the spring isn’t possible; it’s nice to have the workload spread out just in case. A bird in the hand as they say.

The workload at the ranch is never spread out. It just keep coming at you in waves. Apples have been harvested as were the last of the tomatoes. There should be ample BLT’s and sliced apples with caramel into the month of November. The cannas need to be dug yet but otherwise gardening for the season is largely done. The lawn could use a mowing too although that will likely wait until the last of the leaves drop. Harvest and other preoccupations have taken precedence. An oil change for both mowers before putting them to bed for the year needs to happen. Both the tractor and skidsteer also need their oil changed and a good greasing before barn cleaning season commences. At least with the 24 degree low the Monday a.m. the paper wasps nesting in the loader arms on the 656 shouldn’t sting me. Hate when that happens.
 
We turned the heat on at the ranch as well. It was time. The floor heat keeps up pretty well with low temps in the 30’s and low 40’s. Once it gets much below that the forced air furnace needs to kick in to make up the difference. Changing the air filter prevented the burnt dirt smell when it started up as expected. One always keeps their fingers crossed when clicking the thermostat over from the air conditioning to the heat setting. Listening for the burner to light then hearing the fan kick in one breathes a sigh of relief when the furnace starts to take the chill off. When it shuts down then cycles again several minutes later, it’s reassuring that it’s functioning like normal for what could very possibly a long heating season ahead. Oh goody.

The sheep aren’t noticing the cold much nor will they until they’re shorn sometime in January or February. Right now their fleece is roughly 3” long and is like wearing a large wool comforter while ambling around the pasture. There has been a noticeable change in their choice of forages lately though. While there is still plenty of grass for them to gnaw off, the nutritional quality is waning. The flock continues to dutifully clean up any fallen leaves in the pasture at the ranch. The Canada thistle plants they chewed the flower buds off of all summer long suddenly are attractive to eat. The stinging nettle patches are also fair game. At the kindly neighbors’ pasture in particular, when it’s time to load the sheep up for the season, the only thing left of the nettle patches are a few stems. Fine by me.

The change of seasons continues in the backyard as well. All the nectar feeders were taken down, cleaned and stored for the winter. They were replaced by suet feeders and the woodpeckers were on them almost immediately. So far the starlings and house sparrows seem to be preoccupied elsewhere as what they’re after is easier to access than the horizontal suet feeders. A fully feathered male cardinal was around Sunday, reminding me I’d used up the last of the sunflower seed with the last fill. Guessing they grew more in North Dakota this past summer.

Driving back from cleaning out my Mom’s place on Sunday, I had tuned in to the Vikings games just to see if they’d turned things around. They had not. Suddenly there was a newsflash that Sid Hartman had passed away at age 100. After mentioning Cannon last week, it signaled the end of another era, one that I had truly enjoyed. Back when people actually listened to ‘CCO radio, Sid was a fixture, handing out certificates for Murray’s Silver Butter Knife Steaks for appearing on Today’s Sports Hero as well as frequently being a guest on the Cannon Mess. The Sports Huddle on Sundays was a good listen and left me wanting more until the next Sunday.
 
While I never totally forgave Sid for his role in moving Gopher football off campus (he later admitted it was a mistake), I couldn’t help but respect and admire him. Starting off selling newspapers, writing a column and becoming the sports editor at the Fish Wrapper to the Free World as Cannon called it is quite an accomplishment, not mention managing the Minneapolis Lakers and being a well-known celebrity on many sports shows on both TV and radio.  Coming from humble beginnings and working hard on your way to the top is the American dream. I’d forgotten too until the other day I still have my Sid bobble head displayed in my office. Looking at it brought back great memories of Sid-ism’s. Could almost hear him saying “all those geniuses” and “where are they now?” Thanks Sid for brightening my day many, many times.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog

Old Man Winter grabbed the wheel and went on a joy ride last week. It left the scurs, the Weather Eye and everyone else with white knuckles. Will the scurs & Weather Eye see their way clear to yanking his driving privileges for a few weeks or are we buckled in for the duration?  Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Halloween, sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Monday, sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a modest chance of afternoon showers. Highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Through the art of governmental meddling, the sun will set on Halloween at 6:04 p.m. Three days later it will set at 5 p.m. Utterly amazing! The normal high for Halloween is 51 and the normal low is 32. The scurs will be exhausted after dispensing Halloween treats on a Full Moon feeding ghosts and goblins as well as changing their smoke alarm batteries and setting their clocks back an hour. Working overtime.

It is indeed a Full Moon on Halloween, something that has not happened across all time zones since 1944 according the Farmer’s Almanac. It is also unusual in that it is the second Full Moon in October thus making it a Blue Moon. It goes by the name of the Full Hunter’s Moon as it was a timeframe when larders were being stocked by not only the pioneers but Native tribes as well. It also meant harvesting warm fur for the long cold winter ahead. The Ojibwe knew this as The Falling Leaves Moon and the Sioux called it The Moon when Wind Shakes the Leaves off Trees or the Moon of Changing Season. At the ranch, we know it as the Frozen Water Bucket Moon. Many hours will be consumed over the course of the next several months dealing with them.

Progress in the fields was largely brought to a screeching halt as a result of the snowfall events. Even tillage was unable to be performed as traction was lost with the melting precipitation. Snow hung up on cornstalks and husks causing those who knew better to park their machines and wait it out. Others decided to tempt fate and paid the price, plugging the combine with snow and thawing it out in the shop afterwards. The fall that was way ahead of schedule so far suddenly became more in line with what we’ve experienced in a more normal year for many. Corn that was harvested has been slower to dry with the colder air. It also didn’t dry appreciably in the field and in some cases likely picked up some moisture. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Speaking of that, the snow also brought an end to any notion I had about taking the Studebaker out for one last ride. How so? With snow it’s like magic that the sand and salt mixture comes out of snow plow trucks particularly in the People’s Republic of Steele Co. Rather than scrape the roads off then wait for the sun to melt the ice, tax dollars are spent to make sure that people can continue to drive like maniacs as well as keeping car washes and body shops in business. Instead of exposing a collector automobile to the hazardous material, one opts to park them for the winter unless several inches of rain fall to wash the roads off. Odds of that happening become less and less with each passing day. Oh what could’ve been…

It looks like gardening is officially done for the season. The cold temperatures last week finished off the cannas and four o’clocks that were still desperately trying bloom. After returning from another bomb session cleaning and moving items from Mom’s place, I tackled digging the cannas. Not a minute too soon the way it looked. The snow that had been falling much the day had tapered off some. There was an inch of frozen soil on top of the bulbs however that fortunately crumbled off fairly easily. The bulbs themselves were beautiful and growing points intact in spite of the cold conditions. I’d also taken the liberty to dig a few daffodils at Mom’s and was able to get those planted in a spot on the south side of our house here where hopefully they do well. I was amazed how deep they were when I dug them up and tried my best to plant them at roughly the same depth. Fortunately I had more “dog help” from Ruby than a person should be allowed to have. Oh well, she’s works cheap.

There are still plenty of ground fall apples to scoop up yet although the snow needs to melt off first so I can find them all. If all goes as planned, after the apples are cleaned up there should be time to give the lawn a good going over to grind up the leaves. Like the last several years however, it got cold early enough that some trees including the Norway maple, still have their leaves attached. With the earlier part of the fall progressing as it was, I was optimistic we’d see some more color. When the Norway maple sheds its leaves at full color, it looks like a golden waterfall cascading down the road cut. Like last year, the leaves are a dull olive green and will fall off the tree when they get darn good and ready. The leaves eventually blew away once the weather really got cold. Not going to attempt to grind them up wearing my winter garb. Wearing mittens and insulated coveralls while mowing the lawn takes a lot of the fun out of it.

The ewes continue to eke out enough forage from the pastures to keep them happy for now even though the cold weather stopped any foliage regrowth in its tracks. They’re apparently content to eat fallen leaves while picking at the nooks and crannies they overlooked earlier. I wondered how hungry they might be after they spent a day rummaging through the snow. I tossed four scoop shovels full of apples over the fence, expecting to see them come on a dead run. Instead the flock just looked at me and kept browsing on whatever was handy. Eventually a half dozen ewes came over and nosed through the apples some but when I came out the door for chores in the morning, there were still plenty left. Apparently looks are not deceiving. They sheep are fat and they’re not hungry. Some of us humans should be so lucky.
 
See you next week…real good then.   
« Last Edit: October 28, 2020, 04:55:30 PM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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Sun is shining in the sky
There ain't a cloud in sight

The scurs got Mother Nature back in the driver’s seat after being hijacked the week before. Will the Weather Eye dial in Indian summer or was Old Man Winter just getting warmed up? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with increasing chances for rain as the day goes on. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain possibly turning to snow late. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. On November 6th we slip below 10 hours of daylight and on the 8th the sun will rise at 8 a.m. The normal high for November 8th is 46 and the normal low is 28. The scurs will be soaking up rays by the ceement pond. Best of all: No bugs!

Nice blue sky weather finally showed its hand and farmers were ready for it. People’s daubers get down with prolonged clouds and cold. After conditions were greasy on the surface last week and slow to change, fieldwork could commence once again. Plenty of primary tillage operations to be performed, manure to be applied as well as anhydrous ammonia. Soils are in great shape relative to the past several fall seasons and this week’s forecast of dry warm conditions won’t change that. The way October was going one was starting to wonder if we would see an early freeze up and the end of fall fieldwork. With a good crop under their belt and prices better than they’ve been in many moons one senses some optimism again. High temps 30+ degrees above the prior week don’t hurt.
 
October was one for the books. With a low of 9 recorded on the 27th and 28th at the SROC in Waseca, soils froze up solid although it did allow farmers to gain traction on fields that needed to be worked. Something else that sticks out for the month is the amount of snow that fall. At the ranch and in Bugtussle, snowfall amounts were 9” and 8.4” respectively. Snowfall was responsible for slightly more than half of the liquid equivalent precip that fell for the month at the ranch and close to half in town. For the year 2020, October was our third snowiest month. It remains to be seen how it will stack up for the winter of ’20 – ’21 but it isn’t a good way to start no matter how one slices it.

Along with hampering field work it slowed yard work for us at the ranch. As mentioned last week, was waiting for the snow to melt to clean up the apples. That finally happened so Monday night the last four scoop shovels full made their way over the fence to the sheep. They’ve grown accustomed to it. There have been protests (largely peaceful) from the ovines when there is any human activity near the fence. Now the apples are gone they’ll have to rely on screenings that need to be picked up since the weather has changed. There may be a window of opportunity to grind up the leaves and remove some of the longer grass growth that snuck by due to harvest starting early and extra time being spent on the weekend cleanup at Mom’s.
 
With the election being done, I’m so glad that the ads are over with all the syrupy music being played in the background making the candidate look like a saint, then playing ominous music vilifying their opponent and misrepresenting them as nothing short of a mass murderer. Seriously? You politicians and your advertising geniuses really think the melodramatic approach makes me more anxious to vote for your client? Guess again. I’ve watched Dudley Do-Right. I’ve also been to Frostbite Falls many times.
   
We need to find things we agree upon to bring us back together. Maybe start small. Something that comes to mind is telemarketers and nuisance phone calls. I don’t know how many times recently I’ve been on a call and hear someone beeping in or see the words “Potential Spam” comes up on the display. It wastes several minutes a day which some might say isn’t a big deal. However when one takes into account how many times a day over the course of a week it happens, not to mention clogging your voicemail box, it becomes a big deal. The time wasted dealing with these parasites is real money. If varmints were an annoyance such as that, there’d be a bounty on them. Sounds like a plan to me!
 
Ending the time change which we’ve written about for many years has gained traction as well. Now we just need to decide whether to leave the clocks on Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time. Each has its merits. I don’t care. All the diddling around changing clocks and the health issues surrounding it should be enough for us all to agree that this stinker has been around too long. Make the call and go with it.  Although I did enjoy that extra hour of sleep. Perhaps setting the clocks back an extra hour every few months wouldn’t be so bad. Just a thought…

One thing I’m sure we would all agree upon is Auntie Mar Mar’s blueberry coffee cake. Even though the label on the last batch deceptively claimed it had been made by someone else, I’m onto her. It’s a little like someone ghost writing my column. I may claim that from time to time but people are well aware no one else would write this stuff, nor would they want to. Following another cleaning bonanza at Mom’s I found the last batch of coffee cake when I got home. Mrs. Cheviot had mentioned it but hadn’t pointed out where it was. Once located there was no question what to do. Heated up in the microwave and slathered with Hope Creamery butter, it was awesome. Sure beats the tar out of Drake’s.

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

Offline LPS

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That blueberry coffee cake sounds great.  I am for leaving the time one way I think but which way?  I don't like it getting dark so early though.  It is nice to get up when it is getting light though.  I guess I need more info on it.  And yes we need to find more things we all agree on!  This is a great big wonderful world and we need to be enjoying it not degrading it.

Offline Dotch

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‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever even cold November rain…

The scurs and Weather Eye did indeed dial in Indian summer for last week. Will Old Man Winter make a comeback or will he still be busy harvesting votes? Starting Veteran’s Day, sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Thursday, partly sunny with a slight chance of a rain and snow mix. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Sunny Friday with a modest chance of evening snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance for rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Monday, sunny with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with a moderate chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. We continue to lose daylight at a more leisurely clip of just over 2 minutes per day.  The normal high for November 16th is 41 and the normal low is 24. The scurs will be honoring those who served on the 11th. Never forget those who served so that we could enjoy our freedom.

Large amounts of fieldwork were wrapped up this past week as well it should’ve been. With warm dry conditions it made the perfect opportunity to make headway with tillage as well as manure and anhydrous ammonia applications. Soil conditions are as good as they’ve been in many a year for tillage. Most remaining fields of corn were harvested with little drying necessary. Several fields had cornstalks baled off of them. Cleanup around dryer setups and bin sites were accomplished without the usual freezing cold temperatures. What looked somewhat like late December back in October had an almost September appearance. No one complained about it either especially once colder temperatures and rain brought us back to reality Monday afternoon.

At the ranch we were able to capitalize on the nice weather as well. Leaves that had been under the October snow had become crispy crackly dry, perfect for grinding up into confetti with the mower. Cutting the overgrowth of grass should allow a lot of the remaining leaves to blow off where they’ll be of little consequence. If they are wee may get another chance to grind those up too. A garter snake slithering along Friday afternoon while mowing made me optimistic. The valve core was replaced on the 656 tire so the fluid would stay in it then the tractor was greased. The last of the bales were stacked and the screenings wagon was hooked up after moving copious amounts of stuff out of the way. The journey to the kindly neighbors’ ensued to clean up the last of the screenings there. Some additional screenings were placed in the barn there so that group of sheep would have a supply to carry them until their return to the ranch.

 The next day meant placing the bunny deterrents around the hydrangea and burning bushes, both known as bunny candy. I’d already sprayed them with Liquid Fence which I’d borrowed from my sawed off Swede buddy. The stuff smelled like a combination of ripe turkey manure and rotten grain commonly found in the bottom of leg pits. The cages placed securely around our new shrubbery, it was time to head for the former pygmy goat farmer’s place to clean up the screenings under his dryer. With the crew he had assembled, a few hours later and that task was accomplished. The 263 International engine growled its way home pulling the nearly full wagon. There are several reasons I can’t hear anymore and that’s probably one of them. Once home, the screenings were covered and backed in the shed after which the two troughs were moved back into the brood ewes pasture. Mrs. Cheviot dumped the last of the planters then we did chores to call it a day and a weekend.

There are still plenty of things to accomplish yet. A partial day Friday spent getting my pickup hauled into Ike’s when it refused to commence burned up time I’d planned to use for oil changes. Also getting prepared mentally and otherwise for barn cleaning. Yes, the weather has finally deteriorated to the point where I won’t feel guilty about using nice weather for an otherwise mundane task. As luck would have it however, I loaned the spreader to a neighbor so he could clean the chicken coop and dispose of the leaves in his yard. My only request was that he grease it so I could cross that task off the list. I’ll need to move the snow blower out of the way to get at the manure forks then attach them to the skidsteer. Drop the oil on both the tractor and skidsteer then grease the latter; we should be ready for action. A freeze up might be handy to keep mud off the road. Just a thought.

Lastly will be bringing the sheep home from the kindly neighbors’ pasture. The ewes and one-eyed ram have been there since late May or early June; a long spell. However, they’re still finding plenty to eat. Seeing an earthworm during Tuesday morning’s cold November rain gave me hope it could wait a week or so yet. The forecast of an ice storm was somewhat concerning although worrying about weather is usually an exercise in futility. It’ll do what it’ll do and the time for the animals to return home will inevitably arrive. In the meantime it’s just like everybody else, pull for the finish line and hope for the best.

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

Offline Dotch

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So real, so right, lost in the fifties tonight

The scurs and Weather eye dished out a more typical November last week. Anything less than 50 for a high became a disappointment. Are we back to the 50’s or will Old Man Winter tighten his grip? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a modest chance of evening rain and snow. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance for snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low 30’s. A sneak peek at Thanksgiving Day looks like partly sunny with highs in the mid-40’s and lows around 30 along with a slight chance of rain/snow mix. We continue to lose daylight at just under 2 minutes per day starting the 21st. We’ll slide below 9 hours and 30 minutes of daylight on the 19th.  The normal high for November 19th is 39 and the normal low is 22. The scurs will be loading up for the Thanksgiving feast at Wagner’s and Lerberg’s. Hopefully the turkey police don’t stop their fun.
 
Most are conceding they’re done with fall fieldwork and anhydrous ammonia applications after last week’s precip left soil surfaces greasy and slimy once they’ve thawed. This hasn’t kept some of us from waiting for freezing temperatures overnight to allow some manure spreading activity without tracking mud on the roads. Aside from that purchases are being made for the upcoming season’s inputs. Prices have rebounded on the soybean side such that corn prices will have to respond in order to keep pace on acreage. This hasn’t happened for a few years so there are plenty of acres that were corn on corn that could go into soybeans considering the usual higher input costs and reduced corn yields. It is amusing to listen to those who were recently deriding some for raising soybeans suddenly deciding that raising poverty pods maybe isn’t such a bad idea after all.

The pastures at both the ranch and the kindly neighbors continue to hold although the clock is ticking. One can see an uptick in mineral consumption indicating that while the ewes may be getting full, the quality of the forage is decreasing nutritionally as well as in volume.  One can always put a round bale or two out in case the flock is truly hungry. Usually though they’ll just pick at the bales a little then head out to pasture anyway. As long as the pastures remain open, the ewes prefer to wander about, foraging for whatever they can find. Getting fresh air and exercise is just as important for them as it is for humans. Only bad things happen when you stay inside eating to your little heart’s content all the time.

Something unusual happened at the kindly neighbors when I stopped there last Friday around dusk for chores. I’d opened the cap on the pickup box to get the shovel to clean out the ewes’ trough. As closed the cap I noticed there was something white on top of the cab. A pure white pigeon or dove had landed on it and as I moved closer to get a look at it. It flew off into the shed and was last seen in the rafters. A few days later I got a call from the kindly neighbor describing the white bird to me. We decided it must belong to someone as tame as it seemed to be. If so they might want to retrieve it. Bad things happen to birds sometimes in circumstances such as this.

My sister had a pet pigeon when we were growing up. Its name was Scuttles and she had raised it from a nestling when it had fallen out of the nest. It was a pretty cool pet all things considered. Scuttles lived in the barn on top of the sliding door to the hay chute. We left the chute door open in the summer and it made a nice shelf for birds to roost. The pigeon had been imprinted by all the human contact. It liked people and was seemingly always interested in what we were doing out in the yard. It had a habit of appearing out of nowhere and landing on top of your head, sometimes leaving a little “present” behind.
 
In addition to farming, Dad was also involved in real estate. We frequently had people stopping in to go look at property. I recall one lady screaming hysterically when Scuttles became entangled in her hairdo during one of those patented landings. It was almost like something out of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. Of course we kids thought it was hilarious. Dad probably not so much as it was unlikely the prospective client bought anything after that episode. Unfortunately poor Scuttles life came to a tragic end shortly after that. Seems a cat figured out where the bird was camping. One day when Scuttles didn’t show up, we went looking for her. Further investigation on top of the hay chute door revealed a pair of feet, all that was left of the avian pet. She was still a lot of fun while she lasted.
   
Still need to get at barn cleaning but again, as long as the weather stays relatively moderate it’s not a rush either. In the meantime I’ve spent seven out of the last eight weekends cleaning and moving things around at Mom’s for the pending property sale. There have been many long days and sore muscles after these events. Plenty of treasures being hauled back to the ranch too. Of course the trouble is in order to house it all it means cleaning out space for that to happen. In some cases, there are boxes that will need to be sorted through first and the contents integrated into what we already have. In other words, the stuff in the junk drawers from Mom’s will likely wind up in our own junk drawers. It’s really not junk. It just isn’t useful until you really need it and can’t find 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)

Offline Dotch

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Nothing I try to do can work the same way

The scurs and Weather Eye spoiled us last week with highs in the 50’s last Wednesday and Thursday.  Are we done seeing those wonderful temps or will Old Man Winter take another week off? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Thanksgiving Day, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Becoming mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Monday, cloudy with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thursday the 26th is Thanksgiving Day. The normal high for the 26th is 35 and the normal low is 18. Tuesday is December 1st already. As the scurs always say, time sure flies when you’re having fun.
 
Monday the 30th ushers in another Full Moon and it generally goes by The Full Beaver Moon. It was at this time that early settlers were gathering furs for the winter. It was also a time in which beavers were actively working to stay ahead of the winter as well. It is also sometimes called The Frosty Moon. The Ojibwe knew this as The Freezing Moon and the Sioux called it The Moon When Winter begins. At the ranch we’re inclined to call it The Barn Cleaning Moon or The Moon When Ewes Return Home, whichever comes first. Take your pick.

Still some action in area fields as the weather has held, allowing some late anhydrous ammonia and manure applications. Relatively light November precipitation and some warmer than normal temperatures haven’t hurt. The extended fall made it possible for farmers to get at some of those projects that were shelved in recent years when harvest was delayed. Lots of junk being cleaned out of groves, brush being cleared from fencelines and brush piles being burned much to the dismay of the DNR no doubt. If you’re a skunk, raccoon, coyote, opossum or a bunny reading this you’d probably agree.
 
Speaking of bunnies, one decided to rain on my parade last Friday. Needed to charge the battery for the lift on the trailer. Wanted to use it on Saturday so had put the battery charger on it last Thursday afternoon. Checked it that night and while the battery was taking a charge, it still needed some time. Left the charger on overnight and while the battery was up good the next morning, the battery charger wasn’t working. It was damp that morning so figured that was the culprit when it popped the GFCI on an outlet coming out of the breaker box. Then I discovered none of the outlets in the garage were working aside from the freezer outlet. I frantically flipped breakers to no avail until I found another GFCI tucked behind a dorm refrigerator. Pushed the reset and problem solved. Sort of.

I went to plug the charger in again and running my fingers along the cord I found a notch in it. Sure enough it had been chewed and luckily for the rabbit, the GFCI tripped, preventing it from being electrocuted. It was a flat three-prong cord and I had no ends to repair it. Even if I’d had a male end the cord would’ve been about 2’ long. Rewiring another cord would’ve been time consuming if it was possible at all. I’d already diddled away an hour figuring all this stuff out. The weather was holding too so some soil sampling that had been delayed needed to get done.  No time to get another battery charger right away. The day only went downhill from there. It was cold, windy and miserable sampling on rough, ripped ground. I finished about dark due to the late start. Then I did chores and made a trip to get a battery charger after that. All thanks to a stupid bunny. Yet another reason to shoot them.
 
At least the birds at and around the feeders haven’t disappointed. Seems like the chickadees were in perpetual motion Sunday afternoon with the nuthatches right behind them. A new addition and a bird I hadn’t seen before was a Sunday morning guest. A female evening grosbeak came to the crabapple tree and was curious about the sunflower feeder on the shepherd’s crook. A blue jay hastily bullied her and she moved to the hackberry where I got a good look at the bird. I’d been hearing some different bird song recently. Without a lot of time to go looking for the source emanating from the windbreak, it remained a mystery. This seems to be happening with greater frequency over the years. Yet more proof that the windbreak, neighbor David’s windbreak and our EQIP planting are benefitting not only game birds but non-game bird populations as well.
 
Ruby has been having a good fall season with all the maneuvering around the yard with the tractor, skidsteer, lawnmower and the Gator. Always something to bark or growl at along with tires to bite. The latest load of equipment from Mom’s was especially rewarding involving three out of the four machines, spread out over the course of several hours. When I finished we went in the house for popcorn which I shared with her. We got chores done just after dark and Ruby still wanted to play ball until bedtime. By 10 o’clock, Ruby was tired after the day’s chasing around. She conked out and was snoring loudly on the bed when I tuned in Bonanza. Sometime after the first commercial break, apparently I’d joined her, waking up around midnight. Must be why they call them the Lost Episodes.
 
As mentioned I continue spending portions of weekends cleaning up, hauling things home and readying the building site at Mom’s for sale. 2012 was the last year we were able to have Thanksgiving with Mom. Rather than have her clean up the house and cook everything there we’d pick her up Wednesday night. Then we’d have her stay with us until the weekend. Since we’ve recently assimilated a lot of her personal belongings from the house, it’s almost as though a part of her is still with us. And in spite of all the COVID crackdowns, the sheep will have their traditional apples and pumpkins along with Ruby getting her giblets. While it can never be the same without Mom present, the memories will be forever.

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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