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Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 183671 times)

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Offline LPS

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I remember that Kero-sun heater era.  Smelly things that kept one room warm so you were cold elsewhere but it did save money.  Probably would have been cheaper to use an electric heater in the main room. 

Offline Dotch

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To make matters worse, we ran #1 diesel in it. That really stunk. But it was cheaper! :doah:
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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When they ran out they stunk even worse from what I remember.  Then refilling them always ended up in some kind of spill.  Alcohol was probably involved.  LOL

Offline mike89

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we had one too, there was a reason we stopped using it and gave it away!!!   
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline Dotch

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People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing

The scurs found out the Weather Eye parts are sitting in a container ship off the left coast. Will Mother Nature warm up to us finally or will we continue to get the cold shoulder? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a modest chance of an evening shower. Highs in the low 50ís with lows in the low 40ís. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50ís with lows in the low 40ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Saturday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the upper 40ís. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a fair chance of forenoon rain and a better chance of afternoon showers. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Monday, partly sunny with an increasing chance of rain into the evening hours. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 50ís. On May 5th, the sun will rise at 6 a.m. CDT and we start gaining daylight at just under two minutes and 30 seconds as of the 6th. The normal high for May 6th is 64 and the normal low is 43. The scurs will be drooling over their May baskets, knowing itís a long dry spell until the Farm and City Days parade.

Some progress was made in the fields last week before the rains arrived and put a damper on everyoneís attitudes. A smattering of fields were planted to corn but they are the exception and not the rule. Anhydrous ammonia went on well as the week wore one especially west of town or east on lighter textured soils. As mentioned in previous weeks, our springtime rainfall kinda snuck up on us. Since March, many locations have accumulated nearly 6Ē of rain. With nothing growing on the fields and cool, cloudy weather, soils have largely recharged and the profile if not full is close to it. This is part of what is so frustrating. Any real snow cover has been largely gone since late February. Everyone was licking their chops thinking it would be an early spring. It was, sort of. Itís just been stuck on ďearly springĒ. Few weeds have germinated although it appears with the rains last week, areas that looked suspiciously like the frost wasnít out have changed their tune.
 
At the ranch the cooler temps made it possible to accomplish the tree pruning and better yet, to clean up the mess. There needs to be one more day to get all the sticks picked up under the always spiteful ash and soft maple trees. An afternoonís raking should take acre of it although running a lawn sweeper would probably garner more style points. Still a trip around the yard needed on the lawnmower to see exactly where the face snappers and cap grabbers are lurking. Aside from the fruit trees and oaks, luckily most of the trees in the backyard here tolerate later pruning without causing serious damage.

It's always been one of the best times of the year to see the migrating birds move through, many of which end up in Canadaís boreal forests. Some, such as the brown thrasher spotted on April 28th stick around, the brushy habitat created here being much to their liking. The white-throated sparrows were heard first and seen on April 30th with the white-crowned sparrows appearing the next day. The Harrisís sparrows make up the final part of the trifecta and their first appearance was noted May 2nd. Itís time already to start thinking about putting out the oriole and hummingbird feeders. Some anecdotal evidence they are around already although at the ranch, we generally donít see them as soon as our city cousins. If I can keep the wild turkeys from digging up the garden, Iíll be happy.

The garden like most of the area fields isnít planted and will need some drying days to accomplish that. Still some seed to pick up yet and especially those vegetables to be later summer seeded for fall harvest. Itís still a treat to take a package of green beans or squash out of the freezer for a meal. We still have winter radishes that have maintained their integrity and there are some canned brans among other things that are also a hit. It serves as a reminder what a wonderful growing season 2021 turned out to be not only in the farm fields but in area gardens as well.
 
As noted in the spring planting edition, Iíve been registered as a Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg) for 30 years. Regardless, a lot has happened in those years. When I first got my certification through the American Society of Agronomyís American Registry of Certified Professionals in Agronomy, Crops and Soils, it meant a lot. I had gutted out a 4-year college degree with a double-major in Agronomy and Soil Science at the University of MN. The certification required a specified number of years of experience and to get others to vouch for your professionalism and character as well. The certification also required that one complete a required amount of continuing education units (CEUís) every two years to maintain it. Fast forward to the creation of the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) program. Suddenly there was a competing program with no secondary school requirement, only that you passed a state and national exam and kept your CEUís current. The Certified Professional Agronomist designation and program were retained but with the CPAg, one suddenly had both the CCA & CPAg designations.
   
When it came time to renew my certification this last time around, I thought long and hard about it. Neither certification has done much to bring new business in the door, but Iíve never really flaunted it either. Other certified professionals had said the same. I was going to educational meetings and reading journal articles long before certification even crossed my mind. Realistically, 40 years of experience afield between the Corn Belt & Durum Triangle probably means more anyway. Like religion, those anxious to stick their certification in your face arenít necessarily trustworthy. Frequently, quite the contrary. After some soul searching, I finally relented and re-upped for another 2 years. Despite having to dig a little to find enough CEU credits in light of all the meeting cancellations due to COVID, I managed to put together more than enough to qualify. If it hadnít been my 30th year I probably wouldíve opted out. Some might say Iím just plain certifiable.

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

Offline Dotch

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And everywhere there was song and celebration

The scurs finally got some heat out of the Weather Eye despite the backordered parts. Does this mark the start of running hot and heavy with Mother Nature or will we have frequent visits to the walk out cooler? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a good chance of an evening thunder shower. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Saturday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the low 50ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a fair chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the upper 40ís. Monday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the low 50ís. Partly sunny on Tuesday with highs in the mid-60ís and lows in the upper 40ís. On May 13th, the sun will set at 8:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for May 13th is 67 and the normal low is 47. The scurs may have a trip to Misgenís scheduled for the you pull it lot. Should be lots of í74 Gremlins there complete with Weather Eyes.

The Full Moon for May occurs on the 16th and is know by several names, the most common being The Full Flower Moon for obvious reasons. Itís also known as The Corn Planting Moon and The Full Milk Moon as farmers turned their dairy herds out on pasture at this time. It was also a time in which you didnít stand behind the cows in the barn for reasons that quickly became clear. Looking at the splat marks on the wall behind them was a clue. The Ojibwe knew this as the Blossom Moon and the Sioux called it The Moon when Ponies Shed or The Moon of Greening Leaves. At the ranch it usually is known as The Full Garden Moon or Lawn Mowing Moon, depending on what day it happens to be. Can also be The Full Weaning Moon as the din continues for several days afterwards.
 
Planting progress began in earnest this past week. Late last week soil conditions became fit enough that field cultivators began to roll. By Saturday, some substantial acreages had been planted. Conditions were acceptable with most allowing fields to gray off a day before trying to plant. Soils were still plenty sticky underneath. On some headlands, where planters had to plant through wheel tracks, open slots could be seen occasionally. Progress overall in MN and the Midwest in general finds us well behind the normal pace, off to the slowest start since 2013. In MN, our corn planting completed as of May 8th was only 9%. Nationwide the percent planted was only 22%. Soybean planting was only 2% for that same date in MN and only 12% for the US. If the forecast holds however, South Central MN should catch up and get back in the game quickly.

Was notified week before last on a Thursday that Iíd been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID. I felt fine until later Saturday when I could feel my throat getting a little scratchy. Allergy season I thought. By Sunday, I really wasnít feeling great, with what seemed to be a spring cold coming on. Monday wasnít any better, so I stayed home and went to the clinic to get tested for COVID. All the symptoms fit, and the timeframe was right. It was no surprise when the result came back positive even though I was triple-vaxxed. I lost my sense of taste and smell almost entirely which took a lot of the fun out of eating and cooking. I had a steak ready to grill and punted on it. Put it in the freezer for future reference. Since I do a majority of the cooking, I was surprised how much I relied on my sense of smell to gauge a mealís progress.  Mrs. Cheviot had also caught the bug but didnít lost her sense of taste and smell. It became cooking by committee. I warned her to let me know if she smelled anything burning as there was no way I could tell.
   
COVID turned out to be a plus for the migrating bird population at the ranch. Since I was staying put, I needed to do something. The suet feeders were taken down and replaced with a jelly feeder along with two hummingbird nectar feeders. It didnít take long before the air was full of sound and bright spring plumage. We saw/heard our first Baltimore oriole of the season on the 5th and a wren was singing on the porch railing. A large tom turkey strutted across the lawn south if the house not long afterwards. Weíve seen some jakes and hens over the years but never a tom with a 7Ē Ė 8Ē long beard. He can now be heard mornings gobbling by the wetland. On the 7th, a rose-breasted grosbeak male arrived followed shortly by a female. A male orchard oriole was next and by evening, the first hummingbird appeared. Since we couldnít go anywhere, it was nice of all of them to celebrate their color and song with us.
 
Gardening was also something to occupy time. I raked the winter accumulation of sticks and assorted stuff away from the patio and plunked the solar lights in place. It would allow me to figure out which ones worked, and which didnít. Surprisingly all but one out of the 17 worked. We decided to take a peek at the astilbe and coral bells. They appear to have overwintered well having been protected from the voracious bunny population. The old growth was removed from the peonies, and they responded quickly to the sunshine. After that, it allowed time to take some of the bluegrass sod and dandelions out of the daffodil/spring perennial bed. It doesnít look too shabby and should allow the bulbs to multiply more readily without so much competition. It will also allow planting more bulbs for next spring. Few things say spring after a long winter like daffodils, jonquils and hyacinths.
   
Had planned on making a cruise with the car club on Saturday but coughing from the aftermath of COVID was still in play. Decided if we werenít coughing as bad on Sunday, weíd make a private cruise for Motherís Day just to get the car out as well as getting out ourselves. The wind was a factor, and one could definitely feel it when it caught the tail fins flush. Probably a good reason they were a short-lived fad. The heater felt good as temperatures outside struggled to get over 50. A quick bite to eat in the car at Barneyís and we were underway again. The rainfall had brought fieldwork to a halt so not much going on in that department. Thatís OK. At least we got out to see the countryside. Chalk it up to retirement practice.

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

Offline LPS

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Thank gawd that Cooper hadn't been eating grass when he dropped the bomb behind me.  Never thought about the lack of smell whilst cooking.  Glad you are feeling better. 

Offline Dotch

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But she blinded me with science

The scurs had the Weather Eye operating in midsummer form last week. Does Mother Nature continue showing us her warm personality or are we about to see more April-like temps? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of a thunder shower. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. Thursday, partly sunny with a good chance of thundershowers. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 60ís with lows in the low 40ís. Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 50ís with lows in the upper 30ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of afternoon rain. Highs in the upper 50ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Monday, partly sunny with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the low 50ís. Partly mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. On May 23rd we go over 15 hours of daylight, the most daylight weíve seen since last July 19th.The normal high for May 23rd is 71 and the normal low is 51. With all the time the scurs saved not repairing the Weather Eye, they should have time to dip a toe in the cement pond.

Monumental progress was made last week in the fields. The planting dates locally are very compressed as a result. Some rainfall but heat and breezy conditions allowed fields to dry quickly. Planters were rolling soon afterwards once it became fit again. The early planted corn is emerging as of this writing. So far it has taken a little time for plants fill in here and there where theyíre missing. Not surprising as soils were fit in the eye of the beholder and soil temperatures came from a long way back. Day by day as we got into planting season and soils dried a little more, thereís promise of more even emergence. A lot of later maturity corn was planted this spring as well. Something that became apparent last spring was that some longer season hybrids werenít necessarily designed for the rough and tumble spring weather we often experience here. Most are adapted further south where springs tend to be less volatile and soil temperatures in April actually get above 50 degrees at 4Ē. The expectation of picket fence stands in less-than-ideal conditions is usually unrealistic.

Was finally able to get the lawn mowed although it took some effort to get ready for it. Iíd only made it so far due to the run-in with COVID so getting all systems functioning was time consuming. The zero-turn fired right up and after blowing it off, discovered it really didnít have that many hours on it. Decided would see how it behaved. It was fine and before I knew it, I had most of the lawn polished off, at least what could be seen from the road. The backyard was more problematic. Iíd raked part of it up during my quarantine but became gassed pretty quickly. Not surprising as there was an entire winterís worth of sticks and debris to contend with.
 
After a heaping Gator load of crud I was finished. Pooped but finished. The next day I was able to complete the mowing, even getting Whitey started so the last little steep part of El Captain was subdued. It made me so happy I took the chains off the tractor and hung them up. Then I really was shot. So was Mrs. Cheviot after potting all the plants she and Auntie Mar Mar had bought earlier in the week. Best of all there was a rhubarb pie that came out of Sunday. Nothing says spring like a warm piece of rhubarb pie with Schwanís ice cream.

With the garden temporarily on hold, itís been time to focus on whatís blooming around the yard. The serviceberries started blooming the middle of last week. The clump continues to spread a little wider each year and seems to appreciate the removal of a couple ash saplings making for competition. The robins and catbirds probably appreciate it even more. The pear trees were flowering on the 13th and most of the apple trees were right on their heels. There appears to be a good supply of bees including a few bumblebees. Last weekís heat pushed them along too. Bunny protection was removed around the burning bushes as they were all leafed out and ready to expand beyond their enclosure. Likewise with the hydrangea. Some topical treatment for quackgrass and they should be ready for another growing season.
 
Spring bird watching continues to be very rewarding this time around. Like the planting window, it too has been relatively compressed. If youíre not watching closely, you might miss something. The migratory sparrows have largely left the ranch for their northern summer homes. The hummingbirds seem to be occasional visitors while the orioles seem to be in it for the long haul. There was a black and white warbler at the ranch on the 10th, an indigo bunting on the 11th and our first tree swallows on the 13th. Common yellowthroats were performing duets with the wrens on the 14th and on the 16th, we saw a red-headed woodpecker, the first one weíve seen in ages. It mustíve noted the red-bellied woodpeckerís activity as it took some kernels off the ear corn weíd put out for him, then bellied up to the jelly bar. There are lots of places for woodpeckers to peck away on some dead wood here. One of their favorites is an old chokecherry snag. Not sure which species is doing it, but when they hammer on it just right, it resonates almost like the Dubyaís semiís jake-braking when they roll by going down the hill.

Tuesday morning made my way back in from monitoring the cutworm and armyworm pheromone traps. These traps are part of a network maintained by cooperators across the state. The traps provide valuable data to entomologists who can determine what areas should be on heightened alert for an outbreak of black cutworms. This will be the last week of monitoring the cutworm trap for the season although Iíll check it periodically, so someoneís later planted sweet corn is less apt to take a surprise hit. It doesnít happen often, but sweetcorn is especially vulnerable as plant populations arenít real high to begin with.
 
The armyworm trap should be monitored until the end of the month. Thatís OK because it doesnít take a nature hike to get to that one. Iíve lost track of how many years Iíve been monitoring cutworm traps. Itís more than 20 and probably closer to 30. They have helped highlight some of the cutworm outbreaks over the seasons. More than once when significant captures were noted, there have been fields requiring treatment in the area. The armyworm trap operates a little differently as there is no agreed upon level of moths per day indicating a potential for problems. However, the trap indicated there were some armyworms around a few years ago when we received a call saying there was an issue. Forewarned is forearmed. Science!

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

Offline Dotch

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Rock and roll ainít noise pollution

Last weekís cooldown had the scurs reading the í74 Gremlin ownerís manual concerning the Weather Eye. Are we destined for more thrills and chills or are we headed back into summer again? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the mid-50ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of forenoon thundershowers. Highs in the mid-60ís with lows in the mid-40ís. Sunny on Friday with a modest chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Saturday, partly sunny with an increasing chance of rain into the evening hours. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Memorial Day, partly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Partly mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Memorial Day is May 30th. The normal high for May 30th is 73 and the normal low is 54. The scurs will be honoring those who served. All gave some. Some gave all.

Crop progress was slow this past week. Not surprising given some days the highs were more in line with whatís typical for mid-to-late April. Not a lot of GDUís generated those days and crop growth reflects that. A lack of sunshine hasnít helped matters. On the flip side, weeds, also being plants are subject to the same set of circumstances. Sure, there are some patchy areas of foxtails on field borders and other high-pressure areas but aside from that, very few overall runaways. Since postemerge chemicals generally donít work the best when itís cold and may cause even more stress for corn plants trying to metabolize it, this cool weather may be a blessing in disguise. It has allowed some of the remaining soybean planting to be completed without quite so much stress on operators to get the corn herbicide on. Most corn as of Monday was still V1 stage with one full collar exposed with some sheltered areas showing some V2. It was the exception and not the rule.
 
Gardening at the ranch has seen a general lack of activity other than weeding. The rhubarb has liked this spring and is the most productive itís been in a few years. I planted my 4 oíclock rootstock in a couple pots not sure what to expect. Itís given Mrs. Cheviot a chance to get her pots and planters in place although theyíve been sleeping inside some of these recent nights with potential frost. It never did freeze at the ranch, one of the perks of living on top of a hill. It was also a blessing as the pears and apples have largely finished their flowering process. Lilacs are blooming and the redosier dogwood has started flowering. The viburnum species we have should be right on their heels. Canít say the pollinators donít have a chance here. The main garden? Well, thatíll happen eventually. It looks like a mess but once we start, it doesnít take long and itís in. Since thereís only the two of us, we typically have more than we can eat ourselves so itís nice to share, even if it is with the sheep sometimes.

We took a cruise north in the Stude last Friday. Thursday, I gave it a good going over. It looked OK from 20í but once you ran a damp rag over parts of it to remove some water spots, you knew it was still filthy dirty from last year. When checking the oil, I had to decide whether I was going to leave the heat control valve in the ďonĒ position. I pulled up the Friday forecast on my phone. Hmmm, better leave it on I thought. Was a small group of us, only four cars but we made the journey in style and got to see the countryside. It was plenty warm in the Silver Hawk on the way to our destination. After a tremendous meal, we came back out for the drive home. It had cooled down considerably and after a chilly start, one felt the comforting warmth from the heater filling the interior. Yep, wise call to leave the heat on.
 
Sunday was the day weíd been waiting for. The grass in the pastures was finally growing fast enough to support the ewes and we were able to get some help after being slowed by COVID. It was weaning day. When the help arrived, it was ďgame onĒ. The help, a high school wrestling standout, concrete construction worker and fellow sheep producer couldnít have been better. His nickname may be the Garden Gnome (GG), but he possesses super powers. Ewes and ram destined for the kindly neighbors were the first up. Run through the handling system chute, they offered little resistance and went right in the trailer. Made the short haul, checked the fence, unloaded them, GG put the mineral feeder in place, and we left the group with a fresh bucket of water. Usually they donít touch it as the dew and green grass supply plenty of hydration the first several days after weaning. Itís just part of good animal husbandry. Animals should always have access to fresh clean water.

Once back at the ranch, the process continued. Mrs. Cheviot kept us on task with her organizational and gate operating skills. Separation & trailering of ewes needing to be culled from the lambing barn pasture was accomplished with one escapee. Luckily, that ewe needed to stay anyway so a win: win. Wormed a ram while GG held him then placed him back in the pasture. GG clamped onto a couple cull ewes while I applied their scrapies tags then we backed the trailer down to the main barn to sort more culls there. Plucked six more and trailered them with the four weíd pulled from the other pasture and culling was done. The finale was to finish separating ewes from lambs. When weíd get a group in the drum it went quickly, especially when the GG would catch up to three lambs at a time and stuff them through the gate to join the lambs already weaned. When the brood ewes were all that were left, we backed the trailer around to form one side of a panel and that gave them a direct route to the pasture. Once the gate was opened, they didnít waste any time and trotted out into the sunshine and green grass.
 
Afterwards, the usual racket ensued, ewes and lambs bellering like thereís no tomorrow. Some not used to it might say itís noise pollution but itís a beautiful noise to anyone who births ruminants. Weíd just sorted 80 head of sheep into four groups, hauled one batch, trailered the culls, and weaned all the ewes with lambs in just under two hours. All this thanks in large part due to the efforts of one Super GG.
 
See you next weekÖreal good then. 
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline LPS

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You deserve some lamb chops after that.

Offline Dotch

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My love is vengeance that's never free

Summer at last for the scurs as the Weather Eye cranked out warmth finally. Is it here to stay or just a dream? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-60ís and lows in the low 50ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 70ís and lows in the low 50ís. Sunny on Friday with a modest chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 50ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60ís with lows in the low 50ís. Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain by evening. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. On June 7th we begin gaining daylight at less than one minute per day. The normal high for June 7th is 76 and the normal low is 57. The scurs will be enjoying some cooler napping after a toasty weekend.

With the heat (finally) corn started to make a move. It went from largely V1 Ė V2 to V3 Ė V4 in a matter of about 3 days. The fly in the ointment was all the blowing soil over the weekend. There are areas where corn will be very tattered and, in some cases, cut off. The growing point on the vast majority of corn is still below the soil surface so odds of it recovering are excellent. The only time we have major concern is when the corn is cut off and heavy rainfall occurs, allowing bacteria from the soil to infect the plant and reduce the stand. This is not common, but it does happen and usually means replanting the affected areas. Soybeans are more vulnerable to being cut off by blowing soil. If cut off below the cotyledon, the plant is dead. Fortunately, even with todayís somewhat reduced planting rates, we still have plenty of plants to begin with. The trick is to assess the damage and if replanting is called for, get it done quickly to minimize yield losses.

It has been like pulling teeth trying to get the weather to warm up for any extended period of time. Last Wednesday and Thursday I was glad Iíd left my winter jacket in the pickup. In town temperatures seemed passable but once out in the wide-open spaces, it was downright cold. In fact the high on the 25th was 52, which is the normal low for that day. 52 is also the normal high for April 8th. If you thought things were generally growing slowly, you werenít imagining things. Rainfall has also been hit and miss although it seems to show up at inopportune times. Followed by cool temperatures, itís been difficult to get soils dry enough on the surface so that operations like post emerge weed control can be performed. Coupled with the wind, it was a miserable week to get much done. The silver lining is the pre emerge chemicals have worked about as well as could be expected.

One positive about the wind is it really makes it difficult for flying, biting insects to navigate. Despite notions to the contrary, theyíre out here and when conditions allow, ready for a meal of your blood. I discovered we had mosquitoes the other night when pulling some weeds out of the flower bed by the lilacs. When the first one bit me I thought it was a fluke. When several more bloodthirsty customers appeared, I decided there were better places to be. Another insect thatís around and doesnít deal well with wind is the black fly or buffalo gnat. These typically donít raise the welt a mosquito does but sometimes leave a little spot of blood after their anticoagulant kicks in. Black flies havenít been too bad locally most years and with the wind, generally havenít been an issue most days recently. Give them a calm day and drive along a drainage ditch or stream and they come after you with a vengeance. The sheep arenít particularly fond of them either. When they stomp and shake their heads thatís a clue.
   
Bird activity continues to reflect the changing season. Many of the birds that were center stage recently have largely disappeared. Oriole activity though has been steady. The immatures of both the Baltimore and orchard species have remained although they may be getting chased off by the territorial adult males. Theyíre to the point of being obnoxious at times. Theyíll even hop on some of the seed feeders expecting nectar or jelly to come oozing out. This seems to annoy some of the other birds and while it doesnít explain their disappearance, it probably doesnít help. Every once in a while, someone gives me something as a result of reading this column. It may be a small gesture but thatís my favorite kind, more valuable than gold. A few weeks ago, someone came to my office and offered me some jam and jelly they were going to throw out to feed the orioles. Iím not in the habit of using peopleís real names so weíll just call her Snooky. The grape jelly was an automatic and while the peach preserves took the orioles a little while to get used to, it wasnít long and both jars were empty. Best of all we got to enjoy their beautiful color and song.

Sunday, I took on the project of reinforcing the fence at the kindly neighbors. Weíve had problems with the fence grounding out since we first put sheep in the pasture over 25 years ago. The original 4-strand barbed wire fence there really wasnít designed for sheep. Theyíre more than happy to crawl between the wires and get into all kinds of mischief. The logical thing was to run a couple hot wires between the strands of barbed wire. That provided not only a major deterrent for electric fence trained sheep but would make other animals think twice if they got lit up grabbing the wrong wire. In theory. The problem was where animals such as raccoons crawled through, the electric wire would become entangled with the barbed wire. Windy weather could do the same thing as the electric wire wasnít real taught. It meant numerous hours after work untangling it, usually when 90 degrees while fending off mosquitoes deer flies, and horseflies. In locations where it happened frequently, pulling the electric wire out away from the barbed wire between the T-posts with an additional electric fence post solved the issue. Only problem was it would take a lot of posts to completely change it.

Luckily, Iíd recently found step-in fiberglass posts on sale. Once installed, it tightened the electric wire up immensely, keeping it from bouncing in the wind. With a fiberglass post between the barbed wire and the hot wire, it made it less apt for the two to come in contact. The acid test would come on Monday with a breezy overnight that typically moves critters into the shelter of the pasture. Coupled with a daytime wind that wouldnít quit, I was certain that if ever the fence would be grounded, Monday was the day. The old International fencer is one that came over on the Mayflower. It makes a sort of thunking noise inside its metal case when itís working properly. The way the wind was howling Monday though, I could barely hear it. However, when I pushed the test light button it flashed so I knew we were good. I really didnít feel like a nature hike right about then. Spray the fence for weeds someday when itís not so windy and we should be golden for a while.

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

Offline Dotch

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Working all day and the sun don't shine...

A return to early spring weather for the scurs as the Weather Eye befuddled them once again. Are we in for more tulips and cherry blossom conditions or are we about to make hay while the sun shines? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with a good chance of showers by evening. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of showers. Highs in the low 70ís with lows in the low 50ís. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70ís with lows in the mid-50ís. Partly sunny on Sunday with a fair chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Monday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain before evening. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. On June 14th weíre only gaining daylight at 30 seconds per day. The sun will rise at 5:30 a.m. CDT and the 14th also marks the Full Moon for the month. The normal high for June 14th is 78 and the normal low is 59. The scurs should be locating some strawberries soon.

The Full Moon as mentioned is on June 14th and is unanimously known as the Full Strawberry Moon although the Europeans call this the Full Rose Moon. While roses might smell good, I know Iíd rather be eating a bowl of ice cream topped with fresh strawberries. Both the Ojibwe and the Sioux called the Strawberry Moon as they found the wild strawberries much to their liking. At the ranch weíve come to know it as the Full Exhaustion Moon. Many of the projects that have been backburnered suddenly come to fruition.

Crops are progressing albeit very slowly. Some of the larger corn is now V5 although most is still V4. Soybeans are emerging and they too struggled on some of the eroded slopes to get out of the ground. Fortunately the rains that fell over the weekend have been ideal to soften the crust in those areas. Weíve been fortunate not to receive the hard pounding rains. Some of the corn that was cut off in Memorial Dayís wind has been struggling. With a total of only 69 GDUís the first six days of June thatís understandable. Some have touched up a few spots and others have been fortunate to see their corn recovering. Rainfall recently probably wonít affect the outcome but, in the meantime, itís causing some head scratching and handwringing. Overall, we are generally blessed. There are many areas here in MN that havenít been so fortunate.
 
At the ranch, the garden was finally in high gear. Buttercup squash, string beans, beets, cukes, and Indian corn went in June 3rd. Overnight rains made it too muddy to accomplish anything Saturday as the sun didnít shine. By Sunday it dried just enough to allow the cannas, zucchini, and tomatoes to go in. I was also able to get another chunk of sod converted to garden for pumpkins, gourds, and spaghetti squash. Mrs. Cheviot came home with five more tomatoes. During my water break I thought I heard thunder, so I plunked them in. Just as I finished, it started to rain. The garden dried substantially Monday so eight rows of Ambrosia sweet corn went in that evening. Iím sure the wild turkeys and raccoons will like it. Weíll plant another batch in 10 days or so. The pumpkins & rest of the vine crops went in Monday morning. Probably be eyeing some electric mesh fencing while Iím at it. Too much work for a wildlife food plot.

Saturdayís off and on rain and no sun left me in a quandary about what to do. Too wet to mow lawn or work in the garden. Tacky in the fields too so using the Gator would make a muddy mess. No one would be spraying for a few days yet anyway given the forecast. Iíd been waiting for a golden opportunity to take down the electric fence around the windbreak and this suddenly seemed to present itself as one. It had been there a long time, close to 25 years. The biggest job would be winding up the wire on a spool. Cutting up part of a dead tree that was near where I wanted to put the new line to keep the main fence charged needed to happen first. Once that was done it was game on.

As I thought, rolling up the wire was time consuming. I had an empty spool Iíd salvaged when cleaning out the stuff at Momís and it worked about as well as could be expected. Once I had that accomplished, I decided to see how tough it was to yank out some of the soft maple, ash, mulberries, boxelders, and a willow from the row of aronia berries. Actually it was pretty easy. Most of the trees were less than 4Ē in diameter and once the chain tightened behind the 656, it grunted a little and they popped right out. It was tiring however to climb on and off the tractor 20 or so times to hook and unhook the chain from around the trees. This was all part of my grand plan. I left the trees Iíd yanked out on the outside of the windbreak, hoping it would entice the sheep to investigate further and bumble their way into the windbreak itself. Sheep arenít particularly bright animals although like any livestock, about the time you think that they do something you didnít see coming. A prime example is opening the gate to the lot while the flock is at the far end of the pasture. Turn your back, leave it open for five seconds and theyíre out running around on the lawn.
 
So it was with the windbreak. If you want them to go someplace, donít expect miracles without some form of bribery. They knew that fence had been there a long time and since it was rarely grounded out, they honored it. Cheviots love eating trees however, so this was their big chance. Cheviots are nicknamed ďbrush bunniesĒ, partially due to their erect ears and perhaps partially because they like to eat brush. While they donít get the press, theyíll destroy buckthorn or boxelders as well as any goats given a heavy enough stocking rate. It took until Monday night before theyíd discovered there were scads of weedy tree saplings for them to munch off. Much better than me mowing it. Now Iíd better make sure the hazelnuts Iíve worked to protect arenít their first victims. Never trust a sheep. Youíll be sorry every time.

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

Offline LPS

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Good stuff.  Didn't know sheep ate buckthorn too.  Good for you.

Offline Dotch

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Yup, we had a whole backyard of solid buckthorn when we moved here. Cut it, yanked it out, kept coming back. Got the sheep. Problem solved! 👍
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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So by keeping chewing it off at the ground it eventually dies?

Offline Dotch

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Basically most deciduous trees have two sets of leaves they can put out per season. When defoliated by tent caterpillars or get their leaves frozen off, that second set of leaves comes out. We've had that on our hackberries here this year. If that second set of leaves gets chewed off, it usually does them in especially earlier in the season. When I was a kid, Dad planted a 4' - 5' elm tree by the LP tank. The sheep got out and chewed the leaves off. It leafed out and came back but they got out again. Finished the job. I spent an hour last night putting up chicken wire around the hazelnuts on the backside of the windbreak. They found 'em more quickly than I would've thought. That's OK. The hazelnuts need to be protected from bunnies & deer over the winter too.   
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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The questions run too deep for such a simple man

The scurs had the Weather Eye dialed in as we warmed nicely this past week. Are we in for more heat or will we be hunting for our long winter gatkes? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70ís with lows in the low 60ís. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-80ís and lows in the upper 60ís. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 90ís and lows in the mid-70ís. Monday, sunny with highs in the mid-90ís and lows in the low 70ís. Partly sunny Tuesday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 90ís and lows in the mid-60ís. June 21st marks the summer solstice, the start of astronomical summer. Weíll gain less than one second of daylight and itís all downhill after that for the rest of the summer. The sun will rise at 5:31 a.m. CDT on the 21st and set at 9 p.m. CDT. The normal high for June 21st is 81 and the normal low is 69. Having procured their strawberry supply, the scurs have set forth looking for a Jersey cream vendor, preferably the non-four legged type.
 
Crops have begun to take shape in the area. Corn shot from V5 Ė V6 and now is running V6 Ė V8 stage. It has benefitted from the heat and having plenty of nitrogen in the soil profile. About time as there are a lot of fields of later than normal maturity corn this year. Speaking of nitrogen, soybeans are starting to show some sign of iron deficiency chlorosis. It is enhanced when we have drier conditions and nitrates accumulate in the root zone in higher pH soils. Mondayís rain locally was a true blessing. Most tallied somewhere in the neighborhood of .8Ē Ė 1Ē. Farther north, heavy rain may be a cause for concern as systems continue to track along the Hwy 14 corridor. Over 4Ē fell in short time in places Monday, causing flooding and ponding in fields. Nitrogen loss in those corn fields is very possible and drowned out areas of fields will produce little or nothing. More rain is expected midweek after this goes to print. While we may have led a charmed life up to this point, it could be our turn in the barrel next. One never knows.
 
The garden at the ranch is planted or thatís what we keep telling ourselves. Seems like there is always something we add particularly if it happens to be on sale. That happened with one of the Celebrity tomato plants. A bunny decided to prune it at ground level. Unless I wanted to buy a four pack (I didnít), it was time to consider what variety to replace it with. Sunday on a trip to the store where you go to the bathroom in the big orange silo, I came across a row of plants on sale that seemed to be labelled grape tomatoes. Theyíre a nice addition so I was proud of myself for finding one. When I got it home and looked closely at the tag, it turned out to be a Sun Sugar, a yellow cherry variety. I planted it anyway, recalling that a former Bandwagon star had brought me a sample of some he had raised once upon a time. Some calla lilies went in the ground just minutes ahead of Mondayís rainfall, so timing sometimes is everything. Mother Nature does a far better job of watering than I do anyway. Sheís had a lot more practice.
 
Feeding the birds this summer has presented some challenges. Like many things in the grocery store and other locations, thereís been a tight supply of grape jelly, of the cheaper brands in particular. Iíve kept a nectar feeder full for the orioles thus far but sometimes keeping the jelly feeder full has slipped as a result. Oriole activity has reflected that when it happens. When Iíve located a jelly supply again however, itís amazing how suddenly the orioles appear out of the woodwork. The last time, in under five minutes there were a dozen orioles and a few catbirds looking for a handout. The hummingbirds use their nectar feeder more than they do. They like their jelly and thatís that.
   
Computer woes plagued me and my column distribution last week along with several other pieces of information I disseminate through my business. Seems that Gmail and Outlook decided they didnít want to play nice anymore, with Google, Gmailís parent company limiting access through 2nd party vendors. Fine except it wouldíve been nice to tell us about it first. I couldnít send anything using my mailing lists in Outlook and given that my time needed to be spent in the field, I couldnít enter each email address on the mailing list to send through Gmail itself. I made a call to the computer guru who after a few questions, came in and had me going again in no time. I am a simple man. I didnít grow up working with a PC. Every day using one for me is on the job training. Thereís a reason I refer to them as confusers.
 
With Mrs. Cheviot leaving Sunday on one of her sheep adventures, I was left to my own devices once again. No one to talk to anymore except the sheep. Not great conversationalists and while Ruby wasnít either, she at least pretended to understand. And followed the lawnmower faithfully until the job was complete. She had the grass-stained white socks to show for it. Part of Mrs. Cheviotís responsibilities at the sheep show will involve playing with some Corgiís. Many loyal readers have kindly asked if weíre getting another dog and the answer is yes. It will be a female Corgi and while not slated to arrive until October, it is with great anticipation. So much so she already has a name.
 
As Iíve written before, suddenly being without a dog after 40 years of owning one seems odd. I sat down one night and thought about all the dogs we had as kids and those Iíve owned myself since college. There were 10 total, all of them bringing something unique and memorable to the table, if only for a short time as some of them were. I donít know a lot about Corgiís. The Queen of England is fond of them and has had several. They are livestock dogs and the breeder who we will be purchasing a puppy from also raises Katahdin sheep. Those Iíve been exposed to over the years have been happy little dogs and very intelligent. Thatís a good start.

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

Offline Dotch

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'Cause part of me knows what you're thinking

The scurs continue to have the Weather Eye adding more heat although there was some wonderful sleeping weather mixed in. Are we continuing to make headway or are we just marking time? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the mid-80ís and lows in the low 60ís. Thursday, sunny with a fair chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 90ís and lows in the upper 60ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Saturday, partly sunny with a fair chance of a forenoon shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the upper 50ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the mid-50ís. Monday, sunny with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the mid-50ís. Mostly sunny Tuesday becoming mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. On June 28th, a week after the summer solstice, weíll already be losing daylight at nearly half a minute per day, having lost nearly two minutes since the 21st. The sun will rise at 5:34 a.m. CDT and set at 9 p.m. CDT. The normal high for June 28th is 81 and the normal low is 61. Due to all the wind, the scurs are betting farmers will beat a path to the door of the first seed dealer to offer caps with chin straps.

It has been a windy stretch for several months now. There doesnít seem to be much in between. Seems itís either howling or dead still. There has been some concern with the recent hot windy stretch that corn in particular may be suffering while itís determining kernels around on the ear. That needs to be put in perspective. There are fields where corn is rolling to protect itself. That varies somewhat with hybrid, the moisture holding capacity of the soil and rainfall. We are fortunate that we received as much rain during April and May as we did in 2022. Coupled with the cool temperatures that prevailed throughout both of those months and we should be able to weather heat like weíve had with minimal damage to the crop. One of the things about humans, farmers included, is they have short memories. Last year we ran most of June with scant precipitation up until the last week in June. June was very hot in 2021, nearly a week ahead of what would be considered normal for GDUís. Didnít hear a lot of complaints about last yearís corn crop. Sure, weíll need rain eventually but getting the corn crop rooted well and heat for the large acreage of late maturing corn hybrids takes precedence on the worry list.
 
I use observations in the garden for comparisons to what weíre seeing in the fields. The plants and vegetables react to the same stimuli as the corn and soybean crops do. The vine crops such as pumpkins and squash are heat loving crops. Once those big leaves shade the ground, theyíre able to conserve moisture and draw from feeder roots along the length of the vine. They like moisture but donít like wet feet. The same goes for string beans in these soils. Well drained and on the drier side seems to suit them just fine. The leggy tomato transplants we bought this year also are doing fine with the recent heat and relatively dry conditions. They were slant planted and thus able to establish additional roots along the length of the buried stem. Aside from some spot watering when planted, they rooted well and show little sign of stress from the recent wind and heat. They will need cages soon but for now, they look amazing. This heat has also brought the tropical plants such as cannas and four oíclocks along very rapidly. Alas, the attempt to keep last yearís four oíclock tubers and propagate them this spring didnít pan out. Not sure if they got froze last fall or expired over the course of the winter but they didnít grow. Maybe next year.

The sheep continue to enjoy their newfound windbreak pasture. With the lack of bugs and cool nights earlier, Iíve taken to cutting boxelder, mulberry, ash and silver maple out of the windbreak. Some are a little bigger than I like pulling with the tractor and may take out a cab window or flasher if Iím not careful. That means the sheep home in on them as soon as they hit the ground. Not only that, as the trees attempt to regrow from the stumps, the Cheviots are right on top of the new growth. It makes chemical control on the stumps unnecessary. Itís made it easier for them to navigate between and under the trees. Theyíre fairly diligent as it is. There were signs theyíd already eaten many of the small saplings when cutting the larger trees out. Once the brush is moved out of the windbreak, it will be an interesting to see how well they keep it cleaned up. Given their track record, it should look like a park.

The Back to the 50ís car show came and went last weekend. It is the largest car show in the US, with nearly 12,000 vehicles 1964 and older, all gathered at the MN State Fairgrounds. Saturday morning was an absolute peach, so my copilot and I charted a course and were parked there in about an hour and a half. Not bad for a couple old guys flying low in a Studebaker. The only fly in the ointment was the ammeter showing the generator wasnít charging when we pulled in. Not to worry. When you drive old cars, you learn to live on the edge. Older cars donít have all the electronics drawing juice so you can run a long way on the battery once itís charged. We got our distance walking in and saw lots of interesting old cars, especially Buicks. My Dad who was a Buick guy wouldíve loved it. After seven hours or so it was time to head out. Started the Silver Hawk and all systems were ďgoĒ, again. At least they were until about five miles from home when the ammeter showed it wasnít charging, again. It pulled that stunt last year so it was a foregone conclusion that replacing the generator and voltage regulator with an alternator would need to happen. Maybe not in the best interests of keeping the car original but watching the gauges like a hawk takes a lot of the fun out of driving any automobile. I bought it to drive, not to look at.
 
Monday was a hot and busy day. As promised, I looked at corn by MN Lake, some soybeans and wheat near Pemberton, then some oats on my way back into town. I also needed to check my hay to see if it was dry enough to bale. When I passed the shop, I spaced out making an appointment with my ace mechanic to get the Silver Hawk in. Have to wait until tomorrow, I guess. About the time I was flipping the hay windrows over I received a call from the shop. Odd. What did he want? My copilot had visited him earlier in the day and made him aware of the charging issues on the Studebaker. He told me heíd had a little free time on his hands, so heíd researched the process to make the changeover to an alternator. It wasnít that difficult to modify the mounting bracket he said but did involve some choices on how the wiring should be done for the best results. He also said heíd already ordered the proper alternator so all I needed to do was schedule an appointment. Wow! It was as if someone was reading my mind and had already done the legwork work for me. Only in small town America.

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

Offline Dotch

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Long ago it must be I have a photograph

The scurs and Weather Eye dished up some beautiful summer weather this past week. Does our streak continue or are we in for some muggly days? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a slight chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 70ís. Thursday, partly sunny with a fair chance of a forenoon shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 70ís and lows in the upper 50ís. Saturday, sunny with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of morning showers and thunderstorms with increasing chances in the afternoon. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Monday, Independence Day, partly sunny with a good chance of an afternoon shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Mostly cloudy Tuesday becoming mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the low 60ís. On July 2nd, the sun will set at 8:59 CDT after setting at 9 p.m. since the summer solstice. On July 4th, weíll be losing daylight just under a minute at 53 seconds. The normal high for the 4th of July is 82 and the normal low is 62. The scurs hope to avoid being reported on the fireworks snitch line.

Crops continue to look great despite the rolling on hot days and lack of substantial precipitation across much of the area. Friday nightís promised ďheavy rainĒ turned out to be a huge disappointment with most gauges showing roughly .2Ē around Bugtussle. To the south amounts increased and major precip fell across northern IA, enough so that ponded water was reported there over the weekend by local observers travelling through the area. GDUís at the SROC in Waseca last Wednesday showed we were running 5% above normal for the calendar date so it didnít take long for us to catch up. Here corn is getting towards waist high on most normal humans and a few blossoms were noted on June 27th on early planted 1.8 Ė 2.0 maturity soybeans. Didnít detect soybean aphids locally on Monday but there were plenty signs of beneficial insect activity in the form of lacewing eggs and orius (minute pirate bug) nymphs on soybeans. Usually Mother Nature doesnít dump her children off unless there are decent odds that they will find a food source. Chances are weíll come across some soybean aphids in the near future. Conditions have certainly been favorable for their development.

At the ranch the garden is shaping up. The cages were put around the tomatoes in anticipation of the ďheavy rainĒ. At least it will help protect them from the seemingly ever-present high winds. The bulk of the garden was weeded with conserving as much moisture as possible in mind. Weeding and hoeing all those test plots as an undergrad has paid off. The string beans are coming along nicely although they arenít quite to the flowering stage just yet. Like everything else they could use a drink. Buttercup squash are just about ready to start running. Some thinning will be necessary soon. Almost hate to do it as healthy as they look. Replanted 4 hills of cukes that didnít come the first time around and also put in another four rows of sweet corn. That should keep the raccoons happy although I have a little surprise for them. Since the electric fence in the pasture is on the south edge of the sweet corn patch, it wonít take long to erect a multiple strand raccoon-proof electric fence around it. Sometimes there is method to my madness. Other times, not so much.

40 years ago my adventures in Cando ND continued. The 1959 Marshfield trailer house in the trailer court had become home. By this time in 1982, Iíd been there a couple months and had settled in. My roomie was working long hours as was I, so we frequently wound up at The Durum House eating late supper. Thank goodness it was there, or we mightíve starved. No cell phones, internet, or text messaging so we just ran into each other there. By late June however it was time to take a break. All the crops were planted and most of the herbicide decisions had been made. For some of the crops, post emerge options were somewhat limited. In many cases you were just out of luck for anything that was labelled.

It was interesting to see what some of the crops actually looked like for the first time. Iíd seen hard red spring wheat before but never durum wheat. It looked pretty much like spring wheat. Barley Iíd worked with when at the U on their barley project. Dr. Simkins did his best to knock me on my butt when he was stuffing bundles through the metal cone into the cloth bag, but I prevailed. Sunflowers, particularly the confection variety were somewhat new. Iíd had a run in with black oilseed sunflowers and knew the heads were bug heaven. The Boy Entomologist had brought a bunch of heads back to the apartment on Brewster one time for an insect study he was conducting. I woke up in the middle of the night with bugs crawling all over me, thinking I was in the jungles of Viet Nam. Yellow and Oriental (brown) mustard were being grown by Rock Lake. Not much to do other than watch for some oddball moth that could be an issue. As isolated as those fields were, chances of it appearing were slim.
 
Flax was the crop Iíd really looked forward to. This was long before the health benefits of omega-3 oil were being touted. Finding out about the cropís uses was fascinating. As a kid, Iíd heard horror stories about people drowning in flaxseed bins as the slippery seed wouldnít carry a person. It was also capable of finding its way out of any hole or crack in a truck or bin. Linseed oil was still a big item, and the seed was also used for feed as well as being a component of Uncle Sam cereal. I knew flax was used to make linen although the flax grown in the area of ND I wasnít of that type. Once the crop was harvested, the straw was raked and windrowed then baled. There were huge stacks of bales east of Rock Lake that cured for a specified amount of time and were trucked to their destination. Much of the flax straw wound up going for cigarette paper. It was still the prettiest crop though when in bloom. I still have a photo I took of a flax field in bloom while there. Every time I see it, I still wonder what lake it is.

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

Offline Dotch

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Someday you'll pay the price, I know

More beautiful summer weather dished up courtesy of the scurs and the Weather Eye this past week. Are we on a lucky streak or has our luck run out, again? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of afternoon and evening showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80ís with lows in the low 70ís. Thursday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of a forenoon shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of a forenoon shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Saturday, sunny with highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of morning showers and thunderstorms increasing into the evening hours. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the upper 60ís. Monday, partly sunny with a good chance of showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the mid-60ís. Mostly sunny Tuesday becoming mostly cloudy with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the mid-80ís with lows in the low 60ís. A week after July 4th finds us losing more daylight and at a more rapid pace, adding three to four seconds more per day than what was lost the previous day. On July 11th weíll be losing 1 minute and 19 seconds of daylight. The normal high for July 11th is 82 and the normal low is 62. The scurs are fixing to restock their candy supply on Farm and City Days parade candy. Been a long stretch since the May baskets disappeared.

Crop progress was steady this past week although for much of it we were hoping for rain. Luckily, we received rain on the 4th after being missed on Saturday, when that system had struggled to drop below US Hwy 14. Event totals for the rain on the 4th were in the 1.5Ē Ė 2Ē range. It marked the first time since April 29th weíd recorded a rainfall event over 1Ē. Best of all the rain fell gently and soaked in without much runoff. Corn in many cases last week was approaching 6í. Watching deer run across a corn field, their top of their heads and ears were about all that were visible. Soybeans were 12Ē - 18Ē and should be in full bloom as we approach next week. Full bloom is described as an open flower at one of the two uppermost nodes on the main stem with a fully developed flower. Some fungicides need to be applied soon if thatís the case. Weed control considerations may need some attention as well as there are restrictions on some chemistries for growth stages. Weed control has held up fairly well in the soybeans as the dry soils have made it difficult for small seeded annual broadleaves to germinate. That may change with our recent rainfall. A rapidly closing canopy would help although thereís a price to be paid for everything it seems.

The gardens, flower beds, pots and planters were all in need of watering this past week at one time or another. The buttercup squash that had hung in there without attention showed signs they were wilting after an afternoon of hot temperatures. Only the tomatoes and peppers were unscathed through it all. The replant cukes of course needed to be watered as the soil showed how dried out it was during the process. A trip across the soybean field surrounding the ranch revealed that the wildlife pond was completely dried up, confirming my fears. Since it was deepened in 2012, it has never dried up. Back in the garden, we have a planting depth study in the late planted sweet corn. Guessing that the rain in the forecast would materialize, I planted 3 of the rows at the normal depth and the last one I ran deeper to make sure the seeds were in moisture. Sure enough, that row came up first, lending credence to what Iíve been telling people for years. Plant into moisture. Donít assume youíll get rain. Do as I say, not as I do.

The bird population has remained relatively faithful, and this yearís hatch is starting to come to the feeders. Most noticeable among them are the young Baltimore orioles that sound like forlorn lost souls. Juveniles from both Baltimore and orchard species have found the jelly feeders and there are typically several at once so lots of jockeying for position. Adult downies have been seen feeding sunflower seeds to their young clinging on the tree trunks. On Sunday there were numerous young chickadees that suddenly appeared. Not sure what birdhouse or tree cavity they mightíve come from, but they keep the sunflower feeders busy. Speaking of numerous young, while the wrens donít come to the feeders, a large group of them finally left their nesting box by the garden so no more scolding while weeding for me. They are scattered all over the yard so one never knows where or when youíll be scolded.
 
Our local goldfinch population continues to enjoy the thistle seed while the resident red-bellied woodpecker eats about anything he can get his beak on, including the grape jelly. The hummingbirds are also daily visitors. After doubling up the ant moats on their nectar feeders, itís been easier to keep their feeders clear of those pests. The planters they frequent are coming along nicely while the cannas and four oíclocks for the migrating birds are catching their stride. We planted some lupines this year as well although they probably wonít flower until next year. I remember Mom grew them and what they look like. I just donít remember if they behaved like biennials or like perennials as the seed packet said. I donít recall the hummingbirds being attracted to them either although it is claimed they are. The bumblebees certainly were. If some tiny insects insist on chewing holes in the leaves on these small seedlings though, it may be a moot point.

The sheep should be happy to see the rain. It will mean better growth on the pasture and hay ground. Hopefully the mosquitoes donít take this as a cue to make everyoneís lives miserable including the sheep. Thus far, it hasnít been too bad for mosquitoes, but the stable flies have been a nuisance especially when thereís no breeze. These creatures were put on the earth for some purpose but other than supplying barn swallows with something to eat, I canít think of a positive one. There are days driving the Gator when the stable flies come along for the ride, biting my ankles incessantly, the same as they do anglers when fishing in a boat. They also enjoy biting me and others while toiling in the garden. I have the circle of bites on my ankles to prove it. When theyíre on their biting rampages, I notice the sheep are stamping their feet a lot trying to keep them away. Repellents are hit and miss. Betsyís dad swears by a 25% DEET product called Ultrathon while Iíve found some success with Repel Sportsmen Max 40% DEET. I know weíve used it on dog ears over the years too when the stable flies pester them. Good luck trying to spray the sheep down with repellent though. Theyíre on their own.

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

 

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