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Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 244247 times)

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Offline Dotch

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I hear the ticking of the clock

The scurs continued tweaking with the Weather Eye and it appears it may finally be yielding some results. Is Mother Nature ready to toss Old Man Winter to the curb or will he remain a squatter for a while longer? Starting Wednesday, cloudy becoming mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening rain showers. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Pertly sunny on Thursday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening rain changing to snow. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows around 30. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of rain showers late. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. The sun will set just after 7:30 CDT on the 24th. On the 26th, the average rate of increase in daylight decreases from three minutes two seconds to three minutes one second. The normal high for March 26th is 45 and the normal low is 27. The scurs are noting their Valentine’s Day stash has taken a beating. Fortunately April 9th is just around the corner.

The clock continues to tick slowly towards spring. In some respects we may be fortunate that it’s taking as long as it is. When we came out of the fall months, we were not long on soil moisture. Given that it’s taking its sweet time melting the remaining snow, we are likely getting some benefit from the moisture it contains. As suspected, there is very little frost in the ground especially where there was snow cover most of the winter. Frost depth measured at the SROC March 13 was 7” under bare ground. At the ranch I checked on the 16th with my frost divining rod and found the ground was thawed down 4” under sod on a north facing slope. On the south facing slope under sod, there was no frost, whether it was under the snow or where it was bare. Same in the garden on bare soil. To really make headway on the snowbanks that are up to 4’ deep, it’ll be beneficial to have nights staying above freezing.

Still a few straggler ewes left to lamb yet. Some are the unplanned pregnancies as we’ve mentioned in past columns, and they are a couple older ewes that either didn’t come into heat or didn’t settle right away last fall. As they trickle in it starts to put more pressure on the small square bale supply while the weather stays too cold to melt the snow off the electric fence. That and the snow is hard as concrete so they could walk wherever they wanted without some kind of barrier. We have plenty of good quality round bales so if some of the panels were dislodged from the ice, a temporary enclosure could be fashioned in a hurry, allowing us to utilize them. Along with giving the flock more space, it would also speed up the chore process. No need to make more work out of the process than one has to.

We’re starting to see some signs that spring will be here eventually. The deer are still traveling the area in large groups although they recently appear to be splintering off somewhat. They’ve been taking the night shift at the ranch, coming within 10 yards of the house some evenings. The pheasants are on the day shift. They’re still picking at the leftovers in the garden at least those the deer haven’t consumed. There are more hens showing up so it’s likely they’ll disperse as well. The goldfinches too that have been regular customers are starting to give indications that they are becoming slightly less interested in the feeders than they were a week or so ago. The cardinals are singing their spring song. Large flocks of red-winged blackbirds have flown through, and robins are more noticeable daily. The chickadees have been singing “fee-bee” for the better part of a month, so spring is lurking out there somewhere. Has to be.

There are subtle signs in the flora that spring might be on the way. The water sprouts on the apple trees serve as a reminder that it’s time to prune them soon. The squirrels have been chewing the bark & twigs on the silver maple. One can see the sap has been leaking into the snowpack below. It also smudges the windows up when the wind is out of the south. One of the best surprises was last Sunday as I was about to light the grill. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something protruding from the ground on the south side of the house. As cold as the weather had been, I was shocked to see the daffodils starting to emerge from their winter slumber. As long as we don’t get any colder and the wildlife leaves them alone, we’re good.
   
Poppy continues to spend many of her days indoors with the weather being a major factor. That’s OK. She has plenty of toys to play with and lets you know about it. When she decides it’s time to play, you darn well better comply or she’ll keep bugging you until you do. It means many hours of tossing kongs, nylabones and other assorted playthings. Only trouble is, with all the various toys, there are usually one or more missing. Since Poppy isn’t real good about picking up after herself, we spend major portions of time looking under, behind, on top of and inside of the furniture for them. Somedays it seems like we get more exercise out of looking for lost toys than Poppy does playing with them.

Mrs. Cheviot graduated from therapy on Tuesday. It helped immensely and lessened the extra burden on this end. It’s been a long pull but she’s also getting back to work a few days a week. Now that much of the ice has left, she’s decided that it’s safe to walk to the barn rather than using the Gator to shuttle her from point A to point B. That and the Gator has left some nasty ruts in the mud that just about toss you out when you don’t hit them just perfectly, especially after they refreeze at night. Once the ground firms up a little more we’ll tend to those. Not sure it’s quite time to unhook from the snow blower just yet though. Need to keep our options open just in case. Never trust the weather to do you any favors, especially in late March and early April.
 
See you next week…real good then.
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Offline Dotch

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I ain't gonna take none of your foolin' around

The scurs were largely unsuccessful in their attempts to get the Weather Eye to warm up our forecasts. Will Old Man Winter continue fooling around, or will he Make April Great Again? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy Thursday with a modest chance of daytime snow & rain, with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of forenoon rain and a fair chance of an afternoon rain snow mix. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 20’s. April Fools’ Day, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows around 30. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of forenoon showers, with increasing chances later in the day. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of rain showers late. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. The sun will rise just before 7 a.m. CDT, the same as it was already doing on CST February 24th. On the 31st, our daylight will be increasing at 3 minutes per day, with or without Daylight Saving Time. The normal high for April Fools’ Day is 48 and the normal low is 29. Trust the scurs forecast. Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations.

We continued to make slow progress towards spring this past week. Even though we garnered some much needed sunshine as a moral victory, we failed to warm the temperatures up much. Unless something drastic happens, we won’t break the 50-degree mark for March officially. Albert Lea did record a 52-degree high last Wednesday but Waseca and Owatonna did not, with both weather stations recording sub-50 degree highs. The thermometer at the ranch also called it 49 that day. Fortunately we’ve lost the vast majority of the snowpack in south central and southeast MN. The slow melt kept rivers and streams from getting as high as they otherwise might have given a quicker warmup. The frost is reputedly out of the soil commonly by those digging holes or tiling. Tile systems are running. The only problem is with temps dipping into the teens, the surface has been freezing up routinely every night. It’s not drying up very quickly as a result. In recent days, it’s taken until noon for air temperature to go above 32 and by 8 p.m., the temperatures drop below freezing. With only eight hours above freezing per day, for those without large, heated shops, it’s tough to get excited about getting equipment out and rolling around in the mud.

Likewise with gardening. Even on the faster ground south of the house, the soil remains tacky on the surface and muddy underneath. It’s tempting to mud some radishes or lettuce in, but past experience indicates that’s an exercise in futility regardless of how much you try to convince yourself otherwise. Best follow my own advice and wait until conditions are fit. There is reason for hope, however. The daffodils poking through on the south side of the house last week were joined by emerging jonquils, tulips, and hyacinths this week. In the bed by the lilacs in the front yard, I was surprised to see crocuses coming up, even though that bed had some leaves and up until recently snow covering it. They are a treat to watch as they blossom so quickly. If you forget about them though, you might miss them. Best of all, when removing some of last year’s residue from the rhubarb, there were buds coloring up and breaking through the soil surface. What don’t you like about that?

I thought perhaps with all that positive news I’d press my luck and see if the pussy willows were ready for harvest yet. The venture would give me some idea of what the electric fence situation might be as well. When I got to the wetland area, I determined the snow was deep enough that I really didn’t want to attempt to traverse it. Even in the pasture, there were places on Sunday where it was still a couple feet deep, plenty deep enough to get the Gator stuck. I skirted around most of it once in the CRP and to my disappointment, I couldn’t get to all the pussy willow bushes. Not only that, those I could get to weren’t quite ready. Looking at the forecast temperatures, one would have to come back in about a week for them to be at their prime. I noted some of the perch trees on my list to be removed then headed off to the pasture to survey the perimeter fence, crossing my fingers.

The fence along the CRP was in great shape despite the ravages of winter. There were a few insulators knocked off and wires down in spots, but overall, not as bad as some years. As I got closer to the building site my heart sank. In places the fence was still buried in snowbanks up to four feet deep. That would take several weeks to emerge from the glacier given the forecasts. That would also necessitate expanding the temporary enclosure in front of the barn so two round bales could be fed rather than just one. Fortunately the snow left where the hog panels live so that can be accomplished after dragging another hay feeder from the main lot and putting it in place. I can always do that in my spare time along with getting all the crud picked up in the yard and the apple trees pruned.  No rest for the wicked.

We had company this past weekend on Saturday and ate breakfast out on Sunday. That’s a lot of activity relative to what we’ve become accustomed to. Poppy was the center of attention on Saturday as my niece’s daughters, Ellis and Everly got to experience the affections of an “attention-starved” eight-month-old Corgi puppy. While the sheep weren’t particularly cooperative, the girls had a blast running laps along the line of round bales. Lunch at The Willows capped off a pleasant visit. However, I don’t think there was any doubt what their favorite activity was. I think their mom along with grandpa and grandma were entertained by Poppy as well. Our being treated to breakfast by Auntie Mar Mar and Unkie Gregory the next day at the Ellendale Café was the icing on the cake. Speaking of cakes, we even managed to score one of Mar Mar’s prized blueberry coffee cakes. Nuked and topped with just the right-sized hunk of Hope Creamery butter, it made a perfect ending to a relaxing weekend. Those relaxing weekends will likely come to a screeching halt in the near future.

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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Stop messin' round with your tricks...

The scurs had a little more success this week, getting the Weather Eye to produce a 50-degree high for us last Sunday. Is Old Man Winter done with his tricks or does he have a few up his sleeve yet? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Sunny Thursday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Sunny on Good Friday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Easter Sunday with a slight chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 60’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a fair chance of rain showers late. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. On April 7th, we creep over 13 hours of daylight. The normal high for April 7th is 51 and the normal low is 32. The scurs are hoping the Easter Bunny is as generous as Cupid was on Valentine’s Day.

Another setback with an April Fools’ Day snowfall. Fortunately the 5” or so of snow didn’t last long but it did contain plenty of moisture to go along with the rain that fell just prior to that. With the snow melt, most places were reporting 2+” of precip. It showed in area river and stream levels as well as ponds and wetlands. Tile lines are running indicating our soil profile has been recharged fairly well. The frost is largely out even though ice remains on lakes and larger ponds. Sunday afternoon at the ranch, there was a large puddle about 4” deep on the north side of the house. By the time we finished evening chores, the puddle had disappeared. As long as we can continue getting warmer temperatures, we’re still on track for a reasonable start to spring planting. Next week promises to be even a little warmer with some mention of 70 degree highs in the forecast. No major rainfall predicted either. Promises, promises…
 
Spring was definitely in the air when the Boy Entomologist brought a supply of pheromone sticky traps for us to set out once the weather behaves itself. Installing them has become an annual rite of spring. I have no idea how long I’ve been trapping cutworm moths although I know it’s spanned parts of several decades. Once the cold and snow leave the traps are placed in their usual spots. Then every morning after chores the traps are monitored for incoming flights of moths migrating from the south. The armyworm trap is a more recent addition, and at minimum, it satisfies my curiosity. Traps for both species are part of a larger trapping network so it’s interesting to see what others are observing. Best of all, they provide some correlation to potential outbreaks once trap captures reach critical levels. Some years that never happens. A watched pot never boils.

I’ve had some questions over the years about the flies that come to life in the house as we get closer to spring. Most likely these are cluster flies. These fall nuisance flies come inside through cracks, gaps, and other small openings. Some eventually gain access to your living space when warmer temperatures arrive and awaken them from their hiding places. While they can be a nuisance, they are harmless. They are actually parasitic on earthworms, laying their eggs in cracks in the soil. The eggs hatch and the resulting maggots infest earthworms. There are two to three generations per year. Along with multi-colored Asian ladybeetles, their favorite places to expire if they don’t get back outside include window frames and light fixtures. My Mom spent many hours cleaning both species out of the light panels in the suspended ceiling, sometimes at 2 a.m. mind you.

The pussy willow harvest is underway at the ranch. Last week, they were still sheltering themselves from the cold. This week however, the fuzzy catkins were emerging from the buds and looking much showier than just a week ago. They should last a while and as was found the past several seasons, there are male and female plants in the wetland. The males generally are the first out of the block and provide the nicest catkins. The females can also be decent but the window to harvest them is narrower. Pussy willows are unique in that they require insects to pollinate them. Since they are so early, there are few other plants flowering at that time. They are favorites of many of the early season bees and flies as a result. The leaves are also a food source to mourning cloak and viceroy butterfly larvae, making them not only valuable as ornamentals but for pollinator habitat as well.

The spring bird migration has been nothing short of spectacular thus far. It’s been years since I’ve seen so many huge flocks of red-winged blackbirds at the ranch. Same with the waterfowl. Sure, some years I’ve seen token numbers of swans along with the occasional flock of snows and blues, but this year has been different. This reminds me of my days living in the flyway of North Dakota. Several times there have been large groups of swans in fields not just where you might expect to see them but close to home. The snows and blues have been in larger flocks as well. The relative newcomers are the white-fronted geese or speckle-bellies as they’re nicknamed. There have been numerous large flocks of them passing over the ranch. Are we seeing a shift in migration patterns? Perhaps but it may be the spring. Our snowpack is largely nonexistent while to the north it remains very deep and still accumulating in northern parts of the state. We are seeing more no-till soybeans and rye cover crops, providing more potential feeding areas. Others have mentioned the same things. Studies show…
   
Poppy seems to be growing up sometimes and other times, not so much. She still likes to chew things up including blankets, pillows, slippers, and just about anything else she can get into when we aren’t looking. Not long ago I took a shower and since I’d just put on a fresh pair of underwear, I left them in the closet. I didn’t remember to close the bedroom door, however. When I finished showering and put the underwear back on, they were wet! Not only that, my behind felt cold because Poppy had chewed a big hole through the backside. Not to worry. Auntie Mar Mar and Unkie Gregory heard of my plight and came to the rescue. I received new underwear for my birthday! With friends like that…

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

Offline Dotch

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I put the pedal down to make some time

The scurs coaxed a dandy forecast out of the Weather Eye to produce our first 70-degree highs of the season. Is Old Man Winter ready to throw in the towel or will he snap our behind one more time? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny Thursday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a good chance of rain by evening. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Partly sunny Sunday with a fair chance of rain and snow showers. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Sunny on Tuesday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. On April 14th, we’re finally back to the same relative sunrise time at 6:33 a.m. that we had had the day before we started Daylight Saving Time. Humph! On the 17th, the sun will set at 8 p.m. CDT and we will have 13 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. The normal high for April 17th is 56 and the normal low is 35. The scurs having stashed their Easter candy supply will be pinning their next hopes on a May basket.
 
Forgot all about the Full Moon for the month being on April 6th in the last edition. Norm happened to call it to my attention, so we’d better make it clear that the period between the Full Moon goes by the Full Pink Moon, so named for the ground phlox that covered the ground under the forest landscape. It has also been known as the Full Egg Moon and the Full Fish Moon for the shad that ran in the rivers and streams of the northeast. Closer to home, the Ojibwe called it the Broken Snowshoe Moon or the Frog Moon. The Sioux, relying on the bison for their sustenance, called it the Moon of Greening Grass. At the ranch, we also like to think it’s the Moon of Greening Lawns and Pastures but it’s usually the Put Fence Back Up Moon or the Clean Up Debris for Mowing Moon. Lord knows there’s plenty of it this time around.

Finally some fairly positive progress in area field conditions. The glaciers that stubbornly hung on around groves, fence lines, ditches, wood lots, etc., suddenly began to recede more rapidly. With more 70’s in the early week, by press time, we should see some field progress towards corn planting in selected area fields. Not all will be fit as those nagging snowbanks will still keep field borders too wet to be fit in many cases. Still seeing some dark spots Tuesday morning on the way into town. That’s probably for the best as the weather starting Saturday will bring us back to reality. As of Tuesday, the forecast looks like about a half an inch total rainfall. Not a washout but forecasts can change. Soil temperatures will likely still decline below the magic 50-degree mark and the cold rain likely won’t help matters. Still, there’s nothing wrong with getting the planter out and giving it a shakedown before the planting season gets real. These are not your father’s hybrids.
 
Indeed there is a lot of debris on our lawn, the result of a long winter, thawed soils, ice storms, wind and tractor operator error. I don’t recall such a combo of dirt, sod, sticks, cones, needles, leaves, and crushed rock on our lawn. And to make matters worse, I’ve been adding to the mess by pruning fruit trees and any face slapping or glasses snatching branches that happen to get in my way. I don’t get too excited if I grind through some dirt or smaller sticks when mowing but knocking my glasses or hat off is grounds to get the chainsaw out. I need to do that anyway as there is still one large treetop lying on the ground east of the house. Luckily there’s a fairly large brush pile nearby so it shouldn’t take long. What will take time is finding all the pieces of sod I tore up and determining their origins. I gave up long ago trying to fit the hunks back in exactly the same position they were in when excavated by the bucket. I’m seldom sure where they came from anyway. Just tamp them in good and hope it rains. It’s a farmyard.

There are definitive signs that spring is here at the ranch. I harvested the second batch of pussy willows this past week. I also discovered several new bushes that were in standing water. Shortly afterwards I discovered my chore boots had a serious leak so punted on picking very many of them. Fortunately the catkins were well behind the main bushes I harvested most of the twigs from. I’ve been trying to start some slips from the most prolific bush closer to the yard where the sheep won’t gnaw them off. It continues to produce and hasn’t run into the insect or disease issues that tend to make pussy willows a relatively short-lived species.
 
Around the yard and pasture there are many signs that spring has arrived. The grass, especially on the south facing slope, has greened up nicely. The sheep wasted no time finding it. The crocuses that emerged as the snow left their bed sprung into bloom on Monday. The jonquils on the south side of the house aren’t far behind with their swollen flower buds turning bright yellow. The rhubarb is becoming visible from the sliding glass door. I can’t wait till a piece of rhubarb pie is visible on my plate with some ice cream. The chorus frogs were getting cranked up although I suspect it’ll be nothing compared to their decibel output following an 80-degree high on Wednesday. Other signs of spring included being bitten by a mosquito Monday night while I was writing. No surer sign of spring than that. Glad Poppy had her heartworm control in place as outdoors was the place to be.
 
The Studebaker made its maiden voyage for the season Easter Sunday. It was time for a break. I’d hooked the battery charger up the day before with that in mind. When I unhooked it, I ran through the pre-flight checklist. All systems were go, so after a good dusting, I opened the garage door and cranked it over. It usually loses its prime after sitting over winter, but it fired right up on the second try. It must’ve wanted out too. The cruise wasn’t a long one since we had chores to do once we got home. We were starving though so we went to an establishment in Owatonna. Apparently, I had turned the heater valve to the off position or otherwise we would’ve been roasting. I’d forgotten all about the new exhaust system installed shortly before parking the Silver Hawk last fall. It resonated nicely when dropping it on down into overdrive with the 259-cu. inch Studebaker V8 doing its thing. It’s hard enough to sneak up on people in a car with tail fins on it. The louder exhaust makes it even harder to be stealthy.
 
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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Interesting on the Moons names.  I will call it the we better be done with snow moon. 

Offline glenn57

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Interesting on the Moons names.  I will call it the we better be done with snow moon.
:rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :happy1:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Offline Dotch

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Cheese and rice! I keep forgetting to post these after I get them finished.  :doah:

Last week's edition:

Let the good times roll

The scurs made the Weather Eye promise to do better, and it did, turning in a 90 degree temp measured in places last Wednesday. We’ll ignore the weekend snow and wind. Is Old Man Winter winded or does he still have one last gasp?  Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy Thursday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of rain and snow mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny Sunday with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny on Tuesday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Saturday the 22nd is Earth Day. The normal high for April 22nd is 58 and the normal low is 37. The cool temps have the scurs scrambling to find their long winter gatkes once again. One can never be too careful.

More field progress with some corn, small grain, and even some soybeans planted this past week. Warm soil temps were favorable for the wheat that was seeded last Wednesday April 12th. By the 14th, it had sprouted already. Conditions were fit in some fields. With average soil temperatures at the 2” depth in the upper 50’s, it was game on. Wisely, with Mother Nature’s finger on the reset button, most were not gung-ho to plant as many acres as they could have. There is some evidence that planting 24 hours ahead of a cold rainfall event helps decrease the risk of imbibitional chilling. It's a potential cause of stand reduction with early planted corn when the first water the seed imbibes is very cold. There is also a problem known as cold injury. It can happen when seed is exposed to cold soil temps after the seed has imbibed water. Both can affect the stands although cold injury is usually less severe. What about those early planted soybeans? Typically soybean stands aren’t bothered as much by cold soil temperatures as they are by frost once they emerge. Trying to decide how and where to replant can be a nightmare. Many different opinions about the crop in the ground. So far, it’s all good.

At the ranch, the pruning fairy finished pruning the last of the fruit trees. Just in the nick of time before the blast furnace hit. The pussy willow harvest came to an abrupt halt as well as the heat blew most of the pussy willows over the dam in a couple days. Some of the first bushes I’d harvested from were totally green and covered with large bee-like flies. Those must’ve been the pollinators in the literature I’d read about. Rhubarb is starting to look like rhubarb, unclenching the fist-like buds, turning them into large solar collector leaves. The peonies are coming although with the cold weekend forecast, I left them covered with last year’s residue. The spring bulb assortment has been a pleasant surprise. The daffodils transplanted from Mom’s opened up after Wednesday’s heat. Again, with the weekend forecast calling for 40 mph wind gusts, I cut the flowers and brought them inside where we could enjoy them. No sense letting the wind beat them to a pulp.

The sheep have wasted no time finding green grass to eat in the main pasture. Wednesday was a watershed day at the ranch. The last of the snow finally melted off the electric fence so it could be repaired and charged. The process took a while as some of the old fiberglass posts were splintering due to many years of exposure to the sun. Getting slivers off of them didn’t feel too great but the fence had to be up soon, or the sheep would be out, soon. Once it was all in place, I plugged the fencer in and felt like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. The fence didn’t work after all that effort. Luckily I spied a potential problem on the post right next to where I usually check it. A wire was off an insulator, creating a dead short against the metal fencepost. After placing the wire back on the insulator I plugged the fencer in and voila! It shot a big, fat spark. It lit some of the lambs like a Christmas tree too.
       
Have had some questions recently involving meadow voles. These small rodents are periodically a problem, especially in the winter months. They love to tunnel between the ground surface under the snow, leaving trails they’ve chewed through the grass along with their grassy nests. They can cause some damage to turf and injure woody vegetation by chewing the bark off of it. Usually by the time it’s discovered it’s too late to implement control methods or repair the damage. The one exception I recall was my Dad saving a couple Haralson and Oriole apple trees the voles had girdled. Using grafting wax, he was able to graft the suckers at the base of the trees into their still green trunks. He taped and wrapped the grafts, bringing the trees back to life.
 
Vole populations are cyclic, and Mother Nature usually takes care of the problem. At the ranch, we occasionally see their trails but seldom any damage. When lawnmowing season rolls around, they’re usually in the road ditch or pasture, where they’re fair game for predators. As a lad, I’d frequently see their nests in the hay fields during spring gopher trapping. In the summer once the hay was cut and raked, they liked to hang out under the windrows. When the voles were numerous, they attracted the attention of red-tailed hawks circling overhead as we were baling. Our yellow Lab Chico liked to catch them too when they were flushed from their hiding places. Then yack them up in the yard once he got home. Good times.

At the ranch we continue to notice the spring bird migration. Sunday brought the first white-throated sparrow of the season. It was mixed in with some house sparrows, juncos, and goldfinches. The white-striped head made it stand out. It won’t be much longer before we can expect to see some oriole activity. Normally they like to see more vegetation to hide in but that’ll be coming once it warms up following the rain. There are a few oranges left that they could have and a trip to Wagner’s to lay in a supply of grape jelly can’t be far behind. Poppy enjoys helping fill the bird feeders although helping may be an exaggeration. It’s usually time for her to run around the yard, disappearing from sight. Now the snow is gone, she sometimes finds something stinky to roll in. Have to teach her to wear better quality perfume.

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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Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

The scurs threatened to take the Weather Eye in for repairs. This past week brought some wonderful mid to late March weather if you like that sort of thing, in late April. Can we count on one snow free week or does Old Man Winter have other ideas? Starting Wednesday, sunny with a slight chance of evening rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny Thursday with a slight chance of rain and increasing chances into the overnight. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Partly sunny Sunday with a modest chance of a rain shower. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, partly sunny with a modest chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a continued modest chance of showers. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the low 40’s. On the 27th, we’ll experience 14 hours of daylight, roughly the same as we’ll see August 15th. Monday is May 1st. The normal high for May 1st is 62 and the normal low is 41. The scurs are relishing the thought of another plentiful May basket.

Crop progress is moving at a snail’s pace. After the warm days mid-month April, it’s been difficult to get a day where air temperatures get above 50 degrees since the 20th. Overnight lows have typically been in the 20’s and low 30’s as well. Aside from the cool season grasses in the lawns and ditches, there simply hasn’t been much progress to measure. Even giant ragweed isn’t setting any records. Corn planted on April 13th was observed to have a radicle about 1/16th of an inch long 10 days after planting. Some are getting anxious to plant ahead of the next system scheduled to arrive late Thursday into Friday. Soils are wet and it’s unlikely we’ll see any 80-degree temperatures and accompanying drying wind.  Fortunately growing corn isn’t always rocket science. Sometimes one gets by with pushing the planting envelope and sometimes one pays the price. Which will it be this time? Only time will tell.
 
The same criteria that govern corn and soybean production apply to lawns and gardens as well, the difference being that many of the early season garden crops and grasses are capable of handling more adversity than corn and soybeans. Vegetables such as radishes, carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, and beets are all capable of surviving cold spring weather. However, a proper seedbed is imperative. Mudding garden vegetables in works much the same as mudding any crop in. Results are usually less than rewarding. Most lawns consist of bluegrass and if you’re unfortunate to live at the ranch, there is also a fair amount of brome that creeps its way in from the road ditch. These cool season grasses are coming but they too eventually require some heat. One can detect temperature and moisture induced nutrient deficiencies in them much the same as one does with our field crops. The visual symptoms are very similar.
 
The crummy weather gave me an opportunity to replace most of the sod and much of the crushed rock from the last major snowfall event. I was fortunate to get most of it done ahead of the rain so it should heal quickly with minimal scarring. Amazing how much effort it took, not to mention the time. I’ve decided the next time I’ve got the choice between putting the blower back on and moving snow with the bucket, I’ll gladly put the blower back on. Thawed ground is not your friend when moving snow with a bucket on a sloping, curving yard. The half hour max it takes to attach the blower is a pittance compared to the hours expended raking, shoveling, and scraping after using the bucket. That or I’ll have to hire someone with a dozer to flatten the entire hilltop we live on, so it isn’t so miserable to push snow.

More white-throated sparrows have arrived at the ranch. While we only hear it over a two or three-week period, their song represents that transition from early spring into the full-blown article. That is ushered in by the song of the   brown thrasher whose vocal talents I’ve likened to Jimmy Page only with feathers. The sounds and riffs are unique but recognizable just the same. There’s no mistaking the crowing of the rooster pheasants on the edge of the yard. The plum and sumac thicket provide a safe place when courting their partners. The roosters are frequently seen slinking along through the lengthening grass on the south facing slope. Dressed in their royal plumage, they just think they’re being stealthy, especially when the sun catches them. Speaking of the sun catching them, the male goldfinches get a little brighter every day. There are no dandelions to speak of yet so when they land on the lawn, they contrast wonderfully with the greening grass.

We inch ever closer to being done lambing. One of the last two unplanned pregnancies came in Tuesday morning, healthy, and with the lamb making us aware she had landed. The ewe was hovering over her new arrival and had great milk. Hopefully it’ll continue to be a no muss no fuss affair as the temperatures warm towards more normal levels. Beats the heck out of the below zero treatment that some of her contemporaries had to contend with. Warmer temps should also accelerate the pasture growth and allow us to wean ewes and lambs sooner than later. In the meantime, the ram and a handful of ewes that lost lambs or remained open make for a pastoral scene when approaching the ranch from the south. It looks like they belong there.
 
Poppy has been able to be outside more although she’s liked the heated floor once she comes in for napping purposes. Sometimes that takes a while after she’s done chasing her ball and kong around. We still spend an inordinate amount of time looking for her toys that disappear. They turn up eventually. One day we looked high and low for her ball. Peered under, behind and on top of almost everywhere we could think of. We finally gave up. Several days later I was getting ready to put my work boots on when I saw Poppy pawing at them. Sure enough, flopped the boot over and out rolled the orange ball. My old pal Scoop used to hide his money in his shoe. I checked for money in my boot. Nothing. Poppy must’ve hidden her stash someplace else.

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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Just let it shine within your mind and show you the colors that are real

The scurs threats must’ve jolted the Weather Eye. Enough is too much. Is winter finally over or will the ground hog see his shadow again? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny Thursday with a slight chance of rain into the overnight. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny Sunday with a fair chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny on Tuesday with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. On May 5th, the sun will rise at 6 a.m. CDT. The rate of increase on our daylight will slow to under two minutes and 30 seconds per day on the 6th. On the 9th, we’ll see 14 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, roughly the same as we’ll see August 3rd. The normal high for May 5th is 64 and the normal low is 43. The scurs are rationing their goodie supply until Farm and City Days.

May 5th also happens to mark the Full Moon for the month. It generally goes by the Full Blossom Moon but has also been called the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Full Milk Moon, as dairy cows were turned out on pasture commonly during this month. Farmers didn’t stand behind them in the stanchions for a few days afterwards. The Full Blossom Moon is rather self-explanatory. As the saying goes April showers bring May flowers as they should shortly as temperatures become closer to normal soon. 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’s known as the Dust off the Lawnmower Moon. It’s still buried behind some stuff in the shed, not unlike several individuals I know of.

Fieldwork progressed slowly last week although some corn was planted starting Wednesday and continued until Friday afternoon’s light showers brought planters to a halt. Soil temperatures were not very impressive either with average temps at the 2” and 4” depth in the mid-40’s. Luckily, there was no major cold rain involved so at least in theory, problems should be minimal. While some planted, others decided discretion was the better part of valor and decided to bank on the warmer forecast containing scant precipitation. Nationwide, as of April 30th and based off the past 5-year average, corn was about 26% planted, about normal for that date. Soybeans were about 19% planted, 8% ahead of normal for April 30th. In MN, corn was 5% planted or roughly 18% behind normal. Soybean planting was also off the pace with only 1% planted and 7% behind normal. Given the forecast and the size of today’s equipment, we can and likely will catch up quickly.
 
Weeds are starting to show, especially some of the early season species such as giant ragweed and lambsquarters. They are tiny yet, reflecting the cold April temps. The few acres of corn planted April 12th – 14th appears to be doing OK although it too will have been in the ground for three weeks. With a radicle less than half an inch long and a coleoptile just breaking through the pericarp, it won’t emerge this week. Next week perhaps. Small grains planted April 12th are emerging, giving fields a nice green cast from the road. On closer inspection though, there are still areas in the heavier residue that are yet to fully emerge. Can you say cold soils boys and girls? I knew you could.

At the ranch, we reached a milestone. The last ewe to lamb of the season finally got the job done last Wednesday with a nice healthy buck lamb. The ewe was with the program and cooperative when we checked her for milk. The lamb was aggressive so after leaving them alone to figure it out, it didn’t take long to see they were bonded and not in need of our assistance. Many of the main group of lambs enjoy running when the temps cool down towards evening. Around dusk they begin to mill about and pretty soon it’s an all-out footrace, er, hoof-race. They’re getting close to weaning soon. Some of the same issues with the cold temps have kept pastures from being as far along as we’d like before attempting that feat. So far, we haven’t contracted COVID like we did last year about this time. It’s hard enough to get enough ambition to tangle with an entire group when we’re not sick.

Around the yard, our rhubarb is starting to make its move. Warmer temps should put it within striking distance of a pie or sauce pretty soon. A warm thundershower actually wouldn’t hurt. The rest of the garden areas are doing their thing as well. The spring bulb bed started a few years back has been a particularly bright spot. I’ve had to ask Mrs. Cheviot what a few of the things are which I forget rather quickly, just satisfied that they look nice. Probably one of the biggest surprises was the lupines that survived the winter better than anticipated. Planted from seed last spring, they came up sporadically and looked very fragile all summer. By fall, they still looked feeble, making me think they wouldn’t make the spring. Amazingly, all nine of them made it, taking advantage of the snow cover and their sheltered spot on the south side of the house. Hopefully the bunnies will leave them alone, so they’ll blossom. We’ll get to see what color the flowers are then the bumblebees can have a crack at them.
 
Poppy continues to enjoy spring and discovering her limits. Digging holes has become a popular Corgi pastime. Not so popular with us humans. A recent introduction to the electric fence once it was charged put a screeching halt to her crawling under it. More like a yelping halt actually. Another one of those teachable moments on a small livestock operation. The lawn will soon need mowing and there are plenty of reminders of what Poppy was up to much of the winter: chewing things up and once through her digestive track, depositing the remnants in the yard. Should be a colorful summer mowing lawn, seeing it fly out the chute. Let’s see, that was blue fabric. Must’ve been the blanket from the couch. Orange? That must’ve been from the cloth Frisbee that lasted less than an hour. Fluorescent green? Not exactly sure which toy that might’ve been, but betting it’s not grass.

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

Offline Dotch

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I’ve got pieces of April, it’s a morning in May

The scurs had the Weather Eye tuned in once again and warmer temperatures prevailed. Is this a harbinger of things to come or will we still be stuck with pieces of April? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny Thursday with a good chance of rain in the overnight. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny Sunday with a modest chance of a shower and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Tuesday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. 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 have their transport of mosquito repellent ordered. Can summer be far off?

As anticipated, monumental planting progress was made over the past week. The dry start to May made soil conditions nearly ideal. A sudden change brought progress to a screeching halt on Friday and Saturday with some heavy rain in and around New Richland. Reports of up to 4” fell with roughly 2.6” over the two-day period in town itself. At the ranch to the east, approximately .9” fell over the weekend. While it wasn’t the dousing others received, it still left the soil surface too damp for field operations. Monday night’s surprise showers prolonged the dampness. Some have wondered how that earliest planted corn has fared. Quite well for the most part. Corn planted April 13th was starting to emerge when checked Monday afternoon. After the pounding rain some were concerned about crusting. Given the wet forecast, that’s unlikely. It’s still not a bad idea to figure out where your rotary hoe might happen to be just in case. The weather can turn on a dime and doesn’t give change.

The wetter weather pattern has put a hold on the garden at the ranch. It was starting to look like one of those garden at will springs. Now it’s starting to look like one of those where a burndown application to control some of the weeds might be in order before tilling can take place. Not to worry. When it gives us lemons, we make lemonade. Soil conditions were getting too dry prior to the rain to even think about expanding the garden to accommodate more vine crops including muskmelons, which we grew with great success when the garden was located in the windbreak. Now the garden is permanently on the south facing slope, it should be faster and even more suitable for melons. We’ve also discovered it’s possible to garden into the fall successfully. Staggered plantings of string beans, radishes and snap peas in the fall are welcome treats to the point that we tire of picking them.

Around the yard, the fruit trees are starting to burst into bloom. The wild plums and serviceberries started late last week. By Monday the pear trees just exploded with white flowers all the way to the top of both trees. Looks like the crabapples are right on their heels with the apples bringing up the rear. The Haralson and Fireside trees appear to be on their off year. The rabbits didn’t help matters. Getting on top of the snowbanks, they chewed a lot of the lower branches containing the flower buds off. Luckily, the Honeycrisp and SnowSweet trees are loaded with flower buds this time around. The SnowSweet tree in particular has struggled in recent years so hopefully it will live up to its potential. It would be especially nice to try making some pie with them just to see if they’re as good as I think they’d be. The rhubarb is ready after the warmer temps and beneficial rain. Auntie Mar Mar will rejoice.
 
Bird migration to the ranch had reached a virtual standstill with the cooler temps. The warmup meant game on for many of the species we’ve been waiting for. The goldfinches are sunny, and the warmer temps brought out the dandelions to provide camouflage for them. The contingent of white-throated sparrows grew so I put out the jelly feeder in late April just in case. I also put a nectar feeder out so both the orioles and hummingbirds could use it. Soon afterwards the floodgates opened, and the migration was on. There were yellow rumped warblers on the 3rd, and Harris’s sparrows seen at the ranch on the 5th. The 6th was an absolute watershed day with Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, white-crowned sparrows, and a ruby throated hummingbird all gracing us with their presence. On the 7th we heard our first house wren of the season and on the 8th, a catbird was using the birdbath. Quite a week to gaze out the window into the backyard. Best of all there are many more returnees to come.
 
More fauna have been making their presence known as well. The wetland started out with western chorus frog song in the evenings and recently transitioned into American toad trilling 24/7. At night, leopard frogs and grey tree frogs can be heard adding to the mix. In the yard, of particular notice have been the red admiral butterflies whose migration can be in conjunction with that of the true armyworm moth. Sure enough, armyworm moths have been captured in the pheromone trap at the ranch. Never doubt the Boy Entomologist. Queen bumblebees have emerged from hibernation and have been noted on some of the perennial bulbs flowering by the house. Hopefully some of their offspring return to enjoy the lupines and planters Mrs. Cheviot has been assembling for them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5hHug1_JuU

https://www.umesc.usgs.gov/terrestrial/amphibians/armi/frog_calls.html

Poppy continues to take all this in as a young dog tends to do. She’s 10 months old and while still a puppy, about as curious and mobile as she’ll ever be. That means she needs nearly constant supervision. Like kids, it’s time to start worrying when it becomes quiet. Indoors, she’s developed a habit of chasing insects around, not unlike our Sheltie used to do. Say the word “bug” and Poppy begins to look around frantically for them. Outside, I had to stop her before she got into trouble. She’d found one of the aforementioned bumblebees and was about to grab it when I called her off. That might not have ended well. She has begun to shed in earnest too. Up until recently you could pick her up and get very little hair on your clothing. Now you’re so covered with fur it looks like you could try out for the Muppet Show.

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 mike89

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thats a cool sound track!!!    :happy1:
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline LPS

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Ya real cool.  Some sound more like an electrical sound than a frog. 

Offline Dotch

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I like smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder

After the Weather Eye’s forecast last week, the scurs were glad to see the transport of mosquito repellent arrive right on schedule. Will this week add fuel to the fire or are we destined to dry out a tad? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny Thursday with a good chance of rain into the overnight. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a fair chance of forenoon showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny on Tuesday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. On May 23rd, we reach 15 hours of daylight. The normal high for May 23rd is 71 and the normal low is 51. The scurs will be ready to relax by a recreational evening fire. As soon as they can find some dry wood perhaps.

While rainfall was welcome up to a point, this was a little over the top for most. May rainfall totals suddenly jumped to over 12” in places, with amounts locally of up to 9” total being commonplace. In Bugtussle, 8.87” for the month and 5.75” at the ranch. Even though it’s somewhat drier, it’s still plenty wet regardless. With corn planting being 90 – 95% complete, many had set their sights on getting the soybeans done with the same efficiency as they did the corn. With measurable precipitation being recorded on 9 out of 10 days starting May 6th, it was not to be. The worst thing now is waiting for the ponded water to go down and the fields to dry up to the point where replanting can take place. Then the problem becomes where does one start and stop? While it’s a rule of thumb that crop that’s been under water for more than four days is likely dead, that isn’t always the case, especially when the crops are seedling stage. As several of my profs and mentors taught me over the years, there is more gray than black and white.
 
At the ranch it made a mess for chores. The lot where we feed the ewes and lambs became an absolute quagmire. The early winter came back to haunt once again as the pack of waste hay was frozen to the point where putting big hunks in the spreader would’ve most likely meant shearing pins. With a spreader that size, it usually means removing the frozen hunks with a pitchfork or other means before replacing the shear pins in the freezing cold. Otherwise you’ll continue shearing and replacing pins. The area became a giant sponge with the recent rains although when walking across it, there was a bottom. The sheep were anything but white after traipsing around in the slop and it wasn’t easy to stay clean doing chores either. Step wrong and manure squirted all over your pantleg. At least it’s organic.

It finally stopped raining, so it gave me time to play catch up late afternoon Monday. The bottoms and lures in the moth traps maintained for the Boy Entomologist were changed. I then discovered the electric fence wasn’t charging. When I went to unplug the fencer, the red light was on. One of the recent stormy mornings had brought with it some intense lightning and thunder. The hair-like filament in one of the one-amp fuses was nonexistent so pretty good idea what to do. Once replaced it worked as it should. Time for the lawnmower to be addressed. It was buried behind the generator. Typical as a generator is more likely to come in handy in an ice storm than a lawnmower. Then put another round bale in the lot and move the feeder again. The lot was a mucky mess that needed attention too. It took some time, but it was markedly improved when finished. I took the mulching insert off the mower and decided since I’d gone to all the work of getting it out, I’d mow some lawn. It went quickly and before I knew it, it was well after 8 p.m. Another of what promises to be many 12+ hour days.

More new arrivals in the bird department at the ranch including orchard orioles and an indigo bunting. Usually the buntings don’t stick around while the orchard orioles set up shop for the summer. They enjoy the grape jelly as much as their Baltimore counterparts. As others have reported, the Baltimore orioles have been numerous and extremely active. At the ranch I’ve counted as many as eight of them creating an orange blur as they hop from feeder to tree and back to the feeder. They’ve been vocal too. When their jelly runs out and the orange halves are gone, you hear about it in the house. It’s not like they don’t have anything else to eat as they’re also supplied with a nectar feeder. They’ll use that as a last resort, but they’d much rather have the other goodies instead.
 
Poppy soaks up as much as her puppy mind allows with the spring season unfolding. Lots of new scents, birds, and insects to chase, along with plenty of green grass to run and play in. Can definitely tell when it’s time to mow as the grass gets up to her little Corgi tummy rather quickly. Being a longtime dog owner, the spring season has me on the lookout for toads, frogs, and snakes as I mow. I purposely try to avoid hitting these small creatures. If not for their feeding on insects, mollusks, and rodents, we’d be up to our armpits in pestilence of all kinds. Sometimes, you can’t avoid running the good guys over. Once you discover you have, it’s best to clean up the mess. Otherwise, one of several things can happen: The dog can ingest them which usually leads to the dog expelling the pieces on the floor inside. Or, after a few days when the remains of the amphibian or reptile are nice and ripe, the dog will roll in them and eat them. Double your pleasure, double your fun.

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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If you want to talk fishin, well I guess that'll be OK

The scurs were glad the Weather Eye’s drier forecast arrived just in time. Will we see a dry Memorial Day, or will it snow as it did in 1992? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunny Thursday with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Saturday, sunny with a slight chance of evening rain showers. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Memorial Day, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Sunny on Tuesday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. May 29th is Memorial Day. The normal high for May 29th is 73 and the normal low is 53. The scurs have a cookout planned so hopefully the Weather Eye will make good on their kinder, gentler forecast.
 
Crops are beginning to take shape although there will be plenty of replant and soybeans going in the ground yet this week. Fields have finally dried sufficiently to get a good, close up of the crop conditions and in some cases, it hasn’t been pretty. Rainfall on 9 out of 10 days meant mostly cloudy conditions. Very small or just planted crops meant very little evapotranspiration. As wonderful as these heavy clay loam soils can be under dry conditions, they can be equally problematic under heavy precipitation such as we just experienced, especially when relying primarily on tile drainage to remove excess water. The recent heavy rains exposed the vulnerability of some of the tile systems themselves as many were never designed to take the resulting sheer volume of water from the massive increase in tile drainage the past 30 years. When outlets are underwater, water drains slowly leaving soil saturated for longer periods than desired. Now as mentioned last week, the issue becomes how much replanting is warranted once soil conditions are dry enough? There will likely be no right answer until the combines roll come fall. Some of the earliest planted corn has reached V2 – V3 while the soybeans planted before the deluge started are V1 or unifoliate stage. Perhaps 50% of the soybeans remain to be planted as of this past Monday.

So far, the mosquitoes haven’t been the issue one might’ve suspected. The black flies or buffalo gnats on the other hand have picked up the slack for them. In and around the heavy rainfall areas they’re more than happy to annoy and bite whenever the mood strikes them. Repellents are largely ineffective so wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants is the most effective way to avoid bites. Their bites are painful and itch, sometimes leaving a red welt from their slashing, slicing mouthparts. Only the females bite, and like mosquitoes, they’re most active a few hours after sunrise and before sunset. Fortunately their small size makes it more difficult to navigate under windy conditions. We seem to have our fair share of windy stretches so at least it’s good for something.

https://extension.umn.edu/biting-insects/black-flies#common-black-fly-species-in-minnesota-1817661

As luck would have it, I contracted the alien going on two weeks ago. It started out as a scratchy throat and stuffed up head. It managed to also make me extremely tired especially at first which was OK as it was either raining or so wet very little could be done outside, including gardening. I did manage to mow the lawn. Some of it was getting overgrown to the point that it looked like something had chewed it off. Fortunately, I noted others in the area had lawns that looked very similar. The warmer temps have moved the lawn along so it will be time to get after it again this week. The garden has dried some too although there is a fair weed infestation to run through the tiller. Last Saturday I resorted to a burndown treatment to deal with the weeds. Once they’re mowed off, it should make matters much easier.
 
It looks as though we’re finally done lambing, maybe. One of the two show yearlings from last year we thought was open recently began showing signs that she was bagging up. Not exactly what we were hoping for when we put her in with the rest of the brood ewes last fall. As was fully expected there would be a little lamb running around the pasture one day in the near future. That day was Tuesday. After chores there was bellering and sure enough, a ewe with lamb at side in the upper pasture. It took a little coaxing but within a few minutes, the little tyke was corralled with mom following close behind. After closing doors, opening gates and plopping the lamb in the pen, the ewe hopped in behind her. What hopefully is the end of the Ronco lambing season. But wait, there’s more!

More birds have arrived including common yellowthroats and warbling vireos. The vireos are hard to see but their burbling song seems never ending some mornings. Poppy has an interest in the birds, primarily chasing them around the yard. Robins are her favorites as they are frequently bobbing around the yard looking for nightcrawlers. That seems to be Poppy’s activity at night when we let her out for potty time. We watch as she waits, then pounces in the grass. The lawn is loaded with nightcrawlers as evidenced by the castings and resulting rough ride on the lawnmower. After several minutes of that, she has to be reminded that it’s time to do her business. Of course, maybe Poppy is trying to tell us she wants to go fishing. Sounds like a plan.

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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See the dog and butterfly

With no rain or snow the scurs were proud of the forecast generated by the Weather Eye. Will they be singing the same tune next week at this time or singing the blues? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a good chance of a late afternoon thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny Thursday with a fair chance of a daytime shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a good chance of a daytime shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, sunny with a fair chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny on Tuesday with a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. The Full Moon for this June falls on the 3rd. The normal high for June 3rd is 75 and the normal low is 55. The scurs are welcoming the summer after the never-ending winter by testing out their AC.

Saturday marks the Full Moon for the month and it is aptly named the Full Strawberry Moon as this delicacy is only available during this time of year. On shortcake with whipped cream, ice cream, angel food cake, in malts, in jam, and the list goes on. Tough to beat this tasty berry and especially when they’re fresh out of the strawberry patch. The Ojibwe and Sioux agreed on this one with both tribes naming this moon in honor of the strawberry. Unfortunately at the ranch, we have no strawberry patch, yet, anyway. We’re stuck with Moon when Bread Molds Quickly or Corgi Hair along Baseboards Moon.

Crops responded well to the heat although there was no bringing some of the large thin spots or nonexistent spots back to life. This has probably been the worst spring season for replanting crops locally that I can ever remember. The timing of the heavy May rains couldn’t have been much worse along with the duration of cloudy days occurring as part of it. Making the call on corn was probably easier as the areas where corn was missing, plants were not coming or were going to be so late emerging those plants wouldn’t have contributed much if anything to the yield. The more difficult question was whether to tear up entire fields or just stab in some corn in the holes. Every field was different and there was no one size fits all rule.

Soybean stand assessment was more problematic because there are/were still plants trying to emerge with potential to fill in the gaps. However, as temperatures remained warm and no rain fell, in some fields soybean seedlings began to snap off below the cotyledon. When that happens, the seedling is done even though the stem will remain green for a while. Too many of those coupled with a thin stand spell trouble. Most times soybeans manage to maintain a stand that even though it’s thin, it will yield just fine. Not always the case this time around. The tale of the tape when measuring the actual stand is critical. What looks good from the road can be deceiving.
 
At the ranch, we finally made some progress on the garden. Amazing how quickly the soil conditions changed from saturated to dry and hard as a brick. Moving the garden to a south facing slope was a good idea for the potential of planting earlier. Not unlike cash grain cropping, that involves getting the ground into shape for the following spring. When that doesn’t happen, it takes a lot more effort to get the garden whipped into shape come spring. Fortunately we have access to water so we can easily supplement the fruits and vegetables if need be. It’s already become clear that some of the plants around the house have benefitted from supplemental watering. Eventually it usually rains and the worries we had about drought and watering become a distant memory. Let’s hope so. Otherwise it’ll be a long summer.
 
The yard changes in a hurry once it warms up. All the apples are long since done flowering as are the lilacs that seemed to flower earlier than normal this year. Usually they’re a Memorial Day phenomenon. Even the aronia berries and nannyberries have finished blossoming. Preliminary observations on the fruit trees are encouraging. The pear trees, both the Parker and Patten appear to be loaded. The apples are more of a mixed bag, with the Haralson and Fireside trees taking a break. There may be a few apples on both trees but nothing like they’re capable of in their “on” year. The Honeycrisp might not have quite as many apples on it as last year but there will likely still be plenty. The apple tree to keep a close watch on is our SnowSweet. It appears poised to have a breakout year. Hopefully early impressions hold true for the remainder of the growing season. While it’s a later apple, the sampling we’ve had makes them well worth the wait.
 
Poppy continues enjoying her outdoor time, especially chasing some birds but especially the insects. Her interests include the hummingbirds that get close enough so she can almost grab them. Mourning doves tend to stick tight until the last second, making good chasing candidates. Inside, chasing flies and ladybugs keeps her occupied. Outdoors, her favorite butterflies are the red admirals with their herky-jerky flight pattern. She’ll never catch one so they’re in little danger.  June bugs are another time consuming pastime, especially at night when they’re active. Poppy can spend a lot of time dawdling, chasing them around in the dark. Usually this occurs during her last potty break when we want to go to bed. Poppy continues to have close calls with some of the bumblebees visiting Mrs. Cheviot’s numerous planters. One of these times she’ll grab one and there won’t be any mistaking what happened. Who knew we had a budding ornithologist and entomologist in our midst?

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

Offline Dotch

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I ain't 'fraid of no ghost

The scurs are focusing their concern on the Weather Eye’s inability to deliver much desired rain. Are their worries justified or are they all for naught? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of a thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny Thursday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a fair chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Monday, sunny with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny on Tuesday with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. On June 7th our gain in daylight slows to just below one minute per day. From June 13th, we will increase our daylength by roughly two more minutes on the summer solstice. The normal high for June 13th is 78 and the normal low is 58. At least the scurs can dial the AC down a tad given the forecast.

Crops responded well to the heat with corn planted the first week in May at V5 (five collars) on Monday. By the time this reaches print, it will likely be V6, the same as the April planted corn was, which will likely be V7. There are some getting excited about applying additional N in places. One needs to know their rainfall amounts before getting trigger happy. Corn outside of the heavy rainfall area looks phenomenal. Some are looking at it strictly from an expense and price perspective. There is no one size fits all answer to whether it’s a paying proposition. Corn planted on soybean ground in particular looked vastly improved after this past weekend as the corn plant’s root system converts from the temporary seminal or primary root system to the permanent nodal root system. The latter will carry the plant for the remainder of the season. Something to keep in mind if nitrogen is applied and soils remain dry, it will not move. It becomes positionally unavailable with the roots moving deeper in the soil profile in search of moisture. Roots do not grow in dry soil.

The past week showed just how spotty some of the rainfall has been. Last Friday afternoon a downpour just east of town refilled all the potholes and areas that had been replanted with water in a matter of a few minutes. Likewise near Hope where low spots remained full of water yet Saturday morning on my feed run. On either side of Friday’s downpour east of Bugtussle, there was .05” in town and .06” at the ranch, barely enough to wet the sidewalk for any length of time. From a broader perspective, the Drought Monitor is beginning to show drought creeping into parts of the eastern corn belt. That could make a rough ride as those soils don’t have the moisture holding capacity we have locally and rely on more heavily on abundant rainfall over the course of the growing season. Though we cursed some of our soils a few weeks ago, they could still be our ace in the hole as the season progresses.

The garden at the ranch is still in relative infancy but it’s closer to completed at least for the late spring-early summer planting. Some of the 32 hills of vine crops are starting to emerge so that meant the electric fence had to be moved before the sheep discovered they had something new to eat in the scorched off area of their pasture. It cooled off enough Monday night and the breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay long enough to accomplish that task. Still awaiting the emergence of the string beans and the recently planted sweet corn. Some of the 16 tomatoes are struggling with transplant shock due to the heat and lack of rain. It’s hard to keep them watered sufficiently when some of the leggy plants were trenched in, still trying to support a large factory. On the other hand, the dozen pepper plants barely noticed they were transplanted and adapted quickly. Good thing the bunny guards are in place.

The flowering pots Mrs. Cheviot has around the house are in midseason form after this week of heat. The hummingbirds have taken note, dining on nectar from salvia and petunias. They also know when the nectar feeders are being cleaned and refilled. Sunday when I headed out the door with the clean feeder, a little male hummer with his ruby red throat-patch greeted me face to face, trying to get at it. He wasted little time once the feeder was rehung to feast on its contents. I took down a couple of the suet feeders and replaced them with nectar feeders. There should be fewer territorial squabbles over what feeder belongs to whom.
 
Had been wondering how the bat population was coming with the recent outbreak of mosquitoes. Looking at the sky after dusk, could see no evidence of bats in existence. Then last weekend as I was sitting at the confuser I felt the sudden swoosh of air blowing by and a shadow quickly pass above me. Thought maybe it was just a ghost or something so didn’t think much of it. I felt the swoosh again and looked up to see a bat making a U turn in the hallway. Battle stations! I quickly alerted Mrs. Cheviot who grabbed a tennis racquet while I armed myself with a straw broom. After several swings and misses Mrs. Cheviot brought down the flying mammal with her wicked forehand smash. We quickly swept the stunned creature onto the racquet, clamped the broom over the top of it and tossed it outside. Obviously, it wasn’t mortally wounded as it flew off. Was glad it did. The odds of it getting back into the house were small and the odds of it eating more mosquitoes were greater.

Poppy has begun eyeing the bed more and more. One morning when she was on the loose inside, and I hoisted her up so she could see what it was all about. After playing puppy for a while, she found a spot to sleep by my feet. Not long after that she snuggled in against my back. When I was getting dressed for work Tuesday, I could see Poppy looking to see how she could get up there. I may have started something I’ll wish I hadn’t. No question in my mind that if she gets a head of steam up during one of her zoomies, she’d clear the foot of the bed with ease, making a landing about like a Cox airplane on an aircraft carrier. Not sure that’d be a good thing. There’s plenty of extremely fine dog hair all over the house to begin with. Not sure I need it in bed with me too.

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

Offline Dotch

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With your eyes all a mist from the smoke of a distant fire

The scurs woes continue as the Weather Eye drops the ball on another potential week for rain. Are we due for a change or are we headed for a summer of perpetual watering? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Sunny Thursday with a slight chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a fair chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Monday, sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny on Tuesday with a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. We’re a little ahead of ourselves but the paper doesn’t make it to people’s mailboxes before Thursday anymore. The summer solstice happens on June 21st. The normal high is 80 and the normal low is 60. The sun rises at 5:31 a.m. CDT and sets at 9 p.m. We’ll max out our daylight at 15 hours and 28 minutes. The scurs aren’t sure what to do with all this extra daylight, but they’ll think of something. Maybe take a nap.
 
Crops are making their move with all the heat although Sunday and Monday felt more like something out of late September or early October. Low humidities with low dewpoints to boot so little dew to move any surface applied supplemental nitrogen into the root zone where corn plants may or may not need it. One thing about the dry weather, it is forcing corn to go after moisture and at this time of year, that’s not a bad thing as we discovered last year. June was also very dry in 2022 locally with only 1.95” of rain falling at the ranch and 2.10” in Bugtussle itself where nobody farms. Around July 4th, there were Nervous Nellies of all sorts until significant rains showed up on the 4th and the 23rd. So far, we’re probably in a little better shape from a stored moisture perspective. While getting some rain would be nice, it’s not critical just yet for crops.

Area crops could be described as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Good would be the soybeans. Actually, there are several nice looking soybean fields. There were some put in before the 10 day stretch of heavy rain that perhaps aren’t as uniform as their later planted counterparts, but where beans were stitched in, they came up in a hurry. Within a few weeks, they won’t be as noticeable. Soybean aphids were found last Wednesday but it’s pretty tough to see them from the road. The Bad would be the corn. Decent looking corn fields without warts are few and far between, many very uneven with gaping holes evident where small corn plants are numerous collars behind their early planted counterparts. Then there’s the Bad, corn on corn. Unless it was the odd field that was moldboard plowed, happened to have the stalks baled off or wasn’t planted before the rains hit, odds are it’s one homely corn field. From pale color, unevenness, to interspersed with huge holes of ratty looking replant. Other than that, it looks OK.

Our garden is somewhat the same way thus far with some vegetables responding to the heat and our watering better than others. The tomatoes and peppers are transplants and most of them look to be adapting well aside from a couple Celebrity’s. Pumpkins, squash, and gourds thrive on heat although they need moisture to germinate. Some of those hills were in a moister area and took full advantage of it. Others like the Jack Be Little pumpkins have yet to show up. Odd because usually those are like weeds. Sweet corn is emerging well and the first string bean planting is emerging somewhat patchy. Cucumbers are just poking through in some of the hills. The jury is still out on the Indian corn, decorative sunflowers, and carrots. They were planted later and have yet to emerge. Cannas in the bed by the well are coming along and there are a few four o’clocks to help round out the hummingbird dining pleasure.

The hummers have been camping in the backyard since their arrival back in May. Whenever one heads out to refill or check to see their feeders aren’t full of ants, the buzzing sound of their wings can be heard even though they frequently can’t be seen. The three feeders can be seen from several windows in the house. At least they were until the leaves on the soft maple obstructed the view of the one seen from the oval office. That wouldn’t do. So I got out the lopper and proceeded to prune what I thought were the right branches. Alas, when I checked, there was still one in the way. I got out the pole saw and within minutes, the view was restored. Something to look forward to in the morning. Certainly better than watching the garbage on TV.

After thinking I was done with the alien a few weeks back, it managed to linger for another few weeks. This has been the first week knock on wood I’ve felt semi-human in the last month. I suspect the smoke from the Canadian forest fires didn’t do me any favors. It seemed to keep my eyes watering, my throat sore and my head stuffed up. There is some question about how all the smoke may affect the corn and soybean crops. The general consensus at this point is it probably won’t negatively impact crop development early on. As we get into reproductive stages and grain fill, that’s when it becomes more concerning. A lot of variables at play in the meantime so no way to really predict what will happen.
Saw the first fireflies at the ranch last Tuesday the 6th. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 19 species of them in MN. Each one has its own frequency of flashes. Not up on any of them but this particular small group had almost LED-like lighting. I had text messaged that info to the Boy Entomologist who informed me he would be doing the GDU calculation for rootworm egg hatch, which roughly approximates the appearance of fireflies. Sure enough, that info was about right on the money. The firefly population has been slowly increasing in our backyard. I’m thinking Poppy will be in for a real treat as she discovers one more flying insect to chase.

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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Seems like I should be getting somewhere

The scurs were pleasantly surprised to see some rainfall finally as forecast by the Weather Eye’s. Has the worm turned, or will we just have worms? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Sunny Thursday with highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm by evening. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a fair chance of forenoon showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a chance of late-day showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny on Tuesday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. We start losing a few seconds of daylight on the 22nd and by the 25th, we’re down from 15 hours and 28 minutes to 15 hours and 27 minutes. Sunrise becomes later too, going from 5:31 a.m. on the summer solstice CDT to 5:33 a.m. on the 26th. The normal high for June 26th is 81 and the normal low is 61. If the scurs procrastinate long enough, they may be able to forego those window treatments to block the early morning sun.
 
Locally, crops continue to move along despite the spotty rainfall coverage. The recent weekend rains were welcome, but Mothe Nature will have to provide more consistent coverage and generous amounts for us to realize the potential we still have. All things considered, most of the corn has done amazingly well. The dark green color is indicative that much of the applied nitrogen was still in place. The dry conditions have the root systems following the moisture deeper in the soil profile and into the higher N concentration. Even the replanted corn has begun to make its move, not surprising as it goes from the ugly duckling stage as the plant establishes its nodal root system. The ratty looking corn of a few weeks ago doesn’t look quite so bad anymore. The early planted soybeans are looking like soybeans rather than some thin rows of something from the road. Some later plantings have gaps in the rows due to soybeans laying in dry soil. Hopefully the recent rains caught some of these fields and they fill in quickly. The cooler temps last week bought us a little time so if we can muscle our way through this warm spell, we may see some subtle changes in our weather pattern begin to materialize.

An El Niño pattern has been officially declared as starting as of last month. The dry conditions we’ve been experiencing are said to be more likely the result of the La Niña pattern on its way out. Many of the weather pundits agree however that we may see a favorable turn for those of us in the western corn belt, MN included. Looking at the monthly precipitation outlook, it appears that could be the case. The eastern corn belt may not be quite so fortunate though if the recent drought US seasonal drought outlook predictions hold true. Presently much of the corn belt is presently under drought conditions or rated abnormally dry. The exception is southern MN. Indeed there is some decent crop here, that which didn’t get pummeled by the May monsoon that is. Even that has improved as mentioned above. Given more favorable precipitation and intensifying drought in the eastern corn belt, the corn crop we had written off might not be the abject failure here we thought just a few weeks ago. Price matters too.
 
At the ranch we continue to be behind the curve on moving the sheep from their springtime quarters to pasture. Not enough manpower and time as we would’ve perhaps liked. We did get cull ewes and some excess yearlings that didn’t fit, including a very large, destructive, yearling ram. It damaged and ruined more equipment in a year’s time than any animal we’ve ever had on the place. We were forced to use him as the ram we’d been using suddenly died last August, prior to the breeding season. Trying to find a quality purebred ram at the last minute is next to impossible that time of year. We had what was then a buck lamb of our own out on the show circuit that wasn’t closely related to the ewes at the kindly neighbor’s. When show season was over, we tossed him in there. After bringing him back in November, he got huge, jumped over panels and gates, smashed parts of our handling system and was a general pain in the rump. When he jumped over two panels at shearing time, even the shearer was impressed. There’s a special place for animals like that. It’s called Zumbrota.
 
Last Wednesday night we discovered we couldn’t raise sheep without water. One of the joys of rural living. There was suddenly no water pressure when I was filling the water tank and buckets. There was no water in the house either so after doing all the easy things that didn’t work, I called the well company. They’d be out in the morning, so we rationed the water from the water tank I’d filled the morning before. In the meantime all the straw bales needed to be removed from on top of the well pit to expedite the process once they arrived. That went well until I got down to the last hunk of damp straw. There was a strange hissing noise that seemed to be coming from under the straw. Indeed it was and suddenly a large bumblebee emerged from what apparently was a large nest. Lucky for me it was nearing dusk. I was able to subdue them without being stung. I like bumblebees but not when they nest someplace I’d rather they hadn’t. When the well guys arrived it was all business and shortly after noon the water was flowing once again. Another one of those things you take for granted until it’s gone.

Poppy continues to be my little gardening buddy. She enjoys checking out the entire garden but somehow is pretty good about not stepping on plants. Have yet to see her pull any weeds though. Actually she just likes to come outside and dawdle while wandering around, checking out new sights, sounds and smells. The process has helped her to focus especially when it involves coming when called. Oh sure, she still likes to push your buttons and take it as far as she can sometimes. She has dramatically improved however, and the progress continues daily. She does get pretty warm after being out in the sun for an extended period. Getting back inside to air-conditioned comfort and having something cool to drink might have something to do with her improved behavior. I know it does mine.

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

Offline Dotch

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Oh, thunder only happens when it's rainin'

Once again, the Weather Eye delivers much to the delight of the scurs and everyone else. Has the dry weather been quelled or was this past week a mirage? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a good chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny Thursday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of forenoon showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Monday, sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny on Independence Day with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On July 1st we’ll experience the last of the 9 p.m. sunsets until next summer. The normal high for the 4th of July is 82 and the normal low is 62. The scurs are certain to evade the fireworks police once again.

The Full Moon for July arrives on the 3rd and generally goes by the Full Buck Moon. It’s during this month that the buck whitetails start their antler growth. It also goes in some circles as the Molting Moon as several types of waterfowl molts during this month. The Ojibwe called this the Raspberry Moon for the delicious wild red and black raspberries. The Sioux, also fruit lovers, knew it as the Moon when Cherries are Ripe. At the ranch we’re torn between the Patchy Lawn Moon or the Moon of Frequent Watering.
 
The rains that fell over the weekend, while far from breaking the back of this unusually dry stretch, were welcome just the same. The fact that they were typically measured in nature rather than falling in only minutes was a plus. It didn’t hurt either that it stayed relative cool afterwards instead of drying up by the next afternoon. It definitely gave the corn a boost as it shot up afterwards nicely. Given the massive accumulation of GDU’s thus far, the corn crop that didn’t get replanted is running ahead of schedule. As of last Wednesday, GDU accumulation measured from May 1st was 24% above normal at the SROC in Waseca. Some have wished they’d torn up whole fields of their ratty looking corn and replanted it rather than stabbing corn into the bare spots. A lot of intangibles but toss in an early frost and a short crop elsewhere. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, at least not yet.

The early planted soybeans have made their move although there have been a few fields exhibiting iron deficiency chlorosis. With dry weather conditions, especially the late planted soybeans have typically shown this the worst symptoms. Under wetter weather conditions, the symptoms are lessened and short lived. Since that’s not the case this year, guess what? In some cases there may be soybean cyst nematode compounding the problem as we’ve rode the 88788 source of resistance hard for many years. Can’t fool Mother Nature. Overuse and abuse catch up after a while. Otherwise, most of the first planted soybeans, especially those in narrow rows actually look fairly decent. Flowering is getting underway in earnest in many fields. Some will be sweating a flush of waterhemp making an appearance after the recent rains. If a field has a waterhemp history that concern may be justified.

It was a struggle but except for a few latecomers, the ewes and lambs were weaned at the ranch last week. It was noisy as it always is afterwards. Some of the brood ewes were hauled to the kindly neighbors’ pasture where they could beller in peace away from the ranch. I hadn’t realized how much their appearance was anticipated by Huxley, one of the young lads over in that neighborhood. He kept asking the neighbors if the sheep were back I was told, to the point he’d convinced himself they were already there. Apparently, he likes to look for them in the pasture on the walks he takes with his mom. It’s quite a hike so I had no idea they were coming that far north. I was glad to inform the kindly neighbors after the sheep were in place and even happier to discover they brought some enjoyment to Huxley. Who knows? Maybe he’d like to have some of his own someday.

Made the trek once again to the Back to the 50’s car show in St. Paul on Sunday. Attendance appeared to be dampened somewhat by the rainy weather. It was actually cooler than the day before and less apt to be stormy. A little water is one thing but a potential hailstorm to a collector car enthusiast is typically a dealbreaker. The Studebaker provided live entertainment on the way up. The wipers want to creep up the windshield from time to time. When you turn them on to attempt to return them to their pared position, sometimes they stop, usually right in front of your field of view. This time the wipers didn’t want to shut off either, giving new meaning to the term intermittent wipers. I don’t think the spontaneity feature was what the engineers had in mind. A new switch installed by the local Studebaker mechanic, and it should be good as new. Or at least as good as can be expected for a car old enough to draw Social Security.

Poppy keeps growing up as she nears her first birthday. There is still her obligatory exploring nature, but it can be controlled, and commands can be followed more than just whenever she feels like it. The thundershower this past weekend reminded me of the reaction of the Border Collies we’ve had. Normally it involved them hiding in their safe place, behind the couch or in the closet. Not Poppy. Growling and some occasional barking at the thunder but otherwise, no cowering or evasive maneuvers. And when there was no thunder with rain pitter pattering on the roof, more than happy to curl up and nap beside me on the couch. Dogs take after their owners as they say.

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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Bad news on the doorstep...

The scurs are concerned that the Weather Eye will keep the dry spell going. Has dry weather become entrenched or are we likely to see changes soon? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Sunny Thursday with highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the low upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of forenoon showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms late in the day. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny on Tuesday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. On July 7th, we start losing daylight at over one minute per day. The scurs are rejoicing. Farm and City Days parade candy is upon us.

Another week of wondering when it will rain although the forecast cooler temperatures should help stretch our subsoil moisture for a while. Waterhemp worries continue for area farmers in the soybeans. With the sporadic nature of the precipitation that’s fallen and uneven distribution of waterhemp infestations on a field-by-field basis, worrying is about all anyone can do. There simply haven’t been widespread runaways, yet. Still, for many the plan is to spray after the 4th and that’s probably not the worst plan. There are small waterhemp emerging here and there and those will do only one thing: produce seed. Aside from cultivation, it offers the only opportunity to stop them. Corn tassels were evident already on some ultra early, early planted corn on Monday. Likewise with some fresh market sweet corn. Expect to see more widespread corn tassels by next week. Soybeans continue flowering with most of the earlier planting firmly in full bloom. Widespread beneficial rains are welcome anytime.
 
Terrorizing Canada thistles in both pastures was high on my agenda this past weekend. It was another of those things I couldn’t get to last year There are three main species to contend with, primarily Canada thistle, plumeless thistle and bull thistle. All are introduced from Europe and Eurasia. They’ve been a thorn in our side for generations, no pun intended. They compete with the forage in our pasture and are not palatable to sheep or livestock in general. Still remember baling first cutting new seeding that had been infested with bull thistles as a lad. The skin on my forearms was loaded with bull thistle spines by the time we finished. Since that time, few things give me more pleasure than seeing a bull thistle folded up after a herbicide application.
 
My good-to products for thistle control are those containing aminopyralid. It’s effective on all of those species, and better particularly on Canada thistle than any other pasture weed control herbicide. It also has some soil residual to help prevent seedlings from reestablishing the infestation, at least for a while. Care must be taken however as the product is not metabolized by livestock and passes through their digestive tract into the manure. More than one farmer has encountered a nasty surprise the next year in their soybeans as a result. At the ranch, one particularly heavy patch of plumeless thistle was already being scoped out by the goldfinches. The patch hadn’t produced any seed that I could determine but they were ready when it did. Have some bad news for them. After the pounding I gave that thistle patch, seed production will be severely limited.

Birds in the backyard continue transitioning. There are young orioles appearing at the jelly feeder routinely along with the usual compliment of brightly colored males. A few orchard orioles have made their way as well. The hummingbirds have been less evident than they were at first. Suspect they too are dealing with young nestlings. I did see one appear shortly after I’d cleaned out their favorite nectar feeder so hopefully that’s a good omen. The pleasant surprise has been the loyal goldfinch contingent. I sometimes think their numbers are starting to wane until I look at the thistle feeders and realize they’re here a lot of the time when we’re not. I don’t have a problem with rewarding their loyalty with clean feeders, clean fresh water, and even though it’s not cheap, a fresh supply of seed to eat.

The garden at the ranch makes an excellent barometer for pigweed species. With the watering necessary earlier, all one needs to do is look in those areas and the red carpet of redroot pigweed and waterhemp is starting to develop. Recent rains amplified the situation and the fact the garden is on a south facing slope probably speeds up their appearance as well. It certainly is making the vegetables grow. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins, and gourds are loving heat with a little rain added as well. Decorative sunflowers are among my favorites. Another heat and dry loving plant, I cut my teeth on sunflowers as a consultant in ND back in the early 80’s. Fascinating crop that could stand the heat yet flourished with some beneficial rains. They could also be disease prone with white mold (sclerotinia) capable of torching entire fields within a matter of a couple weeks. Losses neared 100% at times. Good thing rent was cheap and there was an act of God clause in those confection sunflower contracts.

Poppy continues her full discovery mode. She’s fond of the morning and evening gardening tour, making the rounds in typical Corgi fashion. In other words, diddling and dawdling as much as possible with her short stature making it difficult to see her much of the time. Something she has suddenly become serious about however is chasing squirrels. When unwinding on the patio after a day’s work last week, I heard something rustling up in the tree. Poppy heard it too and was trying to catch a glimpse of it. Just like that, the fox squirrel came down the tree trunk and started running across the backyard. The chase was on, and Poppy was after it like a chicken on a June bug. She overran it and the squirrel floundered momentarily. It made it back to its feet and to the safety of the nearest tree. Great exercise program for both of them and fun to watch for me. Can’t buy better entertainment that that.
 
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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Great info as usual Dotch. 

Offline Dotch

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They say it's your birthday

The scurs are convinced the Weather Eye is being controlled remotely by someone in the bowels of the grain marketing system. Will dry weather be the hallmark of this growing season or should we be watching Hallmark and thinking happy thoughts? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny Friday with a fair chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny on Saturday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Sunday, sunny with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny on Wednesday with a fair chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On the 15th, we start losing daylight at just over one minute and 30 seconds. We also will have lost 20 minutes of daylight since the summer solstice. The normal high for July 15th is 82 and the normal high is 62 as we continue through what are statistically the warmest days of summer. Thes scurs have sold out of putty knives for scraping Farm and City Days Tootsie Rolls off people’s shoes.

Our lack of significant rainfall is starting to be concerning, reminding one of the summer of 2012. After wonderful rains in May and June that year, we were in great shape or so we thought. We got to Waseca Fair time, needed a rain and some actually got some, especially to the east. Some were shorted but there was still hope of salvaging a respectable crop. What transpired after that was disappointing. July totaled one inch of rain and August wasn’t much better with 1.63” for the month. Too little, too late. As one went west it was drier yet. To the east by Claremont, beneficial rains fell in the nick of time. Come harvest time it showed. Corn yields were all over the board but west of town was 160-ish, east of town more towards 180 bu./acre and east by Claremont, places north of 250. A tale of the have’s and have nots across southern MN.

Fast forward to this year. Some definite similarities but in over 42 years doing this gig, there haven’t been any two years exactly alike. Our snowmelt plus April and May rains have carried us thus far but the sand is running through the hourglass. Still a chance at a respectable corn crop but with pollination looming on the horizon, the corn crop will slip fast without rain soon. Tassels are showing up as predicted last week right on schedule. Without substantial rain soon however, ear length will likely be compromised. Some inconsequential silk clipping noted by red-headed flea beetles this week as well. Some better hope yet for the soybeans as the earlier planted, earlier maturity soybeans are R3 and setting pods already. Some timely rains and this could still be a respectable soybean crop. Some aphids being found here and there but no numbers as of yet. The last thing a person wants to do is toss in an insecticide with a late herbicide/fungicide application and flare the spider mites waiting for an opportunity. Next week: We talk people down off the ledge from tar spot.

Around the yard at the ranch it’s become a spot mowing scenario. The bluegrass has largely gone dormant except for the odd area that receives dabs of water when watering flowers, etc. The only grasses growing are quackgrass, brome to some extent and the odd clump of orchardgrass. The result is a patchy looking lawn that’s green in some places and brown across most of it. When the grass starts to head out and really look ugly, it’s time to run the mower across that area. The good news is it doesn’t take long. The bad news is it’s a dirty, dusty process. The interesting thing about it is it doesn’t smell like you’ve mowed the lawn afterwards. It smells more like fresh cut hay.

Poppy’s birthday arrives on Wednesday. Hard to believe given her size or the way she behaves that she’ll be a year old already. She’s still getting acquainted with the local flora and fauna. She ate a hunk off one of the pigweeds I pulled in the garden. Must not have been that good or she would’ve eaten the whole thing. On the critter side, the most recent encounter involved a couple big fat toads that had set up shop under a cart in the barn. They love hopping around the barn as there are plenty of flies for them to feast on. I saw their movement attracted her attention and Poppy was getting curious enough that she was about to attempt picking one of them up.
 
Bad idea. When I was young, I remember seeing our yellow Lab Chico pick up a toad. The toad did as toads will do when you pick them up and peed. That resulted in the dog suddenly frothing at the mouth and temporarily becoming violently ill like I’d never seen. It’s something I’ll never forget and apparently, it’s a memorable experience for the dog. They’ll only pick up a toad once. From the tone of my voice Poppy could tell I meant business and backed away from the toads. Didn’t want her to have to learn the hard way and I really didn’t want to clean up the mess afterwards. Hard enough cleaning up after myself.
 
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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Over the years I have seen my dogs walk up to toads but never saw one pick one up.  Lucky I guess.  LOL

Offline Dotch

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Smoke on the water

After doubting the Weather Eye, the scurs saw it dazzle us with its brilliance. Will we keep getting pleasant surprises or was that just a flash in the pan? Starting Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunny on Saturday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunday, sunny with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the upper 60’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Wednesday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On the 21st, we slide under 15 hours of daylight and will have lost about a half hour of daylight since the summer solstice. On the 25th, we start losing daylight at just over two minutes a day. The normal high for July 25th is 81 and the normal high is 61. The scurs have their sights set on Canada for next week. Should work if the smoke stays away while on the water or at least while they’re close to it.

Crops benefitted from the recent rains or at least those that didn’t receive hail or much rain. Rainfall at the ranch was one of those pleasant surprises with 1.34” falling between rains on the 12th and 13th. Bugtussle wasn’t quite as lucky tallying .96” for the week. The good news was the temps remained cool enough to allow the crops to take advantage of it rather than having it dry up before it could do any good. Hail fell west of town and ripped some fields up significantly. Those who carried hail insurance should be rewarded handsomely. Much of the first planted corn has tasseled while we likely have a couple weeks to go yet on the replant. Soybeans also moved along with most being R3 except those later planted fields. Some of the earlier planted, earlier maturing fields are R4 stage already. Soybean aphids are becoming somewhat easier to find although numbers are far from threshold. More rain would be welcome although odds are not in our favor. While that’s not a good thing, that’s what we were thinking last week before receiving some rain.

We touched on the subject of spraying corn for tar spot last week. There was a big push to start spraying last week already. Way too early on many fronts. Number one, the disease tends to arrive here later in the season if at all. Spraying too early increases the likelihood that another application will be needed. Also, as one keen observer put it, with prices where they are and the growing season at a tipping point in many instances, why help the insurance company? Another problem is the unevenness of the tasseling and silking in these fields. Applications with many fungicides are safest after pollination, especially when some aerial apps want to drop down to one gallon per acre of water and add an adjuvant to cover more acres. A few years back some were being pushed as they are this time. Beer can ears with long noses of unpollinated cob on about every tenth ear resulted. Bottom line: Be careful and be informed. Go into fungicide applications with both eyes open.

The garden at the ranch certainly benefitted mightily from the rainfall, especially the weeds. While they were marking time prior to that, their sudden growth spurt meant time to get the tiller out and do battle. As is usually the case, the larger weeds tend to withstand the severe mauling and poke their heads back up within a day or two. Had the rain not fallen last week, it likely would’ve meant better control as the soil was so dry and loose it resembled volcanic ash. As it turned out, there was still a fair amount of hand weeding yet to do in the rows themselves anyway. A razor-sharp hoe works wonders and helps pick up those weeds that thought they’d snuck by the tilling.
 
Probably the worst weed to deal with this year has been purslane. Native to Eurasia, it is a fleshy-leaved, succulent plant that thrives during hot, dry weather. Its tiny seeds require only sparse precipitation to germinate. Once it does, it’s capable of surviving until significant rainfall arrives. Almost overnight following the recent rains, our garden was transformed to a green carpet of purslane. The sharp hoe mentioned previously works wonders but those weeds too close to plants have to be pulled by hand. It’s not fun to pull as it tends to break off if you don’t get a good grip on it. If wet weather follows their uprooting or segmenting the stems by any means, purslane can re-root itself from the nodes. If I can’t leave the whole plant on top of dry ground with roots pointed skyward, I find it rewarding to throw the purslane over the fence to the sheep. They love the stuff. Try and regrow after that, ya little prostrate green jerks!

Poppy loves her people. With more company happening by recently, she’s been right in her element. Attention is always welcome and afterwards visitors are generally treated to a session of zoomies. Her speed for a dog with such short legs surprises folks. She can keep it up for several minutes so bottling that energy would be of benefit for all of mankind. Along with her love of people, Poppy has also developed a need for privacy. There have been several occasions when we’ve lost track of her in the house, only to find her taking a nap in her kennel. I can relate. If I could find a place to take a nap most days without interruption, I’d do it. I could even omit the zoomies first.

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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Empty lake, empty streets, the sun goes down alone.

The scurs once again are doubting the Weather Eye’s trustworthiness. Will that trust be renewed, or do we have to trust but verify? Starting Thursday, sunny with a modest chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-90’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny Friday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with a modest chance of a daytime shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Tuesday, partly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny on Wednesday with a good chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. On the 30th we’ll see the sun rise at 6 a.m. CDT. The Full Moon for August occurs on the 1st. The normal high for August 1st is 81 and the normal high is 61. The scurs are thinking of applying for jobs at Flanders Ontario city hall. First, they have to find it.
 
As mentioned, August 1st ushers in the official Full Moon for the month although there will be a second or Blue Moon on August 30th. That happens about every three years, so you’ll be waiting a while for the next one. The Full Moon for August goes by the Full Sturgeon Moon, named for the large sturgeon that once inhabited the Great Lakes as well as Lake Champlain. The Ojibwe called this the Berry or Huckleberry Moon for the dark blue berries found on the huckleberry plant. The Sioux knew this as the Moon when Cherries Turn Black. At the ranch we know it as the Fair Moon for all the fairs, county and state level that happen during this timeframe. Yes indeed, summer’s not over but the end is coming rapidly.

Crops continue to progress but are in serious need of some moisture soon. Depending on whose forecasts one wants to believe it may or may not happen. The NOAA 6–10-day map released July 23rd looks promising. Better than even odds of above normal temps but also better than even chances of above normal precip. The 30-day outlook released July 20th is calling for better than equal chances for cooler than normal temperatures and even chances of above or below normal precipitation. If it comes to fruition, the cooler temperatures could buy more time for the earlier planted crop. It could be somewhat concerning for later planted corn in particular, especially if Jack Frost makes an early appearance. Have to do like my Dad did in 1974. Buy some beef heifers, borrow the neighbor’s corn binder, and make corn shocks. Fun for the whole family.
 
If we were to receive normal precipitation for August, would it be enough to get us to the finish line without a significant yield penalty? Depends a lot on how/when the precip is distributed of course. If it waits until the end of August and we suddenly receive the roughly 4.8” of precip that’s average, well, pretty sure you know the answer to that one. If it’s distributed more evenly throughout, then the odds increase of a crop that while nowhere in the planet with the past two years, is still respectable in light of all the bumps in the road. Of immediate concern is what the forecast heat and relatively light precip will do. It might not be pretty if substantial rains aren’t part of the equation soon. Just have to be lucky enough to be underneath some of this scattered precipitation that has been a hallmark of the growing season.

Having been away for a while in Canada, it’s always bittersweet when the last day rolls around. There have been many good times as always. Looking at the flora and fauna is a wonderful pastime, especially wondering if some of the hummingbirds and white-throated sparrows are the same ones we see in our backyard at the ranch. The weather was comfortable but wanted to be cloudy much of the time except the last day of course. Some of the same scattered rainfall that we seemed lucky enough to receive. No problem. Lessens the fire danger that has gripped parts of Canada most of the summer. Sunsets were fickle because of the clouds of course but guessing it still sets with without us. Still an enjoyable time spent relaxing with friends, both American and Canadian. Can’t ask for more than a few late summer days off to exhale and recharge the batteries.

Looking forward to seeing Poppy and catching up with her once I return home. Sounds like she was a handful while I was gone. Wouldn’t have expected anything less. As we like to say due to her gnat-like attention span and selective hearing, it’s a good thing you’re cute. I should have more time to spend with her at least for a few weeks until the Pro Farmer Crop Tour starts of course. Leaving for that on August 19th. Summer is definitely coming down the homestretch. Has gone by in a flash, hasn’t it? It always does. We have short memories and wish it could last forever, especially during character-building months like January. A lot of us could do without that. We know plenty of characters. Don’t need to manufacture any more.

See you next week…real good then.     


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« Last Edit: July 07/26/23, 08:06:23 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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Well, who are you?

The scurs are thinking the Weather Eye has turned a blind eye to our needs in the rain department. Will we get over the hump or are we stuck in a rut? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny Friday with a modest chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny on Saturday with a fair chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the lower 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with a good chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Tuesday, mostly sunny with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with a good chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. On August 4th we will have lost one full hour of daylight since the summer solstice. The sun will set before 8:30 p.m. CDT on the 7th. The normal high for August 4th is 80 and the normal low is 61. The scurs will be doing their rain dance.

Crops continue to amaze as rainfall this past week was meager. Only .51” total at the ranch and .56” in Bugtussle. Our outlook doesn’t look great for any large degree of change anytime soon. While the crops appear from the road to be in relatively good shape there are indications that up close and personal there is trouble looming on the horizon if precipitation doesn’t arrive soon. Fortunately the cooler temps have bought us some time but sooner or later there will be a reckoning. 100-day maturity corn planted in the first week in May is now milk stage and earlier maturing soybeans planted early May are now R5. Both crops are healthy as the dry weather hasn’t been favorable for disease development. Soybean aphids have been easier to detect but that’s been typical the past several years at this soybean growth stage.

Also typical is the annual push to spray fungicide and toss insecticide in with it. There are several reasons for this, including product sitting in the warehouse that hasn’t been sold. I’ve worked in ag retail off and on too. And as is my wont, it’s time to wonder why some continue to advocate this policy. Tossing insecticide in with other products just because it’s cheap, guaranteed or both ignores the premise for using it. It’s not sugar water and walking into fields recently sprayed with some of these products can cause some serious adverse health effects. Along with that, misuse of these products increases the odds that the insects intended to be controlled will develop resistance, rendering the product useless in upcoming growing seasons. We’ve already done that with numerous chemistries trying to control weeds, insects and diseases. Why do we keep doing it?

Believe it when I say I’ve seen enough organisms develop resistance to products over the past 40+ years to make your head spin, some of it of my own doing. Glean herbicide, one of the first new herbicides I dealt with in ND, was gone almost as quickly as it hit the market. Kochia figured it out in about four years. I liken what’s going on presently with resistance to what we experienced in the livestock industry with antibiotics. In the early 90’s, we’d blast all the animals coming off the show circuit with a prophylactic injection of LA-200 to prevent (or so we thought) any respiratory diseases from developing. It should’ve come as no surprise that within a matter of a few years, the product was worthless against pneumonia. It was replaced by more expensive products, often with shorter shelf lives and other baggage. Some of them were risky to use. Mycotil could kill a person if accidentally injected with it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
 
The garden is thriving with minimal chemical use. Rotating vegetable crops and even some fallow are parts of the equation. With the lack of rainfall, using products only as needed and enough manual labor to accomplish the desired result produces healthy veggies and the exercise certainly doesn’t hurt. String beans kicked it in gear and while the planting looks much like area crops, namely uneven, they should bear well into September. Tomatoes are starting to blush with the cooler nights so we’re looking forward to BLT’s. Zucchinis are being zucchinis, producing like crazy and loving the heat. Seems like you blink and the small zuke a couple days out yet is three feet long! Not to worry. The sheep love the overgrown castoffs. As Betsy’s dad says about cats, zucchinis are a renewable resource.
 
It's that time of the year again. The swallows are lining up on the power lines. Within a matter of another month to six weeks, most of them will be gone for the season. It’s heartwarming after a long winter to see them arrive in the spring and sad to see them go in the fall. They should’ve had good foraging what with all the mosquitoes and flies that were produced. It’s also time for Freeborn Co. Fair. That means time for a large amount of leftover baked goods from Auntie Mar Mar. After toiling at work, doing chores and making supper, they’re a welcome treat for dessert. Or any other time I happen to stumble across them.
 
Poppy still has plenty of summer left to go. She likes wandering the yard but especially enjoys being in the garden. There are lots of things to check out, especially the many pollinating insects due to the flowering plants. It’s like an obstacle course as she tramps across the dry soft soil. Plenty of white cabbage butterflies to chase although her recent favorite has been the Carolina grasshoppers. She hasn’t caught any of the butterflies but has captured the grasshoppers and eaten them. She’s also eaten some of the weeds after I’ve pulled them. Hard to tell if Poppy will grow up to be an agronomist or an entomologist some days.

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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I bought a 2 gallon jug of 2,4D and one of glyphosate about 6 or 7 years ago.  I spray my doc with a 2 gallon sprayer.  I have a route that I cover to get most of it.  This year some died and some just froze in that state and still looks like when I sprayed it.  I bet my stuff needs replacing. 

Offline Dotch

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Chemicals usually stay good for longer than that, especially glyphosate. You may have done the same thing I did a few years back, selecting for more tolerant weeds under my electric fence. There are some weeds that adapt relatively quickly so I've had to keep changing up my mixes and control methods to stay one step ahead. The year itself can make a difference with what weed species show up. I used to have a lot of waterhemp. Not this year. Have probably been successful at beating them into submission. More giant ragweed, Canada thistle along with annual & perennial grasses so I could go back to using glyphosate & 2,4-D again. I also tossed a dab of Milestone in the mix to provide some residual for any Canada thistle seedlings that might try to germinate. Rate is also important. I don't spare the horses when spraying non-crop areas. I want it dead not just crippled. The fastest way to develop herbicide resistance is using rates that are too low for the situation. We found out the hard way over the years when guys cut rates to save a buck. Burned out products like Pursuit in a matter of 3 times through the rotation.   
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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I think I do about a 1/2 cup per 2 gallons.  SO now it is a glug glug.  First I fill with water then the stuff and then a shot of Dawn as my surfactant.  I can even drive in the Ranger with the sprayer between one leg and the doorframe and spray left handed.  Works great.  Will do more of the fence line next year. 

Offline Dotch

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Forgot to post this one last week. From 8/8

Only love can bring the rain that falls like tears from on high

The scurs are buying more stock in American Motors based on the Weather Eye’s performance last week. Is Mother Nature shifting gears or will she suddenly throw it in reverse? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly sunny Friday with a fair chance of forenoon showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny on Monday with a modest chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Tuesday, mostly sunny with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 60’s. Sunny on Wednesday with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the upper 50’s. On August 15th we’ll be down to 14 hours of daylight, about where we were back on April 27th. The normal high for August 15th is 79 and the normal low is 59. With the cooler evening temps, the scurs will be opening the windows to give the air conditioner a well-deserved break.

The recent rainfall was a godsend and couldn’t have been scripted better, being gently spread over most of a day. Rainfall totals at the ranch were 1.63” and 2.07” in Bugtussle. What does this portend for the crop? Hard to say for sure just yet although it should make it “less worse” as one sage observer liked to put it. Indeed, after last week, there were indications in some corn fields that the tip back everyone talks about was evident. Not severe but noticeable. Most soybeans still have some flowering left to do and like the corn, the crop’s stature is shorter than what we’re accustomed to. That varies by location somewhat as I was in fields near Pemberton that were waist high. Some earlier rains when needed were likely the reason for that. Soybeans continue in the R5 stage and in the corn, we may start to see some denting starting later in the week on some earlier planted earlier maturing hybrids. The recent heat pushed this crop very hard. It’s not going to be the ’21 or ’22 crop but it’s somewhat of a miracle it looks as good as it does.

Area gardens including the one at the ranch were all beneficiaries of the generous rain. Some of the plants at the ranch were marking time at best, maintaining but not progressing with the hot temperatures. The cucumbers in particular struggled being planted in the small garden where the trees can suck up a lot of the moisture. Even being watered every day, by afternoon the vines would be wilting. After the rain, they look like they’ve caught their breath and continue to flower as though nothing ever happened. Where the rest of the vine crops were essentially strip tilled, they too were starting to slow down their expansion into areas outside the garden boundaries. With the rain, it should be like tossing gas on a fire. Ditto with the string beans. It was fortunate that last Thursday I was able to plant the fall radishes and a row of snap peas ahead of the Sunday rain. Like most things, timing is everything.

Speaking of timing, I was concerned my pasture spraying was too late this time around. The Canada thistles had reached 3+’ and were heading out in places. Getting adequate coverage in the heavier patches was a concern. I thought I’d calibrated the sprayer close to right and knew approximately what the output was. It concerned me when the thistles were taking their sweet time going down for the count after the application. Pale and contorted but not desiccated. Hot dry weather was a factor. I checked to see what kind of job I’d done and was relieved when looking at the blossoms and plumes that there was no live seed. Now after being rained on a few times, the thistles are brown both at home and at the kindly neighbors. There are weeds I don’t like then there are thistles. Having maintained pastures for much of my life, they’re a mortal enemy. From my thistle controlling days as a youth, I have the scar left by a bean hook on my right index finger to prove it. Still have the bean hook too.

The birds in the backyard at the ranch have been making a subtle transition. There is becoming loess bird song with each passing day. Last week there were wrens and cardinals singing almost constantly. This week, there are still some vocal cardinals, but the wrens seem to have suddenly gone silent, only heard from when one is scolded for being too close to their recently fledged young. The Baltimore orioles have become more sporadic in their appearances since I returned from Canada a few weeks back. Probably doesn’t help that there’s frequently been a nasty looking big black wasp in the jelly feeder. There has been a male orchard oriole I’ve seen regularly but otherwise, we’re saving money on jelly. The hummingbirds haven’t been as numerous as they were earlier. There are so many floral choices for them here that it should come as no surprise. I did purchase a little extra sugar for their migration. I’ve been pleased with how faithful the group of goldfinches have been this summer. The bold yellow males brighten even the darkest days, making one wish that summer would never end.

Poppy had to stay cooped up a few nights last week with the Freeborn Co. Fair on. Her love of people hadn’t wavered as she was ready for attention and to play once out of the kennel again. Fortunately she was able to help in the garden for long stretches some days, with the term “help” being used loosely. It has been good for her to learn how to stay close rather than wandering off, which she often likes to do. With all the careless and inattentive drivers on the loose, it’s important to embed the habit of sticking by our side in her repertoire. Keeping her focused and well exercised helps. Our latest “go to” routine includes spraying the hose with Poppy chasing the water as it falls to the ground. Several of our dogs have been huge fans of playing with the water from the garden hose. It’s intensive exercise and watching those stubby little Corgi legs churning at warp speed is worth the price of admission.
 
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)