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Author Topic: Fencelines  (Read 243778 times)

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Offline Dotch

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Some people say this town don't look good in snow

The scurs marveled as the Weather Eye continued the barrage of above normal temps last week. Are we to continue this charmed existence or did we fly too close to the sun? Starting Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-teens and lows around 10. Mostly cloudy Friday with a fair chance of snow. Highs in the upper teens with lows around 5, above. It gets worse. Mostly cloudy on Saturday with a modest chance of snow. Highs near 10 above with lows around 5 below. Sunday, mostly cloudy with highs barely above zero and lows around 5 below. Mostly cloudy on Monday with highs in the mid-single digits above zero and lows in the mid-single digits below zero. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper single digits above zero and lows around zero. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the low teens and lows around zero. On January 13th we start gaining daylight at over one minute and 30 seconds. On the 14th, our sunset will occur at 5 p.m. CST. The normal high for January 14th is 21 and the normal low is 5 above. The scurs are ready to keep their wood burner stoked during this return of winter.

Old Man Winter reappeared as we saw the most snow in one event of the season between Monday night and Tuesday. With amount of only a couple inches that isn’t saying much. It certainly isn’t unexpected either. We’re entering what are statistically the coldest days of the year. Between January 16th and the 23rd, our average daily temperature is only 12.7 degrees. The number of below zero lows thus far hasn’t set our thermostat very well yet either with the prior lone below zero temp being recorded back on November 28th at the SROC in Waseca. We’ve led a charmed life so far. Snowfall in early winter was sparse. Most are still OK with that. Including October, 3” was measured at the SROC in Waseca, 2.5” at the ranch and in Bugtussle 2.6”. A lot of winter left. Frost depth as of this writing isn’t very deep with frost down only 2” under bare soil at the SROC as of January 2nd. St. Olaf and Beaver Lake only recently froze over after being open much of the winter. Meanwhile, some geese are attempting to forestall the inevitable.

Bird watching and feeding has been a little slower perhaps than some winters but has its moments. With the lack of snow, it seems there are more opportunities for the birds to seek out natural sources of food since they’re not buried. Still, the suet seems to be disappearing at a good clip. Part of that might be due to the reduction in the size of the suet cakes. Like most things, reduce the size and maintain or increase the cost. It’s the American way. Have fed a fair amount of corn as well. The cost on that: free. It’s what I carry with me out of the field after doing hand yield checks. The squirrels, cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers, and blue jays enjoy it. Some aren’t blue jay fans. I like them as they’ll sound the alarm when the hawks show up. Not much activity at the feeders until the hawks leave.

The sheep have continued enjoying their relatively mild winter. There are days when I wonder if they’re getting enough to eat based on their hay consumption. Their body condition would tend to indicate otherwise. Another indication is their water consumption. When the days have been warm, water disappears from their tank at a markedly increased rate. Apparently wearing a wool coat 4” thick on a 50-degree day makes them too warm and they drink water accordingly. When it cools back down, their water consumption tails off. Same thing when snow falls, especially wetter snow. Sometimes I have to check the float mechanism on the tank to make sure it’s working. Clean, fresh water is critical to the survival of most mammals, including sheep.

January was an important month in the history of Studebaker. After officially announcing the closure of their plant in South Bend, IN on December 9th, 1963, Studebaker moved their operations to Hamilton Ontario in January of 1964. The plant in South Bend continued to run until December 20th. All the 1964 Avantis and Studebaker trucks were produced in South Bend in 1963 as were the GT Hawk and Challenger models. The 1964 sales volume was 35,373, less than half of the year before. Fewer than half the Studebakers sold in 1964 were produced in Hamilton ON, the majority having been built in 1963 in the US. After the 1964 model year, the engines used by Studebaker were either a Chevrolet 194 cu. in six or a 283 V8. The vaunted supercharged Studebaker 305 cu. in V8 “Due Cento” that Vince and Andy Granatelli had used to set speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats was no more.

Poppy has been extremely excited to see the new snow. Her coat is so thick when running your fingers through it, it’s no surprise she likes being outside. So far we haven’t had enough snow at a time to impede her travels when out and about. Following her tracks is amusing though as she tends to bound rather than walk or trot through it. Much of the time there are gaps of up to four feet between sets of her tracks. It makes you wonder sometimes what kind of an animal made them and how she does that with her long wheelbase and short legs. Youthful exuberance I guess. As I like to say, she’s young, she’ll get over it.

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

Offline Dotch

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Looking for adventure in whatever comes our way

The scurs were devastated when the Weather Eye conspired to cause temps to nosedive this past week. After falling back to earth, do we continue to plummet, or do we rise from the ashes? Starting Thursday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low single digits above zero and lows around 5 below. Partly sunny Friday with highs struggling to get above zero with lows in the low teens below zero. Sunny on Saturday with highs near 5 above and lows around 5 below. Sunday, partly sunny with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a fair chance of ice and snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Tuesday, cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with the potential for more ice and snow returning. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. On January 21st, we start amassing daylight at two minutes per day. The normal high for January 21st is 21 and the normal low is 4 above. Having donned their long winter gatkes, the scurs have settled in for a long winter’s nap.
 
We finally received some significant snowfall or did we? Hard to tell as most of it wound up in groves, road ditches and fence lines. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5.6” fell at the ranch and roughly 3.6” in Bugtussle. Lesser amounts were recorded as one travelled west and north. Lack of amount didn’t stop Old Man winter from blowing what did fall around. Saturday wasn’t fit for man nor beast, with visibility limited at times to a couple hundred feet. There was no reason to venture out, so we didn’t. Occasionally a vehicle would go by, but most were convinced it was wise to stay home. I’d run errands the day before as this one had been forecast several days in advance. While it didn’t live up to its billing, that’s OK. There is a lot of snow in IA right now although like here, not as much covering the fields as one might think. As long as it changes gears again to above normal temps and doesn’t keep loading IA up with snow, that should help our prospects for an earlier spring.

As mentioned, we had several days heads up going for us ahead of this last storm. Thursday afternoon I cut short my attendance at the SROC’s Winter Crops Day. I really didn’t want to, but time was of the essence. I needed to move some things around, pry some feeding troughs loose that were frozen down and put the chains on the tractor. I’d hoped to avoid the chains but wasn’t a risk worth taking. Temps were in the single digits as I dragged the heavy chains out of their summer home, struggling to get them secured on the wheels. Wearing clumsy, heavy gloves to stay warm didn’t help matters as getting them to latch was a battle. They were on straight, but they were being more stubborn than usual with the cold afternoon. Taking my gloves off to improve dexterity didn’t help matters as the cold steel and air temperature froze my fingers almost instantly. Finally I wiggled the chains loose enough to get the hooks through the links and clamp them down. Now, the question was, did I want to tangle with the snowblower or leave it until Old Man Winter showed his hand?

I opted just to leave the blower set. It too can be persnickety to put on in the cold. I’d had plenty of fun already and it would be dark by the time the blower was ready to go. The chains were on the tractor so if needed, I could move snow with the bucket. Besides, the brood ewes were getting down there on their round bales. Rather than put the blower on then have to take it back off again for the 3-point bale spear, it just made more sense to see what would happen. Turned out to be the right move as sure enough, the storm wasn’t as bad as first advertised. Sunday afternoon, snow had to be moved and round bales needed to be put in place in the ewe lot. All the motors started so it was a “go”. Even though the temps stayed well below zero, it was a good afternoon to clean out in front of the mailbox, out of the driveway and the feedlot. It made it easier to move the hay feeders to a new spot. That way the ewes could finish the bottoms of the old bales and start on the new ones. About four hours later, everything was done. Temp made it to -2 but I wasn’t cold. Too much action-packed adventure to get cold.
 
Poppy steadily keeps growing up. She’s becoming better and better at communicating that she needs to go outside for potty breaks. The cues are more consistent and easier to read than they once were. Sometimes she’ll even stand by the door and give you a look. What’s even nicer is she can do it on her own, especially during the daytime when she’ll combine it with her squirrel exercising duties. No need for us to wander aimlessly in the freezing cold while she does her business. She always gets her treat after being a good girl. Sometimes Poppy will play but if she’s been outside for any length of time in the cold, it seems like she’s content to snuggle up beside us and take a nap. She becomes like an overgrown baked potato so it can easily become contagious after chores or a weekend afternoon.

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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Ooh shame on the moon

About the time the scurs were becoming disillusioned, the Weather Eye pulled warmer temperatures out its bag of tricks. Are we in for the January or will it be broken promises? Starting Thursday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows around 30. Mostly cloudy Friday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Saturday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Sunday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper teens. Sunny on Wednesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. On January 25th, we witness our next Full Moon. The normal high for January 25th is 22 and the normal low is 4 above. Our average daily temperature will be starting to warm after bottoming out. The scurs will be eying their patio furniture once again.

The Full Moon occurs on the 25th and goes by several names. The most common name is the Full Wolf Moon, so named as the wolves were frequently heard howling during the month close to Native American encampments. It is sometimes referred to as the Old Moon and when closer to the winter solstice, the Moon after the Yule. The Ojibwe called it the Great Spirit Moon and the Sioux knew it as the Frost in the Teepee or Wolves run Together Moon. At the ranch, we’re on the threshold of lambing season, so it’s The Full Lamb Moon. At least we hope their mothers milk well and the lambs are full. Otherwise, it can be called the Full Bottle Lamb Moon.

Some are giddy about the recent warmer temps and while no one can blame them, the last cold snap wasn’t exactly a record setter. One graphic I saw didn’t even put it in the top 100. Still, one has to remember that we really weren’t hardened in preparation for it. El Niño saw to that as advertised. There are some starting to express concern that we may see that fade as we get into the spring months with a change to a La Niña pattern. Whether that will be gradual, abrupt or at all remains to be seen. If and when it appears, it will take time to transition out of the impact from the El Niño in place. This may cause some concern for March as we’ve alluded to in previous editions. Also bear in mind our coldest portion of the winter last year was in late February. May want to hold off on that patio furniture just yet.

Did the recent cold snap have any effect on the insect population? Probably few consequences. It brought the boxelder bugs congregating on the south sides of buildings to a screeching halt. Both the multi-colored Asian lady beetles and boxelder beetles slowed down annoying people inside the house. However, as it warms up, don’t be surprised if they become mobile again. As far as insect pests outside, it didn’t get cold enough long enough to have much impact. Air temperatures need to get to -29 to affect soybean aphid eggs and for western corn rootworms, soil temps need to reach 14 degrees or colder to impact the overwintering population. Does that guarantee we’ll have problems this next year? While it slants the playing field in their favor, there are a lot of things that can affect their populations once the season begins. As we’ve seen in the past decade or so, the beneficial insect population has risen to the occasion with soybean aphids. When corn planting is delayed due to wet weather until late May, it tends to starve a portion of the rootworm population. Not necessarily a good idea but neither is mudding corn in.
 
I don’t write very often about our barn cats. We learned long ago not to become too attached to them. The traffic on the road by the ranch moves at such a breakneck pace that it’s a deathtrap for creatures of all kinds. Cats tend to roam about so it’s not unusual to have one disappear. Sometimes it’s permanent and other times you wish it was when one returns. We have a large white tomcat that’s been with us probably 4 or 5 years. He’s a large model, probably tipping the scales around 15 lbs. As one might expect, he’s ugly too after tangling with other tomcats or whatever else might be lurking in these parts. I suspect he’s been hanging out at one of the other neighbors, maybe in their shop. Why would I think that? The past year or so after he’s been gone for an extended period, he frequently comes back looking like he’s cleaned up a spill. I recall Auntie Mar Mar and Unkie Gregory had a barn cat named Chore Glove. I think Grease Rag or Floor Dry would be a fitting name for this one.

Poppy tends to get plenty of people time on the weekends but during the week it becomes sparser. Anytime we’re around and she’s not playing with five dog’s worth of toys, she’s into watching the birds. She’s also ready to launch when the squirrels show up. The cold weather put a damper on that when the sliding glass door froze shut. Monday when it warmed up and thawed the door out it was game on. Recently we’ve had a Cooper’s hawk appearing to nosh on birds hanging around the birdfeeders. When that happens, activity at the feeders ceases and the songbirds scatter. The intruder doesn’t bother the squirrels much. As a side benefit to Poppy chasing them, the Cooper’s hawk is scared off to the neighbors where it hopefully dines on house sparrows. Poppy doesn’t know it sometimes but there’s method to her madness.

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

Offline Dotch

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You're in the mud, in the maze of her imagination

The scurs put a picture of the sun on milk cartons when the Weather Eye nixed it in last week’s forecast data. Does our January thaw morph into a February thaw or is Old Man Winter done vacationing? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny Groundhog Day with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with highs in the upper 0’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Tuesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. On the 2nd, the sun will rise at 7:30 a.m. CST and on the 3rd we start gaining daylight at just over 2 ½ minutes per day. We achieve 10 hours of daylight on the 4th while the sun will set at 5:30 p.m. om the 6th. The normal high for Groundhog Day is 23 and the normal low is 5. This week, the scurs will be rearranging their patio furniture, hoping not to see their shadow.

El Niño continues doing its thing. Warmer temps arrived and most weren’t sad to see cold temperatures go. Our dark soils appear to help raise air temperatures several degrees above the forecast highs when the sun shines. We still have some frost to whittle away in most places largely due to our lack of snow cover during the below zero temps. On January 22nd, there was 15” recorded at the SROC in Waseca under bare soil. To our west, friends in eastern SD had a snowpack most of January so there is very little frost in the ground. Shades of last winter here. Some will contend that this warm weather is unprecedented. Not totally. In January at college, I can remember grilling lamb chops on the Hibachi outside our basement apartment window. I can also recall in 1987 that Norbert Schultz seeded hard red spring wheat towards the end of February. The wheat made it despite germinating in March beneath a layer of frozen soil. More marvels of modern science.
 
The first lambs hit the ground Monday afternoon; a set of twins. A few more ewes are getting close. With the days growing longer, there’s getting to be more daylight on both ends of the spectrum. It always helps to put a little light on the subject. The ewes are in full fleece and it’s almost like being attacked by a gang of overstuffed chairs when they’re grained at night. One can see udders protruding under their skirts of wool. While I can’t say for sure when any of them are due, their appearance and experience tell me there are likely to be more either side of the end of January. We have to be thankful that the bitter cold left when it did. Keeping new lambs dry before we shear will be a primary concern. The girls have a date with the local sheep shearer on February 10th. While he might plop them on their butts, he never stands them up.

Saturday morning two weeks ago was a cold one. I kept most of my activities close to home and indoors. During a.m. coffee, someone rang the doorbell. It was a young fella wondering if he could have permission to hunt coyotes. The temperature was well below zero, so I admired his ambition. I was appreciative as there seem to be more of these creatures than ever. I’m not exactly sure why. When we spent our first winter here 40 years ago, there no coyotes howling at night. 15 years later, we heard them frequently. Was the increase due to confinement hog dead boxes, composting operations, the DNR no longer picking up roadkill deer, lack of trapping increasing roadkill furbearers or CRP increasing their habitat? Could be any or all. We’ve been fortunate the coyotes have left our sheep and dogs alone. Others have not been so lucky. If you ask rural livestock or pet owners whether you can hunt coyotes on their land, the answer should be a resounding “Please do!”.
 
As anticipated our indoor insect activity has increased at the ranch. Scattered multi-colored Asian ladybeetles have been crawling around on the floor while boxelder bugs have reappeared to annoy primarily. Not surprising as the temps outside and inside are both warm enough to stimulate activity. These insects await their chance to get outdoors, feed, and reproduce. The ladybeetles disperse, mate and will look for plants with soft bodied insects such as aphids where they will lay their eggs.. Boxelder bugs feed on plants and seeds a few weeks before mating. About mid-July they move to female boxelder trees to lay their eggs and start the next generation of annoyance. They tend to thrive in years with hot dry summers followed by warm springs. Like many insect species, they’re less active at lower temperatures and more disease tends to plague them with damp weather.

Our recent cool damp weather has also favored the development of respiratory disease in humans. Several of us have contracted what Steve Cannon used to refer to as the alien. Even though temps haven’t been bitter cold recently, it has a track record of hours of chills, ear popping and nose blowing thrills. It also can mess with your sleep by interrupting it with coughing spells. Trying to keep up has been a challenge. Now if only we could resurrect the magic ‘CCO cough button.
 
Mud season has arrived early this year at the ranch and Poppy is already missing her snow. She likes to walk around in the little snow remaining around the yard. Being low to the ground still puts her in closer proximity to the wetness from that. Luckily, she shies away from puddles and sloppy areas which is a good thing for anyone who tries to wipe her off. She’s a pill about being toweled off, making it into a game by biting the towel and wiggling like a worm. Once dried off and inside, she’s ready for food, people time, and a nap. Hard to argue with that approach.
 
See you next week…real good then.   
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online LPS

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Per Steve Cannon.  Did you get the money?   I mention that now and then and noone knows what I am talking about.  That was good radio. 

Offline glenn57

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I was forced during my childhood years to listen to Boone and Erickson and whatever else CCO radio offered  :rotflmao:
2015 deer slayer!!!!!!!!!!

Online LPS

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Oh ya remember them too.  And Ruthie Koslack.  Arnie Carlsons wife.  Even Jessie the Bod Ventura.  Always liked him on the radio.  A little wild side stuff.  Arnie's ex lived in a rich neighborhood that had a lot of raccoons.  She was trying to start a trend to hunt the raccoons and make coats and hats out of them.  LOL

Offline Dotch

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This thread and the responses are bringing back lots of memories today as you will see. Cannon's last show was in 1997. A few years back, when Bill & I went to his cabin in Canada we got kinda lit, OK, we were lit... :rotflmao: so we decided to see if the mobile hotspot worked with my laptop. We tuned in to several hours worth of The Cannon Mess. Laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes. Think I've posted this before on here somewhere but will post it again if anyone else wants to access it w/o having to google it:

 https://radiotapes.com/Cannon.html

Had an association with the farm dept. at 'CCO when they still had a farm dept. Was part of an advisory group for a while when Roger Strom & Don Wick were the directors. Knew something was afoot when we were supposed to get together for a meeting in Litchfield and neither one of them showed up. That was when 'CCO truly became the "Evil Neighbor" as Cannon called it and chucked their farm dept. New ownership made their format very political talk radio. No one in rural MN listened anymore after all those years growing up being entertained by folks like Boone and Erickson, Tim Russell, Ray Christensen, & Cannon. I haven't tuned in 'CCO for decades now. A friend of mine did recently and he said it was just awful, painful to listen to, almost like MPR only worse! There's a reason their ratings are horse crap. They were #10 in MN at last check after being the big gun for much of the 20th century.   

I still maintain an association with Don Wick at RRFN where he's company president. Also got to know Mike Hergert before he retired. Have done lots of interviews with those folks over the years. Last year on Crop Tour was interviewed by a young lady from RRFN who was so kind, polite, & professional. One of the things on my bucket list is to go back to the area of ND where I lived & worked for 3 years right after I got out of college. I mainly want to see how the agriculture has changed from many perspectives. I mentioned my plan to Don and he told me to make sure to let him know when I was doing it. As the Dead once sang, what a long strange trip it's been.   





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« Last Edit: January 01/31/24, 09:13:37 AM 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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Where have all the cowboys gone?

The scurs found the sun once the Weather Eye determined it still existed. Are we on a collision course with spring or will Old Man Winter send us careening off the road into the ditch? Starting Thursday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny Friday with a slight chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Partly sunny on Saturday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Sunday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Cloudy on Monday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Tuesday, cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Sunny on Wednesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. The new moon will occur on February 9th and Lincoln’s birthday, the real one is February 12th. The normal high for the 12th is 25 and the normal low is 7. The scurs saw their shadow so alas, there will be at least six more weeks of winter. There always is anyway. Can’t kid a kidder.

Thus far, February has picked up where January left off. More 50-degree highs are forecast and no one is complaining. Maple trees being tapped are rumored as temps get into the 40’s and back down into the 20’s at night. With the soil surface frozen in the morning, it allows for manure hauling or loading trucks without totally mangling the yards. The dry weather continues as well. January precipitation data includes Bugtussle, .55” liquid equivalent and 6.1” snow; .84” liquid equivalent with 7.5” snow at the ranch and at Waseca’s SROC.45” liquid equivalent & 5.7” snow. Normal for the SROC in January is 1.27” and 10.7” snow respectively. The frost depth at the SROC under bare soil was reported at 8” on February 1st and had decreased to only 3” on the 5th. A recent blurb on Twin Cities TV complained about the lack of snow potentially affecting soil moisture. While it may have some impact on the soil surface, when soils remain frozen, most of the snowmelt runs off or into wetlands. With our frost nearly gone, it opens up the possibility of future precipitation percolating into the soil profile. There is still a lot of winter and early spring left to cover so careful what you wish for.

There are some signs at the ranch in the garden that the warm temps are having an impact. The miniature daffodils were noticed poking through the soil on the south side of the house January 31st. Upon seeing that and looking at the calendar date, I had to plant some radishes and a mesclun blend just to say I did it. I’ll plant some in February too despite the fact my past efforts in early March have been abject failures. The regular daffodils started poking through a couple days later so will have to monitor them closely. They’re close to the house and can take a fair amount of abuse from cold temperatures. However, would hate to see one of the sure signs of spring ruined. As mentioned above, the soil surface has been freezing overnight. At the ranch, it’s made feeding the ewes less sloppy. It’s also made it possible to put round bales in the lot without tearing up the yard or dragging large amounts of mud onto the yard stuck in the chains. It’s enough fun taking them off and hanging them up the way it is.
   
We had a couple more ewes come in last week on Thursday. Two more sets of twins with the ewes taking good care of them, no assistance needed. Three natural colored and one white lamb. The warm temperatures and dry precipitation are a real boon to their development. They’re not burning up the calories they would be if the temperatures were extremely cold or even normal for this time of year. It’s noticeable too in the feed consumption by the rest of the animals. We should be able to stretch our hay farther than first anticipated although no one ever has too much hay. Before you know it, it’s gone and it’s time to find or bale more.  Shearing comes at us on Saturday so hoping the rain forecast on Thursday is a no-show. I can’t say for certain how many years of shearing I’ve lived through but it’s probably somewhere north of 50. Not that I’ve always been a lot of help but I’m there.
 
I continue to enjoy my nightly westerns, both television series and movies. The western channel started running Tales of Wells Fargo a while back. I shied away from it at first, thinking it was perhaps a second-rate western they were using to fill time. Once I started watching it, I became interested not only in the plots but the actors as well. Like many of the cowboy stars of the day, these westerns often starred actual heroes and horsemen in their own right. James Arness (Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke) was wounded in WWII and the resulting chronic leg pain was later a problem when riding horses. The star of Tales of Wells Fargo, Dale Robertson, was no exception. He was a decorated veteran, wounded twice in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and Silver Star. One of the first things I noticed about him was when he threw punches during fights, they looked very real. With good reason. He was a professional boxer prior to his serving in WWII.
 
His wounds didn’t allow him to continue boxing so he started his acting career in CA upon his return home. Like Ben Johnson (Sam the Lion from The Last Picture Show) Dale Robertson was an avid horse owner and trainer. Ben Johnson was a rodeo champion in the 1950’s whose horsemanship caught John Ford’s attention. At one point, Robertson owned over 200 horses. He used his own horse, Jubilee, for the entire run of Tales of Wells Fargo. Not sure how I missed out on watching this show as a wee lad. It ran from 1957 – 1962. I would’ve been four when it ended so it’s possible I don’t remember it, we may not have had a TV yet or perhaps it was past my bedtime. I do recall lots of evenings in my Dad’s lap watching Gunsmoke and Bonanza while playing with the ticking pocket watch he kept in the breast pocket of his striped bib overalls. It’s fun for me to watch Tales of Wells Fargo now. Each of the 201 episodes are new adventures. And like most old television series, countless guest starring actors later became big stars in their own right. It truly was the golden age of television.
 
Poppy continues leading her charmed life. Her morning ritual at chore time includes herding the half-dozen cats. It usually doesn’t amount to a lot of actual herding as opposed to the cats being scattered or steamrolled if they get in her way. Once the cats are safely inside and their dishes are filled, the frenzy comes to a screeching halt. One small white cat and Poppy have become buddies. They seem to really enjoy playing together and seek each other out whenever Poppy is out for extended periods of time. They chase each other around and after a while, they wear out and are fast asleep together. Who says we can’t learn to get along?

See you next week…real good then. 
« Last Edit: February 02/06/24, 11:15:47 AM by Dotch »
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

Online LPS

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That is a great tune.  Who does that? 

Offline Dotch

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The singer's name is Paula Cole. The song was nominated for all kinds of awards but always seemed to come up 2nd fiddle. Always liked the vid too. Couldn't help but think of the song when writing those two paragraphs.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUmKUWzbDxg&t=10s   
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Thanks, that is a good video too. 

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good music and nice looking gal too... 
a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!

Offline Dotch

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You were the sunshine, baby, whenever you smiled

The scurs remained high and dry as the Weather Eye foretold. Will our warm conditions and sparse precip continue or does Old Man Winter lower the boom? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs around 30 with lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny Friday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the low teens. Sunny on Saturday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Sunday, sunny with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy on President’s Day Monday with a good chance of rain changing to snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper teens. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of light snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Sunny on Wednesday with highs around 40 and lows in the mid-20’s. We’ll see 10 hours and 30 minutes of daylight on the 16th. The normal high for February 19th is 28 and the normal low is 10. The scurs will be rummaging through the woodpile in search of some oak. Gotta stay toasty while enjoying those Valentine’s Day goodies.

Recent sunshine has brightened spirits despite losing our highs in the 50’s. With the cooldown there was some ever so slight grumbling with most aware that we’ve been trending much warmer than normal. Some Februarys are simply extensions of January and if that’s to be the case this year, we would take it. I get flashback pictures on my phone from years past and even those from last February weren’t pretty. Fortunately the snow cover kept the soils from freezing deeply and added moisture to what was a dry profile going into winter. Is there frost in the ground presently? At the SROC in Waseca, the frost was out as measured under bare soil back on February 8th, only to return at 3” again on February 12th. Some winter for a week or so then it looks like a return to more above normal temps. Precip may continue to be hard to come by, however. I hear no one clamoring to move snow just for the fun of it.

The lack of snow has meant plenty of horned larks can be spotted especially on my drives to and from Bugtussle. They’re fairly nondescript little brown birds from the windshield survey but usually appear this time of the year in greater numbers. Some have been seeing robins although at the ranch we haven’t had the pleasure despite all the crabapples and other fruit on the trees and shrubs. We have noted a flicker again. There was one that stuck around into early December, but it departed sometime before midmonth. We’re seeing more goldfinches again and there are some subtle hints of yellow on what are presumably males. Overall seed consumption is moving at a slower than normal pace. Warm open winter should allow birds to find food more easily so stopping at our feeders is probably like us stopping for a Dairy Queen treat.

Shearing came off without a hitch thanks to our faithful neighborhood shearer and the catching prowess of the garden gnome. It’s a little different from shearing I remember as a kid. The electric shearing machines were driven by a long flat belt while the shafts that brought power to the shearing handpiece were solid, connected by U-joints. They were basically like a lightweight pto shaft. Nowadays the machines have a motor suspended from a hanger with a flexible shaft running to the shearing handpiece. Much quieter with fewer problems than when those clattering solid shaft machines would sometimes fly apart. They were a step up from using hand shears, however. As long as one cleaned the fleece off the tarp when the shearer was done and the catcher had another ovine contestant on their behind in place for him, steady progress was made. Aside from no longer using a wool box to bind small bales of wool with paper twine, that process has changed very little over the past 65 years. Neither has the good food upon completion of the task or the ensuing afternoon nap.
 
This time around, the shearing was nearly prefect timing. The temperature started out at somewhere around 25 degrees, and it was about 35 when we finished. We’d had five ewes come in already but there were about 25 to go. Very little temperature stress as a result on all parties concerned. I can recall years when giving vaccinations during shearing that the vaccine would freeze in the needle. The 24 ewes and one ram were happy to go outside Saturday and they stayed outside all afternoon. Fresh air and dry bedding are two key ingredients to a successful lambing season. Monday morning more lambs hit the ground during chores. Without all the fleece to contend with the lambs could belly up to the bar nearly at will. Prior to shearing, the ewes had been sleeping outside. With them sleeping inside at night, the extra heat given off makes for a comfortable lambing barn once the temperatures drop. When morning chores start, most of them don’t want to leave the little bowl they’ve hollowed out of the cornstalk bedding.

Poppy has assumed the mantle of little chore buddy although you have to watch so she doesn’t eat too much foreign material. Cleaning it up after she yacks it up inside is overrated. After all these years of doing chores with bigger dogs like Border Collies, it takes some getting used to. We became accustomed to a Border Collies intense immediate response upon command. This Corgi tends to have a little more laid back attitude about that sort of thing which can be frustrating. With our Borders, they came up to your knees or higher, so it was easy to see them. When Poppy does get to your side her short stature makes her a lot harder to see. Many times I’ve hollered only to look down by my feet and there she is already, giving me that Corgi smile. No harm no foul.
 
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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Mr. Blue Sky is living here today

After the snow moved through last week, the scurs dialed the Weather Eye in for another week. Can we put our long winter gatkes away or not just yet? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. Sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunday, sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunny on Wednesday with highs around in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. We’ll see the sun rise before 7 a.m. CST on February 24th and just over 11 hours of daylight on the 26th. The sun will set on the 29th at 6 p.m. The normal high for February 26th is 30 and the normal low is 13. The scurs have retrieved their patio furniture after last weekend’s strong winds. Without shoveling snow, need to get exercise somehow.

We have a Full Moon slated for Saturday the 24th. This one is most commonly known as the Full Snow Moon for the heavy snows typical in this month. It isn’t quite the snowiest month here as that honor goes to December, with February coming in second and January a close third. Some of the Native American tribes in the Northeast called it the Hunger Moon as their winter food supplies began to dwindle. Closer to home the Ojibwe called this Sucker Moon, named for the suckers running in the rivers and streams. The Sioux noted the awakening of animals from their winter slumber, denoting this as the Raccoon Moon. At the ranch, we’re always hoping it is not a raccoon, opossum or particularly a skunk moon. There are many roadkill specimens to choose from. We typically note it as The Moon when Temperatures Warm. Or at least they’re supposed to.
 
I keep hearing from various individuals about how dry the soil is. While we are technically in the middle of a drought we are far from bone dry. Rainfall that fell back in September and October helped replenish the upper soil profile. Significant rainfall from December also added to that total. Unlike last year, we’re not accumulating much snowfall. However, much like last year, soils have not frozen very deeply for very extended periods of time. Much of the snow we have received should have made its way into the soil profile. Frost depth at the SROC was still measured at 3” as of February 15th.
 
However, with warm temperatures since that measurement and even warmer temperatures forecast, there’s no doubt that precipitation, whether liquid or frozen, stands a good chance to accumulate for the upcoming growing season. The last snow contained .2” - .3” of moisture depending on the location. Virtually none of it ran off. While this isn’t good for rivers and streams (think barge navigation on the Mississippi), we are far from being in dire straits to start the cropping season, yet. In fact, some would argue we’re right where we’d like to be given the calendar date. Some gas in the tank and some room to accommodate additional precip if and when it comes.

The warm, dry winter continues to be a godsend at the ranch for lambing season as well. Birthing lambs well above zero makes us want to pinch ourselves after last year’s February weather. It had started to warm up towards mid-month then it lowered the boom. After 14” of snow between the 22nd and 24th, temperatures plunged below zero, and it became hell on earth. Blowing the yard out three times in one day to do chores and get from the house to the barns in between was some kind of a record, not one we want to repeat or break anytime soon. Still, we survived and lived to tell about it. Like last year, it appears we are about due for an explosion of new lambs about the same time of the month. Coincidence? I think not.
 
Luckily this go round we’re more prepared, with the creep feeder established and one group of ewes with lambs already moved from the lambing barn to the loafing area. Eight ewes have come in and so far, all twins with only one single. This winter has definitely been kind to them. It’s like we’re lambing in Indiana or Illinois. Even the brood ewes have ventured out into the pasture to sample some sprigs of greening grass. Blue skies with a temp of 51 on Monday, can’t say as I blame them. While some curse a warm, dry winter, livestock producers might beg to differ. Not to say there aren’t some minor trials and tribulations. We’re usually greeted by Miss Piggy whenever we come through the gate with feed or water buckets, pans, or hay. She’s about two axe-handles wide and good at bowling you over to get at whatever you’re carrying She shucked her identification tag so we’re not exactly sure who she is but one thing we’re certain of, she’s very annoying.
 
The snowblower remains forlornly high and dry in front of the barn; I’m fine with that. While blowing snow isn’t the worst job in the world, it’s still trumped by not having to mess with it at all. Likewise with cleaning the feed lot. I cleaned it out once earlier this winter out of necessity and haven’t had to do it since. Hoping that record remains intact. I had hoped perhaps I wouldn’t need the tire chains on the tractor either, but it was a good thing to put them on just in case. One never knows when Old Man Winter will drop by unannounced.
 
Poppy made the most of the snow while it lasted. It wasn’t two seconds upon her getting out the door and she was doing zoomies, leaving a rooster tail of snow behind her. She had to make it snappy though as by Monday afternoon, her snow was all but gone. Not to worry however as I’d be surprised if we don’t see measurable snow again. One thing about it, she can launch herself off the back porch now to chase her squirrels without slipping and falling. I can relate.
   
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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Gimme all your lovin', all your hugs and kisses too

No snow last week so the scurs tweaked the dials on the Weather Eye once more. Is spring on the horizon is it only a mirage? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Tuesday, sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 30’s. We’ll start seeing our daylight increase at three minute per day starting on March 4th. This also represents the first day when our normal high stays above freezing for the season. The normal high for March 4th is 33 and the normal low is 17. The scurs have strapped their patio furniture down with bungee cords. No need to go on rescue missions that way.

Recent weather conditions allowed a demonstration plot of corn, soybeans and wheat to be planted at the SROC in Waseca. Warm temps have raised some justifiable concerns about alfalfa. Some rumblings that it may have broken dormancy, at least in places. With the AC running in the car, 70-degree highs on Monday didn’t help. If the dormancy has been broken, the cold temperatures forecast for this past Tuesday night could have a negative impact on it if. Back in the early 1990’s we had a somewhat similar scenario. Temperatures dipped to about 10 above and the NW wind howled overnight. It was devastating particularly in fields where late cuttings were taken. When that occurred, the only alfalfa still alive was in the middle of the field where small strips of alfalfa escaped the haybine on that last cutting. The one difference was the calendar date. The cold spell that took the alfalfa out that year was in the 2nd week of April and the alfalfa had a lot more top growth on it. We’re about 6 weeks away from that and it gives us a wider window of opportunity for stand injury to occur.

Distinct possibility some will put in small grains. For many, it’s been a while. One thing keeping people from being excited about it is the wheat price in the $6 - $6.50 range. Growing it isn’t so bad but marketing can be a headache with all the quality criteria that must be met. Harvesting is another potential headache especially if you’re not equipped. Barley? Can count on one hand the barley fields I’ve seen the past 40 years, most of it chopped or baled for forage. I recall a rare instance of it being harvested when someone was short on corn. Oats are probably the easiest small grain to justify and with the straw, it can be profitable. There’s always a demand for oats at feed plants in their rations along with some demand for cover crops. Oat straw is usually considered the gold standard. Why? A lot of livestock folks believe it to be more absorptive than wheat straw and lacks awns or beards of barley or wheat straw. Awns can irritate eyes and cause wounds that become infected turning into abscesses. When wool used to be worth something, beards embedded in the wool were difficult to remove and made it itchy.

Speaking of wool and my earlier glee over having the ewes shorn, we had one ewe lamb outside in the 18-degree cold last Friday night. One of the reasons we shear in early to mid-February is so the ewes will go inside to lamb. This ewe must not have got the memo as she was standing out by the manger with a little one at her side. When I went over to check it out, I stumbled across another one that was down in the hay. It was chilled so I scooped it up and hauled it into the house. I went back out and coaxed the ewe into the barn then penned her up. She immediately laid down and started pushing again. Didn’t take long and I could see legs coming, hind legs! Quickly grabbed them and pulled the lamb out, then cleared its airway. Being born backwards, without prompt attention the lamb’s lungs can fill with fluids and it can suffocate. Being born breech is even worse than being born in the basement and never brought up.

It may be only February but there are more definite indications at the ranch from the bird world that spring is on the way. We had some swans flying over back on Valentine’s Day and were treated to Canada geese overhead about treetop level this past weekend. Robins have been heard but still not seen. A killdeer was heard Sunday morning. Not surprising as some of the shallower wetlands that have water in them have opened up. With the wetlands opening up, once the brief cold snap moves through, it’ll probably be time to see if any pussy willows have catkins on them. Buds are swelling on the silver maples, and they’re leaking sap all over the backyard. Since they like eating the buds this time of year, the squirrels must have a sweet tooth.
   
Poppy had a big weekend complete with lots of people time. We ran some errands but were able to be home for most of it, vaccinating, docking, tagging, moving animals around and of course chores. Sunday was a day to exhale a little, make some repairs, unload some feed and get things in place for the upcoming week. By afternoon it had clouded up but was still pleasant. Neighbor Jon called wondering if he could bring the family over to see the lambs. Last count there were 25 on the ground so plenty to look at. At first, Poppy was inside and Mrs. Cheviot brought her out on the leash. Once Poppy saw the kids it was game on. The lambs were a fascination but as frequently happens Poppy stole the show. Corgi’s usually love people and this one is no exception. By the time they left, along with numerous zoomies, there had been lots of hugs and kisses exchanged between kids and dog. Poppy was tired that night and probably wound up dreaming about her next human encounter. Always something to look forward to.

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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Step out of line, the man come and take you away

A little graupel fell Monday after Sunday’s quickie heatwave. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the scurs are trying to dial up more springtime temps on the Weather Eye. Does Old Man Winter make a comeback or is spring in the air? Starting Thursday, partly sunny with a good chance of evening showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny Friday with a chance of forenoon showers. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the low 20’s. Sunday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Tuesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. We’ll start seeing daylight on March 7th at 11 hours and 31 minutes. Daylight Saving Time (debatable) begins on March 10th so set those clocks ahead. The daylight increases at two seconds over three minutes on the 12th. The normal high for March 12th is 37 and the normal low is 21. In case they fall off a chair eating while changing their clocks, the scurs have retained the services of Jackie Chiles. DST is outrageous, egregious, preposterous.

Last week’s warm dry weather had farmers starting to stir. There were rumors of small grain and other early spring crops going in and anhydrous ammonia being applied. Fields are in exceptional condition for any fieldwork necessary. Most are starting to get equipment ready to go if they haven’t already. Still some taking out brush in fence lines, unheard of for most years. Our February precip was well below normal with only .43” of liquid equivalent falling in town and .36” at the ranch. February snowfall was 3.3” and 2.9” respectively. The SROC at Waseca fared only slightly better with .52” of liquid equivalent and 3.6” of snow. The normal February precip for the SROC is 1.2” with 10.8” of snow. We have received right at 12” of snow in New Richland since October and 13” at the ranch. At the SROC, total snowfall so far this winter is 11.3”. Normal snowfall for the winter season at the SROC is 52.3”.
 
Before people start jumping off grain bins, remember we have significant moisture in the ground from after the crop was mature in mid-September and October. Also recall we had some substantial precipitation that fell as rain in December. Plus, any of the small amounts of precip we’ve had haven’t run off. We’re not long on moisture but there’s no reason to perform recreational tillage and risk losing the moisture we have. I’ll echo Tom Hoverstad’s sentiments that with most soils thawed already, we’re in a good position to take advantage of any precip that falls until planting time. Even as dry as many believe it to be, several inches of rain followed by cooler temps could slow planting progress significantly in many areas. And, after surveying the shaded north side of our building site Monday, the frost has recently come out. It was very muddy there yet. Plenty of time. No need to be in a hurry yet. Best do it once and do it right.

It’s more fun for a while observing the positive things happening anyway. Poplar buds enlarged over the weekend. Without rain, the silver maple is dripping sap. leaving a sticky, smeary mess on the south windows of the house. House with all the wind. The daffodils on the south side of the house were up about 4” back on February 27th. The low that night was predicted to be cold, so I dutifully covered them with several large upside-down flowerpots. It was -2 at chore time the next morning. I was rewarded when removing the flowerpots the following afternoon. The daffodils escaped the cold unscathed. That and they’re loaded with flower buds. I also noticed a few of the radishes I planted back on January 31st were starting to emerge. Worm castings were noted by the barn on March3rd so they must think it’s spring too. Robins have been frequenting the yard since then. Ewes are grazing in the pasture like it’s mid-May. After Sunday’s windy conditions, the ice is out on St. Olaf Lake. Beaver Lake was similar with a tiny amount of ice still on the southeast side.
 
Following Sunday’s record high temperature, figured a reconnaissance mission was in order to assess the pussy willow progress. It was so windy Sunday it would’ve been unpleasant and possibly dangerous if there were any sparks, or some dry vegetation became lodged where it could ignite. Of course, getting the Gator out after it had been shoehorned into a tight spot was a challenge but by gum you have to know these things! I got down to the wetland after chores around dusk. Even in the low light I could see my timing was about perfect. Some of the catkins were just emerging nicely where the bushes weren’t shaded. There was plenty   time I thought as I picked a dozen or so twigs. A rooster pheasant nearly scared the bejeepers out of me after the sun set when I finished. I jumped in the Gator and pulled for home. A nice way to exhale after a busy day.

Lambing continues to grind away. 18 ewes have come in and 11 left to go. Looks like they’ll be coming in sorta sputtery fashion as the month rolls on. We’ve been fortunate with the weather and have had good success. Most of the mothers have taken exceptional care of their lambs too with one exception. She simply hated one of her twins. He was a nice lamb so we tried to hang onto her for a few weeks to allow him to nurse, hoping the light bulb would finally come on. Normally with our flock it’s worked that way. Step out of line and unless you’re a main cog in the machine, there’s an all-expenses paid trip to market when they don’t pull their weight. They can be replaced.
 
Poppy won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. She has a whole house full of toys. She plays with all of them, two or sometimes even three at a time. Never know when she’ll trot around with a ball or a kong, a binky stuck on her nose or a ring over her head. The worst thing is she leaves toys scattered all over so it can be like walking through a field of land mines in the dark. She also continues to enjoy her people, this last weekend with one of her 4-H families. She also has groupies as I’ve some to find out. Sounds like there’s the promise of more visitors as word gets out we have a few bottle lambs to feed. Doesn’t matter. Once the bottle feeding is done, there is always plenty of time to play with Poppy. She’ll make sure of it.

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

Offline Dotch

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Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak so don’t you be around

The scurs forecast courtesy of the Weather Eye kept Old Man Winter at bay another week. Do we continue that trend or is it about to regress? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a good chance of showers. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a slight chance of a.m. snow showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with a moderate chance of rain or snow showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, partly sunny with a fair chance of snow showers. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Tuesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 20’s. On the 17th, we’ll see just over 12 hours of daylight. The 19th marks the 1st day of spring. The normal high for March 19th is 41 and the normal low is 24. The scurs should have concluded their St. Patrick’s Day festivities by then.

We can officially put the winter of 2023 – 2024 behind us. Or can we? Without a doubt, this has been the warmest winter I can recall. It has consisted of Old Man Winter showing his face briefly then taking power naps. Rinse and repeat. As a result, spring anhydrous ammonia has gone on superbly. We are definitely in the midst of a drought although as mentioned last week, we were fortunate to receive some precipitation after the crop was mature. What is very evident is the impact hydrologically speaking. With sparse winter precip, shallow wetland levels are down significantly as are lakes and streams. Some are issuing dire predictions about insect pest levels already although there is more than meets the eye other than overwintering survival. Beneficial insects are affected similarly so their ability to rise to the occasion is often understated. They like to eat and if there’s abundant food around, that’s exactly what they’ll do.

Not unlike some of the fauna of Bugtussle. It has become a tradition at the Corn Palace that we toss our apple cores outside for them to scavenge. If nothing else, they’re biodegradable and won’t harm anything. Just like clockwork though, when checking the next day, the apple cores had disappeared. What was consuming them remained a mystery. With no snow, there were no tracks although if birds were responsible, the tracks would be minimal. We finally did get enough measurable snow back in mid-February to provide definitive proof. We’d narrowed the field down to squirrels, crows and cottontails, all of which were seen from time to time. Checking where the last apple core had landed the day before, we had a clear winner. Cottontail tracks were clearly visible. My guess is the north end of Bugtussle will be overrun by Easter bunnies as a result of our benevolence. Sorry gardeners.

The nice weather continues presenting unexpected lambing challenges at the ranch. Most winters, snow surrounds the lot where the ewes are fed so their excursions beyond that are limited. It’s also thwarted our efforts to keep them at least close to if not in the lambing barn, instead becoming a game of “Where’s Waldo?”. When I did a head count before noon bottle lamb feeding I couldn’t find the tenth animal. I fed the bottle lambs and noticed the group of nine gazing off to the southwest. Sure enough I spied a small white creature moving around by the aronia berries. There was also a larger white shape by a clump of grass. The NW wind raked my face as I approached to get a closer look. Sure enough it was a yearling ewe that decided that was as far enough before going into labor. After some coaxing and trickery, mother and daughter were inside where it was dry and warm. Yearling ewes have the brains of a gnat and that’s not being fair to the gnat.

Other fun and games have arisen as well. Making my way back Sunday from pussy willow harvest, I saw what I at first believed to be another ewe that had lambed in the pasture. She was tearing across the lot behind the house with her lamb in hot pursuit. Really a huge lamb I thought as suddenly, there was another ewe with a large lamb following behind. That ewe was a natural-colored ewe, however. That couldn’t be as all the natural-colored ewes had already lambed. As I deduced, there had been a jailbreak from the lambing barn. There was no catching either of the ewes or their lambs out in the open. However, after herding them towards the lambing barn and upon uttering a few magic words, they went inside. After reinforcing their pens and putting a gate across the doorway, we vaxxed, docked and tagged the lambs. Later that afternoon they were moved to the main barn where they had more space. Eventually, they’ll all be out in the lot in front of the barn for public display, creating the annual gawker slowdown.

Early garden progress includes seeing more of the radishes planted January 31st poking through. No sign of those planted in February yet. The miniature daffodils with their bright yellow buds will probably be blooming by the time this reaches print. Hopefully the forecast rainfall does the same. The full-sized models aren’t far behind them as are the hyacinths. Have been watering the rhubarb some and Monday, took the hose to the perennials like coralbells and astilbes. I mentioned the pussy willows in the wetland area earlier. They are as nice as ever although the warm weather is apt to blow them over the dam quickly.
 
Poppy had a huge weekend with near people overload. I say near as there’s no such thing with a Corgi. She got to meet the TV guy in the morning right after chores. In the afternoon, there were kids in the form of Ellis and Everly to play with. There were also adults to fill in around the edges while they were preoccupied with bottle lambs. A lot of ball retrieval and many zoomies before the last hugs and goodbyes were dispensed. Almost before their vehicle hit the end of the driveway, Poppy was fast asleep at Mrs. Cheviot’s feet, probably dreaming fondly of her most recent human encounters, looking forward to the next.

See you next week…real good then.   
« Last Edit: March 03/12/24, 11:54:45 AM 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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She had made me happy…happy…happy!

The scurs and the Weather Eye tag teamed another week of gorgeous spring weather away from Old Man Winter. Does he come back with a vengeance or continue his long winter’s nap? Starting Thursday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper teens. Mostly sunny Friday with a slight chance of p.m. snow showers. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Partly sunny on Saturday with a good chance of snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Sunday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a continued good chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Tuesday, cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-teens. On the 23rd, the sun will set at 7:30 CDT. The Full Moon is on the 25th and we see over 12 hours and 30 minutes of daylight on the 27th. The normal high for March 27th is 45 and the normal low is 27. The scurs are awaiting Easter to replenish their goodies. Valentine’s Day is a faded memory.

As mentioned the Full Moon occurs on the 25th. It is most commonly known as the Full Worm Moon as the earthworms begin coming to the soil surface and leaving their castings behind. Earthworms serve as a reliable food source, particularly for birds whose young are looking for a source of protein. It is also called the Crow Moon as the crows begin their habit of spring calling. Sometimes known as the sap moon for the maple syrup commonly made during this moon. In medieval times it was called the Full Chaste Moon as one of the sacrifices made during Lent. The Ojibwe knew this as the Snow Crust Moon and the Sioux called it The Moon of Sore Eyes as the sun angle shining off the snow resulted in snow blindness and sore eyes. At the ranch, we like to call it The Final Lamb Moon although this year it’s more apt to be The Moon of Tried Patience.

Our early spring appears to be on hold at least temporarily. A messy forecast on the horizon promises to give us some snowfall although just how much remains to be seen. One thing remains fairly certain, any snowfall will likely contain a fair amount of moisture. With no other snow on the ground, it should provide some welcome moisture for this year’s crops. Aware of some corn planted here and there although the amounts are miniscule. It’s not surprising to see the weather turn like this and it certainly isn’t the first time. It’s unrealistic to think that planting corn in the middle of March has suddenly become the new norm. After all, we haven’t made it past the state basketball tournament yet.
 
I remember in March of 1974; our high school boys’ basketball team was playing in the district tournament in Rochester. The weather was gorgeous, not unlike our recent stretch of warm weather. We were in our shirtsleeves and had the windows down on the pep band bus when we rolled in. It was very warm in the gym as well. Of course as kids, we thought that it would transition from spring into summer by April. Our basketball team lost but I remember farmers were sowing oats while visons of corn planting danced in their heads. Not long afterwards, the weather did an about face. It got cold again, and we had at least one major snowstorm. Corn planting was delayed. Temps cooled. Hopes were dashed.
   
That fall, it froze in late August. My Dad borrowed the neighbor's corn binder, and we shocked about 7 acres of corn. After that, he bought 8 or 9 beef heifers we fed them corn bundles to over the course of the winter. Going out to the field in the winter to get the bundles was a workout, especially when the snow got deeper. Head out to the field with the tractor & hayrack, park strategically between shocks, unhook, knock the shocks over with the bucket on the tractor, pitch the bundles onto the rack with a pitchfork, fill it up, re-hook and pitch them off in the lean-to. Rinse and repeat. Couldn't say I was sorry when the snow got too deep to retrieve the shocks. Just felt lucky I’d clawed my way home with chains on the tractor & a heat houser to stay semi-warm on the last trip.
 
At the ranch there was a fair amount of bird activity ahead of the recent cooldown. Most obvious were the robins feeding heavily in the crabapple trees. With the ground cold and frozen in places again, earthworms were not an option. There was heavier feeding by several other species including goldfinches, chickadees and house finches. The suet feeders were busy as well with numerous woodpeckers including downies, hairies and red-bellied woodpeckers. Plenty of red-winged blackbirds as well taking advantage of the sunflower feeders. The birdbath, however, isn’t a heated model so it was hard for them to bathe or get a drink once it became a miniature skating rink.

With some of the 70-degree highs earlier last week, some of our perennials sprang to life. The miniature daffodils flowered as anticipated in last week’s installment along with crocuses in another bed. The rhubarb responded to watering and was starting to put out leaves last week. The regular daffodils that came from Mom’s yard opened up inside on the 19th. Mrs. Cheviot cut them and brought them in, so they weren’t damaged. We also covered the rhubarb with straw. All remaining spring bulbs and lupines were covered using the upside-down flowerpot trick, the same as we’d done earlier in the spring. It isn’t supposed to be as cold, but the plants weren’t as far along as they were this past Sunday. Rain might not hurt the rhubarb, but a hard freeze might not do it any favors.
 
Poppy has been busy outdoors keeping her squirrels exercised and the cats herded. Indoors, she stays busy by playing with her toys, the ones we can find anyway. Lately there’s been one orange Chuckit ball and a pink kong missing in action. We searched high and low, under furniture, in wastebaskets, in our shoes, behind doors and no sign of either. Her two favorite toys are the blue squeaky Chuckit ball and the pink kong. While I was gone Monday night, Mrs. Cheviot located the pink kong way under the couch. Poppy was overcome with joy when she fished it out. She tore around and did zoomies around the couch to celebrate. She’s generally a pretty happy little dog anyway. Even happier when the lost is found.
 
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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Sorry guys! Back issue from 3/26

April come she will when streams are ripe and swelled with rain

The scurs and the Weather Eye predicted Old Man Winter’s flying dropkick off the ropes. Luckily his aim wasn’t very good. Does he relent or do we get more of the same? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy Good Friday with a fair chance of rain and snow showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Partly sunny on Saturday with a remote chance of a.m. snow. Highs in the low 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Easter Sunday, mostly cloudy with a fair chance of an a.m. rain/snow mix, turning to all rain by evening. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Cloudy on April Fool’s Day with a continued modest chance of a rain/snow mix. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Tuesday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Sunny on Wednesday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. On the 29th, the sun will rise at 6:59 CDT. The normal high for April Fool’s Day is 48 and the normal low is 29. The scur will attempt to fool the Easter Bunny by setting out additional Easter baskets to fill.

Our spring that was moving down the road at a record pace suddenly took a turn for the ditch.  Temps that had reached 70 earlier in March were trying their best just to get above freezing. Wet, sloppy snow was the precip du jour Saturday night into Sunday. Rain followed turning dooryards into giant Slurpee’s. Or, as I like to think of it, the Border Collie spring we had going evolved into a Corgi spring. Let me explain. We were experiencing a spring that followed our wishes as if on command. After last winter, we craved a warmer one and we got it. It was almost hard to keep up with, almost like an anal Border Collie aiming to please. Along comes a Corgi, who while being a personable herding dog, marches more to the beat of its own drummer. Oh it’ll come when called, stopping to dawdle when encountering any distraction first, but eventually gets there. That’s more the norm for spring and we should just be thankful we were spared another one like the last year.

We have to be pleased with the recent moisture we received. As of Tuesday a.m. at the ranch, we garnered 1.62” total since last Friday and a whopping 2.1” in Bugtussle. As I keep mentioning, we were not totally destitute for soil moisture going into winter. Actually, after the December rainfall that few gauges measured we already had fair subsoil moisture for crops to draw on. One individual confirmed that when water ran out of his new drain tile once connected. With under an inch of precip between January and February, we didn’t add much moisture although, what did fall went into the soil. There was some evaporation, but that moisture still counted. Where I grew up in SE MN, it was very dry in 1964. Crops suffered and people were praying for rain. We had a lot of snow in the winter of ’64 and ’65. I was six and remember digging snow caves in the drifts with the scoop shovel. It rained on Easter Sunday and six consecutive Sundays after that. Careful what you wish for.
 
More positives from the recent rains: It’ll soon be time to get the Studebaker out. I’m not real jazzed about taking it down the road until I’m fairly sure the salt and most of the sand has been washed off the road. Not that the paint is necessarily pristine, it’s just that it doesn’t need any help getting any worse. Probably be a good idea to start with the basics and get it running first. That typically hasn’t taken long once the battery is charged up for a day or so. Probably the worst thing once the fluids are checked, is getting the dust off of it. Afterwards, usually that calls for a short run to a local establishment to limber it up and remember how to drive it. It’s like riding a bicycle. The worst part is getting in another vehicle after driving the Stude and thinking you’ve dropped it into first. Pull back and down. Reflex action. Reverse with an automatic on the steering column. Oops. Don’t forget those memory pills.
     
Progress in the lambing barn is at a slow pace. There are six ewes left to lamb with only one showing some obvious signs of being remotely close. The rate they’ve been coming in, it might mean another six weeks. Not sure why. Sometimes one can see a warm weather spell in last fall’s breeding season that may influence it. The gestation period for a ewe is approximately five months and they come into estrus roughly every two weeks in prime breeding season. If temperatures get too warm, it can affect a ram’s fertility negatively. Nothing was reflected by the temperature data from the SROC that should be relative. Sometimes when ewes carry too much condition going into breeding season they will tend to continue cycling until later in the breeding season. This is not uncommon for some of the show ewes that have been pampered and spoon fed. Doing them a favor for showring success sometimes comes with baggage.

I’d like to take a minute to extend thanks to all the faithful readers giving me encouragement to sit down and keep writing this column every week. I run across them in my daily travels and appreciate their comments. Whether you grew up on a farm or not, I try to include observations involving country life. We may not have all the conveniences that those living in urban areas and municipalities do, but we don’t have a lot of the negatives keeping us from stopping to smell the roses. Sometimes nice to keep it that way.
 
Poppy enjoyed her latest round of snow although it was short-lived. By Sunday afternoon with the rain falling, all the fun had gone out of it and it was just slop. It did give us an up close and personal look at how a Corgi’s coat functions. When Poppy would come inside, she was very wet on top. Once she was wiped down and shook off, her coat was amazingly dry to the touch. Within an hour it was completely dry and even softer from the rain. Taking your fingers and parting her fur, one gets an up close and personal look at what a Corgi’s double coat is all about. All the while, trying to fend off Poppy’s wriggling and playful nipping. The downside is one can also see that undercoat is starting to loosen up as spring draws nigh. Corgi hair will soon appear in little windrows along the baseboards, another sure sign of spring.

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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Oops! Another back issue...from 4/2

The countdown starts...

Old Man Winter threatened but as the scurs and Weather Eye noted, they were idle threats. Does Old Man Winter continue to be idle, or does he make up for lost time? Starting Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with a slight chance of pm. rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Sunday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Partly sunny on Monday with a slight chance of a rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Tuesday, partly sunny with highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with a decent chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. On April 5th we gain daylight under 3 minutes per day at 2 minutes and 58 seconds. On April 6th, our daylight goes over 13 hours. The last time we had that much daylight was back on September 5th. The normal high for April 6th is 51 and the normal low is 31. The scurs will have time to take inventory on their Easter basket spoils.
 
Ma Nature has hit the brakes on spring. Not unexpected either although it’s not as easy to accept with the weather we had going throughout much of the winter. Still, it’s great to see some rain in case we need it down the road. Some outlooks including NOAA are calling for the potential for better than even odds of a warm, dry June. The weather has still done very little to recharge the wetlands, lakes, rivers, and streams, yet. Beggars can’t be choosers, but it’d be nice if it decided to wait until after planting season to do that. Even as dry as everyone likes to imagine it being, it doesn’t take long to go from very dry to very wet as we found following the drought of ‘88. After some were convinced that lakes and wetlands would never recover, in under a decade it was so wet that lakeshore property was underwater, becoming part of the lake for many years to come.
 
As rapidly as spring was approaching, I was convinced we’d be putting out hummingbird and oriole feeders in early April. As it is, it could still be early, just not as once thought. With recent rains, we are poised to get a quick start on flowering plants once it warms up sufficiently. I haven’t given up on the possibility of early May just yet. Hopefully we get some sunshine to go along with warmer temps as the flowering baskets that often attract hummingbirds early on could be on the ugly side. In the meantime, the goldfinches are becoming brighter yellow with each passing day. More robins are out and about. They too should be happy about the recent rains. There are ample puddles to bathe in and drink from. Not only that, but the earthworms should also be closer to the surface as temps warm. Once they are, it’ll be nest building time soon afterwards.
 
It's been tempting to take the chains off the tractor although just about the time I’m ready to do it, the forecasters mutter something about snowfall again. That’s fine. They can stay put for another week or so before some round bales need to be moved. If I really need to take them off then to avoid tearing the yard up, no biggy. I’d rather not have to clean all the mud out before hanging them up inside until next winter. Hopefully they won’t need to be put back on in an emergency situation, but I wouldn’t bet against it. I was looking back at photos on my phone. I saw haunting pictures of April storms past. Could it happen again? You better believe it.

There are plenty of signs that spring is still coming. Western chorus frogs were heard last Saturday the 30th as I was grilling on the patio. I was surprised as the wetland is essentially dry or was at last check. They’ll need some water to reproduce, however. The spring bulbs continue to appear and flower, having benefitted from being covered for 10 days or so when the weather was anyone’s guess. The rhubarb that was also covered showed signs that it needed sunshine once the straw was removed from it. Now it’s visible from the house. Can almost smell and taste that fist rhubarb pie of the season.

Got a good start on fruit tree pruning. Would’ve liked to have done it earlier but matters including weather when just didn’t cooperate. Looks like I should have this week to complete the task and move on to the next project. It’ll get done. It always does. Next step might be to get the lawnmower fired up and drive around with the loppers. I can remove any limb or twig that has a chance to snap me in the face, snatch my glasses or pluck the earphones off my melon. There are some 50-odd trees and shrubs to mow around. I find my tolerance for hand to hand combat is becoming less with each passing year.
     
Moving sheep around on Sunday was expedited with help from 4-H Avary & mom. With a set of triplets, a set of twins and a single to move, it was a godsend. It streamlines the chore process a little more too each time we can cut down on the number of small pens we’re feeding. The bad news is we keep having more lambs to replace the ones we just moved. Last Thursday night we had another single and Friday morning there was another set of triplets. Looking at the four ewes left to lamb, only one of those appears close to coming in. The end is in sight though. The countdown starts.
 
Poppy had another big week. A lot of people showing up to play with and receive attention from. Recent rains have necessitated a nice thick towel by the door to wipe the resident Corgi and her muddy little feet off. While she was exercising her squirrel the other day I noticed she’d wandered over near the plum thicket. Not long afterwards I heard the sound of a rooster pheasant getting up and flying off. Poppy had bumped into Little Jerry! She’s repeated this on several more occasions. Not only do we have a herding dog and a squirrel dog, we also have a bird dog in our midst. Now if she’d just do the chores.

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

Offline Dotch

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And today's episode:

Carefree highway, let me slip away on you

The scurs and their vaunted Weather Eye forged ahead into April. Have we lost Old Man Winter or is he still lurking in the weeds? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Sunday, sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Cloudy on Monday with slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny on Wednesday with highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. We’ll see the sunrise before 6:30 a.m. CDT on April 15th. On the 16th, we’ll achieve more than 13 hours of daylight for the first time since last September 5th. April 17th the sun will set at 8 p.m. CDT. The normal high for April 17th is 56 and the normal low is 35. The scurs are hoping their Easter candy lasts until the next solar eclipse. Or at least until the May baskets show up.

Rainfall & temperature are the engines that drive our growing season. After leading us on that spring would be ultra-early, Mother Nature has been dragging her feet. Not the first time this has happened, and it should come as no surprise. It’s unrealistic to expect that since we had 70-degree high temps in early March that the spring would just keep coming. Indeed, highs have struggled many times to get into the 40’s since then. That’s why even with the welcome rainfall, things aren’t greening up as quickly as one might expect. And that’s fine. It’s still early and should still allow an opportunity for planting to proceed ahead of schedule. Having some soil moisture stashed away for future reference takes priority. As one sage pointed out, if you mow your lawn a lot over the course of the growing season, you’ll likely have a good crop. No one has said they’re anxious to start mowing their lawn, however.

Some apparently recall I planted some radishes back on January 31st and are wondering how they’re doing. Well, the radishes that actually came up are doing OK but are still basically marking time. They’re still cotyledon stage and haven’t shot any true leaves yet. When I planted them, it was more to demonstrate the old adage, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” I tried the same thing with salad greens and none of them came up. Even though we did have a few warm days, it has just been too cold for too long. Ditto with the radishes I planted in late February. It takes an average soil temperature of about 45 degrees to germinate radishes. At those lower temps even radishes won’t grow very quickly.
 
Was thinking back on my first ag related job when I was a freshman at the U. Was fortunate to work for MN Crop Improvement Association one spring. There were lots of certified seed dealers raising public seed varieties. MCIA’s job in addition to screening for purity, weed and disease-free seed was to provide growers with accurate germination tests. I’d seen alfalfa, corn and soybean seed but had little exposure to many of MN’s other crops. It was interesting to place the various small grains on the blotter paper and put them in the germination chamber. I also got to see flax seed and learned quickly that Dad was right. It was very slippery trying to pick it off the vacuum head with the tweezers. One could see the horror stories he told of people suffocating in flax bins were probably true. I wasn’t particularly fast but tried to make sure the tasks were done right. Eventually I worked myself out of a job. Little did I know I’d be looking at some of the same crops growing in the field just a few years later. Funny how that works sometimes.
 
After recent rains have washed all the salt away, it’s getting closer for the Studebaker to head out on its maiden voyage for the season. First however, there was a potential safety issue that needed to be addressed. On some of the older cars, the steel used in the rims was not as hard as what manufacturers started using in the 60’s. Not a problem using bias-ply tires they were designed for but put a set of radials on to improve the ride and problems can arise. One of them involves rims becoming bent as the radials put more stress on them. Replacing those rims with the newer, harder steel models while not cheap, is the best option from a safety standpoint. On this particular model Silver Hawk, the 15” x 6” Chrysler rims are a perfect replacement that should allow the original lug nuts to be used. That and be more carefree as one rolls down the highway.

The ewes and lambs are once again back in the front lot. When they were turned loose they looked like they were shot out of a cannon. The running, hopping and bouncing was at a frenetic pace. Could see them racing back and forth from the window. It didn’t stop until well after dark. Tuesday morning before chores they were right back at it again. Can’t blame them. The ewes were prolific this year and it was getting crowded indoors. No surprise once they got more room to maneuver. There were already gawkers slowing down when they spied the lambs tearing around the enclosure. As always, it’s OK to watch them but if people want to gawk, it’s safer to pull in the driveway. Traffic travels at such a high rate of speed on our blacktop, I’d hate to see anyone get hurt or worse.

Poppy had more rainfall to contend with this past week. That being the case it meant more wiping her down before we let her traipse around the house. It also meant more naps between rain showers and windy afternoons like Sunday. Like the Cheviot sheep, Corgi’s with those erect ears aren’t fond of wind as their ears serve as direct conduit. Finding a place out of it is preferable and if it happens to be napping on a couch, so be it. Can’t say as I blame her. Even without erect ears, the wind takes its toll on human beings as well. Saturday’s breezy conditions while moving hay and feeding equipment around was enough to convince me. A little lunch put me over the edge, on the couch right next to Poppy.

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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Gimme back my bullets

The scurs had the Weather Eye in the zone again. Can we stop waiting for the other shoe to drop or has Old Man Winter got one last trick up his sleeve? Starting Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunday, sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Sunny on Monday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Tuesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Wednesday with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. The Full Moon for the month occurs on April 23rd. The normal high for April 23rd is 59 and the normal low is 38. The scurs are fairly certain that the patio furniture can be put out, at least for this week.
 
The Full Moon is next Tuesday and goes by many names depending on your location and occupation. The most common name, The Pink Moon is for the ground or creeping phlox that cover the ground in wooded areas across parts of the eastern US. More common in the area where I grew up were the bluebells that covered the wooded river and stream bottom areas. It also goes by the Full Planters Moon by settlers, the Egg Moon and Flower Moon by others. The Ojibwe called this the Broken Snowshoe Moon or the Frog Moon. The Sioux knew it as the Moon of Greening Grass as the bison their lives depended on depended on the grass coming to life. At the ranch, we know it as the Moon Where Hoses Don’t Need Draining. And the crowd goes wild!

Rapid planting progress was made in places locally. Soil conditions were favorable as were soil temps although as many maintain, soil temperature this time of year becomes a lesser factor as the calendar date rolls on. It gave many an opportunity to get their planters tuned in and work any bugs out before getting serious about it. Tuesday’s rain brought planting to a screeching halt. Some haven’t started yet and some are done corn planting. Great. There are no wrong answers at this point. Only time will tell if there even was a right or wrong. And even if there is a “wrong”, changing to avoid it happening again within reason could be just as wrong the next time. If people were that smart, they certainly wouldn’t be gambling on farming. There would be easier, more lucrative ways to make a living. You can make book on it.

From the “Let’s not and say we did” department, I know, let’s raise sheep! Still waiting on four ewes to come in yet although one is teetering on the edge. I fully expect on each next trip to and from somewhere else to see a ewe trotting across the pasture with several lambs in tow. Not sure exactly why we have so many stragglers this spring. Did the older ram just run out of bullets? We usually try to parcel the ewes out, so they have no more than 20 apiece to breed. We had purchased a January ram lamb that worked well on the 9 ewes we had him with. We particularly didn’t want to overload the young lad and were left with no other alternative after losing a valuable ram the year before. It’ll all come out in the wash. The price of lamb for both fats and feeders, like beef, is strong. As Jerry Speir, our old FFA advisor with the decidedly Oklahoma twang always said, “When demand is up, supply is down”.

No lack of demand for continued sunshine. It has brought hay fields and pastures around quickly, allowing grazing animals to go on pasture. It should help stretch thin hay supplies hay supplies and hopefully get an early start on first cutting. Lawns and gardens look promising as well. The rhubarb at the ranch is on track for a pie in the next week or so. Early watering followed by rainfall and warm temps certainly didn’t hurt. The pear trees in the yard should start flowering this week with the apples hot on their heels. There’s no shortage of pollinators as found in the wetland after harvesting the last picking of pussy willows. Many of those bushes were flowering already and the insect activity around them was tremendous. Same with the hyacinths in the flower bed. When those fruit trees cut loose the air should be buzzing.

Bird activity is slowly but surely following the season. Tree swallows appeared on Sunday and usually barn swallows aren’t far behind. Juncos numbers are thinning which usually means there will be white-throated, white-crowned and Harris’s sparrows at the ranch soon. Hot on their heels are the first orioles and hummingbirds of the season. Sure, the weather may take a breather from the 80-degree highs we had Sunday but as long as there’s a source of food, the migration will proceed on schedule. It has to. There are only a limited number of days to make nests, lay eggs, raise a brood of young or two, then turn around and head south again. There is no stopping it.

Poppy’s daily activities continue to include her playmate and little buddy, the small white tomcat. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is they usually seek each other out and it’s game on. When feeding the bottle lamb before bedtime, it’s particularly amusing. There will be a dark-colored blur, Poppy, followed by a white blur, the kitty. Next thing you know, the roles are reversed. It’s hard to tell who’s really chasing who. A lot of bobbing and feinting, hissing and growling, but nothing serious as far as the cat scratching or Poppy biting. When it’s time to go in the house or in the cat’s case, back to the barn, then it’s over. Until the next time.

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

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The sheep info is great Dotch.  I guess there used to be more sheep up here.  People say the wolves got too many of them but not sure if that was the real reason for the decline in people raising them here. 

Offline Dotch

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Wolves are definitely a factor. We've sold some stock over the years to people "up north". Normally don't last a year due to wolf predation. Also sold some to some folks in Colorado one time. Grizzlies got them!  :doah:
Time itself is bought and sold, the spreading fear of growing old contains a thousand foolish games that we play. (Neil Young)

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Only in America, land of opportunity, yeah

The scurs need to run the Weather Eye to the Nash-Rambler dealer again. A little too generous on the high temps and rainfall chances last week. Are we done with snow in our vocabulary, or does it remain for another week? Starting Thursday, mostly sunny with a good chance of rain in the overnight. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy on Saturday with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Sunday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with a fair chance of morning showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Tuesday, sunny with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly sunny on Wednesday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. On April 27th, we experience over 14 hours of daylight, the first time since back on August 15th. Wednesday is May 1st already. The normal high for May 1st is 62 and the normal low is 41. Having exhausted their jellybeans and chocolate bunny supply, the scurs can’t wait to dish into their May Baskets.

Planters were largely idle until the 22nd after a narrow window of opportunity from April 13th – 15th. So far so good as the corn planted in that timeframe has a healthy sprout on it already. Soybeans planted at the same time are intact as well. This week promises to bring another window of opportunity as well as the warm, breezy Monday dried soils rapidly after a cold stretch late last week. There is plenty of time and those who missed out on the first opportunity will get a chance. Surprisingly, the memory of replanting is fresh enough in many minds so that the urge to mud crop in hasn’t expressed itself. There is time and as several have said, some of the best corn they ever raised was planted in May the past two growing seasons. Not that anyone should become complacent but with the equipment getting larger, the advent of high-speed planters and tile drainage systems their fathers only dreamed about, a lot of crop can go in the ground in short order.

While they didn’t affect germinating corn and soybeans, the sub-freezing temps both Saturday and Sunday morning were of some concern in area lawns and gardens. Many including those of us at the ranch covered the tender vegetation we didn’t want to see injured. Looking at the 25-degree low Sunday morning was a little unnerving. Fortunately, when perusing official weather reporting sites, the duration of the coldest temperatures was very brief. There was little sign of any frost damage on the fruit tree flower buds that were still relatively small and clenched shut tightly. Likewise with the rhubarb and peonies we didn’t cover. There didn’t appear to be any injury on either one. One can bet, however, if we hadn’t covered some of them, we would’ve been wishing we had. Been through too many springs in So. MN to count on the weather doing us any favors.

It normally doesn’t and Monday’s wind illustrated exactly what I’m talking about. The lawn was greening up nicely with the recent rains and warmer temps. Sunday, I diligently raked and picked up every last stick I could find, including the second time around under the river birch tree. Just a week earlier I’d cleaned up under that and the oak trees for the first time. The ash trees are bad enough, shedding copious amounts of 4” – 10” small diameter sticks over the course of a winter. Given the slightest breeze, the river birch drops sticks and branches out of sheer spite, lots of them. Not that I’m superstitious, but I tempted fate and removed the chains from the tractor for the season. Along with having the yard shipshape, I’d say that almost guarantees we’ll see additional precipitation in the frozen form with river birch sticks on top of it.

Along with the greening of the grass and leaves, our feathered friends offer subtle clues that spring is progressing. A brown thrasher was heard in the brushy part of the windbreak on the 17th. The next day, the song of a white-throated sparrow was heard in the windbreak as well. It’s become more common in the past several years as the habitat we planted develops, the longer it takes for some of the migrating birds to appear in our backyard. Eventually, when the numbers increase, they show up. One that threw me for a loop while I was cleaning up the backyard mess on Sunday was a yellow warbler. It was perched on the sunflower feeder so I assumed it was a goldfinch. When I approached, it didn’t fly off suddenly. It allowed me to get close enough so I could see the striped breast identifying it as a male. It wasn’t feeding on the sunflower as they’re primarily insect feeders.. After listening to recordings of their song, it’s likely they’ve been here; we just haven’t noticed them. Shouldn’t be a surprise given the bushes, roadside thicket and orchard we have to offer.

Poppy had her usual big weekend which includes more people time than during the week. It also means more outside time. Since Corgi’s are herding dogs, this past weekend she got her first chance to watch an open gate. The yearling ewes usually like to hover or come running any time there’s an open gate. When you can get an occasion to put the dog into a somewhat controlled environment, you do it. The ewes had moved off into the windbreak so that gave me a chance to do some things in the lot that needed tending with the skidsteer. The ewes looked in our direction, but for whatever reason, declined the invitation. That’s OK. Maybe just seeing Poppy was enough deterrent for now. There will be more opportunities. Only in America.

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

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May she will stay, resting in my arms again

The scurs returned triumphant with the newly repaired Weather Eye. Rain and cooler temps were exactly what we got. Have we turned the corner to warmer days or what you see is what you get? Starting Thursday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a fair chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with a fair chance of forenoon rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Sunday, partly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a modest chance of showers. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Tuesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. On May 4th we’ll see sunrise at 6 a.m. CDT. The normal high for May 4th is 64 and the normal low is 42. The scurs will be hoping their woodpile holds out with these low temperatures.
 
More rain this past week after corn planters crossed the finish line. After some crossed the finish line, they planted a good share of their soybeans while they were at it. How are the crops that were planted coming? The simple answer is slowly. We haven’t had enough consecutive warm days to get the earliest planted corn out of the ground just yet. The corn planted last week has imbibed water and that’s about it. So what kind of warmth will it take to get the first corn up? Corn generally takes somewhere in the vicinity of 90 – 120 GDU’s for corn to emerge. That appears about right although it may err on the longer side by all appearances.
 
What is a GDU? A Growing degree unit (Base 50) is calculated by taking the high air temperature plus the low air temperature, subtracting 50 from that sum and dividing it by two. There are a few adjustments, however. Only high temperatures from 86 degrees to 50 degrees are included. Corn growth rate does not increase above that temperature. Likewise with low temperatures, where 50 degrees is used as the automatic base low as corn stands still at temperatures below 50. Therefore, if we have a high of 80 and a low of 50, we have 80 plus 50 = 130. 130/2 = 65. 65 – 50 = 15. Unfortunately we’ve had very few of those days since the corn was planted. There are visible difference in the corn planted on April 13th vs. that planted on the 15th. The 13th had some generous GDU’s whereas it tailed off every day following that. There are also differences from field to field. Corn on corn usually has more residue at the surface, making it more reflective. Worked soybean ground is usually darker, warming more quickly on sunny days, when we actually have them.

Spring is upon us although as mentioned it has picked up speed very gradually. That didn’t stop the plum thickets across the countryside including the one at the ranch from bursting into bloom. The pear trees are on about the same schedule with both the Patten and the Parker tree blooming at the ranch on April 25th. Around the yard the apples are poised to follow suit. The Haralson flower buds give the tree an almost reddish cast. It makes sense after the “off-year” in 2023 and is set to make up for lost time. When all the apple trees are in bloom it should be a sight to behold. Add in the crabapples and one can only hope the wind holds off for one more day before the petals hit the ground. The bleeding heart I gave little chance for after planting last year apparently likes its new home. Watered and nurtured through the dry summer, it is blooming nicely.

More birds on the return flight to the ranch and others to their summer homes far to the north. The barn swallows were back at the ranch on the 24th. The first white-throated sparrow seen was on the 24th although several were heard a few days prior. On the 27th, both the Harris’s and the white-crowned sparrows arrived in the backyard at the ranch. They’ve hung around for now, content to feed off the leftovers around the birdfeeders and the seeds from any of several weed species in the lawn. Soon enough they’ll vanish for the boreal forests to raise their young and perhaps make a brief visit this fall on their return south. We should be ready to see some orioles and hummingbirds shortly. The jelly feeder and a couple nectar feeders are ready anytime they are.

Was watching TV last Friday at bedtime and noticed in the schedule that “The Graduate” would be on at 11 p.m. Hmmm…do I risk it and try to stay awake? One of my favorite movies so I tuned it in and surprised myself. I didn’t fall asleep. Being shown without commercials helped reduce the temptation to rest my eyes. Even though I’ve seen it on numerous occasions, there are mental notes I can take away after each viewing. This time for example, there were no cell phones and several pay phones. The cars were very 60’s, complete with the red Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider convertible that Dustin Hoffman drove Mrs. Robinson home in. Katharine Ross looked as good playing Elaine as she did in her guest starring roles on Gunsmoke earlier in the decade. And Simon and Garfunkel’s music was timeless, tying the package together neatly, cementing the film as a classic start to finish. Worth the lost hours of sleep with the promise of a nap some rainy afternoons later.
 
Poppy has been taking spring in stride. Between keeping her kitties and squirrels exercised, it’s almost a fulltime job. May brings with it the potential for a new batch of kittens after the tabby looking like a black Nerf football with a tail and four legs was suddenly skinny again. The mother cat has become adept at hiding them. About the time we assume the litter fell victim to foul play, replacements for the cats that wandered off since the last batch suddenly appear. After the sheep lay on a few of them or they befall some other fate, the numbers usually plateau again at about a half dozen. That’s plenty to keep the rodent and house sparrow population in check as well as giving Poppy additional playmates. Herding cats is a workout for anyone.
 
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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Rainy day people always seem to know when it's time to call

The scurs are thinking the Weather Eye is stuck on the rinse cycle. More rain and cooler temps. Is Mother Nature going to turn the spigot off or are we in for more baths? Starting Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Tuesday, partly sunny with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Wednesday with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. On May 12th we’ll see the sun set at 8:30 p.m. CDT. The normal high for May 12th is 67 and the normal low is 46. Given recent forecasts, the scurs have the umbrella at the ready.
 
Another nervous week as we waited for skies to clear and fields to dry. Neither happened and more rain fell, renewing the nervousness from last May. So far, we’ve probably dodged a bullet. Rainfall hasn’t been totally excessive as it was last May starting on the 6th. We had measurable precipitation on 9 out of 10 days with accumulations in the worst areas of 9” – 14”. The backbreaker was the three main rainfall events that totaled over an inch, with the final one going well over 3”. Situation was similar last year as we had more stored soil moisture than anyone imagined due to the snow melt. These soils will hold about 11” worth in the top 4’ once the profile is full. After that, it needs to find a place to go. Unlike the soils in SE MN, particularly in the karst region, internal drainage is not the strong suit of these prairie pothole soils. Even when tiled, they are limited by the tile system’s ability to take water away.
 
So where are we in terms of progress? Planting has come to a standstill. A moral victory would be a week with an inch or less of rain. Luckily, the seed in the ground has fared pretty well. Water hasn’t ponded for long periods and the cooler temperatures have probably been a plus where it has. Corn planted on April 13th was seen spiking through on May 4th once the rain stopped. Some soybeans planted in the first window were cracking already on May 6th and appeared very healthy. Hay fields appear as nice as they’ve ever been despite concern over the open winter and some cold temperatures once the alfalfa broke dormancy. If the weather straightens out, forage harvest could be possible by Memorial Day weekend. Pastures are also ahead of schedule, which as mentioned in other columns should mean livestock can be moved onto them to conserve precious hay supplies.

What are farmers doing with all the rainy days? I see some are hauling corn and some come in or call to catch up on rain gauge reports. Mowing lawn is a given. At home, I decided I’d had enough slogging through ankle-deep quagmire doing chores. The open winter allowed the animals to hang out in the lot. By Monday night it had dried enough so I could scrape the sponge-like accumulation of bedding and hay into a pile. That way it can be hauled out easily in the fall. It should make chores “less-worse” as my late son Roger used to say. The lambs should enjoy it too. It’s packed hard underneath the slop like a road. When the surface dries up, it makes for a faster track. One of the buck lambs is extremely fast. His mudder was a mudder.
 
At the ranch, same as many places across the landscape, we’ve seen the apple and crabapple trees burst into bloom. With all the rain, we probably haven’t ever seen the trees more loaded with blossoms. Likewise with the crabapple trees. The honeybees were out in force on Sunday pollinating them along with some of the native bees. I was a little surprised to see the number of honeybees. We don’t normally see very many of them this early if at all pollinating our apple trees. Someone either has some hives not too far away or as pointed out by the Boy Entomologist, there is a wild colony somewhere, possibly taking up residence in any number of old buildings in the area. Beware.

Bird arrivals occurred slowly at first last week but picked up steam as the weekend drew closer. On May 1st, the wrens and a catbird made an appearance. On May 2nd, we started seeing the rose-breasted grosbeaks. There were up to four males at times. On the 4th, we saw our first Baltimore orioles. There were several different males, some lighter colored and others more brightly adorned. Shortly after that, an orchard oriole came to the jelly feeder, dressed in his Hershey’s chocolate bar suit. Capping off the weekend was the season’s first hummingbird at the feeder Auntie Mar Mar and Unkie Gregory gave me for Christmas. Had to look quick and not blink but there he was.

With all the rain, Poppy has been using her little built-in raincoat to its full advantage. As mentioned in other columns, her coat wipes dry relatively quickly. Unfortunately she thinks it’s game, especially when you laugh as you’re trying to towel that long chassis off. The muddy feet on the end of those short Corgi legs are another ballgame. They’re a little ticklish apparently the way she acts which is hilarious. The more you laugh however, the harder she wiggles and tries to playfully bite at the towel. Eventually the process is complete but not the slam dunk it might be. All well and good until the next squirrel appears in her backyard.

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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From 5/14/24

It's a heartache...

The scurs gave the Weather Eye a reprieve after generating a generally drier forecast. The threat of another trip to the Nash-Rambler dealer must’ve done the trick. Is Mother Nature going to continue to hold it or will she relieve herself? Starting Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a modest chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Sunny on Saturday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny on Monday with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Tuesday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Cloudy on Wednesday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. On May 19th our daily increase in daylight goes below two minutes per day. We’ll see 15 hours of daylight on the 22nd. We’ll only gain approximately another 28 minutes by the summer solstice. The normal high for May 22nd is 70 and the normal low is 51. To keep it darker in the morning, the scurs will be looking for the blind lady driving the van.

A week of planting progress, sort of. Fields began to dry sufficiently by the weekend to allow planting to commence again and to asses some of the stands in those first planted fields. Some looking fantastic and others, bot so much. Much to do with where one happens to be on the drainage system and what the crop rotation happened to be. As mentioned in previous columns, corn on corn continues to provide challenges as it just doesn’t warm up as quickly as corn planted on soybean ground. Sure, the row cleaners help but with as much wind and heavy rain as we get, pieces of residue are easily moved back over the row. The interrow region stays colder, making it much more difficult for the young corn plant to expand. Doesn’t help when air temperatures start out in the mid-40’s many mornings and struggle to get out of the 60’s for several days the first week of May.

So how did the wet spring sneak up on us after being so dry last summer? It started with rains falling after mid-September once the crop was mature and into October as temperatures cooled and days became shorter. December also provided additional moisture in the form of rain as opposed to snow. Since the ground was thawed, it added to the moisture in the soil profile. In New Richland, that amounted to over 7” of moisture total in that timeframe. Toss in roughly an inch of liquid equivalent precip that fell between January and February as snow and melted when there was very little frost. Add in March’s contribution of a couple plus inches. April and May precip total in New Richland so far was 8.6” and six miles east, it was closer to 7.6”. Still, this more than completely recharged the top 4’ of soil. With the tile drainage systems being relied upon to take the water away with all the cool weather, it’s caused more than its share of heartaches.

At the ranch, I’m chomping at the bit to get going in the garden. My burndown treatment was successful although it took the better part of a week to see the full impact. I kept looking for skips but so far, so good. Most of what’s out there is shepherds’ purse, a biennial that got started last fall. It bolts and produces small white flowers up and down the stem. It’s not terribly competitive but it is a nuisance, especially if you want to till the garden. It will wrap up around the tines on the tiller like rope. Works nice to mow it off after it’s dead and then till the residue in. Best keep an eye out for seed corn maggots, armyworms and cutworms after planting. Like several cover crops, it attracts unwanted guests from time to time. The new breaking area of the garden was covered with downy bromegrass. Same treatment and should have the same result.
 
Around the bouse, Mrs. Cheviot has her planters nearly completed. Just in time as the hummingbird numbers seem to be swelling with each passing day. I hadn’t seen many, but I was curious what was drinking down the one nectar feeder more quickly than the other. Sure enough, when I got closer to it, I heard the distinct humming sound of the hummingbird wings. Apparently it’s just being secretive about it. A couple newcomers since last week. One was a bird that was out of its normal range, a male summer tanager. Apparently it was a young male that was in the process of molting. The red was very blotchy, and the body was more of an olive. The other newbies were pine siskins. We’ve seen them here occasionally over the years, but they usually don’t stick around. There are two of them, what appear to be a male and a female. Maybe this’ll be a first.
 
Poppy has her daily outdoor routine cut out for her. She also continues to find her niche inside. More often than not it involves ball playing and retrieving any number of her numerous toys. Something we’d forgotten about is one of the “magic words’. Now that the temps are warming, and we get the occasional fly in the house we’ll say “There’s a bug!”. The word “bug” is a trigger for her to frantically go on a mission, running and snapping while seeking out the pest. The crazy thing is many times she’s successful. She also knows when the flyswatter comes out it’s time for action. Who needs an exterminator when you have a Corgi?

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

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Flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere

The scurs had the Weather Eye clicking with another drier forecast. Do we maintain our status quo or are our fortunes about to change? Starting Thursday, sunny with a modest chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Sunday, mostly sunny with a good chance of evening rain. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny on Memorial Day Monday with a fair chance of rain. Highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Tuesday, sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly sunny on Wednesday with highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Our Full Moon will be one the 23rd. Memorial Day is the 27th. On May 29th our daily increase in daylight slows to under a minute and a half per day. The normal high for May 27th is 72 and the normal low is 53. The scurs will be celebrating Memorial Day by honoring those who served. All gave some. Some gave all.

The Full Moon as mentioned above occurs on the 23rd and generally goes by the Full Flower Moon, fitting for Mother Nature this time of year. Many of the wildflowers in wooded areas are in bloom as well as the early summer plants around the yard including iris, lilacs and lilies of the valley. Many blooming chokecherries were noted in my travels this past week as well. Other Full Moon names for the month include the Frog Moon and the Milk Moon as farmers turned their cows out on pasture back in the days before everything was fed dry feed. Butter and milk were a characteristic yellower color as a result of the carotenoids from the green grass. Farmers avoided standing behind the cows when milking for a few days as the cows adjusted to their new diet. The Ojibwe called this the Blossom Moon, and the Sioux called it The Moon when the Ponies Shed. At the ranch, it’s definitely the Moon when Corgi’s Shed but that’s every Full Moon.

Progress could be measured in the crop already planted and in the completion of soybean planting this past week for many. Corn really started to take off with the warmer days over the past week. Some early planted corn in sheltered fields was already V4 with four full collars showing and reaching 5” – 6” in height. Some replanting was being done in places after the areas in question dried sufficiently. It’s been surprising when out and about in the morning to see how many dark spots there still are on the sidehills. Venturing out in those same fields it’s a good idea to pay attention or getting stuck is a distinct possibility. Soybeans are emerging right along, being able to row some of the earlier planted fields already. Weed control will be at the forefront soon once we get this most recent rainmaker through the tile systems. Some have already made a preemptive strike around some of the field boundaries where weed pressure is generally the heaviest. A wise move given the weather uncertainty.

One thing is certain, with all the moisture, the mosquitoes have seized upon the opportunity and are making up for lost ground after last year. Sure, we had some mosquitoes after the heavy rains last May but once we made it through June, mosquitoes became more of a novelty than a nuisance. Not so this year. Head out into the long grass or outside after dark if there’s no breeze and you’re taking your life in your own hands. Not only are they numerous, they very aggressive, particularly towards dark. Along with them during daylight hours are their little buddies the blackflies or buffalo gnats. They’ve been especially annoying along the rivers, streams and drainage ditches. They’re generally not a problem after dark so at least there is that.

The backyard at the ranch has been busy so far with lots of grape jelly being consumed by our feathered friends. The orioles, both the Baltimore and orchard types, are the primary consumers. There are also red-belled woodpeckers, catbirds, house finches and the occasional downy. The female Baltimore orioles must be in next building mode. When filling the jelly feeder I found some long horsehair in one of the dishes. No horses here so it must’ve come from the Dubya’s. It also looked like there was some dog hair, very possibly of Corgi origin, perhaps to line the bottom of the nest. Better there than in windrows along the baseboards in the house.
   
The Silver Hawk has been on a couple outings now to stretch its wings. A couple weekends ago we ventured forth to Faribault for Mother’s Day. The weather forecast was calling for only a slight chance of afternoon showers, so we decided to risk it. Sure enough, a thundershower moved through about the time we sat down to eat. It didn’t hail so that was a plus. It did, however, make a mess with all the black gunk from the road speckling the white car. This after I’d painstakingly cleaned it all up just prior to our excursion. Then another expedition on Friday afternoon to Thompson IA, this time with Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer riding shotgun. It was a similar length trip only no rain this time, just bugs. Easier to just wipe down the front of the car rather than the whole thing. A warm-ish drive down although the combination of the fender vents and rear window vents helped keep it bearable. The ice cold beer at Mr. K’s hit the spot before crossing the street for supper at The Branding Iron. Good company and a comfortable cruise home. Works for me.
   
Poppy has kept her busy schedule intact. Lawnmowing needs to be part of the equation however for her to complete her appointed rounds. With those short little legs, it’s nice to keep the grass cut short enough so it doesn’t tickle her tummy. Not that she has much of a tummy anyway. We’ve been careful to limit her number of treats and their size. One thing we were warned about was not allowing Poppy to get too heavy as it can lead to back problems down the road. Her activity level has a lot to do with that as well. Most say she is the most active Corgi they have ever seen. We try to give her lots of outdoor time whenever possible. Herding cats apparently is a good way to stay in shape. Oddly enough, when back in the house, she’ll often run laps around the couch for good measure. If one could only bottle that energy.

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)