The scurs had it goin’ on again last week, although the rain predicted for Monday took a day off until Tuesday. What’s in store for this go round? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Highs of 35 and lows around 20. Partly cloudy Thursday and Friday with highs of 30 – 35 and lows of 20. Partly cloudy becoming mostly cloudy on Saturday with a chance of rain changing to snow. Highs of 35 and lows around 20. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of snow. Highs once again of 35 and lows near 25. Monday, partly cloudy with a high around 40 and lows of 30. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with another possible round of a rain/snow mix. Highs around 35 and lows near 25. The normal high for March 26th is 46 and the normal low is 26. The scurs will be patching their five-buckle overshoes to prepare for whatever the weather throws at us.
Spring finally showed its face last week and, as predicted, the fields largely cleared once again. Local rivers and streams are up, yet perhaps not as much as they might’ve been had we not experienced the thaw back in February. The snow that’s left is in the fencelines and around building sites. Frost depth was quite variable around the yard at the ranch already on Friday. Had wondered why the birds had taken a shine to the south facing slope south of the house. Took the divining rod out to check and sure enough, the frost was out there! Around the rest of the yard it was more variable, ranging from 2” – 4” down on the north facing slopes yet. After Sunday’s .28” rain, it was down to 4” – 6” deep. It won’t be long now and it will leave. The frost is officially out at the SROC in Waseca as of this past Monday. One thing that is a little curious is the amount of ice yet on some of the small, shallow wetlands such as ours. In the February thaw, some of those same wetlands were full of water yet largely free of ice.
What a week of wondering for seeing signs of spring in the bird department! Killdeers were present on Tuesday the 15th shortly after chores were done. So were flocks of grackles winging their way north to points unknown. Wonder where they all wind up? While the frost is out of the hillside at home, there apparently aren’t many earthworms yet with the cool temperatures. The crabapples were picked clean in a matter of a couple days by the robins and red-winged blackbirds. Wonder why they like the one tree so much better than the other one? Juncos appeared in large numbers, making me wonder if we weren’t seeing them begin moving through to the north. House finches and chipping sparrows were back in force, making me wonder if perhaps they are the summer residents at the ranch. Bald eagles have been common this spring east of Bugtussle with some reporting numbers as high as 18. There were two right down the road from the ranch feasting on a road kill deer left over from January. Made me wonder if they’d pick off a small lamb given the opportunity. Good thing perhaps that the snow hasn’t melted off the fence. Over the weekend, rooster pheasants were being seen in full breeding plumage, their red wattles making them easy to pick out from a brown background. Wonder if the rooster who has set up shop on the edge of the yard is one of Little Jerry’s grandsons? Sandhill cranes were in the neighborhood too. They were heard on Saturday morning, but their dull gray color made seeing them against a drab landscape difficult. Sunday night they were seen on the wing, setting down somewhere near the wetland and continuing their telltale call. Makes me wonder if they were the same two that were seen near the pond last fall. Monday afternoon on the way home to bottle lamb patrol, two great blue herons were spotted over the golf course. Made me wonder where they’d go if the weather took the sudden turn-for-the-worse forecast.
Took a nature walk to see how the trees and shrubs around the place had survived the winter. There was surprisingly little rabbit damage this time around and even the black chokeberries escaped relatively unscathed. While the arborvitae had been singed a little, there were only two out of the new planting that needed to be replaced. Everything else survived very well. Time will tell on the peach tree. Some new crabapples are on the slate for this spring and that’s good news after seeing how many birds used them over the course of winter and early spring, including the pheasants.
It is good to look around the yard and see the shrunken snow banks under the apple trees that were pruned a few weeks ago. There’s no way they could be pruned without a ladder and pole saw now. Seeing a little green grass reminds me that it won’t be long or at least not long enough and the lawnmower will have to be dealt with. Gazing at it in the garage the other day it appeared to be listing to one side. Indeed it was. One of the rear tires had decided to go flat as a pancake over the course of the winter. Another project to add to an already overloaded fixit schedule.
Doing it all the other day while muttering epithets under my breath, it amazes me how everyone, including my little fat buddies, suddenly desert me when I utter the words “unload hay.” About the only help I got was from Ruby and it’s pretty hard to qualify that as help. Maybe she will be more help with the straw that needs to be hauled to sop up some of the weather in store for us. I doubt it. It’s much more fun to get as wet and muddy as possible before going to the house. She’s pretty easy to clean up though. Let her dry off for a little bit first, tell her to jump in the tub, which she does without hesitation, and rinse her off with the handheld shower while she stands there. This time of year, many moms would probably like to know my secret for use on their kids. All I can say is speak softly but firmly, reward them with lots of praise when they stand still for you, towel them off well, then give ‘em a hug and a dog biscuit when you’re done. Works for me.
See you next week…real good then.