Looks like the scurs will be out of the running for Miss Congeniality if they continue to deliver forecasts predicting crummy weather. Such is life. Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a chance of snow in the morning and early afternoon. Highs near 40 and lows of 25 - 30. Thursday, partly cloudy with highs climbing to a balmy 45 and lows dropping to 35. Chance of a rain/snow mix by evening. Cloudy on Friday with highs once again near 45 and lows of 35. A chance of rain and/or snow in the morning, a chance of rain in the afternoon and a slight chance of snow in the evening. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon showers. Highs of 50 – 55 and lows around 35. Partly cloudy on Easter Sunday with highs of 60 and lows of 45. Monday, mostly cloudy with a chance of rain. Highs of 60 and lows of 45 – 50. Mostly cloudy Tuesday with a slight chance of a rain shower. Highs near 70 and lows around 50. The normal high for April 23 is 61 and the normal low is 37. We continue to add daylight at just a little under 3 minutes per day and on the 27th, we will have achieved 14 hours of sunshine, except for the fact of course that the sun only shines about 2 out of 5 days! The scurs will be eating the remains of their headless chocolate bunnies left over from Easter Sunday.
The weather continues to be stuck on the March cycle. There is a chance that we may actually register more snow at the ranch in April than we did in March, something that usually doesn’t happen. It has made fieldwork a bit of a challenge as the ground is not quite fit to plant especially as one moves north. The weekend snow/rain has also made life miserable with the sun shining only occasionally and temperatures remaining well below normal. Last Saturday’s high was typical for what we’d see the second week in March. Snow always makes for a special problem as it takes time to melt when it’s cool, thus keeping the soil surface wet and slimy for additional time versus the same moisture equivalent of a rainfall event with warmer temperatures following. All in all, this is shaping up to be a later spring than we’ve become accustomed to the past several years. We have been pretty fortunate.
Ruby got to ride along to the kindly neighbor’s pasture as it was getting time to work on the fence there. Winter had not been kind to the fence and as luck would have it, with the cool spring the grass has not grown rapidly enough to stock the sheep just yet. While I mended the fence, Ruby was having a blast with the resident standard sable collie Sophie. Last fall when Ruby came along she was intimidated and not real friendly towards her. After playing hard several times since then with Fudgie, this time it was a no brainer. Sophie and Ruby were immediately running at full speed and spent the whole time while there rolling, wrestling and romping. When it came time to go home, Ruby was almost reluctant to get in the truck, not unlike some kids I recall who were playing at someone’s farm while their Dad was in the house conducting business.
There were plenty of bird sightings this past week. Monday night the backyard ash trees were crawling with woodpeckers and the like. They were host to four downies, a couple hairies, a white breasted nuthatch, and a male red-bellied woodpecker while a red-headed woodpecker was nearby in an aging silver maple. At the kindly neighbor’s pasture, the calling of male cardinals was present from many points and the chickadees kept a close eye on the dogs as the fence mending proceeded.
The entire town lost a great farmer, friend and public servant this past week. Davey Swenson unexpectedly passed away last Tuesday. He had made his morning breakfast excursion to the café and from there had stopped at the Mall for Men for coffee just as he’d done so many, many times over the years. There was paperwork to do and I didn’t get a chance to go back to the training table to be with the little fat buddies, gleaning the kind of wisdom and knowledge that only comes with experience. About 9:45 as I was on the phone I saw Davey wave at me and smile as he was heading for the door. I waved back and went back to my phone call. About a half hour later the sirens went off and emergency vehicles left town heading north. Not long after that there was a call trying to determine what time he’d left the Mall for Men. It was confusing to try to piece together details of what had happened, but it was apparent after a few hours that he’d suffered a fatal heart attack.
I kicked myself that I hadn’t taken the time to go back to have coffee that morning. After all, it went against the grain of one of the most important lessons he taught me. Davey always took the time to take a break and visit and encouraged others to do the same. I can’t recall a time over the years when planting or harvesting plots at his place when we didn’t stop to have something to eat and visit for a bit. Sure, he usually had lots of crop left to harvest, but he always said not to worry, it would get done. And he was right. This was always a man who I could count on to pick me up when I was having a bad day too. He’d sense it and before I knew it we were having coffee and conversing. The next thing I knew the problems suddenly didn’t seem so significant. Perhaps his practice of taking time to care drove some area workaholics nuts, but I’d contend that the results were reflected in the huge crowds present for the visitation and funeral. And perhaps it was meant to be that I was among the last people to see him alive. It served as a reminder of the lesson he taught me, and like Davey himself, one I won’t soon forget.
See you next week…real good then.