The scurs were a little generous with their low temperatures, much to the chagrin of those hoping for one more week of frost-free weather. Will we warm up or continue our downward spiral? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a chance of an afternoon shower. Highs in the lower 40s and lows in the upper 20s. Partly sunny for Thursday with highs again in the low 40s and lows in the upper 20s. Friday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40s and lows in the mid 30s. Partly sunny on Saturday with highs in the mid 40s and lows in the low 30s. Mostly sunny Sunday with highs in the mid 40s and lows in the low 30s. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a slight chance of a daytime shower. Highs in the mid 40s and lows in the low 20s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with highs on the mid 40s and lows in the low 20s. On October 26th, we slip to 10 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. The normal high for October 26th is 54 and the normal low is 34, the same as we see for April 10th. The scurs are wishing we had the temperatures following April 10th to look forward to.
Field progress, particularly the soybean harvest, was slowed by the persistent nagging showers this past week. Many a combine was seen parked on the end of the field over the weekend as a result of the mixed precipitation that included sleet, hail and a few snowflakes. Corn yields are becoming more variable as farmers get into some of the Black Thursday and later planting. Moisture has probably reached a point where we can expect little improvement, so with soybeans on hold corn harvest has been the order of the day, until the beans dry out that is. Memories of the 1991 Halloween Blizzard are still etched on the minds of those who can remember it, so it’s time to make something happen. The hum of corn dryers can be heard throughout the land and the one at neighbor David’s lulls me to sleep each night with its constant drone. Of course it’s nothing compared to the 10-man dryer in Bugtussle.
It has been a cold October after a warmer than normal September. Almost makes one tempted to add a little tincture to the morning coffee. Around the ranch, the growing season ended officially on Sunday morning. The thermometer read 29 degrees and there was ice in the puddles as well as in the water tank. Some of the plants do take it better than others including petunias, radishes, lettuce and peas to a certain degree. The predicted low was enough to make me pick all the peas, tomatoes and cucumbers before they got nipped. Oh yeah, and the four squash that actually made it. While this was a far cry from the dozens we’re used to, we still have to be thankful the garden was as productive as it was. We still have a lot of winter radishes to harvest yet as well as the spring-type radishes planted in early September. And it’s been nice that folks like Betsy’s dad have shared their bounty with us. Oh, to have a system tiled garden.
Fall has also been a time to plant a new batch of perennials we brought back from the farm at Spring Valley. The lilies of the valley were put in last weekend followed by peonies that were divided into crowns after digging. Probably the most interesting plant however was the Jack in the Pulpit. The plant I dug was one of the offspring resulting from some my dad had moved from a woods before it was bulldozed to the south of our farm over 45 years ago. Not knowing much about the biology of the Jack in the Pulpit, it was interesting to read up on propagating them. The plants come from a corm rather than a tuber as some of the Internet info may suggest. The flowers are pollinated by flies and plants can also be started from seed. The seeds must be separated from the red flesh before planting though. The flesh contains a chemical called calcium oxalate that can cause a nasty skin irritation so rubber gloves must be worn. I bet those ladies at the grocery store thought I just had dishpan hands.
Saturday brought with it a waiting game as we had sold a ram to a gentleman from Wisconsin. When he finally arrived, he was happy with the ram we had available. It was good old Tube Steak, one of those rams able to leap tall panels at a single bound. He had been the odd man, er, ram out as we’ve cut down on numbers and didn’t need his services and neither did the ewes. The buyer also noticed a young ram lamb we had kept back, wowed by his flashy appearance and breed type. Always nice to hear comments from someone who is seeing the same animal we are.
Our wide-ranging conversation went from sheep, to the hay shortage and his four-hour trip across Wisconsin and Minnesota. He was wondering what some of the strange looking crops were he’d seen especially as he’d crossed the Mississippi into Southeast Minnesota. He was thinking that they were perhaps turnips. He had the family right. When I explained that many of them were probably tillage radishes, that drew a quizzical look from him. When I said they were actually a daikon type radish, the light bulb came on as he’d been a farmer’s market participant over many years.
We caught the ram, flipped him on his behind, gave him a pedicure, and then loaded him into the truck. Payment was made and Chris was on his way back to Wisconsin. We’d had a great visit and that’s probably one of the main reasons the sheep remain at the ranch. Sometimes it isn’t so much having the sheep around as it is all the characters one stumbles across as a result.
See you next week…real good then.