The scurs were pretty close last week in that it decided to be warmer over the weekend and even hit the snow showers for Monday correctly. Will we be so fortunate this week or has our luck run out? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with possible snow showers. Highs in the upper 20s and lows in the mid-teens. Thursday, partly sunny and colder with highs near 10 and lows falling just below zero. Partly sunny for Friday and colder. Highs in the upper single digits and lows near 5 below. Saturday, partly sunny and continued cold. Highs again in the upper single digits and lows near zero. Mostly cloudy on Sunday and warmer with possible snow shows once again. Highs in the mid-teens and lows in the mid-single digits. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper teens and lows near zero. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs once again in the upper teens and lows around zero. The normal high for December 7th is 29 and the normal low is 13. The scurs will be adding those temperatures to their Christmas wish list.
There actually were some field operations taking place over the weekend in the neighborhood. Some of the prevent plant acreages were baled up and the bales hauled off the fields. One had to wonder the way November was behaving what we were going to see. All in all though it was a dry month at the ranch and across most of greater Bugtussle. We tallied .81” of precip at the ranch for November with about 1 inch of snow. Frost depth is variable according to those trying to complete some last minute projects before it’s too late. Under sod the frost depth was only a few inches. In areas where the ground is bare with high amounts of traffic, up to a foot could be found. St. Olaf Lake has been frozen over since before Thanksgiving, earlier than normal. Even the geese must’ve taken the hint. They usually spend better than a week keeping the water open. This year they were there only a week or less according to some of the resident and highly trained goose observers.
The 9th of December marks the day Studebaker announced their plant in South Bend, IN was closing 50 years ago. Within 11 days the assembly lines there ground to a halt for good and Studebaker moved its operations to Hamilton Ontario. What a sad day that must’ve been for workers who were suddenly without jobs just before Christmas. Studebaker had been a part of the South Bend landscape for a long time. It was a major manufacturer of horse drawn transportation starting in the 1850s. It was one of the early automakers, initially producing electric automobiles. It was a company that had manufactured 63,000 engines for B-17 bombers during World War II. It’s also a little known fact that Studebaker was the first manufacturer to come with an entirely new lineup of automobiles for 1947 following the war, beating the Big 3 to the punch. The cars were popular and sold well. Things looked very bright for the future at that time. Poor management and labor decisions however in the early 1950s would spell what would finally be the end of the company in 1966.
Last Friday I was talking on the phone to my little fat mechanically inclined buddy who happened to be working on the Studebaker at the ranch. As he left that afternoon he’d noticed a group of sheep out in front of the barn. Having never seen them there before he mentioned it in our conversation and he was definitely right: The sheep were out! Not to worry. As long as they stayed out of the road until I could get there from town, we were fine. When I drove up, sure enough there were ewe lambs grazing away on the side hill around the well. Rather than try and chase them around myself I got Fudgie and Ruby out. Within seconds the sheep were back in their enclosure where they belonged. Dogs 1, sheep 0.
The weekend manure hauling didn’t go quite as planned. Unable to use the skid loader, the lambing barn had to be pitched out by hand; a slow 3 ½-load, 2-day process. A delay in barn cleaning had a ripple effect as it frequently does. My original plan had been to clean the lambing barn Saturday and bring the ewes home from the kindly neighbor’s on Sunday afternoon. Monday morning meant hauling a few of the aforementioned escapees to Morgan’s Meat Market so the trailer was hooked up anyway. Having shut the ewes in the night before, they were ready to load after I dropped off the slaughter lambs. Finally, something went right for a change after a weekend of frustration. The lambs unloaded easily at the market, the ewes at the kindly neighbor’s were cooperative about loading and, aside from sliding around on the greasy soil, it came off without a hitch.
With nightfall bearing down we unloaded their feeding equipment, closed up the lambing barn and took the ram out of the trailer along with a couple ewes to cull. The ram decide it was a good idea to tangle with the young buck next door, so the youngster was moved to a pen where they couldn’t get at each other. More than once I’ve seen a young buck with a snapped neck as a result of jousting against superior firepower. Climbed the ladder to change a burned out light bulb, put the tractor away and shut off the lights. It had been a long several days, but with barns cleaned and everything home I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Winter could set in anytime and we were ready for it.
See you next week…real good then.