Well, the upper teens sounded good for this past Monday. As the scurs pointed out, if you like those temperatures you can keep them. That being the case, what do we have in store for the coming week? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a daytime high in the low single digits below zero. Temperatures rising above zero overnight into the lower single digits above zero. Thursday, partly sunny with a balmy high near 20. Becoming mostly cloudy in the overnight with a low around 10. Mostly cloudy for Friday with highs in the low 20’s. Cloudy for the overnight with a slight chance of a snow shower. Lows near 10. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of a snow shower. Highs in the middle teens and lows in the lower single digits. Sunday brings partly sunny skies with highs again in the middle teens and a low near zero. A slight chance of snow for Monday under mostly cloudy skies with highs near 15 and lows near 5 above. Warmer for Tuesday and mostly sunny. Highs in the mid-20’s and lows near 10 above. The normal high for December 15th is 26 and the normal low is 9. After sliding below 9 hours of daylight on the 10th we’ll slide to 8 hours and 55 minutes worth on the 15th with only one more minute to go before the days get back to that length on the 25th. The scurs are still boycotting Black Friday. Plenty of time to be making a list and checking it twice.
The Full Moon will show itself once again on the 17th, commonly known as the Full Cold Moon or the Full Long Nights Moon. The nights are indeed long as mentioned above and the moon tends to shine brightly off the new fallen snow. The Ojibwe called this the Small Spirits Moon and the Sioux the Moon of Popping Trees. At the ranch we know it as the Moon of Popping Joints when it comes time to roll out of a warm bed and head outside to do morning chores.
Snowfall this past week amounted to perhaps more than what we were expecting. At the ranch we measured roughly 2 ½” and were able to melt about a quarter inch of moisture out of it. With the ground frozen, it won’t move into the soil any time soon. At the SROC under bare soil, the frost depth has reached 11” as of December 9th. However with freezing and thawing of the rough, tilled black soil, some of the moisture from the snow can make its way into the ground and be held in the upper several inches of soil for use by next year’s crop.
One good thing about feeding the birds thus far this winter: It’s been easy on the pocketbook. As Al Batt pointed out a few weeks ago, there is plenty of food out here for them to eat. Just looking out the windows here we can see all kinds of berries, not to mention the upland portion of the CRP that was full of composite flowers, complete with all the seed they produce. Still, we have lots of downies and hairies, a large contingent of blue jays and a growing number of goldfinches. There were even two big, beautiful rooster pheasants that strolled cautiously across the pasture on the slope just below the house on Monday morning. Was good to see a few of them do still exist.
The bellering the sheep do during evening chores doesn’t set well with Fudgie and she becomes very agitated, flinging herself at the gates and the ewes when they’re loud. A few buckets of screenings later however, the sheep are quiet again and she calms down. Ruby just runs with reckless abandon the whole time we’re outside so noise really doesn’t matter. Once the sun starts getting low in the sky her chore clock goes off and she pesters us incessantly until we relent and go do chores. It is nice sometimes on the weekend to do chores during daylight hours so we can actually see what kind of condition the sheep are in. So far so good, they’re all active except for those wrapped in white paper in the freezer.
Saturday was brutally cold but still allowed us to accomplish a few things. Rather than leave a thrower rack in the yard to move snow around all winter it seemed like a logical time to tow it back to its place of origin near Owatonna. The wagon trailed about like a drunken sailor on leave, so a slow rate of travel was in order. After 17 miles of listening to the bearings squeak, watching the running gear whip violently back and forth while visions of ditching it danced in my head, I was more than relieved to exhale and unhook it once we reached our destination.
While in Owatonna, it presented a golden opportunity to grab a Christmas tree before they were down to the Charlie Brown trees. There’s something about the smell of a real tree that can’t be duplicated. Sure, they’re more work and maybe someday if our health no longer allows it, we may opt for an artificial. However, even if that day comes, my guess is it’ll just add to the numerous artificial trees scattered throughout the house. Mrs. Cheviot lives for Christmas decorating. This is part of why Mr. Cheviot is willing to opt for a live tree. After putting it in the pickup, bringing it in the garage, letting it set a few days, taking it outside, making a fresh cut, hauling it back in the house and plopping it in the stand, Mr. Cheviot can go back into hiding, sure in the knowledge that his decorating “skills” won’t be needed for another year. Best of all, this year I didn’t even need to stop at the store where you go to the bathroom in the big orange silo. I went before I left home just like Mom always told me.
See you next week…real good then.