The scurs are ready to close out the New Year once again. Seems like it was only about a year ago. What will the reaper leave on our doorstep this year? Starting Wednesday, a slight chance of snow with partly sunny skies. Highs in the mid 20’s and lows near zero. Mostly sunny for Thursday, highs in the middle single digits and lows between -5 and – 8. Friday, partly sunny with highs in the upper teens and lows of 10 to 15. Partly sunny again for Saturday and warmer with highs in the upper 20’s and lows near 10. Mostly cloudy Sunday with highs of 10 to 15 and lows near zero. Mostly cloudy for Monday with highs in the mid-teens and lows in the upper single digits. Partly cloudy with a slight chance of snow for Tuesday. Highs in the mid-teens and lows in the upper single digits. The normal high for New Year’s Eve Day is 23 and the normal low is 5. The scurs will be breaking out the noisemakers and filling themselves with good cheer.
Permanent fish houses have begun to appear on area lakes. There are a few people driving out, but they are tending to park their vehicles on shore and walk out to the houses. Frost depth in the ground somewhat mirrors the ice thickness on area lakes. Reports of a foot or so of ice on area lakes are not uncommon. As of last Monday there was 15” of frost in the ground as measured at the SROC in Waseca on bare ground. This week’s cold temperatures and relatively light snow cover will promise to drive that frost and make the ice even deeper.
The trees are silhouetted against the sky now, with the exception of the evergreens of course. Those deciduous trees, however, serve as a reminder of all the birds that nested over the summer. The hard maple tree had three nests in it. As dense as its canopy of leaves were this past year, there was no telling what might’ve been nesting in it. There are many other bird nests scattered in the trees throughout the yard, another reason sleeping with the windows closed in June is a good idea if you don’t want to wake up at 4 a.m. Numerous squirrel nests have also appeared scattered throughout the trees. The squirrels seem to have it figured out. They come down out of the nest when they feel like it. Otherwise they stay in bed. The pin oak tree is bitterly clinging to last summer’s leaves. With each blustery winter day a few more are loosened up and by spring, they’ll be history as well.
With the snow melt this past week, snow cover has become patchy. As a result, the bird activity has slowed once again at the ranch. Out here it almost seems that we need to have pretty good cover to bring out the best variety. Sure we still have our faithful downies, hairies, blue jays, and juncos, but it seems the more exotic things like the cardinals are less apt to be seen without snow here. We have had a Harris sparrow that seems to be hanging around with the juncos, but that’s about as exotic as it gets for the winter so far.
Staying inside once we get in from chores seems to be the order of the day. I have learned one thing though: You have to be careful with all the static electricity in the house right now. Ruby loves to play with her ball and hence generates a lot of it. When her tail happened to bump against the laptop, I heard a spark and immediately the screen turned to snow. I couldn’t get back what I was working on without rebooting the confuser and then parts of it that weren’t saved were gone. I’m sure what I was working on wasn’t literary award winning material. Still, wouldn’t want to have that happen too many times.
The cold winter temperatures also have us watching TV when there is actually something fit to watch. Sunday night The Sound of Music was on, so we decided to watch it after not seeing it for a long time. The dogs sometimes like to come in and watch too, although Fudgie is indifferent about television, usually opting to stay in her room and sleep. Typically that’s a good call. Ruby and I were all curled up with our popcorn. All was going well until Julie Andrews made her appearance. Ruby saw her and started one of her patented growling fits that escalated into loud barking. First Clint Eastwood and now Julie Andrews. What on earth is the world coming to?
And with the advent of the smartphone, I’ve become lazy in my gift buying decisions for the staff at the Star Eagle. These days, since we can just point the phone at anything and our problems are magically solved without having to think or work, I figured I’d find them some apps as gifts. Can’t wait to see this stuff show up on my bill. Here’s what we found:
Let’s see for Jim, a hair growing app. Point the phone at your melon; you grow hair. Simple. If it stays this cold he’s going to need it. For Mark, an app that makes your voice sound like Jules Perlt so you’re ready for the Barn when they call. For Al, a bird ID app. Oops! He wrote it. O.K., a hat app instead. Careful, Jim may steal it. For Kathy, a column writing app. Hey, that’s what I use. For Kugie, a sports trivia and prognostication app. The scurs use the weather version. Guaranteed to increase your predictive capabilities or your money back. Did I mention it’s a free app? For Sara, a hair and makeup application app. Should save time on those rushed mornings when you’re late to work. My sheep shearer uses a similar version. Hopefully I got the right one. For Nicole, a copy correction app. Won’t work on Fencelines columns. They are beyond repair. And for Reed, a little fat buddy secret decoder app. It reveals those hidden messages in Fencelines columns. Paul is dead…Paul is dead. See? It really works. Truly a one of a kind, just like Reed.
Merry Christmas! See you next week…real good then.