The scurs were off the mark with temperatures coming in warmer than forecast. Oddly enough, no one has complained after the previous week’s brutal cold. Will our good fortune continue? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of a snow and freezing drizzle mix. Temperatures rising from 20 to near 30 after midnight. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs near 30 and lows falling to just below zero. Friday, mostly sunny with highs in the lower teens above zero and lows in the lower single digits. Mostly sunny on Saturday with highs near 20 and lows near 5 above. Sunday, sunny skies with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the mid-teens. For Monday, mostly sunny with highs near 30 and lows in the mid-teens. And for Tuesday, mostly sunny with highs near 30 and lows again in the mid-teens. The normal high for January 17th is 22 and the normal low is 4. The scurs will be interviewing for the Vikings head coaching position. If they keep messing up these forecasts, they’ll need a job somewhere.
The snowfall from last week accumulated about an inch at the ranch, with another 1.5” Tuesday a.m., making roughly 3.5” for the month. We’ve measured a little more than 14” for the winter. Luckily, we haven’t had large accumulations and the snowfall has tended to melt away during the melts. Given the windy conditions we’ve experienced several times over the past couple months, we could’ve had a real mess on our hands. As it is there are plenty of little nuisance drifts that seem to appear exactly where one doesn’t want them. One also has to feel fortunate after the recent warm up. Typically when we get into the period from about January 11th to the 20th we see the coldest days of the winter. Not that we are out of the woods yet, but every day we stay above normal it makes it less likely that we’ll see another long stretch such as we went through in early January. Our daylight period is stretching out to over two minutes more per day as well. Will we see more snow in February? Stay tuned.
Venus has disappeared from view in the evening sky to the west before sundown. It will be back to its “morning star” status once again in the eastern sky by the end of the month. Jupiter is now the dominant planet in the night sky, already fairly high in the eastern sky by the mid-evening hours. Its yellowish color easily distinguishes it from the stars. The Full Moon will follow Jupiter across the sky on the 15th. Of course if it’s cloudy it won’t be visible, but you’ll have to trust me on this one. The Full Moon for this month goes by the Full Wolf Moon. Wolves could often be heard howling outside the Native American encampments of the northeast. The Ojibwe called this the Great Spirit Moon and the Sioux knew it as The Moon of Frost in the Teepee. Indeed, the teepees would’ve been nothing but frosty in those days of old.
One has to be glad we’re not into a heavy covering of snow if you’re concerned about the wildlife out here. The fields have had snow cover but it has been short-lived, making it possible for deer, turkeys and pheasants to find the food out here in the fields easily. It makes it even easier for them when people like our neighbor Mark and his son Brock plant the kind of cover they have. They were recently recognized with the Outstanding Windbreak Award in Steele County. It looks like it too from our living room window at the ranch. It has really grown over the past decade and no doubt provides shelter from storms and predators. Frequently we can see pheasants hopscotching their way across the fields from their place, to their CRP, to our yard and then to our CREP acreage. Sunday my nephew saw the first two rooster pheasants we’ve seen in several weeks. Thanks neighbors!
We continue to see cardinals daily and they have set up shop in the brushy edge areas on the east side of the lawn. One of the males is particularly red while the other has some darker color mixed in with the red. The female has probably been the most active though, appearing when the males stay behind in the thicket. Others are also noting lots of cardinal sightings. There have been large groups of American tree sparrows as of late, although the Harris sparrow may have ski-daddled when the weather was brutally cold. Smart bird.
Fudgie and Ruby continue to enjoy winter. There are times you’d swear they’re little furry kids. Once you put them outside, they like playing in the snow and running through it as fast as they can. For an old dog Fudgie can still really motor, especially when the sheep get too close to “her” gate. Ruby gets into a tizzy anytime the OMC 330 is approached and especially if it’s started. Good thing there are 8 ply tires on it or she would have bitten a hole in them a long time ago. Still smile when I feel Ruby tugging on the tires and her fierce growling before the skid loader starts. Music to my ears.
Small villages of permanent fish houses have dotted area lakes for several weeks now. Fishing appears to have slowed since the recent cold snap. That or the fishermen have. Rumor has it there are likely more hands of cards being played than fish being caught. Some are reputedly not even wasting time drilling holes. As one wise fisherman once told me, there’s no law that says you have to fish.
See you next week…real good then.