The scurs wasted no time jumping back into the fray, only to have their thermometer stuck again on Tuesday. Will we see another invasion of woolly mammoths or are we destined for warmer days ahead? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper single digits above zero and lows in the low teens below zero. Partly cloudy on Thursday with steadily rising temperatures. Highs near zero with rising temps in the overnight early Friday morning hours. Friday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the middle teens. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a possible flurry. Highs near 20 and lows near 5. Mostly cloudy Sunday with highs near 10 falling to overnight lows of near – 10. Monday, mostly cloudy and cold. Highs struggling to get above zero and lows near 5 below. Temperatures rebound for Tuesday under partly cloudy skies with a chance of flurries once again. Highs in the upper teens and lows in the middle teens, all above zero of course. The normal high for January 25th is 23 and the normal low is 4. The scurs will be desperately trying to repair their broken thermostat by March.
We continue the rollercoaster ride caused by the Alberta Clippers (Calcutta Clippers for all you Denny Green fans) as they slide through, dumping small accumulations of snow then slipping the cold air in followed by plenty of wind. This pattern shows no sign of breaking anytime soon and if anything, it seems to be bringing slightly more precipitation along with it as of late. Coming into January at the ranch we had measured 10” of snow between November and December. Since January 1st we have had 9.8” of snow, well below normal but increasing in frequency and amount per event. In liquid equivalent that snow has melted out to roughly .55”, well below the 1.25” average as measured at the SROC for January. Something that also continues to happen is the thaws every week to 10 days, melting much of the accumulations across the landscape except for the fencelines, groves and of course in front of everyone’s garage.
After the Friday snow it was time to fire up the snow removal equipment at the ranch. The skid loader was used on Saturday and upon freezing my tootsies in the wind, decided it was time to finally bite the bullet and put the chains on the tractor. It’s icy underneath and without them, trying to use a bucket to move snow is nearly futile with the tractor and terrain we’re dealing with anyway. There are very few flat spots in the yard and it works best to try to move the snow downhill as much as possible. Of course that means you actually have to get to the top of the hill first. Putting chains on is a time-honored tradition, one that must be done properly or they wind up in a pile shortly afterwards. Once attached though, you can go almost anywhere you want and tear up large hunks of sod rapidly even though the ground is frozen solid. Helps create more flat spots however.
Was asked recently about the presence or absence of squirrels by a reader not too far as the crow flies from the ranch. Yes, we continue to have plenty of squirrels with Fudgie and Ruby doing their level best to see that they are well exercised. The reader was concerned that their squirrel population was flagging to the point where they weren’t seeing any. Typically on any given morning at the ranch there are at least two and have seen as many as five, all fox squirrels. Of course, they have the good fortune of access to all the ear corn they could desire in addition to cleaning up sunflower and safflower seeds under the feeders. They’re fine until they get bored and tangle with the “squirrel-proof” feeder which has proven to be a slight deterrence at best. Any plastic on the poor thing has long since been chewed off. They also seem to develop an affinity for chewing the coating on wiring. It’s at those times I’d be more than happy to share them, fried or grilled.
The ear corn was put out for the benefit of the few pheasants in the area when the snow buries their food deeper than they can access it. There has been one rooster on the road cut side of the thicket on the edge of the yard when I leave almost every morning. Bunnies, squirrels and blue jays all seem to be using the feeder as well. Something I did as an experiment has been interesting: I placed one of the ears from the July planted corn in the two-cob feeder on the tree by the house. The squirrels are not fussy. They seem to be eating that late planted corn just as readily as the ear from the more typical planting date. More highly relevant scientific observations to ponder.
Auntie Mar-Mar is apparently starting to show her age. After turning down an invitation for a barbecued lamb dinner last weekend, she informed us she was content to become a hermit, stay at home and watch Wheel of Fortune. We are concerned that she may even be taping the shows for future viewing. Now, Bonanza or Gunsmoke reruns would be understandable, but Wheel of Fortune? She even mistakenly referred to Mrs. Cheviot as Vanna on the phone. I guess if we can’t get Mar Mar to come out we’ll just have to sign her up for Meals on Wheels. Maybe bring her some TV dinners.
See you next week…real good then.