The scurs slid the lever on the Weather Eye all the way to the left and like magic we had our first 60-degree day. Will they be able to duplicate that magic again this week? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of rain then a good chance of overnight snow. Highs near 45 and lows around 30. Mostly cloudy, and ugly for Thursday with a good chance of rain changing over to accumulating snow. Highs in the low 40’s and lows near 30.Mostly cloudy Friday with a good chance of daytime snow and a slight chance for overnight snow. Highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Finally, mostly sunny on Saturday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny and warmer on Sunday with a slight chance of overnight rain and snow. Highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the lower 30’s. Monday, partly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the lower 30’s. Tuesday, mostly sunny with highs again in the upper 40’s and lows in the lower 30’s. The normal high for April 6th is 52 and the normal low is 31. We will see over 13 hours of daylight for the first time since September 5th. The scurs are thinking they will want to keep their long johns washed for a few weeks yet.
It’s beginning to look like we may see spring after all. While there was no lawn mowing to be done as we did back in 2012, there was progress as much of the remaining snow left the landscape between Sunday and Monday. This didn’t seem to faze the ice fishermen on St. Olaf. The ice was still in good shape according to reports both days. Rainfall on Thursday and Monday have helped move the frost out of the ground in many places. At the SROC, the frost was officially out as of the 31st. At the ranch we took out the divining rod otherwise known as an electric fencepost and checked many spots around the yard. In places the frost was indeed out. Wherever the ground had stayed snow covered and on the south facing slope, there was little frost. Where it had been bare and on the north facing slope frost could still be found on the 31st from 4” – 6” down under sod.
Using more reliable methods, it has begun to sound like spring. The red-winged blackbirds came in force over the weekend. When they weren’t calling loudly the sound of their wings as the large groups took flight could only mean it was spring. Killdeers were also back, calling from area fields nearby. A flock of 60 - 70 snows and blues were spotted high overhead on Saturday, their distinctive high pitched squawk made them easy to spot. The sun shining off the black wing tips of the mature snows and the outstretched white heads and necks of the blues cemented the ID. Robins have set up shop and males are battling for territory. Even with the ground thawing, we have yet to see them pulling earthworms from the ground. Soils apparently remain too cold and they rely heavily on the crabapples for some sustenance. Striped gophers also have yet to make an appearance at the ranch even on the south slope where they tend to be numerous. Freezing and thawing soils over the course of this week will likely delay their emergence from winter slumber even further.
Of course the mud due to the warm up also means it’s spring. We almost look forward to the ground freezing overnight so it’s not so sloppy in the feedlot. That and the dogs stay a lot cleaner. We have limited their time in the barn recently and have substituted more frequent short outdoor trips to offset their normal routine at chore time. If you let a Border Collie out around the sheep, keeping them clean is next to impossible. By letting them out then leaving them in the garage during chores, they tend to clean themselves up by the time you come back in. Definitely method to our madness.
The grill was finally out of the snowbanks long enough so we could fire it up on Sunday night. The winds had subsided and two adult beverages later there were lamb burgers on the plate. Something about those first treats off the grill. Try as I might, I can never seem to make them taste as good as that initial effort. However I keep trying.
Fruit tree pruning was accomplished in stages over the weekend. It was about as late as we dared to go without putting the trees at increased risk in particular for bacterial diseases. It’s interesting to get a handle on the general health of the trees as well as giving them a shaping up. The Fireside and Haralson apple trees were awful to prune, almost as though they had grown hair since last spring’s clipping. Working them over a few years ago after letting them go a few years before that serves as a lesson on what not to do. Pruning the pear trees was almost humorous in contrast. Sure, they’re younger but trimming one or two twigs is more my speed. The peach tree appears to have survived even without major wrapping. This is a good thing as all those peach crates Betsy’s dad and I ordered might go to waste otherwise.
See you next week…real good then.