Keeping their long johns at the ready was definitely a good idea for the scurs this past week. Will the ’74 Gremlin Weather Eye forecast our weather future once again? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a high near 70 and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny for Thursday with a modest chance for a daytime shower. Highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with a modest chance for an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 50’s and lows around 45. Mostly cloudy Saturday with a good chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs again in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy and cooler for Sunday with a chance for a lingering morning shower. Highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny and continued cool for Monday and Tuesday with highs in the low to mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. The normal high for April 15th is 57 and the normal low is 35. The scurs are waiting to see how far their tax refund will go towards buying coal for the upcoming heating season.
The 15th also marks the date of the Full Moon for the month. It generally goes by the name Full Pink Moon as the wild ground phlox was the first flower to blanket the woodlands. It also goes by the Full Egg Moon as well as the Full Fish Moon as the shad were running for the tribes of the northeast. Closer to home the Ojibwe called this The Broken Snowshoe Moon and to the Sioux, this was the Moon of Greening Grass, critical to their way of life on the prairie and reliance on the buffalo. At the ranch we are in the same boat, knowing this as the Moon of the Dwindling Hay Supply.
Progress towards spring continues to be made in the fields. The snow that once seemed perpetual has largely gone and evidence that the frost is indeed out in places is abundant. While this doesn’t mean fields are fit the table is set so we that we should be able to capitalize on a week – 10 days of warm, dry weather. Dry is the key word here as we picked up .48” of precip on the 4th between the rain and snow that fell. The thundershowers on Sunday night and Monday morning dropped another .47” of rain so early April has had a moist start in Greater Bugtussle.
Even though the rain may not have moved us closer to fieldwork, it has likely moved the remaining frost down in areas where it has persisted as well as helping to melt the stubborn snowbanks around dooryards, groves and windbreaks. At the ranch this is important as the bottom wire on the electric fence remains embedded in the ice so it can’t be charged yet. This means the lambs have yet to be turned loose to run and hop. It also means they have yet to discover what those yellow insulators are all about. One of the old ewes still in the main pasture has figured it out though and has made a mockery of the fence near the house. The aforementioned green grass has appeared on the south slope and she is determined to blow through the fence at will. She doesn’t know it yet but her ticket has been punched for one of those expenses paid trips. After we can charge the fence of course and I have the satisfaction of seeing her get zapped a few times first.
For health reasons primarily, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to check out the action in and around the pond. Saturday presented one of those opportunities so I took it. The Gator was loaded with all the tools needed to clean and repair any birdhouses as well as new cedar shavings for the wood duck houses. The bluebird houses were a piece of cake and readied for new residents when they arrive. The wood duck houses were more work although seeing two pair of wood ducks swim out of the cattails provided additional incentive. There was also one lone ring-necked duck, likely moving through. The wetland has truly been a migrating waterfowl haven especially in the spring the last several seasons. Also spotted in the area has been a breeding pair of kestrels. Not waterfowl of course although a few years ago they occupied one of the wood duck houses. How do I know they are a breeding pair? Well, that’s exactly what they were doing.
We’ve had an owl at the ranch occasionally much of the winter and early spring. Friday night after I made one of those 4 a.m. trips to the bathroom that 50+ year old males make, I was relatively certain that I would have trouble falling asleep again. I tossed and turned under the blankets as my mind was racing. Suddenly I heard a softly spoken “hoooo, hoo-hooo” from atop of one of the spruce trees right outside bedroom. I listened as the owl continued to call and I suddenly started to feel drowsy. The owl eventually moved on to neighbor David’s and although the sound was farther away, its calling was still very soothing. Within minutes I drifted off once again. Checking with Al Batt, he felt it was likely a great horned owl, perhaps with young in the area. All I know is they probably don’t make sleeping pills any more effective than that.
Spring creeps along. Talking to a customer at the post office Monday a.m., she was proud of the fact she’d seen a robin pulling and angleworm from the ground. Western chorus frogs from the pond were heard on Sunday night, April 6th after the rainfall had danced gently off the shingles. Amazing to hear the frogs given the water temperature as I was wading towards a wood duck house just the day before. Breaking through the soft ice on the edge of the pond was a clue. However, between the frogs and falling rain there are plenty of sleep aids in the event the owl doesn’t return.
See you next week…real good then.