The scurs were concerned that the Weather Eye had reverted to a Kelvinator after last week’s dismal weather performance. Sunday afternoon helped make it all better despite the morning rain. Can we build on it or are we back in the vegetable crisper? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-50’s and low in the upper 40’s. Continued cloudy for Thursday with a good chance for daytime thundershowers. Highs near 60 and lows in the lower 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Friday with a slight chance of a shower. Highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny for Saturday with a slight chance of a rain or snow shower. Highs near 50 and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy Sunday with a slight chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy for both Monday and Tuesday with highs in the lower 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. The normal high for this Arbor Day, April 25th is 62 and the normal low is 40. On the 27th, we will see over 14 hours of daylight for the first time since last August 14th. The scurs will be planting more trees in hopes of warding off more of Old Man Winter’s chilly breath.
Last week was a disappointment for those chomping at the bit to do fieldwork. We need to bear in mind that while planting corn in mid-April does occur in SC MN, it is the exception and not the rule. .43” of precipitation was deposited on the 17th at the ranch. Cool, cloudy weather and some snow pellets the morning of the 18th served to add insult to injury. With more rain promised, the .87” of rain from Monday morning’s thundershowers at the ranch likely meant the end of fieldwork east of Bugtussle for the week. West of town where only .2” - .3” fell, it still allowed a glimmer of hope. It is still plenty early yet to get optimum yields though and while it doesn’t make it any easier to be patient, there are few alternatives as we approach late April. The ground was frozen at the surface three mornings in a row last week and reports of hard frost at the 2’ – 3’ depth making tiling impossible are still common, even after the rain. That’s a clue.
It has finally appeared to show some signs of wanting to be spring however. Seeing white pelicans lazily looping their way north on Saturday afternoon was an omen. The brief shower Easter morning coupled with the warm late afternoon temperatures greened the pasture and lawn up. The heavier rain Monday morning brought night crawlers to the surface and onto the blacktop. The frost has to be out in areas where this is happening. The night crawlers and angleworms we’re familiar with are not native to this part of the world and were brought here by European settlers, probably more by accident than by design. Any native earthworms were believed to have been eliminated by the prolonged cold of glaciation. They don’t survive being frozen and typically overwinter below the frost.
One could see a distinct change in the Dubya’s winter rye as well. The grass in the lawn has me believing it’s time to ready my fleet of mowers once again. Odds are I can get one of the three to run. There’s probably enough grass in the main pasture now to support the light grazing pressure from 10 ewes. Of course if the truck comes to haul them away then we should be able to wean some lambs off soon from the loafing barn. The lambs have grown quickly and some are well past the magic 8 week weaning age. That and they’re starting to get stuck in the creep panel!
Does rain on Easter Sunday mean rain for seven straight Sundays? Odds are pretty slim for that happening, although it did just that in 1965, causing flooding and poor cropping conditions. Sunday afternoon made one see and hear only the positive signs that spring was trying to make an entrance. While grilling dinner I listened to the chorus frogs becoming increasing louder as the temperature rose. I’d wondered earlier if the frozen pond had dampened their spirits or at very least, chilled them. Obviously not. I heard a rooster pheasant crowing, quacking mallards in flight, meadowlarks singing and tree swallows excitedly announcing their arrival as they circled the recently cleaned nesting boxes. In the early evening we decided it was time to open the windows in the house for the first time in ages. Outside the window near where I perch to write, a male cardinal was singing his spring song. He moved around as cardinals will do while the song remained the same: Absolutely beautiful.
The rhubarb has finally made it above ground so we can see it from the house. In 2012 we actually had rhubarb pie for Easter dinner. The plants were huge in 2013 and even though it was used somewhat sparingly, it was a welcome treat to have rhubarb sauce in the refrigerator. Around the yard it continues to appear that the fruit trees are all in good shape with the possible exception of the peach tree. If the tree doesn’t make it, the cold, brutal winter may have thwarted my chances to become SC MN’s largest peach producer. I’d really have to eat a lot and grow about 8” taller though to catch Betsy’s dad I’m afraid. A-Rod’s not doing much. Maybe I should call him and get some pointers.
See you next week…real good then.