The scurs keep tinkering with the Gremlin Weather Eye, hoping they will find the “Plant Corn” setting. The 180-degree Studebaker thermostat is still in the box and if things don’t change pretty soon, they may use it. Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with an increasing chance for showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the low 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a good chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Partly cloudy and cooler with a slight chance of s morning shower. Highs near 60 and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny on Saturday with a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Partly sunny and warmer Sunday with an increasing chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows near 55. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a good chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs near 65 and lows in the mid-40’s. The normal high for May 10th is 68 and the normal low is 46. On the 10th we will see 14 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, the same as we saw last August 3rd. The scurs are wishing we could import some August temperatures while we’re at it. Something to work on this next week.
Another disappointing week of spring in slow motion. Rainfall in town totaled 2.85” and 2.72” at the ranch from Sunday the 27th - May 2nd. Soil conditions were unfit for tillage and planting operations and cool, cloudy weather only made for more frustration. Corn planted April 26th was swollen as of May 5th but had not germinated. Cold conditions since planting have been the primary reason. A record low high of 39 was recorded at the SROC in Waseca on April 30th. Since May 1 they have only calculated 11.5 GDD and 20 GDD since April 26th. For that same timeframe we should have seen close to 60. Weed growth also reflects the cool temps. Giant and common ragweeds are still tiny as are lambsquarters seedlings.
Believe it or not there are some positives. Recent rains should have helped alleviate any remaining frost left in the ground. While frost was still reported in places at 3’ – 4’ on May 5th, it is becoming softer. Corn planted on May 15th still has at least 95% of the potential yield and soybeans suffer no loss until later in the month, not to mention making them less apt to be affected by SDS. While we may not be planting into ideal soil conditions we may have to opt for what Betsy’s dad terms as “acceptable.”
At the ranch, the pasture continues to produce just enough to support a handful of ewes. It will soon be time to wean at the earliest lambs and put their mothers on grass. The fence at the kindly neighbors’ was put back up after the winter ravages. Chores suddenly become much simpler after weaning is accomplished so warmer temps would definitely be welcome. We’re not draining the garden hose after filling the water tank and buckets anymore so at least it’s a moral victory.
The face of the bird population at the ranch keeps changing albeit slowly. A brown thrasher (a feathered version of Jimmy Page) arrived on May 2nd. White-throated sparrows added background vocals. May 3rd, wood ducks were back for the second year in a row checking out a canker in the silver maple tree. Apparently the cavity is still not deep enough to make it worth their time. A rose-breasted grosbeak was after the sunflower seed on the 4th as a grackle tried to dissuade him. That same night at dusk, it appeared the first pair of barn swallows occupied the granary, their favorite nesting spot. On May 5th, a Harris’s sparrow was spotted in the early evening and, on the morning of May 6th ,a white-crowned sparrow. Add to that the reappearance of a handful of goldfinches and it has definitely been more colorful. Orioles have already been spotted in areas so it’s only a matter of time.
Fudgie and Ruby have done their best to provide nesting material for the birds. The sunlight shone on Ruby as she walked across the floor, revealing a cloud of hairs. Sort of reminded us of the Pigpen character from Peanuts. Fudgie had been brushed before although she was up to another round. After some coaxing and plenty of elbow grease, the yard once again looked like two dogs had exploded. The breezes and birds soon made their fur a memory, except for the fur stuck on my jacket and in my mouth.
Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer made a surprise visit the other day, regaling us with tales of the evening skies once again. Jupiter can still be seen in the western sky, and as the month progresses it will be lower with each passing night. Mars is very red and getting higher in the sky, becoming closer to its zenith at 10 o’clock CDPT (Central Dog Potty Time). Saturn is touted to be the planet to watch for the summer months. It rises about sunset and remains visible for the duration of darkness. As Dale Niedfeldt points out in his column, it takes a telescope of at least 30 power to see the brilliant colors of Saturn’s rings. One doesn’t need nearly that much magnification to see how brilliant Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer is.
See you next week…real good then.