The scurs finally discovered the problem with the ’74 Gremlin Weather Eye: The wire on the windshield washer and air conditioning were crossed. Will their repair hold until we cross the corn planting finish line? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the lower 70’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly sunny on Thursday with highs near 70 and lows in the lower 50’s. Mostly sunny conditions continuing for Friday and Saturday with highs in the mid to upper 70’s and lows in the mid to upper 50’s. A modest chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday into Sunday. Partly cloudy Sunday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-60’s. An increased chance of a shower or thunderstorm into Memorial Day Monday under partly cloudy skies. Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny again for Tuesday with a decent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Highs again in the upper 70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. The normal high for May 26th is 73 and the normal low is 52. We will see over 15 hours of daylight on the 23rd, the first time since July 19th of last year. Let’s hope the scurs remember which wires were crossed on the Weather Eye come August.
Farmers were definitely enjoying the sudden change in weather fortunes locally after struggling most of the spring to put crop in the ground. Saturday and Sunday marked the best conditions of the planting season thus far with the promise of more to come. Many kept working into the wee hours of Monday morning as the forecast threatened more rain. One can’t blame farmers for being wary after the wicked blow 2013 dealt them. Luckily we dodged a bullet for once and the precipitation was very limited across Greater Bugtussle. An approximate estimate of corn planting locally for May 19th would be roughly 65%. Soybean planting was probably closer to 20%. Corn planted April 26th had emerged to the point that it could be rowed in spots Monday a.m. All in all, a decent start considering the spring although there is a lot of growing season to go. To keep matters in perspective however, you can’t harvest what you can’t plant and we have to be thankful for that.
Around the ranch there are definite signs that it is indeed corn planting time. The leaves on the oaks were the size of a squirrel’s ear this past week and the wild plums were in full bloom. The fragrance they grace the yard with certainly says spring as few others can. The rhubarb has become huge and this weekend would be a great time to make some sauce and a pie if time allows. The garden continues to dry and by the time this reaches mailboxes and newsstands, we should actually have some of it planted. In the meantime it has been interesting to watch the perennial transplants we brought back from Mom’s come to life. Slowly but surely all of the peonies, numerous lily of the valley and a Jack in the Pulpit all made it through the brutal prairie winter unscathed. Best of all the lily of the valley are about to bloom adding to the plum thicket’s contribution.
New bird sightings slowed as expected this past week. It still is fun to watch them after the long winter is finally behind us or it better be! One of the area robins continues to use my official rain gauge as their personal toilet. They’ve been plugging the quarter-inch hole in the funnel so Mr. Cheviot needs to make sure it’s cleaned out ahead of a rain. My stint as a janitor in the dorm prepared me well for this task. Along those same lines we were visited much of last week by dozens of cedar waxwings. Neat little black-masked, brown crested birds and lots of them. Couldn’t figure out what was falling out of the tree on me one morning while filling the birdfeeders. I noticed red stain all over the horizontal surfaces as well as what appeared to be little disk shaped seeds. After doing a little investigating it was determined they were seeds, likely from the American cranberry bushes at neighbor David’s. The sun was shining and I had to laugh. The bushes were full of berries and so were the waxwings, at least until they passed through their digestive tract.
No better sign of spring at the ranch than weaning the lambs from the ewes. Our ewe numbers continue to decrease and that’s a good thing as our recovery time from the annual beating we take is increasing. We do try to utilize our brains more than our brawn however and it usually pays dividends. This time Mrs. Cheviot came up with the idea of loading the ewes into the trailer, then separating the groups once in the trailer. This kept the catching to a minimum and hence the injury potential. With only a bruised rib and slightly sprained wrist this time, I felt fortunate. Once we got them into their groups, we hauled one batch to the kindly neighbors’ and deposited the remainder at home upon our return. The noise was deafening at times the first two days. Ewes that had been busy beating on lambs competing with them at the feed trough and hay bunk suddenly wanted them back. Go figure.
Always a job well done though and time to move onto something more fun like finding the bluebirds at the kindly neighbors. They’ve been nesting in the corner house at the pasture every year for a decade, maybe more. This year was more like “Where’s Waldo?” With no bluebird eggs in the first three nesting boxes I was starting to worry. Had they forgotten or had something happened to them? As I pulled up to the fourth and final house on the hilltop, it contained the small bluish bluebird eggs I’d been looking for. To my delight they had returned after all and officially, so had spring.
See you next week…real good then.