The scurs thought they’d found the right colored wire on the Weather Eye last week but alas, it was a dangling wire leftover from a cassette. Will they dampen the spirits of fairgoers for the Steele County Fair? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a high near 80 and a low around 60. Mostly sunny on Thursday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Friday, partly sunny with a slight chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and or a thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly cloudy Sunday with a modest chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid-60’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a high in the mid-80’s and a low in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy and cooler Tuesday with a high near 70 and a low in the upper 50’s. The normal highs for August 15th is 81 and the normal low is 60. We dip back to 14 hours of daylight on the 15th, about the same as we saw back on April 27th. The scurs will continue napping in the hammock for at least another few weeks.
Hit and miss (mostly miss) showers continued this past week and concerns about soil moisture are mounting. Cooler temperatures are definitely helping us to make the most of what there is, but eventually it needs to rain and warm up to finish this crop. Corn is to the R3 stage in places and soybeans are still setting pods yet in the R4 stage. For their height, the soybeans tend to have a lot of pods on them. Size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to plant height. Soybean aphid numbers increased last week although the populations have not exploded. This is somewhat puzzling given the crop growth stage, favorable temperatures, lack of moisture and relatively low presence of beneficial insects. Disease pressure is also very low in both corn and soybeans. Dry weather appears to have taken its toll on third cutting hay. Regrowth is short and the crop will likely follow suit. Leafhopper numbers have been low. Considering we’ve had little southerly flow much of the summer, that’s not totally surprising.
At least the garden has been a bright spot. The cukes, zukes, string beans and the occasional tomato have graced our table. Powdery mildew has been increasing in the vine crops so the yield on those is likely to be negatively affected. Probably time to move the garden as the trees are shading the area too much. It is amazing what a little rain can do though. After planting winter radishes and snap peas on the 3rd then receiving .61” of rain on the 4th, the winter radishes were emerging on the 7th. The snap peas tend to take more time although they were starting to poke through on Monday. More planting was accomplished on the 9th with mixed greens, lettuce, collard greens, kohlrabi planted along with four varieties of radishes. .3” of rain the next day certainly won’t hurt their cause.
Bird numbers continue to slow at the feeders. Goldfinches are faithful even though they are seen frequently feeding on their favorite thistles that are shedding their plumes. Not unlikely that the goldfinches are using some of that thistle down in their nests right now. The last three bluebirds at the kindly neighbors’ are getting close to fledging. The parents have been scolding me the past couple weeks when I venture over to the rain gauge that’s attached to the same post as their house. Bluebirds are among my favorite summer guests. Perhaps it’s because they were so rare when I was a kid. It’s just gratifying to see them making a comeback and knowing the habitat we’ve provided is to their liking.
Speaking of summer guests, I was privileged to have a couple Brazilians visit last week. They’ve been coming through this area the past several years doing a crop survey somewhat along the lines of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour for a company in Brazil. A few weeks earlier I’d invited them to have supper at the ranch when we concluded taping a television interview Friday evening. I was delighted they’d accepted my offer even though I had to fly solo with Mrs. Cheviot gone to the Iowa State Fair. Of course I wanted make a good impression, representing our area accurately yet in the best light possible. For a couple small gift items, I picked up a couple current copies of the Star Eagle and with the gracious help of Matt at the bank, was able to track down a couple copies of the little book calling New Richland (Bugtussle) home. Both Heitor and Daniele pored over the printed material as I fired up the grill, chatting in their native Portuguese about items they’d point out to each other. Not a clue what they were talking about but I’ll bet it was interesting. I gave them the dollar tour as the coals were getting ready. Ruby entertained as Fudgie kept her distance while we showed them the sheep as well as the large garden. When we finished with that the coals were ready for the shish kebob assembled earlier that afternoon.
The meal definitely put the area and Minnesota in general front and center. Fresh sweet corn from my neighborhood sheep shearer, with string beans, cucumbers and zucchini from the garden, onions and peppers from the local area, Hope butter, and of course our homegrown lamb. As we dined we visited in English of course about a wide range of topics. Apparently the food was to their liking as they jokingly asked if they could come back the next day. When I offered them some Schwan’s frozen yogurt for dessert, they were stuffed. We visited a while longer and after showing Heitor the grill (he also loves to cook), it was time for them to head back to the hotel for the evening. It had been a long day for them trekking through Iowa before making their last stop here in South Central Minnesota. Was just glad we were all able to exhale for a bit. In an environment that pressures us to focus on working long hours, we frequently don’t get enough time to let out hair down and be ourselves, let alone with international friends from Brazil.
See you next week…real good then.