The parts the scurs ordered for the Weather Eye arrived and not moment too soon. Weather over the weekend was an absolute 10. Will our luck continue or will we see Jack Frost soon? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy and cooler with slight chance of a shower. Highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with continued cooler than normal temps. Highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid to upper 30’s. There exists the chance for patchy frost especially in low lying areas. Sunny again for Saturday with slightly warmer temperatures. Highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Continued slightly warmer on Sunday under partly sunny skies. Highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Monday, rain likely under cloudy skies. Highs near 60 and lows near 40’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with continued below normal temperatures. Highs around 60 and lows in the mid-40’s. The sun will set before 7:30 p.m. on the 13th. The normal high for September 15th is 73 and the normal low is 50. The scurs have their blankets and tarps at the ready for Friday night just in case.
Crops are making their move toward the finish line. Corn is still R5 although the milk line is making its presence known. Some of the corn planted in the May 6-7 range has a milk line about halfway down the kernel. Silage harvest is underway in places. Soybeans continue to progress as well with some fields turning rapidly as they approach R7. Most are still in the R6 stage however. How much would a frost hurt either crop? It depends somewhat on the planting date. Some of those fields of corn with the milk line halfway down last week wouldn’t be hurt more than a few percent with a frost on Friday. Soybeans however would be a different story. Freezing them at mid R6 would probably mean a yield hit in the neighborhood of 15 – 20%. A couple websites gauging potential yield losses from an early frost: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/efans/cropnews/2011/09/yield-and-harvest-consideratio.html http://thesoyreport.blogspot.com/2013/09/odds-my-soybean-crop-will-mature-before.html.
Let’s hope we don’t have to deal with frost just yet.
One can definitely see the change in the seasons is upon us. Looking to the northwest around 10ish when letting the dogs out or even if you don’t, one can see the Big Dipper prominently on display. Some of the trees in the yard are starting to show some color already which may have something to do with the stress they seemed to be under coming out of the winter in some cases. Speaking of fall colors, looking to the west the sun shining off the russet colored Indiangrass against the azure sky Saturday evening almost took my breath away.
This was also a good weekend to notice the number of insect species that were active. We have had a very busy crew of bumblebees working over not only the potted flowers but any remaining vine crop flowers. The striped and spotted cucumber beetles have been working over any soft tissue they can, leaving divots in some of the string bean pods. Some of their cousins, the northern corn rootworms have also joined them. Monarch butterflies sailed lazily past the windows much of the weekend and other species such as the yellow swallowtails were occasional visitors.
We were still seeing the odd Baltimore oriole as of Monday although the jelly consumption has tailed off substantially. It won’t surprise me if that was their last day with cooler conditions coming soon to the area. In the meantime the hummingbirds continue to keep us entertained. They emptied one feeder and were working on whatever the orioles decided to leave them in their feeder. Goldfinches have returned in numbers once again and the chickadees have recently discovered there are sunflower seeds here for the taking.
The garden continues to be a beast. While there have been more tomatoes than we know what to with, we’ve been fortunate to find good homes for large amounts of them. Others haven’t been so fortunate. The vines are huge. Apparently they liked the large amount of potassium applied this spring. There are plants of one variety of grape tomatoes that are ten feet wide! Once it started raining the end of August, they covered the peppers and string beans on either side and touch the snap peas and other row of tomatoes on the other. A reader asked about how we find the energy to do the fall gardening thing. It’s probably because we really had very little early spring garden at the ranch this year. There were still snow banks on the garden in April and parts of it were covered with standing water shortly afterwards. There are some radishes that are ready to harvest and the lettuce isn’t far behind. Some of the kohlrabi is slow but there is hopefully a lot of time left before the ground freezes.
In the meantime the sheep continue to enjoy the spoils (literally) from the garden. Too often the bunnies or the picnic beetles seem to locate the ripe muskmelons before we do. While that’s unfortunate it’s nice to know that nothing goes to waste. Even the cobs from the sweetcorn are devoured completely. How they perform that feat is entertaining to say the least. They somehow manage to put the entire cob in their mouth then start grinding away. Within a matter of a few seconds it’s gone and they’re looking for another one. It isn’t so amazing, however, after one has tried slipping a bolus down their throat. A sheep’s molars are razor sharp and your thumb making contact with them will result in it looking like a piece of hamburger. Bloody, rare hamburger.
See you next week…real good then.