With the scurs’ memory slipping, the Weather Eye from the ‘74 Gremlin continues to make them ponder: Would the heater control cable benefit from a shot of PB Blaster to help warm up the temperatures?
Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny Thursday with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny for Friday and slightly cooler with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Saturday, slightly cooler and mostly sunny becoming partly cloudy towards evening. Highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Partly cloudy Sunday with a slight chance of a passing shower. Highs in the low 50’s with lows around 35. Monday, sunny with highs near 55 and lows in the upper 30’s. Warmer for Tuesday under continued sunny skies. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. The normal high for October 16th is 60 and the normal low is 37, much the same as we see around April 20th. With daylight disappearing at roughly 2 ½ minutes per day, twilight comes a little earlier each night. We dip below 11 hours of daylight on October 16th, something we haven’t experienced since February 24th. The scurs suspect they should be looking for their ice scraper soon.
Progress was made in the fields, although it continues to be slow going. Some corn has been harvested, but it will be a while, especially with soybeans still in the field. While yields have generally been a pleasant surprise, continued heavy dews and frosty mornings made for several later-than-wanted starts to the day for soybean combining. Add to that the general unevenness and it has been a frustrating soybean harvest thus far for many. The hard frosts of the past week should help in that department, but it still takes warmer temperatures to help that come to fruition. Unfortunately our calendar is heading the wrong direction. As Mark Seeley, Extension Climatologist from the U of M points out, we have a wider range of temperatures this time of year. Sure it warms up in the daytime, but it takes a while to get there. With the longer nights, the landscape tends to cool down more. Also, our high temperature for the day tends to occur earlier on a relative basis. For instance, our maximum daytime temperature occurs from 5–6 p.m. in July. In October that happens from 4–5 p.m. and in December, it slides up to 3–4 p.m. Let’s not go there just yet.
The birds are certainly telling us at the ranch that winter will be here before we know it. The hummingbirds haven’t been back since the 4th, although we’ve left some sugar water in one feeder for the benefit of any stragglers. While the frosts have done in much of the flora, there are still lots of salvia that escaped relatively unscathed. On the 10th, some of our migrating spring visitors, namely the white throated and Harris’s sparrows, were heard and seen. One wonders if they’re the same individuals we saw in the spring but there is really no way for us to tell. The birds are transitioning from summer to fall as well. Lots of blue jays calling and flying from one feeder to the next. A red-bellied woodpecker appears daily on the ear corn and a white-breasted nuthatch frequents the sunflower feeder as I eat my cereal each morning. A handful of goldfinches still visit occasionally, the brilliant yellow summer color of the males already a distant memory. Large flocks of robins continue to make their way through, having picked the nannyberries nearly clean in just a few weeks’ time.
Gardening continues as we dug the potatoes under Ruby’s close supervision. She must think I’m going to unearth more play balls as she tenses up, ready to pounce should one of the tubers make a false move. Fudgie would rather do what most kids do this time of year and that’s roll in the leaves. The ash leaves are starting to accumulate in areas and while there are no real piles, they’re crispy and make lots of noise so it doesn’t seem to matter. Like many in the area, we’ve also picked lots of apples, mostly to give away and/or trade. The Haralson and Firesides are enormous this year and the Haralson tree in particular is loaded. Sunday we had some beekeeper customers from Eagle Bend who bought a ram and some ewes from us. Mrs. Cheviot wound up swapping some gourds, Indian corn, carrots, squash and apples for a copious amount of honey, both regular and the spun variety. Heavenly!
Sometimes a sense of nostalgia comes over me. 40 years ago I distinctly remember the fall of ’74 when it froze early. Dad decided it was a good idea to borrow the neighbor’s single row McCormick corn binder and shock a small field. Corn shocks add a pastoral view to the land, but as anyone who has performed the task of shocking can tell you, it’s a lot of work. IH made its last corn binder in 1953, marking the end of an era. Few missed carrying the heavy bundles or were sad to see the corn binders gone. The neighbor’s model was a horse-drawn model that had been converted so it could be pulled by a tractor. It also had a bundle carrier. The bundle carrier was a nice feature allowing bundles to accumulate as one drove across the field. A rope was pulled engaging the conveyor on the carrier and dumping the bundles off in piles for more efficient shocking. Many of the binders of the day had made the next step to being PTO powered. Oddly enough, most farmers didn’t retro fit those models for horses. Apparently there was no place on the horse to attach the PTO shaft.
See you next week…real good then.