The new part for the Weather Eye arrived just in the nick of time. The warmer weekend conditions were welcome. Will we see them continue or head back into January again? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper single digits. Mostly sunny and much colder for Turkey Day. Highs in the low teens and lows in the upper single digits. Partly sunny and warmer on Friday. Highs in the low 20’s with lows near 10. Saturday, partly sunny with a high near 20 and lows around 10. Mostly sunny with the start of a warming trend on Sunday. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows around 10. Monday, mostly sunny and warmer. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny Tuesday and much warmer. Highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid 20’s. The normal high for November 27th is 34 and the normal low is 18, the same as we might expect on March 5th. The scurs will be keeping a drumstick in reserve so they can gnaw on it while all the Black Friday bargain hunters are out and about.
Cold conditions this past week put a damper on many folks’ activities. It was a good week to stay inside and hunker down by the fire. Cold temperatures this early, while not unheard of, certainly caught many of us off-guard and certainly not ready for it. How rapidly it does change however. The 50-degree high on Sunday at the ranch melted the bulk of the snow off the lawn and surrounding fields. The grass under the snow was just as green as it had been all fall. It even had me considering an attempt to finish mowing the road cut out front. There were still remnants of a few drifts, but I bet I could’ve made it through them. Some tillage could still be accomplished yet in the remaining fields of freshly picked corn. The frost didn’t penetrate deeply there as snow and the insulation from the corn kept it at bay. Moisture in November has been limited as well. Roughly only .65” of liquid equivalent recorded at the ranch thus far for the month. On bare open ground it’s a little different story as you’ll read below.
Alas, there was barn cleaning to do and not a moment too soon. As I get older this activity gets a little less fun and it’s not like there was a lot of fun in it to begin with. The equipment needs to be maintained what with oil changes, hydraulic filter changes, greasing, oiling, adjusting, etc. Then of course there’s putting the forks on the skid loader. Then go grab a couple troughs and plop them over the fence since it’s easier than giving yourself a hernia. And in the main barn, taking gates and panels down consumes a fair amount of time before you get started. Almost seems like more time is spent on getting ready than actually cleaning the barn sometimes. Of course one can look at it from the standpoint that being prepared is one reason once underway, it goes pretty smoothly without a lot of surprises.
The weather was a surprise of sorts though. Warmer temperatures were expected but not to the extent that the fields thawed out entirely. It got to the point on Sunday after the first two loads that I was cutting in 6” – 8”. It was getting so bad that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back to the yard. It’s kind of hard to hide a red tractor and spreader stuck in the field by the house from the neighbors. With discretion being the better part of valor I opted to back the spreader around by the compost pile and unload the last two loads out back in the pasture. Made for quick unloading and I was able to get the barn cleaned one more time.
Luckily before all this took place we were able to dispense with our lamb crop as well as the cull ewes. The timing couldn’t have been any better. Not only were there fewer critters to deal with during barn cleaning, it makes chores go a lot faster, not to mention using much less feed. What took 45 minutes to an hour was suddenly down to about 15 minutes. Makes one wonder what to do with all that new found free time. Not to worry, I always tell myself. There’s no shortage of people who seem to think you owe them a slice of any free time you might have, especially this time of year.
Not a lot really in the way of new birds and animals to report at the feeders. On the 20th we had a female cardinal under the feeder. The male was nowhere to be seen and with no snow, it makes him more difficult to pick out. There are several mourning doves that have hung around and some of them have actually been showing up in the barn of all places. A group of grackles (blackbirds) appeared just ahead of the warm up and stuck around most of last weekend. The squirrels just keep munching the ear corn as well as digging in the yard for acorns or other goodies they may have stashed. Probably the most interesting animal though at the ranch is the frog living in the basement. I haven’t found him yet but can hear him croaking away from time to time. Just hope he’s not super large so we don’t smell him after he really does croak.
Ruby and Fudgie have been readying themselves for Thanksgiving. They got all perfumed from the barn although the exercise of following the skid loader and manure spreader back and forth wore them out. Both were down for the count Saturday night. With some of the baking Mrs. Cheviot has been doing lately both dogs noses have been getting a workout. It will reach a crescendo come Thursday. They can’t wait for that turkey to come off the Weber as their beaks will be working overtime.
See you next week…real good then.