The scurs got the most out of the Weather Eye from the Pacer last week. They were wondering if it was hooked up right however as when the lever was on cold, we got warm. Will sliding the lever the other direction make it cold? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with a high of 22 and a low in the low teens. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Partly sunny on Friday and continued warmer with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Saturday, mostly cloudy with highs near the freezing mark and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny Sunday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Monday, partly cloudy with highs again near freezing and lows in the low 20’s. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. A sneak peek at Christmas Day looks like mostly sunny with a high in the mid-20’s and a low in the upper teens. The normal high for December 21st is 24 and the normal low is 7. Astronomical winter also begins on the 21st. We will see the shortest amount of daylight for the year at 8 hours and 54 minutes. By Christmas Day we will have already gained a minute back. The scurs will slather themselves with suntan lotion to celebrate. They may need to find a tanning booth first given the recent spate of cloudy weather.
Looks as though we are headed for what is likely to be a brown Christmas. Early week snow didn’t amount to much so sliding on any area hills may be difficult. The November snow seems to be a distant memory with only about .2” recorded on Tuesday. Several observations were made on a recent jaunt to get the electric fence up and running as the sheep were wandering the pasture. After a rooster pheasant gave me a start right by the barn, I noted the posts were easy to push in the ground in spots already on Saturday. Poking around the yard revealed very little evidence of frost. The grass is still green enough in the lawn to make one wonder if it would need mowing again. Finally, a trip to the pond area found that unsafe to walk on especially with a leaky pair of boots. Ice fishing activity seemed to have followed suit.
The recent warm spell has awakened the raccoons and many of them find their way onto area roadways where they seem to have a death wish. Not wanting the dogs to venture forth to investigate, I got the scoop shovel out and tossed one local casualty off the road into the field. Hoping to possibly see one of the eagles reported in the area. Some of the indoor pests have awoken as well. A big noisy fly fell out of the light fixture at the Mall for Men onto the table as I was tapping away on the keyboard. I was prepared as the flyswatter was still within reach.
Saturday made a good day to finally grab a Christmas tree. We were a little concerned that they would be picked over to the point that we would get the Charlie Brown tree but our fears were unfounded. Mrs. Cheviot was drawn to a nice Frazier fir right away so who was I to argue? I was just glad I wasn’t stuck with picking it out myself. I am more than happy to carry it to the vehicle which in this case was the venerable Soccer Mom van or Gus Bus. For some reason that even behaved. Since the weather had been dry it didn’t pee on my foot and the key fob remote even started working again. Oh well, at least the defroster fan still only works on the highest setting, roaring so loudly you can’t hear a thing when driving it. Not that I can hear much anyway.
Sunday after the choir Christmas service it was time to do battle and clean the lambing barn. When we had returned from Saturday’s tree purchasing excursion, I’d hooked up the tractor and spreader, as well as opening everything up so we could get at it quickly. It wouldn’t be possible to haul it to the field as conditions were too muddy so adding to the pile in the lot was our easiest option. I’d figured a load maybe two was all that was in there. I would be wrong. After attempting to fill the skidsteer bucket and back out, it was too slimy to even get enough traction to do that. Our only alternative was to use pitchforks and load the spreader by hand. If you’ve never pitched sheep manure you really don’t know what you’re missing.
On a good day, it’ll come off in big heavy sheets so progress can be made. Sometimes and this was one of those times, it’s stubborn and the top crumbles into pieces making it frustrating to handle. This is especially true if not much bedding was used over the course of the summer months to bind it together. Even though sheep are known for their packing ability, dried out, finely ground pieces of grass simply don’t bond very tightly. In this case, it often works better if the top freezes first and a pick axe is used to bust it loose. Fun for the whole family!
Mrs. Cheviot and I weren’t waiting around for that as we wanted it cleaned before the weather decided to change its mind. We were at it from about 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and wound up grinding through three large loads for the compost pile. The sheep are always happy once the lambing barn is cleaned out. Their water tank is cleaned out and moved inside. New straw is spread for the ewes to pick through and the barn becomes a comfy place to sleep out of the elements. Seeing all the little beds where they’d nestled into the straw overnight made me glad we’d completed the task. And despite our aches and pains, we might’ve kept the snow at bay while we were at it.
See you next week…real good then.