The scurs were afraid word of the accuracy of the Weather Eye would start to get around after another week of unwanted cold temperatures. Will people still be talking after this week or just muttering under their frozen breath? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low single digits and lows near –10. Mostly sunny Thursday with a slight chance of overnight snow. Highs near 5 and lows falling just below zero. Friday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the low teens. Partly sunny on Saturday with highs in the upper teens and lows near zero. Sunday, mostly sunny with highs in the low teens and lows around 5. Mostly cloudy on Monday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the upper teens and lows in the upper single digits. Tuesday, mostly sunny and warmer. Highs in the low 20’s and lows in the low teens. The normal high for February 24th is 31 and the normal low is 13. The sun will rise on the 24th before 7 a.m. for the first time since last November 7th. The scurs are not putting their long johns in mothballs just yet.
Weather has been trending below normal over the past week as evidenced by the normal highs and lows. Little accumulating snowfall has resulted in addition, although the fluffy stuff that fell Monday was just enough to disguise some of the slippery spots around the yard. Definitely “greasy skid stuff” as Steve Cannon so fondly called it. The winds have howled as well, with Saturday being a good day to stay inside or at very least out of the wind. I am thankful we have planted as many trees as we have over the last several decades at the ranch. Speaking of that, The Waseca SWCD is hosting a “Tree Day” on Wednesday February 18th from 9-5 at the Waseca SWCD office. This is a great opportunity to obtain trees affordably as well as gain valuable information about establishing windbreaks and other wildlife plantings. Remember, the best time to plant trees was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.
Sheep shearing was accomplished on Saturday on what proved to be the coldest day of the week. Our neighborhood sheep shearer and his sidekick were there with bells on. After we got the sheep back in the barn we commenced to shearing and everyone stayed warm with all the activity. Shortly after 1 p.m. we had the job completed and the sheep looked very smooth, and happy to be rid of their heavy blanket of wool. Mrs. Cheviot had a splendid hot meal prepared so we could come in out of the cold, shed our stinky barn clothes and dig in. Nowadays with this hurry up, go here, go there rush everyone in, it’s nice to sit down to a home cooked meal and relax after a workout like that.
As we’ve mentioned in years past, it may seem cruel to take the wool off the sheep at this time of the year, but there are many reasons for it. With the relatively warm winter we’ve had, the ewes have been sleeping outside a lot. With all that wool, they’re too warm to be comfortable inside. That being the case they really don’t care if it’s snowing either. If one leaves the wool on them, they carry that moisture back into the lambing barn, setting up conditions conducive to pneumonia. Shearing now before lambing makes it more likely the ewe will lamb inside the building. It also helps keep external parasites in check. In addition, the lambs can access the ewe’s udder more easily and the ewe gives off more heat, keeping their babies warm. Indeed, after shearing, the water buckets in the lambing pens rarely freeze. And the lambing barn is a great little spot to get in out of the elements briefly to warm up just as it was when I was growing up. One takes advantage of those brief moments to make sure all is well in the lambing jugs. And yes, we do pick the little ones up for closer examination, much to the ewes’ dismay.
On the 19th the Chinese New Year rolls around and it fittingly happens to be the Year of the Sheep. As found on an Internet site, characteristics of people born in the Year of the Sheep are tender, polite, filial, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty, faith in a certain religion and a special fondness for quiet living. They are wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously and circumspectly. In their daily life, they try to be economical. Famous people born in the Year of the Sheep include Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Thomas Alva Edison, Rudolph Valentino, Pierre Trudeau, Barbara Walters, Orville Wright, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Amy Lee, Bruce Willis, Claire Danes, Jamie Lynn Spears and Matt LeBlanc.
I was actually born in the Year of the Dog. And it sorta fits, just like any of those sayings on fortune cookies do. I like dogs and usually they like me. Over the years I’ve had occasion to become acquainted with hundreds of them. Oddly enough, there is no Year of the Cat in the Chinese Zodiac. There is however in the Vietnamese Zodiac. The reason behind this is the domestic cat was not introduced to China from India until well after their zodiac was established. My take on all this: I like Chinese and Vietnamese food or at least food prepared by people whom I suspect are Chinese or Vietnamese.
Ruby has been watching the Westminster Dog Show starting with the agility trials over the weekend. In addition to making hockey easier for us to watch, high definition television must make dog shows appear sharper and more definitive for a small red and white Border Collie to observe. When the show is on, she frequently approaches the screen growling and barking at whatever breed happens to be making its way around the show ring. The Puli or Pulik as a group are particularly draw her ire. There is no discrimination though. She dislikes all breeds.
See you next week…real good then.