The scurs received much hate mail last week after below normal temperatures for January continued to plague us. Fortunately they were able to burn it to stay warm. Will the Weather Eye bail them out this week or will readers continue to supplement the scurs’ heating bill? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper single digits and lows around 10 below zero. Rebounding for Thursday under sunny skies with highs in the low teens and lows around 10 above with temps rising overnight. Mostly sunny for Friday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper teens. Slightly cooler for Saturday under partly sunny skies. Highs in the low 30’s with lows near 20. Sunday, mostly sunny and warmer. Highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Continued sunny and pleasant for Monday. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Partly cloudy and seasonal for Tuesday with highs in the mid to upper 30’s and lows in the mid 20’s. The normal high for March 8th is 36 and the normal low is 27. On March 8th, we will experience 11 hours and 30 minutes of daylight for the first time since back on October 5th. On the 8th, the scurs will be setting their clocks ahead an hour under protest of the nanny state’s infamous Daylight Wasting Time.
The Full Moon for the month falls on the 5th and goes by several names, the most common of which is the Full Worm Moon. Reputedly the ground actually thaws out and worm castings begin to be seen. It also goes by the Full Crow Moon as the tribes of the Northeast made note of the crows calling this time of year as a signal that winter was over. It also is known as the Full Crust Moon for the freezing and thawing making the snow crusty and the Full Sap Moon for the sap running and being collected from the maple trees. Early settlers also knew this as the Lenten Moon, the last moon of winter. The Ojibwe knew this as the Snow Crust Moon and the Sioux as the Moon When Buffalo Cows Drop Their Calves. At the ranch, it’s the Moon When Ewes Drop Their Lambs. Smaller ruminants but the principle remains the same.
In February, the weather continued to frustrate those who wanted to see some warmer temperatures. In other words, all of us. The first half of the month was tolerable, but after Valentine’s Day the wheels came off. Ice conditions on area lakes continued to thicken and there were reports of up to 30” of ice before the mass exodus of fish houses this past weekend. The frost depth at the SROC measured 25” on March 1st. Their average daily temperature for the month of February was colder than what was recorded for this past January by 7.3 degrees. It was also below average by 9.5 degrees for the month. The most recent NOAA 30-day outlook is calling for lower-than-normal temperatures for March and the near-term forecasts seem to bear that out. Still, there is little snow cover and the moisture profile is not at capacity in the top 5’ anyway. That was noted last fall when we saw many area shallow wetlands lower than normal. In other words, we still have a chance to see an earlier spring than perhaps the last two years at this point. Think warm thoughts.
As expected, the lamb population exploded since last week. Fourteen ewes came in and three of those were at chore time ahead of Tuesday’s predicted storm. Not unusual for ewes to drop their lambs when the pressure begins to fall as it did. Almost needed a catcher’s mitt to keep up as fast as they were coming. The rapid increase means more chores of course. What was taking 20 minutes for the two of us suddenly balloons to over an hour per session. As cold as it’s been, there has been a lot of warm water hauled from the house to the barns in 5-gallon pails. It helps keep the buckets thawed and sheep actually like drinking lukewarm water. As the saying goes, a ewe that drinks well milks well and under stressful conditions, we want to enhance the odds of that happening. A person begins to feel like a beast of burden after a while though. A dozen buckets a day takes its toll. Thankfully we aren’t wading through snowdrifts like we were last year at this time.
Ruby and Fudgie truly enjoy lambing season. In addition to their gate watching duties, it’s their time to shine. When we move the ewes with lambs to the main barn, one of us grabs the lamb or lambs and the plan is that the ewe will follow due to scent and sound recognition. Ideally. The dogs are at the ready should the ewe decide to go astray. Sometimes it appears they’re being counterproductive. When that happens, a quick “stop” command is like hitting the reset button so the ewe stays on track. The ewe is outnumbered so she has few options. Both Border Collies also both love getting into the feed sack containing afterbirth outside the lambing barn. They’re persistent even after they’ve been scolded countless times for it. It doesn’t amuse either Mrs. Cheviot or me very much as you’re never sure where or when they might yack up a frozen treat they fished out of the bag. Dogs will be dogs I guess.
It may become spring someday if the horned larks are any indication. I started noticing them along the roadsides last week, although after they got here, they had to be questioning their decision to return. Little Jerry the rooster pheasant has been slinking around the yard, trying to conceal himself in the brush. Usually he’s pretty good at it, although his tracks in the snow are a dead giveaway of his whereabouts on a given day. Any inkling of a transition at the birdfeeders however is very subtle. A lone goldfinch appears sporadically and that’s about the only deviation from the winter bird pattern so far. Still, one has to be satisfied with the nice group of birds we’ve had to observe at the ranch this winter. I’ve never heard any birdwatcher claim to dislike seeing cardinals on a snowy day.
See you next week…real good then.