The scurs tuned the Weather Eye in and in fact, are looking at changing the thermostat again after being warmer than normal. No complaints or hate mail so here goes: Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny on Thursday with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Friday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny and cooler on Saturday. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Sunday, sunny, with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Monday. Highs again in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Partly cloudy and slightly cooler on Tuesday the 17th with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. The normal high for St. Patrick’s Day is 40 and the normal low is 23. We will go over 12 hours of daylight on the 18th for the first time since last September 25th. The scurs will try to avoid spilling any green beer on the Weather Eye in hopes that our good warm weather fortunes continue.
What a difference a week makes! Last week if you’ll remember (you’d probably rather forget) we were seeing overnight lows below zero and highs only in the teens some days, not to mention the wind including Tuesday’s blizzard that wasn’t. As of this writing, most recently we were seeing highs in the 50’s and lows just below freezing, with the promise of warmer temps in the near-term. Welcome to Minnesota! The frost is receding in some places and given the forecast, it won’t take long without snow cover for it to be completely gone. It will take a few days however for fields to get into any kind of shape allowing traffic for spring manure applications or other field operations. The mud in the yard from last fall’s manure hauling at the ranch serves as a reminder that it was pretty greasy before freeze-up. Plus there has been some additional moisture added to the top few inches of soil since then with the snow that melted off and on over the winter. No need to get in a hurry just yet.
It is nice to see warmer temperatures on many fronts at the ranch though. The lambing barn was filled to capacity. When one has 15 pens with ewes and lambs crammed in a 16’ x 28’ building, that is the definition of full. It was so cold however that we didn’t dare move some of the newborns to the large barn. Tags, tails and shots were done Friday afternoon, so that happened Saturday forenoon. The lambs were off to the races and the ewes were glad to be out of their cramped quarters. We also got the creep feeder established so the youngsters could get on solid feed more quickly, hopefully meaning earlier weaning dates and ewes on pasture. The two best things though: No more climbing over pens to access pens and no more hauling warm water from the house. (And the crowd goes wild!)
Even the pasture seems to have a greenish tinge to it where the snow left along the fenceline. It won’t take long and the ewes that haven’t lambed yet will be after anything remotely resembling green grass. There was still some snow on the electric fence yet so that will need to melt before charging it again. It shouldn’t take too much longer and it should be one of the earliest dates in recent memory we have let the ewes with lambs out in the small lot in front of the main barn. That always makes for the annual gawker slowdown as people slow down to get a glimpse of the new lamb crop. Don’t blink. They grow pretty fast.
There are also subtle changes happening in the bird population here at the ranch and elsewhere. A bald eagle was seen soaring overhead as I awakened from a cat nap and gazed out the window over the weekend. House sparrows have already built nests in the barn and are no longer monopolizing the birdfeeders. Apparently they have other things on their mind. Along those lines, the wood duck houses were cleaned out and refilled with fresh cedar shavings over the weekend. The wetland is low and lack of snow melt won’t help that situation. Geese were heard overhead on Monday morning making me wonder how far behind the robins might be. That evening I received a call from the male half of the kindly neighbors to inform me that robins had been spotted in their yard. No earthworms yet although it shouldn’t take long. In the meantime there are plenty of crabapples and American cranberry (viburnum) fruit so they won’t starve.
Leonard Nimoy passed away last week at age 83 marking the loss of another actor from the fabled ‘60s TV show Star Trek. At first as a lad, Star Trek was a scary show even on a black and white TV set. Some of the characters and special effects at the time were more frightening than those on Lost in Space. With time though, the show grew on you. As Spock, Nimoy became a favorite of many Trekkies. Spock was a pointy-eared, green-blooded Vulcan, portraying a character whose function was to provide timely logic and stability in contrast to the emotional and irrational human crew. Bones in particular was always at odds with Spock and his intellect. As kids in college we spent many hours watching Star Trek. The reruns were favorites for years on the local stations and we’d watch it any chance we could. It certainly sparked in many of us an interest in the stars and the evolving space program. It also inspired us to give “Spock bites” and repeat phrases such as “Illogical, captain.” And of course, who can forget the Vulcan salute, “Live long and prosper.” Not bad words to live by.
See you next week…real good then.