The scurs set the Weather Eye on “plant” mode and plant farmers did, followed by some fast moving precip. Will there be more of that in our future or will we dry out? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy Thursday with a continued good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny for Friday with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm, Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 40’w. Saturday, mostly cloudy with an increasing chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs near 70 with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a good chance for showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows near 50. Monday, mostly cloudy and cooler with continued decent chances for rain. Highs near 65 with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs near 65 and lows in the upper 40’s. On May 9th we will see 14 hours and 30 minutes of daylight for the first time since last August 3rd. Mother’s Day is the 10th and the normal high for May 10th is 68 and the normal low is 46. After stocking it with walleyes, the scurs will be napping by the ceement pond with lines tied to their toes.
What a watershed week for field progress! Most of the corn was finished up with a huge dent made in soybean planting. After some tacky soil conditions from rain that fell on April 24th, soil conditions were about as good as it gets. The soil temperatures started out cool in the mornings but by afternoon were well into the 60’s and 70’s at the 2” depth at the SROC in Waseca. Very little rain fell across the area making it a delight to venture forth without worrying about getting stuck. Corn planted on April 14th began to emerge on May 1st and by this past Monday, it could be rowed in areas. Soybeans planted April 17th were just cracking the soil surface Monday afternoon, showing no signs of problems with some of the cool weather experienced since they’ve been in the ground. We are off to a great start, a far cry from what the past two spring planting seasons have treated us to.
Around the countryside and at the ranch as well, flowering plants have burst into bloom. The wild plum thickets have been heavenly to smell and they almost look like snow against the greening backdrop sometimes. About the time they’ve run their course, the flowering crabs kick in with their pinks and reds. The apple trees at the ranch have been in bloom as well, adding their very delicate fragrance to a warm afternoon. As our trees are not as loaded with blooms as last year, we probably won’t see an apple crop like that one this time. Oak trees flowered and while their flowers aren’t anything to look at, the squirrels might take issue with that observation. At least the leaves were as big as a squirrel’s ear.
More white-throated sparrows keep showing up, although we’ve seen no white-crowned or Harris’s sparrows yet. We have had a rose-breasted grosbeak though that showed up on May 2nd. There is still an occasional junco, but they seem to have departed, likely for points north. Robin nests keep appearing in strange places, the most recent one being on top of a couple grease guns hanging in the barn. Fortunately I have one in the garage where they can’t get at it. Goldfinch numbers have suddenly increased with the amount of foliar cover on the rise. They’ve become comfortable with the new roller feeder and seem to be telling their friends. That’s OK because this was a relatively cheap winter to feed the birds. Forty lbs. of sunflower and safflower carried us through most of it. Last but not least, an oriole was spotted at the ranch attempting to get at the hummingbird feeder. He did make his way over to the jelly feeder so spring has officially sprung at the ranch.
This week has really brought out the red admiral butterflies. These smaller reddish-orange, white and brown beauties make me happy when they make their bouncy flight around the yard. Their larvae make me even happier when they feed on their favorite food, stinging nettles. The American toads have taken center stage in the wetland here at the ranch as well as across the area. Their high pitched trilling fills the still night air and overpowers the sound of the remaining chorus frogs.
In the barnyard, the sounds haven’t been nearly as pleasant. We decided Sunday morning it was time to wean the ewes and lambs. They of course are never willing participants in this event and we have the bumps and bruises to prove it. However, they’re not the ones paying the feed bill. Some of them are absolutely heartbroken to be separated, but then some of the lambs are big enough so they almost lift the ewe off the ground when they go to nurse. It’s time when that happens. There is plenty of grass now and the one group of 10 ewes was fortunate enough to get a short trailer ride to the kindly neighbors’, a little piece of sheep heaven on earth. Luckily after a couple days the noise abates and life goes on. In the meantime as we heal up from our aches and pains, chores have been sped up immensely and that makes everyone happy.
Sunday was also a day to mow the windbreak and after that, spend time getting the vine crops seeded. My little fat greenhouse buddy had everything ready so it was a piece of cake. That and I got to visit with several old friends who wondered what the heck I was up to at Souba’s greenhouse. Gotta keep ‘em guessing and seeding 108 hills of vine crops will do that. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself with gardening so I like to take it slow and not make any more work out of it than necessary. Observing things first like soil temps, rainfall, weed control, soil fertility, and insects are all part of the equation. The plants we brought back from my mom’s place have preoccupied my garden gawking time at the ranch at this point. The lilies of the valley wasted no time unfurling and they are loaded with flower buds. They give all the appearances that they will quickly cover the area on the northwest side of the house. All the peonies we dug are alive and coming now although they vary in size. The Jack in the pulpit apparently likes its new home, shooting up not one but two shoots. And the Solomon’s Seal berries planted a couple autumns back suddenly sprang to life with numerous small plants scattered in the shade bed. While Mom is no longer with us, seeing these plants she loved will make it feel a little more like Mother’s Day.
See you next week…real good then.