The scurs and their Weather Eye got the rains to stop in places. However, in places they didn’t. Will they get a grip and dry us out for the 4th or will we have to light soggy firecrackers? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a high near 75. Thursday, sunny becoming partly cloudy with a modest chance of rain in the overnight. Highs near 75 with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly sunny Friday with a slight chance of daytime showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Saturday the 4th, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Sunday, partly sunny becoming mostly cloudy with an increasing chance for showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs near 80 with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny with a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms on Monday. Highs around 80 with lows in the mid-60’s. Tuesday, partly cloudy and pleasant with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. The normal high for the 4th of July is 83 and the normal low is 61. We will have already lost a staggering 6 minutes of daylight since the summer solstice and the sun will be setting before 9 p.m. In the meantime, the scurs will be attempting to evade Mark Dayton’s jack-booted Fireworks Police.
After 3.1” of rain fell last Monday at the ranch it has dried out, sort of. We only received .77” for the rest of the week so that was a moral victory. Up until the 22nd we were living a charmed life with rains coming gently and not in large amounts. Now around the area one can see the toll the wet weather has taken on some fields. There are drowned out spots in both the corn and soybeans and there are signs of nitrogen deficiency appearing where drainage is an issue. Headlands on corn fields by and large look poor, in testament to some of the sins of past cropping seasons. No amount of tillage seems to remedy it, just keeping traffic in these areas to a minimum and time are about the best cures. Corn was V10–V12 with some flag leaves starting to show on the earliest planted fields. Soybeans were R1–R2 in some of the earliest planted fields. Small grains have in many cases lodged and many of the peas that looked so good earlier are showing the effects of excessive moisture, not only yellowing but the ruts left after harvest attempts. Baling hay? Fageddaboudit!
At the ranch the first fireflies of the season were spotted on the evening of the 26th. This of course viewed from the safety of the inside of a window screen. The rains have also meant a horde of mosquitoes awaits one if you’re foolish enough to venture outside for a closer look. There is no shortage of flying and biting insects no matter what time of day you’re out and about. The stable flies, those nasty little biting flies that sneak up and bite your exposed skin when you least expect it, have been downright nasty. Get around a river or stream and they compete with the deer flies and horse flies for a pound of your flesh.
Fortunately we have a large contingent of barn swallows to consume some of the flying insects. One doesn’t realize just how many until an intruder such as a cat or hawk shows up in the yard. There are plenty of birds to watch lately including a rose-breasted grosbeak and a swelling number of goldfinches, the males dressed in their brightest summer plumage. The younger orioles are coming to the feeders now, although they’ve had to compete with the young squirrel population. Putting the plastic baffle over the top of the feeder seems to have thwarted their attempts as they’re not the brightest bulbs on the tree just yet. Robins still start their singing prior to 4:30 a.m. One was trying to sing before 4 the other day but the others must’ve told him to shut up and go back to bed.
The gardens continue to progress in spite of all the rains. Prior to the heavy rains last week, nitrogen was applied in appropriate amounts and the plants appear to have responded nicely. The vine crops are dark green and running, with many initial blooms starting. The muskmelons in particular are flowering heavily. Of course the weeds are doing well too. Too wet to move on through with the tiller and the bugs when you try to hoe or pull the darn things about carry you off.
Mrs. Cheviot has been travelling lately, meaning that Mr. Cheviot has been left to his own devices. It used to mean watching lots of Clint Eastwood flicks after doing chores, but not this summer. The lawn has needed mowing a couple times a week and usually gets mowed once when there’s time. Oh sure, I get lots of dog help. After all, they’re my buds and I become the social director in Mrs. Cheviot’s stead. Fudgie and Ruby carefully monitor the progress of the mower, walking back and forth with each pass. With the loss of a ratty ash tree, the dogs were pressed into gate monitoring service while brush was hauled out into the pasture. Nary an ovine was in sight for much of the afternoon and the dogs soon lost interest. That is until a few ewes snuck up while their attention span had lapsed. Within seconds of my hollering, Fudgie was at the gate growling and nipping at their heels, running them back into the barn where they were no longer a threat. No more Mr. Nice Guy, er Girl!
I hadn’t taken either dog on a ride for quite some time but was reminded that it doesn’t mean they don’t like to. Had the door open while cleaning the Silver Hawk out before last Saturday’s car show and heard a “ca-thump” only to see Ruby had jumped in the back seat. I scolded her and she submissively tucked her still wagging tail, making a quick exit after giving me “the look.” Once the car show was over, I needed to make a run for feed to the little store in Hope that has everything the store where you go to the bathroom in the big orange silo doesn’t. It was warm, so neither Fudgie nor Ruby were arguing about getting into the pickup’s AC for a while. Was a short trip and upon our return we all had treats. They had Milk Bones. Mine were of the Schwan’s variety. Everybody wins.
See you next week…real good then.