The scurs had the Weather Eye dialed in again over the weekend and the fan was stuck on high Monday, again. Will our recent warm conditions remain or will we begin our transition into more normal temperatures? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, sunny with a slight chance for and overnight shower. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid 40’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, partly sunny with a slight chance of showers. Highs in the mid 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Cloudy for Tuesday with a slight chance of a shower. Highs in the mid 50’s and lows in the mid 30’s. The normal high for October 27th is 54 and the normal low is 33. The scurs are toying with the notion of putting their patio furniture away. After all the wind they’ll have to find it first.
The Full Moon for October lands on the 27th and is known as the Full Hunters Moon. It was at this time that Native Americans and settlers alike were busily stocking up for the long winter ahead. Deer, waterfowl, grouse, squirrels and other game were fattened up and available for the larder. The Ojibwe called this the Falling Leaves Moon and the Sioux similarly called it the Moon of the Falling Leaves. At the ranch we go by the Do Chores in the Dark (both times) Moon.
Harvest is beginning to wind down across much of the area. The soybeans are essentially all combined with even the replants in the wet spots disappearing in recent days. Less than 25% of the corn remains in the field with moisture content continuing to plummet. Much of the corn being harvested is in the mid-teens allowing many to dump it directly in the bin without drying and just running air on it. It has been a storybook ending to the cropping season for most. Sure it had its ups and downs; they all do. In spite of the excess rains in June and an encore performance for some in July, the crop exceeded expectations for many. It goes to show that rain in the months of July and August can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of our crops after coming up short over the past several years.
Where are we going into next year? We have seen an extremely dusty, dry month of October. As of the 20th, we have recorded only a trace of moisture a couple times at the ranch so we are due. It would give us a welcome respite from a harvest that has essentially been non-stop since late September. A major El Niño is already firmly entrenched and the forecast for the Upper Midwest is for a drier and warmer-than-normal winter. Few will be disappointed with that. Our soil moisture is generally in good shape, although this past couple weeks has caused the surface to become rather hard particularly where soils had been subject to excess moisture earlier in the year. As measured at the SROC in Waseca on the 16th, there is just under 10” of available soil moisture in the top 5’ of soil. Bear in mind that the SROC recorded several inches more precip than we did for August and September. One might suspect especially on some of the ground that was worked early, there might be less soil moisture than that here.
Our cropping season at the ranch has largely ended as well. About the only thing that remains is some possible horseradish digging and grinding. The apple picking needs to be finished up too as the call for apple crisp and apple pies from the Haralson tree will only increase. So will the bird damage, the worst in years. Among the lucky finds before last week’s frost were dozens of tomatoes, some of which were nestled under a cover of leaves. Indian corn, gourds and pumpkins decorate the house inside and out. The sheep get some of them that aren’t keeping well. As fat as they are, they really don’t need anything extra, but that doesn’t stop them from running towards the fence any time you approach it. Always looking for a handout.
Sunday morning I had to haul one of the buck lambs over to the pasture to join the ewes there. He was cooperative about being caught and going into the trailer. Unusual especially when it comes to Cheviot sheep. Frequently you need to be wearing track shoes, helmets and other protective gear. We made the trip quickly although I had to go find the ewes upon our arrival. When I slid the gate open on the trailer he didn’t waste any time hopping out or attempting to hop on for that matter. Sort of a poor man’s version of dropping Lamar Odom off at a brothel.
Mrs. Cheviot was gone on Sunday so I rambled off on another cruise with Auntie Mar Mar and Unkie Greg. We retraced much of our route from the prior week and were disappointed that much of the fall color had disappeared from the wind. It still was fun to cruise the backroads I frequent during the growing season and hear Mar Mar comment from the backseat, “I have no idea where the heck we are!” Unkie Greg bought me a libation and some appetizers at the Trailblazer as we wound our way towards home. Best of all though, Auntie Mar Mar left us a blueberry coffee cake that I promised to share with Mrs. Cheviot. I was tempted not to though. Warmed up in the microwave then topped with a little butter, it’s even better than a Drake’s coffee cake.
See you next week…real good then.