The scurs were relieved to see that the sun does actually exist after having their doubts. Will the scurs see snowflakes come out of the Weather Eye or will they see white bees wings left over from corn drying season? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance for rain changing to snow by evening. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Christmas Eve Day, mostly sunny becoming cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy Christmas Day with a moderate chance of snow by evening. Highs in mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low teens. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Monday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Partly cloudy skies for Tuesday with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the low double digits. Yes, that’s still above zero folks. The normal high for Christmas Day is 24 and the normal low is 6. After tossing another log on the fire on the 21st the scurs will be considering retrieving the aluminum Festivus pole from the crawlspace. A Christmas tree simply doesn’t measure up to the very high strength-to-weight ratio.
There will be a Full Moon on Christmas Day, although from the sounds of things we probably won’t see it. You’ll just have to take my word for it. It goes by several names including Full Cold Moon and the Long Nights Moon, both aptly named as we frequently see our coldest days from this full moon to the next, not to mention our longest nights. The Ojibwe called this the Small Spirits Moon and the Sioux had a couple names, The Moon of Popping Trees or The Moon When Deer Shed Their Horns (antlers). At the ranch we have come to know it as the Moon When it Feels Good to be Done with Chores and Back in the House. So far however this one has been relatively easy so as winters go. Given that memories of the other kind are still fresh enough to remember, we’ll take it.
There have been some questions as to what kind of things can be impacted by a warmer, open winter such as we’re experiencing presently. Some things such as insect survival can be enhanced, although there is still a lot of winter left. Insects such as western corn rootworm eggs don’t survive well once soil temperatures reach 14 degrees and so far we’ve been nowhere close to that. Northern corn rootworm eggs are tougher and can withstand much lower temperatures, part of the reason they are the more predominant species in these northern latitudes. As far as breaking up compaction, other than surface compaction, winter freezing and thawing does little to alleviate deeper soil compaction, typical of high-traffic areas and headlands.
The question has arisen about rivers and streams being so full this time of year. Even though we had a dry harvest season, in particular a dry October, we have recorded above normal precip the entire growing season. November was significantly wetter than normal, saturating the soil profile in the upper 5’. December precip has also been slightly above normal. Another tidbit to bear in mind is that the vast majority of our precip in December has fallen as rain. Normally it would be sitting on top of the ground in the form of snow rather than soaking in or running off.
As we approach the winter holidays, the house is once again decorated from top to bottom. Inside anyway. We gave up long ago trying to keep up with the neighbors outside, although Mrs. Cheviot did put some lights on the railings in order to make an effort. It looks nice especially since I didn’t have to do it. I try to do my part however and provide moral support. I cut some white pine boughs and red twig dogwood for decorating on Saturday. Hauled out all the garbage on Sunday after church and changed the light on the garage that exploded inside the fixture in the heavy rain. I also made the fresh cut on the real Christmas tree and brought it into the house so it could become acclimated before decorating. The smell of a fresh fir tree is still something to behold when it warms up inside, especially if it was kept away from tomcats outside. Been there done that.
The sheep and the dogs have been good lately so most likely they won’t get a lump of coal in their stocking. Actually the sheep already got a little bit of their present. Rummaging around the old lean-to I’d forgotten one squash that the sheep had partially gnawed on through the fence. Tucked underneath of a board was another squash that was hidden from view. Yet another one was discovered as I moved closer to the granary. Unfortunately all the squash had been frozen, rendering them unfit for human consumption. The sheep didn’t mind. They tore into them and within a matter of a half hour they’d devoured them. Luckily there are some apples going soft so they’ll get those soon. The ranch isn’t a bad place to be a sheep at Christmas time. The dogs are in line to get some of the leftovers out of the fridge so they too are more fortunate than some canines. And they try to be good. Fudgie has been coming when she’s called at night rather than chasing bunnies and Ruby didn’t even growl at Julie Andrews during The Sound of Music. There may be hope for those two yet.
As has been the custom in the past, I go shopping for the Star Eagle staff as only the scurs and I can do. It’s become a little tougher though as I’m never sure just who is working there anymore. Oh well, here goes: A donation has been made in all your names to the Human Fund: Money for People. That ought to cover it. Those warm thoughts can be treasured while performing feats of strength and during the airing of grievances. Another Festivus miracle! Happy Festivus!
See you next week…real good then.