The scurs got a little surprise as did much of the area with the Friday night thunderstorms that rolled through the area. Are there any more such occurrences on tap for this Farm and City Days? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs of 80 – 85 and lows of 60 – 65. Thursday and Friday, clear skies with highs of 80 – 85 and lows of 65 – 70. Becoming partly cloudy overnight into Saturday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm increasing into the evening hours. Highs 80 – 85 and lows around 70. Partly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs near 85 and lows around 65. Partly cloudy on Monday with highs of 80 and lows near 60. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of thunderstorms. Highs close to 80 and lows around 65. The normal high for July 10th is 83 and the normal low is 61. We have already lost some daylight, having lost approximately 12 minutes since the summer solstice. The scurs don’t care. They are focused on cornering the market for putty knives to scrape all the road kill Tootsie Rolls off people’s soles following the Farm and City Days Parade.
This past week saw more of what the doctor ordered for the corn crop in this area. Warm temperatures and some timely rain this time of year never hurts, especially for a crop that has been slightly behind thus far. It is apparent in many areas that the nitrogen properly applied last fall and this spring is still there judging by the reaction of the corn in areas of the field that had been pale in color. Some areas where water stood or there have been compaction issues there is no fix to it although some have tired. It’s a little like feeding a runt pig or a bottle lamb. You know that the outcome will likely be unrewarding yet it’s difficult to do nothing sometimes. Soybeans have for much of the area started flowering in earnest and second cutting hay has already been harvested in areas. Small grain and pea crops look good in most cases with the drier weather being to their liking as well.
The flying biting insect crop has been doing remarkably well too. Mosquitoes are making life miserable, especially near dusk, although on days when it has been relatively calm, they make life miserable during the daytime too. Deer flies have been a nuisance, especially when one gets near a body of water and their bigger cousins, the horse flies, are starting to appear as well. And of course the smaller biting stable flies have added their touch also, making chores with long pants a necessity most times. The toads have been doing their best to take a bite out of the fly population. I watched one parked by a feed sack the other night, curious as to what it might be up to. As luck would have it, the feed contains liquid molasses and that attracts flies, well, like liquid molasses. They love it. The toad patiently waited until the flies would crawl down within range, then would flick its tongue at lightning speed to get the insect and position itself again for the next potential victim. I saw it take at least a half dozen of them out of the picture in about 10 minutes and, given the number of toads we have around the yard, that gets to be a lot of flies and other insects taken out of commission. Cucumber beetles showed up this past week in the garden so if you haven’t looked at your vine crops in awhile, it might not be a bad idea to check them and treat appropriately. More benign insects, the fireflies or lightning bugs, have been putting on a spectacular shows every evening since late last week. Difficult to recall a summer where they have been more numerous than what we’ve seen so far this July.
Around the yard at the ranch the fledgling birds are all over the place. There are some young orioles starting to come to the jelly feeder now and by the mournful cry they make when lost in the trees without the parents, one would swear they’d lost their last friend. Young wrens are noisily strewn about in the bushes and brush piles and this is just the start. There are several more nests so they are having a banner season. Young tree swallows have left some of the nesting boxes although there are some that didn’t get nesting right away or had to contend with house sparrows before yours truly stepped in and leveled the playing field a tad. The robin in the barn is on her second brood now with little heads popping up above the rim of the nest whenever there is commotion. And what would a farmyard be without lots of young barn swallows perched here and there as the adults feed them then teach them how to catch insects themselves so they can get back to raising a 2nd brood.
The 4th of July weekend came and went. With Mrs. Cheviot at yet another sheep show for the week, Ruby and I had to do it all once again. I tilled the garden, picked peas, sprayed weeds and insects, fixed fence, repaired a water line, mowed the lawn, got a load of oats, picked up feed, treated some sick lambs, did an hour of chores morning and night, all this while working some long, hot hours at work. And that’s just the stuff I remember doing. I’m sure I was starting to look a little gaunt, so my little fat buddy and his wife who live on Beaver Lake took pity on me. Never turn down a free meal, as another little fat buddy once told me. It was a wonderful opportunity to graze on a wonderful spread of food, visit, then relax in their boat and gaze at the tremendous fireworks display. Sure beat the heck out of getting in the house every night well after dark, wondering what could be tossed together and still qualify as food.
See you next week…real good then.