Reports of the scurs being able to suntan soon turned out to be greatly exaggerated. The Weather Eye is faltering once again. Can a 42-year-old Gremlin part stuck on a 1977 “ice-age” prediction be converted back to global warming or will it remain stuck on January? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the single digits and lows in the mid-single digits below zero. Thursday, partly sunny with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the low teens and lows in the mid-single digits. Partly sunny Friday with highs in the low teens and lows near –10. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-single digits and lows a few days below zero. Mostly cloudy and warmer (finally!) on Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Monday, partly sunny and warmer. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy skies and continued warmer for Tuesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. The normal high for February 14th is 27 and the normal low is 9. On the 15th, we’re back to 10 hours and 30 minutes of daylight again, about the same as October 26th. The scurs are planning on cashing in on the Valentine’s Day candy. It’s been a long drought since Christmas in that department.
Not a bad week until we ran into the Sunday night and Monday winter storm. Luckily there wasn’t a lot of snow and the snow that had fallen the previous Tuesday had melted some over the weekend. This put a crust on the snow to keep it from breaking loose and drifting. If that hadn’t happened, the situation could’ve been a real mess. As it was, school was cancelled Monday after being called two hours late initially. Visibility was poor, down to less than a quarter mile in spots. Small cars would suddenly appear out of the ground drifting ahead of my pickup. Snow began sticking on the pavement in the afternoon, causing additional driving woes for the commute home. Why is it we live here again?
Overall winter really hasn’t been too bad. Sure, we’ve had our share of colder conditions the latter part of January and now in the first part of February, but this is Minnesota. Heating bills have been moderate, thanks in part to cheap LP and natural gas prices. Our below-zero days have been a fraction of what we can expect and the days are becoming appreciably longer. One can be outside at 5 p.m. and still have enough light to make it until almost 6. Morning also is beginning to be lighter and by month’s end the sun will be rising before 7 again. Something to look forward to.
The birds in the yard have had it pretty cushy too. There has been plenty of corn to keep the pheasants happy. Even though they’re not daily guests, they are numerous when they are. There are frequently more than a dozen. With the recent bad weather they’ve been glad to see the ear corn feeder on the edge of the yard. The usual visitors include juncos, nuthatches, chickadees, downies, hairies and blue jays. Not much for goldfinches and can’t say why. Too many house sparrows of course, although they have really been scarce in the barn since the cat took up residence there. It’s now possible to sit on the tractor or skidloader without first wiping the bird droppings off of them.
The ewe flock is getting girthier as shearing day approaches. They too have benefitted from relatively mild winter conditions. Unless it’s been windy, most nights they sleep outside, leaving their outline in the frost behind them as Ruby rousts them from their slumber with her barking and growling. Glad I don’t have an alarm clock like that. That would be enough to make anyone grumpy. Due dates for lambing start about the 18th so it will be good to get the shearing out of the way first.
The dogs continue to take winter in stride. Many dogs aren’t so lucky and we tell them that. Ruby did notice the Doritos dog ad during the Super Bowl, putting up a fuss when they were in the checkout line. The Westminster Dog Show is coming up soon so she will have an overload when that happens. Fudgie continues to plod along, glad to have opportunities like Saturday and Sunday when snow removal makes up for not being able to follow the lawnmower around. Both dogs come in ready to sleep well after those occasions, as does their master.
The snow removal policy in the People’s Republic of Steele Co. continues to mystify me. During last week’s snowstorm, the snowplow started going by late morning when it was snowing like mad and went by a couple more times in the afternoon. Then, the next morning they were Johnny on the spot again. Sunday as I left for church, they had been by already and taken some of the finger drifts out of the way, leaving me in total disbelief as to what county I had suddenly been transported to. The roads were in great shape without a lot of salt and sand. I was in total disbelief.
My faith in them was restored however after the next snowfall event. Again, the plow was back on the “better late than never” schedule. After plowing the end of the driveway out was wondering what happened and when they’d get there to redeposit what I had just shoved out of there. Plus I’d need to clean out around the mailbox, which would be futile until they made that pass and plopped a wad in front of that. Rumors have been circulating that perhaps they’re getting hung up in the roundabouts by Owatonna and can’t figure out how to get off. Oh well, as my favorite barber likes to tell me, in another hundred years I probably won’t care.
See you next week…real good then.