The scurs may have been premature in their pronouncement that winter was on the ropes. Will the Weather Eye return to its former glory or will the scurs be making another parts run? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Partly sunny Friday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny Sunday with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Monday, partly cloudy and warmer with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the low single digits. Mostly sunny skies for Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the upper teens. We will go over 11 hours of daylight on the 26th, with the sun rising before 7 a.m. on the 25th, and setting after 6 p.m. on the 29th. The normal high for March 1st is 33 and the normal low is 16. These temperatures compare to what we typically see around the end of November. The scurs are confident that March will most likely come in like a slightly chilled lamb.
A drastic change in the weather quickly melted much of our snow from about midweek until the present. While windy and cloudy conditions didn’t allow it to feel as warm as forecast, the snow cover has receded. Most snow now resides in road ditches, windbreaks, and around building sites Presently by all calculations there is less than an inch of snow depth on average. Geese were seen overhead on the 18th and a mass exodus of fish houses from St. Olaf Lake was noted on the 19th. A robin was heard at the ranch on the 20th. Frost depth has begun to change as measured at the SROC. Last week it measured 13” and on Monday the 22nd, it had decreased to 11”. Grass under the snow still has a lot of green color to it in both the lawn and pasture at the ranch. It didn’t take long Monday morning and a few ewes decided it was green enough to be eating. That doesn’t take long, especially if it’s on the other side of the fence.
Shearing happened last Tuesday and came off without a hitch, although the older I get the longer it seems like it takes to get ready and clean up afterwards. Seems to be a pattern developing here. We had a great catcher and the shearer did his usual phenomenal job while we just tried to keep up with shots and pour on insecticide. Between the treatments and the cool weather this time of year, we haven’t seen anything resembling parasites and the animals generally have nice full fleeces. It’s probably been 45 years since I’ve seen a sheep tick. This was another year when the fleeces were lighter in weight than what we’d maybe like, but they were also extremely clean. There was very little in the way of foreign material in them and they were very white. All except the black/natural colored fleeces, of course.
Lambing season started in earnest on the 22nd with two sets of twin buck lambs. It was gratifying after having a single buck lamb born dead the week before. One always worries with a start like that and it didn’t make matters any better to see a ewe starting Monday morning then quit. When she wasn’t doing anything at noon, my fears rose that it would be time to fish some dead lambs out of her during evening chores. Not to worry. Sometimes it’s best not to mess with Mother Nature and let things take their course. Fortunately this turned out to be one of those times.
Letting the dogs out and checking for lambs at night then doing chores in the early morning makes for some good yet quick stargazing. In the dark early morning, Venus remains very prominent low in the eastern sky. As one ventures out at 10-ish in the evening, Jupiter has reappeared in the eastern sky and is very bright. The Big Dipper too is apparent in the northeastern sky and the handle end is down. It’s heading towards its spring position though, where it is fabled that once it tips upside down, it empties its water upon the springtime landscape.
The warmer temperatures seem to meet with everyone’s approval. As if on cue after last week’s mention of the Full Raccoon Moon, raccoons and skunks have begun to stir. Warm temps have awoken them and they’re no doubt scrounging for food and perhaps places to raise a new brood. Driving past St. Olaf Lake Monday morning, there was already one raccoon fatality. A few miles up the road, a skunk was running down the middle of the Lake Road and took the first left past the golf course. He must’ve seen the road posting signs.
Fudgie and Ruby of course have liked the warmer temps too, excelling at getting muddy from head to toe in a matter of minutes. Now that the ice patches have disappeared between the house and barn, it is a fast track for a Border Colllie. Fortunately it’s been freezing up overnight so the mud isn’t always a factor. Scraping the yard down as I did before shearing really helped keep things from getting too far out of hand in the ice department. After all, a little mud we can deal with; the ice we’d rather not.
See you next week…real good then.