The scurs may need to do a little tweaking on the Weather Eye to keep it operating at peak performance. Will the adjustments get the temperatures warmer or are we stuck in the Kelvinator refrigerator/freezer? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a slight chance of rain and snow in the morning and a modest chance of snow in the afternoon and evening. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Saturday, mostly sunny and warmer with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny Sunday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, partly sunny and warmer with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny skies for Tuesday with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the low 40’s. We will go over 11½ hours of daylight on March 7th. The normal high for March 7th is 35 and the normal low is 19. The scurs are nearly certain we’re looking at an early start to the gardening season. Those seed packages for sale at Wagner’s don’t lie.
While March came in like a white (snowy) lamb we still have a pretty good shot of an earlier-than-normal start to spring, at least on paper. The last remaining vestiges of the earlier snow became fewer and farther between last week. Ice remains on most area lakes, although it isn’t safe enough to think about driving on anymore. There were still ice fishermen trying their luck on St. Olaf Lake Tuesday morning. A week ago Monday at the SROC, frost depth was measured at 11”. This past Monday they reported the frost to be out. I confirmed that at the ranch in the yard on the south facing slope Monday night. Using my trusty divining rod, otherwise known as an electric fencepost, I determined there was no resistance regardless of where I probed. However, the frost is not out completely in all areas as the yard on the northwest side of the house was still like concrete. And when it started to cool down in the evening, the soil began to refreeze on top rapidly.
Migrating birds lent credence to the notion that we may indeed be headed for an earlier-than-normal spring. Last week, horned larks were in evidence on area roads. Flocks of geese increasing in size Saturday made one wonder where they were all going. A small flock of swans flew by the ranch the same morning. A few red-winged blackbirds appeared in the early afternoon, followed by some good sized flocks as the afternoon wore on. We had robins feasting on the leftover crabapples and they were bobbing along the pasture, making me wonder if the frost was out already. Of course even if it was, the temperatures were likely too cold yet for much earthworm activity.
Lambing season at the ranch always reminds one that spring will eventually be on the way. The lambing pens are starting to get full and it’s time to start moving some down to the main barn to make space. It definitely makes chores more efficient feeding larger groups as opposed to little individual pens. The dogs usually look forward to this activity as it gives them some sense of purpose. Being that third and fourth “person” does make a difference. Of course they are always ready to “help” and sometimes they actually do. Not having to get off the skidloader to close a gate is a nice perk. Keeping the cat “herded” is also a plus. Helps us avoid stepping on the poor thing when it gets underfoot as we’re carrying water buckets, feed pans and hay.
Saturday afternoon was a good time to get a start on the main fruit tree pruning. I’d done some major surgery earlier on some obnoxious crabapple trees after being mortally wounded mowing the lawn. It went fairly quickly on the smaller trees that we’ve been staying on top of. Their shape is nice, so most of what needed to be done was to prune the excess sapwood. The Haralson presented a little more of a challenge. It got skipped a few years once upon a time and since it’s a lot older hence larger, it was more time consuming. I got the main trees done with the exception of the Fireside, which will be a several hour-long project. When I came to a stopping point I saw a sure sign of spring: A motorcyclist! Made me think about getting the Studebaker out. Seeing some water coming out in expansion joints on area roads made me reconsider that idea. It was likely laden with salt; certainly not worth the risk of getting it on a classic automobile.
Thinking about the Studebaker though reminded me that the upcoming week in March would bring about a significant date in the history of the former automobile manufacturer. Fifty years ago, on March 4, 1966, Studebaker announced they would cease automobile production at their sole remaining plant in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It came as little surprise as the company had been reeling when they closed the main plant in South Bend, IN in December of 1963. Sales and profits had plummeted further since that time leaving the company little alternative. The local dealership in my hometown, Marzolf Implement, closed the automobile portion of their dealership and focused primarily on selling Allis Chalmers agricultural equipment. The owner’s kids, however, drove one of the later model Studebakers for several years. With all the salt, the body looked a little rough, but it must’ve been a tough little car recalling some of the treatment it received. Those models in particular obviously had not yet become valuable collector cars back in the 1970s. It’s a different story today and some of us old-timers who were driving those old cars are now on the lookout for them. Gotta have fun somehow.
See you next week…real good then.