With small glimpses of spring here and there, the scurs suspect the Weather Eye is about to cut loose with some nicer forecasts. It’s about time, but will it last? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the mid-60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny Sunday with a modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Monday, mostly cloudy and slightly cooler with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy skies for Tuesday with a continued modest chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. The normal high for April 15th is 57 and the normal low is 35. We’ll see the sun set at 8 o’clock on April 16th. The scurs will be exhausted after paying for the “free stuff” on Tax Day that everyone is being promised.
Fieldwork was scattered at best last week. Some anhydrous ammonia was applied and fertilizer spread, but generally fieldwork was on hold with spring in suspended animation. Some always behave as though the calendar is a month or more ahead of the actual date and that’s fine. Someone has to plant first even though there is no award ceremony for it. Planting on Monday the 11th or afterwards allows the crop insurance to kick in for replanting, so it’s all good. Very little weed growth thus far, to no one’s surprise. Cold temperatures last week and scattered snow showers, not to mention frozen soil a couple 18-degree lows, have had everyone wondering when this pattern will change. Hopefully by the time this reaches print, the cold will be a fleeting memory. Luckily, in spite of the cold temps, it has been relatively dry and the gusty winds have dried the soil more than one might imagine. It’s still sticky underneath in places, but if worked at a reasonable depth, it should allow one to at least contemplate planting corn.
Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer made a stop to discuss old cars and left me with some notes on what to look for in the heavens at night courtesy of the Steele Co. Astronomical Society. The night skies were cloudy much of the month of March, but the near-term April forecast so far looks more promising for stargazing. Jupiter is the most prominent feature in the southern sky at dusk, with the planet being about halfway up. Look for Jupiter to be in close conjunction just below the crescent moon on the 17th, when Mars and Saturn rise around midnight but can be seen most easily in the hour or more before sunrise low in the southern sky. Mars will increase in brightness each night. It will be almost as bright as Jupiter by the end of May.
Seeing the anhydrous tanks going by on Sunday had me in full yard clean-up mode. Got the last of the crushed rock and sod piles taken care of then re-landscaped the area on both sides of the sidewalk, something that needed to be done to improve water flow if nothing else. The brush from the apple pruning was also loaded on the Gator and the batteries installed in both lawnmowers. At least it looked like we were making progress. Just have to pick up the sticks in the backyard so they don’t go through the vinyl siding and we’ll be golden. While assessing that situation, I spied the first dandelion of the season growing out of the foundation on the south side of the house. Maybe spring will come after all.
Both dogs had a big day Sunday. The mud has largely dried up and the sun was periodically shining, making it ideal for them to be outside. Anytime, though, you start up as many machines with small engines as we have, it’s bound to get them excited. There are, after all, a lot of tires to bite. There was also an opportunity for them to show off their Border Collie talents. Had to make a trip through the feedlot gate with some brush and Fudgie was on hand to make sure the ewes didn’t get any ideas about coming out. Ruby ran back and forth frantically in front of the opening too, so pretty sure the sheep didn’t know which dog was which. All they knew was it’s simply not worth the effort when the dogs are on patrol.
Lambing at the ranch finally came to an end last Wednesday so another year of fun and games is over. There are somewhere in the vicinity of 50 lambs running around. They were tickled when the Big Dubya came by Saturday and plopped a round bale in their lot. Not only did it give them something more to nosh, it provided another object for their obstacle course.
The birds have made some subtle indications that the season may be about to turn the corner. An eastern meadowlark can be heard singing on calm mornings and flickers have been moving through. A yellow-bellied sapsucker appeared on Saturday and the chickadees are singing their springtime song. The most pleasant surprise was the sighting of a pair of goldfinches. The male was a little splotchy yet but there was no mistaking the bright yellow that was starting to emerge. There are still juncos yet although the Harris’s sparrow has been with them occasionally. Have also heard some white throated sparrows vocalizing in the windbreak. Had better have my grape jelly and sugar water ready just in case the orioles and hummingbirds are not far behind.
See you next week…real good then.