The scurs had the Weather Eye fine-tuned to produce the nice weather following the frosty debacle the week before. Will we see a return to the freezer or have the scurs learned their lesson? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, partly sunny with an increasing chance for showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the low 50’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance for daytime showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny Sunday with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, partly sunny with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Mostly cloudy skies for Tuesday with highs in the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. The normal high for May 31st is 74 and the normal low is 53. The scurs will be picnicking following their trips to honor those who have gone before.
We finally got some of the warm weather we were so desperately looking for following the frost on May 15th. Most fields of corn recovered nicely, although there were some hybrids that remained wrapped up yet as of Monday. Stands in many fields of early planted soybeans were reduced to the point where stabbing additional seed to boost stands was justified. Much of this was already accomplished or was in the process as of press time. Varietal differences were probably less important than planting date and position of the field on the landscape. Here again however, there were no absolutes. Those of us who thought we knew about frost this time of year were dumbfounded by some of what we discovered once covering fields in their entirety. Some have been quick to attempt to sell products to remedy the after effects of the frost. Appears Mr. Haney is still alive and well.
Something farmers had to be happy about was the sudden window of opportunity that opened, allowing them to head to the fields to control their giant ragweed patches. The relatively cool start to the growing season made conditions ideal for this old nemesis to gain a foothold. Indeed it is an ancient weed. Iowa State Weed Scientist Bob Hartzler once mentioned in a presentation that pollen samples corresponding to the time the glaciers receded indicate giant ragweed was one of the first plants to repopulate the landscape. And anti-allergy medicine hadn’t even been invented yet! That said, few things are more satisfying to a farmer or an agronomist than seeing a mortal enemy such as giant ragweed appearing to writhe in pain following a growth regulator herbicide application. Warms the cockles of your heart.
Following the aftermath from the frost we were finally able to get most of the ewes and lambs weaned at the ranch Saturday morning. It was loud after that and there always seems to be one voice in the group that can be heard above the din at least for a while. 24 hours later though the racket had subsided. A group of nine ewes was hauled to the kindly neighbors’ pasture where the fence had grounded out since my visit the week before. It seemed like it was impossible to find the ground until the second trip around the pasture. In the meantime I saw the bluebird I’d been hoping to see come out of the nesting box on the hill. It made me smile to know they were using the box for the second year in a row. Something to celebrate after a day like that.
The fence at the ranch needed attention so on Sunday I made a journey around that with the weedeater to get the worst of the vegetation off the electric wires. It will have to hold until I can get there with some deadly agrotoxins to control the weeds. I was happy again as a couple of the bluebird houses were occupied by tree swallows and the nesting box affixed to the old International No. 8 plow appeared to be favored by yet another bluebird.
Sunday also allowed enough time to get the garden worked up and a large portion of it to be planted. Since my schedule didn’t allow a lot of spare time for seeding transplants, I opted to see if the weather would cooperate and allow direct seeding this time around. It did and with warm soils along with the promise of rain, hopefully the plants won’t be too far behind. In the ground went pumpkins, gourds, squash, melons and cukes as well as Indian corn. Warm season plants in the ground in hopes of a warm summer to follow.
On Monday since the rain was minimal, I decided to plant the beautiful canna bulbs Mrs. Cheviot’s co-worker Gail had given her. Needed to do some quick research on planting canna’s as it had been many moons since we last grew them. Mention was made of loosening the ground deeply and mixing composted manure into the soil below the bulbs. Not a problem. Only several hundred 5-gallon buckets worth from which to choose from. After digging a trench and performing the prescribed soil mixing, they were all planted approximately 2” deep just minutes ahead of a passing shower. Never a bad omen when you’re gardening. Hopefully the hummingbirds will reward our efforts.
See you next week…real good then.