Labor Day ushered in more July-like temperatures, causing the scurs to check the temperature label on the Gremlin thermostat once again. Could the Weather Eye be stuck or will this be summer’s last hurrah? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 60’s. Thursday, sunny with increasing clouds and a moderate chance of showers by evening. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny Friday with a good chance of showers. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Saturday, mostly sunny and cooler with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the upper 40’s. Sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, partly sunny with a decent chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday and cooler with highs in the upper 60’s and lows in the mid 40’s. The sun will set before 7:30 on the 12th, something that hasn’t occurred since March 22nd. The normal high for September 12th is 74 and the normal low is 52. The scurs will be watching for those large yellow livestock haulers on weekday mornings. Yes kiddies, school is back in session. Parents rejoice!
The crops continue towards maturity at a rapid pace and in some cases have already achieved it. Some corn has reached physiological maturity (black layer) and corn silage is being harvested in some areas. Stalk integrity at this point is generally OK. Shorter plants this year won’t hurt. However, stalks will not improve over time and the frequent rainfall creates an environment favorable to stalk and ear rots. Checking your fields is the only way to know what condition they’re in. Hint: Wear lots of mosquito repellent. Many early maturing soybeans too are close or have reached R7 with one pod on the main stem that’s reached its mature color. In fact, one field not far from Bray Park had nearly complete leaf drop as of Monday. If not for such damp conditions, some warm temperatures would soon put that one in the harvested category. Speaking of harvesting, there are some mighty ugly battle scars in the sweet corn fields. And finally, some haying weather this past week. The forecast looked good and aside from the surprise shower tossed in Tuesday a.m., fields that had stood well past their intended harvest date were rapidly knocked down.
Haying was on the agenda at the ranch too. With no window of opportunity long enough to bale hay, we waited. With the kindness and patience of the Dubyas, we managed to pull it off. It was difficult to get the hay dry, however. Temperatures were moderate, in the mid-70’s and the winds wouldn’t blow to help out. Couple that with wet soil surface conditions and some overcast skies, hay that was cut on Wednesday had a difficult time being ready to bale yet late Saturday afternoon. It just stayed tough. We were able to bale one small field and used inoculant on it. By the time we were done with it though, the dew was about ready to come on. The wind did finally blow on Sunday so we flipped the other field in the morning again and the Big Dubya rolled it up. Almost anyway. The round baler broke on the last bale, leaving a small piece of windrow for me to retrieve with the trailer. Waste not, want not.
At the ranch we are also wondering if the orioles are indeed gone for the season. The last one was spotted on the morning of Saturday the 3rd, departing about four days earlier than the year before. They arrived on May 7th so once again, we were able to enjoy them for about four months. Between the Baltimores and the orchard orioles, they blew through more jelly this year than ever. The hummingbirds have taken center stage for now. Their days are numbered too, although they have plenty of hummer-friendly flowers to forage on until they pull the pin. In the meantime, goldfinch numbers continue to swell to levels reminiscent of the good old days. Almost two dozen were scattered between the feeders and some on the ground underneath on Monday. Winter is no big deal to them.
Not sure if it counts or not, but shortly after 7 a.m. as I was seated in the oval office half asleep, I felt something causing me to move involuntarily. I thought perhaps I was having some back spasms or something, but it wasn’t something I was doing myself. Didn’t think anything of it until I started reading about an earthquake that had sent shock waves as far north as North Dakota. Coincidence? I think not.
Took the Silver Hawk out for a drive on Labor Day. It was a long time coming. With the Crop Tour and State Fair suddenly behind us, it was a spur-of-the-moment albeit much needed escape from crowds, media, and people in general. Motored to a little spot in Madison Lake called The Trailblazer, one of the local establishments I frequent sometimes during the work week. We tried out some different roads to get there, avoiding the four-lane as much as possible. Most of the roads we picked were nice and smooth and when we were on the freeway, we sailed right along with the rest of the traffic thanks to the overdrive. Of course we had some detours that made the trip more interesting. Luckily, we had no schedule other than to be home in time for chores.
When we got to the restaurant I greeted the owner who I’ve struck up conversations with over the years, mainly about the Park Rapids area. Lunch hit the spot and the adult beverage we washed it down was refreshing especially considering the increasing temps outside. As we were leaving he got my attention and asked if that was my car. I smiled, told him it was and that it was a perfect distance for us to drive, not to mention a nice place to eat. He seemed tickled we’d made the trip and really liked the car after ogling it outside while we were eating. On the way home we went through Alma City and as we slowed for the stop sign, an oncoming driver flashed a big smile and gave us a “thumbs up.” Closer to Waseca, a farmer mowing lawn by the road did the same thing. A developing pattern when driving the Stude: People appear genuinely glad to see it. At least they smile a lot and use the proper digit.
See you next week…real good then.