Another week with some rain had some cursing the scurs and the Weather Eye. Will they see the error of their ways or be doomed to a repeat performance? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of a morning shower with overnight frost. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, mostly clear with frost in the morning. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 50’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday becoming cloudy with a slight chance of evening showers. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the low 40’s. All kinds of annual milestones this week; few of them good. The sun will set before 6:30 CDT on the 15th and rise after 7:30 a.m. on the 16th. We also creep below 11 hours of daylight on the 16th. The normal high for October 16th is 60 and the normal low is 37. The scurs are starting to notice a pattern developing here.
The Full Moon for the month is on the 15th and goes by the Full Hunter Moon. It was at this time that natives and pioneers alike were busy stockpiling meat and furs to take them through the long winter ahead. The Ojibwe knew this as the Falling Leaves Moon and the Sioux took note of it as the Moon of Falling Leaves/Changing Season. At the ranch we know it as the Moon When Chores are Done in the Dark, until we turn on the lights of course.
Other celestial considerations include Venus about 30 minutes after sunset above the horizon in the southwest sky. Saturn will also be low in the southwest sky about 45 minutes after sunset. Saturn and Venus will start out a fair distance apart in October and end up with Venus under Saturn on the 27th. Jupiter will appear low in the eastern sky mid-month and will get a little higher with each morning. Mars will continue to fade, becoming dimmer as the month progresses. Thanks to the Steele Co. Astronomical Society and Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer for providing this valuable stargazing information.
Harvest progress was hampered last week by continued all too abundant rainfall. It was extremely wet after the torrential September rain and it doesn’t take much to make fields too greasy to navigate for a while anyway. Shorter days, cooler temperatures and no crop uptake makes one rely on percolation and evaporation to dry the soils. Neither occurs at a very rapid rate this time of year on these heavier soils in particular. Still, most are doing what they can to get whatever crop happens to be accessible. On Monday there was a lot of activity to get back into soybean fields where areas had been cut around due to wet soils. Many reported being stuck a time or two previously so the urgency becomes ever increasing with any mention of rain in the forecast. Soils are typically wet enough so being in a hurry to do fall tillage should be down the list of priorities at least until conditions are drier.
Something that has taken a turn for the better is the mosquito population. Oh they’re still around even after the frost events. However, they’re not attacking in hordes as they were and those individuals that are around aren’t nearly as aggressive as their earlier counterparts. About the only thing at the ranch that’s somewhat of a nuisance are the multi-colored Asian ladybeetles. Even they pale in comparison to their numbers when soybean aphids first arrived on the scene. Picking up the apples and seeing the clusters of them in the fruit where birds had inflicted a wound reminded me though how much they still annoy me.
Not a lot of bird activity around the yard but did refill the hummingbird feeders one last time just in case. Fellow bird watcher and feeder TP had mentioned seeing some at her feeders in town not that long ago. Had a little sugar water left anyway so decided if it helped a passing hummer, it was better than dumping it out. There are still plenty of cannas and salvia still blooming that survived the frost as well so doubt they would’ve gone hungry. Did see another brown creeper on Sunday along with more nuthatches and chickadees. Since we’re seeing more of our typical “winter birds” starting to increase in numbers and looking for a handout, I put a couple suet feeders back out. The house sparrows have already figured out the horizontally configured suet feeders so may try an old bluebird nesting box trick to dissuade them. Reputedly hanging pieces of fishing line with weights on them sometimes hinders the house sparrow’s efforts. Worth a try.
Everything seems to be pointing toward fall becoming winter. When mowing the lawn over the weekend, the native pink ladybugs (Colleomegilla maculata) were clustering in the longer grass around the trees and there was a noticeable absence of American toads that had graced our presence all summer. The spider webs of thousands of tiny spiders in their ballooning process were visible against the setting sun Sunday night. Even at the Mall for Men we see signs of the impending change in the fauna. Tuesday morning I looked at the floor at what appeared to be a piece of brown crop residue about 8” long. Then it moved. Closer observation revealed what turned out to be a ribbon snake. It probably thought it had struck the mother lode of all places to hang out for the winter as it just sorta blended in. After capturing the little rascal and showing off my prize to the others, I let it go outside where it could hopefully find somewhere else to crawl in. Although as dirty as it gets in here during the heat of the battle sometimes, we’d probably never notice another occupant.
See you next week…real good then.