Thanks to the Weather Eye, the scurs are back on a lot of Christmas card lists after this last week’s weather. Will our good fortune continue or are we just waiting for the other shoe to drop? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of showers. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. The normal high for November 14th is 42 and the normal low is 25. The scurs will be saluting our veterans on Friday as we recover from the election.
November 14th marks the Full Moon for the month that goes by the Full Beaver Moon. It was at this time that the early explorers and settlers would trap the fur bearers before water froze up to ensure a supply of warm outer garments for the cold winter ahead. It also goes by the Full Frosty Moon. The Ojibwe called this the Freezing Moon and the Sioux knew it as The Moon of the Falling Leaves. At the ranch we know it as the Moon of Grinding Leaves, although it is also known as The Barn Cleaning Moon.
We continue to edge closer and closer to completing harvest as farmers attempt to get the last of the wet spots where corn and soybeans remain standing. Fields are rapidly becoming black, although some have demonstrated restraint, taking advantage of the recent warm, dry spell to allow fields to dry some before performing primary tillage. Patience is a virtue and these are generally soils that are not very forgiving. Tilling them wet, regardless of time of year, can result in some lasting negative impacts. Some anhydrous ammonia is being applied as soil temperatures at the 6” level have been at or near an average of 50 degrees for a while. Ammonium nitrogen converts slowly to nitrate once soil temperatures reach 50 degrees, taking up to six weeks at that temperature. Typically with shorter day lengths and cooler nights the soil temperature trend continues downward.
The recent warm weather has indeed been something to savor. Even soil sampling, which can be a mundane activity, suddenly becomes enjoyable when the sun is shining and temperatures flirt with 70 degrees. One field last week was particularly entertaining as a group of Hungarian partridge hopscotched between the unharvested soybean patches. Their coloration in the soybeans made them hard to pick up until I was right on top of them and the group dispersed to another patch. As I was finishing up the field, three rooster pheasants were caught off-guard on the headland and got up suddenly. Against the sun their colors created a halo around them nearly as bright as the sun itself.
At the ranch, the nice weather has provided an opportunity to get some of the fall chores done without freezing while doing it. The screenings were cleaned up at the kindly neighbors’, dumped in the gravity box and hauled home. There was time for grinding up some leaves with the lawnmower, although there are some areas where we’ll let the leaves dry a while longer. They’ll get chopped up more completely and nearly disintegrate if I do. And I wonder why we have so many night crawlers in the yard. The canna bulbs were also dug and allowed to dry so the remaining soil will fall off before packing them away. The 20 or so small, innocent looking bulbs in a grocery bag that were planted last spring multiplied into three or four wash tubs full. Guess what people are getting for Christmas?
In the meantime the sheep have been lazily lounging in their pasture, napping between trips to graze at the salad bar. The pasture still has some substantial forage in it although they’re starting to appreciate the offerings such as apple peelings and other vegetable matter being tossed their direction over the fence. They’ve also been busy chasing the occasional silver maple leaves that blow their direction. Not that the leaves were anything special to look at anyway.
Actually one of the prettier trees has been right in our own yard; a Norway maple whip rescued from between a couple buildings in town and transplanted some 18 years ago. It really wasn’t all that impressive in its early years. In fact early on it came close to getting cut down when the leaves remained green until very late, then basically turned brown and fell off the tree. Luckily for the tree it had a nice shape and the birds loved building their nests in its thick canopy. This fall it was a thing of beauty with yellowish orange leaves cascading down the road cut in the bright fall sunshine. It also drew comments from several who noticed it. Like many things in life, in our haste for instant gratification sometimes we forget that it takes time for true beauty to develop.
The warm November weekend meant getting the Stude out for a couple spur-of-the-moment cruises. Once we get caught up on our weekend tasks, it practically begs to be taken for a drive. The nice thing about it is we really don’t care where we wind up so long as the road is smooth getting there and we’re back by choretime. Luckily the roads this past weekend weren’t too bad and we saw lots of other people out doing the same thing, most of them on motorcycles. About the worst thing we encountered on the roads were the mud pancakes, the result of soil falling off of farm implements. Not a problem as all too soon the snow plows will remove them, making us long for the memories of those warm, sunny afternoon drives.
See you next week…real good then.