The warm thoughts were about all that resulted from the scurs languishing over the Weather Eye last week. Were they just getting warmed up or is it our turn to warm up this week? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy and cool with a modest chance of evening snow. Highs in the mid-teens above zero with lows in the low single digits above zero. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of lingering snow showers in the morning. Highs near 10 above zero with lows in the mid-teens below zero. Mostly sunny and cold Friday with a slight chance of evening snow. Highs in the upper single digits above zero and lows near 5 above zero. Saturday, mostly sunny and warmer with a slight chance of snow. Highs near 20 (above!) zero and lows in the low teens above zero. Partly sunny and warmer on Sunday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper teens. Monday, partly sunny and warmer. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Partly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of snow showers. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the mid-teens above zero. On the 13th, we’ll see the sun setting at 5 p.m. The last time it did that was back on November 4th. The normal high for January 13th is 22 and the normal low is 4. With more belated Christmas celebrations suddenly on the horizon, the scurs may be able to hang on a little longer.
The Full Moon for the month falls on the 12th and goes by several names, the most common of which is the Full Wolf Moon. It was aptly named as about this time of winter wolves could be heard howling outside the encampments of the tribes across much of what is now the northern U.S. It also goes by the Old Moon and The Moon after the Yule. The Ojibwe called it the Great Spirit Moon and the Sioux named it the Moon of Frost in the Teepee. At the ranch we know it as The Moon When We want it to Warm up.
Another chilly week in the books for us. While we aren’t quite to what is traditionally the coldest days of the winter, we’re inching ever closer. This past week’s low temperatures saw the mercury dip to or below zero for five days straight. This meant ice conditions improving on area lakes with small ice shanty villages springing up over the past weekend. Ice thickness was reported to be 13”–15” thick with vehicles hauling stationary houses to their destinations. Some make a lot of work out of trying to find fish while others are content that they have found a place with ice.
Who needs to go to a lake to get ice anyway? The rains on Christmas and encore performances the day after New Year’s Day, etc., have made yards, sidewalks and dooryards extremely treacherous. About the only positive was the rain glued snow onto some of the icy spots, making it a little less hazardous shuffling from the house to the barn. Still plenty of spots to go for a digger however. I knew it was a bad sign one morning when I noticed the Olympic bobsled team practicing on our driveway. It also made me kick myself for not making one more pass with the tractor before the Christmas rain or for not buying stock in the company that makes that Cherrystone grit. The return of the ice age had me running to Krause’s to get more. As I told the proprietor, with a belated Christmas celebration at our place over the weekend, I didn’t need anyone falling and breaking a hip, including me.
Doing chores in the dark has its drawbacks, as we found the other day. While one can semi-see what you’re doing with the yard lights, it’s still difficult to see what kind of progress the ewes are making on their gestation. You can tell that they’re getting girthier, but as far as seeing udder development under a heavy quilt of wool, forget about it. Decided to fill the water tank Sunday night and when I did, I could see one of the ewes was bagged up significantly. She’ll go in a week or so, I thought to myself, and continued hauling water. The next morning after we were done chores I thought I’d maybe better check in the lambing barn in case there was a ewe in there. Sure enough, there was, along with two newborn lambs. I quickly made my way to the house and announced their arrival to Mrs. Cheviot. She came out and within a few minutes we had them moved to the main barn with plenty of dry, open space. Temperatures had luckily moderated so after bedding the pen, checking the ewe for milk (she had plenty) and getting her some warm water, they were on their own.
When I stopped home at noon to check on them, one of the lambs was bouncing around the pen and the other was snuggled into the crispy cornstalk bedding. It woke up, yawned and stretched, obviously feeling no pain. Nothing to see here, move it along. While it was daylight, however, I did a quick survey of the ewes in the lot and, sure enough, there was a couple more definite candidates for January lambing. It isn’t the first time we’ve had January lambs, although it’s the first time we’ve had them naturally without using hormone treatments to induce the ewes’ heat cycles. Our experience with Cheviots has been that they typically lamb in February and March for us regardless of when the ram is put in. The rams were turned in with the ewes on August 13th and if we do the math, it’s right at 150 days. That corresponds nicely to the lambs born Monday January 9th. I do recall seeing a ram sniffing around a ewe in that timeframe and thinking to myself, ya, fat chance of January lambs. The weather had been plenty warm and that usually doesn’t help. Not sure if it was the quality of the pasture, the condition of the ewes or what. Just glad they’re healthy and hope the next ones wait until the upcoming cold snap is over to come in.
See you next week…real good then.