The scurs hit the defroster on the Weather Eye and poof! January thaw! Will it continue or has our March Madness been premature? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Thursday, cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Mostly cloudy Friday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the upper teens. Saturday, partly sunny and blustery with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 20’s and lows in the mid-teens. Monday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Partly cloudy on Tuesday the 31st with a chance of snow showers. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the low teens, above zero. The normal high for January 31st is 24 and the normal low is 5. Seeing all the raccoons hit on the road, the scurs are thinking hibernation for a few weeks yet isn’t an all bad idea.
My how January has flown by! We’ve had some precip, although much of it continued to be in the liquid form. For Bugtussle proper, as of the press time we are very close to the SROC normal for the month of January at 1.25”. Presently we stand at 1.13” and at the ranch .94”. If the snowstorm forecast Tuesday and Wednesday materializes we could be on track for our first above-normal month of precipitation. Stay tuned.
It has been a bizarre month when one considers what a typical January usually is. Our normal highs were eclipsed by a substantial margin much of the past week and our lows were far above normal. Normal highs like that aren’t the norm until the second week in March. Several nights it didn’t freeze either and one has to get into the second week of April for that to be typical. At least it serves to shorten the winter and make one thankful that the colder and wetter-than-normal winter forecast by many last fall has been dead wrong thus far. Sure, it can turn on us and we could get a drawn out late winter but, it will have its work cut out for it. Fields are generally bare and while they can become snow-covered quickly, we are already through the coldest month of the year. Days are getting longer and the sun is gathering strength. Frost depth at the SROC on January 23rd was 12”. In 1987, we saw some small grain seeded locally in late February. Could it happen again? Anything is possible.
It was nice to have the bobsled track that our driveway had become melt off to a large extent. One can entertain thoughts of getting the mail now without falling and sliding off into the weeds. With few flat spots in our yard, chores are safer too. Before the thaw, visions of those crashed ice events crossed my mind while hauling buckets of water to their destinations.
The brood ewes have enjoyed the warm temps too. With a pack composed of hay they’ve pulled out of the feeder, they’ve lounged around many days outside when it isn’t raining anyway. On days when it has rained, they’ve hung out inside on the cornstalk bedding. One rainy morning I woke them up at choretime and they looked at me as if to say, “Seriously? You really think we’re going to get out of our nice warm bed to eat now? Get a grip!” One more ewe came in last Saturday with lambs that for some reason didn’t want to get off the deck. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. The receding snow has drawn the ewes out to the pasture to nibble on some of the green grass that was hidden beneath the snowdrifts. They like a little variety sometimes too and who can blame them?
Ruby has assumed lone dog status once again. She seems uncertain that Fudgie isn’t suddenly going to appear in the garage door on the way out for chores. She still lunges in and out as she did before, only now sans another dog. Not to dwell on losing canine acquaintances, but we were saddened to hear of another Border Collie friend passing. Zip, who had visited here several years ago, passed away at the age of 13. He was a big, furry fella, weighing in at one point over 80 lbs. On his visit he took a shine to me. When I was ready for a nap one damp, cloudy Saturday afternoon I allowed him up on the couch to curl up beside me, something that was taboo at home. We must’ve been quite a sight, both of us snoring away with the TV blaring, loving every minute of it.
Made a trip to Litchfield Saturday to obtain some hay feeders for the woollies. Noticed on the way up and back there were lots of fish houses coming off area lakes. I also noticed there were lots of people driving in the fog without their headlights on. What’s up with that? Do some people have a death wish? Maybe, maybe not. So many folks have become used to automatic headlights they may just assume they’re on. That would explain why the one guy following me with a newer pickup had his lights on sometimes when I’d look in the rearview mirror and other times he didn’t. A lot of differences in lighting systems just on our vehicles. Some like my Dodge pickup have daytime running lights that come on automatically when the truck is put in gear, but the taillights don’t come on. With a couple of the GM products we’ve owned, the daytime running lights and taillights come on automatically regardless of lighting conditions. The Ford we have is dependent on light conditions and the lights aren’t always on even if it is foggy or raining. Best bet for us under those conditions regardless of what we’re driving: Turn the lights on manually. That’s what I like about Studebakers. No guessing. The lights are on or they’re not.
Will be doing something I never thought we’d do in the next week or so: Ma Bell is getting the hook. Yes, I finally got fed up with the lack of communication from a communication company. They’d been off my Christmas card list after leaving our phone line on top of the ground for over a year in the yard and along the road until our neighbor unknowingly caught it with his haybine. Calling and writing them to get it buried did no good. It took a letter to the MN Public Utilities Commission to finally get their attention. The straw that broke the camel’s back though was a sudden change in the Internet service that prevented me from livestreaming the Gopher women’s basketball game Saturday. Attempts to remedy the situation with their chat “help” feature did absolutely nothing and further attempts afterwards only made matters worse in addition to wasting a lot of my time. Heaven forbid you actually talk to someone. How I longed for the days when Gene Amley or John Bokelman would just come out and fix the damn phone! Fortunately there is no shortage of Internet providers and it will be up and running soon at the ranch. In the meantime, no more telemarketers and Ma Bell with her landline will be sent packing. As my little fat buddy Leo would say, it’s been real, it’s been fun, but it ain’t been real fun.
See you next week…real good then.