The scurs gladly believed Weather Eye when it indicated the weather would be warming. What wasn’t so certain was missing the midweek cooldown. Are we through with winter or are we seeing a mirage? Starting Wednesday mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Thursday, mostly sunny and warmer with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low 30’s. Sunny Friday (brace yourself) with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Saturday sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of rain by evening. Highs again in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 40’s. President’s Day, mostly cloudy with a good chance of a thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with a good chance of rain and snow mix. Highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. The normal high for February 20th is 29 and the normal low is 11. The scurs cannot tell a lie: While President’s Day is the 20th; Washington’s Birthday is on the 22nd so it is kosher for cherry pie to be consumed on either day, preferably both.
Another instance of bizarre winter weather complete with some well below normal temps and some well above normal temps all in the same week. At least most of the ice plaguing area sidewalks is long gone. Some snow continues to linger in the fencelines, road ditches and groves although it is not long for this world if the temperature forecasts hold true. Fish houses have once again beat a hasty retreat from area lakes in what may be their last hurrah for the season. Not so much locally but around the state, more reports of vehicles going through the ice keep cropping up.
Lack of snow cover and warm temperatures are not likely a concern as far as corn and soybean production. It may actually be a boon to those anticipating sowing small grains. In 1987 a wise man named Norbert Schultz drilled wheat in late February west of New Richland. It made wheat although that year’s corn crop and the MN Twin’s 1st World Series title were probably more noteworthy. One potential negative from a cropping standpoint on this winter’s weather could be established alfalfa breaking dormancy early only to have temperatures plummet back into the single digits. Hasn’t happened yet, nothing one can do to change it if it does so worrying about it is wasted time.
At the ranch, same as many locations we’ve battled ice most of the winter. Hauling buckets of water across it has been treacherous although luckily we’ve suffered no broken bones. What has been interesting as it thaws are the layers of red grit one sees encased in it. When they reemerge and the temperatures freeze up again, the grit is already there to protect you from falling on your behind. Talk about forward planning.
Warmer weather has made for a slowdown in bird numbers but not so much for variety. Still lots of chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, juncos, downies, hairies, and occasional goldfinches. There has been a first year Harris’s sparrow mixed amongst the juncos and house sparrows. Usually we don’t see the Harris’s at the ranch until close to the time the orioles arrive. Not going to put out any jelly or nectar feeders in anticipation just yet. It would likely be a while before it was eaten. We had two pileated woodpeckers trekking up the trunk in the elm tree outside the oval office Saturday. They didn’t stay long and were looking over a silver maple in the pasture that has seen its fair share of woodpecker activity. The male cardinal still makes periodic stops to glean safflower seeds the house sparrows toss out of the feeders on the ground. Besides cat food, perhaps house sparrows do serve a purpose.
Our lambing season continues to stay well ahead of schedule for this time of year at the ranch. We’re over 75% done with three or four close up and a few more that probably won’t drop lambs until March. Unheard of but we’ll take it. The weather has certainly been cooperative aside from a few cold days and the general health has been good. Keeping them bedded and providing adequate ventilation in this changeable weather is paramount to maintaining that health. I detest having to use antibiotics any more than absolutely necessary especially when many of the problems are preventable. Cleaning a little extra manure out of the barn is still preferable to composting dead animals.
Saturday we were able to move a large group of ewes and lambs out of the lambing barn over the weekend. It took some time as tails needed to be docked, ear tags installed and vaccinations administered first. Moving the yearlings into another pen so we could open up a larger loafing area for ewes with lambs also needed to happen as did the establishment of a lamb creep feeder. The lambs had already set up shop in it by evening choretime. The snowbanks have almost receded to the point that the electric fence could be charged. Next we’ll have to wonder if the pastures will be ready ahead of schedule. Fortunately the Dubya’s haymaking prowess has our hay supply in abundance should we have to wait a few extra weeks.
Between helping move sheep and our wiping mud off of her, Border Collie Ruby has been busy watching dog shows in her spare time. The Westminster Agility Trials were on Sunday night and that about sent her into orbit, barking and carrying on. The following night, we tuned in the Westminster Dog Show itself and that was even more entertaining, primarily because there are more dogs. Her attention span for TV is relatively short as opposed to staring at a ball stuck behind the furniture for twenty minutes. In other words, Ruby doesn’t actually “watch” the shows; she loudly takes note of the dogs when she sees them on the screen. Movement which is a large part of the show not surprisingly is a trigger. Also the words “Ruby, there’s a dog on TV!” set her off. Gee, wonder how that happened?
See you next week…real good then.