The Weather Eye was unresponsive to the new thermostat, so the scurs are thinking the last one was faulty. Heading towards the vernal equinox, it’s supposed to warm up. Or not. Starting Wednesday sunny with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the upper teens. Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of rain. Highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Partly sunny on Friday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 30’s. Saturday mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Monday, partly cloudy with a chance of rain showers. Highs in the upper 40’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. On the 17th, we will see over 12 hours of daylight for the first time since last September 24th. The normal high for March 17th is 40 and the normal low is 23. The scurs will be wearin’ the St. Patty’s Day green Friday as they gird for complaints from angry hens. Their eggs will stand on end Monday the 20th. Honest!
Sunday’s snowfall came as no surprise to most of us who have lived long enough to know that March weather simply can’t be trusted. Case in point was the tornado in Clarks Grove on the 6th. The high was 67 on Monday at the ranch although the ensuing thunderstorm cooled it off rapidly. By Friday, we recorded an overnight low of 7. By Sunday night the ground was covered once again with 6”+ of snow. While the snow was uncharacteristically dry for a spring snowfall, it will still delay the eventual declaration that spring is officially here. The vernal equinox occurs on the 20th. Even in this day and age of global warming, it’s no guarantee. Mother Nature has decided to play the January weather card so all we can do is wait for her to turn a better one.
Some of my alfalfa showed signs of breaking dormancy in places although it was far from complete even in sheltered areas. Alfalfa needs 40 degree soil temperatures to begin to break dormancy. While soil temperatures at the SROC were measured at or above 40 a few days back in February and a couple days in March, bear in mind that measurement is taken on bare soil. Typically when regrowth is left on a hay field, it is reflective, likely to make soil temperatures cooler. Poking around the small garden, rhubarb at the ranch also showed a few buds near the soil surface. Bear in mind that it is planted on a south facing slope. Covering it temporarily should help and this snow could be a blessing in disguise to protect tender vegetation until it warms up.
The snowfall brought the birds out of the woodwork and back to the feeders again. The goldfinches in particular were numerous, nearly filling the perches on all the thistle and screened feeders. The cardinals are back on schedule and the blue jays fly in at will. The little guys like the downies, chickadees, nuthatches, and juncos get their turn as the woodpeckers work the suet. A red-bellied woodpecker has returned and when the squirrel isn’t occupying it, he sneaks a kernel or two from the ear corn.
Looks like that domestic cat gestation chart at 64–67 days was about right on the money. Judging by the increasing girth on the female, we’re likely to see some kittens towards the end of March. Somehow all the kittens from the first batch we had last year disappeared. We were down to the original female then inherited a one-eyed, dark colored tiger tomcat. He’s a big fella and likes to have his tummy scratched. It’s almost like he belonged to someone around the neighborhood and liked our hospitality. If it’s your cat, you’re welcome to retrieve him. When he isn’t eating, he can be found napping in any of several locations.
We made lambing progress finally at the ranch. One of the ewes we’ve been watching for several weeks began looking miserable Monday morning and by noon hour there was no question something was afoot. Coming home at lunch then going back to the office to retrieve my confuser, not much progress had been made. Standing around bellering with placenta hanging out her backside wasn’t getting it done. Time to get out the OB sleeves and check her out. Having seen this movie before I had a pretty good idea how it would end.
Sure enough, the first lamb had its head back and expired. After removing it, further exploration revealed a tail and legs with the hocks on top: In other words a backwards lamb. Breech births frequently won’t survive if you diddle around to see what happens so time was of the essence. I moved quickly and purposefully while being as gentle as I could. Luckily the ewe was cooperative making the task of getting the lamb out of the birth canal rapidly much easier. It landed with a plop and once I put my fingers in the lamb’s mouth to prop the airway open it sputtered to life. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was a buck lamb with a black spot on it. Perhaps not the most desirable critter but at least it was healthy.
I stripped the ewe out on one side of her udder and found milk aplenty. She was still a little woozy from the birthing activity and I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize her state of mental health. Sometimes too much interference can lead to problems with a ewe accepting her lamb. Just backing off and letting them figure it out is prudent. After treating the ewe with some antibiotic, I left her and the new arrival alone so they could bond. When I returned after an hour or so both patients were up and getting with the program. Some assistance would be needed to help the lamb nurse but we still had to be happy the outcome wasn’t a complete disaster.
See you next week…real good then.