The scurs were pleased with the temperature forecast provided by the Weather Eye. Are we in for more of the same or are we slated for a return of the ice age? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Saturday mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Sunny on Easter Sunday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and thunder showers. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with continued chances of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. On Easter Sunday we’re back over 13 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, the same as we were back on August 25th.The normal high for April 16th is 57 and the normal low is 36. Sunday morning the scurs will be savoring their new found stash of Easter chocolate. Long time coming since Valentine’s Day.
Fieldwork started to break out in places with the warm, breezy Saturday. For the most part, anhydrous ammonia was the primary endeavor with the odd field slated for small grain being worked for seeding. It should be ideal timing as the calendar date would indicate. It’s a little early to be tearing into planting corn just yet as last year hopefully taught us. Putting a field in ahead of the replant date on crop insurance while not a crime is still assuming some additional risk perhaps unnecessarily.
At the ranch there remains one main task to complete getting the lawn into mowing mode again: Using the rake to gather the plethora of small sticks resulting from the winter ice storms. The bigger stuff was picked up and burned earlier so it shouldn’t be an insurmountable task. It just isn’t a lot of fun although having “dog help” in the form of Ruby lunging and barking at the rake makes it somewhat entertaining. Later when we get into actual lawn mowing it will be a time to reflect on the loss of Fudgie who put many miles following the lawnmower back and forth. She already has been missed when going through gates with equipment. Actually getting on and off to shut the gate so the sheep don’t get out accomplished that.
Skywatcher to the stars he is, Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer stopped in the other day to give me the lowdown on what’s up in the night sky. When it isn’t cloudy anyway, Jupiter is the main planetary feature in the eastern sky about an hour after sunset. Reddish Mars is low in the western sky also about an hour after sunset. Venus is back to being a morning star. Look for it in the east about a half hour before sunrise. Saturn appears in the east about midnight and is high in the sky before the sun comes up. Thanks also the Steele Co. Astronomical Society for this valuable information.
Some phenological happenings include the arrival of tree swallows at the ranch on April 5th. The western chorus frogs were heard behind the Mall for Men in the wetland on the 5th, although those at the ranch were yet to reveal themselves. Probably just a difference in temperature with the “heat island” effect from metropolitan Bugtussle influencing those near town. Tincture’s kittens arrived about on schedule also on the 5th and about exactly where we thought they would. She deposited them under the manger in the mean ram’s pen so fishing them out may present a challenge or at least involve the use of an extra panel to avoid getting hit.
On the 6th with a little time before spring work gets serious, I was graciously invited north to Canada to my little fat buddy Billy’s cabin. It would mark the first time I’ve been there other than during the fall season. I am naturally curious so he didn’t have to ask me twice. It was a little different in that we didn’t turn the water on so had to rely on drinking water being hauled in and for bathing and dish washing purposes, somehow getting water out of the lake which was still frozen over. Due to the warming temperatures, enough water collected in the little “sump” we chopped so we could fill the tank in the sauna and several pails using a garden hose and a skimmer pump. Just like the pioneers used to do, only they probably needed a currant bush to run the pump.
With the short growing season it’s amazing how quickly insects come to life. Recall that I mentioned the lake was still frozen. Along with that there was snow in the woods as well. On April 7th, we saw a Compton tortoiseshell or false comma butterfly. They overwinter as adults and apparently get moving once spring arrives, producing one generation per growing season. All I know is getting a photo took some patience as anytime one got close enough they flew off before I could snap their picture. Along with the same coloration on the bottom of their wings being the same pattern as the dead leaves on the forest floor, they are well suited for survival in Ontario.
Chickadees are almost always present and this time was no exception. We cut and split wood for the stove in the cabin the sauna the afternoon of the 8th. While we were at it we admired some pussy willows near the compost bin. When we were finished, it was time to sit a spell and have some refreshments. Robins could be heard in the trees nearby and as we snacked on some peanuts, the mosquitoes began to show up. Bill commented they were big enough to be used as bait. They were also friendly, attempting to bite through the well-worn pair of jeans I was wearing. Over the course of the weekend, our Canadian friends and neighbors stopped in to visit. They definitely don’t bite. Lucky to have neighbors like that.
See you next week…real good then.