The scurs have not been amused by the Weather Eye’s propensity to spit out rain in the forecast every few days. Are we due to dry out or are we back in ark building mode? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain in the forenoon. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly sunny on Friday with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Saturday partly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and thunder showers. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with continued chances of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. The normal high for April 22nd is 60 and the normal low is 38. The scurs will be celebrating Earth Day by burning some tires off the Gremlin to keep warm.
Fieldwork was slowed for most of last week by nuisance rainfall events across much of the area. Cool temperatures, a lack of sunshine and wind were all factors as well. Trying to dry out damp soils without one or more of the above makes for slow change. Some corn did get in the ground although no one has been bragging that conditions were ideal. This week doesn’t look promising either as we run into the potential for wet weather and even cooler temperatures. There is plenty of time to get this crop in the ground especially when one sees how quickly it can change once the weather does cooperate as it did on Easter Sunday. Fortunately we haven’t seen multiple inch type precipitation yet. Alfalfa appears to have in general survived decently with some of the older stands showing their age. Later cutting dates may have also been a factor in some of the fields that are more questionable.
Phenologically speaking we’re seeing spring unfold about on schedule. The western chorus frogs that hadn’t really made much noise in our pond suddenly found their voices when the temperatures warmed up. Toads can also be heard on warm nights. A chipmunk was busily stuffing its cheeks with corn as I grilled last Saturday. Red admiral butterflies were also out in force. There’s some question as to whether they are migrating in, if they’re able to overwinter here with warm winters or some of both. How they got here doesn’t seem to matter to them, sunning themselves in the late afternoon sunshine. Bumblebees were buzzing around as well and what may have been a queen given the size was carefully checking over the area where we’ve had nests in the ground the past several seasons. Oddly enough the dogs have always avoided that area. The mower somehow moves faster through there too.
This weekend at the ranch we noticed the first of the white crowned sparrows. The red-bellied woodpecker uses the ear corn feeder whenever the grackles aren’t, his raucous call breaking up the overall rather still afternoon air. Each ear of corn we put out has approximately 500 kernels on it. Between the grackles, blue jays, red-bellied woodpecker and of course the squirrels, they polish off two ears a day. Chipping sparrows are back in force. It will soon be time to brush Ruby so they have some fur for nesting material. If it’s good enough to keep Ruby warm it’s good enough for the chipping sparrows. The male goldfinches have almost reached their full bright yellow color. Their antics make me chuckle and provide a little ray of sunshine even on our plentiful cloudy days.
And of course, the dandelions are starting to bloom along with the Johnny Jump Ups or violas. The tiger lilies I had painstakingly moved are starting to emerge around the LP tank. Not so surprisingly, when I looked at the area where they came from last fall it was obvious I didn’t get them all. It looked as though my excavation had actually awakened most of the bulblets shed last year by the main plants. They do provide cover and erosion was kept to a minimum. The rhubarb is getting a little closer every day to harvesting. While it wasn’t ready in time for Easter, in another week or so we can enjoy our first pie, rhubarb crisp and sauce of the season. Add some ice cream and it is a rite of spring.
Saturday we had company much of the afternoon with folks coming to see the lambs and kittens. Many of the lambs need to be weaned and hopefully the growth on the pastures will allow that to happen soon. The ewes about bowl us over and as fat as they’ve become it’s time for them to hit the salad bar. We finally pinpointed the location of the kittens to the far corner of the manger in the ram pen. Pulling the manger up just far enough so we could see, it appears there are three orange models, one gray striped and one that appears to be almost black. Their eyes were just opening, something that takes 7 – 10 days from the day they’re born. We purposely didn’t handle them as it can trigger the mother cat to hide them somewhere else. Then another search is on to find them so they can be tamed rather than becoming feral cats.
The Studebaker made its maiden voyage for the year Sunday, a relatively short run but fun nevertheless. It started on the third try which, after sitting all winter, isn’t all bad. It was a little dusty but after a good onceover with the duster, it looked respectable with the exception of the windshield. With a little more elbow grease that was cleaned off acceptably. Once on the road, the systems all functioned normally. All the rattles, squeaks, and quirks were just as they were back in November when we parked it. There will be lots of new places to check out, sights to see and new friends to meet. Let the games begin!
See you next week…real good then.