The scurs are still not enamored with the Weather Eye’s recent performance. While not exactly wet, it isn’t exactly the Gobi Desert either, although the temperatures (cool-ish) are about right. Will they stay that way or will we eventually have summer? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a modest chance of rain and snow in the forenoon. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a moderate chance of rain showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Saturday mostly cloudy with a good chance of evening rain showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a moderate chance of rain. Highs in the upper 40’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain and snow showers. Highs in the low 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with continued chances of showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. The normal high for May 1st is 64 and the normal low is 42. The scurs are hoping their May baskets include something warm to eat. Or drink. Or both.
Once again the thermometer seems to say it’s warmer than normal yet it doesn’t always feel that way. Monday was a case in point. It was in the upper 60’s but the wind out in the open made it feel more like the mid-40’s at times. Still, some of the crops are showing signs that there’s not much breeze in the soil. Corn planted on the 17th was sprouting as of Monday with a radicle ¼” – ½” in length. Small grains really stole the show with conditions being about perfect for their early season growth. Spring wheat planted April 10th was two-leaf stage and some of the winter rye was approaching jointing stage already. Planting progress started in earnest over the weekend with some scratching around on Saturday leading to Sunday and Monday planting. Progress slowed however with a wet cold forecast with growers being cautioned about the risk of the newly planted corn seedlings undergoing imbibitional cooling or chilling. In most farmers’ eyes, doing it right the first time and planting the crop once is the key.
The forecasts lately have been like hitting a moving target as well. They change it almost hourly and sometimes in drastic fashion. For instance, a week ago foretold weather that would hold until a major rainmaker came through on Thursday. This after scratching rain from the original forecast on Tuesday. Suddenly the rain was back in for Tuesday and our pattern or light yet frequent rainfall continues. This is not unlike last spring’s pattern, one difference being that last April we actually had some stretches of warm sunshine and breezy conditions to get soils fit to work in short order. Average temps may not be all that much different so far although nighttime lows have been well above normal. However, last year in April we had three 80 degree days and seven 70 degree days to set the table. Thus far we’ve had no 80 degree days in April and only five 70 degree days depending on whose temperature data you’re using. Chances of that changing are becoming slim.
That hasn’t stopped the steady progression of summer birds and fruit trees at the ranch however. The first barn swallow noted was on April 18th (April 23rd last year) and the first brown thrasher was heard on the 20th (April 15th in 2016). More goldfinches seem to be appearing. While they really aren’t migratory, more nomadic, the yellow males continue to brighten. The other day while looking at the nannyberry bushes my first impression was the trees had suddenly sprouted yellow flowers. The flowers suddenly took off and flew into the spruce trees. And speaking of flowers, the buds on the fruit trees continue to swell, making me cross my fingers that freezing temperatures stay away until well after the fruit has been set. In Bugtussle, there are plum trees blossoming already. It will be a few days yet at the ranch.
Last week one afternoon I stopped at the ranch to make a sammich on my way through and while I was at it, let Ruby out for a potty break. Seeing a couple of the bird feeders needed filling I decided to grab a little seed and fill them up. As I was at it I smelled something fouling the very still yet fresh country air. I thought the Dubya’s were done hauling manure for the time being and could hear no evidence they were back at it. I looked by the side of the house to see Ruby had just completed a roll in what appeared to be very liquid cat feces. After scolding her I put her in the garage to await my return from town later that day with some dog shampoo. After chores were done I put her in the tub and literally scrubbed the crap out of her.
Got my own bath Saturday in calcium chloride when attempting to get at the lawnmowers which of course were parked in behind everything. Decided it might be time to take the chains off the tractor so if it decides to snow, now you know who to blame. After taking the chains off I decided it was prudent to inflate the one rear tire that was a little low. I proceeded to do so and of course the valve core decided it was time to let go soaking me down as I pondered my next step. Fortunately, it wasn’t my first rodeo so had prepared for the worst. Quickly got another valve core and the extraction tool. Following a couple more dousings and a “gosh darn” or perhaps a “gee whiz” or two, problem solved.
Was astounded after that rigmarole the mowers, Howard and Whitey started without additional battery charging. Much tire biting from Ruby ensued as both units were moved outside. Of course they were dusty beyond belief so the air hose was employed once again sending Ruby into Border Collie sensory overload. It’s never a quick job to get two old mowers ready after being stashed in the fall. Inflating tires, checking oil, greasing, washing them off, fueling up, etc., seems to take forever. Worth it though as running both mowers cuts the time it takes about in half. And that’s a good thing. It gave me time to put in three rows of radishes in the small garden after chores. Even better, it gave Mrs. Cheviot time to manufacture the first rhubarb custard pie of the season. It was a thing of beauty and look forward to more rhubarb delights. With plenty of Schwan’s ice cream of course.
See you next week…real good then.