The scurs had the heater working to perfection on the Weather Eye last week. Again, about time. Will we see continued warmth or will it be time to look for long-handled clothing? Again? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy and cooler with an increasing chance of rain by evening. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Cloudy on Friday with a rain likely. Highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Saturday, cloudy with a modest chance of forenoon rain showers. Highs in the low 60’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance of rain and thundershowers. Highs in the upper 60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Mostly cloudy on Tuesday with continued chances of developing thundershowers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. The normal high for May 22 is 71 and the normal low is 50. Having survived the stress of Mother’s Day, the scurs will enjoy the 15 hours of daylight it will provide. The last time that happened was July 19; already a blast from the distant past.
Having dodged a bullet for what seemed like surefire rainfall, farmers were able to take advantage of arguably the best planting conditions of the spring thus far. Soybean planting as of this writing is winding down thanks to our good fortune. The corn crop planted April 24-25 that some were concerned about with the cold conditions following its planting has, for the most part, emerged nicely. There are a few exceptions, some being self-inflicted wounds. The first round of soybeans planted following that rainy spell have begun emerging as well. Amazing what a little above-normal heat and sunshine can do. Hay fields also moved along quickly with some ready to cut soon. The weather may have other ideas, however.
As a result of the warm temps, lawn mowers also had to kick it up a notch. Whether you’re one of those with a lush lawn due to heavy fertilizer application, or one like me who has a lawn full of dandelions that look ugly when they go to seed, it definitely was time to get it done. The bluegrass has started to head out, making it tougher as well, although it doesn’t gum up the deck because it isn’t so juicy anymore. At the ranch it was also time to get all the tree wrap off the small trees. Hopefully the bunnies have better things to do than chew them up. A few more years and it won’t be necessary anymore-except I’ll probably plant some more. Can’t win for losing I guess.
The flowering trees around the yard have also been pushed hard. Last week the apples and crabapples were at their prime with the plums shedding their flower petals like parade confetti in the wind. This week it was the apple trees’ turn. Right on their heels were the lilac bushes, adding that distinctive smell that only lilacs have. They’re very heavily laden with flowers as well. A bit unusual, perhaps, because we’re used to seeing them a little later in the month at the ranch. Along with the lilacs, nannyberries and chokeberries are also starting to flower. While they don’t have the scent the lilacs do, their berries will undoubtedly make some birds very happy come fall.
We saw more birds arrive for the summer and some that had been visiting left for Canadian destinations. The last of the Harrises, white-crowned and white throated sparrows snuck out sometime Sunday as they were no longer present Monday morning. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t see some stragglers, but the big push is probably over. The arriving summer birds included both a Baltimore and orchard oriole female around noon on May 10, followed by a male orchard oriole that evening. A male indigo bunting was almost metallic blue in the sun on the 12th, and it thrilled me to see one after their leave of absence for a year or so. At the kindly neighbor’s Sunday, bluebirds were found nesting in the hilltop nesting box they’ve occupied the past several years. Four blue eggs were tucked neatly into the bottom of the birdhouse. At the ranch I was a little concerned that the inexpensive jelly I’d purchased for the orioles had developed a rubbery crust on it so they wouldn’t eat it. It reminded me of pudding skins. My fears were allayed, however, after checking the bowls and seeing they were nearly empty. I wonder how they’d feel about pudding skin singles?
Gardening at the ranch has been slow coming around. More time has been spent on other operations up until recently. After chores Monday night I decided the canna bulbs weren’t going to plant themselves. With all the effort put into digging and storing them last fall, it would be a shame to let them expire. Digging a trench 6” deep about 20’ long, I put two buckets of well-rotted sheep manure in the bottom, mixed with soil and planted the bulbs. From start to finish the process took about an hour, but the enjoyment lasts all summer, or at least until it’s time to dig them up again in the fall. A lot of effort, although it’s worth it when the hummingbirds migrate through in late summer and early fall.
One of the other pursuits referred to above has been the readying of pastures for ewes. Both pasture fences have been sprayed, so cross that off the list. The kindly neighbors put the fence back up after someone took on a half dozen of the T-posts, so they’re ready for woolly visitors anytime. I know I’m certainly ready to quit buying so much feed and doing so many chores when Mrs. Cheviot works late. With all that grass out there there’s simply no reason to spend the additional time on chores when there are so many other things that need to be done. Then before you know it, the ewes come off pasture and the chore process repeats itself again anyway. Worst of all, that interim period seems to go faster with each passing year.
See you next week…real good then.