The heater on the Weather Eye went on the fritz last week, baffling the scurs. Can we be done with this cold weather stuff? Again? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Thursday, mostly sunny and warmer with a modest chance of rain by evening. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Mostly cloudy on Friday with a modest chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the mid-50’s. Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 50’s. Monday, partly sunny with a modest chance of thundershowers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. Partly sunny on Tuesday with continued chances of developing thundershowers. Highs in the low 70’s with lows in the mid-50’s. The normal high for May 29th is 74 and the normal low is 61. On Memorial Day the scurs will be honoring those who served as well as those who have gone before. We are very fortunate and need to remember that.
Last week was a tale of two temperature regimes. High temperatures early in the week in the 80’s and later in the week struggling to get to 50 put the brakes on. Looking at the crop on Monday after seeing it last on Friday, it appeared to have been in suspended animation. Along with that came generous amounts of rain, around 2” at the ranch, 2.54” in town and over 3” in other areas. Measurable precip was recorded on seven consecutive days. Generally speaking however the rainfall came gently and was metered out so there was less water standing than one might’ve expected. By late afternoon around greater Bugtussle fields began to gray off to the point one could at least see where you shouldn’t drive. Corn color has been somewhat pale as a result of the cool, cloudy weather although the stands appear to be excellent. Soybeans have emerged as well and some were welcoming the rain as on the tail end of the planting, some seed was in dry soil. Not anymore.
At the ranch as well as other areas it has become difficult to get the lawn mowed in a timely fashion. Wet grass means an ugly result although sometimes there’s no other alternative. The heat last week also pushed bluegrass to heading meaning that it’s no longer the new fresh tender grass it once was. Sharp blades are necessary to do the kind of job one would like. Of course those of us who either don’t care about the dandelions or are too busy to deal with them can’t wait for them to go dormant so they’re out of sight out of mind. At this point that time is still a few weeks away. Summer can’t come soon enough.
It can officially be summer now at the ranch however. On the 22nd I spied our first hummingbird of the season although I’m pretty sure they had been visiting earlier judging by the level in the nectar feeder. A common yellow-throated warbler was heard singing from the wild plum thicket the morning of the 21st. A catbird was heard from the same thicket on the 22nd and by evening it squared off with one of the male Baltimore orioles for dibs on the jelly feeder. The oriole won at least until he got his fill and flew off, allowing the catbird to indulge. One lone white-throated sparrow was spotted under the feeder, possibly a straggler as they hadn’t been seen at the ranch for over a week.
It has been interesting to watch a hole one of the woodpeckers drilled in a broken off limb on the silver maple tree. I can see it from my seat in the oval office and it has kept me wondering what will eventually use it. So far a downy has climbed inside the cavity to check out, followed by a tree swallow and eventually a house wren. Even a lowly starling had a look at it before deciding it apparently wasn’t large enough to accommodate it or its offspring. Who will end up using it? My money’s on the downy. It’s the most well equipped to modify the space and probably was who drilled the hole in the first place.
Sunday was finally the day we decided we’d had enough and weaned ewes and lambs. It was overdue given the early lambing dates although there were lots of things that kept getting in the way including the weather. Saturday was one of the nastiest days in recent memory so that was out. Handling wet sheep is no one’s idea of a good time. Getting all the fences sprayed and up to snuff also needed to happen. The slow kill of the vegetation due to the cold temps made it difficult to tell if the fences were charging sufficiently or not. It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done. The lambs were upset, the ewes were upset and we were happy to have them separated after the battle. Few things make me happier than to torment the ewes that don’t care whose hips or knees they buckle to get to the feed trough. Hearing them beller is music to my ears. Well it can be anyway. After going to bed Sunday night I could hear them carrying on over by the barn where their complaints were somewhat muffled. What a comforting sound I thought. About 4:30 a.m. some of the loudest ewes made their way over to the pasture to protest right in front of the bedroom window. So much for comforting sounds.
A few weeks ago we had a minor tragedy at the ranch: One morning we found one of the three orange kittens dead, the apparent result of an attack by a tomcat or other animal. We decided it was probably a good idea for the kindly neighbors to get the kittens they wanted for pets before whatever it returned for the others. They were a little young yet at six weeks to wean perhaps but doing some reading, there was no reason they wouldn’t be alright. Since the kittens were all tomcats, it made the selection process easier with the little gray kitten and one of the orange one’s going to their new home last week. I wondered for the past week how they were doing and Monday after checking on the ewes at the kindly neighbors, I got answer. The matriarch of the family came out of the garage with the two kittens. They had grown like weeds and were apparently very tame as a result of some severe spoiling. I could hear their purring from my pickup window. Few things more satisfying than to know animals have gone to a good home. Even though as Betsy’s dad claims, cats are a renewable resource.
See you next week…real good then.