The heater in the Weather Eye was on during the day and in the evenings the AC was working to perfection. Will the heater core spring another leak or are we in for a drying out period? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with tiny chance of forenoon showers and thunderstorms and a good chance by evening. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the low 70’s. Thursday, partly sunny becoming cloudy with a good chance of late afternoon to evening thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Mostly cloudy and slightly cooler on Friday with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Saturday, partly sunny with a modest chance of thundershowers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with a modest chance of daytime showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Monday, sunny with a slight chance of a forenoon thundershower. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Partly sunny and warmer on Tuesday with increasing chances of developing thundershowers. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. We dip below 15 hours of daylight on the 20th, the first time since May 21st. The normal high for July 20th is 82 and the normal low is 62. The scurs are making plans for what to do with all these newly acquired hours of darkness. Maybe sleep on it a while.
Another stellar week of crop progress. Corn began tasseling in earnest and by press time it should be about halfway there across greater Bugtussle and environs. Soybeans also made a push with some fields becoming a bona fide R3 with a pod at one of the four uppermost nodes with a fully expanded trifoliate exhibiting a pod of 3/16” or longer. Soybean aphids were found in nearly every field as of last week although they were still on the field margins. Also noted were signs of beneficial insects including lacewing eggs and convergent ladybugs, a native species. This also points up the need to avoid the temptation of applying a fungicide and “just tossing in the insecticide.” Allowing Mother Nature to address this on her own only makes sense. Insecticides provide temporary protection and if you’ve knocked out the beneficial insect population prior to aphid populations increasing to threshold, Katie bar the door. As humans we’ve demonstrated time and time again that we are slow learners.
We’ve had some great growing conditions to be sure. Highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the 60’s tend maximize GDU’s and allow the corn and soybean crop to grow like mad during the day while catching its breath at night. It doesn’t hurt our “crops” around the ranch either. Morning-glories, otherwise known as weeds in much of the Corn Belt are climbing the light pole once again, having attained a height of about six feet. The flower buds on the tiger lilies that were a part of the farmstead when we first moved here are blushing orange. My attempt to move them last fall appears to have been successful with the LP tank shrouded by their presence. The lawn continues to thrive on the weekly rainfall too although with the heat, it has meant the bottom of the ditch could be mowed for the second week in a row. The planters are starting to come into their own and their water consumption shows it. About every three or four days and watering is a necessity.
The orioles continue to feed heavily and apparently they’re telling their friends and family. Their consumption is up to a couple jars of jelly a week. Last week I saw a half dozen of them, young and old trying to use the jelly feeder. The hummingbirds are slowly coming back to the feeder and are hitting the salvia in the planters more routinely. It won’t be long and the 4 o’clocks will start blooming adding to the buffet of flowers at their disposal. Barring a disaster, there should be plenty for them to eat as they ready themselves for their long distance migration this fall.
The garden while behind is showing signs of promise. Tomatoes rewarded us with their first fruit of the season. A couple grape and yellow pear tomatoes to start us off with many more to come if the vines are any indication. While later than we’d like the vine crops are starting to make a move. Last year we had zucchini already while this year we have zucchini that’s just up, stabbed in where a couple hills of decorative miniature pumpkins failed to emerge. String beans are about to bloom and sweet corn is about a foot tall. If the weather continues on this warm streak we should just fine. The notion of a later garden into the fall works here as we’re able to enjoy the bounty after hours with weed control being minimal. One of my favorite lessons was taught to me by a friend and farmer who dared to take the chance of planting many acres of alfalfa in late July, not unlike fall garden planted the same time. I love it when a plan comes together.
The first cicada at the ranch was heard on July 14th this year. I’d seen the cicada killer wasps by City Hall in town earlier although their numbers are significantly reduced over some years. The fireflies continue to put on a nightly show although they were fewer on Monday night than they had been the previous week. The breezy conditions may have had something to do with it. Still waiting for the striped cucumber beetles to appear in the garden. Won’t hurt my feelings if they don’t show up.
Another Waseca County Fair car show is in the books although I have to admit, driving the Studebaker to the shows is as much fun as eating and hanging with the car show people once I’m there. Something about using the technology of the day still fascinates me. Watching the movie at the fair about the P 51 Mustang rebuilt in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, those old machines were ahead of their time. Like the Mustang, the Borg Warner T 86 overdrive transmission in its day was a marvel of modern engineering. Being able to shift by only letting off on the gas had to have been something only dreamt about in the early days of automobile production. What sweet dreams they were.
See you next week…real good then.