The scurs were confused about which way to slide the heat and the windshield washer on the Weather Eye. Will their confusion continue or will they get it figured out by next week? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of overnight showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the low 50’s. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the low 50’s. Partly sunny on Friday with a good chance of rain by afternoon. Highs in the mid-60’s with lows in the upper 40’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50’s with lows in the mid-40’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the low 40’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. Partly sunny Tuesday with highs in the low 60’s and lows in the low 40’s. The sun will set at 6:30 p.m. CDT on the 15th with sunrise at 7:30 a.m. on the 16th. We will also slip below 11 hours of daylight on the 16th. The normal high for the 16th is 60 and the normal low is 37. The scurs will be cutting some weenie roasting sticks as they huddle around the Trash Fire Police-approved recreational fire to keep warm.
Progress in the fields was very measured this past week with precip being measured on seven consecutive days. Soybeans simply did not get dry enough most of the week to allow combining. The heavy rains on Thursday and Friday even put a damper on picking corn for much of the weekend as soils became saturated. Rainfall amounts for the past seven day period generally totaled between three and four inches. 4.09” was measured in Bugtussle with 3.46” tallied at the ranch. The frost on Tuesday morning was welcome although it did little to kill off escaped weeds in soybean fields. Soybeans that have been harvested have been a pleasant surprise considering the disease pressure and cool August temperatures, making it perhaps more like the 2015 crop. Yield reports from the relatively small acreage of corn harvested continues to be near the yield levels of last year. Patience will be needed to avoid causing compaction issues that could have long term consequences. Unfortunately most of these soils are not very forgiving in that department.
Not to say that there wasn’t some nice weather mixed in this past week after the rains. It allowed the lawn to be mowed at the ranch and more vegetables to be harvested. It also made some time to smell the roses or the four o’clocks. When I uncovered the grill one still evening around dusk not a leaf was moving on the silver maple tree. It was soothing to hear the Canada geese flying overhead then honking excitedly as they neared the Dubya’s chopped cornfield and prepared for landing. A pheasant cackled in the background as the LP made its familiar “whump!” noise as the ignitor lit the burner under the charcoal baskets. The resulting smoke went straight up. I noticed something working over the four o’clocks so I walked over to investigate who was going from flower to flower. I’d hoped it was still a late migrating hummingbird. Alas, it was a white-lined sphinx moth. Still, it was October 4th and it was time for the hummers to be gone until next year.
There has still been a lot of migratory bird activity however. The robins have enjoyed gobbling down the nannyberries, crabapples, American cranberry and chokeberries (aronia). I thought I’d heard juncos when I returned from Canada back on September 26th. I forgot about them until this past weekend when I witnessed them picking up grit from the driveway. They’ve since been noticed under the feeders working on some of the seed spilled on the ground. There hasn’t been a lot of activity at the feeders otherwise. Even the squirrels seem content to consume the bountiful acorn crop rather than feasting on ears of corn.
Sunday was a party day for the insects. At the ranch, painted lady butterflies were busy working over the zinnias and salvia in the various beds in our yard. Lots of syrphid flies (hover flies) were also busy getting their last licks in for the season, occasionally annoying me as I picked tomatoes. They weren’t nearly as annoying as the multi-colored Asian lady beetles. They were everywhere and I heard reports that I wasn’t alone. The tiny minute pirate bugs were also claimed by some to be competing in the nuisance department. Apparently the food sources for both the lady beetles and pirate bugs, namely aphids and other soft bodied insects are diminishing. Luckily the pirate bugs tend to stay outside while the lady beetles are more than happy to become squatters inside for the winter.
Other vermin have attempted to get into our house. Not mice or rats but fleas. Ruby had been scratching and was bathed with flea shampoo. Thinking that would solve the problem as it has in the past we were puzzled when she continued to scratch. Using the fine brush on her revealed that she was likely getting reinfested somehow. The barn cats were likely culprits and sure enough when the kittens were examined, they were loaded. A quick trip to the vet and it was game on with the little six-legged intruders. All the cats were treated and Ruby got some medication that should keep the fleas at bay for 12 weeks. By the time that rolls around, we should have broken the cycle. Chances are after that, cold temperatures will cure a lot of the flea problem.
We sent another natural-colored ram off with a fellow Cheviot producer from Chatfield who’s been getting a ram from us every fall. We also gave him a few fleeces as he’s a hand spinner. He almost got one of our tomcats thrown in on the deal. The cat, whom several have pointed out is more pink than orange, tried to stow away in his trailer before we loaded the ram. I’d initially named the cat “Elmer.” He sorta looked like an Elmer. Besides, his dad’s name was Bugs. After a short debate we decided his name should be changed. Can you imagine the headlines in Chatfield if the cat had made it there? “Pink Floyd moves to Chatfield”.
See you next week…real good then.