The scurs had high hopes for last week that were dashed when the Weather Eye came up with an 11-degree low Thursday night. Will it improve or is ice cream-making weather just around the corner? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs near 40 and lows in the mid-20’s.Thursday, partly sunny with a modest chance of a rain/snow mix in the evening. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the mid-teens. Cloudy on Friday with a good chance of rain. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly sunny and colder. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-teens. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the low teens. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly sunny Tuesday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Losing daylight at approximately two minutes per day, on the 19th we’re down to 9 hours and 30 minutes of daylight. The normal high for November 19th is 39 and the normal low is 22. A sneak peek at Turkey Day: Look for a high in the low 30’s and a low in the upper teens. The scurs are trying to decide on ham or turkey. The easy call? Go with both.
As of late last week, harvest was getting pretty well wrapped up to the west of Bugtussle and it seems to be working its way east. Corn moisture remained in the upper teens to low 20’s. The frozen ground was a double edges sword. It has afforded some better traction on top but it froze deep enough so that tillage was tough on equipment in places. The same for anhydrous ammonia applications. It has been difficult getting it to seal consistently not to mention being rough on the bars. In the past worked soybean ground has been better going. This year it froze deeper making that scenario less attractive in some cases for both ammonia as well as manure applications.
The downies at the ranch were the first customers on the new batch of suet put out. Not only that, they’re not bothered by the fishing weights that are suspended by fishing line from the wooden horizontal feeder. House sparrows and starlings reputedly don’t like that. Old bluebird house trick. The house sparrows are already working on the other feeder so it may have to be altered accordingly. We have a pair of cardinals back again as of the 10th. They’re pretty cautious with little left in the way of foliage in which to conceal themselves. They show up only fairly early or late in the day for the most part. Never know when a small hawk may be cruising the vicinity.
Some have been wondering whether or not the leaves frozen on the trees will come off or not. It appears they have started to come unhinged although it’s at a staggered, slow pace. We really needed a couple more weeks of warm dry weather for the remaining leaves such as those on our Norway maple to reach full color. Alas, it was not to be. I needed to move the lawnmowers around Saturday a.m. so decided I’d tackle the heaviest leaf accumulations and grind them up the best I could. It was chilly and Howard the orange mower was a little grumpy about it at first. Eventually he warmed up to the idea and within an hour, everything was ground to confetti. And I wonder why I have so many night crawlers.
After not being able to get enough of lawn mowing, I decided it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to get the barn cleaning project underway. Moving the lawnmowers was the first step. Check fluid levels and pump a few tires needing it. Check. Next came taking the bucket off the skidloader and putting the forks on. Took the quick hitch off the 656 as the bale spear won’t fit on it otherwise. That accomplished, then out in the pasture to grab the pride of the farm, the manure spreader. Ruby even watched the gate! The sheep were way out yonder so they didn’t challenge her. Truth be told she probably wouldn’t do much if they did but they likely won’t guess looking in her eyes she’s not Fudgie, if only for a while.
Everything got greased and it amazes me how many zerks there can be on three relatively small pieces of equipment. It was getting towards midafternoon so after moving some gates and panels it was time to commence barn cleaning season for another year. I like to haul a couple loads during daylight hours to get the bugs out and make sure everything is working right. Everything did and with the exception of a few minor issues it went smoothly. Maybe a little too smoothly.
The next morning after chores I decided to check the hydraulic fluid level on the skidloader even though it was fine before. It leaks a little, but the automatic transmission fluid level stays relatively constant. I hadn’t added any for years as rarely needed any when checked. Not this time. It barely showed on the dipstick. Added a couple quarts I had on hand and no discernable change. Rats! A trip to the store where you go to the bathroom in the big orange silo was in order. I also wanted to grab a new set of plugs for the tractor as those hadn’t been changed in a long time. I got the tranny fluid and of course when I found the correct box of six plugs, there were only three in it. Punt. Burning too much daylight. I’d just have to clean the existing plugs when I got home and make them work for now.
Adding fluid to the skid loader requires one to become a contortionist and practically hang by your toenails to unscrew the filler cap. It took both gallons purchased to get the level back up over the add line. Something was screwy. Watching carefully on the first load I could see a small puddle of transmission fluid when I backed up after making it grunt lifting a major league chunk of pack. Do I stop or keep going was the question. Definitely needed to get some barn cleaned so the obvious answer was keep going but monitor the situation closely.
Checking after each load the level dropped a little on the dipstick. Finally there was one load left to finish the middle section and it was decision time: Was there enough showing on the stick to make me feel confident nothing would be damaged ? No doubt. Went for it and got the last load spread just as the sun had set. Good thing too. The next night the primary tillage implement rolled over the field where I’d spread it. I hadn’t finished the whole barn but I’d made a major dent. Once the skidloader gets fixed, hopefully it’ll make short work of the rest of it. Fun never stops.
See you next week…real good then.