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Dotch last won the day on October 7 2016

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About Dotch

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    Sr HSO Family
  • Birthday 04/01/1958

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  • Name:
    Mark Bernard
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    Wildlife habitat, bird watching, gardening, hunting, fishing, grilling, collecting Studebakers, raising Cheviot sheep & Border Collies, naps
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  1. Hey thanks Duff.Been called worse. If'n it makes ya feel any better, Mrs. Cheviot is half-Dutch.
  2. Goodbye my friend Maybe for forever Goodbye my friend The stars wait for me With a week off and the New Year’s noisemakers packed away once again, the scurs have dusted off the Weather Eye for another campaign. Will their 1st forecast of the New Year be wrought with warmth or just warm thoughts? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny and cold. Highs in the mid-single digits above zero with lows in the mid-single digits below zero. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the low single digits above zero with lows in the single digits below zero. Partly sunny and warmer Friday with highs around 10 above and lows just below zero. Saturday mostly sunny with highs near 10 above zero and lows again dipping down just below zero. Cloudy and warmer on Sunday with highs in the upper teens with lows around 10 above. Monday, mostly cloudy and warmer. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of snow. Highs in the upper 20’s with lows in the mid-teens above zero. The normal high for January 10th is 22 and the normal low is 4. Having finally finished their Christmas shopping, they can now concentrate on hoarding their Christmas goodies. It’s a long time until Valentine’s Day. We continue to saw away at winter as we descend into the depths of our coldest month. Days are noticeably longer if you’re really paying attention. Tuesday for instance we were already over 9 hours of daylight for those keeping score at home. By the 10th, we will have gained 15 minutes of daylight since the winter solstice. Spring is just around the corner, right? Speaking of that, the grass that emerged from under the snow after the Christmas rain at the ranch is still very green. Be prepared. Might be mowing in February. Winter has been relatively tolerable so far. November weather here was largely a snap and while December had its moments, the brutal cold was short-lived. Not bad as long as one stayed in by the fire where it was warm. November was warmer than normal and slightly below normal in precip with December being close to normal temperature-wise and slightly above normal in precipitation. Our precip in November included only a trace of snow. In December, about one-third of it fell as rain, most from the Christmas Day rain and ice event. Soils for the most part remain frozen so not much of the moisture will end up in the profile, yet anyway. Precip for the year at the ranch totaled 44.9” In town, while the total is incomplete since the gauge wasn’t installed until April 7th, it was still a whopping 42.81”. Warmer temperatures have meant sporadic activity at the ranch bird feeders. The diminishing snow cover has probably had something to do with it. We still have some faithful visitors though. Chickadees have been more numerous than some years with up to a half dozen appearing especially on mornings when they see I’m filling the feeders. The goldfinches have also tended to be morning feeders around sunrise. All the perches on the thistle feeders become occupied. Within an hour or so they’re gone again. The leghorn-sized blue jays are probably the largest consumers of sunflower seed, filling up their gular pouch for future reference once stashed. The cardinals have been early and late day arrivals with the male being particularly flighty. One quick movement inside seen through the sliding glass window and he’s gone. Plenty of nuthatches, with downy and hairy woodpeckers manning the suet at any given time throughout the day. The rooster pheasants are back too with hunting season officially over. Three of them moved warily through the backyard Monday then launched quickly to sail into the CRP. The holiday season was not without its tragedies even at the ranch. Having made it through Christmas and picking up steam, Fudgie seemed to have found new life. Her earlier diagnosis of a large tumor seemed distant as she ran around like a much younger dog. On Saturday, she wanted to be where the action was as I moved wagons around the yard and went in and out of the gate with the sheep under constant dog supervision. Her appetite had returned as the canned and dry food combo I’d concocted met with her approval. She was gaining weight, looking much improved over what she had just a few weeks earlier. The last of the pills I’d been jacking down her throat were gone and it was a good thing. Opening her jaws was getting a little tougher each time. Brushing her Sunday morning was normal. She hated being brushed and while she tolerated it, she also made it as difficult as she could to register her disgust. Chores Sunday night went normally and I set my sights on the next day’s tasks. Then tragedy struck. When it came time to let Fudgie out that night she was a little wobbly. She did head outside however and disappeared in the dark to her favorite bathroom break area. When I called her about 15 minutes later, she didn’t come in. Ruby as always was right at the door waiting but no Fudgie as I called several times. I grabbed a flashlight and made my way outside to find her lying down between the cars outside the garage. It wasn’t unusual for her to use selective hearing either so I wasn’t overly concerned, yet. When she came inside and plopped on the floor in her “safe-place” in the utility room, I knew something was drastically wrong. She paid no attention to her food and worse, wasn’t interested in her treat. One could see she was in pain but she was very stoic about it, staring straight ahead. In the morning, I found her on her favorite rug by the pet gate. She hadn’t suffered long apparently. Still, I was sad to see her gone without getting a chance to say good-bye. She had a good life and had served many purposes during her 13+ years on the planet. At the ranch she was the favorite of Lucy’s litter, being the only red and white plus a female to boot. She became Mom’s dog as a puppy and remained part of her exercise program for about 10 years. Of course Mom did nothing to spoil her rotten. Cracking an egg could bring Fudgie out of a deep sleep as I’m sure she knew that meant bowls to lick and goodies to consume later. When Mom became ill, Fudgie came back to the ranch where she picked up on the routine quickly. For not being trained, watching the gates came naturally when we needed to move equipment in and out. The sheep were petrified of her as she’d nip at their heels and run them back in the compound where they belonged. She and Ruby “tag teamed” the individual ewes, distracting them and keeping them corralled when we moved them from the lambing barn to the loafing area. People often say that pets go back to a special place where they’re happy and content. I don’t know that for sure but I hope she meets up with Mom again so she can get her fair share of goodies. As for my part, hope I get to see her again too. She was a friend and a valued helper when we needed her. She saved me many steps and for that I am forever grateful. See you next week…real good then.
  3. We brought a case of Hackstein to a livestock show, put it in a "special" cooler a few years back and hid our normal supply. Even the beer zombies wouldn't touch it! Not a big whiskey guy but drink it sometimes when the mood strikes me. To me Scotch has always tasted like a postage stamp without the sweetness. Like my Crown & water when I'm too lazy to make a GT. Tincture (brandy) and cider works when I come in cold after chores at night. Works in the coffee sometimes in the morning too! A little JD on the rocks once in a while will tickle my gizzard just right. Touring the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg TN was a "must see" when my brother lived in Nashville. Even though there were no free samples (it's a dry county) the vapors wafting off the vat when the tour guide opened and closed the lid numerous times are still etched in my melon.
  4. Well, hopefully the ten was a reference to weeks. Otherwise she might be adopting a new son for you! Merry Christmas Bobby!
  5. You’re wearing out things that nobody wears More hate mail once again for the scurs and their vaunted Weather Eye. Will their Christmas forecast be met with more scorn and derision or will they deliver like The Magi? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 30’s with lows in the upper teens. Yes, above zero. Thursday, sunny with highs in the low 30’s with lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny Friday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens. Christmas Eve Day, partly sunny with a modest chance of snow in the evening. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper teens. Cloudy on Christmas Day with a good chance of rain, ice and snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the low teens. Monday, partly sunny and colder. Highs in the mid-teens above zero with lows near 5 above. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 20’s and lows near 5 above zero. The normal high for December 25th is 24 and the normal low is 6. The scurs are thinking since there is still plenty of time left to shop they should sit a spell and read the fake news. We witnessed a bit of a blast from the past last weekend. Temperatures reminiscent of the good ol’ days growing up back on the farm. Only thing is it really didn’t have the staying power that some of those systems of old had. Not that anyone is complaining. There was plenty of ice made on area lakes so ice fishing should commence locally soon. Soils are frozen so dooryards are not being re-landscaped when moving snow. Area roads have generally been decent to drive on. Even in the P.R.S.C. (People’s Republic of Steel Co.) I’ve had to pinch myself to see if what I was witnessing was real or imaginary. Snowplows clearing roads off before 10 a.m. Imagine that! Staying warm during chores has been a chore. Many of the chore clothes I’ve worn over the years tend to be hand-me-downs or things others didn’t want or didn’t fit. Except gloves and boots. My hands tend to get cold though when the duct tape comes off the holes in the gloves so off I went to Hope to rectify that situation. A week earlier I’d had enough of the snow leaking through my chore boots so purchased a new pair. I’m pretty sure the proprietor must’ve checked to see if the cash I gave him for those smelled like mothballs. When I showed up to buy a couple pairs of gloves the next weekend he probably decided it was time to buy lottery tickets. The moon back on the 14th had some special significance as it was surrounded by moon dogs, crystals of ice much like the sun has when colder weather is on the way. When viewed that evening the moon was still on the horizon making it even more spectacular. A halo around the moon is not all that rare once it rises and there are snow or ice crystals aloft. Colder weather was definitely on the way. To see the moon coming up such as it was made it memorable as I closed the barn door and headed for the house. It was like Wild Kingdom around the ranch this past Saturday. First, I watched as eight deer moseyed along one at a time just to the north of the building site, cautiously crossing the road and making their way to MH’s CRP. Next, a rooster pheasant was strolling through the backyard, looking for anything left under the birdfeeders. And with the cold night approaching, the rest of the feathered guests were active as well. The feeders were seldom empty as the fox squirrel feasted on its ear corn, watching to see that no cats or hawks were in the vicinity. Had a little dampening of the holiday spirits when I took Fudgie to the vet last week. She wasn’t eating and I suspected she had a potential urinary tract infection. Her exam revealed she has a large tumor in her abdomen and the vet seemed surprised she wasn’t sicker. He dispensed some pills to give her after delivering the rather grim news. The thing that stumped me was that her behavior otherwise was still relatively normal. After watching her devour the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey, I decided to get some canned food and made some gravy to soak up the dry food. It was clear she wanted to eat, just not the same old routine. Mom had indicated that Fudgie had always been finicky about food and taking pills so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Little did Fudgie know I’d been down that road with her brother Gus many moons before. There aren’t too many tricks I haven’t seen a Border Collie pull in that department. No question she’s doing better. She’s eating well and it’s tougher to pry her jaws open to stuff those pills down her throat. Go figure. Since it was cold over the weekend, it was generally wise to stay inside except at choretime of course. We managed to get in our allotment of Christmastime movies such as Christmas Vacation, Trading Places and The Sound of Music. Ruby voiced her dislike for Julie Andrews once again. I was working in another part of the house and hadn’t realized the movie was even on until I heard her barking. Sure enough as soon as Ms. Andrews started singing her first song, Ruby had one of her patented tirades. I thought it was hilarious but Mrs. Cheviot was less than amused. The Sound of Music is one of her favorite movies. Ruby not so much. I can empathize with Mrs. Cheviot though. I’m not impressed when Ruby decides to lay into Clint Eastwood for riding horses and shooting bad guys, especially when I’ve dozed off. As has been the case in the past I go shopping for the Star Eagle crack management staff as only the scurs and I can do. It’s tradition and I’m sure they all look forward to it just like Clark Griswold waiting for his bonus. I had it purchased and was so proud of myself. Then I went to check on it: It was gone. The Russians must’ve hacked the DNC server and taken it! But take heart; just as in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, getting “stuff” isn’t what this is all about. It’s the thoughts that count. And as always, those warm thoughts can be treasured while performing feats of strength and during the airing of grievances. Yet another Festivus miracle! Happy Festivus! See you next week…real good then.
  6. Best of luck dave! Hoping this time is the charm.
  7. Thanks Bobby! I gotta find some time tonight after chores to catch up on you and your whereabouts. Now that the holidays have come They can relax and watch the sun Rise above all of the beautiful things they've done. After this past week’s weather the scurs and the Weather Eye generated much hate mail. Will their performance this week be met with more approval or will they be waiting for the frozen eggs to melt off their house? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-single digits above zero and lows near -10. Thursday, mostly sunny with highs in the low single digits above zero and temperatures rising overnight. Cloudy Friday with a good chance of snow. Highs in the upper teens with lows in the mid-single digits above zero. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the mid-single digits above zero with lows in the mid- teens below zero. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low single digits below zero and lows near 10 below. Monday, sunny and warmer. Highs in the low teens above zero with lows near 5 above. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the mid-20’s and lows in the mid-teens above zero. The normal high for December 21st is 24 and the normal low is 7. The scurs are thinking there is so much time left to shop they should probably take a week off and think about it yet. The winter solstice will arrive on the 21st, signaling our shortest day of the year at 8 hours and 54 minutes of daylight. The good news is that the days will start getting longer soon afterwards. The bad news is it’s very gradual at about a minute a day once we get to Christmas Day. Without sitting there to document the time of the sun rise and sun set each day, it’s pretty hard to tell for a few weeks. In the meantime we can enjoy the holidays and look out on the white countryside while the city folk look at the buildings and the snarled traffic. They can have it. Ground froze rather quickly last week before some who were still thinking about fieldwork got a chance for the most part. Snowfall amounts of 5” – 7” were common across much of the region with a heavier band just to our north. The snow provided a nice blanket for the alfalfa and other perennial forages and just in time for the cold snap that is upon us. Fortunately hay is in plentiful supply in spite of the past summer’s frequent rainfall and subsequent difficult haymaking. Note there are no claims as to the quality, only the quantity. The bird feeders are getting a workout with winter’s sudden arrival. While still a few too many house sparrows for my taste, the cats may think otherwise. They enjoy a good sparrow meal whenever they can catch one. There has been a pair of cardinals in the yard for the last 10 days. The male must be the one that was here over the summer because he keeps bouncing off the windows. The difference now is I think he wants to come in because it’s so cold. There was another pair of cardinals spotted on Monday morning so the more the merrier. The red color of the males really pops on a sunny day against the snow. Ruby and Fudgie are indifferent about the sudden arrival of winter. Fudgie has been stiff and not getting around like she was a month ago during lawn mowing season. She’s content to get back in the house quickly, especially if she can lie on the rug where the floor heat warms her up. Ruby apparently didn’t realize how cold it was Monday morning, lifting her paw and whimpering on the way to the barn. Border Collies notice everything. The Big Dubya had put the star up on their grain leg a few days ago. Ruby was having a hissy fit by the sliding glass door Sunday night. Sure enough, she was barking at their star. Gotta get up purty early in the mornin’ to put one past a Border Collie. Saturday and Sunday meant it was finally time to get serious about barn cleaning. We were prepared though. The spreader was accessible, the chains were on the tractor and a round bale was placed in the feedlot before removing the bale spear. The weather was miserable although with everything almost ready to go, I got eight major loads out of the main barn and finished the job by 3 p.m. The pens had to be all put back in place, bedded and the young stock moved into them but it went far more smoothly than it sometimes does. Fortunately Mrs. Cheviot was home to help move panels, gates, feeders, sheep, etc. Seems as though that takes as much time as the cleaning and hauling especially when you do it yourself. Sunday we pitched out the lambing barn quickly before the weather decided to change its mind. “Quickly” is a relative term. We’re not the manure pitching machines we once were. Instead we know enough to take age-appropriate sized forkfuls. Like many farm folk our age, getting our arms to go much above our shoulders without pain can be a challenge. We paced ourselves, filling the bucket on the skidloader, dumping it in the spreader and coming back for another one. A slower process perhaps than we’d like, yet it’s better to live to fight another day. About the time we were finished, the Big Dubya saw it looked just like farming and stopped in with his tractor and blower. We’d just concluded hauling the last load but being neighborly, he helped us button up the lambing barn in short order. Then after we’d told him we were sure he had plenty to do at home, he made a pass with the blower before leaving. Thanks to his generosity, it made my finishing up moving snow go a lot faster. It’s nice to have neighbors and it’s even nicer to be one. See you next week…real good then.
  8. I talked to the guys who measure the precip up at the meetings I recently attended. Asked them when they were having the party to celebrate. We were fortunate here. Plenty of rain but managed to escape several of the major poundings they got just 13 miles to the north. More on that here: This boat is blacked out like a city Awaiting bombers in the night While there were no 50 degree highs the scurs and their trusty Weather Eye still kept things above zero and largely above freezing. ? Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the low teens. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the low 20’s with lows around 10. Mostly sunny Friday with increasing clouds with a modest chance of snow in the evening. Highs in the upper teens with lows in the mid-teens. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper teens. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of forenoon snow. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the upper teens. Monday, mostly cloudy with a chance of flurries. Highs in the mid-20’s with lows in the lower double digits. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a continued chance for snow showers. Highs in the low 20’s with lows in the mid-single digits, still above zero. The normal high for December 13th is 27 and the normal low is 10. We’ll be down to 8 hours and 56 minutes of daylight on the 13th. The scurs procrastination is paying off once again. With the short days and all the cloudy weather it’s better for napping than shopping anyway. The Full Moon for the month also will occur on the 13th and is known as the Full Cold Moon, The Moon before the Yule or the Long Nights Moon, aptly named with the short days we are experiencing. The Ojibwe called this the Small Spirits Moon and the Sioux named it the Moon of Popping Trees. At the ranch we know it as the Moon of Frozen Water Buckets. Measurable snow fell in Bugtussle and at the ranch for the first time this winter season on Saturday night into Sunday a.m. An inch of snow which melted down to .09” of liquid equivalent precipitation. It was all but melted by early afternoon accumulating into the soil which remained unfrozen. The soil profile down to the 5’ depth was had a little over 10” of available moisture in it back on November 2nd. There’s little reason to believe it’s a lot drier than that even though we were slightly below the normal 2.16” of precip at the SROC for last month. Speaking of the SROC, hats off (and swim fins on) for their recent setting of the annual precipitation record for MN. The record of 53.73” was set back on November 28th; they’ve received more since then and have the rest of December to add to it. Records in Bugtussle are incomplete as the gauge was not functional until April 7th. At the ranch we garnered 43.25” by the end of November. Let’s hope we don’t play catch up. Some isolated areas of remaining corn were rumored to have been picked but aside from that, very little fieldwork was accomplished this past week. Some are still hoping to get one more crack at some tillage or anhydrous ammonia application although that window will likely close quickly given the forecast. It also remains questionable how well the ground will seal and whether the knives on the applicators will ball up. It really hasn’t dried up to speak of. At the Lions pancake feed Sunday it was great to see Buddy Shurson in attendance. For those of you who didn’t read the wonderful article that included Buddy a few weeks ago, he was a gunner on a B-17 during WWII. Until after I saw him I’d almost forgotten that Wednesday the 7th marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. I still remember my parents telling me what dark days in history those were after that. On the farm war time rationing made everyone feel the pinch and there was some jealousy when someone got something they didn’t think you should have. I recall Dad telling about neighbors questioning how he wound up with a small, 12” rubber tire on the mounted International sickle mower he’d purchased. Yes, things were that tight. Back to the B-17. It was a marvel of modern aviation at the time. When first being developed in the mid-1930’s, it was equipped with Pratt and Whitney engines. However, more power was needed so the engines were switched exclusively to the Wright R-1820-97 turbo-supercharged “Cyclone” that developed 1200 hp apiece. There were four wing mounted engines on this aircraft. While not extraordinary by today’s standards, they were beefy enough to allow the aircraft to limp home even if a couple engines had been knocked out. No small feat for a plane weighing over 36,000 lbs. when empty and 54,000 lbs. when loaded. Who manufactured the engines? During WWII, one of the manufacturers licensed by Wright to produce them was Studebaker. By the time Pearl Harbor was bombed, the company had already converted much of their assembly line capacity in anticipation of our entry into the war, suspending much of its 1942 model year production. A new plant was added for production of the Cyclone. They built over 63,000 of these radial aircraft engines for the B-17’s in the war effort. From January 1944 through the summer of 1945, all B-17 engines were supplied by Studebaker. The company also built nearly 200,000 trucks most of which went to the Soviet Union and over 15,000 Weasels, an all-terrain tracked vehicle. When I look at the Studebakers in our garage, it gives me an appreciation of their place in American history. When I see Buddy, it also makes me happy to know that somewhere along the line the company probably had an impact on bringing our own local piece of American history back home safely. Thanks Buddy and to all who served! See you next week…real good then.
  9. When it all comes down we will still come through in the long run With a high Monday of 50 the scurs and the Weather Eye more than delivered on some good weather. Have we seen the last of autumn or are we in for some Indian Winter? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a moderate chance of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the low 30’s. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow in the forenoon. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Cloudy Friday with decreasing clouds by evening. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the mid-20’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with a slight chance of snow. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Monday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Partly sunny for Tuesday with highs in the low 30’s and lows in the mid-teens, yes above zero. The normal high for December 1st is 32 and the normal low is 15. The sun will rise at 7:30 on the 2nd. The scurs will begin their annual procrastination for Christmas shopping. Lots of time. If fieldwork wasn’t done, it is now for a while. Monday’s rainfall event on top of the week prior’s episode have left the fields pretty much impassable until the ground freezes enough to carry equipment. There appears to be some tillage which may not be completed this fall until that happens. Some may also be looking at the possibility to try some no-till or reduced tillage on their intended soybean acreage. With the corn crop generally being shorter and lower in residue than some years, it may present an opportunity for that. Rainfall in Bugtussle amounted to .29” total between Sunday night and Monday while at the ranch it was more generous, accumulating .8” in the same time period. The rainfall has definitely put a crimp in the barn cleaning plans at the ranch. There again, not to worry. If there were weeks’ worth of hauling, it would be one thing. However since there were fewer sheep and the lambs were marketed earlier, it should make less material to handle. Ideally. Knowing how things can go wrong however, it’s best not to count one’s chickens before they hatch. More than once the barn cleaning has stretched later than anticipated yet oddly enough it always gets done. No award for style points when it comes to hauling manure. In the meantime with the warmer temps it’s allowed for some of the other things to get done. I did have to chuckle just before Thanksgiving when I drove up on the kindly neighbors’ pasture after dark to feed the ewes. They were all bunched up battling over something. When they parted enough I discovered why. Several large pumpkins that had adorned the neighbors’ yard made their way over the fence and the sheep were behaving like Black Friday shoppers! The sheep came home a few days later on the 26th, having been there since May 21st so about six months. That was a nice long run. Other yard related projects were accomplished including putting tree wrap on and pruning some of the trees while the memory of getting snapped in the face while lawn mowing was still fresh in my mind. Doing all of this of course elicited a lot of assistance from the dogs, more than a person should be allowed to have. Barking when the Gator was moved was a given and careful scrutiny of the pruning process followed. Looks like I’m finally getting ahead of some of the nasty crabapples. The spines on some of them are 3” – 4” long. Not sure what varieties of crabapples they are but after a while looking like you’ve been in a knife fight after mowing the lawn starts to get old. Some of the small trees were showing signs of being chewed by the local bunny population. The tree wrap was put on just in time. The bunnies have lots of green grass and other vegetation to eat yet somehow find time to damage saplings and other small trees. The bark on some of the trees planted 10 years ago is developed enough so they no longer require tree wrap. It will be a happy day when the last of them reach that point. That will likely never happen because we just keep planting more trees! There are more birds hanging around the yard as the sunflower feeders are being emptied routinely every 3 – 5 days. Lots of large blue jays, nuthatches and chickadees with a few goldfinches picking at the thistle feeders. The suet feeders are active as well as we have a healthy population of hairy and downy woodpeckers. The largest visitors are the pheasants. They were walking around the backyard on Thanksgiving Day and were flushed out of the garden while I was wrapping some of the trees in the windbreak. They do enjoy picking at the garden leftovers especially the sweet corn and whatever else happens to meet their fancy. The annual pumpkin pick up at the ranch was completed Sunday afternoon. Along with a few apples and gourds they made a heaping pile in the back of the Gator. It didn’t take long for the sheep to locate them once the produce hit the ground. The next morning the ewes had been grazing on the back part of the pasture when one by one they took off running for the pumpkin pile. Watching from the window one could see some cars on the highway slowing down to watch as the sheep descended like vultures on the pumpkins. Not a lot of money in sheep but at least they provide entertainment sometimes. See you next week…real good then.
  10. Dotch


    I don't have it but we gave one to a friend as a gift. It's called "Birds of MN Field Guide-2nd Edition" by Stan Tekiela. Looked like something you might be interested in. Another one might be "Wild About MN Birds" by Adele Porter. Have not seen this one personally but might be worth a look. I have a couple Sibley's, a Peterson and a Birds of North America. As you say, they include a lot of stuff we don't routinely see although that's one of the reasons I have them.We see oddballs from time to time.
  11. I hear you knockin’ but you can’t come in The scurs and the Weather Eye delivered more good weather until Friday when we saw the first snow of the season. With Old Man Winter knocking will we be able to fend him off one more week or is winter finally here? Starting Wednesday, cloudy with a moderate chance of rain and snow in the forenoon. Highs in the mid-30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Thanksgiving Day, mostly cloudy with a moderate chance of snow in the overnight. Highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Cloudy Friday becoming sunny in the afternoon. Highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Saturday, mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow in the evening. Highs in the upper 30’s with lows in the upper 20’s. Mostly cloudy on Sunday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Monday, mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. The normal high for November 24th is 36 and the normal low is 20. The scurs will be sleeping in as shoppers battle each other over material things that typically really don’t matter. Crop farming in the fields is coming closer to a close with the soil freezing up over the weekend. Some last minute anhydrous ammonia was still going on over the weekend as worries about soil temperature fade in the rearview mirror. Primary tillage was still working well across much of the area with precipitation last week being light and soils that hadn’t frozen much under the crop residue. Manure applications over the weekend must’ve been nearing completion as well with the air being relatively devoid of odor for a change. The skies at twilight have been featuring Venus in the southwest. It’s becoming a little higher in the sky each night and looks almost like a mini moon. The Big Dipper has been low in the northwest and when it’s closer to the horizon like this it appears to be huuuuuge. At the ranch even that is hard to see sometimes due to our own light pollution. Although I’d rather be able to see where I’m walking and not tripping over things on the way to the barn. Speaking of chores, they’ve still been relatively benign as the ewes continue to forage on the pasture. We’ve barely made a dent in the hay supply thus far. The ewes and ram at the kindly neighbors’ pasture will be coming home soon and while I’ve tossed them a few slices of hay to get them used to coming inside, they just pick at it. The few lambs we kept back take about 10 minutes to feed and water. Doing night chores recently there have been a few mice heard crawling around inside a feed bag. Clamp the bag shut, call here kitty kitty, lay the bag down, open it up and Tincture the tabby cat makes short work of them. On to the next crisis. The cold, windy conditions made me decide to take a raincheck on barn cleaning over the weekend. No tractor cab and the fact I’m old were also factors in the decision. Prior to the weekend things were put away, cleaned out, hung up, watered in, drained, stored and otherwise put under wraps in case the weather decided to pull a fast one. Luckily we managed only about .08” of precip at the ranch so no harm no foul. Did need to make a trip to the store where you go to the bathroom in the orange silo so off I went bucking the wind. Getting the supplies I needed, I pulled one bag out of the cart and put it in the pickup. When I turned around the cart was being blown across the parking lot by the wind! Didn’t fell too guilty about postponing the manure hauling as the wind Steve Cannon called The Hawk screamed across the landscape. Bird watching around the yard has been on the slow side during the warmer weather. However with the recent wind and cold there seem to be more goldfinches. Perhaps it’s easier to land on the feeder perches and have lunch than trying to outguess where the seed heads might be in a stiff breeze in the CRP. They really haven’t said. Something that has been popular with all the birds has been the access to water that we try to maintain. From the blue jays on down to the chickadees, they all can be seen taking their turns getting a drink or splashing about. They will need to keep their eyes peeled however. A northern shrike sat atop the light pole in the yard for a long time recently, casing the joint for potential dinner partners. Turkey Day will be postponed a few days at the ranch this year as other plans surfaced recently. We will still be doing the turkey on the grill sometime over the weekend. We’ve been doing that some 30 odd years and we’re not about to stop now. The pumpkins will also be tossed over the fence providing the sheep an opportunity to enjoy the festivities as well. They already had a pregame warm up after we froze squash over the weekend. The squash innards and skins definitely met with their approval. The dogs seem to be adjusting to the cooler weather just fine. Their winter coats are coming in and remnants of their summer coats appear on the floor. Windrow it and it could be baled. Fudgie has finally pretty well shed off and looks like she’s close to done. Ruby on the other hand is still shedding like crazy. Amazing that a short-haired dog can produce that much hair even with repeated brushings. She still hates the intro to Bonanza too as I found when watching TV the other night. She uncorked a barking hissy fit loud enough to wake the dead. At least both of them will be happy to know the turkey giblets are still their property. For all their help, entertainment and company over the course of a year we are thankful. See you next week…real good then.
  12. Sounds like a plan Bobby. Had a couple Hamm's a few weeks back when we were cleaning out a buddy's cabin fridge and thought to myself, hey, I know somebody who drinks Hamm's.
  13. I'm goin' off the rails on a crazy train The dynamic duo of the scurs and the Weather Eye teamed up once again to bring us another outstanding week of above normal temperatures with no precipitation. Is this the week we get a taste of what Old Man Winter has in store or will it continue to amaze? Starting Wednesday, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the mid-40’s. Mostly cloudy Friday with a good chance of rain changing to snow in the overnight. Highs in the low 50’s and lows in the upper 20’s. Saturday, partly sunny with highs in the mid-30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Mostly sunny on Sunday with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the low 20’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the mid-20’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with highs in the low 40’s and lows in the upper 20’s. The normal high for November 19th is 39 and the normal low is 22. Sneak preview forecast for Thanksgiving: Mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the low 20’s. The scurs will be putting away the patio furniture and lawn chairs. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. And last it did. As of Tuesday the 15th we will have gone 16 days without measurable precipitation, the longest such stretch we’ve had all year. The next longest span this year was 10 days without measurable precip in April. The last we time had a streak longer than this last one was from September 25th 2015 to October 22nd 2015. We can honestly say we deserved this latest one I think. As Mark Seeley used to be fond of saying, this is a good time of the year for a drought. We’re not using much soil moisture and at this juncture our soil profile is relatively full, with just slightly over 10” of available moisture in the top 5’ of soil at the SROC. The lack of precipitation has allowed fall tillage to be completed in good shape and still in a timely fashion. Many have been applying anhydrous ammonia. Given the possibility of a freeze-up in the not too distant future, it should help keep conversion from ammonium to nitrate at a minimum. Around the yard and buildings it too has been a godsend to have the weather cooperating. At the ranch, it allowed time for the leaves to get mowed and mulched into bite-sized pieces for the night crawlers and made it possible to move the tiger lily patch. That one was a bit of an issue as I had no idea how deep in the soil they were. With lots of dog help and supervision, I soon discovered they were down at least 6” as the blurb on the internet said they’d be. That might explain why running over their space with the tractor and skidloader many times over the winter didn’t seem to faze them. Hopefully they’ll like their new home around the LP tank. The sheep at the kindly neighbors’ pasture are getting closer to coming home. This weekend should allow barn cleaning to commence following oil and filter changes on the tractor and skidloader. The weather will be just about crummy enough to make it worthwhile by then, with no excuses of it being too nice with other projects getting in the way. That way it should freeze up and be less offensive and for a shorter duration of time. It’s smelled bad enough around these parts the way it is. The train derailment in Ellendale caught many of us by surprise. I didn’t know about it until I got to the Mall for Men Friday morning. Apparently it made the dust explosion at the elevator look like small potatoes as the town was evacuated and it made national news. I received several texts, emails and phone calls over the course of the day concerning the mishap and asking if I was okay. Fortunately no one was injured and people were allowed back to their houses by afternoon. And as in the case of the elevator mishap, the emergency people were right on top of things. Sunday after another ignominious Vikings defeat and one too many putz projects, I decided it was time to take a quick yet incognito cruise in the Stude before dark. The air most of the way to Owatonna was fouled by the aforementioned smell of manure being spread. When I got out of the car in Owatonna to put in some gas, I was greeted by the odor of the dog food plant. Just couldn’t win. As I was filling it a gentleman about my age appeared out of nowhere and asked if it was a Studebaker and I answered “Well, yes it is.” He shook my hand and proceeded to circle it while visiting for most of the time the tank was filling. Then as suddenly as he’d appeared he was gone. Strange. Setting the Silver Hawk’s DQ homing device it took me towards Bridge St. Within minutes I was ordering a medium butterscotch dipped cone. I’d forgotten my phone in the car so went to retrieve it while the young lady was preparing the delicacy. When I got back inside she handed me the cone and apologized as the machine had stuck, making the cone more on the large order than the medium. That was OK I said, (why wouldn’t I?) making sure I got plenty of napkins before sitting down at a table to eat it. No way would I attempt that in the car given my track record for spilling stuff. About halfway through the cone I spotted a man with a young lad who’d pulled up beside the Stude. They came in and rather than ordering they walked right up to me. Odd. Seeing the mess I was making with the oversized cone, I thought they might be the ice cream police. The gentleman spoke very politely, asking me if that was my car and whether it would be oaky to take a picture of his son by it. “Sure, that’s fine. Go right ahead” I said as the ice cream drizzled down my fingers. I watched them from the window as the boy excitedly ran his hand along the top of the tail fin. His dad scolded him. Now maybe some classic car owners would’ve been upset with a little kid touching their car. Not me. The car needed to be cleaned up and waxed yet before putting it away for the season anyway. A lot of wax already on it so no harm done. And besides, if the younger generation shows some interest in something other than video games and playing on their cell phones, I’m all for it. Someday I might be looking for someone from that generation to purchase the auto once I can no longer drive. See you next week…real good then.
  14. Whew! Wow Bobby, you've been prolific as of late and I mean that in a positive way. Takes a while to catch up on the French trees, the Puddle Humper, Duncan and the rest but I made 'er. Sounds like you've got some pretty great friends. Hope you continue to keep us informed.
  15. You say you just want me to take you for a ride Thanks to the Weather Eye, the scurs are back on a lot of Christmas card lists after this last week’s weather. Will our good fortune continue or are we just waiting for the other shoe to drop? Starting Wednesday, sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Thursday, sunny with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Sunny Friday with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s. Saturday, sunny with highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 40’s. Sunny on Sunday with highs in the mid-50’s with lows in the upper 30’s. Monday, mostly sunny with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid-30’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a chance of showers. Highs in the mid-40’s with lows in the low 30’s. The normal high for November 14th is 42 and the normal low is 25. The scurs will be saluting our veterans on Friday as we recover from the election. November 14th marks the Full Moon for the month that goes by the Full Beaver Moon. It was at this time that the early explorers and settlers would trap the fur bearers before water froze up to ensure a supply of warm outer garments for the cold winter ahead. It also goes by the Full Frosty Moon. The Ojibwe called this the Freezing Moon and the Sioux knew it as The Moon of the Falling Leaves. At the ranch we know it as the Moon of Grinding Leaves although it is also known as The Barn Cleaning Moon. We continue to edge closer and closer to completing harvest as farmers attempt to get the last of the wet spots where corn and soybeans remain standing. Fields are rapidly becoming black although some have demonstrated restraint, taking advantage of the recent warm, dry spell to allow fields to dry some before performing primary tillage. Patience is a virtue and these are generally soils that are not very forgiving. Tilling them wet regardless of time of year can result in some lasting negative impacts. Some anhydrous ammonia is being applied as soil temperatures at the 6” level have been at or near an average of 50 degrees for a while. Ammonium nitrogen converts slowly to nitrate once soil temperatures reach 50 degrees, taking up to six weeks at that temperature. Typically with shorter day lengths and cooler nights the soil temperature trend continues downward. The recent warm weather has indeed been something to savor. Even soil sampling which can be a mundane activity suddenly becomes enjoyable when the sun is shining and temperatures flirt with 70 degrees. One field last week was particularly entertaining as a group of Hungarian partridge hopscotched between the unharvested soybean patches. Their coloration in the soybeans made them hard to pick up until I was right on top of them and the group dispersed to another patch. As I was finishing up the field, three rooster pheasants were caught off-guard on the headland and got up suddenly. Against the sun their colors created a halo around them nearly as bright as the sun itself. At the ranch the nice weather has provided an opportunity to get some of the fall chores done without freezing while doing it. The screenings were cleaned up at the kindly neighbors’, dumped in the gravity box and hauled home. There was time for grinding up some leaves with the lawnmower although there are some areas where we’ll let the leaves dry a while longer. They’ll get chopped up more completely and nearly disintegrate if I do. And I wonder why we have so many night crawlers in the yard. The canna bulbs were also dug and allowed to dry so the remaining soil will fall off before packing them away. The 20 or so small, innocent looking bulbs in a grocery bag that were planted last spring multiplied into three or four wash tubs full. Guess what people are getting for Christmas? In the meantime the sheep have been lazily lounging in their pasture, napping between trips to graze at the salad bar. The pasture still has some substantial forage in it although they’re starting to appreciate the offerings such as apple peelings and other vegetable matter being tossed their direction over the fence. They’ve also been busy chasing the occasional silver maple leaves that blow their direction. Not that the leaves were anything special to look at anyway. Actually one of the prettier trees has been right in our own yard; a Norway maple whip rescued from between a couple buildings in town and transplanted some 18 years ago. It really wasn’t all that impressive in its early years. In fact early on it came close to getting cut down when the leaves remained green until very late, then basically turned brown and fell off the tree. Luckily for the tree it had a nice shape and the birds loved building their nests in its thick canopy. This fall it was a thing of beauty with yellowish orange leaves cascading down the road cut in the bright fall sunshine. It also drew comments from several who noticed it. Like many things in life, in our haste for instant gratification sometimes we forget that it takes time for true beauty to develop. The warm November weekend meant getting the Stude out for a couple spur of the moment cruises. Once we get caught up on our weekend tasks, it practically begs to be taken for a drive. The nice thing about it is we really don’t care where we wind up so long as the road is smooth getting there and we’re back by choretime. Luckily the roads this past weekend weren’t too bad and we saw lots of other people out doing the same thing, most of them on motorcycles. About the worst thing we encountered on the roads were the mud pancakes, the result of soil falling off of farm implements. Not a problem as all too soon the snow plows will remove them, making us long for the memories of those warm, sunny afternoon drives. See you next week…real good then.
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