Category Archives: Weather

December Farm Update

Sure been a nice week weather-wise. Temps In the 50’s the last few days. Ten-day forecast has the temps in the mid 30’s and no snow. I’m OK with that. My apologies to anyone waiting for snow.

Kelly and I got snowfence up the other day so there’s another thing checked off my list. Glad to have that done. 

There was a little wind to contend with and the cowpies were mostly dry.

Daughter and I did driveway markers. It was colder than I expected that day and she’s not a fan of the wind. Nice that Bailey could keep her company.

They kept me company inside the gator, too.

I was feeding the ducks one morning and that chicken came running from the pole barn, so she’s still back there laying eggs. .Way in the back, down in a corner. I’m still hoping she gets tired of this as the weather gets colder.

Last weekend I redid a few things in the chicken coop. I put the back wall back in place. (I take it off for more ventilation in the summer) and I changed their perches and got the water buckets and heated pad situated for winter.  

It’s odd, they barely use that rear nest box for eggs, often preferring the front unit. One hen must be molting. She looks really rough right now.

I don’t know if her feathers are going to come in a different color than she was? She used to look like the chicken in the front. Boy, hang in there, girl. Egg production is a little down; the old ones are starting to taper off and the new hens are just getting started.

End of the year finances: I’ve paid off our production loans from this years inputs and prepaid some expenses for next year. It’s funny; we have a good year and actually make some money, but it’s tough to save much because taxes will take a big chunk. I know taxes are important and provide a lot of services, but golly. It feels like throwing money in a hole in the ground. I went to the co-op and paid $900 for the grid soil sampling.

Paid $2800 for the lime and applications on half the farm. Prepaid for 4 tons of fertilizer for next year $3400 (again, maybe half of what I’ll need). They don’t have anhydrous nitrogen prices yet and they figure chemicals prices will hold steady so I didn’t pay on them. Easy come, easy go. Sometime before the end of the year I’ll get seed ordered for next year. That also becomes a deduction on this years taxes. Don’t have to pay for it yet, just get it ordered.

Remember getting your first check book? What was the first thing you bought? I bought a Timex Watch and you had to push the button so the time would show up in Red. 

Brrrr…..Wind

The Farm Update comes to us from Ben.

It sure has been windy the last few days. No matter what the temperature is, a wind like this makes it colder. I’m lucky we haven’t had trees down over our road or any of the township roads… knocking on wood.

Ducks and chicken numbers are status quo. But I’ve noticed the black and white ducks are getting a green tint on their heads.

A little research shows they’re “Black Swedish” breed. Back this summer I ordered ‘Mixed Ducklings’ so really didn’t have any idea what I was getting. The cream colored ones are “Saxony” and the ones with the pouf are “White Crested” of course. And the ones that look like mallards but are a little heavier and don’t fly are “Rouen”. It seems odd to me they don’t lay nearly as many eggs as the chickens. Just seems like they should be laying more than they do… usually come spring I might get one or two ducks that lay eggs for a while. Usually out in the middle of the yard. Then it depends if me or Bailey finds them first.

And now that the weather is cooling the turkeys have started grouping up. It won’t be unusual to see a group of 30 or 40. Saw this bunch in the fields yesterday

Dumb turkeys… Once there is snow cover, they’ll be down in the yard eating under the bird feeders in the backyard and trying to get the corn I put out for the ducks and chickens. The dogs love chasing them away, but those stupid turkeys are smart too. They know Humphrey is in the house and Bailey is sleeping out front, so they sneak in the back. And when we do chase them away, they’re back in a few minutes… rotten turkeys. I haven’t even mentioned the herds of deer.

I think most of the redwing black birds have moved on now. Caught a cool picture of them on a trailcam the other day.

I get pretty excited when the birds return in the spring. The Red Wing Blackbirds, the Killdeer, and, of course, our favorite, the barn swallows. Even the turkey vultures returning is another sign of spring.

The Co-op called; they finished the grid sampling and said I could go ahead and chisel plow now. My plan is to spend much of Saturday out doing that. Due to crop rotation, every other year will be more soybean acres than corn acres and soybean ground doesn’t need to be plowed up in the fall. This was a soybean heavy year, which means I don’t have all that many acres to work up. In the old days (the “old days”) it was done with the moldboard plow and it made the ground all black because it turned over ALL the residue and buried it. That black surface is great come spring because it allows the soil to warm up sooner and that’s still important. Then we started doing ‘Conservation tillage’ and leaving more residue on the surface, which is important to prevent wind and water erosion plus it conserves moisture underneath. But too much trash on the surface keeps the soil cooler and wetter come spring. Conservation tillage doesn’t use the moldboard plow, it uses a 4” wide twisted ‘Shovel’ to throw up some dirt, but not necessarily bury it completely. The Chisel plow I use is like that. The last few years the hot new term is ‘Vertical Tillage’. I’m still not sure exactly what it is. But there’s a whole new line of shiny equipment to help me do it!

Photo credit: TractorHouse

It’s more about cutting up the residue and burying it a little bit to help decomposition over winter, but again, not turning the surface black. And again, we do want at least a strip of black soil to warm up and dry out for earlier planting in the spring. So there are ‘strip till’ machines that can make a strip a few inches wide while doing the tillage. And then in the spring the idea is to plant into that same strip. You’ll really want GPS and auto guidance to make that work reliably.

I read an article the other day that The Honeyford grain elevator, North Dakota’s oldest cooperative elevator, is the first elevator south of the U.S.-Canadian border to load an 8,500-foot, 1.6 miles-long train. I only cross one set of railroad tracks between the college and my house. About 9:45 PM there’s a train that occasionally keeps me waiting. Some seem long, but not 1.6 miles I guess. It was interesting to read about the elevator and the train. Imagine the parking lot needed to handle that sheer number of cars let alone getting them filled! It just reminds me there are so many things that I don’t know I don’t know.  It does say Honeyford Elevator is in the middle of the prairie and the nearest town is 3.5 miles away. Here’s the article: https://tinyurl.com/uys4s7rx

What’s the longest straight road you’ve been on or know of? I know one that’s 13.6 miles.

Cold and Wet

Weather has taken a definite turn toward fall. We got 1.72” Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Been seeing geese formation flying South. Rochester used to be famous for the thousands of Canada Geese. Then a few years ago goose poop got a bad rap, and the power plant closed so Silver Lake froze over, and they planted the shorelines to weeds, I mean “Native Vegetation” (some call it weeds) and the gathering of geese is discouraged. So there’s a handful that hang around, but not the thousands there used to be.

I had other stuff to do all week (work), but I took time off Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning so I could work on putting the new gearbox on the brush mower.

I got it installed, pounded out a dent and welded a crack in the ‘big round thing’ (the stump jumper) that goes underneath, added oil to the gearbox, pulled it outside, and had it idle for 20 seconds and then there was a CLUNK and the whole thing started to wobble. I was out of time; I parked it back in the shed and walked away.

The next day neighbor Dave needed to use the tractor so before I unhooked the mower, I crawled underneath it once more and I think I just got the washers on the wrong side of the bolts holding the blades, so they aren’t loose enough to swing. Therefore, one blade is stuck ‘in’ and one ‘out’ and it’s out of  balance and it’s all wobbling. At least I hope that’s the issue. It looks like that’s really the only obvious issue.

As luck would have it, neighbors Craig and Darryl got our corn harvested Wednesday afternoon. I was busy all day and never got home to see them doing it. But that doesn’t matter; it’s done! The local co-op, where I have it taken, recently merged with another co-op and their website, which was pretty good, is even better! I can get information on the loads, minutes after they’re delivered! Other years I had to wait until it was all delivered, then call up there and have them look it up and give me all the details. Now I can see each load as it’s delivered and get all the details.

This photo shows the details of one load; Gross weight is the truck and corn, Tare is the weight of the truck, Net weight then is the actual corn. Converted to bushels (based on Test Weight) gives us gross units, then after taking into account moisture, damage, and foreign material gives us Net Units and that’s what we get paid for. Test weight is 60, which is really good because the standard for corn is 56. They need the moisture to be 15% to store long term and I pay drying costs for anything over that. The fact it’s 15.5% is really amazing! Most years it’s anywhere from 18% – 25% coming out of the field. The wetter, the more it costs to dry. This cost me $0.025 / bushel. And one load was even 14% so no drying costs. Plus price is really pretty good this year! Somewhere around $5 / bushel. It’s been $3 / the last several years. And the corn was wet so I was lucky to get $2.50 / bushel to take home.

Considering the low stand population this spring, the hot weather, the dry weather, and I really didn’t expect much of a yield. Turns out it was about average. Which is really surprising all things considered. And raises some interesting questions: was it the lack of competition of plants that allowed me to get an average yield? If that’s the case, shouldn’t I plant at a lower population every year? What if this year had better weather? I should try it next year I suppose, but given the changes in the weather year to year it’s still hard to compare. But it sure is interesting! I even put some corn in storage at the elevator to sell next spring. Maybe price will be better? Course I’ll be paying about $0.30 / bushel / month for the co-op to store it so will the price go up enough to cover that? Either way it’s just some extra money in March.

It was starting to sprinkle Wednesday afternoon about 2:30. I got home about 4:30 and it was raining pretty steady. But that didn’t stop me getting the tractor out and hooking up the chisel plow and I got a couple fields worked up.

Bailey and I had some quality tractor time. You can see the rain in the headlights. There’s a lot of mud on the steps and frame. It’s not really that muddy on the tires because the cornstalks make so much surface trash it gives me traction. But it was getting pretty soft by the time I quit. Actually, I was surprised it went as well as it did. I hope I have time to get things washed up before it really gets cold. Last week I mentioned waiting for the co-op to do soil samples and apply lime. Still waiting on that and they didn’t want me to plow until that was done. Too bad, so sad. I will just wait to lime this ground until next year. I wanted these fields plowed up this fall because it’s low ground, because it could be wet come spring, and because conditions may not be suitable to plow this in the spring, I always like to get this worked up in the fall. The new LED lights I put on the tractor are awesome! I only switched half of them, I should do the other half next spring. When plowing cornstalks with a minimum till implement, we go diagonal to the rows. My Dad and Clyde could just follow the row with the moldboard plow, but with minimum till, we go about 30° across the rows.

Neighbors Dave and Parm hauled out their beef cows Thursday.

Yesterday Dave hauled in a bunch of fence panels and left a load of silage in the cow yard and got all the cows and calves locked in the yard Wednesday afternoon. Then Thursday it was pretty easy for the guys to get them locked over in one section, back the trailer in, and haul them out. Took four trips to get them all. See the chicken in this photo? She’s been laying eggs out in the pole barn. But this morning she wasn’t sure if she could get there. I went out later and found her spot in the bales in the back corner and collected 2 eggs. As the weather gets colder, one of us will get tired of making the trek out there.

I spent some time looking up custom farm rates. I’ll be settling up with the neighbors at the end of the year so I’m trying to find rates for baling small square bales and the price of round bales of oat straw. And rates for combining corn and soybeans and hauling. Generally those rates come from the Iowa Extension service. Maybe they’ll be helpful for some of you. tim.  

As always, ask if you have questions.What’s your favorite reference website? Have you looked for something that didn’t have a website yet?  

Waiting for…..

My annual wine advent calendar adventure was Wednesday morning.  The experience was very similar to last year although I was #4 in line this year – one spot up from last year!  All of us in the first ten were in festive moods, there were multiple conversations about the advent calendars, where we were all from and there was also shared chocolate!

I had only shared with one co-worker what I was up to on my day off but she clearly blabbed because yesterday, when I was in the office, quite a few people asked me about my adventure and wanted to see pictures.  However curious they all were, everybody shook their heads and made comments on the unbelievable-ness/silliness of my endeavor.  There was one lone gal who said it sounded fun and maybe she could join me next year.  All others think I’m nuts.

Clearly there are plenty of folks who don’t think it’s too silly to sit out for 3 hours to get a wine advent calendar (the above photo was taken at 8:20 a.m.) but my co-workers aren’t among them. 

Any looney tune adventures for you lately? 

CPU

I learned frugality at my mother’s knee so sometimes it’s hard for me to part with my hard-earned cash.  I have a good friend who sometimes gives me grief about this.  Her view of life is all about CPU… cost per use.  If she purchases something and then uses it a lot, the CPU gets smaller and smaller.  She taught this life view to YA early on, so I am exposed to the theory on a fairly regular basis.

The one place I have been good at applying CPU is with the Minnesota Zoo.  I have an annual membership so when YA and I go to the zoo, we don’t have to pay anything.  It’s obviously not free but it feels free at the time.  We go enough that the annual membership is less than the full price and parking we would have to pay.

I have another friend who has been a supporter of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for many years and have always urged me to get a membership.  But at $60 I knew I’d have to go at least 4 times a year to justify the CPU.  This past spring, this friend called me to tell me that the Arb was having a membership sale.  Just $30 for the annual membership.  Right up my alley.

Now that I don’t have to pay every time I go, I’ve been to the Arb a few times.  Twice this summer I even parked myself in one or another garden with a good book.  In October they had their annual Scarecrow exhibit so last weekend, I made some space in my Saturday and headed out.  I strolled about, checking out how things are changing now that the big blooms of spring and summer are over.  (I even got a gardening tip; I noticed that in the Peony garden, they have chopped the peonies back.  This is not something I have ever done but the afternoon after my visit, I chopped all my own back!) 

The scarecrows were a lot of fun.  Most of them were up on the hill and it was almost like a fall festival – lots of kids and lovely autumn displays – not to mention a gorgeous sunny day.  I normally take the tram ride but since it’s done for the season, I drove slowly along the Three Mile Drive myself with Enya playing on my phone.  I’m sure it’s the lowest my blood pressure has been for years!  They were starting to put up the lights for the Winter Lights Walk so as soon as I got home, I ordered tickets for that.   The CPU will be seriously low this year.

I was thinking as I enjoyed my day that even if they raise the price of membership on me next year, I’ll probably renew anyway.

How do you decide if something is “worth it”?

A Frosty Morning

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Guess the heating degree days are over… This is kinda late for the first real frost or freeze. I had to break some ice out of the chickens water buckets this morning. These first few temporary cold mornings I don’t get too concerned about. I unhooked some hoses and pulled the pressure washer into the garage and wrapped a towel around the pump. But I haven’t turned on the house heat yet. How come it’s frequently a full moon when we get the coldest temperatures? I think there’s an Indian summer coming yet. Or did we already have that?

First things first: Duck update. It makes me smile when I walk outside in the morning and call “Come on Ducks. Chickens! Chickens! Ducks!” and they all quack and waddle over to the barn for their morning corn.  The dogs are running around and having fun and that interrupts the duck’s processional and they backtrack once or twice before the dogs get in the feed room to catch sparrows and the ducks can finally get up to the corn. I spread out two buckets of corn: one in the grass and one on the gravel. Ducks need water while they eat you know. They eat a bunch, go get a drink, then back to eat more. Chickens don’t gobble so much up at once…they just peck at it. Ducks gobble. I am down two of the poofy headed ones… used to be 8 new ones and the older, balding poofy headed duck. Now there’s only 7 including the older poof. Coyotes I suspect. The white ones are easier to spot in the dark I guess.

Soybeans are out! Yay! Started last Saturday afternoon about 3:00 on my rented ground. I stopped in about 5:00 and they were done over there and had moved to our home farm. Moving fields is a pretty big deal. There’s the combine, the head on the cart, the semi, and the tractor and grain cart. Plus, whatever pick-up is left at whichever field as they move stuff.

Grain carts have become invaluable these days. As with most things, it was in the interest of production and time that these came in. The cart can run in the field and the combine can unload while it’s still harvesting. Then the cart can run back to the truck and unload. That keeps the truck on the road – or at least out of a muddy field where it would get stuck. The carts keep getting bigger, just like everything. It all keeps getting bigger.

My soybeans did OK for quality. They were dry enough and test weight (the weight of a bushel) was good. Yield wasn’t the best, only averaging about 37 bushels / acre. I was hoping 40’s. Last year I got 51 bu / acre. But this rented field really doesn’t grow good soybeans and it really pulls my average down. I’m having that field ‘Grid Sampled’ for soil testing, meaning the Co-op will pull a handful of samples every 2 acres rather than just 1 or 2 samples on the 10-acre field. I’m guessing it will need lime applied to get the soil pH in line. And since they apply lime with an air spreader, they can adjust the rate as needed which, theoretically, will pay for the cost of grid sampling. Remember I planted these beans in 20” rows just for fun? Hard to say if that made a difference or not. If I take out the lousy production of the rented field my average goes up into the 40’s. And with the dry hot weather this year, I’m grateful we got any crop.

Price for the soybeans was good; $11.71 / bushel was my price. Course two days later it was $11.83 at the local elevator. Hauling it to the river gets a better price, but also costs more for hauling. And this late in the soybean season, the river doesn’t always have room for them. And since this was a Sunday, I’m not sure the river elevator even would have taken it. And since I’m not driving the truck, it’s kinda the neighbors call whether they have time to run them to the river.

So 37 bushels (one acre) x $11.71 = $433 / acre gross. Seed cost $55/acre, fertilizer $45/acre, spraying pre-emergence grass and post emerge broadleaves is $75/acre,  combining is $39/acre, grain cart $5/acre, hauling is 0.13/bushel, plus some rent on the one field (I won’t mention the rent cost; that can be pretty competitive in some markets. It might be $200 – $350/acre) I’m lucky I only pay rent on the one field. Diesel fuel, tractor use, my time added in (somewhat variable)… we’re somewhere north of $250/acre for expenses not counting rent. Net, then, is $183/ acre. Losing money on the rented ground.  So you can see why we want the best production we can get and I get so grumpy about how much crops the deer and turkeys are eating. Remember, this is just my farm. Your mileage may vary.

I’m guesstimating corn yields and production as I estimate paying off year end bills. Corn is a little more expensive to grow but yields more / acre too. And this year, with the poor stand, it’s anyone’s guess what production will be. Costs for next years crops is way up over this year. Fertilizer and chemicals have practically doubled.

There’s a lot of corn standing yet in the neighborhood. I can hear a neighbor’s corn dryer fans running when I stand outside at night. Sounds of the season. In a few more weeks it will be surprisingly quiet some night. Just another reminder of the cycle of the seasons.

Photos:

  1. Notice the broken kernels. That’s considered ‘Foreign material’ and we get docked for that. Soybeans are kinda delicate. They don’t like rough handling or they crack.
  • The neighbors like their equipment red. Long as it gets the job done. Here’s the combine, Humphrey, and the bean head on the cart. (The head is 35’ wide; they take it off to travel on the highway).  
  • The grain cart in this picture is holding 805 bushels.  At 57 lbs / bushel that’s 45,885 lbs.  That’s why they don’t often drive into the field with a loaded truck.  

Does this all make sense? Any questions? What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever driven? Or ridden in? Anyone been in a blimp?

Losing It

We had three inches of rain in the past week, and Husband decided he could safely fire up his smoker/grill to smoke a couple of pork butts we had in the freezer. There has been a burn ban all summer due to extraordinary drought, so this was the first time since May he has been able to grill outside.

The butts smoked beautifully all day in pecan and hickory chips, and by dark they were done. Husband used a very large carving fork to remove them from the smoker. He brought the butts inside the kitchen. The fork disappeared somewhere between the grill area outside and the house. We have searched high and low in the garage, the smoker/grill, the garbage, and the shrubs surrounding the grill area, to no avail. Husband, who is part Scots and believes in ghosts, thinks there was Divine intervention and this was a joke played on us by the supernatural.

I reported earlier this year on the Trail that I thought I saw my late father’s ghost in the hallway one night. He loved playing jokes on people, and I could see him hiding the carving fork somewhere ridiculous for us to find later. I am pretty sure the fork will turn up one of these days and we will say “Oh yes, I forgot I went here after the pork was inside!” Until then I will scold my dad and tell him to reveal where the carving fork is.

What have you lost? Which of your ancestors would love to play a joke on you? What do you think they would do?

Little Cat Feet

Now that the dark is hanging around a bit more in the morning, I don’t really notice the outside work until I step onto the back porch.  Last week, I left the house early, about 6:15 a.m. and as I pulled out of the driveway realized that there are a lot of fog.  Living in the city as I do, this is an unusual occurrence and combined with the dark and traffic-less streets, was quite eerie.

As I was driving along (pretty slowly), it made me think about how often I’ve seen fog described in poetry.  Of course, the most famous is probably Carl Sandberg:

Fog
The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

And I also remember a couple of different fog poems by Sara Teasdale that I like:

Gray Fog
A FOG drifts in, the heavy laden
Cold white ghost of the sea—
One by one the hills go out,
The road and the pepper-tree.
I watch the fog float in at the window

With the whole world gone blind,
Everything, even my longing, drowses,
Even the thoughts in my mind.
I put my head on my hands before me,

There is nothing left to be done or said,
There is nothing to hope for, I am tired,
And heavy as the dead.

White Fog
Heaven-invading hills are drowned
In wide moving waves of mist,
Phlox before my door are wound
In dripping wreaths of amethyst.

Ten feet away the solid earth
Changes into melting cloud,
There is a hush of pain and mirth,
No bird has heart to speak aloud.
Here in a world without a sky,
Without the ground, without the sea,
The one unchanging thing is I,
Myself remains to comfort me.

A quick search on the internet turns up tons of fog poems.  I haven’t done any research whatsoever but I wonder if there are more fog poems than thunderstorm poems or sunshine poems?

Then as I kept driving, I realized that I don’t know one darn SONG about fog.

Anybody?

 

Already?

Good grief.  Is it pumpkin spice season already?  Is there no product that is not marketed at this time of year without pumpkin spice?  Coffee creamer. Pancake mix. Syrup. Oreos. Cookie dough. Chocolates.  Candles.  And of course the ubiquitous muffins, lattes and breads.  Even if I liked pumpkin, this is just an onslaught.  Every year!

Tell me what you like about autumn.  (Or don’t like.)

September Farm

The farm report comes to us from Ben.

We had some friends and their kids visit and we had a good time giving tractor rides and gator rides and collecting eggs and seeing cows. It’s always fun giving farm tours.

I finally got around to working on the brush mower. I had to order bigger sockets to get the nut off the broken spindle on the big spinny thing. (It’s 45mm by the way) And then trying to get the gear box off the mower deck, I didn’t have the right size sockets for that either. It’s 30mm. I am getting more and more metric tools, but I didn’t have anything that big. I have a 3/8” drive socket set that I use for a lot of things. And a 1/2” drive set for some of the bigger stuff. And then I started buying 3/4” drive stuff for the really big stuff. (I mean the size of the square on the head of the ratchet is 3/8” or 1/2” or 3/4”). Then I put a 3’ long pipe over the handle to get enough leverage to get the nuts loose. Took the gear box up to John Deere for them to fix.

How’s that go: Every job is an opportunity for a new tool. Worked here.

On the way home from John Deere I stopped at a farm stand and bought 4 dozen ears of sweet corn. A couple kids run this stand and it is really good corn. Got that frozen and it will be really good this winter.

My mom has a possible Covid exposure from one of her physical therapy people. I had seen her on Sunday, and she found that out on Monday. But she hasn’t tested positive herself yet and they all wear masks and mom is vaccinated and I’d think the PT person was too. So hopefully she stays good. She needs to isolate in her room, which she isn’t very happy about. And her food comes in a Styrofoam container with plastic cutlery and that’s her biggest complaint. We had a care conference Tuesday and there seems to be exceptions for everything so she’s gotten real plates now. Hope that keeps up.

Monday was Labor Day and I wondered if I should really take the day off or do some work. If I didn’t do anything I’d feel guilty. I took a nap first off. But then decided to clean up the swather and get that put away. I washed it off and oiled the chains, loosened some belts, and filled the gas tank and added some ‘Stabil’ to the fuel, and tucked it into the shed for winter.

Then decided it was a good day to burn a small brush pile behind the shed. Got that burning and cut some grass while keeping an eye on it.

We’re having a little experiment with the ducks. When they go into the pen at night, they can either walk up a ramp or they can hop up onto a block and then into the open door. Most of them seem to hop in. One day I had not put the ramp in the door, it was sitting down on the block. Everyone had gone in except one black duck and two brown ducks. They were very distressed to be outside on their own and I finally went down and put the ramp up and one brown duck went up the ramp and the other two hopped in from the block. Hmm, were the other two moral support for the ramp duck?

This is very curious, so the next night I also left the ramp down and everyone had gotten in except a black duck and a brown duck. I put the ramp back up and both ducks hopped in without using the ramp.
The third night I put the ramp in the door right away. About dusk everyone heads over to the door and the white ducks always go first and hop on the block and up into the door. Might take them two tries, but they make it. Eventually the ones waiting got tired of waiting in line and they all went and got a drink and then came back and some more hopped in, and again, the remaining few got tired of the queue, went and got another drink and then came back and no one used the ramp and everyone hopped in. Evidently the ramp is more emotional support or a guide? It’s very interesting.

FOURTH NIGHT! I had the ramp up and I watched closer; they seem to use the ramp as a guide rail. A few actually use it, some bump against the side while hopping in, and some jump up onto the ramp about 1/2 way up. Very curious. And when they come out in the morning, it’s last in, first out.

When I got home one day, all the ducks were out of their pen. We’d been talking about letting them out; they’re old enough and big enough, but being ‘adolescent’, they don’t always make the best choices and we lose a few to coyotes. That day they found a hole – or maybe ‘made’ a hole and they were all close, just on the wrong side of the fence. It wasn’t too hard to round them up, patch the hole, and get them all back inside. And then I noticed one of the white ones has a wound under one wing. Neither Kelly or I were working from home that day which makes me wonder; maybe a coyote came in the yard and caused a commotion which is what scared them out. Kelly says every day around noon there is some kind of commotion, and the dogs bark and guineas get upset so there’s something going on.

I showed Kelly how to fire the rifle and the next day, when the noon commotion began, she fired a shot. We never see anything, but we’re trying to scare it– whatever “it” is– away. Kelly really wants to shoot a coyote but she’s having trouble making the scope work for her. She is just hoping for plain, dumb luck. And she’s going to work on firing from the hip.

Chickens; they get into the ducks pen, but they can’t ever figure out how to get back out…

BONUS! Two Sandhill Cranes standing in the field when I left for work the other day.

There has been a pair here all summer, we don’t see them, we only hear them. I’m guessing this is another pair passing through.

Can you fire from the hip? And accomplish what you are trying to accomplish?