Category Archives: Weather

Irony

Tuesday the temperature here was 75. Yesterday we had a winter storm blowing in.  I was getting ready for work yesterday and I noticed a large welt on my calf. It was a mosquito bite!  I searched and saw it flying around in the dining room. The little devil got me  while I was wandering around the house with my coffee cup. It probably stowed away in the spinach I harvested on Tuesday night. How ironic!   A mosquito bite on the day of a snow storm.

What are the recent or not so recent ironies in your life? Got any good mosquito stories?

Seasons

It snowed here on Wednesday.  The header photo is a view out of my work window Wednesday afternoon.   The buildings in the background are part of an assisted living facility.  The season changed here suddenly, and incontrovertibly.

PJ mentioned yesterday her horror at seeing all the Christmas decorations while she was shopping. I suppose the merchant’s view is that the season has changed, and the store is announcing it.

Husband says we have six seasons out here: Winter, Calving, Spring, Summer, Harvest, and Autumn. I say a sure sign of Winter is green tomatoes ripening in paper bags or boxes in the house.  I ordered glaceed fruit and nuts for my Christmas baking today, another sign of seasonal change.

What are the seasons in your year? What do you look for in nature or in people around you for signs of the seasons changing?

Vanity Plates

I think that vanity license plates are aptly named. I was at the grocery store last night in some snowy weather and almost ran into a Mercedes with a license plate that read “GAS”.  We have some pretty affluent oil industry folks out here, as well as landowners who have oil royalties.  The driver and passenger looked pretty elderly.  I would love to know their story.

What are some memorable vanity plates you have seen or heard of? Give some hypotheses about the Mercedes I saw last night.

Farm Update

Today’s crop update comes to us from Ben.

Been checking some fields.

Soybeans are about 85% yellow and starting to lose some leaves

It’s interesting because right there by a stalk that’s lost all its leaves is another plant fully green. This picture taken two weeks ago

and there’s a waterway in the middle there. It’s good and green to the left and to the right it’s rocky and yellow. Typically crops do poorly in the rocky areas. The roots don’t establish as well, and it tends to dry out faster. So presumably this area was less robust to start with and that’s why it dries out sooner. Still, to see a line like that is interesting.

Notice there are a decent number of pods on the plants,

and they all have 3 beans in them. But the pods are very wet yet. Even when the leaves fall off, the stalk and pods need to dry down in order to harvest. I cracked one open but it was tough to get open and the beans are firm, but not dry. They should be round, about ¼” to 5/16ths diameter. These are still bigger than that; swollen with water. They’ll get smaller as they dry down. I pay more money to have soybeans combined than corn, because beans are harder on the combine. Because they’re running the combine so low it picks up more dirt and rocks. And as the heads get bigger and wider (my guy is using a head for beans that is 30’ wide) and lots of newer combines have ‘auto float’ for the head, but if my field curves a bit, the header can be on the ground in the center and 4” up on the ends. Then you’re leaving more beans on the ends. So, it’s important to keep the field as smooth as possible in the spring when planting.  These beans are about 20” tall. Normally, they should be 36” tall at least and filled with pods to the top. Sometimes you’ll see 4 beans in a pod but that’s unusual and they say extra pods on the top of the plant indicate an exceptional good year. Won’t be any like that this year. Remember one day I said beans respond to the length of day light? Everyone’s beans look about the same now no matter when planted. Height may be taller if planted early, but colors are about the same. I’ve seen a few people already combining beans. The rest won’t be too far behind getting started on combining beans.

Three weeks ago, I noticed a little bit of yellow in a field and I thought there was some disease damage happening. Nope, just starting to turn, but that first hint of yellow always surprises me. Takes about 3 or 4 weeks to all turn and loose leaves. That happens fast, once they start to turn and then they still have to dry out. Often, it’s not until a killing frost that the stalks are dry enough to go. Not always, again, depends on the weather.

I’ve got some beans on a rental field. They look terrible this year.

They’re short, and the stupid deer have eaten the tops off the entire field!

Everytime I go look at that field I just feel sick about it. The beans there are only about 8” tall. See all those pods near the bottom? The combine will have a hard time getting them so close to the ground. Sigh.

The corn is looking good.

The ears in the field are surprisingly good looking in size.

You can see the deer damage on the outside here.

Notice all the ears standing upright yet. Once they get down to a certain moisture, the ears will drop and hang down.

I don’t know what that moisture % is, but when they’re standing upright, all the rainwater can run down inside the husks. Course that can cause mold issues.

You all know there is a silk to every kernel, right? Notice the odd kernels in this ear.

So that silk didn’t get pollinated for some reason. And the odd shapes, I’m not sure, but obviously, something didn’t all work right. Too cool, too wet? Too dry at that point? Who knows? All part of the mystery.  Splitting the ear, there are nice kernels in there.

See how its’ all dented? But still a drop of milk when I squeeze it. So not quite to ‘black layer’ yet. That will start at the bottom and move up the kernel as it dries. I’m not there yet. I’ve seen a few people starting to chop corn silage for feed. This wouldn’t quite be ready yet either. You want it in black stage before chopping. Maybe another week or two depending on weather. Not that I chop anymore. I kind of miss that. I always liked chopping corn. It smells good and goes easy and was fun to do.

I have one field that has gone down in a kinda random way. I hired a kid to fly his drone over the field. He didn’t know what he was looking for and I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but he did good enough that I could get an overview. The header photo comes from him. (Thanks to Nick Casper’s drone!) It’s called ‘lodging’ when the corn goes down like this.

I don’t think all the deer walking through helped. But the rows and tassels should all be in nice lines. See the mess in part of the field?

Corn puts out extra roots called ‘brace roots’ as it’s gets bigger. Usually they’re 4” above the ground, just to help brace the corn as it gets bigger. Notice these roots coming out 18” up?

An effect of wind and lodging and weather conditions I’m told. Weird. Hopefully it stands until harvest and doesn’t fall over. It’s a mess to combine if they all fall down.

I wish Clyde was still here to add his farm comments.

What was the last ag related commercial you saw on TV?

Water Damage

We live in a semi-arid part of the US. We don’t get much rain. The rain, when it falls, is usually no more than a quarter of an inch at a time. This has lulled me and Husband into a false sense of security when it comes to our gutters and down spouts. Why make a point to clear out the spouts when it hardly ever rains? Why check to make sure that the spouts are fully functional?

For the second time in the 30 years we have lived in our home, we have water damage in the basement due to our rain spout neglect.  The first time the extension that takes the water away from the house fell off, so the water poured out of the spout right along the foundation of the house.  The water traveled along the side of the house and came into the basement through a hole in the basement wall where a well pipe enters the basement foundation.  We replaced all the basement carpet.

This most recent time, the down spout was clogged with leaves, so the water poured over the gutter right by the foundation and traveled into  an egress window and soaked the drywall and carpet below the window in a basement bedroom. We rarely go into that room, and I discovered wet carpet and moldy drywall on Friday, about a month after the rain.  It smells pretty grisly. I suspect we need to replace the carpet in that room, and the drywall guy is coming Monday to check  out the drywall. I am pretty disgusted with our lack of diligence. I feel pretty stupid flooding our home for the second time. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have one’s entire house damaged by water.

What mistakes have you made with home ownership and maintenance?

Autumn Gardening

You all know that I love gardening in the spring and summer. And that I am horrible at gardening in the fall.  I’m not sure but I think it’s too much delayed gratification.  Anything you do in the fall isn’t really going to give you results until spring.  Or maybe I’m just worn out after the spring and summer hours pulling, hacking and digging.

In any case, over the weekend I had to FORCE myself to get out and do a little clean up and plant some bulbs and tubers. I added some more tulips to the front boulevard and also two patches of daffodils.  I moved my yellow and purple dwarf iris a bit (they were getting swallowed up by lilies) and I also added some Open Your Eyes dwarf iris tubers this year

I had put this off over the last couple of weekends, using YA’s accident/surgery as an excuse and, truth be told, I have been very busy, but 2 weekends in a row, the gardening was on my list and just didn’t get done. So now I feel an immense sense of satisfaction and relief.  Why can’t I get myself to do gardening in the fall, when I know it will feel great when I’m done?

How do you get yourself motivated?

The Strangest Thing I Ever Did See

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I’ve lived long enough to see some remarkable things. Because I’ve spent so much time outdoors, most of my memorable experiences happened there. That can be frustrating. It is difficult—possibly impossible—to describe experiences to people whose life experiences don’t include much time outdoors. If you’ve never stood deep in a cattail marsh that is backlit by a low November sun . . . well, if you’ve never been there, I probably can’t make you understand what it is like.

Yet I can describe two of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen. I’ve researched both of these experiences on the internet. Because they were  “rare” events, there isn’t a lot of documentation for them. By definition, rare events don’t happen often! I’ve confirmed that both of these events happen now and then. That gives me the comfort of knowing that my memories could be correct.

The first experience was an incredibly vivid aurora borealis display. We witnessed this show in June of 1973. My erstwife and I were living in the basement of a fly fishing tackle shop near Brule, Wisconsin. Brule is far removed from the bright lights that prevent most people from enjoying the night sky. While Brule isn’t as far north as some towns in Minnesota, it lies close enough to the Arctic Circle to offer frequent aurora displays.

This particular aurora was stunning. Every other Northern Lights display I’ve seen was isolated in a particular section of the sky, usually near the northern horizon. This display, by contrast, seemed centered directly overhead. It filled the sky, encircling us with excited light. Although this description belies the majesty of that aurora display, I’ve always compared that amazing display as a “Jello mold” that surrounded us with shafts of neon light. Imagine entering a snow globe and being totally enveloped in its beauty. It was like that.

Apparently, auroras like that one have the un-poetic name of “overhead displays.” Such displays do happen, but almost always in Arctic regions. That aurora was both intense and persistent. We wandered around for nearly an hour, heads tipped toward the heavens and our mouths open with astonishment, while the whole night sky rippled in every direction around us.

The other amazing sight happened just a year later, in June of 1974, in downtown Duluth. We were driving in a southwest direction on what used to be the main thoroughfare in the city (before the freeway was built through town). Humidity levels had been extremely high that day. A thunderstorm erupted, as heavy as any rainstorm I’ve experienced. Rain hammered down in sheets that reduced visibility to a few yards. Rivers of rain flowed down the street because the culverts could not accommodate that much water at once.

I glanced left as we descended a steep hill. Just as we passed, a manhole cover exploded and went spinning high in the air. Manhole covers weigh from 200 to 250 pounds. They don’t, as a general thing, go flying. But a sudden surge of rainwater in city sewers can build up enough pressure to blow them. About a block or two later, a second manhole lid blew and went flying as we drove past it. Both eruptions catapulted manhole covers skyward like cast iron tiddlywinks.

I recently checked the internet for confirmation of this. It is apparently common for water pressure to build up under a manhole cover, but the usual result is that the cover will flop up and down or “dance.” The internet offers several examples caught on video film. When a cover blows, it rarely goes high. That leads me to wonder if those two covers in Duluth sailed as high as I remember. Maybe the fact we were on a steep hill caused a torrent of water to suddenly explode under those two covers. I guess I’ll never know.

Have you seen something so astonishing you’ll never forget it?