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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Boing! Spring has SPRUNG.

Living in Nebraska, on the edge of the Great Plains, I have learned the true meaning of Spring has Sprung, also why it's called SPRING.  It's because the darn season bounces back and forth between Winter and Summer faster and more often than a Tigger on a Sugar and Caffeine bender.

We have bounced from 80' days to 32' days; blazingly sunny to dim, dark, and gloomy; thunderstorms to freezing rain to snow (sometimes in the same day).  The one constant has been the incessant, relentless, howling winds.  Diaries from homesteaders tell tales of people going insane due to the endless whistling and roaring of the winds.  It is amazing how trying on your nerves the low frequency sound of wind through trees, fence lines, and over the prairie grass is.

This time of year we are also bone dry.  The ground is dry.  The vegetation, either somewhat in hibernation or dead from a long winter, is acres upon acres of kindling.  The air is dry, with Relative humidity as low as 17%.  Couple all of that with a brisk wind and you have the makings of one humdinger of a fire season.

Farmers, Ranchers, and Land Managers here (and in other large open states) use fire to control weeds, invasive plant species, and to return valuable carbon back to the grassland.  Remember, it used to burn unchecked by mother nature all the time, before we decided we didn't like our homes, and villages burned out every year.  The fires are planned, regulated, and safety precautions are strictly followed.  Of course there is always the unpredictable fire, caused by a wayward cigarette.  But for the most part, they are controlled, unless they're not.  When they do get going, they are HUGE, the plumes can be seen for miles and miles, and at night, the prairielands can glow an eerie red.  Yesterday, I counted 14 different fires along the horizon surrounding our acreage.

The FUN thing about all this wind is the ability to go fly a kite!  You can't fly a kite, REALLY fly a kite in the city, but out here, there's nothing in your way.  The past week, we had city family from out of state visiting, and I bought each of the kids a kite. ( Remember how easy it used to be to find kites and kite STRING? - HA! Try it now.)  The kids had a great time.  I even caught my mom out there playing!  Of course we had to wait for the winds to DIE DOWN to 20 mph to fly the kites.  Once the winds hit 25, 30, and 40 mph, they had to come in.  I didn't want them to end up in South Dakota!
Another fun event this time of year with all of the dry weather is Virga.  Virga is precipitation that forms in a moist layer of the atmosphere.  When it builds up to a weight sufficient for it to fall to the earth, it gleefully begins its journey towards earth.  Normally it would make it, and we would call it rain, or snow, or freezing rain.  However, when the precipitation falls towards earth and hits a layer of dryer air, it evaporates.  This can happen hundreds of feet above the surface or I've seen it a mere 10 feet off the ground. 
I am always amazed by it and really enough watching the shape shifting ballet of moisture.  This week, we had the extra bonus of having brilliant sunshine at just the right angle to a Virga shower, which resulted in a VIRGABOW.

Acreage Update

With Spring comes the endless chores, which I welcome.  Those that know me, know I cannot sit still.  And when I do, I do not do it well. 

Even with the challenge of the winds, the garden has been cleaned out.  Now I need to figure out which crops go where and set the frames back down.  April 20th I will plant the onion sets, and the potatoes.

We also decided to expand the orchard.  We added 11 more trees and 100 feet in length.  We added redbud trees on the very end between the orchard and road.  They will not only provide western shade (someday) in summer to the fruit trees, but will act as a visual screen to the view beyond.  As for the fruit trees, we added, granny smith, montmorecy cherries, candy crisp apples, cameo apples, cherry plums, rainier cherries, and  stayman winesap apples.  Someday, we might get apples to eat!

The dragons are back.  Well Killdeer birds really.  But we call them rock birds and they lay fabulously camouflaged eggs in our rock beds every year.  The eggs look like they belong to a dragon.  The adult birds have a piercing cry, a great scheme to get you away from their eggs, and the ability to completely disappear in the landscape.  I think they're from another dimension or planet, but that's neither here nor there.

Broody Daisy Update

Today is day 21, hatching day!  Well the AVERAGE hatching day.  We do have action, tomorrow should greet us with at least one puff butt.  This is Meriweather's one contribution to the nest.  The other blue eggs are cream legbars. There is one olive egg, and four black Maran eggs.

We have also decided that we will not let Daisy be broody again.  It's not that she isn't doing a GREAT job sitting.  She is.  The problem is, that's ALL she does.  She doesn't have the brains to get up even ONCE a day to eat, drink and relieve herself.  She will go about her business IF we pull her out, but ONLY if we pull her out.  So no second family for her.

Other Chicken News

Meet Noodle and Nugget.  They are both Ameraucana chicks and are being raised for the Lincoln Children's Zoo.  After they live here quarantined from all other animals, and fully feather out, they will be delivered to the zoo to be raised and trained by the Zoo Crew Kids.  They will then be used to educate visitors and school children about chickens.  They follow in the footsteps of their big sister Lucy, a black Maran, that we raised and donated last year.
Just look at those giant poofy cheeks!

Giant poofy cheeks turn into great big bushy beards!

Until next time!

Doc Here...
Caryl described all that as though these were distinct events at Dunrovin.  No, the chickens decided to help with the orchard expansion.( Caryl ~ known as the construction and approval crew.)  Step 1 is breaking the sod and removing it from where the tree goes.  Then we dig the hole in the clay soil for the tree.  Once we got past step 1, the girls helped.  They helped themselves to the yummy earthworms racing for cover.  For all the scratching they did, they only dug down about an eighth of an inch.  The remaining 11 7/8" was up to us. (Caryl-like all good supervisors, they taught and stepped back and watched us do the remaining work, got bored, and wandered off to have a chat around the water cooler.)

Thursday update

One hatch- Dorcas- mom is Merriweather,  dad is zap. She will be an olive egger. 5 more eggs are pipped that we can see.

1 comment:

  1. You guys lead so busy and exciting lives! Loving the photos, and a big Aaaaaaaaaw for the babies!! xx