A&L: Almost fall, but not quite

The Moffat County Fair is over for another year. In fact, fair time in northwest Colorado is drawing to a close.

Colorado State Fair-eligible 4-H projects have already been packed up and driven to Pueblo, where they are being entered. FFA and 4-H members are grooming their sheep, cattle, and swine in preparation for livestock shows, and 4-H Shooting Sports members are practicing their skills, getting ready for several state contests that will begin this weekend.

And, on top of everything else, school will be starting in a little over a week.

Now that it’s nearly the end of August, the days range from hot to “just right,” and cool mornings have us putting on chore jackets.

Pasture grasses are changing color, and the sounds of crickets can be heard early in the morning and at evening. It’s beginning to get dark a little earlier, too. It’s that almost-fall-but-not quite time, a transition period.

There are other signs that we’re almost in fall but not quite:

• The hummingbirds are coming down from higher elevations.

• Some of the other summer birds have left.

• Cows know that it’s about time to be turned into hay meadows and are regularly checking gates to see if they’re open yet (and sometimes even “helping themselves” into the meadows).

• Bulls, that are now mostly “unemployed,” are pulling away from the herds.

• Ranchers are checking/repairing fences in the fall pasture areas.

• Stacks are being covered with tarps, and stackyard fences are being closed up.

• Ranch mice are bringing in lots of mice.

• Roadside stands have peaches for sale.

• Area stores have sales on canning supplies.

• Chokecherries are getting ripe.

• Grocery stores have a good supply of Rocky Ford cantaloupe and Olathe sweet corn.

• Peaches, pickles, tomatoes, and lots of other produce is being canned.

• Ground squirrels are just about ready to go into their holes for the winter.

• Ranchers are moving cattle around on summer pastures so they won’t overgraze and are keeping a close check on water sources.

• Wheat is being harvested.

• Trucks loaded with grain are a common sight at area elevators.

• Flowers in gardens are at their prettiest.

• Pickup trucks and trailers are loaded with firewood as people stock up for winter.

• Bales of different sizes and shapes are being hauled into ranches, getting ready for the winter feeding season ahead.

• People are talking about getting hunting camps ready for hunting season.

• Hunters share information about who drew what licenses for the hunting seasons ahead.

• Stores are offering sales on summer clothes and are stocking winter clothes.

• The rush is on to complete repair and painting to outdoor buildings before cold weather sets in.

• Dates are being set for end-of-summer organizational picnics and barbecues.

• Moffat County CattleWomen meetings will resume after having the summer off.

• School supplies are on sale.

• Second cutting and late “wild” hay is being baled.

• Mother cats, which had kittens away from the ranch house, are bringing them closer to buildings.

• Livestock water tanks in the corral are being cleaned out and repaired.

And everyone is wondering what the coming winter will bring. It’s anybody’s guess.

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