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Days around May 20 are often marked by rain, high winds
Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
May 15-21, 2006

It is Nature’s rutting season. Even as the birds sing tumultuously and glance by with fresh and brilliant plumage, so now is Nature’s grandest voice heard and her sharpest flashes seen. The air has resumed its voice, and the lightening, like a yellow spring flower, illumines the dark banks of the clouds. All the pregnant earth is bursting into life, like a mildew, accompanied with noise and fire and tumult. She comes dripping rain like a cow with overflowering udder.
-Thoreau, Journal, May 20, 1856

The astronomical calendar for the fourth week of late spring: The Mock Orange Moon enters its last quarter at 4:20 a.m. on May 20.
By this time in May, Cassiopeia has moved deep into the northern night sky behind Polaris, and Cepheus, which looks a little like a house lying on its side, is beginning to come around to the east of Polaris. When Cepheus is due east of the North Star, then it will be the middle of July. When it lies due south of Polaris, then the leaves will be turning. When it lies due west of Polaris, winter will have arrived.

Weather patterns
May 20: The days surrounding this front are some of the most turbulent of May, often marked by rain, tornadoes and high winds. The May 20th system also brings the threat of frost to the northern tier of states, but it typically spares tomatoes and eggplant below the 40th Parallel.

May 24: The days following the arrival of this front are often unseasonably cold. Even though more than half of May 25ths and 26ths are in the 70s or 80s, a full 40 percent are not, creating the highest potential for chilly conditions since May 15.

Natural year
When hummingbirds arrive at your feeders, look for thrushes, and scarlet tanagers to arrive, too.

When you see strawberries coming into full bloom, wild cucumber will be sprouting along the rivers.

When summer phlox are two-feet tall, listen for catbirds in the bushes.

When wood sorrel blossoms in the garden, hunt for rare, medicinal golden seal blooming in the woods.

When you see mayflies by the water, spitbugs will be making their spittle shelters in the parsnips, and the first cut of hay will be underway.

When chives bloom in the garden and lilacs reach full flower, then crappie fishing peaks in the shallows.

When flower clusters of the sweet-gum tree fall, check to see if your first strawberry is red.

When azaleas lose their petals, morel season is about over for the year, and swallowtail butterflies come looking for bleeding heart flowers.

Mind and body
The S.A.D. Index, which measures the forces that contribute to seasonal affective disorders on a scale of 1 to 100, reaches the teens on May 19, and it remains at this harmless level for a full three days. Even after that, readings don’t go above the 20s until new moon approaches.

Best fishing
The waning moon will be overhead in the morning this week, making that time the best lunar time of all for catching fish. The second-best time will be early afternoon when the moon is below this part of the earth. The cool fronts of May 20 and May 24 should improve fishing as they approach; however, after they pass through, fish often feed less.

“We cranked and cranked”
By Clarence Dinnen, Jamestown, Ohio

I was 10 years old when the war began for the United States, December 7, 1941. During the war years, many things were rationed, including tires and rubber boots, gasoline, and a variety of foods. By living on the farm, we had plenty of meat, milk, eggs, cream, and lard.

It was a cold January day, a Sunday afternoon, probably in 1943. My dad and I decided we would make a freezer of ice cream. My mom said she would make the ice cream mix if we did the rest. She cooked the milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla and let it cool.

Dad and I broke some ice from the stock tank at the barn and crushed it in a burlap sack. We carried the ice to the house. We filled the freezer can with the ice cream mix, added the ice, layered with salt and started to crank.

We cranked and cranked and cranked. Then we cranked some more. But the ice cream did not freeze.

Finally I tasted the ice. It was sweet! We had used all of a brown bag we thought was salt. It was our sugar - all of our rationed supply!

Well, we had no more sugar. We used corn syrup and some honey for our sweetener for the next several weeks. Over the years, when we recalled this episode, we would laugh and make fun of ourselves and remember our rationed sugar.

Send your memory stories to Poor Will, P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Three dollars will be paid to any author whose story appears in this column.

Poor Will’s Scrambler
In order to estimate your SCRAMBLER IQ, award yourself 15 points for each word unscrambled, adding a 50-point bonus for getting all of them correct. If you find a typo, add another 15 points to your IQ.
MOHW, WHOM
UEMLP, PLUME
OMOD, DOOM
OOMRB, BROOM
EUEMSR, RESUME
OMOB, BOOM
EUMF, FUME
EEUPRSM, PRESUME
OLOBM, BLOOM
EUEMFRP, PERFUME

Here is this week’s rhyming Scrambler:
NWONK
OEZN
AOELN
ENOBMORT
UONWNKN
EONRP
OESTN
NOWGR
EEEONHPLT
IODSWN

This farm news was published in the May 10, 2006 issue of Farm World.

5/10/2006