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Pasture growth slows as afternoons become cooler
Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker

September 11-17, 2006

Everywhere in the countryside there is a glimmer of autumn reds. Hawthorn bushes are laden with crimson berries, while the clusters of black elderberries are surrounded with vinous red leaves. On brambles, the ripening berries are a glossy purple and some of the leaves are scarlet. The lower leaves of docks are also turning bright red.
-Derwent May

The astronomical calendar for the second week of early fall:
After entering its final phase at 6:15 a.m. on Sept. 14, the Puffball Mushroom Moon wanes until it becomes the new Woolly Bear Moon at 6:45 a.m. on Sept. 22. Autumn mushrooms gradually disappear as temperatures fall deeper toward freezing; cold nights, however, warn the woolly bear caterpillars to strike out across the roads when the sun shines to look for winter quarters.

The Piscid meteors fall through Pisces, in the middle of the southern sky, an hour or two after midnight throughout the month. The dark moon during the third and fourth week increases the chances for successful meteor watching.

Fall equinox occurs at 11:03 p.m. on Sept. 22. An annular solar eclipse will also take place on Sept. 22, but it will not be visible from the continental United States.

Weather patterns
Sept. 15: The September 15th weather system is accompanied by increased chances for much cooler afternoon high temperatures (highs sometimes just in the 50s in the northern states). Along with the chillier days comes a rapid decline in the number of wildflowers in bloom and a slowing in pasture growth. Weak lunar position, however, should encourage frost to stay away.

Sept. 20: The equinox front often brings a likelihood of frost as it departs east, and new moon on Sept. 22 will increase the chances for colder-than-normal temperatures. At average elevations along the 40th Parallel, the chances for a light freeze are now about 30 percent, close to 50 percent across the northern states and at higher elevations. Hot days usually disappear in the central states after this front.

Natural year
When bright patches of scarlet sumac and Virginia creeper mark the fencerows, and streaks of gold have appeared on the silver olive bushes, then kingbirds, finches, ruddy ducks, herring gulls and yellow-bellied sapsuckers move south. The last young grackles and hummingbirds leave their nests. Cedar waxwings fly south. Bobolinks and woodcocks follow.

When the day’s length falls below 12 hours (which it does after equinox), then you may want to turn on a low-wattage light bulb in the chicken house in order to counter the effects of the shortening days on egg production.

When sycamores, tulip trees, slippery elms, poplars, locust, elms, box elders, buckeyes, dogwoods, chinquapin oaks, lindens, and redbuds begin to show their autumn colors, then the sun has almost reached its halfway point to winter solstice.

When katydids refuse to chant and crickets songs are slow, then check the forecast and be ready to cover your tender flowers and vegetables: frost could be on the way.

When squirrels scatter buckeye hulls along the trails, and locust pods fall beside them, then the first soybeans will be ready to harvest.

When you see farmers planting wheat in northern fields, know that throughout the South, cotton growers are defoliating their cotton plants, a process that increases fiber quality.

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, remains in the gentle 20s throughout most of the period, climbing only into the low 30s by Sept. 20. Considering the high likelihood of sunny skies and mild temperatures, no one should suffer from seasonal affective disorders.

Best fishing & hunting
The moon will be overhead in the morning this week, encouraging fish and game to be more active at that time.

You should encounter even more creatures if you are looking for them as the cool fronts of Sept. 15 and 20 approach.

After the fronts come through, however, expect a lull in fishing and hunting success.

Almanack literature
“You Are Feeding the Wrong Lamb!” by Gayle W. Ford
Our Hampshire ewe, Megan, lambed in May with twins - Maylene and Calvin, and it was apparent from the start that Maylene was the stronger of the two, as she would push her brother out of the way so she could nurse. I knew right off that Calvin was going to be a bottle baby.

One night about 10:30, I went out to the barn to give Calvin his bedtime feeding. Megan and the lambs were all bedded down for the night. I thought I would check to see if Maylene was hungry before I fed Calvin.

I sat down on my chair with Maylene and no sooner did I get the bottle in Maylene’s mouth did Megan come over and stick her nose in between the lamb and my hand. She started mouthing the nipple and the next thing I know, Megan bites me. Then she snatches the bottle by the nipple and flings it across the barn.

I finally got the message she had been trying to tell me. I was feeding the WRONG lamb.

I put Maylene down, retrieved the bottle and picked up Calvin. As soon as I settled down to feed Calvin, Megan lay back down. I’m sure she was content in her knowledge that she had finally taught me which lamb was the wrong one to feed.

Sheep stupid? Not my Megan!

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.


Here is this week’s rhyming Scrambler:


This farm news was published in the Sept. 6, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.