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Beware of early goat and sheep births during third lunar quarter
Poor Wills Almanack
Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2013
If there are mountains, I look at mountains.
On rainy days, I listen to the rain.
Spring, summer, autumn, winter.
Tomorrow too will be good
Tonight too will be good.
-Santoka Taneda (with Tara Marquez and Henry T)
 
Lunar phase and lore

The Spinning Cranefly Moon wanes through its third quarter this week, entering its last phase at 8:56 a.m. on Feb. 3. Rising after midnight and setting in the afternoon, this moon moves overhead, its most favorable position for influencing activity in fish (and children) near breakfast time.

The weak moon will be favorable for going on dates and for working with livestock throughout the week. Teachers and other public service employees should also have it easy, compared to what they often experience during full-moon time. But if you have pregnant sheep or goats, the moon’s third quarter is the lunar period most likely to bring early birthing. Lunar position in Scorpio on Feb. 3 and 4 favors seeding of plants you would like to see sprout by new moon on Feb. 10.

Moving into Capricorn, Venus remains the morning star until the middle of the month, when it blends with the sunrise and disappears from view; it reappears as the evening star at the end of the first week in May. Mars is lost in the sunset during the second week of February, remaining out of sight until it comes back before dawn in June.

Jupiter is still the evening star this month, and Saturn keeps its position in Libra, leading Sagittarius through the dark, early mornings.

Weather trends

Late winter, which begins this week, contains 5-6 cold fronts and usually lasts through Feb. 18, when cold waves typically become weaker and warm fronts stronger. On the other hand, if storms occur next month, they will be most likely to strike on or around Feb. 2-4, 6-9, 14-18 and 24-25.

New moon on Feb. 10 and full moon on Feb. 25 are likely to increase the intensity of the weather systems that typically arrive near those dates.

Fish, game, livestock and people tend to feed more and are more active as the barometer is falling 1-3 days before the weather systems that arrive near Feb. 3, 6, 11, 15, 20 and 24. Try using weather history to help plan your planting and other outdoor work: The wettest monthly days, or those with at least a 50 percent chance for precipitation, are Feb. 1, 3, 6, 11, 14-15 and 21. The driest days, those that bring a 20 percent chance or less for precipitation, are Feb. 7-8, 10 and 20.

Daybook

Jan. 28: As January comes to a close, skunks may venture out to feed. Salamanders court and breed in warmer microclimates. During the day, pale Asian ladybugs sometimes emerge on sunny windowsills.

The starlings are whistling and chattering close to sunrise, the crows and cardinals and doves joining in. Male blue jays are bobbing up and down, talking to their mates. Earliest robins and bluebirds arrive in the lower Midwest.

Jan. 29: Take advantage of the weak moon to move livestock culls to market, as well as to give vaccinations, trim hooves and treat for parasites. Animals ought to be a little less skittish than they were last week under the full moon.

Jan. 30: As Christian Lent approaches, indoor farmers’ markets often display hot-cross buns and other tempting pastries. Consider expanding your baking and marketing approaches as the pre-Lenten season ends.

 Jan. 31: When the final front of January weakens, it brings the brief “Groundhog Day Thaw,” a warm spell often potent enough to bring skunk cabbage into bloom as far north as the Great Lakes. And the weakening moon should help make the Groundhog Day Thaw a significant one this year.

Feb. 1: The moon is especially favorable for the seeding of bedding plants and the taking of cuttings from mother plants during the first week of the month and after new moon (which occurs on Feb. 10). Frost seed pastures and seed the lawn. The dark moon and the mild weather could be ideal for butchering, but don’t let the first bad cold front of February freeze your meat.

Feb. 2: Although the Groundhog Day Thaw could bring warm temperatures, don’t spray your fruit trees for a couple more weeks: Feb. 3-5 often brings a cruel cold snap that could damage sprayed buds and branches.

But don’t be afraid to plant your first beets and radishes of the year under the waning moon. Seeds may lie dormant, but then sprout at the arrival of early spring 2-3 weeks from now.

Feb. 3: This date consistently pushes a strong high-pressure ridge across the Mississippi, sharply raising the possibility of below-zero temperatures and initiating a week-long period of increased possibilities for bitter daytime highs.

Precipitation is to be expected before the arrival of this front, and Feb. 3 is one of the days this month most likely to bring dangerous storms to the Plains and tornadoes to the South.

Listen to Poor Will’s Radio Almanack on podcast anytime at www.wyso.org and follow Poor Will on Twitter: @poorwilsalmanac
1/23/2013