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Watch for wintry weather at the end of November
Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
November 20-26, 2006
Cold challenges the blood; it sets the cheeks to tingling and the brain to percolating. By making the indoors cozy, it encourages intellectual activity.
-John Updike

The astronomical calendar for the fourth week of late fall:
The Orchid Moon, new on Nov. 20, waxes throughout the week, entering its second quarter at 1:29 a.m. on Nov. 28. Rising in the afternoon, setting in the evening, this crescent moon will be overhead late in the afternoon.

August’s Vega is setting now. Cygnus, the swan of the Northern Cross and the gauge of autumn’s progress, is disappearing south. October’s Pegasus and Andromeda fall away behind it. By midnight, the Pleiades have moved almost overhead, leading on the Hyades, Taurus and Aldebaran. Orion towers low in the southeast, followed by Sirius and Procyon. Castor and Pollux, the rulers of January, stand above Orion’s hounds.

Weather patterns
Nov. 24: The Thanksgiving cold front is often a cruel one, but the proximity of this Thanksgiving to the moon’s entry into its final quarter favors a comparatively quiet Thursday for most of the nation.

Nov. 28: The seventh important high-pressure system of November generally arrives around Nov. 28, preceded by rain or snow three years out of four. This is one of the most wintry systems of the month, and precipitation typically lingers for Nov. 29 and 30. The approach of the new moon will accentuate the chances for harsh conditions. Temperatures ordinarily moderate around the last day of November, setting the stage for an early December thaw.

Natural year
When all but a few shriveled staghorns have fallen from the sumac, then the sandhill cranes leave their last northern feeding grounds.

When you see crows coming together in great flocks, then deer are mating in the woodlands. That means you need to be especially careful driving at night: most automobile accidents involving deer (but not crows!) occur at this time of year.

When sunset reaches its earliest time of the year (this time of the year), the brittle leaves of the pear trees fall in the Midwest and ruby red grapefruit ripen in Florida.

When witch hazel flowers wither in the cold, then the corn and soybean harvest should be over for the year.

When the last of the golden beech, Osage and oak leaves come down, then the Christmas tree harvest has begun and the last of this year’s poinsettias have reached the market.

When you buy your Christmas tree, you should also get potting soil and a shop light so you can start your spring bedding plants at December’s new moon (Dec. 20).

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, declines from the troublesome 70s into the slightly milder 60s, reaching a low of 61 on Nov. 28 before beginning its climb toward December’s full moon and a reading in the middle 80s.

Best fishing and hunting
As the moon waxes through its first quarter, it will be overhead in the afternoon. Therefore, consider hunting and fishing after lunch; for even better results, schedule your trips to the woods and water as the barometer falls ahead of the cold fronts of Nov. 24 and 28.

Almanack literature
The Worm that Traveled 5,000 Miles by Myrna Glass, St. Mary’s, Ohio I was a sickly baby. I talked before I walked. As a teen I was often reminded by my mother of the old saying, “If a child talks before he walks, his mouth will be the ruination of him.”

Those words were prophetic, as I often open my mouth before I get my mind in gear. But, in spite of my being a windbag, I am about to reveal a secret that I have kept for 25 years.

I was widowed at age 37. In our small country church, a farmer lost his wife a few months later.

Our friends did a lot of matchmaking, which we fought for a couple of years.

Finally we decided, as the old Eskimo woman said, that he needed a cook and I needed a hunter, so we married. I made up my mind that I would become the best farm wife in the country.

I learned to drive the tractor, tend the garden, unload hay, and to put up hundreds of cans of fruit, vegetables and meat. I took special pride in my canning.

For our 25th anniversary, we decided to visit my sister in California. She was old and had been ill.

I had an idea, “Why don’t I take several boxes of my canned goods with me? Then if Sis doesn’t feel like cooking or eating out, I can whip up a meal in no time.”

The trip went well and we had a good visit. My sister enjoyed my home-canned goods that I gleefully brought forth.

One day, however, I went out to get a can of pears. I picked one up and - Oh, no! It couldn’t be! It had never happened in all of my years of canning.

Now the Bible says, “Pride goeth before a fall.” My pride plummeted! There went my reputation as a great preserver of food.

There was a worm in the can. What should I do?

“No one needs to know!” I thought. And I swallowed my wounded pride, regained my composure and returned to the house as if nothing were wrong.

Well, the worm-in-the-can rode the 2,500 miles back to Ohio and went onto my compost pile.

Now that’s the story of a dead worm that traveled 5,000 miles and a garrulous old lady who kept her mouth shut about it for 25 years.

Send your true confessions to Poor Will at P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Three dollars will be paid to the author of any tale that 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.



This farm news was published in the Nov. 15, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.