|Poor Will's Almanack
By Will Felker
January 30-February 5, 2006
Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight, for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The astronomical calendar for the second week of late winter:
The Hellebore Moon waxes through the week, entering its second quarter at 1:29 a.m. on Feb. 5.
Mars shifts from Aries back into Taurus this month; now the Bull Constellation will have two red eyes (Taurus will be one, Aldebaran the other), both almost overhead just after dark.
The evening sky of February pushes Orion into the west. Behind him, Sirius pursues Lepus and Columba. Monoceros, the Unicorn, gallops below Procyon and Canis Minor. The constellations of Antila, Vela, Pyxis, Puppis, and Eridanus wind their way along the southern horizon.
Feb. 3: Precipitation is to be expected before the arrival of this front, and Feb. 3 is one of the February days most likely to bring dangerous storms to the Plains and tornadoes to the South.
After the passage of this weather system, skies become clear three days out of four, but the sun seldom means warmer afternoons.
Feb. 6: The second barometric high of February arrives near Feb. 6 and generally reinforces the cold of late winter. The next three days frequently bring dangerous weather to the nation’s midsection and produce some of the most frigid mornings of the entire year. Precipitation typically is low after this high-pressure wave crosses the country.
Feb. 11: The third cold wave of the month, ordinarily the last severe system of late winter, arrives near this date, bearing a high chance for precipitation and sunless skies.
When you see the very earliest crocus open, then great horned owlets will soon be hatching. That means you should spread manure as needed in the last cold days of late winter. Put phosphate and potash on the pastures.
And as those pussy willows push all the way out, broadcast red clover in the pastures and grass seed in the lawn.
When you see blue jays bobbing up and down and calling to their mates, then look for wild turkeys to be flocking in the woods.
When you hear red-winged blackbirds in the swamp, deer will be gathering in herds to feed through the end of the winter. And as winter feed declines for wild animals, it often declines in quality for your goats and sheep. Consider forage testing to check the level of nutrients.
When you hear doves calling in the morning, you know that the first daffodil will bloom in six weeks and that now is often a good time to spray trees for scales and mites. But don’t spray if a freeze is expected within 24 hours. And don’t let your livestock near the sprayed areas.
When the Hellebore Moon is still in its first or second quarter, seed vegetables that produce their fruit above the ground.
Put in your root crops after full moon. Six weeks from now, the hardiest of spring cabbages and kales can be set out.
In eight weeks, almost all frost hardy plants can be put into the ground. This is also time to separate dahlia clumps into single roots and get ready to start them growing for summer.
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, begins February in the severe 90s, but it dips to 68 by Feb. 5, thanks to the weak moon on that date. Even though late winter may not want to let go, the days are lengthening and chances for seasonal affective disorders begin to lighten just a little.
On the other hand, cold weather continues to stress your immune system.
Take vitamins and drink plenty of tea in order to offset the effects of the season.
This time of year also seems to produce the worst migraine headaches. Luckily, the arrival of spring often turns that trend around.
Best hunting and fishing
Fishing and late-season hunting should be most productive as the barometer falls just before the cold fronts of Feb. 3 and 6. The waxing moon will be overhead in the afternoon throughout the period, making that time of day the most favorable for seeking fish and game.
The new socks
A Memory Story by Fanny Lindsey, Greenwich, Ohio
It was December 1, 1949, a very cold and snowy day, and me and my cousin, Thurman, were up and hunting for clean socks to put on, but we couldn’t find any. We were going to go out to play.
Well, my sister, Elligee, had brand new socks, so we got them and were ready to put them on, but she caught us, so we ran out of the house. The snow was bad, and it was so cold we ran far into the field, but Elligee came after us.
I saw a pond that was frozen. We still had her socks in our hands, and we were barefoot, but we ran on to the pond, and then the ice broke, and we were in water up to our knees.
We were too scared to come out, but Elligee went back to the house. Then we came out of the pond, and our feet were blue.
When we got back home, my mom grabbed us and set us down and wrapped warm towels on our feet.
So what was next? A good tanning. Not funny. My sister fell over laughing at us.
Guess what? My mom gave her one, too. So we all sat back laughing. After all, we did have a little fun out of it.
Send your stories to Poor Will, P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387. And for more almanack information, visit poorwillsalmanack.com
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:
Published in the January 25, 2006 issue of Farm World.