|Poor Willís Almanack
By Bill Felker
April 10-16, 2006
My natural knowledge comes slow but I would rather have it so for if I were to learn rapidly I would soon have little to discover; and while the facts already uncovered have lost none of their charms, still the thought that new things are to be learned every day gives nature study an excitement and uncertainty wherein perhaps lies her greatest charms.
The astronomical calendar for the third week of middle spring:
The Tadpole Moon comes into its final quarter at 11:28 p.m. (EDT) on April 20. Rising after dark throughout most of the week, setting in the morning, the gibbous moon will be overhead after midnight.
Springís Cross-Quarter Day, when the sun reaches halfway between equinox and summer solstice, is also April 20.
April 11: Throughout the country, the normal average air temperature rises at the rate of about one degree every three days once the April 11th front passes through. And the field and garden day is increasing at an average rate of two minutes per 24 hours.
April 16: The days prior to the arrival of this high-pressure ridge can be expected to carry rain or snow, and are often the wettest of all April days; after this front, however, a major increase in the average daily amount of sunlight occurs: a rise from early Aprilís 50/50 chance for sun or clouds up to a brighter 70 percent chance for clear to partly cloudy conditions. Chances for highs in the 80s continue to climb across the nationís center, reaching the same frequency as in mid-October by April 18.
When the white star magnolia trees reach full bloom, then inkberry leafminers emerge to mine the leaves, and spruce spider mite eggs produce spider mites.
When dogwoods and crab apples flower, then the roadside grasses and winter grains are almost tall enough to ripple in the wind.
When wisteria comes into flower, the most aromatic time of year is here. Lilacs, mock orange and honeysuckle follow the wisteria, filling the countryside with the fragrance of middle spring.
When you see the first parsnips bloom, then the antlers of deer will be starting to grow.
When honeysuckles have leafed out enough to turn the undergrowth pale green, then foliage of ginkgo, elm, tree of heaven, black walnut, pussy willow, box elder, sweet gum, ash, locust, and mulberry appears.
When early daffodils and grape hyacinths wither in the sun, then hepatica will sprout new leaves as its flowers fade.
When wood mint and chicory are nine inches high, then rhubarb should be just about ready for pie.
As soon as you see hummingbird moths at the new flowers, you may start sneezing because all the trees and grasses are coming into bloom.
When the great annual dandelion flowering begins in the lawn, then snakehead mushrooms appear in the woods.
And when you see the white flowers of garlic mustard flowering in the woods, look for cutworms and sod webworms to start taking over the field and garden. Weevils are showing up in the alfalfa, too.
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, falls throughout the period, reaching a mild 30 on April 20. On that day, no one should suffer from seasonal affective disorders.
The moon will be overhead after midnight throughout the week, so the second-best lunar time - after lunch - should be the best time to be on the water. Try to time your outings to coincide with a dropping barometer prior to the April 16th and 21st cold fronts.
A True Story by Anna Monroe Bruce, Fairborn, Ohio
One day my brother Lewis was coming home in the old buckboard - that is what we called the old buggy that had lost its top. He saw a big, big rattlesnake in the road sunning itself.
Lewis got out and grabbed a forked stick, forcing the forked stick over its head. He took a stout twine string out of his pocket and put it into a slip loop around the snakeís neck. He then lifted it up into the buckboard and tied it until it could not move and brought it home.
Daddy always carried a sharp Barlow knife in his pocket, and he took more strings, tied the snake more, dropping its body down into a big wooden salt fish bucket.
Holding the snakeís head firmly but gently, Daddy used his Barlow knife and a little pair of metal pliers, and he removed both upper fangs, including both sacks of poison from its face. The rattlesnake lived, and we fed it eggs and mice in a cage.
Our sister Vana was married and living in Brown County, Ohio.
Her husband and she came home early that fall, taking the rattler, which was no longer dangerous, back home with them.
It began to sleep or hibernate more every day, but they showed it to all their friends who came to see it.
Finally, they gave it a little chicken. It swallowed it and went to sleep. All fine and dandy if they hadnít kept warming it up so it would waken and strike for the people who wanted to see it in action.
Finally after a few times being warmed and awakened, it just went limber and died.
No one there had ever seen a rattlesnake, and it was a big beauty. But ooops, they broke natureís rule once too often.
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 Willís 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 weekís rhyming Scrambler:
This farm news was published in the April 5, 2006 issue of Farm World.