Search Site   
News Stories at a Glance
Palmer resistance to herbicides means cover, cutting needed too
USDA funding set aside to treat rural opioid addiction
Peterson’s dairy bill would replace Margin Protection
Illinois, Iowa soybean growers to Trump: Reconsider China tariffs
Search Archive  
Poor Will reader recalls the days of hand washing
Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker

April 17-23, 2006

The whole universe is, as it were, a book written by the finger of God, in which each creature forms a letter.
-Louis de Blois

The astronomical calendar for the fourth week of middle spring:
The crescent Tadpole Moon wanes through its final quarter this week, becoming the new Mock Orange Moon, the moon that brings all the mock orange bushes into bloom, on April 27 at 2:44 p.m. (EDT). Rising before dawn and setting near sundown, the waning moon will be overhead in the late morning.

Now the sky at 11 p.m. is in its prime spring planting position: Castor and Pollux to the west, Leo with its bright Regulus directly overhead, and Arcturus dominating the east. The Milky Way fills the western horizon as Orion sets just behind the sun.

Weather patterns
April 21: Chances for snow and frost recede quickly after this front comes through. Winds and hard rain, however, continue to threaten young plantings, young kids, lambs and calves.

April 24: The odds for outstanding field and garden weather improve immensely after the passage of this front. Seed the rest of your flowers and vegetables in flats or directly in the garden. The new moon on April 27 should strengthen this front and the next, so keep a lookout for frost.

Natural year
When yellow celandine blooms in the alleys, then bass move to the shallows in the lakes and rivers.

When the first fat, brown “June” bug appears at your screen door, then black tadpoles will be swimming in the backwaters.

When jack-in-the-pulpit flowers in the forest and azaleas bloom in your yard, farmers are preparing to seed soybeans in the fields.

When dogwoods lose their petals, then mackerel move towards the inshore waters of the Atlantic coast to spawn.

When you see bumble bees in the dandelions, watch for termites to swarm around your house.

When you see yellow-bellied sapsuckers courting, watch for the first brood of admiral butterflies to emerge.

When chickweed fills up the woodland floor of the lower Midwest, then trout fishing time begins in the Northeast; bears come out of hibernation in the Rocky Mountains, and rhododendrons bloom in St. Louis.

When you see the first monarch butterflies in your garden, and the iris plants start to bud, that’s the time to go out to the fields looking for armyworms, slugs, corn borers, flea beetles and leafhoppers. When all the crabapple flowers are at their best, then the season of leaf miners gets underway: Watch for the birch leaf miner, the elm leaf miner and the alder leaf miner to start eating the new leaves.

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, rises a few points this week into the middle 40s, but seasonal affective disorders are typically not a problem now for most people. Spring fever, however, continues to be aggravated by the nice weather.

Best fishing
The dark moon is overhead in the morning, making that the best time for fishing. As the barometer falls in front of the April 24th cold front, morning fishing should get even better.

Cleaning up
Recollections of the Early Twentieth Century by Naomi Bliss, Switzerland County, Ind.

My family practiced cleanliness much like our neighbors: a bath in a galvanized tub once a week; hair washed every two weeks; a little sponge bath every day. We had no deodorants, so a little talcum or a dusting of soda was helpful.

Most folks only washed clothing once a week on Monday, so it was worn for several days before we could change. Washing was hard work, water carried from the pump and heated in the copper washboiler on the kitchen’s wood burning range.

Two tubs were set up, one for washing clothing, and one for rinsing. The washboard, a galvanized center in a flat wooden frame, was put in the tub for hot water, and the water was carried by bucket from the range.

Sometimes we bought our bars of soap from the store. Sometimes homemade lye soap was used. White clothing was washed first, and then put in water in the boiler to boil - usually lye had been added to the water.

Colored clothing was put in the cold water, after a good rubbing on the washboard, then wrung and hung on the wire clothesline with wooden pins.

The dry clothing was taken off the line, dampened and folded tightly into a large basket for ironing the next day. Washing day was just that. A long day of hot work. Another long hot day, using irons heated on the coal range, was necessary in order to get all those clothes and linens ready to use.

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 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 April 12, 2006 issue of Farm World.