January 8-14, 2018
Changes in the weather transform the very feel of the world’s presence, altering the medium of awareness in a manner that affects every breathing being in our vicinity. We sometimes refer to such weather phenomena, taken together, as “the elements,” a phrase that suggests how basic, how primary, these powers are to the human organism.
-David Abram, Becoming Animal, An Earthly Cosmology
The Bedding Plant Moon, which was full a week ago, wanes throughout the week, entering its final quarter at 5:25 p.m. on Jan. 8 and then weakening further as it reaches apogee (its position furthest from Earth) at 9:10 p.m. on Jan. 14.
At 9:17 p.m. on Jan. 16, this moon becomes the Frolicking Fox Moon. Rising after midnight and setting in the afternoon, the moon moves overhead in the morning.
The sun: Even though the mornings are still so dark, the days are 20 minutes longer this week than they were at Christmas (most of the extra time coming from the later sunsets). On Jan. 11, sunrise finally starts to occur earlier for the first time since the middle of June.
The planets: Jupiter and Mars are still the morning stars this week. Venus does not appear again until March.
The stars: If you drive to work before sunrise, check the sky while it is still dark. The brightest star above you will be Arcturus in the constellation Bootes. In the east, the largest stars of the Summer Triangle (Lyra, Deneb and Altair) will be rising with Mars and Jupiter.
Mars will be reddish, and Jupiter the largest light of all – except for the thin crescent Moon.
Weather history for the second week of January shows rapidly increasing odds for colder weather. Chances for highs only in the 20s or teens increase to near 50 percent on Jan. 8-9 and 14-15. Below-zero readings occur most often on Jan. 9, 11 and 16 (20 percent of the years in my record).
With a general increase in the cold, skies have fewer clouds this week of the year, with Jan. 12-13 and 15-16 bringing a 60 percent chance for sun. The cloudiest day of the week is usually Jan. 14, with only a 35 percent chance for clearing.
Precipitation occurs two years out of three between Jan. 12-14 – with Jan. 14 bringing snow to central Ohio more often than any other day of the entire year. New Moon on Jan. 18 is likely to strengthen the cold front due to arrive near that date.
Between the middle of January through the middle of May, spring moves from New Orleans at a rate of about five miles per day or 1 degree Fahrenheit every 4-5 days. In keeping with that progress, during milder years, the foliage of crocus, columbine, henbit, catnip, forget- me-not, garlic mustard, dandelion, wild onion, celandine, hemlock and ground ivy expands slowly between cold fronts, revealing the often-overlooked season of winter leaves.
Flora and fauna
Jan. 8 is Plough Monday, the traditional beginning of the farm and garden year. In the week ahead, continue to put in bedding plant seeds as the moon darkens. Prepare flats grow lights for bedding plant seeding when the moon is darkest, between Jan. 13-18.
Chickens may need a supplementary feed throughout the winter. Cold weather can divert egg-laying energy into heat. Weight loss and molting often accompany a decline in egg production.
Consider forage testing for your livestock soon if you suspect that quality is declining. Some traditional winter supplements for you and your animals include a little whole barely, a teaspoon of molasses in a pint of milk, powdered slippery elm, calcium-rich powdered willow bark, flaked oats, powdered seaweed and mashed raw carrots.
Marketing notes: The main lambing and kidding season begins as January progresses. More lambs and kids are born in the next 8-10 weeks than in any other months.
Consider the “club market” for January lambs and kids or other young animals. Let your local 4-H clubs know what you have or will have available. And the pre-Lenten carnival season begins this week, about one month before Mardi Gras. Explore marketing lambs and kids for cookouts during this period.
Fish, game, livestock and birds: Nighttime excursions of skunks, the occasional appearance of flies, an increase in opossum activity, the prophetic calls of over-wintering robins and the occasional passage of bluebirds are all signs of the progress of deep winter toward March.
Hunt and fish prior to the Jan. 15 and 19 cold fronts, and make plans to take advantage of the month’s thaw period (which usually occurs between Jan. 19-25). The waning fourth-quarter moon will be overhead in the morning, making fish and game more likely to be active at that time of day.
Health and wellness
Lunar influence will decrease during the first part of the week. Seasonal affective disorders are frequent and strong throughout the month of January, but the moon will continue to stay out of the mix as it wanes through its relatively weak phases. Therefore, shoppers, teachers, students and public service employees should all have a pretty decent week.
Blossoms from holiday blooms may be fading now, making seed catalogs in the mail and potted plants in grocery stores more welcome. In addition, take advantage of planting seeds under lights in order to start your flowers and vegetables early. The positive effect of fluorescent and grow lights could help distract you from the clouds and cold.
Rheumatism in animals and people often increases during the winter. Paprika and molasses are considered helpful in reducing the stiffness in animals’ joints. Try it for your own aches and pains, too.
The Case of the Frozen Bullfrogs
Years ago, when I still lived in Missouri, I would talk on the phone with my friend Carol Reid. We had a lot in common and never ran out of stories to tell. We both loved the country, we both had a milk cow, made garden, picked berries and owned horses.
During one of our conversations she told me her husband brought a mess of bullfrogs home the night before and she cleaned them and put them in the freezer. It was early May.
“Carol,” I said, It’s not frog hunting season.”
“I know,” she said, “But you know Dave.”
Later that day, a friend stopped by for coffee. Curt and I told him about the frog hunting story. Together, we hatched a plan to give the illegal hunter a lesson he would never forget.
Our friend Delbert called Carol’s house and said, “This is the Missouri Conservation Department, and we have a report on some illegal frogs that may be in your possession. We are sending a game warden to your house to inspect your freezer.” With that, he hung up.
I waited five minutes and called Carol. “What are you doing?”
“Oh my God, the game warden is on his way to check my freezer for bullfrogs. I have an owl in there I plan on mounting, and-“
“Quick,” I said, “Bring them all over here and put them in my freezer, and fast; they will never find them here.”
I hung up the phone, and we laughed for 10 minutes. Suddenly, a cloud of smoke came over the hill on our dirt road, and we knew it had to be Dave. He came in the upstairs of our house and peeked down the basement steps where we were all sitting in the basement.
“I think someone was following me!” he said, out of breath. He ran to the big freezer we kept in our basement and put the frog legs inside.
We waited a respectable amount of time before we ate every one of those frog legs. Years later I told Carol about the joke. She fell out laughing, and said, “Dave has never hunted frogs illegally since that day.”
They have been divorced for years, so she loved the trick we pulled on her and her now-ex-husband. She said, “How dumb could we be? Game wardens don’t call before a raid!”