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Views and opinions: March comes in like a lion, with possible snow, even tornadoes


Feb. 26-March 4, 2018

The stormy March is come at last

With wind, and cloud, and changing skies.

-William Cullen Bryant

Almanac horoscope

The Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests Moon reaches perigee at 9:48 a.m. on Feb. 27 and then becomes full on March 1 at 8:51 p.m. (There is no full moon in February this year.) Waning through the week ahead, the moon enters its final quarter at 6:19 a.m. on March 9. Rising in evening and setting in the morning, this moon passes above you in the middle of the night.

The sun: On March 3, the sun reaches a full 70 percent of the way to equinox. Now sunrise is an hour earlier than it was at the beginning of January, and the sun goes down a little more than a quarter of an hour later.

The planets: Now in Sagittarius with Saturn, Mars still lies in the southeast before the sun comes up. Jupiter, traveling along the southern horizon through the night, remains bright in Libra. Venus finally becomes visible for the first time this year as the evening star in Pisces.

The stars: One way to measure spring and summer time is to identify and watch the constellation of Libra. It is shaped like a trapezoid, and it lies in the southeast after dark in March (if you find bright Jupiter tonight in the southeast, you have found Libra).

In May, you can find Libra due south at bed time. By the middle of July, it has traveled all the way into the far southwest. By the middle of August, it is lost in the sunset and the first cool nights of late summer.

March is associated with gradually rising body temperatures in humans and livestock, bodies apparently adjusting to the warming of the outside world. Along with a slight change in your temperature, you may need less sleep and less food than you required during the winter months.

Dieting plans that failed during the darkness of January may now succeed, especially if you wake up earlier, and get right to work on chores or exercising. As the moon wanes toward its fourth quarter after March 1, seasonal stress related to lunar position should decline, and the increasing likelihood of spring-like events, along with the lengthening days, augurs well for positive feelings.      

Weather trends

The Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests Moon is full on March 1, and full moon so close to perigee creates lunar conditions that strengthen the first cold front of March, increasing the likelihood of snow in the North and tornadoes in the South, and bringing March in like a lion.

After the full moon front, major March weather systems usually cross the Mississippi River on March 5, 9 (ordinarily followed by quite mild temperatures), 14, 19 (frequently the second-coldest front of March), 24 (often followed by the best weather so far in the year) and 29.

Precipitation and wind typically mark the high-pressure system that usually arrives on or about March 5. The last or second-last major snowstorm of the first half of the year sometimes strikes the Middle Atlantic region today.

Major storms are most likely to occur on the days between March 9-14 and between March 19-30. New moon on March 17 and full moon on March 31 are likely to bring increased chances of storms.

Field and garden

Onions seeds and sets, potatoes, radishes, beets, carrots and turnips can be sown directly in the ground anytime between now and new moon on March 17. All bedding plants should be started in their flats. Only 11 weeks remain before the most delicate flowers and vegetables can be planted outside, with four weeks until most hardy plants can be set out.

Complete the spraying of fruit trees. Tomatoes could be ready to set out on May 10 if you start them under lights this week. There is still time to add fertilizer to maximize your grazing and hay production. Plan your pasture rotation, testing and worming schedules. Seed the lawn.

As February ends worm cows, heifers and bulls before they are turned out to pasture. Schedule health certificate examinations for animals you intend to show or sell. With the powerful full moon on March 1, watch for abortions in weak animals.

Marketing notes: Easter is only a month away. If you raise sheep or goats, the “Easter market” has begun, and demand rises for young kids and lambs.

The natural calendar

Frequency becomes a new marker of change as March begins. The first stage in the progress of spring is the sighting of “firsts:” first bluebird, first robin and so forth. After that, quantity counts as much as much as novelty.

The number of robins, the number of blackbirds, the number of blooming bulbs, the number of pussy willow catkins emerging take on more importance until the next stage of the year arrives, the stage at which all the old “first” creatures and events are commonplace and give way to new firsts and new quantities.

Fish, game, livestock and birds: Winter juncos migrate north for breeding. Male red-winged blackbirds (that arrived about two weeks ago) sing in the swamps as females join them in their nesting areas. Upcoming abrupt changes in weather will encourage gulls, woodcocks, song sparrows and grackles and robins.

In lakes and rivers, walleye, sauger, saugeye, muskie, bass and crappie start spring feeding. Since the moon will be overhead in the middle of the night, its most favorable position for angling, try a little midnight fishing, and then go out at noon, the second most favorable time – especially while the barometer is dropping in advance of the March 5 and 9 cold fronts.

Almanac classics

Minnie’s Lamb

Over the years I have had several sheep that could jiggle a gate open, but there was one that really stood out by what she did. She was an orphan that we raised on the bottle. Someone tagged her with the name of Minnie. Eventually, Minnie grew up and had a lamb of her own.

In early spring I shut the sheep and lambs in the barn at night for their protection. This one evening Minnie refused to come into the barn. In fact, she walked away, seeming to look back at me. I followed and she led the way over the hill about a quarter of a mile, and I could hear a lamb crying.

Sure enough, her lamb had gotten itself caught in some rocks. I freed it, and Minnie and her lamb made their way back to the barn.

I have had a lot of sheep over the years, but this is the only one that ever showed this type of behavior.