Jan. 7-13, 2013
After the cold of December,
I went out through town
To the headwaters of spring,
To the watershed of time,
Touching buds in the thaw.
Lunar phase and lore
The Crow Gathering Moon wanes throughout the period, becoming the new Spinning Cranefly Moon at 2:44 p.m. on Jan. 11.
Craneflies, insects that look a little like mosquitoes and spin in the sun on the coldest afternoons, are common throughout much of the country now, often accompanying hikers on their winter walks.
Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, the dark moon lies overhead in the middle of the day. Lunar position favors fishing and scouting for game at lunchtime, but offers challenges to noon dieters, especially as the barometer falls in advance of the Jan. 10 cold front.
By this week of January, sunset is already taking place 20 minutes later than it did at the beginning of December. Sunset will continue to occur later in the evening until June 24, on which date it reaches its latest time of a little after 8 p.m. (Standard Time), almost three hours later than on Dec. 14.
January usually produces an average of nine days in the 20s, three days with highs only in the teens and one day when the temperature does not get above 10 degrees. There is almost always one mild day during the month, sometimes up to 10.
About 12 days head to the 30s, and there can be up to five days in the 40s and 50s. An average of two mornings dip below zero (Jan. 9 and 11 are the days most likely to see such cold).
New moon on Jan. 11 and full moon on Jan. 26 are likely to intensify the weather systems due around those dates. In typical years, the coldest monthly days fall between Jan. 7-10, as well as between Jan. 15-18.
Holidays and special occasions
Jan. 13: Mardi Gras season begins around this time, lasting until the big celebration on Feb. 12. Plan to market kids and lambs for barbeques throughout the month, or be the one in your area to sell popular Mardi Gras beads!
Jan. 24: Muhammad’s Birthday (Mawlid Al-Nabi): Sunni Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday today.
Jan. 29: Mawlid Al-Nabi: Shia Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday on this date.
For both of these latter days, you might expect an increase in the demand for halal meat.
Jan. 7: Sparrows, stimulated by the lengthening days, begin chattering and courting near dawn. Foxes and coyotes look for mates as the days lengthen. Owls are establishing their territories and nesting. Another sign of spring: Pines often begin pollination near this date.
Jan. 8: Check your soil when spring thistles, sweet rockets and great mullein add basil leaves on milder days. Potassium and phosphorus levels should be high prior to seeding. Spread lime, phosphate and potash as needed in the pastures. This may be the time to lime your field and garden.
Since lime reacts slowly with the ground, it should be worked in a few months before planting. Lime can also be applied to the surface of no-till fields. Of course, be sure to test your soil before adding anything to it.
Jan. 9: Under lights, sow flats of bedding plants as the moon waxes during the second and third week of this January. Flowers such as salvia, coleus, carnations, petunias, geraniums snapdragons and delphinium can be started now.
Seed cold-weather broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage and celery for setting out in 8-12 weeks. And any phase of the moon is right for ordering the vegetables you want to plant a month before your last frost: peas, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, collards, kale, onion sets, potatoes and radishes.
The latest frost can come in the middle of May, but the middle of April brings the last serious chance for freezing temperatures. In rare years, frost stays away after March 21.
Jan. 10: In the woods, whitetail bucks in their gray winter coats are starting to drop their antlers, and in the barn expectant ewes, does and cows quietly nurture their babies to be born a few weeks from now.
Some traditional winter supplements for your farm animals include a little whole barley, 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.
Traditional supplements to ward off abortion include rose hips, hawthorn berries, raspberry leaves, tansy leaves and hollyhock root. Herbs to help with birthing: peppermint, thyme and chamomile.
Jan. 11: Today is new moon day, the first new moon of 2013 and a good time to renew your New Year’s resolutions. Follow the progress of your decisions as the moon revolves through its phases. If you break your promises under this moon, try again under the next moon.
The moon will be dark all week, perfect (according to lunar tradition) to do your pruning around the yard; take out suckers, dead and crossing branches. Don’t prune what will bloom before June, however, and wait until July or August for the maples.
Jan. 12: Throughout the nation, florists and grocery stores are introducing flowering daffodils and tulips, either potted or as cut flowers.
Next year, they could be selling the bulbs that you started in the fall indoors. In your yard and the woods, hawthorn berries, holly berries, crab apples and rose hips stand out now that the last leaves have been brought down.
Brown-barked river birches, white birches and sycamores contrast with the black trunks of oaks and elms. Red-twigged dogwoods shine against new snow. All the bittersweet hulls have fallen from the vine, but many of the orange berries remain attached.
Jan. 13: Between the middle of January through the middle of May, spring moves from New Orleans at a rate of about six miles per day or 1 degree every four days. The seasons are variable and unpredictable, but those average rates of progress hold. Whatever is lost with one cold wave is gained in a later thaw.