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Views and opinions: Raspberries ripening as strawberry season ends

June 18-24, 2018

Vast overhanging meadow-lands of rain,

And drowsy dawns, and noons when golden grain

Nods in the Sun , and lazy truant boys

Drift ever listlessly down the day,

Too full of joy to rest, and dreams to play.

-James Whitcomb Riley

The Turtle Hatching Moon enters its second quarter at 5:51 a.m. June 20 and then swells gibbous until it becomes completely full at 11:53 p.m. on June 27. Rising in the afternoon an setting after midnight, this moon passes overhead in the evening.

Summer solstice occurs on June 21 at 5:07 a.m., the sun entering the middle-summer sign of Cancer at the same time. Between June 19-23, the sun holds steady at its solstice declination of 23 degrees, 26 minutes, and the day’s length remains virtually unchanged.

Venus is the huge evening star at dusk in Cancer. Behind her in the south, Jupiter shines with Libra. Just before you go to bed, find the Milky Way filling the eastern half of the sky, running from the north and Z-shaped Cassiopeia, through Cygnus, the Swan, and then through Aquila and finally to Scutum and Sagittarius deep in the southeast.

Weather trends

The likelihood of rain diminishes this week of the year, and the period brings at least four days that are historically favorable for fieldwork. Chances for completely overcast conditions decline to less than 20 percent.

Temperatures are usually warm, with only 35 percent of the afternoon highs remaining below 80 degrees; hot 90s occur at least 20 percent of the time. Lows are in the 60s the majority of nights, but 50s and 40s occur up to 40 percent of the time.


The natural calendar: Pokeweed, thimble plant, wood mint, figwort, tall nettle and black-eyed Susans flower in the fields. Avens and enchanter’s nightshade open in the woods, lizard’s tail in the rivers and lakes. Oaks and black walnut trees and Osage orange have set their fruit.

There are bud clusters on the milkweeds, buds on the delicate touch-me-nots, buds on the giant blue hostas, buds on the yuccas, the purple coneflowers, the mallow, the balloon flowers and the gayfeathers. Wild strawberries are red.

Chickweed dies back, exhausted and matted. May apple foliage is yellowing, and brown seeds drop from the small-flowered crowfoot.


Fish, game, livestock and birds: The first monarch butterfly caterpillars eat the carrot tops. This year's ducklings and goslings are nearly full-grown. Daddy longlegs are everywhere in the brambles, and damselflies haunt the rivers. Mosquitoes, chiggers and ticks have reached their middle-summer strength in the deep woods. Cricket hunters hunt crickets in the garden.


Field and garden

Strawberry season ends while domestic red raspberries and wild black raspberries ripen. The wheat harvest begins in the lower Midwest, bright orange butterfly weed reaches full bloom and acorns (a favorite food of deer) become fully formed. Thistles go to seed as corn borers eat the corn and early soybeans bloom.


Marketing notes: August 6 is Jamaican Independence Day – demand may increase for older lambs, rams or ewes, up to 65 pounds at this time.


The outlook for this week of June is almost always positive. Solstice is not so much the beginning of summer as it is the pinnacle of the year. Even though the full moon next Wednesday is expected to contribute to thunderstorms and put an end to moderate temperatures and low humidity, the next few days, the longest days of all, bring the year to high tide, the peak of all of the seasonal momentum of April and May.

Almanac classics

The Unflinching Duck

One evening a friend of mine called to say that something had gotten hold of their pet duck and had torn a big hole in its skin. Since I had ducks also, she thought I'd know what to do.

I went to take a look at the duck. They had her in a box with water and food, which she was totally ignoring. She was just lying there with her head down, defeated.

I decided the opening should be closed somehow, and the duck might be all right as long as it didn't get infected. So, after a call to the veterinarian friend of ours, I proceeded with white thread and needle to stitch a tear from breast to thigh.

That duck lay perfectly still while the operation went on, never even flinched once. When I finished, I put her back into the box, and she stood up on both feet, took a drink of water and quacked as if to say “Thank you.”

She healed fine, and went on to lay eggs and live a good duck's life for several years.