By Bill Felker
Seasons pursuing each other, the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, and the winter grain falls in the ground. – Walt Whitman
The Moon, the Stars and the Meteors
The Travelling Toad and Frog Moon waxed through its second quarter at 10:25 p.m. on Oct. 12. It then grows gibbous as it approaches full moon on Oct. 20.
Fishing or hunting might temper the strong emotional effect of the moon this week. Be on the water or in the woods as the barometer falls prior to the Oct. 17 cool front. The moon will be overhead (its most favorable time for those activities) in the dark, so try the second-best lunar time for fish and game activity at full moon: right in the middle of the day.
The Pleiades, and the Hyades of Taurus lie on the eastern horizon early in the night announcing Middle Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Nonetheless, summer’s Milky Way is still directly overhead, June’s Corona Borealis has still not set by 10 o’clock. Cygnus, the swan, is still high above you, along with August’s Aquila and Lyra. The pointers of the Big Dipper point north-south at 10 p.m. Find them deep in the northern sky, right along the horizon. Orion is fully visible at midnight, and is centered in the south by 5 a.m.
If you find Orion before dawn, you may see some of the Orionid meteors that are active much of the month, peaking Oct. 21-22 at the rate of about two dozen in an hour.
The first part of October’s second week is generally dry, but chances of precipitation often increases quickly, with the 10th bringing a 40 percent chance of rain, and the 12th a 50 percent chance. The 12th is also the first day that snow has a 5-10 percent chance of falling. Highs only in the 40s and 50s are more common this week than last, with October 11, 12, 13 and 17 being the days most likely to see cold (a 40 percent chance).
(Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year)
Beech leaves are usually rusting now. Dogwood is turning red and thinning. Squirrels are eating the fallen Osage fruits. Water willow is yellowing along the rivers.
Long flocks of blackbirds continue their flights across the fields. Robin migration intensifies. Mating time begins for deer.
Along the fencerows, brown beggarticks stick to your stockings, and the winged seeds of Japanese knotweed fall. In the alleys, only the pink smartweed blossoms seem impervious to the shortening days.
Through the central states, along a line between New York City and Denver, the best leaf color usually occurs in the third week of October. Below the Mason-Dixon line, expect best coloration between the end of October and the middle of November.
Mind and Body
Full moon should strengthen the traditional Oct. 17 cold front, increasing the chances of frost, and causing more problems than usual for healthcare workers, police officers and firefighters. Watch for tempers to flare at football games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and for family disputes to erupt as Monday nears. The full autumn moon is especially conducive to quitting work, elopement, proposals of marriage – and sudden divorce, so think before you act.
In the Field and Garden
Half of the winter wheat is normally in the ground now, and about a fifth of the crop has sprouted. The heaviest time of Halloween market sales begins no later than today.
Check sludge depth in septic tanks this week, and resolve potential problems before colder weather arrives.
Grapes ordinarily picked by this date: 75 percent. Fall apples: 70 percent. Soybeans are mature in three out of four fields.
Almost all weeds have gone to seed, and cold weather often delays their sprouting until March or April.
What Are the Chances of This Happening?
By Lois Newman, Seaman, Ohio
Last summer, my son, a farmer, was starting toward his house at lunchtime when he was startled to see a huge bird on the walk between himself and the kitchen door. He immediately thought of stories he had heard of ostriches that could deliver swift and dangerous kicks when encountered.
Retreating into the barn, my son used his cell phone to call his wife to look outside. By the time she got there, the bird had moved farther away, and together they decided it was an emu.
When the children heard of it, they called their neighbor friends to come see the exciting new bird that was, by that time, mingling with the cattle in the pasture.
At evening chore time, the family was at the barn when something swished past their heads and lit on a rafter. It didn’t seem to be the usual sparrow or pigeon they often saw. And it just sat there and looked at them. The boys climbed up and found a parakeet that had obviously been a pet, for it allowed them to catch it and put it into a cage.
The next day, the rural mail carrier who had seen the emu on my son’s farm called to tell them their bird was a few miles east, and he thought they might be looking for it. A few days later there was an emu reported north of the farm. We never learned whose it was or if it found its way home.
The parakeet, however, delighted the children. They brought it to my house to show their grandpa and me. They took it to a youth function at church to show the children. One day, my son’s former college roommate and his wife visited. The wife fell in love with the little bird, and since the children were becoming tired of caring for it, she took it home with her. It now lives in luxury near Zanesville, Ohio. What are chances of two exotic birds finding their way to the same farm on the same day?
Poor Will Wants Your Stories
Poor Will pays $5 for unusual and true farm, garden, animal and even love stories used in this almanack. Send yours to Poor Will’s Almanack at the address listed below.
ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK’S SCKRAMBLER
In order to estimate your SCKRAMBLER 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.
THIS WEEK’S RHYMING SCKRAMBLER
Bill Felker’s Poor Will’s Almanack for 2022 is now available. In addition to weather, farming and gardening information, reader stories and astronomical data, this edition contains 50 essays from Bill’s weekly radio segment on NPR radio, WYSO. For your autographed copy, send $22 to Poor Will, P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Or order from Amazon or from www.poorwillsalmanack.com.
Copyright 2021 – W. L. Felker