In times gone by, farmers did not have a public weather service or local media to let them know what to expect weather-wise. Annual publications called almanacs were published by several companies and farmers relied on these booklets for long-term forecasts and schedules of the phases of the moon. The Old Farmers’ Almanac and Greer’s Almanac are two that come to mind. Superstition and firm belief by many held that crops were best planted in certain phases of the moon.
Besides the Bible, most early farmers had an almanac which they utilized all year.
The almanac published tide information and predicted the best times to fish on the fishing calendar. There are schedules also for best times to cook and make jams and jelly, chop firewood, gather fruit, prune trees, hunt, butcher and on and on. Gestational schedules are included.
An astrology guide is always in the almanac. A table of dates that planets are visible and brightest is included. Many facts like eclipses are published in the booklet. We can expect a total eclipse of the sun March 20, and a total eclipse of the moon April 4. Just think how eclipses would have scared people in times gone by without the almanac. Dates of full moons and the 30-day lunar cycle are published.
Religious holidays are listed and regional forecasts give more zone-specific weather predictions. There are always some recipes to please the farmer’s family. Ironically this year offers a gluten-free entrée.
The current winter is expected to be below normal temperatures for about three-fourths of the nation. Spring is expected to be filled with lots of showers and threats of severe weather. Two -hirds of the country will see about average precipitation. According to the almanac it is going to be a sweltering summer and cool, pleasant fall.
Farming is now high-tech, with GPS systems guiding tractors in our fields. It goes to reason that the farmer can find the almanac on the Worldwide Web. It updates daily and can predict with greater accuracy. You can check out this online almanac at: http://farmersalmanac.com.
So, gardeners, it is soon time to get the Irish potatoes in the ground. Your onions should be up and your cabbage heading by now. We will see you in the garden on Good Friday I am sure. Plant by the almanac and reap your rewards and don’t forget to plan a few fishing trips and watch the eclipses.
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact her at 754-6681 or firstname.lastname@example.org.