Farmer’s Almanac still go-to source before you plant
by Bill Kinney
September 23, 2012 12:38 AM | 1151 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Kinney
Bill Kinney
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Farmer’s almanacs have been printed ever since George Washington’s era and were common reference guides when this columnist was growing up. In the early days almanacs were bibles for those living on farms, which back then, was most Americans. Nowadays, they still include information on growing and planting and the weather, but are more of a nostalgia item.

They show off early America at its best, with a mix of good humor, amusing anecdotes, wise-old weather predictions and helpful hints. The articles are family friendly, although some of the ads these days are less so. In place of the Lydia Pinkham’s pills of yore, today’s ads are more likely to tout male enhancement products and lingerie, as well as psychics. But there are plenty of other ads for things like hearing aids and pea shellers as well!

This year’s little book is 256 pages long, filled with weather forecasts, home remedies, astronomy information, calendars and recipes.

This columnist still recalls some of the jokes found in almanacs of earlier years, such as: “A rooster lays an egg right on the border of the U.S. and Canada. Both countries argue that they should get the egg. Who has the right to the egg: U.S. or Canada?”

The answer? “Roosters don’t lay eggs.”

And: “What do you get when you drop a pumpkin? Squash.”

Almanacs often have offbeat stories, like one titled, “Ewww, What’s That Smell?” Before you point the finger at a skunk or at dirty socks, first make sure you’re not near a bad-smelling flower, such as the corpse flower, the voodoo lily, the scaredy cat, the stinking Benjamin, the stink gourd, the skunk cabbage or the starfish flower.

The corpse flower has gigantic blooms four feet in diameter that smell like, that’s right, rotting corpses. The good news is that there only have been 20 confirmed blooms of the plant in this country since 1939, and they only last a few days each. So you won’t have to hold your breath for long.

The scaredy cat, on the other hand, has a smell that is repellent to dogs and cats, but which most humans can’t even detect.

The Almanac additionally has a very useful-looking list of which days are likely to be the best for certain tasks. Did you know that upland Georgia has a growing season of 227 days, with the average first fall frost on Nov. 7 and the last one on March 24? Lowland Georgia has a growing season of 268 days, with the first frost on Nov. 25 and the last one on March 1, on average.

Need to know the gestation period for various farm animals? It’s 340 days for mares, 283 days for cows, 150 days for ewes and 112 days for sows. And the almanac even includes a handy table of dates to help you keep track. For example, if your mare was “serviced” on March 15, the new arrival should come along on Feb. 23.

On the other hand, if your sow was serviced last weekend, you’ll only have to wait till July 4 for the new little oinker to come along - just in time for a holiday barbeque!

If you need to know something, the Almanac will tell you.

Bill Kinney is associate editor of The Marietta Daily Journal.
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