One thing about living on a farm – you can’t just leave and go to a movie, to the mall, out to eat, or any other ‘standard’ form of entertainment. Considering we are at least 10 miles from the nearest city (and you are fortunate to find a gas station, grocery store, and a library in it), there are no theaters or malls anywhere close. So we have to make our own entertainment.
Sometimes, all I have to do is put my mind in motion to entertain myself. My thoughts have a way of running rampant, if I ever get the courage to open the gate. Lately, my thoughts have turned to the recent strange weather patterns we have been having. We have seen rain like I have rarely seen before, with the ensuing floods. Our eyes have been glued to the weather reports to see what we are in for next. With those thoughts, my mind has wandered to a past where television wasn’t a ‘weather station’ option. Instead, people of old would have to look up, down and around them to determine what kind of season they would be having. Some of them are far from fact, but the older people around here still swear by them.
Mrs. Jack always told the Country Boy that if it thundered in February, it would frost in April. From that point on, he took special note of any thundering that rumbled across the sky during the second month of the year, then woke up on the first day of April and began watching for the frost. Funny. It has usually thundered at least once in February, and our last frost of the year would be the following April. Is that just a standard weather pattern, or was Mrs. Jack right?
Some have told us that if there was a ring around the moon, then rain was on its way. One considerably older man told us that if we counted the stars that could be seen within the ring, then that many days from the sighting it would be raining. I have seen the ring, but have never seen stars in it. Yet, within a day or two, it was pouring outside.
One thing I can tell you for sure – if cows are laying down in the pasture, it doesn’t mean it is about to rain. It means they are chewing their cud and resting. Even if some people still swear by that weather sign.
In the fall and winter, when we would be burning piles, the Country Boy would always watch the smoke. If it traveled straight up, the weather would be clear. If it went up a short distance, but turned in a horizontal position, then he claimed rain was on the way. He was right.
Several of the old timers forecast the coming winter by observing the animals around them. Most of us have heard that if squirrels begin gathering their food early, or if birds begin eating all the berries long before cool days begin, then it will be a harsh winter. A few I have never heard before are: if a cows’ hooves break off earlier; beaver dams are built with more logs; and if an ant builds a higher hill. Hmm…to me, these just seem to be standard acts of Nature. When cold weather is coming, it is just natural for animals to prepare accordingly. Just like if an animal’s fur begins to grow thicker. That is just a common natural occurrence, and doesn’t necessarily suggest a harsher winter.
Still, there are a few that we just don’t see here in the South, but may be happening up in the North. Kenny Runion stated ‘if you hear and “old hoot owl on the mountain, winter’s comin’ soon – better put on your boots”. We don’t have what you would consider mountains here, and I am usually sound asleep by the time the owls start hootin’, so I cannot testify to his prediction. Another indication of winter on its way is that crows will gather together. Um, have you ever seen my pasture in the middle of summer? Some days it can get solid black with crows, and I can only pray for a ten degree break in the brutal temperatures. A winter day would be a blessing!
Whether forecasting the weather with plants, animals, Nature, or with a remote, there is one sure thing. Every day we wake up, we will have weather. It may be rain, sun, sleet, snow. It might be scorching hot, freezing cold or our definition of a ‘perfect’ day, but there will be weather of some sort.
Right now, I am looking forward to a little bit of winter. In fact, I noticed that the woolly worm has a heavy coat (harsh winter); the trees are still full of green leaves (early winter); and we have pastures full of dark green blades (a really hard winter). So maybe it will actually snow down here next week. A Farm Wife can only hope.
Other than with the remote, what signs did your elders teach you about the weather? Be sure to comment – I would love to hear about them!