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Views and opinions: Katydids sing after dark, and crickets intensity their tunes

July 9-15, 2018

If we see Nature as pausing, immediately all mortifies and decays;

but seen as progressing, she is beautiful.

-Henry David Thoreau, Journal 1842

The Turtle Hatching Moon becomes the new Black-Eyed Susan Moon at 9:47 on July 12, and it reaches perigee (its position closest to Earth) on July 13 at 3:28 a.m. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this moon passes overhead in the afternoon.

By the third week of July, summer reaches as far north as it can go, then starts to slip away back to the Gulf of Mexico. The day's length will soon become 150 seconds shorter every 24 hours.

Venus in Leo is the giant evening star in the far west after sundown. Another bright planet, Jupiter, lies along the southern horizon after dark. The sun’s powerful position in Cancer throughout the month is enhanced by the position of Sirius, the Dog Star, located almost due south at noon and contributing (according to tradition) to the Dog Days of middle summer.

Weather trends

On July 13, the moon reaches perigee, enhancing the power of the new moon and strengthening the mid-July weather system due around July 14. Thunderstorms could lodge the wheat still standing in the fields, and hail could shred the corn. Lunar conditions may contribute to a hurricane in the Caribbean.

The period between July 13-15 brings cooler conditions in the 70s in a quarter of the years, with July 13 being known to see a high just in the 60s. On the other hand, highs above 100 are more likely to occur on July 15-16 than any other days of the lower Midwest year. Nighttime lows typically remain in the 60s, but chilly 50s occur an average of 15 percent of the time.

The natural calendar: At the start of summer ebb tide, the land is on the early side of cicada song; fireflies are still vigorous, fawns one-third grown, cattails still gold from pollen. A slight turning of the leaves begins on some of the redbuds, Virginia creepers, box elders and buckeyes. Foliage of Japanese honeysuckle and the multiflora roses often show patches of yellow.

Dog Days heat and the influence of the waxing moon keep seasonal stress relatively high throughout the week. Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish tasks during this part of the month.

If you are going on vacation, try to eliminate as many extra chores, side trips and activities as possible in order to maintain a low level of personal tensions, and allow you to deal with all the meteorological stress.

Field and garden

The most intense period of heat stress now begins for summer crops. San Jose scale and flathead borers are active on flowering fruit trees. Farms plant double-crop beans after wheat harvest.

Set out autumn collards, kale, cabbage, and broccoli while the moon waxes. Keep flowers and vegetables well watered and fed to help them resist the onslaught of the insects and weather.

Watch for brown spots in the lawn, signs of the sod webworm. Give plenty of water to the infected area. And don’t cut the lawn too short while the summer is at its hottest; let it rest a little longer than you would in June, and cut it high.

Marketing notes: Those who keep sheep and goats can soon expect a rise in inquiries about their lamb and chevon, thanks to September’s plethora of ethnic feasts.

Late-planted sweet corn should now fill in for the first waves of early sweet corn. Consider lowering prices on your tomatoes as almost every tomato on the vine wants to ripen. Add fresh peaches to the blackberries on your roadside stand.

Calculate estimated losses in productivity due to late planting, drought, insect infestations, hail and other problems. Plan counter-measures such as increased production in other areas of your farm and garden operation.

Fish, insects, livestock and birds: After the July 6 cool front moves across the country, Dog Days conditions keep the barometer stable until the approach of the July 14 cool front. Afternoon fishing will keep the moon above you throughout the period.

Late this week, the first cicadas (or harvest flies) of the year growl and rasp at noon. They are telling you that Japanese beetles are eating all your crops and flowers, and that squash beetles are living in the squash vines. The first katydids begin singing after dark, and crickets intensify their song. Morning birdsong, however, quiets dramatically.

Almanac classics

Cheepy, the Easter Chick

Growing up in Defiance in the Sixties, one of our favorite places to go was G.C. Murphy’s on Clinton Street. Murphy’s used to sell live rabbits and chicks at Easter time.

One year, my sister and I talked Mom into getting each of us a baby chick for Easter. We named them Cheepy and Chirpy. We kept them in a box in our basement. My sister’s chick, Chirpy, only lived for about a week. My chick, Cheepy, soon grew into a rooster.

Cheepy outgrew the box in the basement. Dad built a pen in the garage for him. Cheepy crowed every morning. Dad was afraid the neighbors were going to get mad, since we lived in town.

Cheepy finally had to go live on my Grandma Corwin’s farm. Grandma had raised chickens for many years. Grandma still had some chickens at the time. After a while, Cheepy became mean and tried to attack Grandma when she went near him.

Grandma, who was no “spring chicken” herself, used a rubber garden hose to keep Cheepy at a safe distance so she could feed the other chickens. Every day, Grandma had to repeatedly beat Cheepy on the head with the hose so he would not attack her.

Finally, Grandma told my dad she could no longer take care of Cheepy for us. He had gotten too mean in his old age. Dad said we had to find a new home for Cheepy.

No one wanted an old rooster. Cheepy was given to a farmer my dad knew. I always wanted to go visit Cheepy at his new farm home, but Dad kept coming up with excuses every time I asked.

A few years later, I realized Cheepy was probably Sunday dinner for the farmer and his family!