Nov. 12-18, 2018
There is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night and the eternal in man. The more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things.
The Starling Murmuration Moon waxes throughout the period, passing apogee (its position closest to Earth) on Nov. 14 at 10:57 a.m., and then enters its second quarter at 10:03 a.m. on Nov. 15. Rising in the middle of the day and setting in the middle of the night, this moon passes overhead in the evening.
In November’s third week, the rate of increase in the length of the night finally begins to slow to about 10 minutes in seven days instead of 15 minutes. Half of accidents involving automobiles and deer happen between 6 p.m. and midnight – and almost all of them occur when weather conditions are mild and clear.
Venus is the bright Morning Star this month, rising in Virgo well before dawn. Mars is the red Evening Star in Aquarius in the southwest. Orion is well up in the southeast by midnight. Pegasus, the winged horse that lives forever and hurtles thunderbolts for Zeus, sets in the far west with Mars.
The Leonids (at the rate of about 15 per hour) appear near the constellation Leo after midnight on Nov. 17-18.
The third week of November is the second week of late fall, and the cold intensifies. Chances of weather in the 60s are still 50/50, but a high in the 70s only happens once in 20 years this time of year, and days in the 30s and 40s are becoming common.
Nov. 15, 19 and 20 are the days this week most likely to be mild. The fifth cold front of the month comes through near Nov. 19 most years, and Nov. 21 brings a slight possibility for a high only in the 20s.
This year, the moon will be full on Nov. 23, increasing the likelihood that rain or snow will fall in the days before Thanksgiving, and that the days following that holiday will be colder than average.
November is the first month since March that there is high likelihood of the occurrence of depression, irritability and anxiety in many people. The average length of November’s night is almost as great as the night’s length in December and January; the weather becomes more severe, and clouds thicken.
Field and garden
The corn and soybean harvests are usually complete by the end of the month all around the region. Growth of winter wheat slows in the cold, and some fields yellow from low nitrogen levels. New garlic shoots are firm and green, but they've stopped growing, remaining at their mid-November height.
Under the late-autumn sky, the sugar beet harvest is almost always done by now. Work gypsum into the soil where salt, used to melt winter's ice, may damage plantings.
The natural calendar: Climbing bittersweet opens in the woods. Hardy forsythia leaves are giving way to the cold and rain and snow. Indoors, your Christmas cactus should be budding (or even blooming) as the sun reaches three-quarters of the way to winter solstice.
The last woolly-bear caterpillars mark one of the many borders of autumn, as do the shedding of the silver maple, pear and beech leaves, the new growth on the spruce, the flowering of witch hazel and the first snow.
Marketing notes: The Jewish feast of Hanukkah takes place in early December and offers opportunities for marketing. Consider investigating how you can match your breeding schedule to the needs of the diverse population of your region. And if you don’t have lambs and kids, why not consider raising some?
Fish, insects, livestock and birds: Even though late fall is here, cabbageworms still eat the cabbage. Some years, houseflies still get in the back door. Crickets sing in the milder afternoons and nights. A few butterflies hunt for flowers. Grasshoppers are still common. Small tan moths, like the first to emerge in March, play in the sun.
As the weather becomes colder, watch for declines in livestock milk production that are not related to feed changes or drying off; these declines could be due to health or other stress factors. Maintain good ventilation in the barn, and watch for problems from overcrowding.
The moon will be overhead in toward evening this week, and lunar lore suggests you search for game and fish at that time, especially at the approach of the Nov. 16, 20 and 24 cold fronts.
A True Skunk Story
One Saturday morning many years ago, I was on the way out the back door to throw some apple peels in the garden, when I kind of glanced to the left and there I saw a big skunk looking up at me with its big eyes! I slammed the door as fast as I could, and screamed.
My son, Clayton, came running into the kitchen, saying “Momma, Momma, what is it? Tell me.”
“There’s a big skunk out there by the door!” I said. But then he right away opened the door and ran outside to see the skunk, and he wouldn’t listen to me when I cried “Come back here!”
By this time, my husband and our other children were out of bed and wanting to know what was going on, and when we looked out the back door we saw Clayton walking up the lane with something in his arms.
“Momma, Momma, I caught it!” called Clayton. But my husband and I knew it was it a skunk, and I ran down to the basement and went over to my canned vegetables and grabbed up two quarts of tomato juice to rub on my son if he happened to get sprayed by that skunk.
But my husband said to put the tomato juice back: “If that skunk had been going to spray the boy, it would have already sprayed him.”
Now three months back, my son Floyd Jr. brought a pet skunk home with him that had already been neutered. The children kept it and ran and played with it around the house. It made a good pet, then it ran away and we thought it got killed.
I said to my husband, maybe that skunk is the same one that Clayton caught. He said no, but when he took the skunk to the vet, the vet said that the skunk had already been neutered.
And so the children were happy when Dad said they could keep it, and the skunk ran and played with them until one night they put him in a cage, and the next morning they found him dead. Dad said he’d broken his neck trying to get out.
And then a couple of weeks later, Dad brought a little puppy dog home with him, and the children were so glad. It was a happy ending to this skunk story.