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Views and opinions: Days shorten after solstice, lose an hour by mid-August

June 24-30, 2019

The summer winds is sniffin' round the bloomin' locus' trees;

And the clover in the pasture is a big day fer the bees,

And they been a-swiggin' honey, above board and on the sly,

Tel they stutter in theyr buzzin' and stagger as they fly.

-James Whitcomb Riley

The Milkweed Beetle Mating Moon, entering its last phase on June 25 at 4:46 a.m., wanes throughout the period, becoming the new Finches in the Thistledown Moon on July 2 at 2:16 p.m. On July 4, the moon reaches perigee, its position closest to Earth.

The dark moon is especially favorable for detasseling corn, for beginning the winter wheat harvest, for completing the first cut of alfalfa, and for starting the second cut. The darkening moon is also right for all kinds of animal care (especially worming and spraying for external parasites), for weeding and mulching, as well as insect hunting.

Weather trends

The final weather system of June is often followed by the Corn Tassel Rains, a two-week period of intermittent precipitation that accompanies the Dog Days of Deep Summer. The final two days of June are sometimes the coldest of the month’s final weeks, highs below 80 degrees occurring more than half the time.

Expect the Corn Tassel Rains to increase as the new moon and lunar perigee cluster during the first four days of the month and stir up turbulence in advance of the July 6 cool front.

The natural calendar

June 24: Katydids are reaching full size and should be calling soon. The first woolly bear caterpillars, harbingers of winter, cross the road. Some baby snapping turtles and mud turtles are hatching.

June 25: Cattails are almost fully developed. May apples should be ready to harvest in the woods. Blackberries have always set fruit, even in the coldest years. Black walnuts are at least half their full size.

June 26: Deep summer typically begins near this date and lasts through August 10. In those 45 days, approximately an hour is lost from the day's length along the 40th Parallel, and the year turns toward autumn.

Even though night lengthens in this middle season, the amount of possible sunshine reaches its zenith, and the percentage of totally sunny days is the highest of the year.

June 27: Thimble plants set thimbles. Thistledown lies across the pastures in the windless afternoons. Autumn’s bird migrations begin as the rough-winged swallow flies south.

June 28: Coneflowers, white vervain, oxeye, horseweed, germander, teasel, and wild lettuce blossom in the fields; tall bell flowers open in the woods.

June 29: June's berries are disappearing: black raspberries decline quickly in warmer years; the best mulberries have fallen. July's wild cherries are ripening, and elderberries are setting fruit.

June 30: Maroon seedpods have formed on the locusts. Some green-hulled walnuts are already on the ground. The earliest cicadas start to chant. This year's ducklings and goslings are nearly full-grown. Trumpet vine flowers fall in the midsummer rains.

Field and garden

Dig garlic before the heads break apart. Gardeners often plant their autumn turnips after they process their garlic. Summer blueberries are being picked along the Great Lakes, and cornfields start tasseling in the nation’s midsection. Cottony maple scale eggs hatch on the silver maples almost everywhere.

The upcoming Dog Days can make your goats chew excessively on wood, or even lick dirt. Both of those activities could signal hot-weather salt deprivation; increase the availability of loose salt to your animals as the heat increases.

The summer apple harvest, wheat harvest, and the summer potato harvest are all underway throughout the country. The canola harvest starts near this date in the lower Midwest. Cabbage gathering ends in most of Great Lakes area.

In the countdown to late summer, it is:

•One week until thistles turn to down

•Two weeks until sycamore bark starts to fall, marking the center of deep summer

•Three weeks to the season of singing crickets and katydids after dark

•Four weeks until ragweed pollen floats in the wind

•Five weeks until blackberries are ready for jam and brandy

•Six weeks until aster and goldenrod time

•Seven weeks until the season of fall apples begins

•Eight weeks until the corn harvest gets underway

Best of the Almanac

Happy Landing

About a year after my quadruple bypass surgery, I, a 71-year-old woman, was slogging around in the muddy sheep corral. The ground was wet and slick, and I had put a 2-foot-wide strip of plywood by the sheep barn door and another adjoining it for a walkway.

I was in the muddy area going towards the barn doorway when out of the barn came a yearling Border Cheviot like a bullet. We saw each other; I thought, Oh-oh! I’m going to get slammed.

Well, the sheep was thinking, too. I assumed she thought, Oh-oh! She’s going to get me. So she made a fast turn, slipped on the wet plywood, and bumped into my legs.

Down we went. She flat spread-eagled on her belly and I, across her soft woolly back with my arms on one side of her and my legs on the other.

A lot of pride was dented, but neither the sheep nor I were hurt.