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Views and opinions: Early September might bring cold waves to lower Midwest

August 26-Sept. 1, 2019

To rest, go to the woods

Where what is made is made

Without your thought or work.

-Wendell Berry

The Black Walnut Moon becomes the Autumn Apple Picking Moon at 5:37 a.m. on August 30, reaching perigee (its position closest to Earth) at 10:37 the same morning. Its position most favorable for angling is in the middle of the day. Fish and other creatures are most likely to be hungry as the cool fronts of Sept. 2 and 8 approach.

Weather trends

Weather history suggests that cold waves usually reach the lower Midwest on or about the following dates: Sept. 2, 8, 12, 15, 20, 24, and 29. Storms often occur prior to the passage of each major front. The period between Sept. 19-25 historically brings an increased chance of dangerous weather.

Fish, game, livestock, and people tend to feed more and are more active (and more troublesome) as the barometer falls 1-2 days before these weather systems.

The natural calendar

August 26: White and violet asters, orange beggarticks and bur marigolds, late field goldenrod, and zigzag goldenrod come into bloom, blending with the last of the purple ironweed, yellow sundrops, blue chicory, touch-me-nots, showy coneflowers, and great blue lobelias.

August 27: The autumn crop of raspberries darkens.

August 28: Wild plums are ready for jelly when starlings gather on the high wires.

August 29: Many locust trees are brown from leaf miners. Buckeyes can be half-yellow. The earliest ash trees blush at the approach of autumn.

August 30: This year, new moon and lunar perigee on this date are likely to bring light frost to the northern tier of states and brisk temperatures across the lower Midwest. The likelihood of a hurricane in the Caribbean increases.

August 31: Deep in the woods, the final days of the year’s wildflowers coincide with the first days of second spring, which are actually the first days of next spring. March’s purple deadnettle comes up in the garden. Wood mint produces new stalks.

Watercress revives in the sloughs. Next May’s sweet rockets and next July’s avens send up fresh basal leaves. Sweet cicely foliage grows back. Sedum reappears, stalky from its canopied summer.

Sept. 1: Sometimes great swarms of dragonflies migrate through the lower Midwest at the beginning of September.

Field and garden

Plant crocus, aconites, snowdrops, daffodils, and tulips while the moon is still dark. Peonies and other perennials may be fertilized this month for improved flowering next spring and summer. This is also an excellent time to enlarge day lily and iris collections.

Get ready to seed or re-seed in September or October for spring pasture.

The harvest of apples, tomatoes, tobacco, potatoes, and corn silage, and the third cutting of alfalfa hay, continue throughout the week. Corn is typically denting on about a quarter of all the fields, and the commercial tomato harvest is 30 percent complete many years.

Be especially careful with your pregnant animals during cold snaps, as environmental stress can induce abortion. And when frost hurts root crops, don't feed them to your pregnant does and ewes. The frost can change the composition of the roots and may contribute to abortions.

The major months just before major seasonal change – September, December, March, and June – are excellent times to set up a vaccination timetable for your livestock. Changes in the season bring weather extremes as well as stress, so you will be taking care of routine health care at the most important times of the year.

Commercial pickle season is usually over, and peach picking may be done for the year. Some fence row vegetation turns green as next spring's avens, violets, sweet cicely, mint, and sweet rocket grow back.

The cutting of silage sometimes takes over from the second and third cuts of hay. The harvest of winter wheat and oats is complete throughout the nation. When apple pickers finish picking all the summer fruit, they start picking the fall apples.

Almost everywhere above the equator, people are digging potatoes and harvesting tomatoes. The seasons for everbearing strawberries, plums, pears, watermelons, and peaches are about done in the South, just starting in the North.

Elderberries and wild grapes should be perfect for juice and wine by the middle of the month. Mum-selling time is approaching for the mum growers. Pansy time is here for the autumn market.

Almanac literature

Target, the Bottle-Drinking Ewe

The most ridiculous bottle lamb story? That’s easy! Target (so named for the spot on her head) loved the bottle so dearly after she was rejected by her mother that she never forgot it.

Now whenever the girls feed the most recently rejected or orphaned lambs, this big, grown-up ewe comes up to the gate and begs for her turn.

The girls cannot resist their precious (but huge) bottle lamb. They have let her suck the bottle as she stood nursing her own lambs. No matter if they laugh at her, as long as Target gets her turn at the bottle, she’s fine.