By Bill Felker
I do not feel like an alien in this universe. The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming. – Freeman Dyson
The Moon and the Stars and the Sun
The Travelling Toad and Frog Moon, full on Oct. 20 at 9:57 a.m., wanes throughout the month, reaching apogee, its gentle position farthest from Earth, on Oct. 24. It enters its last quarter at 3:05 p.m. on Oct. 28.
When the sky is dark at 8 p.m., the Big Dipper lies close to the northern horizon. Hercules goes down in the west, followed by the Summer Triangle. Sagittarius sinks into the southwest, while the Pleiades rise out of the east.
Oct. 23 is Cross Quarter Day, the halfway mark between autumn equinox and winter solstice. The Sun enters Scorpio at the same time.
Chances of nightly frost rise to one in three this second week of Middle Fall, and the daily likelihood for precipitation increases up to an average of 35 percent chance. Snow falls once every 10-15 years on the 25th. Average cloud cover increases radically over that of last week, clouds being twice as likely to occur than in the first half of the month.
The fifth cold front of the month, accompanied by precipitation, is expected around the 23rd, and chances of frost will be relatively high after that date. Afternoon temperatures will be mostly in the 50s and 60s, with 70s coming about 30 percent of the time, and cold days only in the 30s or 40s occurring one year in five.
(Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year)
From now on, only a few swallowtails and fritillary butterflies visit the garden, and just a few fireflies glow in the grass.
Some ginkgoes are pale golden green, some just a little faded. In the many woodlots, large patches of sky show through the thinning canopy. As foliage thins, Eastern phoebes, catbirds, and house wren migration seasons deepen.
Cattails start to break apart as asters go to seed and fall raspberry time comes to a close.
At the end of this week, intense decline in peak leaf color begins in the lower Midwest. Leaf-fall occurs throughout the autumn months, but accelerates right after color reaches its apex, leaving most of the trees bare within 10 days of that time. Leaves of honeysuckles and forsythia, last up to four weeks longer than the leaves of the high canopy.
Mind and Body
As the moon wanes and moves away from Earth, its influence on the ocean tides and human tides wanes also. The upcoming weekend will, consequently, be relatively calm for public service employees, parents, and partners.
Seasonal stress is only partly related to the moon, however, and the increasing cloud cover, the shortening of the day, and the changeable weather keep gathering momentum, escalating the likelihood that many people will begin to suffer from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Falling barometric pressure may also affect your outlook this week, especially before a cold front comes through the region on or about Oct. 23. Although the days prior to the arrival of that front may increase your irritability, fish and game should be more active (and children and farm animals more rambunctious) toward the end of the week, especially toward dawn – when the moon is overhead.
In the Field and Garden
As the moon wanes, divide peonies, lilies, and iris, then plant crocus, daffodils, tulips, snowdrops and aconites before November turns the weather much chillier. Divide and transplant peonies and iris.
Almost all the corn has been cut for silage. Fifty out of every 100 soybeans have usually been taken from their stalks. Winter wheat is often 70 percent planted by this date. About half of the crop has emerged.
Complete fall pruning in October’s remaining mild weather. Spread manure on the field and garden after testing the soil but wait until all the leaves have fallen to feed trees, perennials and shrubs. Clean out birdhouses for winter.
The Best Mother
By Mrs. Iola Creamer, Jamestown, Ohio
I grew up on a farm, and my mom always set her own hens to hatch her baby chicks. She would usually set 10 or 12 hens with 15 eggs each.
We had this little bantam hen who showed signs she wanted to set, so Mom gave her seven or eight regular hen eggs this one and only year.
My job was to help Mom get our chickens coops ready. We had a little wood wagon with iron wheels we used to move our coops in the barnyard closest to the house.
These coops had been made by my dad from scrap boards. The roof on them was slanted from front to back and covered with tin so they wouldn’t leak. The floors for them were loose boards sawed to fit ach coop. A large stone was placed on the top of each coop so it wouldn’t blow over.
So this year a coop had to be made for Mrs. Bantam and her brood. My brother made a coop for her out of a wooden box. When the day came to put the baby chicks out, Mrs. Bantam’s coop was placed in the middle of the line of coops. A small opening door was in the front of each coop, and for a few days a brick was put in the door to keep the hens in but allow the little ones to go out.
Later a small piece of twine string fastened to a nail on the coop was tied to one leg of each hen to keep her close by. It wasn’t too long before they got their freedom to venture out. It’s hard to believe, but these hens always knew which coop was hers and which chicks were hers.
Mom always went out as dark was nearing to shut up the coops with a board and the brick as a precaution from varmints. This one particular hot night, she decided to check some of the coops and found out some of the hens didn’t have all of their chicks under them.
In checking Mrs. Bantam, she found that the little hen had “clucked” into her coop all of the missing chicks. Mom said she was “full to capacity.” What a wonderful little mother hen she was.
I am now 88 years old, and this is one of my many cherished memories from my childhood.
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ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK’S SCKRAMBLER
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THIS WEEK’S RHYMING SCKRAMBLER
(Thanks to Lourine Brososki and Lurana Travis)
Bill Felker’s Poor Will’s Almanack for 2022 is now available. In addition to weather, farming and gardening information, reader stories and astronomical data, this edition contains 50 essays from Bill’s weekly radio segment on NPR radio, WYSO. For your autographed copy, send $22 to Poor Will, P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Or order from Amazon or from www.poorwillsalmanack.com.
Copyright 2021 – W. L. Felker