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Morning robin chorus before sunrise to begin soon
 
Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
 
 In February, if the days be clear,
The waking bee, still drowsy on the wing,
Will guess the opening of another year
And blunder out to seek another spring. – Vita Sackville-West

In the Sky
Along the 40th Parallel, the days now lengthen at the rate of 60 seconds every 160 minutes. Crows and doves and cardinals (and sometimes robins) are up by 6:45 in the morning. At 7:30, there is really a chorus of cardinals, blue jays, song sparrows, crows and titmice filling the landscape with sound.
The pointers of the Big Dipper are positioned northwest/ southwest about 10 o’clock tonight. When they point north-south at that time of night in a few weeks, Middle Spring will spread across the nation’s midsection.
The Delta Leonid meteor shower reaches its peak directly overhead in the early morning hours. Although February and March still have plenty of clouds in store, the frequency of brighter days now shows a slow but steady advance.

Phases of the Opossum Mating Moon and the Termite Migration Moon
Feb. 16: The Opposum Mating Moon enters its second quarter.
Feb. 24: The moon is full.
March 3: The Opossum Mating Moon enters its final quarter.
March 10: The Termite Migration Moon is new.
March 17: The moon enters its second quarter.
March 25: The moon is full.
Weather Trends
Although high pressure sweeps across the nation around Feb. 20, the low that precedes that front often brings some of the warmest temperatures of the month. Even when it passes through, the system rarely brings major difficulties to travelers or farmers. And as the barometer drops before the next front, it sometimes makes the 22nd and 23rd some of the most gentle days since early December.
However, after the benign days of February’s third week that often force snowdrops and aconites into bloom, the chilly Feb. 24 front almost always pushes Snowdrop Winter across the Lower Midwest. Since this high often clashes strongly with the moist air of early spring, snowstorms, flooding and tornadoes are more likely to occur now than at any time since the 15th.

The Natural Calendar
Feb. 18 is Cross-Quarter Day, the date on which the sun reaches half of the distance to spring equinox, entering the Early Spring sign of Pisces at the same time. The night has shortened by 90 minutes through the space of the last 60 days, and the speed of the change reaches real spring levels now, the remaining gain of 70 minutes occurring between Feb. 18 and equinox. And the Sun, which took 60 days to travel the first half of the way to equinox, suddenly doubles its speed, completing the second half of the journey in only 32 days.
The cold front that arrives near Feb. 20 marks the end of the snowiest part of the year throughout the region. The likelihood of seasonal stress begins to fall steadily throughout February. Even though clouds usually continue to deprive the human brain of the benefits of sunlight, the length of the day complements the slowly improving temperatures. The violet and golden flowers of snow crocus, the white blooms of snowdrops and the bright yellow blossoms of aconites often begin their seasons during the last week of February. Those seasons last through the middle of March, if the weather is not too warm, and they are parallel to the season of red and silver maple bloom.
As temperatures warm, sap runs in the maples, partial to new and full-moon times. Horned owlets hatch in the woods. And between the third week of February and the middle of March, sandhill cranes often pass through southwestern Ohio on their way north to nesting sites, and grackles join the starlings at feeders across the Lower Midwest.
After Snowdrop Winter (between Feb. 23 and 27), geese follow the lead of blackbirds, marking ownership of the more favorable river and lake sites for nesting. More migrant robins join the sizeable flocks that overwintered in the exurban woodlands.

The Robin Chorus
The earliest dates I have for the beginning of the robin chorus: Feb. 20 in 2018, Feb. 21 in 2023, Feb. 22 in 2017, March 2 in 2011, March 3 in 2004, March 4 in 2020, March 7 in 2012, March 9 in 2013 and 2021, March 10 in 2010, March 15 in 2008, March 16 in 2009 and 2019, March 17 in 2003 and 2005.

Countdown to Spring
• Just a few days to major pussy willow emerging season and the season of salamanders mating
• A week to crocus season and owl hatching time and woodcock mating time
• Two weeks to the beginning of the morning robin chorus before sunrise. 
• Four weeks to daffodil season and silver maple blooming season and the first golden goldfinches.
• Five weeks to tulip season and the first wave of blooming woodland wildflowers and the first butterflies
• Six weeks until golden forsythia blooms and skunk cabbage sends out its first leaves and the lawn is long enough to cut
• Seven weeks until American toads sing their mating songs in the dark and corn planting time begins
• Eight weeks until the Great Dandelion and Violet Bloom and the peak of wildflower season begin
• Nine weeks until all the fruit trees flower
• 10 weeks to the first rhubarb pie

In the Field and Garden
Broadcast clover in the pastures and spread grass seed in the lawn after snow has melted and the Moon is dark. Spread phosphate and potash as needed in your pastures. Pull back some garden mulch to allow soil to dry out and warm up.
As the new Moon approaches, plant rows of peas, onions, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, asparagus crowns, spinach, turnips and carrots on milder afternoons. Then take cuttings to propagate shrubs, trees, and houseplants; experiment with forsythia, pussy willow, hydrangea and spirea.
All summer-flowering plants like rose-of-Sharon and butterfly bush can be pruned in February or March. Trim back ornamental grasses, too.
Almanack Classics
“Lord, we need help!”
by Don Hoge, Burbank, Ohio
I’ve had a good many funny and unusual happenings in my life as a farmer (Mr. Hoge is 75 and still farming). One of the funniest real-life things was this tale of woe.
A couple of city farmers bought a small farm. They were going to show the world that farming was a simple thing.
 As I was driving by, I saw them baling hay. The baler wasn’t working, and every bale didn’t tie. They kept on baling, thinking the next bale would tie, but it didn’t. Loose bales all over the field.
I stopped and went over to see if I could help them. I immediately saw the problem: a spring was not fastened.
I looked up to the sky and said: “Lord, we need help down here!”
While they were looking up too, I hooked the spring and said: “OK, she’s ready to go.”
As I was walking away, they started baling and looking up. To their amazement, every bale tied. They kept looking up at the sky and at me.

ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK’S 
SCKRAMBLER
NWONK KNOWN
OEZN ZONE
AOELN ALONE
ENOBMORT TROMBONE
UONWNKN UNKNOWN
EONRP PRONE
OESTN STONE
NOWGR GROWN
EEEONHPLT TELEPHONE
IODSWN DISOWN
EID  EMACR  ONCE  
ICE CREAM CONE

THIS WEEK’S RHYMING SCKRAMBLER
EREB
AREY
REIT
EEAHDR
RIMA
ETRA
EREV
REILAVAC
EARPAPDIS
ERETNULOV
EEERRV
In order to estimate your SCKRAMBLER IQ, award yourself 15 points for each word unscrambled, adding a 50-point bonus for getting all of them correct. If you find a typo, add another 15 points to your IQ. Yes, you are a genius.

Will’s Almanack for 2024 Is Still Available
You can still order your autographed copy of the Almanack from www.poorwillsalmanack.com. Or you can send a check for $20 to Poor Will at P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, Ohio, 453867. Or you can order from Amazon.
Copyright 2024 – W. L. Felker
2/21/2024