Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | Home RSS

Some musings on Farmers Almanac

December 30, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

Who has not seen, read or knows about the Old Farmers Almanac? It is in its 221st year, starting in 1792. Can you believe it? A small book that is published just once a year is still popular.

The Almanac is about time and timeliness and stills fits well into the 21st century, according to Robb Sagendorph, its 11th editor. It is always about the following year.

For those interested in predictions for the coming year, keep reading.

The year 2013 at a glance tells that consumers are starting to become confident. Spending on autos, travel, luxury and even a little housing, and the spending should be strong.

Americans spend an average of $1,276 a year on travel and an average of $36 is spent each day of extra household money, it is noted.

According to the book, ranch houses are making a return from the mid-century modern style of the mid-1950s and early 1960s.

In the way of foods, Americans are favoring blueberries, grapes, brambles and strawberries. They like nutrient-dense purple or red carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and orange cauliflower, kicking up the color on the plate but still getting all the needed nutrients.

Regarding work, 2.8 percent of Americans walk to work, spend an average of 25.3 minutes in getting to work and there are 100,000 children who will be home schooled without classes, textbooks or tests. I need to know more about this knowledge called "unschooling."

The almanac tells about guys taking dressing for the office more seriously in an effort to maintain a level of job security. They are favoring soft, unconstructed blazers for weekend wear, braided belts and penny loafers and comfortable classics such as ski sweaters and grandpa cardigans again.

Women will be more prone to dresses of a silky fabric made from sour milk, stiffened jackets and capelets with pleated ruffles and short jackets in shiny satin fabrics, paisley scarves, and the colors of lilac, yellow, pink, blue and shades of brown will be popular.

Readers are told to buy classic comic books printed in the 1930s and 1940s that are in like-new condition; modern art; rare fungi; and homegrown liquors. Today's toys will be nostalgic for kids of today when they reach age 40.

Tobacco-related items, such as ashtrays, advertising and vintage matchbooks covers, will be great finds as the number of smokers continues to declines. These will then rise in value.

Entertaining will be easier in 2013. There will be more brunches and Sunday supper parties rather than the more demanding Saturday dinners.

The notion of slow food cooking is truly taking a hold. People are celebrating a way of cooking and eating from times past.

Some kitchen tips and time-saving ideas are included in the book sent from thousands of fans on Facebook:

Run frozen peas under hot tap water. Don't cook them. Kids love the way the peas pop in their mouth.

Farmers Almanac is big on gardening, and the 2013 edition offers 25 secrets for a hefty harvest.

One hint is to soak the seeds in warm water with a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide, 1 teaspoon to 1 quart of water, to encourage germination. Let remain in the water for two hours, then plant.

Another hint is lay a strip of toilet paper down the planting row, sow the seeds on the paper then cover with soil. It is easy to space dark seeds properly on a white background. The paper dissolves quickly into the soil.

Amend established garden beds with slow-release nutrients rather than fast-release fertilizers, which give plants a growth surge but are used up by the time plants need nutrients for vegetable development.

When purchasing transplants, look for small, dark green seedlings without flowers. Cabbage and its cousins, such as broccoli and brussels sprouts, should have only two or three sets of leaves. Tomato, eggplant and pepper transplants should have thick stems and at least four sets of leaves.

When sowing seeds in warm weather, cover them with boards or cardboard for two days to keep them moist. Carrot seeds, especially, benefit from the added moisture.

Scatter coffee grounds, pine needles or coarse sand around leafy vegetables such as salad greens and cabbage. These rough mulches rip up a slug or snail's tender underside. Ear wigs suffer too.

Weather predictions are one of the many reasons farmers buy the Old Farmers Almanac. In its general weather forecast and report, the winter of 2013 will be quite different than that of the previous year. Temperatures are expected to be much colder from the East Coast westward to a line from the Dakotas to Texas. And the summer temperatures will be hotter than normal along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the Ohio Valley. Expect fewer tornadoes than in the past couple of years but be ready for hurricanes to threaten first the Gulf and Atlantic coasts in June and then primarily the Southeast, especially Florida, throughout the remainder of the hurricane season.

There will be five eclipses in 2013, two of the sun and three of the moon.

April 25 will have a partial eclipse of the moon but this will not be visible in North America, along Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and Antarctica.

May 9-10 will bring an annular eclipse of the sun and again will not be visible from North America. A partial eclipse will be visible from Hawaii on May 9 between 2:25 p.m. and 5 p.m. HAST.

Oct. 18 will have a penumbral eclipse of the moon that will be only partially visible from North America, as it will have started before the moon has risen above the horizon.

Nov. 3 will have a total eclipse of the sun, but Eastern North America will see only a short partial solar eclipse after 6 a.m. EST and will end around 7:10 a.m.

I don't know about your "neck of the woods" but our backyard is visited by opossum quite frequently. As a matter of fact, I took Ozzie out after dark in the fall and noticed something moving in a crate of apples we had picked. Without trying to call attention to the furry creature, I tried to get Ozzie back into the house because I knew he would be on the bad end of a confrontation. I have seen those animals fight before.

It was not content with finishing off one or two apples, he or she had to nibble on each and every one on the top layer of the fruit.

It is told they offer the least health risk of any wild animal. Rabies and other viral diseases are rare in opossums, possibly due to their low body temperatures of between 94 to 97.5 degrees. But they are not candidates for pets.

If a opossum temporarily takes up residence in a garage or attic, turn on lights and a radio to hasten its departure, according to the Almanac. Secure potential entry points for it to make its departure and clean up whatever attracted the animal in the first place.

To repel opossums in specific areas, soak a rag in ammonia and stuff it inside a coffee can with a perforated lid. Or spray a mixture of strained, cooked onions and peppers or fox or coyote urine around your property's perimeter.

It is hard to think of banishing an opossum when we remember Walt Kelly's philosophical Pogo possum characters in cartoons from 1941 to 1973. I can remember a quote from one of the cartoons, "We have met the enemy and it is us."

Tim Cybulski and Tim Buchanan need to get the Almanac just to learn the best fishing days and times in the book.

I won't go into all the dates, but it does note that the sun, moon, tides and weather all influence fish activity. Fish tend to feed more at sunrise and sunset and during a full moon, when tides are higher than average.

Some other fishing hints on pulling in the big one are when the breeze is from a westerly quarter rather than from the north or east; when the water is still or rippled rather than during a wind; when the barometer is steady or on the rise. But even during stormy periods, the fish aren't going to give up feeding.

Regarding farming, it is noted that the percentage of farms are declining since 1890 when it was 39.3 percent. In 1940, it was 23.2 percent and in 2007, it was 1 percent.

Of that amount, the percentage that farms part time has jumped from 55 percent in 2002 to 65 percent in 2007.

The number of people in the United States work force employed in agriculture, producing, processing and selling food in 2010 was 21 million, 15 percent of the total.

The average age of farmers has gone up since 1940 when it was 48 years old. In 1987, it was 52 years old and in 2007, it was 57 years old. And the percent of women farmers has gone up from 6.3 in 1987 to 10 percent in 2007.

The land devoted to farms in 1980 was 1.04 billion acres, and in 2010 it is down to 919.9 million acres.

That is my forecasting for the coming year. Don't be mad at me if some of the predictions from the book are wrong.

(McCoy a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at

I am looking for: