Editors' Musings

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About this Blog

Your Old Farmer's Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments. too.

February 21, 2017

Here are tips to learn how to predict a frost, differentiate between a light frost and a hard freeze, and protect your garden from frost. If you’re a gardener who lives with frost, it’s important to get your vegetables harvested in time. Here are tips on how to predict the arrival of Jack Frost. See average frost dates for your area. Click here for the U.S. Frost Chart and for the Canadian Frost Chart. Or, find out the frost dates using your zip code. Keep in mind that frost can vary greatly by... more

January 11, 2017

Wonder what’s soaring in the sky? It may be a bird of prey.  Here are pictures of a few common raptors to help you identify them! I had the opportunity to see four live birds of prey at a presentation by the Indiana Raptor Center—a non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitation of sick and injured birds of prey. First, it’s important to know what is meant by “bird of prey.” They are predatory birds which kill their food—with their feet! At the end of their toes are talons—needle-sharp... more

December 14, 2016

New Year’s resolutions have a long history. The month of January was named for the two-faced Roman god, Janus, who looks forward for new beginnings as well as backwards for reflection and resolution.  New Year’s History In fact, the practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back to ancient times. In 2000 B.C., the Babylonians celebrated the New Year for 11 days (starting with the vernal equinox). One popular resolution was the returning of borrowed farm equipment (which makes sense for an... more

October 20, 2016

Cook up a Halloween dinner for something fun! Here is an easy Halloween menu with three recipes for a main dish, scary punch drink, and creepy dessert! Jack-O’-Lantern Hamburger Pie This hearty main meal is easy because you use prepared refrigerator pie crusts. Just make a meatloaf mix such as our Bonnie’s Meatloaf recipe but instead of shaping it into a loaf, put the mix into a pie crust. Take a second pie crust, cut out a jack-o’-lantern’s face, and place the crust top of meat mix. Bake at... more

October 18, 2016

Make our own Halloween Makeup out of pantry potions. Here’s recipes to paint your face, make fake blood, and more! My son was trying to decide between Dracula and Frankenstein. The masks in the party stores were so expensive. Plus, he hates wearing masks because they block his vision and get very hot! He usually ends up taking the masks off. This is a great solution. Try it! Paint Your Face! For each paint color, you will need: paper cup 1 teaspoon cornstarch ½ teaspoon cold cream ½ teaspoon ... more

October 11, 2016

It’s time again to shine the spotlight on a certain caterpillar—the woolly worm! According to folklore, this fuzzy fellow has the ability to predict the weather. Also called the woolly bear caterpillar, the banded woolly bear, or just woolly worm, he’s the larva of the Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella). In terms of appearance, the caterpillar has segments of either rusty brown or black.  Often, he is black with more rust segments in the middle, although he might be almost all black or... more

September 14, 2016

It’s my favorite time of year again. Autumn is in the air. What signs of the seasons do you observe in your area?  Please share. Ever noticed how birds behave in autumn? Swallows Near the seacoast in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, masses of birds swarm above the ponds. They are tree swallows feeding on mosquitoes. It’s almost eerie to see the black clouds of small birds darkening the sky. Have you ever seen such a sight? It turns out that tree swallows gather in coastal locations to feed on... more

August 31, 2016

There’s just something about a cloud, how it floats across the sky and constantly changes shape and size and color, drawing your eyes upward to watch, even for the briefest moment during a busy day. Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s …? Sometimes you can find recognizable shapes in clouds, such as a sailboat, a spear of broccoli, or even a Tyrannosaurus rex. The term for this leisurely sleuthing activity is nephelococcygia, which is a word that comes from the Greek nephelo,... more

May 20, 2016

Cicadas do not have red coats like the colonial British soldiers had, but many sport red eyes and appear in large numbers. These large flying insects with broad heads and clear wings are often mistaken for locusts, but are more closely related to treehoppers and lack the large hind legs found in the majority of grasshoppers and locusts. Two Kinds of Cicadas Cicadas are grouped into two main types. The “nonperiodical” or “annual” type are found in many parts of North America and hang around each... more

May 17, 2016

Gardening in the woods can be a challenge, especially when you love plants and flowers. But the forest is where I choose to live; it provides great shelter for many birds and critters that we love to watch, so I don’t intend to clear the property of a lot of trees just to have a huge garden. Instead, my ultimate goal is to create a series of smaller gardens that blend with the existing landscape, which is full of ferns, mosses, and evergreens, and to use this natural growth to enhance some of... more

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