Editors' Musings Blog

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

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December 1, 2009

Recently, I was introduced to the world of gingerbread house-making when I took a 6-hour-long workshop on how to construct one. Although that sounds like a long time, the class was so much fun that the time just whizzed by! My creation is shown here. One of the things that impressed me about this activity is that there are so many features that you can include in your display and seemingly endless options in edible materials to produce the effects. For example, pretzels for fencing and doors... more

December 1, 2009

There's a large maple tree that lives next to my house. It's been a trouper, in spite of old age, ice and wind storms, woodpecker holes, squirrel nibblings, a canker wound, and a barbecue grill rack nailed to one of its limbs (for some unknown reason). I often look out to see how my old friend is doing, and this time I noticed that it is graced with a single vertical stripe of moss growing on—you guessed it—the north side. This lead me to wonder, is it true that moss only grows on the north... more

October 14, 2009

This past Halloween, I got into the spirit and made a fun-filled dinner for my family and friends. I thought I'd share my Halloween dinner recipes—including an appetizer, drink, main dish, and dessert. If you have children, it's fun to let them get involved and join the festive spirit! For an appetizer, make monster eyeballs. Cut 6 hard-boiled eggs length-wise and remove yolks. In a small bowl, mix the yolk with a spoonful of mayonnaise, add a couple drops of food coloring, blend, and return... more

October 13, 2009

This autumn, I drove past an unusual site: a giant contraption towering above crowds of cheering people. Suddenly, I saw the machine's “arm” swing forward to hurl something through the air—why, was that a flying pumpkin? Indeed, I had discovered “pumpkin chunkin,” an unusual competition that involves catapulting pumpkins over great distances—in this case, over 2000 feet! Part Americana, part medieval, this unusual activity uses a 60-foot steel throwing machine called a “trebuchet.” As I joined... more

October 8, 2009

My friends received an apple cider press for a wedding present long ago. Last week, they threw an Apple Cider Press Party, and what a treat! Have you ever tasted apple cider fresh from the press (your own or a local cider mill)? WOW! The cider has a pure, refreshing flavor that's hard to beat. Frankly, I was never crazy about apple cider before. However, I humbly revise my opinion. The difference between the taste of pasteurized, filtered grocery store cider and homemade cider is... more

September 24, 2009

Welcome October! For your enjoyment, I've posted this beautiful poem by Robert Frost. In it, he urges nature to slow down—before the leaves fall and the chilly weather begins! “October” by Robert Frost (from A Boy’s Will, 1913) O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all. The crows above the forest call; Tomorrow they may form and go. O hushed October morning mild, Begin the hours of this day slow, Make... more

June 11, 2009

It's time again to shine the spotlight on a certain caterpillar. The larva of the Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella), this fuzzy fellow is called the banded woolly bear, or woolly worm. He is often black with a rust-colored band in the middle, although he might be almost all black or all rust. Folklore says that if the rusty band is wide, then it will be a mild winter. The more black there is, the more severe the winter. Read more about this weather lore. For more woolly worm fun,... more

June 11, 2009

In August, the blueberry bushes here in New Hampshire overflow with berries. Birds love them and so do most of us. If you don't have a bush nearby visit a local farmers' market. Blueberries are native to North America, and are one of the few truly blue foods on earth. For centuries Native Americans gathered “star berries” (the blossom end of each berry forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star) from forests and fields and ate them fresh or dried them for later use. The dried blueberries... more

June 11, 2009

A few weeks ago, I had a surprise one morning when I opened my mailbox to put in a letter. Inside were dozens of medium-sized black ants busily tending a nursery of a hundred or so cream-colored eggs. Well, thank goodness for the Internet! I quickly scanned the Web to see if anyone else had this trouble, and sure enough, quite a few people did. They had recommended some courses of action and I tried several, just in case. Whether it was one method in particular or the combination of all that... more

June 11, 2009

The peonies in my backyard always have ants crawling on the flower buds. A popular myth that ants “tickle the buds” or “lick the sugar” to help them open is not really true. The ants are attracted to the sweet nectar exuded on the buds, but the blossoms would open regardless of the ants' presence. The ants do provide protection—they attack other bud-eating pests by stinging, biting, or spraying them with acid and tossing them off the plant. By protecting their food supply, the ants help my... more


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