Editors' Musings

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

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 the... 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, check... 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

June 11, 2009

A new baby was delivered today. She has cream-colored skin and a black head. She's only about ¼ inch long. Her name is Cynthia, and she's a painted lady butterfly larva, or caterpillar. Her scientific name is Cynthia cardui, also known as Vanessa cardui. Painted lady butterflies are found throughout much of North America. The larvae and adults like thistles, members of the aster family, and many other plants. They often are seen in meadows and other open areas. We ordered Cynthia from a place... more

June 11, 2009

As my husband and I worked in the garden this weekend, I noticed the bees visiting my azaleas (okay, not my azaleas, but the neighbor's azaleas). I take extra notice when I see bees since hearing so much about their population declining. Experts are blaming pollution, pesticides, and parasites for bees' disappearance. Jose D. Fuentes is an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia. He pointed out that before the year 1800, a flower's scent could travel up to 4,000 feet, but... more

June 11, 2009

Being in a power outage can be very frustrating. Here is some advice that may help you the next time there is a storm and you lose power for a few or more days. To avoid darkness: Attach a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape to your flashlights to make them easy to find. Invest in headlamps. You will have your hands free and can even read a book in bed while wearing one. Stock up on kerosene lamps (visit secondhand stores and flea markets), lamp oil, and wicks before the next storm.... more

June 11, 2009

Since moving to New Hampshire a few years ago, I have been amazed by so-called Yankee frugality—and money-saving acumen. The word frugal can have a negative connotation in today's world but it really means “economic in the use of resources,” according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It's quite common for my neighbors to sun-dry clothes, give gifts wrapped in the funnies, and wear clothes with patches. Of course, you don't need to live in my neck of the woods to live simply and... more

June 11, 2009

Have you been intrigued by the increased chatter about root cellars? They seem to be experiencing a revival. I looked back at The Old Farmer's Almanac archives and was not surprised to see some useful information. Here are the highlights of what I learned. There are several great benefits to having a root cellar. Root cellars are an incredibly energy-efficient way to store root vegetables, including beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips. You can keep root vegetables stored all... more

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