Farmer’s Almanac Rediscovered

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt

Do you remember the Farmer’s Almanac? That wonderful little book, crammed full of weather and gardening advice sorted by month and region of the country, put out annually since 1818. I had forgotten about this treasure until a copy landed on my desk a couple of weeks ago – “Farmer’s Almanac for the year of our Lord 2009. Being the first after bissextile, or leap year, and until the Fourth of July, the 233rd Year of the Independence of the United States.”

Now, I find myself perusing the pages, looking for the most auspicious date to plant potatoes and onions,  what the best dates are to prune trees and which phase the moon will be in on my birthday (October 21st – a new moon).

My mother bought a new Farmer’s Almanac every year. And as with the National Geographic that sat on the coffee table, I would sit on the red, nubby couch and turn the pages, trying to understand the Almanac‘s monthly charts, filled with symbols of the Zodiac and the stages of the moon. It somehow seemed like sorcery – I wondered if I would understand it when I was as old as my mother. Today, I noticed on page 126 that the sun rose at 7:23, plus 18 minutes to account for my living close to Kansas City, mystery solved.

That is the magic part of the Almanac, not the symbols, but that you can calculate for your locale the best times to plant, harvest, cut your hair and quit smoking! In addition to the astronomy, astrology and gardening charts, the Almanac includes regional recipes, household hints, extreme weather stories and quite a bit of humor. One of my favorite entries is the two-page list of “American Slurvian” – words we slur together to make new words, such as “mere,” “mere, mere on the wall …” or “dense,”  “yuck, I have a dense appointment!”

Of course, today, no book as packed with info as the Farmer’s Almanac would be complete without its companion website.  One of the neatest features of the website are the videos, such as this one on Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil.

Well, I guess that’s enough sharing. I could keep telling you about all of the neat stuff there is to discover in the magazine and on the website, but I think its time now for you to do some of the exploring yourself. Enjoy!