Niagara Gazette

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April 10, 2013

BRADBERRY: Plant goodness, harvest blessings

Niagara Gazette — It’s coming up on planting season here again, but how do we know when is the best time to plant what?

I guess we can forget about the weather prognosticating skills of woodchucks, land beavers, whistle pigs, and groundhogs — let’s put our weather prediction faith where it belongs ... in the original Old Farmers’ Almanac, or in our big toes.

Originally introduced in 1792, the almanac was used to explain and predict just about everything including long term as well as daily weather forecasts and the arrival and passing of the seasons.

In some farming communities it was, and remains to this day, the absolute final word not only on daily and long range weather forecasting, when and how to plant which crops, it also offers some pretty good advice on healthy living though I must admit, it never totally supplanted some grandmother’s big toes as an uncannily accurate early weather warning system.

How do they do it? Check out their thoroughly modern website (www.almanac.com), which offers this explanation:

“Our weather forecasts are determined by the use of a secret formula (devised in 1792 by the founder of this almanac, Robert B. Thomas), enhanced by the most modern scientific calculations based on solar activity, particularly sunspot cycles. We also analyze weather records for particular locales. We believe nothing in the universe occurs haphazardly; there is a cause-and-effect pattern to all phenomena, including weather. It follows, therefore, that we believe weather is predictable. Modesty requires, however, that we add this caveat: It is obvious that neither we nor anyone else has as yet gained sufficient insight into the mysteries of the universe to predict weather long-range with anything resembling total accuracy.”

As I have pointed out before, much more detailed scientific prediction of the precise sunrise and sunset schedule is also available at www.sunrisesunset.com. If you are interested and have the time, you can go to either website to see exactly when the sun will show up and then leave for the entire foreseeable future.

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