08 August 2012

Is that you, Autumn?

They say you can't predict the weather but as far as I can tell the old fashioned farm folks around here can predict the seasons as well as any meteorological institute. They have taught us how to predict the onset of autumnal weather, how snowy a winter will be, and when the last frost has passed. Recently we even learned how to tell if there will be rain later in the day.

All these things are, of course, hyper local. What is true on my farm may not be what's in store on yours and what works in these hills is unlikely to work in Oklahoma or Lithuania. What generations of mountain people have observed is that one phenomena precedes another in a predictive way.

And that leads us to Autumn knocking at our door in the non-heat of August. Right now should be stinking hot and yet we're already on the gentle slide toward Autumn. Mr. Fuzzy and I expect to feel that distinctive crispness to the night air about September first, which is very early. How do we know? The late summer / autumn bugs began to sing about the 18th of July which indicates a seasonal shift in about 6 weeks.

We also know that we should be having early snowfall, perhaps by Thanksgiving, and regular snow at least in the first part of winter. How? The late summer fogs started ten days early, have been good fogs, and are coming at regular intervals. Count the fogs in August and you have the number of snows in your location. Last year I noted that fog intensity seemed to correlate with how heavy a snow storm was so I'm tracking both.

We have added the Hillbilly Rain Predictor to our skill set now that it is abundantly clear that storms tend to split and leave us dry whilst nearby areas wash away. It's a very simple tool we use except that you have to activate it first thing in the morning. All you do is walk outside and see if there is dew. No dew means "rain today." We've had a lot of dew this summer. :(

And finally for spring, because I mentioned it, and the confirmation of last frost. The tree peepers and the ants emerge. You might need to give a little protection if you plant before both have emerged but you are unlikely to get a killing frost if just the peepers are out.

1 comment:

JudyB said...

It will be interesting to see how your observations play out this coming winter. Thanks to you both for your wonderful hospitality last week (has it been a week already!). See you in Lexington.