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Poor Will's Countryside almanack for autumn 2008.

Sitting with our faces now up-stream, we studied the landscape by degrees, as one unrolls a map, rock tree, house, hill, and meadow assuming new and varying position as wind and water shifted the scene, and there was variety enough for our entertainment in the metamorphoses of the simplest objects.

--Henry David Thoreau

Astronomical data for September

The phase of the Monarch Butterfly Moon and the Robin Migration Moon

Monarch butterflies depart their winter habitat in Mexico during February, reaching the central United States in late spring and continuing their movement well into Canada by early summer. The females lay their eggs and then die; the young, however, emerge in middle to late summer and begin their journey south as the days shorten, the migration peaking near equinox and continuing sometimes into November.

7: The Monarch Butterfly Moon enters its second quarter at 9:04 a.m.

15: The moon is full at 4:13 a.m.

22: The moon enters its final quarter at 12:04 a.m.

29: The Robin Migration Moon is new at 3:12 a.m.

The sun's progress

Autumn equinox occurs at 10:44 a.m. on the 22nd of September. Within several days of that moment, the night is about 12 hours long. Sunrise takes place between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. almost everywhere in North America, sunset between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

The planets

Venus is in Virgo with Mars barely visible along the eastern horizon before sunrise. Saturn precedes the dawn in Leo, near bright Regulus. Jupiter lies low in the western evening sky with Sagittarius, setting by the middle of the night.

The stars

At bedtime, find Perseus rising out of the northeast, the Great Square filling the eastern sky, Cygnus overhead, Hercules and the Corona Borealis in the west, and the Big Dipper low in the northwest. Taurus and the Pleiades are up by midnight, and they stay in the dark sky until middle spring when their disappearance coincides with the robins' return.

The shooting stars

The Piscid meteors fall through Pisces, in the southern sky, an hour or two after midnight throughout the month. The dark moon at the beginning of September's fourth week brings the best chances for seeing one of these shooting stars.

Astronomical data for October

The phases of the Robin Migration Moon and the Second Spring Moon

Although robins often overwinter as far north as the 40th Parallel, most of the birds go south for the winter, gathering in huge flocks as autumn deepens, passing through the northern tier of states late in September, reaching into the Border States by the end of October, just as a brief resurgence of spring growth appears in the undergrowth.

7: The Robin Migration Moon enters its second quarter at 4:04 a.m.

14: The moon is full at 3:02 p.m.

21: The moon enters its final quarter at 6:55 a.m.

28: The Second Spring Moon is new at 6:14 p.m.

The sun's progress

The 23rd of October is Cross Quarter Day, the halfway mark between autumn equinox and winter solstice. The sun enters Scorpio at the same time. Within a little more than a month of equinox, the sun has traveled half the distance to winter.

The planets

Venus is in Scorpio this month, rising in the middle of the day and setting before dark. Mars lies in Virgo, visible in the east near dawn, and Saturn remains in Leo, coming up a few hours after midnight and moving almost overhead by sunrise. Jupiter is the evening star, deep in the southwest in Sagittarius.

The stars

If you get up before sunrise, you can see the sky the way it will be after sundown in early March. Orion and the Milky Way will be moving off to the west, Castor and Pollux of Gemini will be directly above you. Regulus, the planting star will be the brightest light in the east, and summer's Arcturus will be just emerging along the eastern tree line.

The shooting stars

The Draconid meteors fall in the vicinity of the North Star after midnight on the 8th and 9th of the month. The Orionid meteors appear in Orion during the early morning hours of October 21st and 22nd.

The Almanack Daybook

Match this daybook with notes about events you observe in your own habitat. Comparing the items listed here with similar occurrences or practices where you live, you should be able to fine tune your sense of real time, add things of interest and importance to you, and create your own daybook.


1st: The waxing moon will favor the seeding of winter grains in the southern and central states. Along the Gulf Coast, put in fall crops that will produce their fruit above the ground. Throughout the month, make corrective lime and fertilizer applications for autumn plantings.

Start tracking estrus cycling in sheep and goats. The more carefully you keep your records, the less guess work will be involved in extending the lactation period of your herd over the longest period.

2nd: Grape picking begins. Red-winged blackbirds, scarlet tanagers, house wrens, and robins start moving south. Squirrels are shredding Osage fruits in the woods. Rose of Sharon has suddenly lost most of its flowers. Japanese knotweed flowers darken and fall.

The major months of seasonal change--September, December, March, and June--are excellent times to set up a vaccination timetable for your livestock.

3rd: As the day moves to within a few degrees of equinox, sycamores, tulip trees, slippery elms, poplars, locust, elms, box elders, buckeyes, dogwoods, chinquapin oaks, lindens, and redbuds may begin to show their autumn colors.

Schedule fall pasture improvements. Your herd can graze an area close now, and then you can fertilize and seed those fields in early spring with a legume.

4th: Testosterone levels in rams and bucks tend to level off and then decline as the days reach their shortest span in November and December. That can sometimes make late autumn breeding trickier than expected. Past performance by a buck or ram may give you the clues you need about late-in-the-season breeding.

5th: Autumn apple picking has begun across the North, and the harvest is nearly half over for tobacco, tomato and potato growers. Cottonwoods fade as the goldenrod turns and the soybean fields yellow.

6th: Kingbirds, finches, ruddy ducks, herring gulls and yellow-bellied sapsuckers move south. The last young grackles and hummingbirds leave their nests. Cedar waxwings fly south. Bobolinks and woodcocks follow as average low temperatures drop below 60 along the 40th Parallel.

7th: Bees are awkward and stiff in the cool mornings. Sometimes on sunny days, woolly bear caterpillars swarm across the warm, black roads.

If you a weaning a summer kid or lamb, you might start weaning when the moon enters its weak second quarter (today). Many goat and sheep owners say that kids and lambs weaned under a weak moon protest far less than if you wait until new or full moon. Try this when taking a cell phone away from your children, too.

8th: The soybean harvest begins across the northern half of the United States. A few leaves are falling in the woodlots. Seed pods of the touch-me-not burst in the wind.

Prepare for autumn ailments in your herd or flock with supplements of paprika, parsley, comfrey, burdock, chickweed, rosemary, and garlic.

9th: Bobolinks and woodcocks depart the lower Midwest. Berries are red on the silver olives, orange on the American mountain ash, purple on the pokeweed. Wild cherries have disappeared from their branches.

10th: Cobwebs are everywhere in the woods, and the number of butterflies swells in the garden: coppers, blues, monarchs, and swallowtails. When the days are cool, the cicadas are quiet. On the colder nights, the katydids refuse to chant, and the frogs are silent.

11th: Navadurgara is a Hindu feast that honors the goddess Durga. Female animals are typically not used for this celebration. Slaughter usually takes place September 30-October 8.

October 1st is Id Al Fitr, the Muslim Festival of the Breaking of the Ramadan Fast: Sheep or goats for this market should not be older than a year.

12th: The violet September crocus has opened in the Appalachians. Sandhill cranes start to arrive in mid-western wetlands on their way to the Gulf Coast. Doves stop calling in the morning until February.

13th: August's boneset goes to seed as the corn silage harvest picks up speed. Ragweed season ends. Cedar waxwings migrate down the rivers. Aster bloom peaks. In the North, corn is denting, and in the South the whole crop is mature. The cutting of silage has taken over from the second and third cuts of hay; soybeans are turning as well as setting pods.

14th: Almost everywhere above the equator, people are digging potatoes, picking tomato plants clean. The seasons for everbearing strawberries, plums, pears, watermelons and peaches are about done in the South, just starting in the North; summer apples are almost all picked, the great blackberry harvest is going on.

15th: Early fall begins today with the first major cold front of the month, and full moon is expected to make that front a strong one. The full September moon and changes in the weather bother almost every flock and herd, especially those animals expected to perform after being transported.

16th: Put in root crops and spring bulbs, divide perennials, and dig in shrubs and trees under the moon's third quarter. Peonies and other perennials may be fertilized to encourage improved flowering next spring and summer.

17th: September is a good time to be sure you have natural yeast in your rations for your goats. It helps maintain the rumen in good shape and contributes to the overall health of your animals. Keep carrots, oats, bran, iodized salt and good greens on hand to invigorate bucks as the breeding season opens. But keep male goats away from the legumes later in the season; that form of feed may cut down on fertility.

18th: Wood nettle seeds are black and brittle. The huge pink mallows of the wetlands have died, heads dark, leaves disintegrating. Scattered in the pastures, the milkweed pods are ready to open. In the perennial garden, late-blooming hostas discard their petals.

You may wish to consider giving an abortion vaccine 30 days prior to breeding animals that have aborted before or whose mothers have aborted before.

19th: During the first 90 days of gestation, kids develop slowly, and a program high in fiber, with low to moderate amounts of protein, is often appropriate. Reduction in grain (along with not milking the doe) will generally cause drying off in the fourth month of pregnancy, but special care is needed to provide adequate protein, vitamins and iron in the last eight weeks before kidding.

20th: Great crested flycatchers, blue-gray gnatcatchers, ruby-throated hummingbirds, eastern wood peewees and bank swallows move south. Buzzards gather to ponder migration. The cobwebs that blocked summer paths become rare. The wingstem bows to sets its seeds.

21st: The first tier of trees, including the ashes, cottonwoods, box elders, hickories, and locusts, starts to turn quickly after equinox. As the first layer of the canopy loses its leaves, the trees of the second tier, especially the maples and oaks, come in for 10 to 14 days.

22nd: Poison ivy, sumac and Virginia creeper turn the fencerows red and gold. The waning moon, entering its final quarter today, favors vaccinations, surgery, and general livestock care.

23rd: Now that fall is here, worm, wash, delouse, shave, trim hooves and clip around udders of your goats all at the same time (well, at least in sequence). Using colored chalk, mark the noses of the goats you've completed; then you can let them back in with the others.

If you miss a doe's first cycling of the year, mark the day of the cycle on your calendar, and make a date with the buck for 16 to 18 days later. Chances for the conception of twins actually rise if breeding takes place in the second cycle.

24th: If you need an additional heat source for the barn, now is the time to put it on your list--especially if you plan to shear your ewes before they lamb in winter.

25th: Rare autumn violets bloom. Monarch butterflies become more numerous, visit the late zinnias in the afternoon sun; other insects, however, become less common in the field and garden as the number of pollen-bearing flowers dwindles. Winter's craneflies swarm, a fraction of their December size.

Weigh ewes and does just before or right after you breed them. If they start losing weight, something is not right.

26th: The sugar beet, pear, cabbage and cauliflower harvests commence near this date in the Great Lakes region. In Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington State, the cranberry harvest begins as berries darken in the cooler weather.

Schedule overeating vaccinations now as ewes are bred. That way the new lambs will be born with the mother's protection, and will only need a booster.

27th: Most of the silage corn has been cut, along with the first fields of field corn and soybeans. Fall apples and grapes are half picked. Ashes suddenly start their autumn transformation, some becoming maroon, others gold.

28th: Asters, beggarticks, and goldenrod start to disappear; their departure parallels the leaf fall, the end of the insect season, the end of the Spiderweb season, acceleration in bird migration, everything seeming to unravel at once.

29th: Goldenrod becomes tufted and gray. Spicebush is yellowing and box elders are shedding. The toothed leaves of beggarticks darken under the Robin Migration Moon (new today).

30th: Milkweed pods burst in the wind. Black walnut trees are completely bare. Crab apples are thinning. Hackberries pace the catalpas. Color spreads across the red maples. Blush appears on the sweet gums.


1st: Seed winter greens, and plant winter grains between now and full moon on the 14th. Along the Gulf coast, put in annuals like alyssum, poppies and cornflowers for late winter and early spring flowers. Also seed perennial herbs such as chives, fennel and horehound. The first juncos return now just after almost all the dry onions and the potatoes have been harvested.

2nd: Plan to serve the ethnic market in the months ahead: The Muslim feast of Eid Al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, is celebrated between December 9th and 12th this year. Lambs or kids in the range of 55 to 80 pounds are favored for this market.

3rd: Even before all the leaves come down, "second spring" is underway. Wood mint grows new stalks. Watercress revives. Waterleaf slowly reappears. April's sweet Cicely, May's sweet rockets, ragwort, dock, and poison hemlock, June's cinquefoil and hollyhocks, July's avens and caraway, September's zigzag goldenrod and small-flowered asters send up fresh leaves.

4th: October is the month to worm and flush the does you want to breed in November. Some goat owners suggest adding barley to the feed of does most likely to abort or which have been under unusual stress.

5th: In mild Octobers and Novembers, cardinals briefly renew their late-winter songs. Cabbage moths reappear. The grass continues to grow, glowing in the low sun. Newly planted winter wheat creates patches of emerald green in the countryside.

6th: Juncos return to feeders in the northern states. In the swamps, skunk cabbage comes up again. In the garden, red knuckles of rhubarb sometimes push to the surface. Ginkgo fruits, which will be on the ground by late November, are turning pink.

7th: Mulch all perennials and new transplants after watering. Get out your rose collars and fill them with dirt. Offer manure to your rhubarb and asparagus. Transplant new trees and shrubs, and then mulch all perennials and new transplants after watering. Don't forget to put in shade trees for the pasture.

8th: Terns and meadowlarks, yellow-rumped warblers and purple martins migrate south. Chimney swifts, wood thrushes, barn swallows and red-eyed vireos join them as early fall approaches its close.

9th: The demand for goat milk rises in the fall, and prices start to rise too, remaining at their best through the winter months.

10th: Peak leafturn is starting to occur in woodlots where maples, ashes, buckeyes, wild cherry, and locusts predominate. Many Osage leaves are yellow now, a few ginkgoes starting to fade. Cottonwoods and the rest of the box elders lose their leaves, and great openings form in the tree line. Fencerows are shedding their Virginia creeper. Grape vines hold on yellow green. Beggar-ticks stick to your pants as scattered watercress blooms for the second time this year.

Plants and bulbs intended for spring forcing should be placed in light soil now and stored in a place where temperatures remain cool (but not freezing). While you're out there, dig comfrey root and dandelion root, some horseradish root too.

11th Half of the winter wheat is normally in the ground by now just as beech leaves rust at the edges. Squirrels are eating Osage fruits. Robins are at the honeysuckle berries. Water willow is yellowing in the rivers.

12th New hepatica leaves are dark and strong along the hillsides. The tips of many spruce trees are putting on fresh growth. When the moon is full, bring in the honey from your hives.

Although most pasture growth has stopped along the Canadian border, fields may be regreening with secondary growth and fall varieties in some areas now. Provide plenty of free choice hay to livestock in order to reduce the chance they will gorge themselves on fresh growth.

13th: Middle fall begins today as most grapes and apples have been picked. The coldest morning so far in the season often occurs as the October 13th cold front arrives, and chances of a low in the teens or 20s reach 20 percent in the northern half of the country for the first time since spring. This front is also the first front to bring a serious chance of snow flurries at average elevations along the 40th Parallel. Full moon on the 14th greatly increases the likelihood that this front will be stronger than usual.

14th: Best lunar grain harvest conditions, as well as the most propitious lunar times for clipping hair, trimming hooves, worming livestock, putting on shingles and having surgery, should occur as the moon wanes.

15th: Late pastures often contain less nutrition when soil temperatures drop near 40 degrees. Consequently, late autumn feeding can be tricky; your animals may have plenty to eat, depending on the weather, but their grazing may give them less nutrition and energy than in the summer months.

16th: The heaviest time of Halloween market sales begins in the middle of October as rutting time begins for deer along the 40th Parallel.

The waning moon is favorable for pruning shrubs or trees to retard growth, and for killing weeds.

17th: If animals are killed by coyotes, remove the carcasses quickly to discourage the interest of the predators. How can you tell a coyote kill from a dog kill? In general, the coyote will kill by attacking the throat. Dogs usually work in packs, and leave bite marks on the hind legs and rear ends of the animals.

18th: In the cooler, wetter nights, crickets and katydids are weakening, but woolly bears are suddenly everywhere on the back roads when the sun breaks through. Monarch butterflies have left the Midwest for Mexico.

"St. Luke's Little Summer," a traditional time of clear, dry weather starts today, ends the 28th. Rose hips are turning orange. Blueberry bushes are red.

19th: In northern states, mulch root crops to keep them from turning to mush when the ground freezes solid. And all across the central states, you may want to heap leaves or straw around kale and collards in order to keep these hardy vegetables alive through numerous heavy frosts.

20th: The sugar beet harvest begins near this date all across the northern states. In the northern woods, large patches of sky show through the thinning canopy. White oaks are crimson, but the end of soybean harvest and the browning of goldenrod finally subdue the glowing fields.

If you are running out of pasture, plan for next year's fields: late producers like oats, and summer-seeded brassicas such as turnips could extend your pasture season considerably.

21st: Wild asparagus yellows by the roadsides. The final sedum blossoms are closing for the year. Wild cucumber fruits are dry and empty.

The day's length falls below 11 hours as stonecrop completes flowering in the fall garden.

22nd: Peak leaf coloring is just beginning in the middle and southern Appalachians.

Process honey from your hives, leaving plenty for the bees. Schedule garlic planting.

23rd: One year in three brings frost with the October 23rd cold front everywhere above the Border States. The period between the 23rd and the 31st, however, is often one of the mildest and driest times of autumn.

24th: As foliage thins, Eastern phoebes, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, catbirds and house wrens depart. The last turkey vultures circle the West Virginia mountains.

25th: Silver maples are champagne gold, and the sugar and red maples are down or are shedding quickly. Tulip trees are almost gone. Some ginkgoes are green, others fully gold and losing foliage.

26th: Morning fogs become more common as harvest continues all around the country, with about half of the corn and three-fourths of the soybeans cut. Apple orchards have been picked clean of fruit.

As pastures go dormant in the cooler weather, move your animals to supplements and hay gradually.

27th: In the cranberry regions of the country, most of the berries have been brought in from the bogs. The last cabbage moths look for cabbages. At night, sluggish crickets fill in for the silent katydids. Cattails begin to break as the final giant jimsonweed opens in the cornfields.

28th: Feed the trees after all their leaves are down. If you put the leaves in bags and leave them behind the barn a couple years, they will turn to compost and be ready for the garden in March of 2010.

29th: High pollen counts are over in most of the country until next spring. Average mold counts are typically low at this time too: usually less than 2,000 out of a possible 7,000 grains per cubic meter.

30th: The last raspberries of the year redden in the low October sun.

After the last weather system of the month comes across the country, milder but rainier weather typically follows for the first few days of November.

31st: As the winter months approach, the percentage of available sunlight declines throughout the nation. Since sunlight is an effective germicide, be alert for the gradual increase in the possibility of disease in the months ahead. When possible, keep barn doors open, so that the sunlight can come directly into the barn without passing through glass, helping to produce vitamin D in the body and aiding in the assimilation of calcium and phosphorus in your herd.

Lunar feeding patterns for people and beasts

The following weekly key to lunar position shows when the moon is above the continental United States, and therefore the period during which all creatures are typically most active. The second-most-active times occur when the moon is below the earth. Fishing and hunting may be more successful, and livestock, children and other family members may be slightly friskier with the moon overhead.

Date: Above; Below September

1-7: Afternoons; Midnight to Dawn

8-14: Evenings; Mornings

15-21: Midnight to Dawn; Afternoons

22-30: Mornings; Evenings


1-6: Afternoons; Midnight to Dawn

7-13: Evenings; Mornings

14-20: Midnight to Dawn; Afternoons

21-31: Mornings; Evenings

Results of the July/August Sckrambler Sweepstakes

Prizes were promised to the 5th, the 10th, the 20th, the 40th and the 100th persons to reply by my deadline of June 25th. Thirty-five responses were received: Jackie Casey of Shirley, AR was the 5th; Barbara Todd of Shingle Springs, CA was the 10th; Sharon Stoneberger from Lewisberry, PA was the 20th. There were two typos in the puzzle, but no typo prize was promised or awarded. Those who left the typo words out were given full credit for their responses.

Answers to the July-August Sckrambler




















PURSE (an extra d here)


Now for a Poultry Sckrambler

If you are the 2nd, the 12th, the 32nd or the 92nd person to return your correct Sckrambler solutions by my deadline of August 25 to Poor Will, PO Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387, you will win $5. There should be no typos in this puzzle, and no typo prize will be awarded. If you happen to find a typo, however, you may simply skip that word without penalty.


Copyright 2008--W. L. Felker
COPYRIGHT 2008 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Felker, W.L.
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Reprint
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2008
Previous Article:Zen & the art of chicken house maintenance.
Next Article:The lessons of less.

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