About Poor Will’s Almanack for 2022
The idea of the Almanack began in 1972 with the gift of a barometer. My wife, Jeanie, gave the instrument to me when I was succumbing to graduate school stress in Knoxville, Tennessee, and it became not only an escape from intense academic work, but the first step on the road to a different kind of awareness about the world.
From the start, I was never content just to watch the barometric needle; I had to record its movement then graph it. I was fascinated by the alchemy of the charts, which turned rain and sun into visible patterns, symbols like notes on a sheet of music.
From my graphs of barometric pressure, I discovered that the number of cold fronts each month is more or less consistent, and that the earth breathes at an average rate of about once every three to five days in the winter, and once each six to eight days at the peak of summer.
A short apprenticeship told me when important changes would occur and what kind of weather would take place on most any day. That information was expressed in the language of odds and percentages, and it was surprisingly accurate. Taking into consideration the consistency of certain patterns in the past, I could make fairly successful predictions about the likelihood of the repetition of such patterns in the future. The pulse of the world was more steady than I had ever imagined.
From watching the weather, it was an easy step to watching wildflowers. Identifying plants, I saw that flowers were natural allies of my graphs, and that they were parallel measures of the seasons and the passage of time. I kept a list of when each wildflower blossomed and saw how each one consistently opened around a specific day, and that even though a cold yea could set blooming back up to two weeks, and unusual warmth accelerate it, average dates were quite useful in establishing sequence of bloom which always showed me exactly where I was in the progress of the year.
In the summer of 1978, my wife and I took the family to Yellow Springs, Ohio, a small town just beyond the eastern edge of the Dayton suburbs. We bought a house and planned to stay. I began to write a nature almanac for the local newspaper. To my weather and wildflower notes I added comments on foliage changes, bird migration dates, farm and gardening cycles, and the rotation of the stars.
The more I learned around Yellow Springs, the more I found applicable to the world beyond the village limits. The microclimate in which I immersed myself gradually became a key to the extended environment; the part unlocked the whole. My Yellow Springs gnomon that measured the movement of the sun along the ecliptic also measured my relationship to every other place on Earth.
My occasional trips turned into exercises in the measurement of variations in the landscape. When I drove 500 miles northwest, I not only entered a different space, but often a separate season, and I could mark the differences in degrees of flowers, insects, trees and the development of the field crops. The most exciting trips were taken south in March; I could travel from Early Spring into Deep Spring and finally into Late Spring and summer along the Gulf Coast.
My engagement with the natural world, which began as an escape from school, finally turned into a way of getting private bearings, and of finding a sense of values. It was a process of spiritual as well as physical reorientation. The extremes of that process often puzzled me as well as my family and my newspaper readers. Why I felt compelled to go well beyond a barometric notebook and end up describing the average weather and the state of nature on each day of the year I have not the slightest idea. My search for home must have required it of me, and so, in that sense, all the historical statements in this Almanack’s seasonal notes are the fruit of a strong need to define, in maybe excessive detail, where I am and what happens around me.
As for “Almanack Literature,” it emerged as inevitably as notes about nature from the almanacking process. My interest in weather led me to weather stories, and then to strange weather stories, then to unusual stories, then to other kinds of stories, including outhouse stories. Who knows where all this will end!
When I began almanacking in 1984, I wanted to choose a name that was different from the “farmer” associations of the current best-selling almanac. The logical choice seemed to be to reach back to America’s first and most famous almanac, Poor Richard’s Almanack, prepared throughout the latter part of the 18th century by Benjamin Franklin. Ben had many imitators back then, among them, a certain Poor Will. Although it has been almost 200 years since that Will tried to follow in Franklin’s footsteps, I thought it was not inappropriate for William (Bill) Felker to revive the name and the tradition, while making a clean break with the kinds of almanacs currently sold in this country today. In Poor. Will’s Almanack, I will refer to other almanacs without the k.
Poor Will’s Almanack is divided into 15 sections, one for each month between October 2021 and December 2022. The months contain the following sections in the following order:
The Gregorian Calendar
Journal Entries by Bill Felker
Position of the Sun
Phases of the Moon
Peak Activity Times for Creatures
Positions of the Major Planets
Positions of Major Stars
The Weather Outlook
The S.A.D. index
Allergy index (April through September)
Daily Suggestions for Farmers and Gardeners
Almanack Literature (reader stories)
The Journal Entries by Bill Felker
The October 2021 and December 2021 chapters contain one personal journal essay. The remaining 12 chapters each begin with four journal entries that reflect my experiences with suburban nature.
In these essays, most of which I wrote for my column in the Yellow Springs News, The Dayton Daily News and the local NPR station, WYSO, I look for the strata of seasonal time and try to tell something of my story with them.
It is a story about discovering home and myself. As I explored and became close to the habitat of my neighborhood, I found a wider garden entangled with the layers of my emotions and ideas. My notes took the form of a daybook from which I made an almanac with which I follow the year over and over.
Most days I write an entry about the weather or what is
blooming or not blooming in the garden, what is happening to the trees or with the birds. In my daybook notes, I find that the repetition of events in nature from year to year creates a kind of radial time, a deep time that connects cycles and removes the distinction between experience and memory.
Repetition is the source of temporal layering, which is the scaffolding of deep time. With memory, repetition and layering blur the line between one summer and the next. All the years become one year.
Information on the moon, the planets, the stars, sun and shooting stars is based on Astronomical Phenomena for the Year 2021 and 2022, U.S. Government Printing Office, as well as on personal observations from along the 40th Parallel in the Northern Hemisphere.
The weather estimates in this Almanack are based on my charts of fractal weather patterns made between 1978 and 2021. Poor Will’s Almanack for 2022 integrates lunar forces with an outline of weather systems, noting how the moon’s phase and proximity (perigee or apogee) to Earth could influence frontal behavior.
Readers of my weekly and monthly columns throughout the United States have used these estimates successfully since 1984. For best results, readers in the East should add one to two days to specific days mentioned in the overviews. In the West, subtract one to two days.
Major high-pressure systems cross the United States an average of once every five to six days, and approximately 80 significant highs cross the Mississippi River in a year. Fronts move more quickly in the colder months; October through March can bring up to eight waves of high pressure every 30 days. The warmer months between April and September are more likely to have six or fewer fronts; June, July and August sometimes only produce two or three systems that create stormy weather.
This regular pulse that characterizes the planet’s atmosphere was first recorded in detail by 16th century almanackers. It still forms the basis for annual predictions in oday’s commercial almanacs, and can be used by anyone who keeps a weather journal to gauge the likelihood for rain or sun, heat or cold on any given day.
Certainly, modern technology offers more precise short-range forecasts than “almanack weather” descriptions, but knowledge of repeating patterns can help to create a scaffolding with which to measure time in the larger context of the seasons.
And while climate change may increase the severity of particular weather systems, it appears, so far, that the regularity of those systems and the moon’s influence on them continue to be helpful in anticipating the approach of extreme conditions.
Note: Complete almanack weather information and guidelines are available in The Weather Book of Poor Will’s Almanack from on-line bookstores.
The S.A.D. Index
Current medical opinion suggests that the human brain may need a certain amount of sunlight for maximum well-being and that seasonal fluctuation of the body’s natural clock can often bring on shifts of outlook and mood. Sometimes seasonal imbalance can be debilitating; when it is, the problem is often called S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Knowledge is perhaps the best defense against S.A.D., and the S.A.D. Stress Index contributes to that knowledge by measuring the natural phenomena which are assumed to be related to S.A.D.—the day’s length, the percentage of sunlight available, the weather, and the phase of the moon. In order to create the Index, each of those factors was given a value from zero to 25, and then the four values were combined onto a scale of one to 100. Interpretation is simple: the higher the number, the greater the forces that could cause seasonal stress.
Index readings are most useful in combination with a record of your own moods. Reference to the Index when you feel out of sorts may be a way of getting a feel for how seasonal affective disorders influence your life.
The Allergy Index
Average pollen counts are based on average counts made in the central states during the latter years of the 20thcentury. Data show general trends based on typical weather patterns and floral cycles.
The New Moon Names for 2022
The following moon names used in Poor Will’s Almanack suggest events related to seasonal change in the natural year at average elevations along the 40th Parallel. The days listed are for the new moon of each month.
October 6, 2021: The Travelling Toad and Frog Moon
November 4, 2021: The Deer Rutting Moon
December 4, 2021: The Sandhill Crane Migration Moon
January 2: The Tufted Titmouse Moon
February 1: The Mourning Dove Moon
March 2: The Black-Capped Chickadee Moon
April 1: The Gilded Goldfinch Moon
April 30: The Warbler Migration Moon
May 30: The Hummingbird Moon
June 28: The Fledgling Moon
July 28: The Soaring Swallow Moon
August 27: The Starling Murmuration Moon
September 25: The Blackbirds in the Cornfields Moon
October 25: The Robin Migration Moon
November 23: The Goose Gathering Moon
December 23: The Crow Moon
The Twelve Moveable Phases of the Year
The following phases divide the traditional four seasons into periods that are characterized by what happens in them rather than by dates. Many of these periods occur during different months in different locations, but they are all defined by their fauna, flora and weather. For example, Early Spring arrives between middle February and late March in the East, Lower Midwest and Middle Atlantic States. This season usually begins several weeks earlier in the South, and up to four to six weeks later in the Northern states. The states of the West, Southwest and the Northwest may follow this sequence of seasons, but the markers for seasonal change are often quite different from those east of the Mississippi River.
Deep Winter: This phase has six significant cold waves, and it lasts from the start of the New Year up until the last week of January. Average temperatures in this season are the lowest of the year. Few visible changes in fauna and flora take place above the 30th Parallel.
Late Winter: This period contains five to six cold fronts and lasts from late January through middle February. Average temperatures start to rise throughout the nation now. Late Winter brings significant changes in flora and fauna throughout the South.
Early Spring: A relatively long phase of eight to ten major fronts, Early Spring lasts from mid-February through the end of March along the 40th Parallel. Although the weather is usually raw, the first trees and flowers bloom, and migratory activity increases.
Deep Spring: A brief but dramatic phase containing about four fronts, Deep Spring lasts throughout most of April (March in the South, May in the North). The first major bloom of wildflowers and domestic bulbs occurs. The weather becomes much milder, and the farm and garden year gets underway.
Late Spring: This period has five gentle fronts and stretches until the end of May. Most spring woodland flowers complete their bloom during this time, and almost all the trees leaf out. Frost season ends, and gardeners sow tender garden flowers and vegetables. Farmers put in all the corn and soybeans.
Early Summer: Containing four or five fronts (at least one
of them followed by the first heat wave of the year), Early Summer extends from the final week of May through the end of June. During this season, the first cut of hay occurs throughout the lower Midwest. Strawberries, cherries and wild black raspberries ripen. Fireflies glow in the fields. These are the longest days of the year.
Deep Summer: This season contains three to five fronts and lasts from late June through the first week of August. Average temperatures are the highest of the year during most of the period; they start to fall on July 28. Garden production peaks. Farmers harvest oats and winter wheat. Autumn bird migrations begin.
Late Summer: Late Summer contains four major fronts and extends from early August through the first weeks of September. Some Judas maples turn color as the Dog Days end. Blackberries ripen. Ragweed pollen drifts in the wind. Most wildflowers complete their cycle. Cricket and katydid song dominates the evenings.
Early Fall: This phase has five to six significant cold fronts, and it lasts from early September to the middle of October. The danger of light frost now follows each front across the North. Major leafturn occurs on elms, cottonwoods, box elders, ashes and buckeyes, but most maples and oaks wait until Middle Fall. Farmers plant winter grains and harvest their corn and soybeans.
Middle Fall: This period of the year contains five to six fronts and lasts from the middle of October through the first week or two of November. This is the period of peak maple and oak coloring, followed by the most intense leafdrop in thenorthern half of the country. Most farmers finish their harvest and the planting of winter grains. Bird migrations peak. Katydids and crickets fall silent.
Late Fall: Late Fall contains five major high-pressure systems, lasts from early November through early December. The final leaves come down, the farm and garden cycle is completed and migrations end. The longest nights of the year begin throughout the United States.
Early Winter: This phase contains about six major cold fronts, and it lasts from around the first week of December until about ten days after solstice. Early Winter’s nights are the longest of the year, and its cloud cover is the most intense everywhere in the United States.
Farming and Gardening Lore
In general, planting crops that bear their fruit above the ground is recommended when the moon is waxing. Plant root crops, flower bulbs, trees and shrubs to promote root growth when the moon is waning.
According to a number of studies, the moon exerts less influence on ocean tides and on human and animal behavior when it comes into its 2nd and 4th quarters. Therefore, it might make more sense to perform routine maintenance on your flock or herd near the date on which the moon enters its second or fourth quarter.
On the other hand, tidal lunar influences have been proven to be greater at full moon and new moon times. You might expect more trouble with your animals, therefore, on or about new moon and full moon. Livestock care should be less eventful during the relatively stable times between frontal systems listed in each month’s weather section (but before the barometer starts to drop below 30.00).
Fish, Game and Livestock Activity
Although successful fishing is influenced primarily by the aquatic habitat, the type of bait used and the location of the bait in the water, the times of day, month and year are also
significant. Lunar position has been shown in some studies to be a contributing factor to fish and game activity, but the approach of weather systems (high-pressure systems typically preceded by low-pressure systems) is usually a more decisive factor than the moon in influencing fish to bite and animals to feed.
Along with the moon and the weather, water temperature and other seasonal factors play a role in how fish respond to bait. One of the best ways to measure those factors is to keep a journal of conditions and of what is happening during your outings. And an almanack may be helpful in making you aware of what is going on in nature. This is especially true for hunting, since conditions in the fields or woods have a direct impact on creatures living there.
In addition, many people find that livestock, children, fish and game are more active (and dieting is more difficult) when the moon is overhead: at midday when the moon is new, in the afternoon and evening when the moon is in its first quarter, at night when the moon is full and in its third quarter, in the morning when the moon is in its fourth quarter. Second-best lunar times occur when the moon is below your location, 12 hours before or after those times noted above. Lunar and frontal movements can be helpful in planning your outings since fish, game, livestock and people tend to feed more and are more active as the barometer is falling one to three days before these weather systems.
See the Peak Activity Times for Creatures section of each monthly section of the Almanack for a guide to lunar position and corresponding behavior. Then check the arrival dates of weather systems in the Weather Outlook for each month.
A Calendar of Feast Days in 2022
In this section, the Almanack lists the days of the year on which farmers, gardeners and homesteaders might expect the public to have increased interest in their livestock and produce. The Calendar is also useful when one is planning strategies for marketing to particular groups.
October 6 – 14 , 2021: Navaratri /Navadurgara: This Hindu feast honors the goddess Durga. Female animals are typically not used for this celebration.
October 19, 2021: Muhammad’s Birthday (Mawlid Al-Nabi): Sunni Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday today.
October 24, 2021: Muhammad’s Birthday (Mawlid Al-Nabi): Shia Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday on this date.
November 26, 2021: Thanksgiving
November 28 – December 6, 2021: Hanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights): Traditional lamb dishes for this feast are commonly “finger foods” such as ribs and kibbeh (torpedo-shaped dumplings made with spiced ground lamb and bulgur wheat). This festival is eight days long and offers many possibilities to market.
December 25, 2021: Christmas: Milk-fed lambs below 20 pounds are favored for this market.
December 26, 2021: Kwanza: Market specialty items for this celebration throughout December.
January 6, 2022: Epiphany (Three-Kings Day): Many Christians celebrate this feast with a fine meal and religious services. Milk-fed lambs are often in demand for this market. Epiphany Sunday is January 2 this year; some areas may celebrate the feast on the traditional date, January 6.
February 1 – 3, 2022: Tet (Vietnamese New Year and Chinese New Year – the Year of the Tiger): The Chinese market is often strong throughout the winter, favoring lambs and kids in the 60 to 80-pound live-weight range.
February 27, 2022: Dominican Republic Independence Day: Areas that have a sizeable population of residents from the Dominican Republic may show an increase in sales of lambs and kids that weigh between 20 to 35 pounds.
February 27, 2022: Meatfare Sunday for Orthodox Christians. Explore this neglected market for the sale of lambs and kids.
March 1, 2022: Mardi Gras
March 2, 2022: Lent Begins.
April 1, 2022: Ramadan: Month-long daylight fasting begins. Advertise your sheep to the Halal market in preparation for the close of Ramadan on May 2.
April 1 – June 30, 2022: Graduation Cookout Market: Inquire at nearby high schools, colleges and universities for exact dates, advertising one month ahead.
April 14 – 16, 2022: New Year’s Celebration for immigrants from Cambodia, Thailand and Laos: The Asian market often favors animals in the 60 to 80-pound live-weight range.
April 15 – 23, 2022: Passover: The Jewish market typically is best after religious holidays come to a close. Milk-fed lambs and kids below 60 pounds are favored for the Passover market. Lamb stew is a traditional Seder dish at Passover Seder dinners.
April 17, 2022: Roman Easter: Save your newly weaned, milk-fed lambs weighing about 25 to 45 pounds and not older than three months, for this market. Light-colored meat is best, a sign of the suckling animal. Lambs weighing under 20 pounds or more than 50 pounds may not bring the best price.
April 24, 2022: Orthodox Easter: Orthodox Easter animals should also be milk fed. They can be a little bit bigger than the Roman Easter lambs (between 40 and 60 pounds), and should be nice and fat.
May 2, 2022: Id al Fitr: Islamic Festival of the breaking of the Ramadan Fast: Sheep for this market should not be older than a year. Castrated or uncastrated males are acceptable, as are ewes. The best weight for Ramadan sheep is around 60 pounds, but weaned lambs between 45 and 115 pounds are often used. Older sheep often command higher prices during this period.
May 5, 2022: Cinco de Mayo: Mexican holiday commemorating the defeat of the French by Mexican forces at the battle of Puebla in 1862. Suckling lambs and kids are in demand for cabrito.
May 8, 2022: Mother’s Day
June 20, 2022: Father’s Day
July 4, 2022: United States (also Puerto Rico) Independence Day: Offer lambs and kids for Independence Day cookouts or tailgate parties at parades and celebrations (take orders).
July 9 – 10, 2022: Eid Al-Adha: (Festival of Sacrifice): Lambs and kids in the range of 55 to 80 pounds are favored for this Muslim market.
July 30 – August 20, 2022: Al Hijrah/Muharram: This celebration of Islamic New Year has no religious significance, but, like many New Year celebrations, it is a cultural event. A rise in halal sales could be expected during this period.
August 6, 2022: Jamaican Independence Day: Demand may increase for older lambs and goats, up to 65 pounds at this time.
August 7 – 8, 2022: Ashura: This date commemorates the martyrdom of Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein. It also celebrates Noah’s survival from the Great Flood.
August 10, 2022: Ecuadorian Independence Day
September 5, 2022: Labor Day
September 10, 2022: Harvest Moon Festival: Often observed by Korean Americans and others of Asian descent.
September 25 – 27, 2022: Rosh Hashanah: Jewish New Year and first High Holiday. Some sub-sects also celebrate the creation of man on this date.
September 26 – October 4, 2022: Navaratri /Navadurgara: This Hindu feast honors the goddess Durga. Female animals are typically not used for this celebration.
October 7-8, 2022: Muhammad’s Birthday (Mawlid Al-Nabi): Sunni Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday today.
October 14-15, 2022: Muhammad’s Birthday (Mawlid Al-Nabi): Shia Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday on this date.
November 24, 2022: Thanksgiving
December 18 – December 26, 2022: Hanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights): Traditional lamb dishes for this feast are commonly “finger foods” such as ribs and kibbeh (torpedo-shaped dumplings made with spiced ground lamb and bulgur wheat). This festival is eight days long and offers many possibilities to market.
December 25, 2022: Christmas: Milk-fed lambs below 20 pounds are favored for this market.
December 26, 2022: Kwanza: Market specialty items for this celebration throughout December.
January 6, 2023: Epiphany (Three-Kings Day)
January 22, 2023: Tet (Vietnamese New Year and Chinese New Year – the Year of the Rabbit)
February 19, 2023: Meatfare Sunday
February 21, 2023: Mardi Gras
February 22, 2023: Lent Begins.
February 27, 2023: Dominican Republic Independence Day
March 22, 2023: Ramadan
April 1 – June 30, 2023: Graduation Cookout Market
April 5 – 13, 2023: Passover
April 9, 2023: Roman Easter
April 14 – 17, 2023: New Year’s Celebration for immigrants from Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.
April 16, 2023: Orthodox Easter
April 20, 2023: Id al Fitr
Index to Almanack Literature
Getting Adjusted by Carol Curley, MI
A Bear in the Attic by Pliny Fulkner, Happy Times Farm, IA
A Little Bird Told Me by Susan Perkins, Hardtimes Farm, KY
Heading toward the Promised Land by Pliny Fulkner, Happy Times Farm, IA
Hazel and the Snakes by Frances M. Vander Weide, Jenison, MI
The Untold Story by Faye Grubb, Cynthiana, KY
The Junk Man’s Son by Elizabeth Doren
An Imitation Chicken Story by Pat Rodeffer, Modoc, IN
Weird Ben by Lois Rivard, Switzerland County, IN
A Lesson Learned from Mules by Lois Newman, Seaman, OH
The Snake and the Eggs by Sylvia P. Gibbons, Switzerland County, IN
Flight Kills Chickens by Nancy Searfoss, Knightstown, IN
The Troublesome Burl by Elias Keim, Ashland, OH
The Snake and the Storm by Anna Monroe Bruce, Fairborn, OH
At the Full of the Moon by Fann Lindsey, Greenwich, OH
The Most Romanti Thingc That Ever Happened to Me by Eunice Hicks, Willard, OH
Speaking with Wasps by Janet Stevens, Hillsdale, MI
Daddy and the Bear by Eunice Hicks, Willard, OH
A True Chicken Story by Lois Rivard, Switzerland County, IN
Chickens by Jack Thomas
The Log Chain Swing by Anna Monroe Bruce, Fairborn, OH
Mama and the Farmer by Naomi Bliss, Switzerland County, IN
The Great Escape by Vicki Beyer, Barnes City, IA
The Lost Sheep by Carmen Homeier, Wilson, KS
Dumb Me by Anna Monroe Bruce, Fairborn, OH
Bungee Jumping at the Red Dog Ranch by Linda Warren
The Duck That Had Bad Luck by Fanny Lindsey, Greenwich, OH
The Duck with the Pink Wing by Sara Beck, Louisville, KY
Prayer Power by Lois Rivard, Switzerland County, IN
The Christmas Dinner by Naomi Bliss, Switzerland County,