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The Old, Trusty Farmer’s Almanac

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Farmer's Almanac

Bellaire librarian Mary Cohrs reminisces about the value of the Farmer's Almanac in the past, and talks about how it's still fun to look through today. 

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

In these days of instant news through social media, you might wonder why I am writing about a very old- fashioned almanac, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” to be specific. This almanac is quickly identified by its bright yellow cover and has a hole drilled in the upper left corner (so you can hang it on a nail for quick access). A quirky publication, it has been published annually since 1792 and it never fails to amuse and educate me.

The 2019 edition was just released on Sept. 4 and I eagerly thumbed the pages, as I do each year. Within these pages are tide tables, sunrise tables, planting charts, recipes, forecasts and a plethora of useful and not-so-useful miscellaneous information for an urban dweller such as myself. My grandfather was a farmer with a few cows thrown in; my grandmother had chickens, so after summer visits I learned how important it was to plant certain crops at certain times of the moon for success or the importance of the first frost. 

As a librarian, one of my most memorable reference questions was from a bride who was planning an outdoor wedding at sunset and needed to know the time the sun set would be on a particular day about two months in advance. Mind you, this was before the Internet and Google, but my trusty Farmer’s Almanac provided the answer. Now people are prone to use Google for these answers and it comforting to know that the Farmer’s Almanac is keeping up with a website and a Facebook page.

A quick look at the table of contents invites one to explore Astrology (curious about the best days for 2019?), Astronomy (there will be 5 eclipses), Folklore (full moon lore and bee lore), recipes, Gardening (planting by the moon, growing seasons and frost), Husbandry (pros and cons of backyard livestock), Best fishing days, and, of course, Weather.

One of my favorite sections is the weather forecasts. According to the publisher, it is based on a “secret formula” devised in 1792. The predications are made 18 months in advance and the publisher claims an 80% accuracy rate. All I know is the 2018 edition indicates a tropical storm threat during September 4-6 and we started tracking Gordon on Labor Day, September 3.

Take a peek today at America’s oldest and continuously running almanac. It’s the one with the hole in the corner.

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