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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Farmers' Almanac Blog

Buffalo Is Tough

Buffalo Is Tough

Earlier this week we received 27” of snow in Maine, accompanied by 50 mph winds. After 3 days, we can now get around and life is good (or until we get another 12” today). As I was shoveling Tuesday night, I gained a new born respect for the citizens of Buffalo, New York, and surrounding communities who got hit with a major lake effect storm last November. What we had on Tuesday, they received in triple and a much heavier dose. So, thanks to those in Buffalo for reminding us that no matter how bad it snows up north, nothing compares to lake effect snow.

What’s in store for the remainder of the winter where you are? Check out our long-range weather forecasts.

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Poll: Groundhog Day 2015

Poll: Groundhog Day 2015

Every year, weather watchers from around the world gather at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to find out just how much more winter they’ll have to endure. If Phil the groundhog sees his shadow, it means 6 more weeks of winter. Previously, Phil has only gone without seeing his shadow 17 times. What do you think he’ll see this year?

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Do You Break During Commercial Breaks?

Do You Break During Commercial Breaks?

Super Bowl XLIX is right around the corner. When you think of the Super Bowl, what comes to mind? If it’s not the game, it’s probably the ads. There is a lot interest (and publicity) in these commercials that run 30 seconds at a cost of $4.5 million each that we actually rate the best. It may be the only program during the entire year where viewers actually stay glued to the set during commercials. But, what about the rest of the year? How do you bide your time?

Have you noticed just how long commercials breaks are becoming during national and cable shows lately? Recently, I timed normal “breaks” at 4 – 5 minutes, with up to 10 ads during each break.

I also noticed that as our attention span drops, so do the length of ads – many are now a mere 15 seconds. As the cost of producing shows grows, so does the length of the breaks to pay the bills. Heck, I now see half-hour reruns scheduled in 45 minutes. With, yes, more ads.

So, my question is, what do you do during commercials? Are you glued to the set for each and every one? Do you flip channels, or do you do chores around the breaks? Tell us in the comments below!

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Happy Burns Night!

Happy Burns Night!

Across the United Kingdom each year on January 25th, people celebrate “Burns Night,” which commemorates the life of Scotland’s favorite son and poet, Robert Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759. The day honors Burns’ contributions to Scottish culture. He is best known for his work, Auld Lang Syne, which many around the world sing on New year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight.

Robert Burns

Scottish poet, Robert Burns

The evening celebration of Burns Night includes playing of bagpipes, and the reading of his works, including the poem, Address To A Haggis, Burns’ ode to the national dish of Scotland, when the feast is presented. (Read our story, What The Heck Is Haggis? here).

Many people are quite squeamish when it comes to haggis, due to it’s many unusual ingredients. In fact, when vacationers in the U.K. were polled, many admitted they wouldn’t consider touching the stuff. As you can imagine, this didn’t sit well with the Scots, as this is their national dish, after all.  I would imagine a few people here in the US might have the same reaction to someone’s adversity to the All American hot dog.

One group , at The Sykes Cottages, which promotes U.K. holiday getaways, decided to hold a contest, The Sykes Cottage Haggis Championship, inviting foodies, bloggers and chefs to develop a version of haggis that might have broader appeal.

The recipes came pouring in. Click here to see the haggis entries, and which entry actually won.

Would you try any of them? Tell us in the comments below. And Happy Burns Night!

 

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90 Years Ago, The Sun Disappeared Over New York!

90 Years Ago, The Sun Disappeared Over New York!

January 24, 2015, marks an auspicious anniversary in the history of New York astronomy.  It is the 90th anniversary of the last total solar eclipse that was visible from New York City.*  On January 24, 1925, the southern portion of the Moon’s umbral shadow passed across upper Manhattan, parts of Queens and all of the Bronx.  Only in these locations would totality be visible; places like lower Manhattan, Staten Island and Brooklyn would unfortunately be outside the zone of the total eclipse.

Here is a short film from 1925 showing preparations being made at Lakehurst, NJ, to observe the eclipse from the U.S. Navy Airship, Los Angeles, which was then the largest in the world.  There are also views of the partial stages and totality which was observed near Montauk Point, Long Island, at an altitude of 3,000 feet.  The footage of the Los Angeles was copied from a copy at the National Archives and Record Administration in Washington. elipse

So on a bitter cold morning (the air temperature hovered near 0° F), but under a brilliantly clear, blue sky, millions of New Yorkers who properly positioned themselves, were able to briefly witness one of nature’s greatest spectacles.  What made me think about this was not so much the anniversary date itself, but the fact that like this year, in 1925, the great event occurred on a Saturday.

I can recall as a very young boy, my grandfather telling me stories of how he and throngs of others watched this eclipse from along the East River Drive in East Harlem.

In 1970, just before the solar eclipse that swept along the U.S. East Coast on March 7th of that year, I remember attending a meeting of the O.G. (Observing Group); a division of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.  The meeting was held in one of the basement classrooms of the old Hayden Planetarium and the topic that afternoon was: Can you remember the 1925 Eclipse?  Many participants who were there that day provided spirited anecdotes.  Back then, the 1925 eclipse was still fresh in their minds, for it had occurred only 45-years earlier.

In 1990, when I was on “Easy 93,” WPAT Radio in New York, I asked on the 65th anniversary day if any listeners remembered the 1925 eclipse, and was delighted to get about a half-dozen responses from folks who indeed recalled that special day.  One woman wrote that she lived in Gravesend, Brooklyn, back then: “I don’t remember much about the eclipse, so much as I recall that Papa woke me and my two brothers up very early that morning, bundled us up, piled us into our car and took us on what was then (for us) was a great adventure: We were going to the Bronx!”  Another sent me an eclipse viewer—a piece of exposed film mounted on a piece of cardboard—dated January 24, 1925, with instructions on how to properly use it.  “I’ve held on to this for many years,” wrote the listener, adding, “maybe you can put it to some use.”

It is a sobering thought as I type these words to realize that virtually all of those people who saw the 1925 eclipse have passed on to the great beyond.  Indeed, to have any good memory of that event of so long ago, a person would have had to attain the age of five, meaning they would be 95 today; those few who are still with us are not likely to be around when the next total solar eclipse sweeps across the Continental US in 2017.

Certainly most of us are not likely to be around when the umbra touches NYC again on the first of May in 2079 (a Tuesday).

I would suppose that in 2017, there might be some kind of a pre-eclipse gathering of those who will vividly recall the US East Coast Eclipse of 1970.  After all, that event will have occurred only 47-years earlier.  I can already see myself talking to a group of fresh-faced young people, most of whom probably will have never been exposed to the panoply of phenomena that accompany that magic word, totality! Listening intently to me, an old-timer, describing a memorable event from an era which to them might seem almost like the Stone Age: the ’70s.

On the morning of January 24, 1925, millions of New Yorkers were eagerly awaiting that magic moment when the Moon’s umbra would descend upon their great city and briefly plunge them all into darkness.  Newspapers had been publicizing the time for weeks, so that when the big day finally arrived virtually every man, woman and child knew when that eagerly awaited moment would come.

It was 9:11.

To read about one of Joe’s solar eclipse adventures, click here!

*Note: New York City did see an eclipse on July 20, 1963, however, it was 89% visible from the city.

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Brain Teasers!

Brain Teasers!

Here are some classic brain teasers from past editions of the Farmers’ Almanac.  See the answers on the next page!

1. What food item do you:
Throw away the outside,
Then cook the inside,
Then eat the outside,
And throw away the inside.

2. What is it?
He who makes it doesn’t want it.
He who is busy it doesn’t need it.
He who needs it doesn’t know it.

3. Rearrange
The six letters in the word chesty can only be made into one other word, what is it?

4. Body Parts
Name 10 parts of the body spelled with three letters.

5. Name That Capital
How many state capitals begin with the same letter as the state?

6. Now You See It
What happens twice in a moment, once every minute, but never in a hundred years?

7. Hidden Letters
What word has three syllables and yet has 26 letters?

8. What Do These Words Have In Common?
1. Banana  2. Uneven  3. Dresser  4. Potato

See the answers on the next page! →

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Dinner, Rolled Up!

Dinner, Rolled Up!

If you’re tired of the same old pizza night, why not switch it up and roll it up, by making it a Stromboli night? You may recognize the word Strombli, that delicious Italian turnover chock full of meats and cheeses — with all the goodness of a pizza in a spiral of delicious flavors.  Originated in Sicily, a Stromboli usually consists of Italian ingredients, rolled into dough and baked. But there are so many ways to get creative, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one style. Use your imagination, and refer to our easy grid to help you create your  masterpiece.  Make a few for game day, or get the kids involved for a fun family night activity!

  1. Start with one package of your favorite pizza or bread dough, approx. 20 oz.
  2. Stretch out the dough on a lightly floured surface, shape into a 10″ x  14″ rectangular, as if you were making a pizza.
  3. Using the chart below, add your fillings.* Leave a 1″ border around the dough.
  4. Roll up like a log the long way, gently sealing the ends. Place seam side down on a non-stick,  lightly-greased baking sheet.
  5. Brush with egg wash, and top with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, or in the case of the Reuben, use caraway seeds (optional). Make a few small slits to vent.
  6. Bake at 375º F for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes. Slice thickly and serve with any dipping sauce, spread or condiment you desire!
Name Spread dough with a thin layer of Add Meat Cheese Add ons (any or all!)
Italian Crushed garlic and olive oil, sprinkled with oregano and Parmesan cheese 6 oz. each thinly sliced deli capicola ham, Genoa salami, slicing pepperoni 6 oz. sliced smoked Provolone Roasted Red Peppers, jarred Italian fried peppers in oil, chopped basil leaves, sliced black olives. sliced red onion
Greek Crushed garlic and olive oil, sprinkled with Greek oregano 6 oz. chopped, cooked chicken breast 1/2 cup crumbled feta and 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, kalamata olives, sliced red onions
Pesto Chicken Basil pesto 6 oz. shredded rotisserie chicken 6 oz. shredded mozzarella 1 cup chopped steamed broccoli florets
Mexican Chunky salsa, any variety Seasoned taco beef (as if making tacos)  6 oz. pepper jack  Black beans, green chilis, chopped Roma tomatoes, chopped red onions, corn, cilantro
 Reuben Thousand Island dressing 8 oz thinly sliced corned beef 8 oz. sliced deli Swiss cheese 10 oz. well-drained sauerkraut
 Cheesesteak Melted garlic butter 8 oz. Sliced deli roast beef 6 oz sliced deli white American cheese Green bell pepper strips, sliced red onion
 Breakfast Melted butter Cooked bacon, crumbled, deli ham, or any breakfast meat of your choice, 4 eggs, scrambled 8 oz shredded cheddar Green bell pepper strips, cooked home fried potatoes

 

*You can add more meat, cheeses or fillings, to your taste. These are guidelines. Any of the above can also be turned into a vegetarian option by simply omitting meat. Try roasted vegetables, assorted cheeses — use your imagination!

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What’s so great about winter?

What’s so great about winter?

Many of you love winter and many of you hate winter. No matter which side of the coin your opinion falls, we thought it would be fun to share with you what our staff considers to be the best part about winter:

Fluffy, wonderful snow that dresses up the landscape.

Cozy sweaters.

Warm beverages.

Thick blankets and a movie.

Florida.

Cold, crisp days (no bugs!) and blue skies.

Growing daylight.

Snowstorm anticipation.

Tranquility.

Fires in the fire place.

And of course our one winter hater said – Spring!

What would you add to the list?

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Take Our Money-Saving Challenges!

Take Our Money-Saving Challenges!

The Beauty Products ChallengePlastic bottles of body care and beauty products
Many of us have closets and cabinets full of beauty products that we don’t use. Abandoned shampoos, conditioners, lotions, hair sprays, anti-frizz serums, gels — the list goes on and on. Maybe we didn’t like the smell or the way it performed, but we are saving it anyway because it seems wasteful to throw it away. Think about it: if each item averaged a $2 price tag (which is a conservative estimate), it would add up to quite a bit of your money for items you’re simply storing. Yet we head to the supermarket or drug store and buy more.

What if you challenged yourself to use up each of those products before you bought more?

You can also repurpose some of them. Let’s face it, soap is soap, and many companies simply repackage virtually the same formulas to get more of your money. If you don’t like a shampoo, why not put it in a soap dispenser in the bathroom for hand washing? Use unwanted hair conditioners for shaving your legs, which leaves them soft and smooth. Or donate items to your local homeless shelter.

The Cleaning Products ChallengeHouse cleaning products pile on white background
Keeping things clean is big business. What’s under your sink? Chances are you’ve got more cleaning products than you realistically need.

What if you pledged to use them up until the containers were empty* before buying more? 

These are also items that can be donated to animal shelters, senior centers and more. We have great ideas for natural cleaning products that you can make yourself!

The Plastic Bags ChallengeSmall Plastic Bag
Plastic bags from the supermarket seem to be a necessary evil. And many of us save them with the good intention of using them again. But often times we forget, or get lazy, and before we know it, that bag or drawer of plastic bags is overflowing.

How about using every single one until they are gone? 

  • Tuck a few in the back seat of your car for use on each shopping trip (and use them at every store, not just the supermarket),
  • Start whittling away at your stash by:
    • Putting a few bags near the litter box for scooping (check for holes), or taking a some with you on walks with the dog.
    • Lining your bathroom and other small trash receptacles with them instead of buying liners.
    • Using them for packing ice when bringing coolers to the beach.
    • Using them for wrapping wet bathing suits or other damp clothes from the gym or pool.
    • Having the cashier wrap leaky meat packages with your recycled bag rather than using another plastic bag.

The “No Spending For A Day” ChallengeA man opening his wallet
Can you go an entire day without spending a dime? We don’t mean the money you spend on essentials to keep your household running, like gasoline or groceries, or paying bills. Rather, that miscellaneous, non-essential spending, the kind that gets away from us: Dining out/fast food, movies and other entertainment, tobacco, alcohol, coffee and lattes. You get the idea.

Did you know that the average American worker spends $14.40 per week on coffee alone, not including coffee made at home? Imagine if that money was put in your bank account each week. That’s almost $800 per year in savings.

Of course it requires planning. You’ll have to shop ahead, pack lunches, etc., but it can be done! Why not get the kids involved, and make it a fun family challenge?

 So, what do you think? Can you do it? Let us know in the comments below how you fared after taking any one – or all –of our challenges. And share your results, and any other ideas, with us!

*Recycle containers when possible. Read labels for proper disposal.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.