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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Category — Blog

Top Tips from Pete

Top Tips from Pete

Summer is officially here, which means it’s a great time to spend outdoors. Here are a few of my favorite tips for making the great outdoors more enjoyable.


Mosquitoes — put out a dish of water mixed with Joy dish soap, away from where you are sitting. It attracts the biters.

Goodbye fruit flies — fill a small glass with ½ inch of apple cider vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid and mix well. Fruit flies will be drawn to the cup and will meet their demise.

Insect bites — make a paste using meat tenderizer and water. Apply to sting or bite.  Or, toothpaste, regular flavored, when applied to an insect bite (especially fire ant bites) will relieve itching immediately.

Gnats — ever have gnats or other small insects swarming around while you eat on your deck? Take a powerful fan and aim high to say good bye.

Rashes and itches

Sunburn relief — Mix 2 tsp. tomato juice and ¼ cup buttermilk. Apply to affected area. Rinse.

Poison ivy — apply witch hazel to soothe the area. Or, add 8 oz. jar of instant tea to warm bath water and soak for 15 minutes.

Rashes — add ½ cup baking soda to a warm bath. Soak for at least 15 minutes.

Plants and Weeds

Weeds growing in your walkway — sprinkle baking soda on them.

Healthy flowers — after brewing coffee, toss the grinds on your flower bed.

Slug-fest — place a ring of petroleum jelly around plant containers which will stop the slugs and snails from climbing in for dinner.

Plant dill near tomato plants to prevent tomato worms. It works.

Better Living

Grass stains — rub in molasses, scrub well, let soak for a few minutes and wash.

Save on electricity. During the summer, hang a clothesline and let Mother Nature dry your clothes, especially towels which consume energy.

Fishermen (or women) — to make scaling fish easier, try rubbing vinegar on the scales first.
Summer is a great time to be outdoors — enjoy and stay safe!

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Wood For Winter

Fresh off one of the coldest winters ever, the early bird is the one who is ready for the next winter. This is actually, the best time to purchase firewood for next fall/ winter. I took delivery (and stacked) two cord of mixed wood types a few weeks ago. We have a couple videos on our website about firewood. If you purchase wood, buy now for the cheapest prices (green wood) and allow it to dry in the summer heat for next  winter.

Not all trees are created alike. Here is a quick guide to gallons of fuel/ oil per cord air-died wood:

Hickory          -  177 gallons
White Oak     -  170
Sugar Maple  – 155
Red Oak        – 155
Beech            – 149
Yellow Birch  – 149
White Ash      – 149
Red Maple     – 136
White Birch    – 130
Elm                – 126
Gray Birch     – 125
Poplar            – 100

Firewood is sold by the cubic foot or loose cord.  So, when buying firewood, ask about the mix of wood types to make sure you will get the best heat for your buck.

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How Rare is a Friday the 13th Full Moon?

How Rare is a Friday the 13th Full Moon?

Tomorrow morning, actually very early in the morning — 12:11 am to be exact, Eastern Time — the Moon will be Full and the date on the calendar is Friday the 13tth;  however, in many areas of the US and Canada, the Full Moon will take place on Thursday the 12th.! (Full Moon for the Central Mountain and Pacific time zones is on Thursday, the 12th)

A Friday the 13th full Moon happens on average once about every 14 years. Last time was October 2000 and the next time will be August 2049, so you could say it’s kind of rare.

Interestingly,  there was a Friday the 13th Moon in July 1984, and less than 3 years later there was another, in Feb. 1987.

And consider this for those places in the US that will not have Full Moon fall on the 13th this year, they haven’t had one since 2000 and must wait until 2049 for their next opportunity–almost half a century!

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Summer Weather Safety

Summer Weather Safety

Being outdoors when a massive thunderstorm approaches is a very scary thing. In 1975, I was on a camping trip with 14 boys and another counselor. We packed our equipment and headed to base camp when we rounded an island to be met with the most powerful thunder/ lightning storm I had ever seen. Not a good place to be with boys in aluminum boats and 9.9 hp motors. We scurried to the rocks, threw tarps over ourselves and waited it out. But, it was one of the most terrified moments I have ever been through.

It is also the reason I try to remind folks about the dangers of summer storms. Over a 30 years span, the average deaths attributed to lightning strikes is 70 per year. Thanks to great education efforts by NOAA and changes in how athletic events handle storms, we saw the fewest deaths in  2013 — only 23.

It’s not quite summer and already we have recorded 5 deaths — all men 40 years and older , and 3 of them were in Florida. Central Florida is the lightning capital of the US. The most recent case was working on a roof in Pompano Beach under clear skies when a single bolt struck him. It reminds me of a young female soccer player in Maine who, under clear skies, was killed by a bolt from a storm 10 miles away.

Be safe as you enjoy all that the summer outdoors has to offer. And check out some of our helpful lightning tips on our site.

Outdoor Safety for Summer
When is Lightning a Danger

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A Carrot From Israel?

A Carrot From Israel?

The other day we were discussing where our food comes from with my Girl Scout troop. I decided to look at a few items in my kitchen. There was a kiwi from Italy, some strawberries from California, and a bag of carrots from Israel??!!

I couldn’t believe the carrots. The kiwi seemed a bit odd too, but what really through me off were the carrots. There are plenty of areas in this country where carrots can be grown pretty much year-round. So why then do we have to import them from a place halfway around the globe??

Obviously there must be a cost factor that makes sense for the vegetable buyer at my local grocery store, but when I stopped to think about it, how could it make sense? By time they pick the carrots, put them in bags, then boxes then ship them here —how could it cost less, and when was that carrot picked?

Last week here on Farmers’ Almanac’s web site we asked if you tried to buy or grow your vegetables locally. Many of you said you grew your own and frequented farmers markets when you could. The hard part of course is for areas that have very cold winters, as that makes growing food tough.  Thus the need to buy produce from your grocery store, but why do they import vegetables from such far away places?

After this little exploration of my kitchen, I went to the grocery store with the goal to only buy vegetables grown in the USA. It was a little tough.  I live in New Jersey so the gardening season is just beginning. Soon there will be some produce available at my grocery store that’s grown locally. I also bought a share in a local CSA and this week is my first pick up. I’m so excited to experiment with very locally grown food.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you can do when you want to eat healthy, not break the budget, and not buy produce that gets shipped from far off places. I do know that I’m going to be paying attention a lot more to where my carrots and other food come from and will try to keep my purchases to locally grown food in the summer and USA grown produce in the winter.

What do you do? Did you ever really look at the produce you have in your kitchen and where it came from?

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Grow It Right

Grow It Right

While we get the greatest media exposure concerning our 2 year in advance weather predictions, the information we provide regarding planting (charts, special articles and videos), is what has the greatest impact on fans of the Farmers’ Almanac. As such. it is nice to hear from someone who uses the planting guide. Here is a comment we received last week worth sharing:

I just wanted to say, I am totally surprised. My grandparents and mother-in-law used to swear by planting by the moon. I have been starting my own plants for about 30 years now and I have never had plants not grow. This year I planted my tomatoes and eggplants and about a month later and they still had not done much growing. On a whim I looked at the date I planted them, compared them to the moon calendar in the Farmers’ Almanac; and can you believe it I planted all those seeds on a day that said bad planting day, do not plant anything on these days. I am a believer now and will be following the almanac from now on. Sincerely, Lisa

Over the years I have had many similar messages. Once, I received 5 large zucchinis.  This gardener planted some on the correct day and others on the “wrong” day. Only the row planted on “correct” time took and she wanted to share her wealth with me.  So many people are growing their own food that it is worth your time to engage our Planting By the Moon calendar. If you have an experience worth sharing, I’d love to hear your story.

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Trifecta of Weather Forecasting

You may recall that when we released our 2014 edition last August, all of the talk related around our stormy prediction surrounding the first ever  SuperBowl game played in an outdoor, cold area stadium. The snow did come as predicted  (spared the event),  but I’d like to point out that we frequently make mention in the Farmers’ Almanac pages about other major sporting events that can be impacted by weather. This includes the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and the three horse races  in the Triple Crown.

We stand two for two at the moment.

#1. The Kentucky Derby has prided itself in never canceling a race in 140 years. It is the “race that always runs.” We said “stormy days and wet weather. Showers may linger in Louisville for Derby Day.” Sure enough they ran the race on a muddy track.

#2. Preakness — The race was held on May 17th.  It was extremely wet the prior day throughout the Northeast, but on Saturday it was bright and sunny.  (From the Farmers’ Almanac: May 16-19: Skies gradually clear; milder temperatures.  A dry track for the Preakness.)

#3. Belmont Stakes —Are you making wagers on the weather that day? We are calling for rainy/thundery/damp & cool weather for next month’s Belmont Stakes. Now that California Chrome will be shooting to become the first Triple Crown winner in many years, and a muddy track “might” be a factor, maybe it will impact the outcome.

If Caleb nails the third race, it will be our version of a weather trifecta. Stay tuned for the results on June 7th.

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Make Camping More Enjoyable With These Tips

Make Camping More Enjoyable With These Tips

After cooking a meal, fill a pan of water and leave it on the stove/fire, so the water will be warm enough for clean up.

Hang soap in a stocking or sock from a tree to keep it off the ground and clean.

Bring two coolers—one for drinks only and the other for food. This will help keep the food cooler from being opened and closed too many times.

Bring a throw rug or welcome mat to place in front of your tent/camper. Then make sure all campers wipe their feet before they enter.. A small broom and dustpan are a must too.

Always pack duct tape. It’s useful for many things.

Don’t overpack. Pots and pans can be used as mixing bowls to save room, and heavy duty aluminum foil can be used to cook vegetables and meats on or in the fire. (Use fingernail polish to mark foil dinners, as it won’t burn off.)

A crumpled ball of foil makes an excellent scouring pad for pots and pans.

To keep marshmallows from burning dip them in water before holding them over the flame.

Before you go, save clean, empty milk jugs, orange juice bottles, and 2-liter soda bottles. Fill them with water and freeze. They will work for both keeping food cold and for providing water to drink when they melt.

To save time and prep work, create a bin of essential camping items that you can keep packed and ready year-round.  Buy an extra set of pots and pans at a garage sale or rummage sale. Make sure the bin is rain and rodent proof.

While it’s best to cook on coals, sometimes you have to cook directly on open flames. For easier cleaning, rub the outside of your pots with dish soap. Allow it to dry and then cook with them. This will make the black soot come off easier in cleaning.

Plastic baggies are another must for camping. They can help keep things like matches and extra batteries clean and dry. Larger sizes can be used to mix cooking ingredients.

Pack cards, board games, and other nonelectric games to help you relax and enjoy your vacation outdoors.

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Timely Pet Tips

Timely Pet Tips

Raw Skin? Think chamomile tea

Chamomile tea has a calming effect that helps skin irritations. Make a strong tea, pour it into a spray bottle, and then place it in the refrigerator. Once completely cool, spray on red and raw skin.

Bad Breath Go orange!

Carrots are a good way for dogs to help remove plaque on their teeth than can build up and cause smelly breath. Give your dog a carrot after he/she eats, and it should help.

Gum in Your Pet’s Hair?

Saturate the gum with olive oil. Then rub with your fingers to soften and comb it out. To remove olive oil,shampoo the dog as you normally would.


Reach for the vegetable shortening. Apply a dab of shortening to the affected areas and pry the burrs and stickers loose. You may want to wear gloves to avoid getting pricked.

Stop Accidents from Happening Again!
Dogs have a great sense of smell and therefore tend to have accidents in the same place. To keep your pet off this area, try cutting open a plastic garbage bag and covering the spot with plastic. Many say dogs don’t like the feel of plastic on their feet.




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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.