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Winter is coming, so be prepared

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Wow, burgoo is over and October is here.
What happened to September? I swear time speeds up the closer we get to winter.
The 30 days each had  24 hours, but they just seemed to go by in a fraction of the time. While I’m not behind on my winter prep schedule, I do feel a certain urgency pushing me to get even more done. All because I don’t like cold, yucky weather.
I had a reader ask me about my winter weather forecast the other day. I told her to wait until October. I should have said late October. I’m still waiting on some of the weather lore signs I use. Some have already passed. If anthills are high in July, winter will be snowy. There were no high hills this year, but wait ... there’s more.
If the first week in August is unusually warm the coming winter will be snowy and long. It was hot. For every fog in August, there will be a snowfall in winter. Only one fog. As high as the weeds grow, so will the bank of snow. We had so little rain, hardly anything grew tall, except the weeds.
Weather lore also tells of a tough winter ahead if cornhusks are thick and tight (they were, I shucked three bushels.), berries and nuts were plentiful (the bumper crop of berries dried up but I seem to have fewer walnuts carpeting the ground so I’ll count these as neutral).
Thunder in fall foretells a cold winter (we had plenty of thunder the first week of fall). So far, these add up to two points for a mild winter and 4 points for a tough one. Now, we need to watch for the other predictors about to begin.
The leaves are one of my favorite signs to watch. The old saying goes “When leaves fall early, fall and winter will be mild; when leaves fall late, winter will be severe.” I just remember it by thinking in rhyme, if leaves fall late, winter won’t be great. Next up is watching the flowers.
Flowers bloomin’ in late autumn, a sure sign of a bad winter comin’. Much rain in October, much wind in December.
A warm October, a cold February. Full moon in October (Oct. 30th) without frost, no frost till November’s full moon (Nov. 29th). A warm November is the sign of a bad winter. If the first snowfall lands on unfrozen ground, the winter will be mild. That’s a hopeful thought.
The woolly worms are starting to cross the roads, but I haven’t seen enough. Just remember, the wider the middle, brown band, the milder the winter. I want a lot of brown. After deer season gets into full swing, we’ll know how much fat they have this year. The more fat, the more cold we’ll have. That’s it. That’s all my signs to watch.
Now, if you’re like me, when it comes to winter you’d rather be indoors than out, so get yourself in gear.
Finish the planting and pruning. Clean the chimney and chop the wood. Unhook the hoses and clean and store the tools. Get your vehicles lubed and oiled and don’t forget to check your tires.
Then, and only then, can you hibernate into the comfort of your home. Well, not really, but you’ll feel better if you do.
There are only 12 weekends left until Christmas. That ought to put a spur under your saddle. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.