Prepare now for winter | Ag / Energy

By Sandy Williams

When the days get shorter, the nights get cooler, and the leaves change color and begin to fall, it’s autumn time.

For many birds, insects and animals, it means a lot of work to prepare for the long winter months.

Most birds gather in flocks and fly to warmer climates. Some birds fly thousands of kilometers to reach their destination. Others, like the Canada geese, make northern Oklahoma their winter home. I love the sound of their honking as they fly from one water point to another.

Then we have the little ants with their burrows just above the ground or some who have taken over a pit of flowers from a spring planting that has seen the last glory of summer. These burrows are home to thousands, and once disturbed, they quickly disperse, grabbing every egg of a future ant and organizing a burrow for the winter.

The honey bees and wasps collect the last of the honey. The bees return to the beehive and the wasps build mud nests in which they lay eggs and provide a few spiders as a source of food for the new larvae.

The bears of the animal kingdom teach their cubs how to eat berries and hunt for bugs, as well as how to eat fish and other foods in the wild. It’s about preparing for the winter months.

The squirrels will eat pretty much anything they can find. You can destroy a garden if that garden is not protected. They love planting nuts to survive in winter and eat seeds from bird feeders. The squirrel is also a good winter weather forecaster. The bushiness of their tails is an indication of how severe the winter could be.

With all the preparation we know, there is one person who wrote a book years ago about how we as humans could prepare for a full year. His name was Robert B. Thomas (1766-1846). He was a teacher, bookseller, and amateur astronomer who lived outside of Boston. He was starting a North American institution when he published the first version of The Farmer’s Almanac.

(The word “old” was added to the title in 1882.) He soon distinguished his almanac from all others and wrote in one of the early editions: “We must strive to always be useful, with a pleasant degree of humor.” This timeless one Formula has made the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” an indispensable reference work for generations of readers.

Owned and produced by Yankee Publishing of Dublin, NH, this almanac is part of a family of books and products that welcomes each other and reaches readers of all ages. This book has been used by my grandparents, parents, and me and is a world of information.

One of the most useful features of the almanac for farmers and gardeners is its long-term weather forecast, which is traditionally 80% accurate. In addition to many gardening tips and suggestions, this historical publication can help us to be just as prepared for winter as our friends in the animal kingdom.

Williams is a member of the Garfield County Master Gardeners.

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