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Some Groundhog Day lore

Today we celebrate Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day is also known as Candlemas, (we like that name better because we hate groundhogs as pests of the garden). In Pennsylvania Dutch country, the residents place candles in the windows on the eve of Candlesmas (Feb. 1). They believe this is winter’s coldest night and they are brightening the way to spring. We like this custom better than waiting to see his shadow! Long live the Pennsylvania Dutch — down with the groundhog!

A bit of winter lore on Candlemas. This bit of lore says that “if Candlemas be stormy and black, Old Man Winter is on his back.” This is about as crazy as the groundhog seeing his shadow. Winter has a very long way to go with February just on the doorsteps and the month of March can be just as cold. Don’t forget March of 2018 was cold with four snows and several cold rains. Let’s just forget all the lore and groundhogs and set out a row or bed of spring onion sets and lettuce!

Winter thunder and grandma’s predictions. My Northampton County grandma kept her ear open in winter for thunder because this rare event was a sign of snowfall. Thunder in winter occurs more often than many people think, and they don’t hear it because their ears are tuned to other things like TV and loud music. Thunder in winter occurs when warm air aloft meets with cold air below and this produces thunder. Just like that cold air above meeting warm air below produces thunder in summer. Most winters seldom have any lightning or thunderstorms because humidity as well as instability are different.

To my grandma, the thunder in winter brought a message of snow. According to her predictions, each boom of thunder represented a day, so if there were three booms of thunder, it would be three inches of snow that would fall. My mother’s predictions were of a different perspective — she said the booms represented a day before snow fall. They did not have a lot of weather tech or science but used the common sense God gave them,

As February ends, onion sets can be set out. Most hardware stores, garden departments, and seed shops will be featuring spring onion sets and you can purchase a pound for less than $3. You can set them out anytime the garden is not frozen. They are definitely a cold weather vegetable and can be planted anytime the soil is workable, especially in a raised bed. You can choose from red, yellow, or white sets. Dry a furrow about four inches deep, apply a layer of peat moss in the bottom of furrow, set the onions root-side down about three or four inches apart, cover with another layer of peat moss. Hill up soil on each side of furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade. When onions sprout, apply Miracle-Gro liquid plant food every ten days.

Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away. The day of hearts and flowers is now less than two weeks away. That means you have less than two weeks to find that special Valentine for the wife, kinds, grandkids, sweetheart, or special person. For that hard to please person you can always give gift cards from special shops, restaurants, or fast food establishments or a floral arrangement. Cash in a Valentine currency card is always an appropriate gift.

As February begins, keep those recycling resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are easier to make than to keep. Follow through with recycling resolutions because this is a good and practical, worthwhile effort that will pay off for your family, the environment, the earth and your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Using some water wisdom for 2020 garden. During the garden season, there may be weeks when there is very little rain and the garden may need a drink of water to perk up growing vegetable plants. When you water, do not waste water. We have a few suggestions to make the use of water more efficient and conserve water at the same time. 1. Use a water wand to apply water only where it is needed. 2. Water the plants and not the middle of the row. 3. Hill up soil on each side of vegetables and plants. 4. Use peat moss when planting seeds and plants. 5. Use organic plant foods rather than dry chemical pellets and fertilizers. 6. Mulch with crushed leaves. 7. Water in the cool of evening rather than the heat of day. 8. Water at the base of plants and not the foliage.

Checking out the Christmas Cactus. The cactus is green and cascading in the sunny living room. We have pulled all spent blooms and feed it once a month with Miracle-Gro plant food and a drink of water each week.

Keeping windshield wiper blades clean. In winter, with ice, snow, sleet, frozen rain, and road salt and spray, your vehicles wiper blades take a beating. Keep a roll of paper towels and a bottle of washer fluid under the seat of your vehicle. After every snow or ice event, clean the windshield and wiper blades. Keep the windshield washer fluid filled with de-icer solution that can be purchased in gallon bottles at automotive departments.

Making salmon patties with mushroom topping. Salmon patties always make a quick and easy meal and this recipe is easy to prepare. You will need one can Double Q canned salmon, one beaten egg, one pack of cracker crumbs, one tablespoon lemon juice, one teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Mix salmon with half cup milk, beaten egg, then add all other ingredients except mushroom soup. Shape into four patties and place in a greased baking pan or spray pan with Baker’s Joy. Bake patties at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with two tablespoons of mushroom soup on each patty. Bake ten minutes longer.

Hoe Hoe Hoedown, A quaky situation — A family with four small boys moved to California from Oklahoma. When an earthquake warning was given, the mother was terrified and sent her four sons back to Oklahoma to visit their grandparents. Three days later they received a phone call from the grandparents who said, “Come get the boys and send us the earthquake!”

God is — “Son, I’ll give you a dime if you tell me where God is,” said the atheist to a ten year old boy. The boy’s answer was, “I’ll give you a dollar if you can tell me where He isn’t!”

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Ray Baird

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