Modern Moons

Weather gauges have been used for centuries to get a handle on what’s going on in the sky above the earth. Ombrometers or rain gauges tell the farmer how many inches of water fell on their crops. Thermoscopes or thermometers show just how hot it is even when air conditioners buzz and all is well inside. A heliograph or sunshine recorder lets scientists and farmers know how much sunshine is falling on a specific spot. Specialists in the tourism trade use a sunshine measurement for deciding how well an area will keep vacationers happy.

Grandfather needed no such gauges, although he kept a rain gauge in the kitchen garden. He regarded it as a part of the fence post it was attached to. Grandmother said it was part and parcel to most farms and didn’t mean much unless she asked him to help gather in the beans. Then Grandfather would check it and declare it too wet for him to go in the garden.

Rather than look to gauges, my grandparents looked to the skies. They often recited lines like, Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Or, Thunder in the morning, all day storming. They also consulted their gardening bible-Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Native Americans also consulted skies for much of their weather knowledge. Full moon for June was called Growing Moon or Strawberry Moon. Their fields of corn, sprouted in late May, grew two feet or more with enough rain and sunshine in June.

Today’s modern moon might be called Hatching Moon. Most fowl, domestic and wild, along with song birds are hearing peeps as their chicks hatch. Mother hens will utter soft notes of encouragement as babies struggle to free themselves of eggshells.

Fishing/Gardening

Gardening is in high gear. Small crops such as lettuce, onions, peas and spinach are gathered almost daily as the initial sowing was staggered every other day. Weeds and grass must be daily kept at bay. A fence was put up to keep wild bunny rabbits out, for once they get the taste of fresh greens it’s almost a lost cause. Of course, Mr. Greengate doesn’t feel sorry for any loss of salad material. His determination is to bring home the bacon, he states, by going fishing for bass this month.

Between the almanac hanging on the bait shop wall and fishing buddies hanging around the bait shop counters, the master fisherman has determined and declared he will be bass fishing on his favorite lake come June 5th through the 7th. Also the 15th and 16th. Again he will take to the water for an extended period June 20th through 26th. His biggest dilemma is which bait to load up on. Fishing consultants in the bait shop declare onion, blackberry preserves, corn, balled up bread, liver, frogs or night crawlers to be best, depending on who one listens to. Mrs. Greengate declares bass probably haven’t heard any of that, they’re still eating what they ate last year. Just like the rabbits.

Outside the Yard

Ohio farmer markets sprout up in June as prolific as zucchini in July. They are the place to go for fresh-picked and you-pick strawberries. The key website for Ohio markets is ohioproud.org. There you can search for a market close to you or anywhere you’ll be this summer. Search by market name, county or product name. A large enterprise is Bergefurd’s Farm Market and Greenhouses & CSA, Wilmington, Ohio. If you’re new to markets, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You can buy shares of a farm’s products with delivery at a central locations weekly. Bergefurd’s is open as early as April; June is the month for strawberries. For updates on products available call 937-383-2133.

If you’re looking for meat to go with your vegetables there is That Guy’s Family Farm, run by Guy and Sandy Ashmore of Clarksville, Ohio. They offer pasteurized chickens, cut flowers and organic veggies. Call 937-289-3151 for more information.

Word of the Month

Punnet: a small container for soft fruits such as strawberries. The tiny green open-weave plastic boxes holding berries for sale. Origin unknown but may have been associated with Reginald Crundall Punnett who was a geneticist and strawberry grower and who sold the berries in small chip boxes in London markets.

Quote of the Month

“And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.” James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891.