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Predicting The Weather

January 21, 2016
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

Growing up on a farm in northwest Iowa, I listened to many of the superstitious predictions of my parents, aunts and uncles, and just grown ups in general. Folklore about animals being able to predict the weather is humorous. The most famous is Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania. Every February 2 people tune in to see if Phil sees his shadow. If he does, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, we will have an early spring.

But growing up on the farm, there were so many predictions by animals, if you believe in that sort of thing. I've come up with a few of my favorites:

1. Frogs are said to croak even longer and louder than usual when bad weather is on the horizon. When they're volume increases, you can assume a storm is brewing.

2. Depending on where in the sky birds are flying you can gauge weather. If they are high, the weather is clear. If they are flying closer to the ground, the air pressure of a storm system causes them pain.

3. Cows are one of my favorites. When cattle sense bad weather, they become restless and antsy or they will lie down in the pasture to save a dry spot. Also depending on which way a cow is facing, you can tell which way a storm is coming from. They always face away from a storm.

4. When bees and butterflies disappear from flowerbeds, you can expect some heavy weather. The folklore behind this goes that if they are not in they're usual spots, something is up.

5. "When sheep gather in a huddle, tomorrow you will have a puddle." It's believed that you can expect a storm when sheep crowd together and shield each other.

6.Ladybugs can gives us a clue about the day's temperature: "When ladybugs swarm together, expect a day that's warm." However, if you see them looking for shelter, cold weather is on the way.

7. The woolly caterpillar is another favorite of mine. The colors of this caterpillar are said to predict how cold the coming winter months will be. The bigger the black bands, the colder it will be.

8. If a squirrel's tail is thick and bushy, you can expect a long cold winter.

9. When birds stop flying and chirping, severe weather is close in the spring and summer.

These are just a few that I can remember from my childhood. I'm sure some of you have many more. A few things that I am sure of are: cattle will not face into a storm, sheep or cattle will huddle together to keep warm so will cats, and birds do stop flying and chirping when severe weather is nearby.

Whether this means that animals can predict the weather, I'm not sure. What I do know is that growing up on a farm you see many things with the animals and by paying attention you can get a great idea of what is on the horizon.



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