Last week was January thaw week
I thought I would share a few thoughts about North Dakota's weather for those of you who aren't avid weather watchers.
So in partnering with the Old Farmer's Almanac, a gardener's tool, I have put together a few observations about or weather. Now, whether or not I am will be accurate in my guesstimations will remain to be seen.
Let's face it; this has been an outstanding winter to date. This week is our annual January thaw week. Since the temperatures have been above average and running somewhere between 30 and 40 degrees since October's little cold air blast, this week, we saw temps closer to 50-degrees. I have always looked forward to the week of January thaw and a reprieve from the harsh winter weather we are all accustomed to.
Axiom number 1 says that the first three days of January rule the next three months. Wow, we are in for pleasant days because the New Year kicked off mildly.
Secondly, have you heard the birds? If birds begin to whistle in January, frosts to come. We have thousands of Canada geese that have not left the river bottom. Turkeys number about 40, and yes, I have heard some birds. So, following the January thaw, I expect we will be seeing a January freeze.
It has always been in the back of my mind and sometimes spoken aloud that I feel the cold so much more after the days begin to lengthen. I chalked it up to the quiet darkness of December, feeling cozy and warm. However, as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens. The sun is at its farthest south from the earth, and days are about or less than eight hours on the winter solstice. You might expect this to be the coldest time of year but wait. If you put water in the freezer, it first has to cast off its warmth to freeze. So, December seems warmer as the earth begins to cool and then boom – in January, we feel the cold with the lengthening days.
My husband and I argue all the time about whether I can predict the weather by observation. I document the fog days in December and then plan on planting radishes 90 days later when it either rains or snows. My best radishes have indeed been snowed upon. I put the date on the calendar and then plant shortly before the anticipated moisture. I swear it works.
Then, there's the moon. I heard tell that the weather on the day of the full moon will be the average for the next cycle. It changes with lunar cycles.
Whether or not I am correct in my predictions, you have to pay attention to the weather when you farm or garden. It seems like I remember as a child watching my parents check the weather first thing in the morning. When I stayed at my friend's farm in the Red River Valley, they had the weather on the computer's home page.
It is said that no one knows the weather like a farmer. Okay, things are changing with our climate. North Dakota has gained some growing season and is a Zone 3 or 4 depending on whether you reside in the "Banana Belt" region of western North Dakota.
I found a few funny axioms regarding the weather that may or may not be accurate, but it sure is fun to observe Mother Nature in her finest on the Northern Plains.
Oh, and before you get out your garden spade, think. This is still North Dakota and with this mild winter, expect payback in the spring. That includes a heavy frost in May. So, wait to plant those warm crops like tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and beans until Memorial Day weekend.
Don't diet, clean
Happy New Year resolutions
I say Happy New Year resolutions for a good reason. Let's make our resolutions happy. Everyone wants to start the year losing weight, running a marathon, filling in an artistic bullet journal, eating healthy, planting a garden, learning how to paint, you know. Me, I get the urge to clean and declutter my house. It is to no avail. Somehow every year, I start with this – "I'm going to use up all my yarn and not buy anymore unless it is for a specific use. No more buying on sale and stashing it away for another day."
I have been known to save yarn, buttons, etc., that are special to me for something special. Guess what? The day never comes. Every day should be special for us. We woke up, and our families are safe, and we have jobs to go to and work to do and money to buy food and drinking water that flows from the tap, clean and cold (or hot). Think about how many people in the world cannot say that.
So, again I fill in my first month of the year in my bullet journal. Yes, I keep one, and it's handy and fun, but it doesn't look anything at all like the Pinterest photos of fancy lettering and watercolor illustrations. My old-handwriting (I use a mechanical pencil cause I love pencils) and maybe some taped notes or pieces of paper.
It works. I can write stuff down that clogs my brain when it should be focused on things elsewhere. I do grocery lists and calendar events and reminders to pay bills and stuff — line items next to bullet dots. I have never been very good at writing on the line, just like my garden rows all over the place — big letters, little letters, printed letters, cursive letters. Anything goes. The reason for that is if I wait to be as perfect as the journal pages on Pinterest, I never put pen to paper. That defeats the purpose.
So, the rest of the house gets a once over big time. You know, fan blades, move large pieces of furniture, light fixtures and desk drawers. Granted, it's not as thorough as I would like, but what's the point?
It just gets dirty again anyway.
Now, there are the bathrooms. Showers, in particular, are challenging to clean once they are more than a year old. I have a friend that cleans for a living, and she gave me this recipe for a cleaner that I have begun to use in the whole bathroom.
I'm susceptible to chemical smells and things that give my sensitive skin a rash. I usually wear a mask and turn the fan on and open the windows to use most chemical cleaners. So, this recipe, my friends, is a god-send.
1 cup vinegar, heat in the microwave
½ to 1 cup Dawn original dish soap, the blue stuff
1 spray bottle, glass or plastic
Put the Dawn in the bottle, add the hot vinegar and mix. Spray on the dry shower and allow to rest. Then go to work. The scum lifts, and the shower looks brand new. I also have started using a squeegee in the shower to eliminate droplets.
This cleaner is amazing, and your bathroom smells like you are canning pickles.
To dust, I found this recipe to use instead of toxic sprays. One time my spouse brought an anti-allergen dusting spray home that just about threw me into antiphallic shock — not kidding about my sensitivity. So, I sprayed it into the atmosphere; sorry about that, I didn't know how to get rid of it and replace it with yet another spray bottle from the big box store with this recipe in it.
1 cup water
¼ cup vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Lemongrass essential oil, optional
Mix and spray
There are many more cleaning recipes out there in the world of Google if you are also interested in homemade laundry soap or a general cleaner. Using baking soda and peroxide or vinegar really does work on glass top stoves and inside the oven also. These cleaners are so much better for you, your family, your pets and the world. So resolve to try an inexpensive household cleaner when you do your spring housecleaning.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.