WEATHER SIGNS - Planting By the Signs: Mountain Gardening - Foxfire Students

Planting By the Signs: Mountain Gardening: The Foxfire Americana Library - Foxfire Students (2011)



It will be a bad winter if:

squirrels begin gathering nuts early (middle or late September).

muskrat houses are built big.

beaver lodges have more logs.

the north side of a beaver dam is more covered with sticks than the south.

squirrels’ tails grow bushier.

fur or hair on animals such as horses, sheep, mules, cows, and dogs is thicker than usual.

the fur on the bottom of rabbit’s foot is thicker.

cows’ hooves break off earlier.

squirrels build nests low in trees.

wild hogs gather sticks, straw, and shucks to make a bed.

animals grow a short fuzzy coat under their regular one.

crows gather together.

hoot owls call late in the fall.

screech owls sound like women crying.

juncos arc feeding in the trees.

birds huddle on the ground.

you hear an “old hoot owl on the mountain, winter’s comin’ soon—better put on your boots”—Kenny Runion.

birds eat up all the berries early.


It will be a bad winter if:

hornets and yellow jackets build their nests heavier and closer to the ground than usual.

worms are bending up and going into peoples’ houses and abandoned buildings in October.

there are a lot of spiders, frost worms, and black bugs about in the fall.

miller moths hit the screen trying to get in.

crickets are in the chimney.

an ant builds its hill high.

The woolly worm tells of a bad winter if:

there are a lot of them crawling about.

he has a heavy coat.

the black band on his back is wide. (The more black than brown he is, and/or the wider the black stripe, the worse the winter.)

if he’s black in front, the bad weather is to come; and if he’s black behind, the worst weather is past.

if he’s brown at both ends and orange in the middle, the winter will be mild.

you see him crawling before the first frost.

Three months after the first katydid begins “hollerin’,” the first killing frost will come.

When butterflies:

migrate early, winter will be early.

gather in bunches in the air, winter is coming soon.


It will be a bad winter if:

blackberry blooms are especially heavy.

carrots grow deeper.

grapes, cockleburrs, and apples mature early.

sweet potatoes have a tougher skin.

onions grow more layers.

trees are laden with green leaves late in the fall.

the crop of holly and dogwood berries is heavy.

hickory nuts have a heavy shell.

there’s a heavy crop of berries, acorns, and pinecones.

bark on trees is thicker.

tree bark is heaviest on the north side.

corn shucks and silk grown thicker, and the shucks grow tighter around, and further over the ends of the ears.

leaves shed before they turn.

moss grows heavy on the trees.

the old-time corn ear (shank) hangs downward.

laurel leaves roll up.

pine cones open early.

The darker green the grass is during the summer, the harder the winter.


Two frosts and lots of rain mean cold weather is near.

A late frost means a bad winter.

For every frost or fog in August, there will be a snowy day in winter.

At least three severe fogs in June or July mean early snow.

If it snows crosslegged, it will be a deep one.

If the first snow stays on the ground for three days, another snow will come to top it.

If it frosts before November 23, it will be a bad winter.

Lots of low rolling thunder in the late fall means a bad winter.

A long hot summer means a long cold winter—the hotter the summer, the colder the winter.


When you build a fire outside and it pops, it will snow in three days.

If a fire “tramps” snow coming down the chimney (in other words, if noises are coming from the chimney that sound like boots swishing through deep, dry snow), it will be a deep snow.

It will be a hard winter if smoke from the chimney flows toward or settles on the ground. It will snow within twenty-six days.

If it’s cloudy and smoke rises, there’s a chance of snow.


The number of days old the moon is at the first snow tells how many snows there will be that winter.


It will rain:

within three days if the horns of the moon point down.

if leaves show their backs.

if cows are lying down in the pasture.

if there is a ring around the moon. Count the stars in the ring and it will rain within that many days.

if the sun sets with clouds.

within three days, if you see a black snake in a tree.

if an ant covers the hole to his ant hill.

if smoke goes to the ground.

the same time the next day, if the sun shines while it rains.

if earthworms come to the surface of the ground.

if birds fly low.

If it hasn’t rained in a long time, and it starts before 7 A.M., it’ll quit before 11 A.M.

If it rains on “Blasting Days” (the three longest days of the year), there won’t be any “mast” (acorns, chestnuts, etc.) for animals like hogs to feed on.

If it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain every Sunday for seven weeks.

If it begins raining on the day the moon becomes full, it will continue raining until the moon quarters.

The first twelve days after Christmas indicate what each month in the next year will be like.

The weather will be fair if:

you hear a screech owl.

smoke rises.

crickets holler. The temperature will rise.