Whitesburg KY
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The woolly worm forecasts have been right on it


The fuzzy black & orange caterpillar did a good job of predicting the severity of the current winter.

The fuzzy black & orange caterpillar did a good job of predicting the severity of the current winter.

In case some of you missed it, here is a direct quote from The National Association of Woolly Worm Winter Weather Watchers’ (NAWWWWW) forecast for the winter of 2018-19 exactly as reported right here during the first week of October 2018.

“So here’s the forecast for central and eastern Kentucky. Every woolly worm I have encountered says the coming winter will set records for wetness and most of it will be in the form of rain. It’ll also be the mildest, temperature-wise, winter we’ve had in over 10 years. There will be a few snows but they will turn to mud within 24 hours unless you live on top of Pine or Big Black Mountains in Letcher and Harlan counties where the snow may hang around for more extended lengths of time.”

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but, at least so far, the woolly worms on Charlie Brown Road have been precisely right. We have yet to get a snow that was still around 48 hours after it had fallen. My driveway has been completely melted off within 12 hours of every snow and the deepest one was less than 3 inches. I have way too much time on my hands but I do keep up with this stuff.

But here’s the rub; the woolly worms never hibernated at my place nor, according to Anita Napier in Corbin and Gladys Turner, who lives “on the Virginia side of Kingsport,” did they hide away at their locales. Both women have recently asked me what that means. Gladys even sent iPhone photographs of hers.

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. However, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of days this winter when I’ve gone outside to get a few puffs of sweet pipe tobacco and not seen a woolly worm somewhere on the porch. On sunny days there have been as many as a dozen or more scurrying about on the concrete ramp that goes to the outside entrance to our basement. I’ve seen numerous woollies crawling into and out of my cat, Fancy Pants’, sleeping quarters, a large pet carrier converted into a cat house there on the porch. It’s anybody’s guess as to who is keeping who warm. Fancy refuses, even on sub-zero nights, to come indoors. I’ve shed blood to prove it. As far as I’m concerned, she and the woolly worms deserve one another.

What worries me is that, unlike the woollies of early October, every single one of these hang arounders is insisting that the biggest snow of the year, by far, is yet to fall and probably won’t fall until after the middle of March and maybe sometime in April. In other words, don’t put away your snow shovel until a couple of weeks after Easter. I’m starting to think that they’re still here to try and tell us that they didn’t get it exactly right last fall and that we’ve got a blizzard coming after all. Better a late forecast than no warning at all.

In other news, I found a new variety of snow peas at Lowe’s that I’ve never tried before. I’ve thrown the empty pack away and now I can’t remember what they were called. In any event, they are supposed to grow like bush or bunch beans, no trellis required.

Instead of planting the 200 or so heirloom dwarf gray seeds on Valentine’s Day, I planted the new variety (two short words that sound Chinese) in four different 10-gallon containers where I grew tomato plants last year. If they produce anything, they should be ready to pick before it’s warm enough to set out tomato plants, at which point I’ll let you know if they were fit to eat. I’ll save seed if they make it but, if the woolly worms are right, they are going to have to survive at least one deep snow.

I decided not to risk the dwarf grays this early because I worked too hard to find them. I plan to wait until Good Friday to get them in the ground and I figure that last late snow will only make them grow better. Hopefully Brother Andy will be here to get the old Troybilt Horse fired up just before the blizzard comes to town.

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