The Old Farmers Almanac

You probably don’t realize it but the Old Farmer’s Almanac goes on sale every year on the 2nd Tuesday of September and farmers everywhere raced to get a copy. This is the oldest continuously published periodical in the U. S. It was first published in 1792 during George rWashington’s first term as president. The editor was Robert B. Thomas. It sold for six pence or nine cents a copy.

It originally carried the name of Farmer’s Almanac but the word “Old” was added to the title in 1848 after several other farmers almanacs came out by different companies. They didn’t want anyone to get confused.

Farmers and city dwellers alike have depended on the Old Farmer’s Almanac to know when to plant and what the weather for the next year will be like.

People living on the American Frontier used it as their Bible.  It was indispensable. But how did this little book get things right for so long?

A man named Robert Thomas, founder and editor of those first editions, came up with a complex formula using his observations of natural weather cycles to predict the forecast. He was fascinated by science and at age 16 read Ferguson’s Astronomy. He had amazing predictions and was said to be uncannily accurate 80 percent of the time. (Even today, his formula is kept locked away at the Almanac offices in Dublin, New Hampshire.)

Only thirteen editors have headed this book since its existence, the latest of which is a woman who took the helm in 2000. Her name is Janice Stillman.

But the Almanac does much more than predict the weather. It has advice on gardening, cooking, and fishing in addition to lunar cycles, and horoscopes. Sometimes there is a blend of trivia and human interest stories and even recipes. You can find most anything in one of these books from anecdotes to fashion predictions for the coming year.

In 1942, the almanac came close to halting publication when a German spy came ashore on Long Island, New York and was apprehended by the FBI. They found a copy of the 1942 Old Farmer’s Almanac in his pocket. It appeared the Germans were using the Almanac as a source of weather forecasts because it was so accurate. Indirectly the book was supplying information to the enemy. The editor at the time quickly changed the format to only show weather indications, not forecasts, until the war ended.

Last September, they predicted that Texas and Oklahoma would have the driest winter on record and, Lord knows, that certainly came true. Here in the Texas Panhandle, we went 192 days without getting any moisture. It was broken about two weeks ago with .22. We’re having bad fires and dangerous winds. I certainly hope it starts raining soon.

Today the Old Farmer’s Almanac sells for $6.99 in paper print and $5.90 for the Kindle edition. There are folks who swear by the information inside each copy.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re getting the weather you want. Sometimes I think it’s gone haywire.

Have you ever used the weather forecasts to tell you when to plant or fish? Or maybe you like the horoscope readings.

Linda Broday
I live in the Texas Panhandle where we love our cowboys.There's just something about a man in a Stetson that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/

44 Comments

  1. Linda- this is fabulous giving is a blog about a book that is truly something us country folks really adhere too! I’ve always read it and truly believe it, however I never really knew how it got started or how they figured all these predictions out.
    I’m with you on the need for rain, it’s been over 200 days since we’ve had any moisture, like you we had a little a few weeks ago but only measured less than 1/2 an inch, if even that much, then winds turned up the next day sustained at 30-40 with gusts over 60 mph, so no moisture was really helpful or utilized. I pray we all get some rain soon. Today we are all in high wind warning with 60 mph winds again and extreme drought for you in the TX Panhandje, NW OK, & me here in SW KS. Actually you and I should just call this region we live in the same place.. no need for state boundries. We are just the Plain Prairie Prayers Of much needed rain. Ha ha!! Like my new name I gave US??
    Well you have a great day and keep praying for moisture. Stay safe out there with these winds. I’m staying in the office.. too dangerous to be outside.
    Love you my sweet sister friend! ??????

    1. Good morning, Miss Tonya……Yes, I love the new name you gave us. Makes sense to me. State boundaries make no difference when it comes to weather. We are in the same boat. I saw the forecast warning of high winds today. There will probably be lots of wildfires. We’re dry tinder and it doesn’t take but one spark to set it off. I’m glad you’ll be in the office today. You stay safe too. Don’t want anything to happen to you.

      Much love and hugs!

  2. So much good information!

    1. Good morning, Yvonne…..I’m glad you enjoyed my post. The weather has wreaked so much havoc across the U.S. this year and the Almanac predicted it. It can’t stop snowing in the eastern part of the country and we’re burning up. Crazy, crazy weather.

      Have a blessed day!

  3. Linda what a fascinating information. My grandmother used to buy the farmers almanac every year. I used to love to look thru it. I haven’t seen one in years this makes me want to buy one and I do believe I will tomorrow when I go to Tuscaloosa. Thanks for taking me back to sweet memories of my grandmother

    1. Good morning, Miss Glenda……I’m happy that I could bring memories of your grandmother. The Almanac provided a lot of information for the country folk and they still do. The predictions are so accurate. Pick up a copy in Tuscaloosa and step back in time. Feel your grandmother’s presence as you read through it.

      Love and hugs!

  4. I so enjoyed reading this information and learning something new. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day. Bless you my friend.

    1. Good morning, Kristi……I’m glad you enjoyed my post and found out a few things you didn’t know. It’s always nice to see you.

      Have a wonderful day!

  5. My dad was a farmer and relied on it! I know it was always talked about in the farming community here.

    1. Good morning, Susan P…….Great to see you. The Almanac was a farmer’s Bible. Especially in times past when they had no TV or radio. Some didn’t even have access to newspapers so they needed a reliable source to weather forecasts. I love farming communities. Time moves a lot slower.

      Have a blessed day!

  6. Well I guess I didn’t answer your question. My mom is an avid reader, she plans her garden each year by the Almanac. Me, I read it for weather mostly and of course for the Horoscope.

    1. Tonya….you’ve just proven the Almanac’s usefulness. Everyone found something of interest in those little books.

  7. I for one, remember looking at the farmers almanac that my mom’s sister sent her, she had a farm in NY. only time i ever seen one. I do watch the weather every day to see what crazy weather chciago is having, We have had snow the last couple of days. waiting for spring to come so the trees can bloom. but to answer your question I do not garden

    1. Hi, Elaine………Yes, Chicago has really been clinging to winter. You’ve had to much late snow. Crazy doesn’t begin to describe this winter. Just unreal. I pray you see spring soon. And maybe pick up a copy of the Old Almanac when you get a chance.

      Love and hugs!

  8. I have never even seen the Farmer’s Almanac in person. We have had unusual weather here, but honestly, I like when we get some cooler days. I just wish the wind would calm down so the pollen will quit trying to ruin my sinuses.

    1. Hi Janine…….Pollen is not anyone’s friend. Hopefully the wind will settle down and everyone can breathe again. The next time you get a chance, pick up the Farmer’s Almanac. It’s interesting.

      Have a blessed day!

  9. Great post and interesting info on how it got started. I’m a city girl but follow it as much as I can regarding weather.

    1. Hi Carol…….I understand. Us city people don’t need to know a whole lot about the lunar cycles and we get our weather from other sources. I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

      Hugs!

  10. Weather definitely has gone haywire. Most guys swear that fishing is great when it rains, You can spot them at lakes or rivers during a good storm. True or not they do catch fish.

    1. Hi Kim…….I have heard that about fishing but like you I don’t know if it’s true. My daddy fished a lot but I can never remember him fishing in the rain. I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

      Have a blessed day!

  11. They always told me you can go by the Farmers Almanac so I was just wondering when spring is going to get here. It was cold and snowing here yesterday. I am so ready for spring weather.

    1. Hi Quilt Lady……I wish I knew when spring will arrive there but it already has here. The trees have leafed out and the grass is green. Lots of pollen in the air. I didn’t buy a Farmer’s Almanac this year so I don’t know what spring will come your way. I pray it’s soon. I think lots of people are tired of winter.

      Big hugs!

  12. Thank you for sharing your great post, Linda. I buy my dad a copy of the almanac every year. He enjoys reading it from cover to cover.

    1. Hi Melanie……I’m so glad you enjoyed reading about the history of the Farmer’s Almanac. The older folks do get a copy every year and get the forecast. I’m sure your dad enjoys it.

      Much love and hugs!

  13. As I write this, I am watching snow flakes come down… Not what I wanted on the 17th of April… I long for sunshine and warm spring weather. I have never had a copy of the Farmer’s Almanac, but I might just buy one.

    1. Hi Kathleen O…….Oh, you poor thing. I’m so sorry. I know you’re sick of snow and I wish we could some off your hands. If we could, we would. It’s extremely dry here. Yes, you might just have to pick up a copy of the Almanac and see when all this is going to end.

      Have a blessed day!

  14. Hi Linda! Wow, I did not know this about the almanac. I remember my dad always bought one, because he was an avid gardener–and while he planted flowers mostly, when we moved to West Virginia, we had a huge back yard and he wanted to have vegetables. He tried everything to grow okra out there, but it rained too much. :(((( WE WERE SAD! LOL Even when he didn’t have a garden anymore, he still liked to buy one to have “on hand” and referred to it a lot. I’m sure his parents did, and my mom’s parents, too. I didn’t realize it had been published for such a long time, but it has to be accurate to have been in existence that long. Very interesting stuff!

    Hugs, filly sis!

    1. Hi Cheryl…….Sorry you couldn’t grow okra. I would’ve been sad too. I love the stuff. The older people used to live by the Almanac. My parents did and my dad fished by it. It was sure accurate this year! Good Lord! We can’t buy a raindrop to save our souls. It amazes me too that it’s been around so long. And to only have had 13 editors in over 200 years. Wow!

      Love you, dear friend!

  15. Your post, Linda brings back fond memories! My grandfather loved reading the Farmer’s Almanac. He was raised on a farm and said that his father referred to the Farmer’s Almanac all the time 🙂

    1. Hi Marin…….Those farmers never let a year go by without buying a copy of the Almanac. Those farm people have to know what’s going on and what to expect. I’m glad I could bring back some fond memories.

      Big hugs!

  16. The history of the Almanac is so interesting. Thank you for another great piece of history.

    1. Hi, Jerri……My pleasure. I’m glad you enjoyed knowing how it all started. This little book is embedded in the fabric of America.

      Big hugs!

  17. The weather has been warm early here… Love when a bit of a cool down comes… I am sure it will be a scorcher soon… Never check the Almanac, but I am sure it will say hot, hot, and hot! LOL

    1. Good afternoon, Colleen……Yes, I can imagine how hot it is there. We haven’t reached 100 degrees yet, but I’m sure you have. And we’re not far behind. We’ve flirted with it. I just wonder if summer will bring equally weird temps. It might snow in August! Ha! But we never know. Stay cool and try to find things to do inside. Like reading!

      Love you, lady!

  18. There has always been a Farmers Almanac around somewhere in my family. I must remember to start getting one again for myself. Its been a few years since I personally bought one. It tends to be spot on. Great blog. I’m going to go put it in my calendar so I’ll remember to buy one this year!

    1. Good afternoon, Stephanie……You know, I think the Almanac is something we don’t think about unless we pass one in the store. Too, they used to be everywhere but now I hardly ever see one. People are too busy to read them anymore. I hope the summer temps are real hot for us with our MS.

      Much love, warrior buddy!

  19. it’s amazing at how accurate it can be some years

    1. Good afternoon, Denise…..Yes, they truly are amazing. Robert Thomas’s formula has been so right.

      Big hugs!

  20. I love the Farmer’s Almanac and there is a wealth of information in each issue. I often look to see the best planting dates!
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Good afternoon, Connie……How nice that you still use this little book. Planting dates are important and can save you a lot of money. Glad you enjoyed my post.

      Hugs!

  21. This was truly fascinating, Linda, I must say. I’ve heard about the Almanac, and I love how they decided to differentiate theirs by calling it the “Old.” Smart marketing. I guess I’m amazed that this book is still so popular and read and followed so widely. I mean, how many things out there that are over 200 years old, that are still relevant today? I’m searching for one thing, maybe. The part about a German reading it for information on the U.S. is amazing, too. Loved your article!

    1. Good afternoon, Hebby……I’m so happy you dropped by. Yes, I was astounded also by the Germans using the Almanac for weather forecasts. How unreal is that? But then, when you’re trying to win a war, you used everything at your disposal. I’m enjoying your latest book, Ruth. My heart goes out to her and other white women who were taken captive. And it’s sad that they faced even greater hate when they were rescued. Like it was their fault. People are too judgmental.

      Hugs!

  22. Linda, thank you for this interesting post!

  23. I have read the almanac a few times, but don’t follow it religiously. We do however, follow the weather closely. The adage here is not to plant anything that will be damaged by frost before Mother’s Day. With all the frosts and freezes we have had this “Spring” is has been wise to heed it. We watch the weather for planning trips. Don’t do the Caribbean Cruises during hurricane season, try to avoid the middle of the country during tornado season, and don’t go north January to March unless you are an avid winter sports person. As true as that is, lately even these normal “seasons” have been shifted, changing dates and areas affected. After the morning news, I switch the TV to the Weather Channel (my substitute for the Farmers’ Almanac) and it is sort of the background of my day when I am home. What is happening impacts our plans since we are disaster responders. Weather can change the lives of so many in such a short period of time. Sadly, it is becoming less predictable and more destructive. Those seasons are changing, getting longer, and changing what they effect. I am sure the Farmers’ Almanac is reflecting this in their predictions.

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