As I’ve said a time or six dozen, my maternal grandparents were Iowa dairy farmers. My grandfather was a short, stoic German man who possessed a loud voice and strong opinions. Getting to know him and earn his respect wasn’t always easy, as my husband, Kevin discovered.
My Grandpa Walter saw my husband as a city kid who knew nothing of farm life. (Which was true.) As a child someone shared an animal proverb with Kevin. When a cat washes behind its ear rain is on the way. On one visit, Kevin noted one of my grandmother’s barn cats washing behind its ear, and shared the weather prediction with my grandfather. My grandfather naturally thought this city kid couldn’t know what he was talking about. A while later, Kevin set off to pick up my mother a hour or so away and asked my grandfather to ride shotgun. On their way back to the farm, the skies opened up. Not only did it rain, it poured. One of those driving rains that makes it difficult to see when driving.
That day proved to be a turning point for my husband and grandfather. Kevin showed my grandfather he knew something about his world, and my grandfather developed a new respect for my husband. From that day on until the day my grandfather died, cats washing behind the ears predicting rain became a running joke between them.
Farmers and ranchers often looked to animals for indications of the weather, and reliance on these methods isn’t as silly as it sounds. While people might not have known when creating the proverbs, now science often explains the animals’ behaviors. For example, cats ears may be sensitive to changes in barometric pressure causing them to wash behind them when rain is coming.
Just for fun and to hopefully make your smile, here are some other animal proverbs from the Farmer’s Almanac.
- If a cat sits with its back to a fire or sleeps with all four paws tucked under, bad weather is coming.
- When a cat licks its fur against the grain, prepare for a hailstorm.
- When a cat sneezes, rains is on the way.
But cats aren’t the only animal meteorologists…
- If a cow stands with its tail to the west, the weather should be fair. If it stands with its tail to the east, the weather will turn bad.
- When a dog eats grass or sheep turn into the wind, expect rain. (Based on how often my dogs eat grass, I should be building an ark, so I’m not a big believer in this one! ?)
- If a bull leads the cows to pasture, bet on rain. But if the ladies lead the bull, the weather is uncertain.
- The more brown a wooly bear caterpillar, the milder the winter.
- (This one isn’t super practical since it requires a
- tape measure. I can’t see many farmers measuring mole holes! ?) If the mole hole is 2 ½ feet deep, expect severe weather. If it’s 2 feet deep, it won’t be as severe, and 1 foot deep indicates a mild winter.
- When pigs gather leaves and straw in the fall, prepare for a cold winter.
- Fat rabbits in October and November indicate a long, cold winter.
- Bats flying late at night mean fair weather.
- Wolves howl more before a storm.
- Predict the temperature by counting a cricket’s chirps.
- Hornets building their nests high in a tree means a snowy winter.
- Cows laying under a tree in the morning means rain is on the way.
And from the plants:
- When leaves “turn their back to you” and curl somewhat, watch out for rain.
To be entered in today’s giveaway for the Live Happy sink soap mate, a llama car air freshener and a copy of A Cure for the Vet, leave a comment on your weather proverb.