The new Farmers' Almanac says that a good share of us will be facing a cold and snowy winter this year. To be precise, it says that where I live there will be "teeth-chattering cold, plentiful snow." While these days we have loads of weather forecasters with their electronics, radar, and satellites to keep us up-to-date on what is going to happen, we once relied on nature to fill us in on what the future inter held in store for us.

Farmers' Almanac 2018-19 Winter Forecast
Farmers' Almanac 2018-19 Winter Forecast

Image via Farmers' Almanac

Animals, in particular, seem to have a sixth sense for what is coming in terms of weather and other natural phenomena such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

Migrating Geese
Migrating Geese

Image via Wikimedia

Geese and ducks always head south for the winter, but if they start heading out early that is supposed to be a hard winter. Certainly it means the early arrival of cold weather. Since most of us no longer live farm lives and close to nature most of these signs go unnoticed.

Jersey Cow
Jersey Cow

Image via Wikimedia

If the fur on the nape (back) of a cows neck is extra thick then the winter will be pretty miserable and they are getting ready to stay warmer than usual. There is nothing new here, really. All mammals grow thicker fur to help them stay warm during the winter months and more so when it is going to be colder.

Monarch Butterfly Migration
Monarch Butterfly Migration

Image via Wikimedia

Monarch butterflies migrating early is another sign that a bad winter is in the offing. You could say that the butterflies are avoiding the "bitterflies" of winter. Okay, that was really bad. Of course, this sign depends on you living in areas where the insects migrate.

Crimson-Crested Woodpecker
Crimson-Crested Woodpecker

Image via Wikimedia

They say that woodpeckers sharing the same tree is a sign of a harsh winter.  I don't know how territorial the birds are, but if they are then this could be a clue. Some also say that woodpeckers stripping bark from the trees is a sign of a cold winter.

Raccoon
Raccoon

Image via Wikimedia

Raccoons, those furry dumpster divers, foretell a miserable winter by sporting bushier tails and darker bands.

Mouse
Mouse

Image via Wikimedia

If mice are heading into your house early in the season then a nasty winter is heading your way. Personally, I find some truth to this. The cat and I have already begun to hear some rustlings in the walls. Both of us are planning to do them in, but in very different ways.

Cricket
Cricket

Image via Wikimedia

Crickets getting into your chimney are starting to appear on the hearth early is supposed to be a sure sign of a lousy winter. I don't know about this. The homes I have lived in with fireplaces never had crickets. On the other hand, crickets chirping louder than usual is also supposedly a sign of a nasty winter. I don't know if this is true, but they have been extra loud this year.

Spider in Web
Spider in Web

Image via Wikimedia

Spiders creating larger webs are said to be predictive of a harsh winter. Having them coming into the house in large numbers is also supposed to mean a tough winter.

Pig
Pig

Image via Wikimedia

Pigs gathering sticks is a sign of a cold and snowy winter. Not only have Inot been able to find out why a pig would gather sticks, I have yet to find anyone who has ever witnessed this activity. Word of mouth is a strange thing. Maybe they really collect socks to keep their trotters warm.

Ant
Ant

Image via Wikimedia

Ants moving in a single-file line rather than wandering off on their own is supposed to be a sign of a hard winter. Seeing them building thicker anthills are also supposed to be a sign.

Bee Hive
Bee Hive

Photo by Jennifer Cowling, used by permission

Bees going into seclusion in the hive for the winter is also supposed to be a sign of a cold winter.

Muskrat
Muskrat

Image via Wikimedia

Muskrats digging holes higher on the river bank is a sign of a hard winter. In areas where muskrats don't live on banks but in swampy areas they build hummocks to live in. In the book The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder Pa finds a muskrat hummock in the swampy area near their home and is shicked by how big and thick it is. It is the first sign that there will be a bad winter ahead and he moves the whole family into town. The resulting winter nearly caused the entire town to starve to death.

Hornets' Nest
Hornets' Nest

Image via Wikimedia

The predictions of hornets and their nests seem to be a little contradictory. “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest.” That's the way one saying goes. On the other hand, "If hornets build the nest low, winter will have storms and snow." Perhaps this depends on the type of hornet or the climate they live in.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Image via Wikimedia

The woolly bear (or woolly worm) caterpillar is an extremely popular weather predictor. A narrow orange band is indicative of heavy snow. "If woolly worms move unusually slow while in the sun, the winter will be a bad one." If there is a large number of the creatures, if they are seen in November, if they show up early in the season -- all predictors of a cold and snowy winter.

Squirrel
Squirrel

Image via Wikimedia

Squirrels also bear a large brunt of the weather forecasting done by animals. Gathering nuts early and in increased numbers  is a sign of a harsh winter. The squirrels in my area are already quite busy. My mulch is being filled with buried nuts. Squirrels with extra bushy tails also portend a bad winter.

Groundhog
Groundhog

Image via Wikimedia

The most famous animal weather forecaster out there is the groundhog. In this case the lore causes one groundhog known as Punxsutawney Phil is woken up every February 2nd to make him check on his shadow. A shadow means that there will be six more weeks of winter. No shadow means an early spring.

Have you noticed any animal signs in your neck of the woods? It may just clue you in on what's coming better than your local meteorologist.

Sources: Farmers' Almanac, Paradelle, WLKY, How Stuff Works

Comments

Share Your Thoughts!