Ed and Yvonne McPeak of Farwell have had a garden 11 of the 13 years they have lived at their home in Farwell, using the Old Farmer’s Almanac all but one year to plant crops. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth
By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ STAFF WRITER
Many farmers swear by it. Local stores can’t seem to keep it in stock. Farwell resident Ed McPeak admits he actually threatened the borrower when she did not return in it in a timely fashion.
“If I don’t get it back tomorrow, I’ll pull all your red hair out by the roots,” McPeak recalls telling the borrower. The lifelong farmer said he had his copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac back in his hand by the end of the day.
Published annually since 1792, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is the oldest continuously published periodical in North America and continues to bring readers “new, useful and entertaining matter,” according company officials.
Renee Johnson, a cashier at Gebo Distributing Co., Inc., said the little yellow publication full of facts, forecasts, and folklore flies off the shelf like the wind in New Mexico.
Although the magazine is released in September, Gebo’s doesn’t receive its copies until the first of the year, Johnson said, which were gobbled up by March.
“People come from Melrose, from Rogers to buy it,” Johnson said, adding the bulk of the readers are older.
“They swear by it,” Johnson said, “and some of the younger ones would buy it just to see if it were accurate.”
Although Guthals Nursery does not sell the almanac and owner Charles Guthals does not read it himself, he recalls a childhood anecdote that involved his uncle, an almanac devotee.
“My uncle was a farmer, and he would cut his little pigs,” Guthals said. “By cut I mean castrate. He would only cut the baby pigs when they were very young and only by the sign of the moon (as indicated by the almanac). Not two drops of blood came out of that little surgery.”
Clovis resident Dustin Higginbotham, who breeds and raises cutting horses, has found success following the almanac’s charts for castrating and weaning his horses, as well.
It’s also worked wonders for issues concerning his dog Winston. Higginbotham said his cow dog, which has full reign of the house, is known to shed as dogs will do. The current issue of the almanac advises donning a rubber glove and wiping a surface in one direction makes the hair meld into a string which is easy to pick up.
Although he steers clear of the astrology section, Higginbotham said the hair picker-upper and other home advice has worked wonders.
“We use (the almanac) religiously,” Higginbotham said of himself and his horse-raising partner, Kip DeFoor.
Yvonne McPeak said her mother swore by the almanac. Not only was McPeak herself weaned from the bottle according to the moon phases outlined in the publication, she weaned her three children off the bottle the same way.
“It worked a charm,” said Yvonne McPeak, adding she has also had delicious success with the almanac recipes.
It’s easy to understand why the Farmer’s Almanac is so important in the McPeak house.
Ed McPeak said he tried planting once without following the little yellow book. Although he said some buds spurted up and grew to greenery, that particular crop never bore any fruit.
The accuracy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac is certainly no accident, said Editor Stillman, who has been with the publication for five years.
Two staff editors are dedicated just to fact checking and research, said Janice Stillman, while she and other staff members test recipes and remedies — even the one for lip balm using Crisco shortening and Kool Aid. Stillman’s garden has been blooming with almanac advice, like using water from soaked cow manure to water the garden when it’s too late to put down the actual manure.
“The last thing we want to do is put something in there that isn’t true,” Stillman said. “Our utter accuracy and reliability is what makes the readers’ trust impeachable.”
Ironically, what makes the almanac so successful for so long, Stillman said, is in part due to its general nature. She said there is something for every reader and contains “a little bit of yesterday, and certainly speaks to today and tomorrow. It’s old but it’s not old fashioned.”