Folks all over the world have used common sense methods of predicting the weather for generations. The ways their grandfathers used to know what the next season was going to be like are still trusted and accurate today, if you know what to look for, that is.
One of the most endearing and thought provoking aspects of folklore are the superstitions of a particular group of peoples and their geographical location. All over the world folklore has given us a vivid image of the people, their beliefs and lifestyle in almost any setting. From home remedies to superstitions the local folk have lived for generations with the same beliefs their ancestors had lived by and made plans for the seasons according to the signs of nature.
The people of the Ozarks were mainly farmers and had to be experts on the weather and the many moods of nature that could either bless or destroy their crops. Long before today's technology, they had their own way of predicting the weather which usually proved to be pretty accurate. Their methods were not very complicated, in fact they were quite simple and logical. Anyone with enough common sense knew that you could expect rain if you saw rabbits playing in a dusty dirt road.
Some other tried and true predictions of rain were:
If any animal turned it's back to the wind, you could expect rain.
If you saw flint rock sweating, you could expect rain.
If one of your hogs was running around with wood in it's mouth, you could expect rain.
Rings around the moon? Expect rain.
If that darn rooster insists on crowing just after the sun goes down... you can expect rain.
Frost is one of the dangers of the crop, so you have to be prepared before hand. You knew when to expect frost if you paid attention to the katydids. If they start singing, you can expect frost in about six weeks, or if the fawns lose their spots, you will have frost in six weeks time. The first time you see a Walking Stick, you know there will be frost in six weeks. If you are alert to these signs you will have plenty of time to get your crops harvested and set up for the winter.
To be prepared for the winter, you had better pay attention to the signs long before winter reaches out his bony fingers to touch your land. Why, you jist can't sit on your front porch and wonder what winter is gonna be like. If your mind is in the right place, you gotta start watching for signs in the middle of summer! Take August, for instance. If you have 4 fogs rolling onto your farm in August, why you're gonna have four snows come winter! If you had 40 sunny days between the first of July and the first of September, you can bet your corn pipe you're gonna have just as many freezes come winter. If your trees and bushes show off thick and green leaves, yup!... you're gonna have a hard winter!
Now then - come the time of late winter, you gotta start watching for signs of spring to come. We all know that the ground hog can tell us about this. If that little critter does not see his shadow on February 14 (this is when the Ozark people celebrated Groundhog Day), then, hallelujah! Winter is over! If he does see his shadow, he scampers back down his hole and you just know there will be six more weeks of winter - so put on another pot of stew and keep those fires in the hearth going.
If you see that old Turkey Buzzard approaching then you've seen the last day of freezing weather, so you better start getting out your tools and equipment to make sure they are ready to work for you in making your land ready for spring planting.
Now, see? You gotta be alert year round as to what the next season is gonna be like. You can't just wet your finger and stick it up in the air to see which way the wind is ablowin' right now. You gotta plan ahead and be prepared, folks!