By: Jack Swift
Johnson County Historian
While looking through my books and magazines recently, I came across an old Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac and I was surprised at the number of interesting stories, jokes and general information it contained. Needless to say, the almanac reflected a much different time but some of its contents are applicable even today. I don’t remember where I got the publication. I probably found it at a garage sale or an antiques and collectibles store. The price was ten cents per copy when it was printed.
In the almanac there are as would be expected a great deal of information that farmers can use in planting, and nourishing their crops plus gardening tips. The signs of the zodiac were featured as many farmers went by them when it came to planting and other aspects of their vocation.
The almanac was published for the year 1937 and that was only a year before my birth. The front cover says that it was the 109th year of publication.
The almanac touted the rotation of pastureland even in that day. One item in the almanac had information about shipping bees. The item reads: “Honey bees are now supplied in packages of from one to five pounds by Southern beekeepers and shipped to those who need them in fruit growing districts in the North. The bees spread the pollen when the trees are in blossom and larger crops resulted.” I had never heard of shipping bees in the mail. Is that still being done? I think we have some beekeepers locally. Maybe they know if shipping bees by mail is being done.
Interspersed in the pages of the almanac were a number of jokes. Paraphrasing a little I will share a couple. It seems the diner customer called a waiter over and complained, “Look here, waiter. I ordered chicken pie and there isn’t a single piece of chicken in it.” The waiter said “That’s being consistent, sir. I also have cottage cheese, but so far as I know there’s not a cottage in it.”
Another one follows: “A farmer visited his son’s college. Watching students in a chemistry class, he was told they were looking for a universal solvent. ‘What’s that he asked?’ That’s a liquid that will dissolve anything.’ ‘That’s great, the farmer said. ‘But if you find it, what will you keep it in?’”
The almanac also had some serious articles. One I especially appreciated was the closing paragraph of a circular by George Washington addressed to the Governors of all the States on disbanding the Army in 1783. That paragraph reads: “Almighty God, We make our earnest prayer that thou wilt keep the United States in thy holy protection; that thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally that thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the divine author of our blessed religion and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”