Peter Rukavina, website administrator for “The Old Farmer’s Almanac”, has been with the publication for the past 20 years. He says “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” roots are traditional but it has also evolved into modern times with its presence online.
©Maureen Coulter/The Guardian
Kate Lee of Charlottetown has been reading “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” for a lifetime.
Lee began reading copies of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” when she was just five years old at her great-grandmother’s farmhouse in lower New Anan.
“There was always one there,” said Lee in a recent interview with The Guardian. “I would steal a chocolate bar and go read ‘The Old Farmer’s Almanac’.”
To this day, she reads it not only for pleasure, but also for the relevant information contained in this annual publication.
“It is a tradition,” said Lee who has a compendium of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” at home.
Lee said she enjoys reading the articles, recipes and historical facts in the publication and uses it to look at the tides for clamming and the moon charts for planting.
When Lee picks up the newest publication, she always flips to the weather section first to see the weather predictions for the coming year.
“I like to compare the weather forecasts. They are not entirely accurate, but I like to compare them anyway.”
In the 2018 edition of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac”, which hits P.E.I. shelves Sept. 12, it says the coming winter will be mild and wet and the summer will be hot and wet.
By the numbers
“The Old Farmer’s Almanac” prints and distributes 3 million copies, including 400,000 copies in Canada each year. The publication will be on sale as of Sept. 12 at the following locations: Bookmark, Indigo, Lawton Drugs, Atlantic Superstore, Michael’s Arts and Crafts, Shoppers Drug Mart and Sobeys.
“The Old Farmer’s Almanac” derives its weather forecasts from a secret formula that was created by the founder, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792.
Over the 226 years of publication, the formula has been refined and enhanced and now includes three disciplines — solar science, climatology and meteorology — when it comes to its long-range weather predictions.
But despite the fact “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” claims an 80 per cent accuracy rate in its weather predictions, Adam Fenech, director of the climate lab at UPEI, said he feels that number is closer to 50 per cent.
“The studies I’ve read in scientific literature show that there is only 50 per cent accuracy, so it’s either going to happen or not.”
However, Fenech says that number is not all that bad, considering it’s about as accurate as Environment Canada’s seasonal forecasts.
“They use advanced knowledge of physics and chemistry of the atmosphere and the largest computers in the country called super computers and they come up with about the same type of accuracy.”
While he doesn’t rely on “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” for its weather predictions, he feels the publication contains other great information for readers.
Fenech said he refers to the publication for various things, including tides, moon cycles and amounts of daylight (sunrise and sunset).
“There is lots of information there that is valuable to farmers,” said Fenech. “I’ve got a whole shelf full of them. I buy it every year.”
Have you ever wondered why there is a hole in the corner of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac”? It was put there so it could be hung up in an outhouse.
Josh MacFadyen, assistant professor and environmental historian at Arizona State University, said “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” is one of the longest running information systems in agriculture.
“’The Old Farmer’s Almanac’ is an older animal,” said MacFadyen, who is a P.E.I. native. “Before the internet, this is what people read when they wanted to know what nature was going to do next.”
MacFadyen said “The Old Famer’s Almanac” filled a gap by giving people information about the natural world when they were unable to get it anywhere else.
“Digging mussel mud was a common thing on Prince Edward Island, and so knowing when the tide was going to be in and out and how far in and out was actually really important for farmer’s trying to gather resources.”
Peter Rukavina, website administrator for “The Old Farmer’s Almanac”, said the publication has two primary defining characteristics: it never changes and it’s never the same.
“It’s a much different publication then when it was released in 1792 but based, I think, on the same underlying principals, which is that it’s sort of a guide to the heavens and natural world.”
The publication has also kept up with the times by having a website, a presence on Amazon Echo and modern day content in it’s publication, Rukavina added.
“When you pick up ‘The Old Farmer’s Almanac,’ it feels like your grandparent’s almanac, but it also has a contemporary feeling,” he said. “We are not talking about what is new in linoleum and burlap dresses, we are talking about what’s new on store shelves this fall.”
Rukavina says he has no doubt “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” will be around for many years to come since it is based on “timeless pillars”.
“I think it is very much built into the culture of ‘The Old Farmer’s Almanac’ as a publication and the way it works is the ability to remain contemporary and yet never change at the same time and so I think as new media, new technologies and new approaches to information come out, ‘The Old Farmer’s Almanac’ will embrace them.”