I awoke this morning to another early winter snowfall that coated the ground, rooftops, and the pine and cedar trees with a fluffy white blanket of snow. It was beautiful to watch small globs of snow fall from the cedar boughs as they shivered in the gentle breeze. From what we’ve experienced since the beginning of fall, we may receive a lot of snow this season.
As I noted in my earlier posts this spring and summer, we have already received a lot of rain this year, and we now face the possibility of a snowy and cold winter. Since weather conditions have a significant bearing on the success or failure of our farming ventures, we (and other farmers in our area) really need a reliable way to track and forecast our changing weather patterns. To date, I have used the old weather sayings I learned from my childhood farming experiences, which I have recounted in several past posts on our website. They have been helpful, but I could really use some additional help.
Weather forecasting has become much more complicated than it was when I was growing up. Since the 1960’s, we have launched geostationary satellites to track and study active weather systems, built supercomputers to analyze mountains of complex weather data, and devised sophisticated computer models to predict weather patterns. The result of all these technological advances in weather forecasting is that the reliability of the three-day weather forecast that we used to guide our farming when I was a child is now marginally more reliable today. From what I’m repeatedly told, we seem to know with a much higher degree of confidence how the weather will be in the next 50 years (and exactly what we need to do to fix it) than we are able to accurately predict tomorrow’s weather. Sometimes, I have to wonder if today’s meteorologists would benefit from more windows in their offices. It all makes me think we may need to do a better job of reconciling our sophisticated computer models—and their basic underlying assumptions–so that they will more reliably and accurately predict tomorrow’s weather. Complex systems influenced by multiple independent variables are inherently difficult to reliably model.
I have studied meteorology over the years, but I am not a certified meteorologist. I know many people who will confirm that I’m certifiable, but that’s an important step shy of being certified as a professional meteorologist. I learned that my biological grandfather understood this distinction. He used to say that he went all the way through high school. Unfortunately, he was unable to obtain a diploma by demonstrating that he could successfully pass in through the front door and out the back door. Perhaps my understanding of basic meteorology is a little more substantial than that, but I must admit I am not a professional. This is why I decided I needed some help from someone with a better basic understanding of the typical weather conditions in our area.
After careful consideration, we have decided to appoint our new housecat, Calli, as our official Peeper Pond Farm meteorologist. Although she also has no professional credentials, she has an extensive understanding of our local weather conditions and has proven to be very honest and objective in reporting weather conditions to us. For example, Calli correctly reported that it was snowing this morning—even though it was totally dark when she left the house. In fact, it was so dark this morning that I was unable to see anything beyond the porch railing. However, Calli bravely faced the unseen elements and, when she returned only 10 minutes later, I could clearly see snowflakes all along her back. Her weather reporting acumen was equally reliable during the summer. After only a few minutes outside on a rainy day, she would return to the house soaked from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. If there was a heavy dew, but no active rainfall, only her paws and legs would be wet. Whenever it is windy outside, she returns to the house with her fur fluffed up. She is so incredibly perceptive about the weather that she refuses to go outside when it is very cold. She doesn’t even have to leave the house to accurately tell us how brutally cold it is! We have even noticed that the colder it is outside, the less time she spends outdoors. When the weather is sunny and warm, she spends a lot more time outside. When the weather becomes hot and humid, she will seek out a shady area and rest a lot.
Although I have daily access to weather reports from certified meteorologists at the National Weather Service, WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg, VA, and West Virginia Metro News, I simply can’t obtain as much reliable and accurate information on current weather conditions than I get from our cat, Calli. When she told me that it was snowing before sunrise this morning, our local weather radio forecast was calling for a 70 percent chance of snow. We ended up receiving a half inch of snow over the next hour. Who needs certified meteorologists when you can obtain such consistently reliable and unbiased weather reports from your own cat? Consequently, I made the only logical selection available to me. By the way, Calli is happy to serve as our official meteorologist for free—as long as we feed her regularly and give her a warm, dry refuge from all the bad weather she has to report. Even though Calli is only a cat, she clearly understands that the value of your work is not measured by how much money you are paid but how well you do the job. From my perspective, that’s not just a measure of how valuable an employee you are, but also of how much personal integrity you have.
We hope you’ll join us in congratulating Calli for earning this important position here at Peeper Pond Farm. Now if I can only convince her to stop chasing the deer.