Optimism for a prosperous agricultural season.
“The weather for the past two or three days has been quite warm and spring-like, with frequent showers, and Mother Earth is fast putting on her robe of green,” the Putnam correspondent reported in The Granville Sentinel on May 12th, 1876. “The farmers have nearly finished their sowing, but we have not heard of much planting being done yet. Winter grain is looking finely, and the prospects are good for an abundant harvest.”
Too many showers in May can be counterproductive.
“The farmers are quite behind with their spring work. The weather so far this month has been cold and rainy, but grass and winter grain are looking finely,” the Cambridge correspondent reported on May 19.
Showers turned to storms as the month continued.
“Sunday morning, we were visited by the severest thunder storm of the season,” the Sentinel reported on May 26. “The air was very heavily charged with electricity and the flashes were frequent and vivid. The rain fell in torrents for about an hour.”
May 1877 started out looking promising. “The Whitehall boys are already aching to go barefoot,” the Sentinel reported on May 4th.
“The usual April showers have been few and far between this season, but we do not presume that it will hinder the advent of the customary May flowers.”
Then came a frost warning.
“The hard frost of Saturday and Sunday morning, it is feared, will destroy the first buds, which were just making their appearance,” the Sentinel reported on May 11th. “The last few days have been anything but May weather, the sharp cool winds more resembling the blasts of November’s chilliness.”
By May 18th, though, some farmers in the region had begun planting corn.
“We are at this time enjoying a beautiful rain, which the needs of vegetation demands,” the Sentinel reported on May 24th.
At least one weather forecaster was pessimistic.
“Old Weatherwise prophesies a cold summer, similar to that of 1816, which he says he remembers perfectly well from the fact that he dislocated his ear sliding down hill on a snow sled the tenth of August.”
At the end of May there was still optimism – at least in Putnam.
“The fine showers on which have lately visited have had a very beneficial effect upon the growing crops,” The Putnam correspondent reported on May 31st. “Grass and grain are looking well, but the weather is too cold for corn.”
Photo: S. Timmons farm, Walla Walla County, ca. 1892 Photo by F. Fortin, Courtesy UW Special Collections.