hepaticasFor the farmer weather overshadows world history and makes local history, as it makes crops, conversation and mythology.  A drought is a menace, especially to the farmer; to a crop delayed by drought, as always in the mountains, the first killing frost is another hazard, and, in general, wet springs are a boon to the boll weevil and wet falls the bane of the crop buyers.  In so far as he watches his smoking tobacco for dampness and observes the sweating of pumps and water pipes, the falling of smoke and soot, heavy dews and a gray sky at sunset, the farmer detects rain scientifically.  When he bathes a cat in sulphur water, burns driftwood along the creeks or builds a fire in a stump on a cloud day, hangs a snake on a fence or a bush “belly side up,” sweeps down the cobwebs in the house, sprinkles sale on two crossed matches, or is led by the minister in prayer, he is “making” rain.  And when he looks for snake tracks leading to higher ground, chickens oiling their feathers, or ants and dogs banking up earth about the entrance to their hills, counts the stars within the circle around the moon to tell the number of days before the storm, measures the severity of the coming winter by the thickness of corn shucks, a hog’s milt, or a goose’s breastbone, and an extra heavy layer of fat, fur, or feathers in animals and birds or taking warning of cold weather from a hog with a stick in its mouth, he is only guessing