TOPEKA — With Friday bringing the beginning of fall, it is time once again to turn our attention to the cooler days right around the corner.

Will it be a cold winter? Will we see lots of snow? And what about the warmer months that follow — will we see a wet spring and summer, or will it be hot and dry in Kansas?

The answers to these questions are anybody’s guess at this point. But a good place to start the discussion can be found in the Old Farmer’s Almanac for 2018, which hit newsstands recently.

Published consecutively each year since 1792, the 226th edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac is a collection of useful information ranging from astronomy to gardening to historical oddities to — of course — the weather forecasts for which the publication might be most famous of all.

Tim Clark, a Harvard graduate and one of the contributing editors, handles the “doggerel” poetry that appears alongside calendar listings for each of the 12 months of the year. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. And, hey, Clark says, to be a paid poet in this day and age isn’t a bad gig.

“I’ve been here about 40 years in one capacity or another,” Clark said by phone earlier this week from the almanac’s home office in Dublin, N.H. “That’s long these days. I’m the ‘old’ in the Old Farmer’s Almanac.”

Clark said the publication, priced at $6.99, sells approximately 3 million copies each year. Though many people might view it as a staple and a harbinger of the coming new year, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has seen its share of changes. And that is by design, Clark said.

“Well, like any product, we have to change constantly to remain successful,” he said. “We just try to do it in an unobtrusive way.”

As always, the 2018 Old Farmer’s Almanac is chock full of short articles perfect for reading on a cold winter’s night, such as “The Faces of Farming,” “Edibles for the Kids in You” and “The Future of Farming.”

The agricultural theme is not a coincidence, either, Clark said, noting the publication is most popular in areas of the country known for farms.

The almanac can be placed on a table or in another convenient location and read throughout the year. As it has for many years, it has a hole in the upper left-hand corner, “so you can put a string in there and hang it in a convenient place.

“It’s not a sit-down and read from cover-to-cover publication,” Clark noted. “It’s something to keep handy, because there is information for every day of the year — historical, astronomical or what to look for in the evening sky.”

The almanac is full of a mixture of folklore and scientific information, including tips on when to plant, harvest or set a fence post.

“I’ll put it this way,” Clark said. “A lot of these are old wives’ tales. I don’t know how many old wives you know, but I know a lot of them, and they’re all pretty smart people.”

Back to the 2018 forecast for Kansas, which are based on scientific and astronomical information gathered over many years: The Almanac says the coming winter should be mild and snowy, while the summer of 2018 promises to be hot and dry.

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